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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

OUR EMBARRASSING FLOATING GOLF BALL

The Los Angeles Times and Honolulu Star Advertiser finally swatted that golf ball to the left.  I have long been making fun of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, otherwise known as the Floating Golf Ball.  To quote from my posting of more than six years ago:

Well, here is yet another view of that Pearl Harbor golf ball, also known as the billion dollar Sea-Based X Band Radar.  This ten million pound marine defense equivalent of the Dodo bird, is just hoping that the soon to be launched North Korean missile heads towards Hawaii instead of outer space.  Otherwise, SBXBR is enjoying an almost perpetual R&D assignment in Hawaii, somewhat similar to my lifestyle in Hawaii. 

The following year:

Also in town is our regular winter visitor, the Navy's answer to missile detection that wants to be a golf ball for Gulliver.  This billion dollar Sea-based X-band radar (SBX) arrived at Pearl Harbor in 2006, nearly 15 years too late for the Cold War.  Of all the ironies, the sphere sits on a Russian semi-submersible.  I read some time back that a second SBX was being planned for Japan.  They can take ours!

Yes, I am critical about American spending on more weapons.  The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in 2006 cost $4 billion, the George H.W. Bush floated last year was built for $6 billion, and the America coming up will be built for at least $9 billion, not counting the enormous R&D expenditures.  STOP!!!  We already have 11 carriers.  How many theaters will we need to protect in the future?  (Sure, I know that is George W. Bush, but that photo should somehow be used for the future relevance of aircraft carriers.)

That was nearly five years ago, but this $9 billion aircraft carrier I mentioned above is now called the USS Gerald R. Ford, still three years away from being ready, and will cost $17.5 billion, including R&D.  Want to bet the total bill to taxpayers when operational will exceed $20 billion?  I can only smirk that the name so well fits the eventual mission, which will mostly be to scare off terrorists and, perhaps also, force the hand of China to build an even more expensive white elephant.  Didn't anyone in the Department of Defense get the memo that aircraft carriers are now obsolete?

I had a whole list of bullets pointing out the faults of that floating golf ball, but if you want details, read that article.  It could have been worse, for Airborne lasers on a fleet of Boeing 747s was a $5.3 billion debacle.  Then there is the continuing saga of the lemon known as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, projected to cost $1.45 trillion (that is a tidy sum of $1,450 billion).  So why is this project still alive?

That means that presently, F-35 sales that represent 17% of Lockheed Martin's annual revenue stream could rise to nearly 50% of the company's annual sales over time. (Especially if we assume that revenues from sales of F-16 fighter jets, for example, will shrink as that plane is phased out in favor of the F-35.)

Ever heard of something called the Military-Industrial Complex?  You either have confidence in their continued dominance or get rid of your Lockheed Martin stocks as fast as possible.

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Tropical Cyclone Joalane is still strengthening and lurking in the Indian Ocean.  No islands at this time appear to be in the projected path:


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