Daily Archives: July 27, 2011

Expensive Weapons of the Future

(The F-35 aircraft fighter is expected to be) the “fifth generation” fighter, far more effective in both its primary ground-attack role and air defence than “legacy” aircraft… (The costs of developing the F-35 are huge)but the cost of operating and supporting them are staggering: $1 trillion over the plane’s lifetime…

Even if America and some of its NATO allies cut their orders (of F-35), Lockheed Martin is confident that the numbers will be more than made up by countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. All these nations are rich and nervous of Beijing. Mr Burbage draws comparison with the F-16, of which more than 4,500 will be built over its long life.

But the longer-term outlook for the F-35 is uncertain. Its costly capabilities are intended to make it effective against the air defences of a sophisticated enemy, such as China. But the growing vulnerability of American aircraft carriers to Chinese missiles will mean operating from well beyond the F-35’s 600-mile (1,000km) range.

Some military strategists already think that the job the F-35 is meant to do can be better handled by cruise missiles and remotely piloted drones. In many roles, unmanned planes are more efficient: they carry neither a bulky pilot nor the kit that keeps him alive, which means they can both turn faster and be stealthier. And if they are shot down, no one dies. Even the F-35’s champions concede that it will probably be the last manned strike fighter aircraft the West will build.

Excerpts from, The defence industry: The last manned fighter, Economist, July 16, 2011, at 67

Covert Action: killing nuclear scientists

Iran says one of its nuclear scientists has been “assassinated” in Tehran.  State media reports say the scientist was killed in front of his house on Saturday by unidentified assailants who were riding motorcycles. The ISNA news agency has identified the scientist as Daryoushi Rezaie. The report says his wife was injured in the attack. Last year, Iranian officials blamed Israel for bomb attacks that killed a prominent nuclear scientist and wounded another. State media reports said one explosion killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahrairi and a separate blast wounded nuclear physicist Fereidoun Abbasi. The reports say in both cases, attackers on motorcycles attached bombs to the scientists’ cars.  The intelligence ministry later said authorities had arrested more than 10 suspects in connection to the attacks. It said the suspects were linked to Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Israel denied involvement in the incidents. Tensions have been high between Iran and many western nations that suspect Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iranian Nuclear Scientist ‘Assassinated’, Voice of America, July 23rd, 2011