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The US Military-Industrial Complex’s Worst Nightmare: The S-300 May Destroy and Expose the F-35

By Federico Pieraccini | American Herald Tribune | September 30, 2018

The tragic episode that caused the death of 15 Russian air force personnel has had immediate repercussions on the situation in Syria and the Middle East. On September 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed allies and opponents that the delivery of the S-300 air-defense systems to the Syrian Arab Republic had been approved by President Vladimir Putin. The delivery had been delayed and then suspended as a result of Israeli pressure back in 2013.

In one sense, the delivery of S-300 batteries to Syria is cause for concern more for Washington than for Tel Aviv. Israel has several F-35 and has claimed to have used them in Syria to strike alleged Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. With the S-300 systems deployed in an updated version and incorporated into the Russian command, control and communications (C3) system, there is a serious risk (for Washington) that Israel, now incapable of changing the course of events in Syria, could attempt a desperate maneuver.

It is no secret that Greece purchased S-300s from Russia years ago, and that NATO and Israel have trained numerous times against the Russian air-defense system. Senior IDF officials have often insisted that they are capable taking out the S-300s, having apparently discovered their weaknesses.

Tel Aviv’s warning that it will attack and destroy the S-300 battery should not be taken as an idle threat. It is enough to look at the recent downing of Russia’s Il-20 surveillance aircraft to understand how reckless a desperate Israel is prepared to be. Moreover, more than one IDF commander has over the years reiterated that a Syrian S-300 would be considered a legitimate target if threatening Israeli aircraft.

At this point, it is necessary to add some additional information and clarify some points. Greece’s S-300s are old, out of maintenance, and have not had their electronics updated. Such modern and complex systems as the S-300s and S-400s require maintenance, upgrades, and often replacement of parts to improve hardware. All this is missing from the Greek batteries. Secondly, it is the operator who uses the system (using radar, targeting, aiming, locking and so forth) that often makes the difference in terms of overall effectiveness. Furthermore, the system is fully integrated into the Russian C3 system, something that renders useless any previous experience gleaned from wargaming the Greek S-300s. No Western country knows the real capabilities and capacity of Syrian air defense when augmented and integrated with Russian systems. This is a secret that Damascus and Moscow will continue to keep well guarded. Yet two years ago, during the operations to free Aleppo, a senior Russian military officer warned (presumably alluding to fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35 and F-22) that the range and effectiveness of the Russian systems may come as a surprise.

The following are the words of Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu concerning the deployment of the S-300 to Syria and its integration with other Russian systems:

“Russia will jam satellite navigation, onboard radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria. We are convinced that the implementation of these measures will cool hotheads and prevent ill-considered actions threatening our servicemen. Otherwise, we will respond in line with the current situation. Syrian troops and military air defense units will be equipped with automatic control systems, which have been supplied to the Russian Armed Forces. This will ensure the centralized management of the Syrian air defense forces and facilities, monitoring the situation in the airspace and prompt target designation. Most importantly, it will be used to identify the Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces.”

If the Israelis will follow through with their reckless attempts to eliminate the S-300 (if they can find them in the first place, given that they are mobile), they will risk their F-35s being brought down. The US military-industrial complex would suffer irreparable damage. This would also explain why Israel (and probably the US) has for more than five years put enormous pressure on Moscow not to deliver the S-300 to Syria and Iran. The US State Department’s reaction over the future purchase by Turkey and India of the S-400 confirms the anxiety that US senior officials as well as generals are experiencing over the prospect of allies opting for the Russian systems. This would allow for a comparison with weapons these allies purchased from the US, leading to the discovery of vulnerabilities and the realization of the US weapons’ relative inferiority.

Given Tel Aviv’s tendency to place its own interests above all others, it would not be surprising to find them using the possibility of attacking the S-300 with their F-35s as a weapon to blackmail Washington into getting more involved in the conflict. For the United States, there are two scenarios to avoid. The first is a direct involvement in the conflict with Russia in Syria, which is now unthinkable and impractical. The second – much more worrying for military planners – concerns the possibility of the F-35’s capabilities and secrets being compromised or even being shown not to be a match against air-defense systems nearly half a century old.

