Mar 08

- Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes in production found with ‘hairline cracks’ on wings says US firm (Independent, March 8, 2014):

Plane manufacturers Boeing said on Friday that “hairline cracks” had been discovered in the wings of about 40 787 Dreamliners that are currently in production.

The cracks are the latest trouble for the Dreamliner, a high-tech jet largely made of carbon-fiber composite that has been beset with so-called “teething issues” since entering service in 2011, three years behind schedule.

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Feb 28


YouTube Added: Feb 25, 2014

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Abby Martin remarks on a recent report by GoodJobsFirst.org which exposes the absurd amount of taxpayer money used to provide some of the wealthiest companies in the US with corporate welfare.

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Nov 22

- “This Is Really A Symbol Of What’s Going On In This Whole Country. We’re Losing Middle-Class Jobs” (ZeroHedge, Nov 21,2013):

We wish we could say we didn’t warn Boeing’s machinists about the key trend taking place in the US economy under the Obama “recovery” but unfortunately we did. Three years ago, to be specific, when we wrote: “Charting America’s Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society” and followed it up with “A “Quality Assessment” Of US Jobs Reveals The Ugliest Picture Yet” in which we explained that while the propaganda machine was fixated on numeric, quantitative, job additions every month, what has subversively going on, was the constant deterioration in the quality of jobs – and specifically the declining wages – available to those Americans who had not rotated outside of the labor force permanently (currently at a record 91.5 million). We say “alas” because it once again took several years before our cautions to be felt by the broader population, in this case the Boeing machinist union struggling to extract a wage increase from its employer: Boeing, whose stock keeps hitting new record highs with every passing day.

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Sep 25

- Empty F-16 jet tested by Boeing and US Air Force (BBC News, Sep 24, 2013):

Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones.

It said that one of the Lockheed Martin F-16 made a first flight with an empty cockpit last week.

Two US Air Force pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from a Florida base to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Jul 12

- Boeing Craters On Another Burning Dreamliner; Deadly Train Crash In Paris (ZeroHedge, July 12, 2013)

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Jul 06

- Boeing 777 Crashes In San Francisco (2 Dead, Up To 70 Injured) – Live Feed (ZeroHedge, July 6, 2013)

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Apr 11

- Boeing Subsidiary Spectrolab Sets World Record for Solar Cell Efficiency (Boeing, April 9, 2013):

  • Highest ever energy conversion efficiency without solar concentration
  • Increased efficiency for ground-based applications

SYLMAR, Calif., April 9, 2013 — A Spectrolab solar cell recently set a world record by converting more energy from the sun into electricity than any other ground-based solar cell without solar concentration.

The Boeing [NYSE: BA] subsidiary’s achievement in ground-based solar cell efficiency was verified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

The cell converted 37.8 percent of solar energy using a new class of high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell, created from two or more materials and leveraging Boeing technology that makes semiconductor materials more reliable. The record was set without concentration, the common practice of having lenses or mirrors focus solar rays on the cells.

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Jan 18

See also:

- The Dream Is Over: FAA Grounds Boeing’s 787 ‘Nightmareliner’


- Dreamliner fix: ‘It’s not easy’ (CNN, Jan 18, 2013):

Whatever the reason for its recent spate of problems, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner won’t fly again until regulators are satisfied the plane is airworthy.

Reports of fire and smoke have put the focus on the plane’s cutting-edge lithium ion battery systems and grounded the fleet worldwide.

Only 50 Dreamliners are in service so far, but the airlines that bought these multimillion dollar aircraft are losing money while they sit on the ground. Big questions remain: How long will it take to get the Dreamliner back in the air? Will travelers feel safe enough to board them?

It’s going to be “a big mess, cost Boeing a lot of money” and embarrass carriers that fly the 787, said aviation historian David T. Courtwright, a professor at the University of North Florida. Continue reading »

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Jan 17


Source

- The Dream Is Over As FAA Grounds Nightmareliner (ZeroHedge, Jan 16, 2013):

The pain for Boeing never stops. Just out from Reuters:

  • U.S. FAA says requiring airlines to temporarily stop flying Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. #BREAKING
  • FAA: Battery failures on Boeing 787s could damage critical systems and structures, spark fire, if not corrected
  • FAA: Will work with Boeing, airlines to develop corrective action plan to resume 787 operations as “quickly and safely as possible”
  • FAA: Decision to ground Boeing 787s prompted by second incident involving lithium ion battery failure
  • FAA: Will also examine Boeing 787 batteries as part of comprehensive review announced last week

So, will Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (i.e., the US government) perhaps reassess his conclusion from last week that the Dreamliner is “safe” or perhaps this too is just more teething problems… Or merely an ultra aggressive case of industrial sabotage from EADS? In other news, perhaps it is time to find a more appropriate name for the Dreamliner? Continue reading »

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Nov 10

- Boeing Announces Big Layoffs in Defense Division (NBC/Reuters, Nov 7, 2012):

Boeing announced a major restructuring of its defense division on Wednesday that will cut 30 percent of management jobs from 2010 levels, close facilities in California and consolidate several business units to cut costs.

