Some stories about the US Military going into 2023….
US Special Operations….
U.S. special operators are taking at least two lessons from Russia’s two-month-old war in Ukraine. First, the international partnerships the United States has been fostering for the past 20 years are playing a huge role. And drones are playing an even bigger one.
The leaders of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps special operations commands all testified before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on Wednesday. While the focus of the hearing was on general readiness and the shortfalls of the 2023 budget request, many of the questions focused on Ukraine.
“What are the follow-on risks of the invasion?” asked Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “Where do we need to expand our footprint and presence in EUCOM”—that is, U.S. European Command.
The Army’s Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga said Russia’s invasion has “added emphasis” to the need to continue to expand “longstanding generational relationships” across eastern Europe.
“With the scale and scope of the threat of Russia and China, we won’t be able to do this alone,” Braga said. “That’s why I talked about our international partners and how increasing their capacities and their capabilities is so critical.”
The impact of international partnerships with special operations forces of a “multitude of different countries” in Ukraine is an “untold story,” he said.
“I won’t name the number right now, but they have absolutely banded together…And I think that really bore out from the last 20 years of working together, sweating together, bleeding together on different battlefields, on different continents,” Braga said.
On the homefront, U.S. special operations is at an “inflection point,” Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Adm. Hugh Howard said.
Ukraine represents a “fifth modern era for special operations,” Howard said, one that shifts away from the counterterrorism capabilities that U.S. special operations have so heavily focused on for the past two decades….
Sikorsky Black Hawk Helicopter replacement….
The U.S. Army has chosen Bell to build a new aircraft that will replace the venerable UH-60 Black Hawk, which has been flying soldiers in combat since the 1970s.
Bell received a $232 million contract on Monday—the first installment of what could be a $7.1 billion deal for development and an initial batch of aircraft.
“It’s a chance to move to the next step in this vital program,” Doug Bush, the Army acquisition chief, said during a Monday evening call with reporters.
It’s a huge win that could be worth more than $70 billion for the Textron-owned company in the coming decades depending on how many aircraft are ordered by the Army and foreign militaries.
“For Textron, it is a generational win that rejuvenates Bell’s military franchise,” Cowen analyst Roman Schweizer wrote in an Oct. 12 note to investors.
Bell, which pitched the V-280, a tiltrotor aircraft similar to the V-22 Osprey, beat a Sikorsky-Boeing team that had proposed a coaxial helicopter, which uses two stack rotors that spin in opposite directions providing more stability than traditional helicopters.
The tiltrotor can takeoff and land vertically like a helicopter, but rotate its propellers forward allowing it to fly at fixed-wing aircraft speeds.
“The V-280’s unmatched combination of proven tiltrotor technology coupled with innovative digital engineering and an open architecture offers the Army outstanding operational versatility for its vertical lift fleet,” Bell said in an emailed statement….
The US Air Force does NOT like anything that ain’t real ‘fast’….
One wonders why the Army Aviation can’t take over slow tactical aircraft missions….
This situation is tied to American domestic drug problems….
The US Air Force is moving up its timeline for scrapping a small fleet of surveillance planes used to help take fentanyl pills off the streets, telling National Guard pilots they must fly their aircraft to the boneyard by the end of the month so they can be stripped for parts, according to documents obtained by CNN.
The new plan to eliminate the twin-engine RC-26 aircraft months earlier than anticipated marks an escalation in the service’s quest to phase out the small yet heavily used fleet of planes despite its contributions to counter drug and border missions.
It also comes at a time when the Biden administration is facing increasing scrutiny over its border policies and is grappling with a dramatic rise in fentanyl deaths around the country.
Once it became clear in March that Congress was unlikely to adopt a provision that would have extended funding for the aircraft, the Air Force told pilots who operate the RC-26 that they could continue to fly missions until April 2023, according to internal memos obtained by CNN.
But in November, pilots received new orders, instructing them to take their planes to the boneyard before the end of the year so they could be scrapped for parts, rather than sold to another non-Defense Department entity as originally planned, the memos show.
Multiple sources characterized the shift as a “drastic change” by the Air Force that came without warning. As a result, the force will lose roughly 80 pilots at a time when it is already facing a service-wide shortage, sources say.
“The impact this plane and these operators have had in reducing, disrupting and damaging operations of illegal narcotics has been amazing and I am proud to have served alongside you,” one RC-26 pilot wrote to several others in an email obtained by CNN….
top Bell V-280 image…Defense One
bottom RC-26 image…Senior Airman Sean Campbell/US Air Force
Update on the Army Black Hawk decesion….
Sikorsky and Boeing are challenging the Army’s decision to replace the service’s Black Hawk helicopters with tiltrotor aircraft manufactured by Textron’s Bell.
The announcement comes four weeks after the Army chose the Bell-made V-280 Valor over the Defiant X, a new-design helicopter jointly made by Sikorsky and Boeing, for what the service calls the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, or FLRAA.
“The data and discussions lead us to believe the proposals were not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value in the interest of the Army, our soldiers, and American taxpayers,” Sikorsky and Boeing said in a joint statement. “The critical importance of the FLRAA mission to the Army and our nation requires the most capable, affordable, and lowest-risk solution. We remain confident DEFIANT X is the transformational aircraft the Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future.”
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office will review the protest and must make a ruling within 100 days…..