An illuminating example of how the United States operates its most advanced aircraft in the region was given in eastern Syria around Deir ez-Zor. In this part of Syria, there is no threat from any advanced air-defense systems, so the US is often free to employ its F-22 in certain circumstances. The Russian military has repeatedly shown radar evidence that unequivocally shows that when Russian Su-35s appear in the same skies as the F-22, the US Air Force simply avoids any confrontation and quickly withdraws such fifth-generation assets as the F-22. The F-35 is not even ready in its naval variant, and has yet to be deployed on a US aircraft carrier near the Middle Eastern theater or the Persian Gulf; nor is it present in any US military base in the region. The US simply does not even consider using the F-35 in Syria, nor would it risk its use against Russian air defenses. Israel is the only country that so far may have already used these aircraft in Syria; but this was before the S-300 came onto the scene.

The F-35 program has already cost hundreds of billions of dollars and will soon reach the exorbitant and surreal figure of over 1 trillion dollars. It has already been sold to dozens of countries bound by decades-long agreements. The F-35 has been developed as a multi-role fighter and is expected to be the future backbone of NATO and her allies. Its development began more than 10 years ago and, despite the countless problems that still exist, it is already airborne and combat-ready, as the Israelis insist. From the US point of view, its employment in operations is played down and otherwise concealed. The less data available to opponents, the better; though the real reason may lie in a strong fear of any revelation of potential weaknesses of the aircraft damaging future sales. At this time, the Pentagon’s marketing of the F-35 is based on the evaluations provided by Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, and on the tests carried out by the military who commissioned it to Lockheed Martin. Obviously, both Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have no interest in revealing any weaknesses or shortcomings, especially publicly. Corruption is a big thing in Washington, contrary to common assumptions.

The combination of Israel’s ego, its inability to change the course of events in Syria, coupled with the loss of its ability to fly throughout the Middle East with impunity due to Syria now being equipped with a superior air defense – all these factors could push Israel into acting desperately by using the F-35 to take out the S-300 battery. Washington finds itself in the unenviable position of probably having no leverage with Israel over the matter ever since losing any ability to steer events in Syria.

With the Russian air-defense systems potentially being spread out to the four corners of the world, including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and who knows how many other countries waiting in the queue, Russia continues to increase its export capacity and military prestige as it demonstrates its control of most of the Syria’s skies. With the introduction of the the S-500 pending, one can imagine the sleepless nights being spent by those in the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin’s headquarters worrying about the possibility of an F-35 being taken down by an S-300 system manufactured in 1969.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italy will not buy F-35s anymore, mulls walking out of existing contracts – Defense Minister

RT | July 7, 2018

The anti-establishment Italian government’s defense minister has said that the country won’t purchase any more Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets from the US and will review the existing order for 90 planes.

Elisabetta Trenta, the country’s new minister of defense from the Eurosceptic Five Star Movement, has ruled out new contracts with the US for the purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets, adding that the order for 60 F-35A and 30 F-35B jets, which concluded in 2012, might be placed under review.

“We won’t buy any more F-35s,” Trenta said in an interview with Italian broadcaster La7’s Omnibus program on Friday.

“We are assessing what to do regarding the contracts already in place,” she added, noting that while her party has always been a vocal critic of the program, she said that scrapping it altogether may “cost us more than maintaining it.”

The fact that the cancellation of the bulk deal and the resulting “strong financial penalties” might cost the Italian budget a hefty sum is one of the main reservations that is holding the government back, she explained.

The termination of the contract can negatively impact Italian workers who are employed in the production, she said, listing other merits of the deal such as “technological activity” and “important research” in a Facebook post accompanying the interview

Italy became the only country with an F-35B assembly line outside the US. In May 2017, it rolled out the first jets. However, they had to be delivered to the US Navy base in Maryland for certification and crew training.