The company told employees about the changes on Wednesday, in a memo obtained by Reuters and confirmed by Boeing. Continue reading »

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Oct 24

- CHAMP – lights out (Boeing, Oct 22, 2012):

Cruising fast over the Western Utah Desert, a lone missile makes history at the Utah Test and Training Range. The missile, known as CHAMP, or Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project may one day change modern warfare, by defeating electronic targets with little or no collateral damage.

On Oct. 16th at 10:32 a.m. MST a Boeing Phantom Works team along with members from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate team, and Raytheon Ktech, suppliers of the High Power Microwave source, huddled in a conference room at Hill Air Force Base and watched the history making test unfold on a television monitor.

Power is cut to a room of computers after being hit by a high-powered microwave pulse from a Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project.

CHAMP approached its first target and fired a burst of High Power Microwaves at a two story building built on the test range. Inside rows of personal computers and electrical systems were turned on to gauge the effects of the powerful radio waves. Continue reading »

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Sep 07

- FedEx and Pepsi Are Top Defense Contractors? 5 Corporate Brands Making a Killing on America’s Wars (AlterNet, September 3, 2011):

Chances are, if you’ve ever sent a package overnight, bought a PC or a can of soda, you’ve paid your hard-earned money to a major Pentagon contractor. While large defense corporations that make fighter jets and armored vehicles garner the most attention, tens of thousands of “civilian” companies, from multi-national corporations hawking toothpaste and shampoo to big oil behemoths and even local restaurants scattered across the United States, all supply the Pentagon with the necessities used to carry on day-to-day operations and wage America’s wars. And they’ve made a killing doing it since 9/11.

In 2001, the massive arms dealers Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman ranked one, two and five among Department of Defense contractors, raking in $14.7 billion, $13.3 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively, in contracts. Last year, Lockheed’s contract dollars were almost double their pre-9/11 level, clocking in at $28 billion, while Boeing’s had jumped to almost $19 billion and Northrop Grumman, still in the five spot, had more than doubled its 2001 take, with $12.8 billion in contracts.

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Jul 19

- Charting 60 Years Of Defense Spending, And Why The Mean Reversion Will Cost Millions Of Jobs (ZeroHedge, July 18, 2011):

Moody’s is out with a comprehensive chart of defense spending since 1946 which shows that while over the years the average yearly amount spent on defense by the US government has been around $400 billion, in the past decade this amount has surged to an all time high of just under $750 billion. And while one can debate the reasons for why America spends 20% of annual revenues on military (and debate even more why this number has continued to surge under a Nobel Peace Prize winning president), one thing is rather certain: this number will decline in the coming months and years as Washington has no choice but to cut the defense budget. And while this will likely be a multi-year process, it will have substantial implications for not only the defense companies identified, but for their respectively supply-chains, resulting in hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of layoffs over the next decade as government-sourced revenue plummets and yet another layer of overhead will have to be trimmed.

Per Moodys’

Last week’s escalating political rhetoric and ongoing debate about the US statutory debt ceiling and deficit spending lead us to expect deeper-than-anticipated budget cuts that will negatively affect defense contractors doing business with the US government.

At almost $700 billion and about 20% of total annual domestic outlays (and more than half of discretionary expenditures), the world’s largest defense budget by a factor of 6x (China ranks second) remains politically vulnerable to becoming at least a partial solution to the longstanding deficit problem. Whether or not a satisfactory solution to the growing deficit problem is reached near term and the debt ceiling is raised, there is little doubt that pressure to trim excessive spending will persist.

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Jun 08


Added: 30.03.2011

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May 24

- Pentagon weapons buyer quietly visits California to discuss bomber planes (Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2011):

Deep in the Mojave Desert, surrounded by tiers of barbed-wire fence, the nation’s largest defense contractors work in secrecy designing and building the latest military aircraft at Air Force Plant 42.

