Welcome to the post of mysteries. Aviation Week features grainy pictures of the “Beast of Kandahar” without explaining what the UAV does. It also talks about a strange increase in an unspecified program in the Missile Defense Agency: “clearly there is a lot going on behind the curtain at MDA. The ‘special programs’ line for R&D nearly doubles from $175.7 million in Fiscal 2009 to $301.6 million in Fiscal 2010” amid rumors of a ‘miracle’ system.
Some defense news is about dollars and cents. Virginia Class subs are being built at way ahead of schedule and for less, according to the Armchair Admiral, quoting The Day. Too bad the New York Times has declared Virginia Class subs “wholly unneeded”. In an editorial dated May 10, 2009, the Gray Lady intoned:
Faced with a $1.2 trillion deficit next year — and a projected $640 billion Pentagon budget, not including the cost of two wars — President Obama should have cut far deeper into wasteful weapons spending than the modest $8.8 billion in savings he has now announced. …
That is the only way to free up money for other military needs — including expanding the Army and buying the kind of armored vehicles most needed in places like Iraq — while also helping to reduce huge deficits. This year’s budget does not eliminate the Air Force’s redundant stealth fighter, the F-22. It buys four more. It does not eliminate the Navy’s costly blue water DDG-1000 destroyer. It buys three more. It makes no significant reductions in the Navy’s wholly unneeded Virginia class attack submarine. These three programs account for almost $7 billion a year in unnecessary spending.
At a more mundane level, Janes reports that enemy snipers have been meeting with spectacularly little success and suggests that “the defence industry is quickly developing technology to counter this threat on a number of different levels.” Lastly, the US Navy is developing an anti-small boat missile. “Developed as a joint Army-Navy program, the NLOS-LS is designed to hit moving targets – in the Navy’s case, small boats. The missiles, called Precision Attack Munitions, can be guided by GPS, an infrared seeker and a semi-active laser.”