The line in Cameri is set to produce a total of 30 F-35Bs to be delivered to the Italian Navy, Italian Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Back in 2012, Italy already downsized its initial order for 135 jets to 90 as it was battling with a sovereign debt crisis.

The March general election in Italy, following weeks of uncertainty and political bickering, propelled a new government of the right-wing Lega Nord and anti-establishment Five Star Movement to power. The fact that it is now a part of the ruling coalition might have put some constraints on the party’s policy, which has always been in stark opposition to the costly program.

As the party presented its defense manifesto in May last year, Tatiana Basilio, then a Five Star MP in the parliament, said that “there will be no ifs or buts about leaving the F-35 program” if her party clinched the vote.

“€14 billion for 90 F-35s is too costly and we are putting ourselves in the hands of the US,” Basilio said at the time.

One aircraft currently costs Italy €51.3 million, while, overall, it has to spend some €14 billion on the jets.

Meanwhile, the program has been bogged down by unresolved technical issues, such as faulty helmets, malfunctioning ejector seats and overblown costs.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Companies Accrued $1 Billion From F-35 Deals

Sputnik – 15.02.2017

Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.

The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’

“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.

A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.

Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.

Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.

Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

War Consciousness and the F-35

By Robert Koehler | CounterPunch | January 13, 2017

“The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future.”

Lurking behind this perky little PR blurb, from the F-35’s own website, is the void into which the soul of the human race has disappeared.

This is war consciousness: locked into place, awash in money. The deeply flawed F-35, the most expensive military weapons system in history, is ultimately projected to cost over $1 trillion, but no matter: “It will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future.”

What does that mean? It sounds like an ad for the next Star Trek movie, but it’s U.S. foreign policy — or, more accurately, the defining assumption of nationhood: We will always be at war with someone. It’s the quintessential self-fulfilling prophecy. When we spend trillions of dollars “preparing” for war, by God, we’ll find an enemy, as ever.

This is the consciousness we must transcend, and opposing Lockheed Martin’s way-over-budget, absolutely-unnecessary-for-national-security F-35 fighter jet, which is supposed to be ready to go by 2019, is certainly a good place to start.

“The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose,” reads the petition now in circulation, initiated by a dozen organizations. “It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill.

“Wars are endangering the United States and other participants rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, as signers of this petition, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas.”

At the local end of this travesty, the F-35s, which would be based in Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, are so dangerous they could render nearby residential areas uninhabitable. The extreme noise level could cause cognitive impairment in children, according to a World Health Organization report; and the planes’ high risk of crashing, combined with highly toxic materials used in their construction, put local residents at an unacceptable risk.

But the absurdity of subjecting people to such risks is magnified exponentially by the needlessness to do so. […]

Consider: “The Defense Department is designing robotic fighter jets that would fly into combat alongside manned aircraft,” the New York Times reported in October. “It has tested missiles that can decide what to attack, and it has built ships that can hunt for enemy submarines, stalking those it finds over thousands of miles, without any help from humans.

“Defense officials say the weapons are needed for the United States to maintain its military edge over China, Russia and other rivals, who are also pouring money into similar research (as are allies, such as Britain and Israel). The Pentagon’s latest budget outlined $18 billion to be spent over three years on technologies that included those needed for autonomous weapons.”

What a world we’re planning! I believe there’s still time to change directions, but the demand to do so must begin today.

Robert Koehler is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson | Let’s Try Democracy | October 31, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to not only compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that’d be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we’ll work with its flaws, won’t we?

Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminution of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn’t that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn’t at stake?

What if this product, even when working perfectly, was a leading destroyer of the earth’s natural environment?

What if this high-tech toy wasn’t even designed to do what was expected of it and wasn’t even able to do what it was designed for?

Amazingly, even those shortcomings do not matter as long as the intention is massive murder and destruction. Then, all is forgiven.