The military’s top weapons buyer quietly visited the Palmdale facility this month to talk with leading aerospace executives about plans to build a fleet of radar-evading bombers that the military hopes to have ready for action by the mid-2020s.

The plane would be the first long-range bomber built in the U.S. since the last of the 21 bat-winged B-2 stealth bombers by Northrop Grumman Corp. rolled off the assembly lines at Plant 42 more than a decade ago. The Air Force owns the 5,800-acre industrial park and leases space to aerospace contractors.

Now on the Pentagon wish list is a proposed fleet of 80 to 100 nuclear-capable bombers that could operate with or without a pilot in the cockpit.

Pentagon weapons acquisition chief Ashton Carter met separately with representatives of Northrop, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said. These companies are expected to vie for the estimated $55-billion contract that is expected to provide jobs and decades of work for Southern California’s aerospace industry.

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Nov 23

air-force-zaps-drones-in-laser-test
In a recent series of tests at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., a trailer-mounted laser was able to knock five unmanned aircraft out of the sky.

The demo, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, was a test of the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), an experimental system developed by Boeing Directed Energy Systems. According to a company news release, the test showed the ability to take down a hostile unmanned aircraft with a “relatively low laser power” weapon. According to AFRL, MATRIX uses a two and a half kilowatt-class high energy laser.

While ballistic missile defense may get all of the press, some homeland-security experts worry about a more low-tech threat: drone technology. Bill Baker, chief scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, said in a statement that the shootdowns “validate the use of directed energy to negate potential hostile threats against the homeland.”

It’s not clear, exactly, how the lasers shot down the drones: Whether they disrupted the aircraft controls, or burned a big hole in them. (An AFRL news release said the drones were “acquired, tracked and negated at significant ranges” but offered few additional details.)

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Mar 18

Huge news for real-life ray guns: Electric lasers have hit battlefield strength for the first time — paving the way for energy weapons to go to war.

In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser — past the “100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for ‘weapons grade’ power levels for high-energy lasers,” Northrop’s vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement.

That much power won’t get you a Star Wars-style blaster. But it should be more than enough to zap the mortars and rockets that insurgents have used to pound American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The battlefield-strength breakthrough is just one part in a larger military push to finally make laser weapons a reality, after decades of unfulfilled promises. The Army recently gave Boeing a $36 million contract to build a laser-equipped truck. Raytheon is set to start test-firing a mortar-zapper of its own. Darpa is funding a 150 kilowatt laser project that is meant to be fitted onto “tactical aircraft.”

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Mar 01

Exploding pension fund shortfalls are blowing billion-dollar holes in the balance sheets of some of the Chicago area’s biggest companies, forcing them to make huge contributions to retirement plans at a time when cash flow and credit are already under stress.

Boeing Co.’s shareholder equity is now $1.2 billion in the hole thanks to an $8.4-billion gap between its pension assets and the projected cost of its obligations for 2008. At the end of 2007, Boeing had a $4.7-billion pension surplus. If its investments don’t turn around, the Chicago-based aerospace giant will have to quadruple annual contributions to its plan to about $2 billion by 2011.

Stock market losses also pounded pension funds at Abbott Laboratories Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Exelon Corp., with others sure to emerge as companies file their annual financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission in coming weeks.

The pension gaps underscore a growing conundrum. Unfunded pension liabilities have to be subtracted from shareholder equity, weakening balance sheets at a time when it’s already tough to borrow money. Barring a reprieve from Congress, companies may be forced to make more layoffs or curb capital investments to divert cash to shore up pensions.

“There are companies out there faced with paying their pension plan or staying in business,” says Mark Ugoretz, president and CEO of the ERISA Industry Committee, a Washington, D.C., lobbying group. ERISA refers to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which sets standards to ensure pension plans are sufficiently funded.

The Chicago companies are symptomatic of nationwide woes. Last year, the 100 largest corporate pension funds in the U.S. saw their net assets decline by 21%, while liabilities increased 1.2%. Applying those averages to any of the region’s top funds puts almost all of them into the red by at least $1 billion.

PRESSURE MOUNTS

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Jan 28

The first Boeing Co. 787 airplane is assembled at the company’s manufacturing plant in Everett, Washington on May 19, 2008. Photographer: Kevin P. Casey/Bloomberg News

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. said it plans to cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its workforce, after a strike and program delays led to a fourth-quarter loss and a global recession began to erode demand for aircraft.

