Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Indian Air Force (IAF) Pending Order For 10 Boeing C-17s Not at Risk as Suggested; Timing of Long Beach Strike Suspect

"The drumbeat of anti-C-17 commentary in US, EU, Indian, Pakistani and other global news mediums; a strike at Boeing Long Beach by Union workers and the observably large leap in logic suggesting Globemaster III will be terminated as a result, appear to be part of a well coordinated effort -- again -- to render as self-fulfilling prophecy SECDEF Gates' unfounded insistence on ending production of the world's most successful strategic/tactical airlifter."
Image: USAF

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan May 13, 2010 (PressReleasePoint) -- Global HeavyLift Holdings, LLC, a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA entity based in Michigan, believes it is appropriate to address, yet again, the continuing attacks, misstatements and outright analytical/factual errors carried by multiple media outlets globally against Boeing C-17. These are largely based on comments by Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert Gates, elements of the USAF, and others demanding an end to its production.

The drumbeat of anti-C-17 commentary in US, EU, Indian, Pakistani and other global news mediums; a strike at Boeing Long Beach by union workers and the observably large leap in logic suggesting the Globemaster III will be terminated as a result, appear to be part of a well coordinated effort -- again -- to render as self-fulfilling prophecy SECDEF Gates' unfounded insistence on ending production of the world's most successful strategic/tactical airlifter.

While GHH feels the bulk of reportage in certain media outlets commendably takes on a aura of objectivity regarding IAF plans to acquire C-17, that aura, they contend, collapses with pointed and all-caps references in some to the US President and SECDEF's stated desire to kill it; i.e., "Everyone agrees, except Obama and Gates. Maybe they know something others are not telling us... Why is India buying the C-17 when Barack Obama and Robert Gates want to junk it, asks Shantanu Guha Ray?"

Since it is somewhat inarguable by virtue of unparalleled mission completion rates (verifiable through the US DoD) that Boeing C-17 is the best airlifter in the history of aviation, and possessed, as articulated by Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling, of true strategic/tactical duality of mission capability, we'll address with specificity the concern mentioned in several versions of a report "Maybe they (the President and SECDEF) know something others are not telling us."

"The direct answer is, and with all due respect to the President and Dr. Gates, no, they do not 'know something others are not telling us', says Myron D. Stokes. GHH Managing Member.

"Since so many editorials are containing C-17 catch phrases like 'unnecessary', 'not requested', 'The Air Force says 180 (or 205, now 223) is enough', one assumes that such assertions concerning this superlative airlifter which has no true near, mid or long term replacement, are fact checked to ascertain the worthiness of these comments", he said.

As stated in several press releases by GHH over the past year, the data to which the President, SECDEF, the SECAF and others have referred to as reasons for termination of C-17 production, have been debunked as based on flawed analytics and inapplicable, outdated, conflict assumptions by the GAO and Congress, or do not exist. GHH believes they can only be referring to the 2005/2006 Mobility Capabilities Study (MCS) produced by the Pentagon Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) and the Strategic airlift section of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) which echoes MCS conclusions that "180 C-17s augmented by 112 REAMP/RERP C-5s was enough".

These same flawed conclusions have been repeated in the 2010 version of MCS, despite DoD claims of "enhanced fidelity" regarding strategic/tactical airlift analytical matrices.
In defense of what seems to be a dichotomy of that which is publicly stated and actual airlift requirements, GHH contends, the AF was pretty much hamstrung and stuck with the Lockheed-Martin C-5s, which the service desperately wanted to get rid of, thanks to behind the scenes maneuvering resulting in a 2004 Congressional mandate authored by Sens. Kennedy and Biden that prevented retirement of any models save for those 14 AC that were absolutely beyond repair.

The comments of a very upset AF General were conveyed to GHH by government associates the day the mandate was implemented: "We keep trying to push these aircraft [C-5s] out the back door, and they [Congress and LMCO] keep pushing them in the front door. From this point on, it's going to be darned difficult to get C-17s at the levels we need them (at least 222, with 300+ quite usable)." (note: as of August 2009, this mandate was allowed to expire, paving the way for the USAF to retire C-5A and B models known for their notorious unreliability; currently, a 56% mission completion rate)

"The General mentioned above was of course, quite correct," says Stokes. "It has been a yearly struggle to keep the C-17 Long Beach line open. And because the existence and continuance of C-17 is so vital to our implementation of a US/NATO-controlled Heavy and Outsized industry utilizing modestly, very modestly, modified Globemasters designated BC-17, we have worked diligently to maintain its production as the linked releases from last year, following the April 2009 announcement by Dr. Gates of DoD intent to end production, demonstrate:

Puzzling Behavior

Stokes further says the arguments presented by C-17 antagonists have at best been puzzling, and most certainly to Boeing, since there is no basis whatsoever for their assertions of "We have enough C-17s and buying more is a waste of money, epitomizes 'pork barrel' spending and is a poster child for the extremes of earmarks."