The tool I’m describing is called the F-35. At RootsAction.org you can find a new petition launched by locally-minded people acting globally in places where the F-35 is intended to be based. Also at that link you’ll find explanations of how the tool I’ve been describing is the F-35.

The petition is directed to the United States Congress and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and South Korea from the world and from the people of Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, where the F-35 is to be based. This effort is being initiated by Vermont Stop the F35 Coalition, Save Our Skies Vermont, Western Maine Matters, Alaska Peace Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks Peace Club, North Star Chapter 146 Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, and Ben Cohen.

The petition reads:

The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose. It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. Military spending, contrary to popular misconception, also hurts the U.S. economy (see here) and other economies. The F-35 causes negative health impacts and cognitive impairment in children living near its bases. It renders housing near airports unsuitable for residential use. It has a high crash rate and horrible consequences to those living in the area of its crashes. Its emissions are a major environmental polluter.

Wars are endangering the United States and other participating nations rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas. We oppose replacing the F-35 with any other weapon or basing the F-35 in any other locations. We further demand redirection of the money for the F-35 back into taxpayers’ pockets, and into environmental and human needs in the U.S., other F-35 customer nations, and around the world, including to fight climate change, pay off student debt, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and improve education, healthcare, and housing.

Add your name.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Arms Makers Invest in a New Cold War

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | September 1, 2016

The U.S. military has won only a single major war since the end of World War II (the Gulf War of 1990-91). But U.S. military contractors continue to win major budget wars in Congress nearly every year, proving that no force on earth can resist their lobbying prowess and political clout.

Consider the steady march to victory of the biggest single weapons program in history — the planned purchase of advanced Lockheed-Martin F-35 jets by the Air Force, Navy, and Marines at a total projected cost of more than $1 trillion.

The Air Force and Marines have both declared the Joint Strike Fighter ready for combat, and Congress is now forking over billions of dollars a year to acquire what is slated to become a fleet of 2,400 jets.

Yet the world’s most expensive fighter bomber still doesn’t work properly and may never perform as advertised. That’s not “dezinformatsiya” from Russian “information warfare” specialists. That’s the official opinion of the Pentagon’s top weapons evaluator, Michael Gilmore.

In an Aug, 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Gilmore warned senior Pentagon officials that the F-35 program “is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s promised capabilities. He said the program “is running out of time and money to complete the planned flight testing and implement the required fixes and modifications.”

The military testing czar reported that complex software problems and testing deficiencies “continue to be discovered at a substantial rate.” As a result, the planes may fail to track moving targets on the ground, warn pilots when enemy radar systems spot them, or make use of a newly designed bomb. Even the F-35’s gun may not function properly.

Devastating Assessments

The internal Pentagon assessment was just the latest in a long list of devastating critical assessments and development setbacks for the plane. They include repeated groundings of the plane due to fires and other safety issues; the discovery of dangerous engine instability; and helmets that can cause fatal whiplash. The plane even got soundly beaten in a mock engagement with a much older (and cheaper) F-16.

Last year, an article in the conservative National Review argued that “the biggest threat the U.S. military faces over the next few decades is not the carrier-killing Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile, or the proliferation of inexpensive quiet diesel-electric attack subs, or even Chinese and Russian anti-satellite programs. The biggest threat comes from the F-35 . . . For this trillion-dollar-plus investment we get a plane far slower than a 1970s F-14 Tomcat, a plane with less than half the range of a 40-year-old A-6 Intruder . . . and a plane that had its head handed to it by an F-16 during a recent dogfight competition.”

Likening the F-35 to a previous failed fighter jet program, retired Air Force Colonel Dan Ward observed last year, “Perhaps the truly best scenario for the Joint Strike Fighter is for it to follow in the footsteps of the F-22 and provide a combat capability that is irrelevant to actual military needs. That way, when the whole fleet gets grounded because of an unsolvable flaw, the impact on our defense posture would be nil.”