The job reductions, disclosed on a conference call today, include 4,500 that were previously announced in the commercial- plane half of Boeing’s business. Earlier the Chicago-based company reported a net loss of $56 million, or 8 cents a share, after a year-ago profit.

Boeing faces a potential increase in canceled or deferred orders this year as airlines cope with a drop in travel demand and tight credit. Almost a third of the world’s carriers are likely to defer deliveries this year, up from 8 percent three months ago, a survey released last week by UBS Investment Research showed.

The planemaker also must carry development costs on the delayed 787 Dreamliner, which is now due to reach the first customer in early 2010, about two years later than planned. An eight-week machinists strike that ended Nov. 2 added to the delays and stripped $1.8 billion from full-year earnings.

The company delivered 50 aircraft in the quarter, 70 fewer than planned, hurting revenue by $4.3 billion and setting it further behind rival Airbus SAS, the only larger commercial-plane maker. Boeing is also the second-largest defense contractor.

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Jan 27

There’s still a lot of blue sky in Boeing’s plans for directed-energy weapons like the Laser Avenger. (Credit: Boeing)

Updated 2:40 p.m. with details on how the laser damaged the UAV and on the Laser Avenger’s targeting system.

Boeing is seeing a glimmer of progress in its work toward fielding laser weapons.

The defense industry giant on Monday said tests of its Laser Avenger system in December marked “the first time a combat vehicle has used a laser to shoot down a UAV,” or unmanned aerial vehicle. In the testing, the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger located and tracked three small UAVs in flight over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and knocked one of the drone aircraft out of the sky.

Boeing didn’t go into much detail about the shoot-down. In response to a query by CNET News, it did say this much about the strike by the the kilowatt-class laser: “A hole was burned in a critical flight control element of the UAV, rendering the aircraft unflyable.”

While decades of Hollywood imagery may conjure up a vision of a target disintegrating in a sparkle of light, the actual workings of the laser beam are probably more prosaic. For instance, the beam from Boeing’s much, much larger Airborne Laser, which is intended to disable long-range missiles in flight, uses heat to create a weak spot on the skin of the missile, causing it to rupture in flight. Boeing hopes to conduct the first aerial shoot-down test with the much-delayed 747-based Airborne Laser later this year.

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Nov 05

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. may end up with as many as 200 new planes without buyers next year because airlines are unable to obtain funds to pay for them amid a global credit squeeze, a consultant said.

“There’s a funding gap and we don’t really know where the money is coming from,” Eddy Pieniazek, a director of aviation adviser Ascend, said at a conference in Hong Kong yesterday. “If the money doesn’t arrive, you can quite easily see 200 new aircraft, or whitetails, parked in a desert.”

Airbus and Boeing, the world’s two-biggest airplane makers, will probably deliver about $65 billion of large commercial aircraft next year, according to a report by JPMorgan Securities Inc. Leasing companies and banks, which will account for about 60 percent of the aircraft financing market in 2008, are likely to “pull back substantially,” creating a funding gap as wide as $20 billion, the report said.

“Nobody is getting out of this alive,” said Bill Cumberlidge, director of aviation asset finance at Allco Finance Group, which on Nov. 4 handed over operations to outside managers after warning it may default on its debt. “The debt market is dead.”

“Zero Liquidity”

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Oct 22

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks tumbled to 5 year lows on Wednesday as investors grappled with an increasingly dire outlook for the global economy following a raft of disappointing profits and outlooks from major U.S. companies.

Plummeting commodities prices sent energy and materials company shares sharply lower. Exxon Mobil was the top drag on the Dow, down almost 10 percent.

Boeing Co’s shares fell 7.5 percent after the aircraft maker reported a steep drop in quarterly profit and warned it might need to provide financing to some of its customers in 2009.

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Sep 14

Despite reservations in Washington regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran, the American administration will supply Israel with sophisticated weapons for heavily fortified targets, the U.S. administration announced.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced it would sell the Israel Air Force 1,000 new smart bombs, rumored to significantly enhance the IAF’s military capabilities. The deal was approved amid public and secret messages from Washington, with the Americans expressing their reservations about a possible Israeli strike against the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear sites.

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Jun 27


Vincent Quinones works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday after the Federal Reserve issued a mixed assessment of the economy. Yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 358 points. (By Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg News)

So much for that second-half rebound.

Truth be told, that was always more of a wish than a serious forecast, happy talk from the Fed and Wall Street desperate to get things back to normal.

It ain’t gonna happen. Not this summer. Not this fall. Not even next winter.