"Nothing is further from the truth, and we openly challenge our colleagues both within government and those who represent the private sector cheering section calling for the demise of this indispensable airlifter, currently flying at over 159% of mission utilization projections, to produce the data to support their arguments. It is not enough to say 'planes the AF did not request or need', 'unwanted C-17s', or, 'The SECAF says they have more than enough to handle even worst case scenarios'. No, one must be able to support such contentions, and we must not forget the DoD spends 10s of millions to contract Russian/Ukrainian owned An-124s to make up for in-theater strategic airlift shortfalls. So much for 'we have enough'", he said.

Short story? The data do not exist to support C-17 termination.

GHH personnel and associates within industry and government marvel at the lengths certain colleagues in the private sector constituting elements of what they believe to be an "intellectual" assault on C-17, are willing to go in demanding the end of this aircraft. This, in the form of specious, if not fallacious, claims relative to C-17 cost which one think-tank claimed was USD376 million (included per plane development costs; an atypical publicly stated cost representation that goes beyond the disingenuous), another organization, 276 milliion. The AF gets them according to Boeing and the service itself, for 200-230 million or soon, even less, as Boeing Long Beach administrative and production personnel become more efficient everyday through the process of continuous improvement. Economies of scale will reduce costs even further, thereby reinforcing the wisdom of a multi-year buy (2011-2020) for 120+ C-17s.

And then, there are those who make an "apples to oranges" comparison of retrofitted C-5s versus new C-17, citing "USD81 million for the larger capacity (120 ton) Galaxy as opposed to 200 million for the smaller (87 ton) Globemaster III."

"As noted in a 2009 Aviation Week piece by Amy Butler, the comparative numbers presented in response to a clearly planted question, taken at face value, would cause any reasonable person to conclude that support of C-17 would justify an immediate psychiatric examination", Stokes said. "That is, up until the moment they are gobsmacked by the operational realities of Iraq and especially Afghanistan: C-5s require significant infrastructure, and as in-theater personnel have said 'There ain't a lot of that in Afghanistan."

Operation of C-5's, large targets they are and not likely to be missed by even the most incompetent of attacking enemy fighter pilots, also requires control of the air in the battlespace (ask any driver what ship they'd like to be in, C-5 vs C-17, in a chance encounter with a Mig-35. Some may also remember Tom Clancy's treatment in his book World War III of troop-laden C-5s encountering armed Russian bombers) .

Indeed, C-17, owing to its extraordinary ability to operate on underprepared, even unprepared, runways as long as it's flat or near flat, earth (the proposed C-17B is designed to land in mud or beach sand) in austere in-theater locales makes it the indispensable, life-saving, battle winning, strategic/tactical airlifter it has proven to be. In Air Force tests, it has landed and taken off with 22 tons aboard in distances less than 1350'.

Unprecedented Capability

C-17's amazing performances, whether humanitarian/disaster relief or conflict support missions, are virtually the stuff of legend... seriously.

Most importantly, C-17 has proven on a continuing basis it is the ideal, if not perfect, airlift platform for addressing the potential of conventional and asymmetric warfare existing concomitantly, along with an observable increase in the frequency of disaster/humanitarian relief scenarios (think Haiti, Chile and Katrina). This reality, according to military strategists, dictates need for an ability to rapidly project significant force in a way that acknowledges the comfortable bi-polarity of the Cold War has been replaced by the dangers and unpredictability of a militarily/economically emergent China, a nuclear armed Iran, the traditional uncertainties associated with North Korea's beligerence and terrorist organizations possessed of global reach.

A World Being Made Safe For Retrofitted C-5s, C130Js and Airbus A400Ms?