Lockheed’s “Pay-to-Play Ad Agency”

Coming to the program’s defense most recently was military analyst Dan Goure, in the blog of the respected magazine, The National Interest. Goure belittled critics in the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office as “green eyeshade people, like the goblins at Gringott’s in the Harry Potter series.”Unknown

Describing the F-35 as “a revolutionary platform,” he declared, “Its ability to operate undetected in hostile airspace, gathering information and even targeting data on enemy air and ground targets, before launching surprise attacks demonstrates a decisive advantage over existing threat systems. . . . The Joint Strike Fighter test program is making progress at an accelerated rate. More to the point, even before it has completed the rigid performance template laid out by DOT&E, the F-35 has demonstrated capabilities that far exceed any current Western fighter.”

If that reads a bit like a Lockheed-Martin marketing brochure, consider the source. In his article, Goure identified himself only as a vice president of the Lexington Institute, which bills itself as “a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.”

What Goure didn’t say — and the Lexington Institute doesn’t generally disclose — is that “it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to ‘comment on defense,’” according to a 2010 profile in Politico.

Earlier the same year, Harper’s contributor Ken Silverstein called the widely quoted think tank “the defense industry’s pay-to-play ad agency.” He added, “Outfits like Lexington produce the press conferences, position papers and op-eds that keep military money flowing to defense contractors.”

Goure’s indirect association with Lockheed gives a hint as to why programs like the F-35 continue to thrive despite performance failures, gigantic cost overruns, and schedule delays that would otherwise trigger headline-grabbing congressional investigations and produce streams of indignant rhetoric from Fox News commentators about government failure.

Promoting the New Cold War

Think tanks like the Lexington Institute are prime movers behind the domestic propaganda campaign to revive the Cold War against the diminished Russian state and justify weapons programs like the F-35.

As Lee Fang observed recently in The Intercept, “The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.”

Thus the Lockheed-funded Aerospace Industries Association warns that the Obama administration is failing to spend enough on “aircraft, ship and ground combat systems” to adequately address “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.” The Lockheed- and Pentagon-funded Center for European Policy Analysis issues a stream of alarmist reports about Russian military threats to Eastern Europe.

And the highly influential Atlantic Council — funded by Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, and even the Ukrainian World Congress — promotes articles like “Why Peace is Impossible with Putin” and declares that NATO must “commit to greater military spending” to deal with “a revanchist Russia.”

Origins of NATO’s Expansion

The campaign to portray Russia as a menace, led by contractor-funded pundits and analysts, began soon after the Cold War ended. In 1996, Lockheed executive Bruce Jackson founded the U.S. Committee on NATO, whose motto was “Strengthen America, Secure Europe. Defend Values. Expand NATO.”

Its mission ran directly contrary to promises by the George H.W. Bush administration not to expand the Western military alliance eastward after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Joining Jackson were such neo-conservative hawks as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Robert Kagan. One neocon insider called Jackson — who went on to co-found the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq — “the nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.”

The organization’s intense and highly successful lobbying efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1998, the New York Times reported that “American arms manufacturers, who stand to gain billions of dollars in sales of weapons, communication systems and other military equipment if the Senate approves NATO expansion, have made enormous investments in lobbyists and campaign contributions to promote their cause in Washington. . . .

“The four dozen companies whose main business is arms have showered candidates with $32.3 million since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the decade. By comparison, the tobacco lobby spent $26.9 million in that same period, 1991 to 1997.”

A spokesman for Lockheed said, ”We’ve taken the long-term approach to NATO expansion, establishing alliances. When the day arrives and those countries are in a position to buy combat aircraft, we certainly intend on being a competitor.”

The lobbying worked. In 1999, against Russian opposition, NATO absorbed the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. In 2004, it added Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Albania and Croatia joined next in 2009. Most provocatively, in 2008 NATO invited Ukraine to join the Western alliance, setting the stage for the dangerous conflict between NATO and Russia over that country today.