This thing’s going down, fast and hard. Corporate bankruptcies, bond defaults, bank failures, hedge fund meltdowns and 6 percent unemployment. We’re caught in one of those vicious, downward spirals that, once it gets going, is very hard to pull out of.

Only this will be a different kind of recession — a recession with an overlay of inflation. That combo puts the Federal Reserve in a Catch-22 — whatever it does to solve one problem only makes the other worse. Emerging from a two-day meeting this week, Fed officials signaled that further recession-fighting rate cuts are unlikely and that their next move will be to raise rates to contain inflationary expectations.

Since last June, we’ve seen a fairly consistent pattern to the economic mood swings. Every three months or so, there’s a round of bad news about housing, followed by warnings of more bank write-offs and then a string of disappointing corporate earnings reports. Eventually, things stabilize and there are hints that the worst may be behind us. Stocks regain some of their lost ground, bonds fall and then — bam — the whole cycle starts again.

It was only in November that the Dow had recovered from the panicked summer sell-off and hit a record, just above 14,000. By March, it had fallen below 12,000. By May, it climbed above 13,000. Now it’s heading for a new floor at 11,000. Officially, that’s bear market territory. We’ll be lucky if that’s the floor.

In explaining why that second-half rebound never occurred, the Fed and the Treasury and the Wall Street machers will say that nobody could have foreseen $140 a barrel oil. As excuses go, blaming it on an oil shock is a hardy perennial. That’s what Jimmy Carter and Fed Chairman Arthur Burns did in the late ’70s, and what George H.W. Bush and Alan Greenspan did in the early ’90s. Don’t believe it.

Truth is, there are always price or supply shocks of one sort or another. The real problem is that the underlying fundamentals had gotten badly out of whack, making the economy susceptible to a shock. The only way to make things better is to get those fundamentals back in balance. In this case, that means bringing what we consume in line with what we produce, letting the dollar fall to its natural level, wringing the excess capacity out of industries that overexpanded during the credit bubble and allowing real estate prices to fall in line with incomes.

The last hope for a second-half rebound began to fade earlier this month when Lehman Brothers reported that it wasn’t as immune to the credit-market downturn as it had led everyone to believe. Lehman scrambled to restore confidence by firing two top executives and raising billions in additional capital, but even that wasn’t enough to quiet speculation that it could be the next Bear Stearns.

Since then, there has been a steady drumbeat of worrisome news from nearly every sector of the economy.

American Express and Discover warn that customers are falling further behind on their debts. UPS and Federal Express report a noticeable slowdown in shipments, while fuel costs are soaring. According to the Case-Shiller index, home prices in the top 20 markets fell 15 percent in April from the year before, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac report that mortgage delinquency rates doubled over the same period — and that’s for conventional home loans, not subprime. United Airlines accelerates the race to cut costs and capacity by laying off 950 pilots — 15 percent of its total — as a number of airlines retire planes and hint that they may delay delivery or cancel orders of new jets from Boeing and Airbus. Goldman Sachs, which has already had to withdraw its rosy forecast for stocks, now admits it was also too optimistic about junk bond defaults, and analysts warn that Citigroup and Merrill Lynch will also be forced to take additional big write-downs on their mortgage portfolios.

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Jun 13

Information for this article comes from long-time business, finance and political writer and analyst Bob Chapman who publishes the bi-weekly International Forecaster. It’s power-packed with key information and a valued source for this writer. He obtained voluminous material directly from its source. People need to know it. Read on.

SueAnn Arrigo is the source. She was a high-level CIA insider. Her title was Special Operations Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). She also established the Remote Viewing Defense protocols for the Pentagon in her capacity as Remote Viewing Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). It earned her a two-star general rank in the military. She called it a “ploy” so the Pentagon could get more of her time and have her attend monthly Joint Chiefs of Staff meetings. Only high-level types are invited, and she was there from October 2003 to July 2004.

Part of her job involved intelligence gathering on Iraq and Afghanistan – until August 2004 when she refused to spread propaganda about a non-existant Iranian nuclear weapons program and left. She followed in the footsteps of others at CIA who resigned for reasons of conscience and became critics – most notably Ray McGovern, Ralph McGehee, and Phil Agee.