Stokes further says Global HeavyLift will continue in its firm belief that the non-stop and intense efforts to kill Boeing C-17 are directly the result of a desire by involved parties to ensure retrofit of all remaining C-5s, advance the cause of C-5M, and introduce the yet-to-be-operational Airbus/EADS A400M 37 tonne capacity (now 25 tonnes due to its currently being 12 tonnes overweight) turboprop tactical airlifter into USAF inventories, an assertion confirmed by Airbus Military's publicly stated desire this year to sell 200 A400Ms to the USAF.

"As regards the clamoring for new purchases of the C-130J, the current iteration of a 50 year-old design, let's not forget that Airbus has offered to the airforces of the world since 2006 a buyback of new variant Hercules aircraft ordered, to be exchanged for A400M when available. I suspect a similar offer has been made to the USAF, thus explaining the current push to acquire tactical transport aircraft of a type flown and serviced by the grandfather's, even great-grandfathers, of current pilots and crew", Stokes said.

"It is not a stretch to say all three aspirations require the demise of C-17, and perhaps, Boeing itself. Moreover, it is quite telling that Secretary Gates, despite his constant statements of the need to reduce costs and that sufficient airlift capacity existed for 'any contingency', did not swiftly and utterly dismiss the Airbus objectives as moot. To be sure, South Africa's cancellation of A400M due to per aircraft cost escalations, which according to their calculations, exceeded C-17, should give everyone pause, including the Pentagon," he said.

Gates Integrity Questioned

According to Stokes, a recent statement by Secretary Gates to the effect "They [USAF leadership] do not need and cannot afford more C-17s," and the US Congress is keeping the program alive "at an unnecessary potential cost to the taxpayers of billions of dollars over the next few years," is troubling. "Ominously, these completely unsubstantiated statements (except by questionable and largely publicly unavailable strategic airlift analytics) by the SECDEF concerning C-17 have led certain colleagues in industry and government to wonder whether Dr. Gates has been compromised", he said.

"It is profoundly disturbing," says one source close to the controversy who cannot be identified, 'that a public servant of Gates' stature and academic pedigree would go to such lengths to ignore solid, provable, incontrovertible, written and operational evidence of the extreme value of C-17, and instead pursue a course intended to end in its destruction. I am saddened to suggest that we must question his integrity in these matters as should the President of the United States."

Loss of Last Wide-body Production Line in US Would Cede Future Heavy Airlift to Chinese Copy of C-17

GHH believes it is inarguable that the loss of the country's last wide body airlifter production line and its product will have critical, long lasting and perhaps unrecoverable negative economic, national security and industrial base/defense industrial base cohesiveness and viability implications; contentions supported in the officially unavailable 2005 Department of Commerce Study "National Security Assessment of the C-17 Globemaster Cargo Aircraft's Economic and Industrial Base Impacts".

"We strongly recommend review of this very important document by our, with all due respect, underinformed colleagues who, by their public comments have yet to grasp that the defense industrial base and the industrial base are one and the same, symbiotic, inseparable and inextricably linked. They would also do well to take a refresher course in Keynesian economics," Stokes said. (

GHH further believes there should be a great cause for concern, if not alarm, that China is well on its way to producing a larger version of Boeing C-17 based on stolen data.

Transformational Recapitalization Neutralizes DoD Budgetary Concerns. Forever.

Stokes also asserts that the ultimate conversation stopper when it comes to annual funding of new or existing DoD programs, which is "is there money in the budget?" has been addressed. The process is called 'Transformational Recapitalization" and is outlined in the November/December 2004 issue of Defense AT&L. It will forever change the DoD acquisition process by allowing the AF to resell in-fleet aircraft to commercial (airlifters, tankers) and military customers (fighters, bombers, tankers) when 50% of service life is reached.

"The funds derived from this actvity, says Stokes, " will flow back into the budget (requiring a change in scoring law) thus recapitalizing it, and then used to place new orders. Another core element of Trans-Recap calls for the slowing down of assembly lines rather than building the contracted AC as fast as possible. This allows upgrades in avionics and weapons systems to be incorporated while in production, thus precluding the necessity and costs of a complete retrofit 15 to 30 years later. This way, the service is always operating new or fully upgraded aircraft at all times, and when sold to NATO aillies at their half-life, will create new levels of operational readiness and interoperability," he said.