The fortunes of American arms makers soared. “By 2014, the twelve new [NATO] members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons,” according to Andrew Cockburn, “while . . . Romania celebrated the arrival of Eastern Europe’s first $134 million Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore missile-defense system.”

Last fall, Washington Business Journal reported that “if anyone is benefitting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT). The company is positioned to make large profits off what could very well be an international military spending spree by Russia’s neighbors.”

Citing a big contract to sell missiles to Poland, the newspaper added, “Officials from Lockheed aren’t explicitly declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine is good for business, but they aren’t shying away from recognizing the opportunity that Poland is presenting them as Warsaw continues to embark on a massive military modernization project — one that has accelerated as tensions grip Eastern Europe.”

Lockheed’s Lobby Machine

Lockheed continues to pump money into the American political system to ensure that it remains the nation’s largest military contractor. From 2008 to 2015, its lobbying expenditures exceeded $13 million in all but one year. The company sprinkled business from the F-35 program into 46 states and claims that it generates tens of thousands of jobs.

Among the 18 states enjoying a claimed economic impact of more than $100 million from the fighter jet is Vermont — which is why the F-35 gets the support even of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

As he told one town hall meeting, “It employs hundreds of people. It provides a college education for hundreds of people. So for me the question is not whether we have the F-35 or not. It is here. The question for me is whether it is located in Burlington, Vermont or whether it is located in Florida.”

In 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” had begun to influence “every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.”

In his famous farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

How right he was. But not even Ike could have imagined the extravagant costs to the nation of failing to hold that complex at bay — ranging from a trillion-dollar fighter jet program to the needless and far more dangerous resurrection of the Cold War a quarter century after the West achieved victory.


Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]

September 1, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Self-Inflicted Defense Woes

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 01.08.2016

The United States poses as a champion against the great threats facing global security and stability, an uphill battle it claims requires equally great sacrifices, especially in terms of defense spending. It must be just a coincidence that the many policy think-tanks promoting this notion just so happen to be funded by huge multinational defense contractors.

The Atlantic Council, for instance, includes among its corporate members, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Thales, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, just to name a few. So when Atlantic Council authors wrote about the subject of close air support (CAS) aircraft, it should come as no surprise that the development or procurement of a new system was the option of choice, this despite the fact that a brand new aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, was already supposed to fill this role.

The Atlantic Council’s article, “Starting with the Answer in Procurement: The USAF’s plans for new close support aircraft show an unusual willingness to move out quickly,” would claim:

… after years of hearing that the F-35A would be the sort-of replacement for the A-10C, it’s worth reviewing why it never could be. It’s not for the gun or the armor. It’s the increased threat: Russian motorized rifle brigades now run with lots of their own 30 mm guns, looking up. Missiles are now a bigger problem too. As Colonel Mike Pietrucha USAF wrote for War On The Rocks last month, the heat from that huge engine is itself a huge target for heat-seekers. Lockheed has worked hard to suppress the signature, but physics dictate there’s only so much that can be done. Overall, the hundred-million-dollar jet is just too expensive to hazard to for busting tanks that way.

The projected cost of the F-35 program in total is estimated to be well over 1 trillion USD. The cost for each aircraft averages 100 million USD. That the Atlantic Council’s authors deem it “too expensive” to use for one of the roles it was allegedly proposed to fill, should make US and allied taxpayers wonder just what they have mortgaged their futures for.

Currently for CAS, the US Air Force depends on the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, as well as multirole aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-16. To replace the A-10, the US plans to use F-16’s more widely, that is, until a new CAS system is developed.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly’s article, “USAF considers future CAS options,” reports that:

In the short-term the USAF has plans to replace some A-10s with Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, but in the medium- to longer-terms there are plans to procure or develop either a platform that that can operate either in a permissive environment only, or one that can operate in both a permissive and contested environment. The options are being considered under the auspices of the recently announced A-X project.