On May 16, 2008, Arrigo sent extensive government corruption and cover-up information to Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee – in 12 separate cases. This article covers four of them or about one-third of what Congress got. The 12 are explosive and revealing but just the tip of the iceberg:

– of government corruption and war profiteering;

– sweetheart deals and kickbacks;

– high-level types on the take;

– trillions of missing dollars;

– on September 10, 2001, Rumsfeld admitting “According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions;”

– imagine the current amount;

– its corrosive effect on the nation; and people should

– demand accountability – who profits, who pays and what are the consequences of militarism gone mad.

SueAnn Arrigo offers a glimpse and at great personal risk. In August 2001, DCI George Tenet told her to assemble “a moving van full of Pentagon documents showing Defense Contractor kickbacks to Pentagon officials.” She did as instructed but not to expose corruption as she learned – to conceal it and in her judgment so CIA could divert defense business to Halliburton and “Carlyle-related contractors.” She stated: “The mood at the CIA and Pentagon was ‘war is coming’ because the Bush Family stands to make billions from it — so get ready.” Continue reading »

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May 24

May 23 (Bloomberg) — Airbus SAS, the world’s largest commercial aircraft maker, is valued at “less than zero” after this year’s 32 percent drop in the shares of parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., according to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analyst Joe Campbell.

“The market is viewing Airbus as a liability, rather than an asset,” said Campbell, 62, who is based in New York and has ranked among the top five aerospace analysts for six consecutive years in an Institutional Investor magazine poll.

EADS, based in Paris and Munich, on May 13 reported an additional three-month delay in deliveries of the A380 superjumbo jetliner, which was already two years behind schedule. Before the latest setback, the company had cut its profit forecast by $6 billion through 2010.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, is also six months to a year late on the A400M military transport. It has a 20 billion- euro ($31.4 billion) contract with six European governments and Turkey for 180 of the planes. Additional cost overruns and penalty payments may drain cash needed for the $16 billion expense of developing the Airbus A350, a long-range jet competing with Boeing Co.‘s 787 and 777.

A February 2007 recovery plan meant to help Airbus cope with a weakening dollar as it competes with Chicago-based Boeing for dominance of the $60 billion-a-year airliner market has stumbled. The planemaker sought in part to shift investment for new planes to subcontractors who would buy Airbus plants. It chose local companies in France and Germany that lacked the capital to shoulder the risk and the plan fell apart. Continue reading »

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May 20

Step by step, Boeing and the Defense Department are getting closer to flying a gunship that fires lasers, instead of bullets.

After years and years of development, Boeing’s Advanced Tactical Laser, a modified C-130H turbprop plane, last week fired its chemically-powered ray gun “in ground tests for the first time,” the company says in a statement.

The plane is supposed to be a prototype for a flying laser blaster that can “destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.”

If “it performs to spec,” Lew Page at the Register notes, the ATL could “take out targets such as individual vehicles or cellphone towers, silently and from as far as 18-20 kilometers. People in the vicinity of an ATL strike might not realize what had happened until well after the event, if at all. This could be especially handy for Boeing’s initial customer – the US military’s secretive Special Operations Command.”

Last year, in lab tests at Kirtland Air Force Base, the ATL’s laser was fired 50 times. By the end of 2008, the plane is scheduled to “fire the chemical laser in-flight at mission-representative ground targets… through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft’s belly,” according to the company.

“Later this year, we will fire the laser in-flight at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon,” Scott Fancher, vice president of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, says.

It’ll certainly be a major day in ray gun history, if it happens. But the ATL relies on vats of toxic chemicals, to produce its laser blasts — which seriously limits its utility. So the military is hoping to get the integration, aiming, and beam-control kinks worked out with this chemical-powered ATL — and then switch over to electric lasers in the coming decade, to make for a more manageable airborne ray gun. Continue reading »

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Apr 13

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – The Bush administration and Republican allies in Congress are again pushing for seed money to explore options for putting a multibillion-dollar layer of ballistic-missile interceptors in space.

Last year, the Democratic-controlled Congress rejected the administration’s request for $10 million to resume studies on the idea, first floated in the 1980s as part of then-President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Derided by critics as “Star Wars,” the concept has been embraced by missile-defense backers as potentially more effective than sea- and ground-based parts of an emerging shield against missiles that could be tipped with chemical, germ or nuclear warheads.

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Apr 02

Cost Overruns Hit $295 Billion
Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.


The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent. (Lockheed Martin Via Associated Press)

Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. “It’s not getting any better by any means,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO’s acquisition and sourcing team. “It’s taking longer and costing more.” Continue reading »

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Mar 15

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Boeing has been awarded a $49 million U.S. Air Force contract to advance the state of the art in laser technology. Continue reading »

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