IAF in Crisis

It is a matter of record, contends GHH, that the IAF, as a direct result of aging, improperly -through lack of components - maintained aircraft, has an appalling accident rate, and equally disturbing, a profound lack of reliable strategic and tactical airlift capabilities at time when China, by its own design and aspirations, is emerging as a threat to global security. And more ominously, an immediate threat to India and Pakistan -- whether or not the latter understands this reality.

China Concerned With India Force Modernization Efforts

According to Stokes, there are analyst colleagues who suspect China is profoundly concerned about India's being on track, through its acquisition of C-17, to effect a near-term reversal of its notable lack of capability and capacity to check China's expansionism via an exponential increase in force projection. "It goes without saying," he observes, " that clearly unsubstantiated concerns presented in a range of media outlets relative to the wisdom of India's purchase of C-17, may very well have their origins in the land of Sun Tzu". (recommended data source: United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission;

Possible Doubling of India Order?

In a statement certain to raise the controversial bar on matters related to Boeing C-17 continuance, Stokes offered that "As of this moment, in recognition of clear and observable threats to India's national and economic security, along with a need for enhanced ability to contribute to humanitarian/disaster relief efforts, colleagues are recommending through channels that India double its C-17 requirement to 20, thus addressing concomitantly the country's strategic/tactical airlift requirements for decades, and any true cost concerns through economies of scale."

Current Status of HeavyLift Initiative

Global HeavyLift's quest to implement a US/NATO-controlled Heavy and Outsized industry utilizing BC-17 remains in sharp focus despite the continuing efforts kill C-17.

"We continue to interact with all elements of government, industry, the financial sector and those countries in Europe, the Middle-East and Asia who are either shortlisted or designated as sites for one of five BC-17 Global Air Operations Epicenters. Indeed, our Director of Middle-East Operations Tarek Ballout, states that he is looking forward to establishing such an operation in Oman, with whom we have signed a conditional agreement.

"Ballout believes that 'Oman is poised for larger participation in the geo-economic and geo-political landscape thanks in part to recent changes in US Embassy personnel, inclusive of a new Ambassador whom we understand has the greatest respect for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and the people of Oman; as do we'".-- 30 --

About Global HeavyLift Holdings, LLC:

GHH Managing Member Myron D. Stokes is a veteran automotive/aerospace industry analyst and spent several years as an industry correspondent for Newsweek, Newsweek Japan and Newsweek International. He is currently Publisher of eMOTION! ( an automotive/aerospace industries research and analysis site targeting professionals within the academic, media, corporate and government sectors. The site also created a pathway through which white papers and other scholarly works such as "Crisis On Asimov: A Vision of 2085" by national security strategist Dr. Sheila Ronis; "Quantum Parallel: The Saint-Hilaire Quasiturbine as the Basis For Simultaneous Paradigm Shift in Vehicle Propulsion Systems" and "Super-Globalism: Strategies For Maintaining a Robust Industrial Base Through Technological, Policy and Process Improvement", could be presented to a broadened yet specific audience.

Stokes maintains strong interest in global affairs, and continues to be involved in a range of nation building and humanitarian/disaster relief efforts. Among these were the coordination of relief activities with US, European and Middle-East based colleagues subsequent to the Bam, Iran, earthquake of 2004, the Pakistan earthquake of 2005, and co-structuring of academic and industrio/economic base developmental programs with colleagues in Pakistan and India.

Founded in 2002, GHH is a strategic air transport solutions entity that was born of a multi-year public/private effort among forward thinkers in both the private sector and government to mitigate emerging and observable vulnerabilities in the U.S. industrial base global supply chain. Such vulnerabilities are represented by the fact that no ocean-borne shipping is in U.S. hands at present, thus potentially subjecting American corporations, especially automotive, and their global operations to the whims and perhaps economically hostile activities of and by foreign governments. Add to this the risk of terrorist activities, which have, according to the Department of Homeland Security, targeted maritime operations; i.e., ships, ports and ocean containers.

Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) listed, it is the goal of GHH and its strategic partners around the planet to work with key logistics personnel within these corporations and government agencies to conceptualize, craft and structure long-term global supply chain alternative transportation methodologies through continuous -- not stop gap or emergency -- air augmentation solutions. Its most important mission, however, has been in the co-development of global architecture for infrastructure of a new American controlled industry, Heavylift, utilizing the excellent airlift performance characteristics of the Boeing BC-17.