So in addition to the 1 trillion USD F-35 program, there will be an additional program to develop the next generation of CAS aircraft for the US Air Force. One wonders if the F-35’s other slated roles will also require parallel defense programs to fill as the fundamental flaws of the entire program begin to unfold.

The F-35 is Just One Symptom of a Wider Malady…

A trillion dollars spent on a useless aircraft that requires multiple parallel defense programs to compensate for, represents different problems to different people depending on their perspective. To some, it appears to be supreme incompetence and poor planning. To others, a tragic waste of national resources. But to others still, it appears to be the only logical conclusion a nation and its tax dollars can arrive at, when it is driven by special interests in pursuit of power and profits, rather than any particular purpose.

The 1 trillion USD going into the F-35 program is not disappearing into a black hole. Lockheed Martin is receiving that money. With it, it will purchase more lobbying power in Washington, more clout on Wall Street, more authors to pen favorable “policy” proposals within the halls of think tanks like the Atlantic Council and more journalists across the international press to promote these proposals to the general public. It will also use this wealth to help promote the wars that will in turn, drive demand for yet more costly defense programs it will undoubtedly share a stake in developing and profiting from.

While the F-35, the new CAS program being developed to augment it, and virtually every other defense program the US and its allies are moving forward with, are predicated on maintaining national defense, it appears quite clear that the self-preservation of the corporations involved takes primacy over the former.

The US will not be safer with the F-35 in the air. In conflicts like the 2008 Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine or the war raging in Syria, Russia has proven that a fraction of the resources spent on defense, if spent properly, can meet or exceed the performance of US-NATO military capabilities.

On what is a shoestring budget by comparison, Russia’s combination of pragmatic military spending and proper strategic planning and implementation has become a case study of how a Middle East intervention should be done. The Syria Russia is helping preserve through its military intervention is one with a stable, secular government that has and will continue to be a valuable ally against armed militants throughout the region. Compare this in contrast to the trillions of dollars spent on US interventions throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia where the apparent, or at least evident purpose was to divide and destroy nations, leaving them tinderboxes of violence and conflict as well as breeding grounds for extremism, seemingly, purposefully, inviting conflict after unending conflict.

The US is spending more to make the world a more dangerous place, with unnecessary weapons systems even analysts working for think tanks funded by their manufacturers admit are too expensive and impractical to use on the battlefield for the roles they were intended to fulfill.

It is not that the US and its industry are incapable in technical terms of creating a functional and premier national defense, it is that the US and its industry are incapable of adhering to a rational policy that would require such a national defense. Defense dysfunction amid a world intentionally destabilized, it turns out, is much better for business, and the F-35 with its emerging parallel defense programs it now requires, is symptomatic of this.

August 1, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Lockheed Threatens Economic Harm to Canada for Refusing to Buy F-35

Sputnik – 16.06.2016

The defense contractor attempted to extort one of the most powerful sovereign countries in the world, warning that as many as 10,000 jobs would be lost if the country did not commit to purchasing a fighter jet that ‘does not work.’

This weekend, American defense contractor Lockheed Martin threatened to exclude Canadian companies from production of the much maligned F-35 fighter jet if the Trudeau government decides to instead purchase a fleet of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jets.

“The F-35 does not work and is far from working,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a June 7 parliamentary debate, blasting the fighter jet that has cost the Pentagon over $1.5 trillion. Despite this exorbitant price tag, the jet continues to spontaneously shut down mid-flight due to software glitches.

The fighter jet that cost US taxpayers more than the gross domestic product of Canada will not face an initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) until mid-2018, according to Pentagon reports. Due to this delay, Lockheed Martin will not complete production of a full fleet of F-35s until 2019 at the earliest and the aircraft may not be combat ready until nearly 2021.

Lockheed Martin attempted to mislead the public about the fiscal and battlefield realities surrounding the costly warplane, conducting a publicity tour across Canadian TV over the weekend to threaten the country’s people with economic reprisals amounting to several hundred million dollars and nearly 10,000 jobs.

“I don’t want it perceived as a threat, but we will have no choice: If Canada walks away from F-35, expect to relocate work in Canada to other purchasing nations,” Steve Over, Lockheed’s director of F-35 internal business told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Canadian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Jordan Owens blasted the defense firm’s flagrant attempt at intimidation, maintaining that the government will decide on a fighter jet based on security needs.

“Despite Lockheed’s eagerness to send a spokesperson from Texas to Ottawa in order to game out hypothetical scenarios in the media, Canada remains a member of the Joint Strike Fighter program,” said Owens.

The Joint Strike Fighter program is a development and acquisition alliance of the US, UK, Turkey, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands and Canada, under which the member states selected the F-35 Lightning II to replace various tactical aircraft.

The program has brought $610 million in contracts to Canadian defense contractors, but Ottawa argues that the JSF agreement does not tie them irrevocably to the F-35 in order to receive program benefits.

“According to the agreement, as long as Canada remains a JSF partner it is fully entitled to have its industry bid and get contracts,” said Alan Williams, the former assistant deputy minister at Canada’s Department of National Defense. “There is no stipulation that Canada has to purchase the F-35.”

Williams returned the threat to Lockheed Martin saying that any attempts to disenfranchise Canadian firms while the country remains a JSF partner and contributes its payments into the effort will result in immediate legal action against the defense contracting firm.

Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Cindy Tessier shot back that the defense firm’s position was that Canada’s involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter program was predicated upon “Canada’s stated commitment to the procurement of 65 jets.”

The previous Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper initially committed to purchasing 65 F-35s, but attempted to back out of the arrangement citing unforeseen costs and technical issues with the aircraft that made the acquisition impractical.

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Lockheed Replaces Chief of Beleaguered F-35 Program

Sputnik – 31.10.2015

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 has been an undeniable embarrassment for the US military. Perhaps, at last, the company is starting to realize its faults, as it adjusts the program’s management team.

After spending nearly $400 billion on its development, the F-35 has seen its share of problems, despite being the most expensive piece of military hardware ever created. In addition to concerns that the jet’s software was vulnerable to cyberattack, the F-35’s fundamental performance capabilities have also been called into question.

“The jet fighter lacks the sensors weapons and speed that allow a warplane to reliably detect and shoot down other planes in combat,” a report from War is Boring reads. “At least not compared to modern Chinese- and Russian-made jets – the planes the F035 is most likely to face in battle in some future war.”

Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin was behind the jet, with the program being led by Lorraine Martin.

But on Friday, the company announced a shakeup. Lorraine Martin is out, to be replaced by her deputy, Jeff Babione.

“He brings a deep understanding of the F-35 program, strong customer relationships and a collaborative leadership style that will ensure we continue the positive momentum of the program,” Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Aeronautics, said in a statement.

While the company didn’t elaborate on the reason for the change in management, Lockheed has experienced a couple of major setbacks in recent weeks.

Almost immediately after winning office earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau announced that his administration would pull out of the US-led coalition over Iraq and Syria. That means the new Liberal government will also be abandoning the F-35 program.

During his campaign, Trudeau said he would launch a new contracting competition to update the military’s aging fleet.

Earlier this week, Lockheed also lost a major defense contract to rival Northrop Grumman. A joint-team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin were competing against Northrop for the Pentagon’s contract to develop the next generation Long Range Strike-Bomber. Needed to replace the US Air Force’s fleet of B-1 and B-52s, the contract is estimated to be worth over $100 billion.

Prior to the Pentagon’s announcement, Lockheed-Boeing was expected to win.

While military officials refused to specify what went into their decision making process, it’s hard to imagine that the ballooning costs of the F-35 program didn’t play some role.

Martin will move to a newly created position of deputy executive vice president for Mission Systems and Training, through which she will oversee the company’s acquisition of Sikorsky helicopters.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment