Posts Tagged Aviation

Aviation: Save The A-10 Warthog And Trash The F-35 Flying Turkey!

Pierre Sprey is the man! He was also a member of Col John Boyd’s fighter mafia and Pierre was instrumental in designing the A-10 aircraft. So it is really cool to hear the thought process that went into the design of the A-10 Warthog.  Here is a snippet from Wikipedia that discusses that history.

Criticism that the U.S. Air Force did not take close air support (CAS) seriously prompted a few service members to seek a specialized attack aircraft. In the Vietnam War, large numbers of ground-attack aircraft were shot down by small arms, surface-to-air missiles, and low-level anti-aircraft gunfire, prompting the development of an aircraft better able to survive such weapons. In addition, the UH-1 Iroquois and AH-1 Cobra helicopters of the day, which USAF commanders had said should handle close air support, were ill-suited for use against armor, carrying only anti-personnel machine guns and unguided rockets meant for soft targets. Fast jets such as the F-100 Super Sabre, F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom II proved for the most part to be ineffective for close air support because their high speed did not allow pilots enough time to get an accurate fix on ground targets and they lacked sufficient loiter time. The effective, but aging, Korean War era, A-1 Skyraider was the USAF’s primary close air support aircraft.
A-X program

In 1966, the USAF formed the Attack Experimental (A-X) program office. On 6 March 1967, the Air Force released a request for information to 21 defense contractors for the A-X. The objective was to create a design study for a low-cost attack aircraft. In 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force asked Pierre Sprey to write the detailed specifications for the proposed A-X project. However, his initial involvement was kept secret because of Sprey’s earlier controversial involvement in the F-X project. Sprey’s discussions with A-1 Skyraider pilots operating in Vietnam and analysis of aircraft currently used in the role indicated the ideal aircraft should have long loiter time, low-speed maneuverability, massive cannon firepower, and extreme survivability; an aircraft that had the best elements of the Ilyushin Il-2, Henschel Hs 129, and Skyraider. The specifications also demanded that each aircraft cost less than $3 million. Sprey required that the biography of World War II attack pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel be read by people on the A-X program.

The reason why I am posting this is that the A-10 is on the chopping block according to the latest budget proposal, and supposedly the F-35 is going to be replacing it. I think this is ridiculous because the F-35 is nowhere close to being able to replace or even compete with the A-10 for the mission of CAS.

The thought process for the F-35 is that it can do ‘everything’ on the battlefield, to include CAS. In reality, the way it is configured would mean that it would be doing a very poor job of CAS. When you try to make an aircraft that does everything, then it doesn’t do all those things very well. Compromises are made in order for it do everything, and this is it’s weakness. David Axe of the blog War is Boring produced an excellent article on why the F-35 is such a poor aircraft. In summary, thanks to the Marine’s insistence that the aircraft should be VSTOL, so as to replace the AV-8B Harrier, there had to be compromises with this aircraft. Here is a quote:

Engineering compromises forced on the F-35 by this unprecedented need for versatility have taken their toll on the new jet’s performance. Largely because of the wide vertical-takeoff fan the Marines demanded, the JSF is wide, heavy and has high drag, and is neither as quick as an F-16 nor as toughly constructed as an A-10. The jack-of-all-trades JSF has become the master of none.

Instead, we need aircraft that are designed for specific missions. So for the CAS or Close Air Support mission, the A-10 is the best purpose built aircraft for that job. Until an aircraft is designed to do a better job of the CAS mission than the A-10, I see no reason to mothball such a thing. The troops love it, our enemies fear it, and our pilots appreciate it’s lethality and survivability.

Unfortunately what is going on here is the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and politicians are all in the game of supporting the F-35 and similar flying turkeys that are super expensive. This game provides lots of money and influence to those that support it. Instead of looking at the data of past Close Air Support missions in our prior wars and these current wars, or other people’s wars, and realizing that what Pierre and others have created was built upon that data, they instead take a path more geared towards lining pockets and keeping factories employed so politicians can please their constituents.

With that said, I have provided several videos below where Pierre Sprey makes an excellent argument against the F-35 and explains why the A-10 is the better aircraft. What is really sad is that even in air to air combat, Pierre mentioned that the older F-16 that he helped to design as well, could defeat the F-35. It is sickening to think, and I believe this aircraft will cost lives and especially if troops are to depend upon it for CAS. It is a flying turkey that tax payers will be paying a lot of money for, and troops will pay for in blood.

Now I am all about modernizing stuff. But that modernization actually has to produce an aircraft better than the one it is replacing. It has to please guys like Pierre Sprey, who know a thing or two about aircraft design used for warfare. And considering CAS has been a very important aspect of wars that we have fought in the modern era, I do not see that trend going away any time soon.

Perhaps if the Pentagon really goes through with this idiotic move, a private company could step up and make a deal with the US government to purchase all of these aircraft? Or maybe the 160th SOAR could grab them all and make good use of them. (hint, hint) Because I think future wars will once again require such an aircraft, and the company or unit that has them ready to go, will have an aircraft in high demand. –Matt

PS- Be sure to follow the Straus Military Reform Project for more information and updates about this situation. You will find many of the fighter mafia there.



This is the most current video that Pierre made, in regards to the background of A-10 development.



This is Pierre describing how poor of an aircraft the F-35 is. He tears it apart.



In this tribute video, the troops refer to this aircraft as the ‘hand of god’ because of the sound it makes when it fires it’s 30mm guns and the damage it does to the enemy. I agree with this, and having heard this aircraft in combat and in training environments, it is absolutely ominous and life saving.


Capt. Kim Campbell, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot deployed with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, surveys the battle damage to her airplane. Her A-10 was hit over Baghdad during a close air support mission April 7. The A-10 can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots, like Captain Campbell, to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost. (quote)


And here is a link to the background of this photo. A true testament to the survivability of this aircraft.

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Industry Talk: Prince Targets Aviation And Logistics In Africa

So is this Blackwater part 2?
“It’s similar,” Prince replied. “But we’re not here to serve government or defence projects, we’re not there to build their police force, nothing like that. We’re there to move an NGO, an advanced seismic crew or a drilling crew from a mining company, or if an oil operation needs their camp supported and built.”

The story of Erik Prince starting Frontier Resource Group and focusing on Africa is not new and I have blogged about that when it first came out. But what was missing were the details, or at least more than what was available at the time I posted that stuff. Thanks to the Civilian Warriors book and all the interviews, Prince has been able to talk a little more about this new venture.

So in the articles below, there are some great little details to pluck out and talk about. The first one that I thought was interesting, was the ‘a ha’ moment for Prince as to what area of business he wanted to get into in Africa.

Prince, who has flown since he was 16, said he realised the potential of operating a safe and reliable air service a year ago when the aircraft which was flying him back from a mine site in Burkina Faso nearly crashed.
“A scary moment but also one of clarity,” he said.

I mentioned in my review of his book that he is an entrepreneur and businessman, and he constantly looks at the world through this lens. His ‘a ha’ moment for the creation of Blackwater came from the realization that he needed to be home with his family, and the SEALs and other groups needed a consolidated, all in one training facility. So he identified a market weakness that he could exploit, and also saw the advantage for his personal well being.

He is also a pilot and has had a love for aircraft since he was younger. In his book, he was very proud of all the aviation ventures that BW got into, so this move towards aviation and logistics in Africa makes sense.

The other tidbit is the quote up top and what was directly asked in regards to security work. He was asked by the WSJ on whether this new venture would include armed security work or not? Here is the quote.

Such high costs also reflect the dangers of piracy and civil conflict, but Mr. Prince plays down his firm’s plans in the security realm. “We are not there to provide military training. We are not there to provide security per se. Most of that security”—say, if an oil pipeline or mining camp needs protection—”would be done by whatever local services are there,” including police and private firms. “We don’t envision setting up a whole bunch of local guard services around the continent.”
So the former Blackwater chief won’t employ guys with guns? Well, he says, “that would be the exception, certainly not the rule.”

I should remind the reader that Prince could easily contract the services of other security firms to help in security.  That would mean using Academi or any of the offshoots of his older company. But like he mentioned in the quote, using local police or security firms is more than likely the path, which is already what most Chinese investors and companies are doing.

Although the problem with this arrangement is if those local forces are dependable? Can they deliver services on time and under budget, or is it even a good service? Can they provide high level PSD services for the engineers and workers for those companies? That is where PMSC’s like Blackwater would come in. Also, someone needs to manage those local forces, or look out for the best interest of the client.

I am quickly reminded of the In Amenas gas plant attack in Algeria and how depending upon incompetent local security forces (provided by the government) was a contributing reason why the attack was so successful. You must have a competent security company watching over the local security force that companies are either forced to use, or use because of cost and choice. I look at it from a concentric rings of security view point, and your outer layer should be your least dependable force and your final ring of security should be your most dependable. Ideally all rings are dependable in a perfect world, but that just does not happen in the real world. Another way to put it, is you need security you can ‘trust’.

But back to the articles below, I think this quote speaks pretty loudly as to why dependable and highly capable services are in such high demand in Africa.

“If you’re drilling in some remote area and your rig goes down and you need a new part for your rig; that’s 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars a day. How do you get that thing quickly and with no excuses?”

Time is money as they say, and guys like Prince can absolutely organize an effort to get that part or human out there.

This also reminds me of another potential problem for companies. What if their equipment gets caught up in a mess like what the Arab Spring has created in the Middle East? For that, a guy like Prince could organize the effort to secure equipment and people until it can be either flown out or convoyed out of that mess.  Those types of contracts remind me of what helped put Executive Outcomes on the map.

I am talking about the Ranger Oil contract that Executive Outcomes had in Angola. Basically things became unstable there and Heritage Oil and Gas turned to EO to save some equipment caught up in the mess. At the time, they were leasing some drilling equipment that was costing over $20,000 a day, and UNITA would not allow the company to get the equipment out of there. EO was contracted to secure that equipment, which they did.

It is also important to note that the Chinese account for the largest group of people kidnapped in Africa. I have talked about this demand for protective services by the Chinese in the past, and how the South African PMSC market has been filling that niche. Lot’s of money being spent on some risky projects–hence the need for security and folks who know what they are doing.

As long as we are talking about money, it is also interesting to pluck some of the quotes that discuss why Africa is so interesting to Prince. China is investing billions into development and resource extraction there.

Mr. Prince won’t share any revenue projections, but his prospectus notes that “China is Africa’s largest trading partner,” with annual flows of $125 billion. Most estimates put that figure closer to $200 billion, a meteoric increase from $10 billion in 2000 and $1 billion in 1980. The U.S., which was Africa’s top trade partner until 2009, registered $100 billion in annual African exchange at last count. China-Africa trade could reach $385 billion by 2015, according to Standard Chartered Bank.

Not only that, but the US is also delving more and more into Africa with it’s military ventures. So Prince is basically gunning to be the logistics and transportation ‘go to guy’ for Africa. If US strategy includes getting more involved with Africa, it will need companies in place that can provide a need wherever it presents itself.

Although he does have some competition, because there are numerous larger companies  that have already been working that angle in Africa. PMSC’s in Somalia and their support of AMISOM are one example. There is still room though, and investors are looking for folks that they trust can do the job. That is a key point here, because Prince has shown capability in the past by making things happen, and putting his money where his mouth is. He spent over 100 million on new products and services when he owned BW, and much of it never reached fruition. But some did, and really paid off for him. I imagine he will do the same with this company. This quote shows why investors would be drawn to him and what has provoked Prince to get into this market in the first place.

“As I was moving around Asia trying to raise money for this private equity fund, a lot of the big investors said, ‘It’s great that you want to be a fund manager, but what we really need you to do is to build a business like you had before. Not a defence services business, but one that can help us operate in the challenging areas and take away a lot of the uncertainty’.”

Pretty cool and I imagine he will apply the same mindset to this business as he did with BW. Research the region, find services that are lacking or non-existent but are needed, or see a coming need for a product or service, and create that service or product to meed those needs. That is how he built BW, and that is probably how he will build this company.

As to what kinds of aircraft he will purchase and bring to the market, who knows?  If you look at the aircraft that AAR has (former Presidential Airways and BW business unit), you can get an idea as to the kind of aircraft Prince might introduce into the game. Here is a quick run down from wikipedia as to what they have used.

Presidential operates CASA C-212 and CASA CN-235 turboprops. Recent contracts have added de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprop aircraft to the fleet. The company also operates turbine powered helicopters including Bell 214ST, Bell 412, MD Helicopters MD-530, Eurocopter/Aerospatiale SA 330J “Puma”, and Sikorsky S-61 rotorcraft.

The key for Prince is to invest in aircraft that can carry a lot, has robust fuel capacity, is durable, and can land on the really crappy air strips throughout Africa. The parts need to be cheap as well. I am sure he will find something that fits the bill. Either way, we will keep on eye on this. –Matt

Edit 04/02/2014: It looks like DVN (or it’s new name Frontier Services Group Limited) has acquired another percentage of an airline that operates out of Wilson Airport. Here is a clip from the news story about it.

News broke yesterday in Nairobi that DVN had apparently acquired a 49 percent stake in Phoenix Aviation which is based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi and engages in aircraft charters and aircraft maintenance, among other aviation services. First it was Kijipwa Aviation, based in Kilifi, a relatively small aviation company, in which DVN acquired a 49 percent stake in late February, then announcing that they were to bring on line as many as two dozen additional aircraft to boost the operational capacity of the firm. However, the acquisition of a similar share in Phoenix may change those plans as suggestions have been floated already among the aviation fraternity at Wilson Airport that the operations of the two local airlines may be consolidated or aligned under one umbrella or at least they will be working under one central command. While DVN reportedly dished out some 1.2 billion Kenya shillings to acquire the 49 percent stake in Phoenix, no confirmed value could be obtained for the acquisition of the Kijipwa shares. Both investments have been linked to the discovery of significant oil deposits in Kenya and the apparent need of international oil exploration companies to contract a range of services from local Kenyan companies, including aviation.

Frontier Resource Group website here.

Frontier Services Group website here.



Beyond Blackwater: Prince looks to resources in Africa
Sun, Feb 2 2014
By Stephen Eisenhammer
After running one of the world’s biggest and most controversial private military groups, Blackwater founder Erik Prince is starting a new venture providing logistics for oil and mining companies in remote and dangerous parts of Africa.
China is increasingly looking to Africa to meet its ever growing demand for natural resources. Trade between the two reached an estimated $200 billion (121 billion pounds) this year. With 85 percent of Chinese imports from the continent being oil or minerals, Prince sees an opportunity.
He wants to use his experience of getting people and equipment in and out of remote places, where there is little or no infrastructure, to help companies looking to exploit abundant natural resources in places like Sudan or Somalia.
The 44-year-old former U.S. Navy Seal became chairman of Frontier Services Group (FSG) this month, a Hong Kong-listed company of which China’s state-backed investment fund Citic owns 15 percent. Prince himself has share options in the firm that would convert to a 9 percent stake.

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Aviation: FBO News–DoS Set To Fire Up A $10 Billion Drug Interdiction Air Services Contract

The total dollar value of services could reach $10B over the life of the resulting contracts. The Department requests industry feedback into the most effective way to provide these services. An abbreviated list of requirements is presented below.?Operate and Maintain DoS Aircraft Worldwide. DoS currently has 412 aircraft in its inventory. 120 are operational globally for drug interdiction and transport of personnel. 292 aircraft are in flyable or non-flyable storage.
Current locations of performance are in Central Florida, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Guatemala, and Iraq. However, it is anticipated that performance may extend into other worldwide locations and the contractor(s) must be able to quickly extend operations to new locations on short notice, for limited duration. Recent examples of such include Sudan, Honduras, Malta, Libya, and Egypt.

A hat tip to Danger Room for picking up on this one. This is a big contract and it includes all sorts of services and missions that would have to be fulfilled. And like Wired mention, this looks more like a private air force than just a air services contract. lol

So how would this apply to the security folks? Well this quote under the ‘requirements’ section is what perked me up. This would be a task that could potentially be subcontracted or maybe done in house. But either way, it is a security contractor specific task.

Provide defensive security for air fields and housing when required. This may be coordinated through USG security elements, Host Nation elements, or subcontracted, depending on the site and situation.

We will see how it goes. Between this contract and CNTPO, drug interdiction aviation services is quite the money maker, and companies like Dyncorp are well positioned to dominate this sector. –Matt


Solicitation Number: SAQMMA13R0044
Agency: Department of State
Office: Office of Acquisitions
Location: INL Support
Nov 30, 2012
Solicitation Number: SAQMMA13R0044
Notice Type: Sources Sought
The Department of State is sponsoring an Industry Best Practice and Vendor Identification Conference to identify potential business sources with the resources, capabilities, and experience to successfully deliver requisite services to sustain the Department’s Aviation Fleet. The Department staff will present an Air Wing Command Briefing, present functional core and supporting contract requirements with a focus on small business set-asides, provide an open forum to ask questions, and a chance to have a one-on-one session with the Government. Industry should be prepared to discuss innovative solutions, available technology, and capabilities. This conference will be held on January 9 and 10, 2013 in Melbourne, Florida. The location will be provided as an amendment to the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website. ?Following the overview presentations and the open discussion forum on January 9, 2013, the Government will host one-on-one sessions with interested companies, along with their anticipated subcontractor teams, provided prior coordination with the Government is established. The one-on-one sessions give companies a chance to ask specific questions regarding the program that they did not want to share during the presentation. These sessions will be limited to 30 minutes and may begin the afternoon of January 9, 2013 and between 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on January 10, 2013 (January 11 will be an overflow day if needed). Session times will be assigned and companies will be notified of their time slot via email.

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Cool Stuff: Tandem-Duct Aerial Demonstration By Aerofex Corporation

Imagine personal flight as intuitive as riding a bike. Or transporting a small fleet of first-responder craft in the belly of a passenger transport. Think of the advantages of patrolling borders without first constructing roads.
In pursuit of this vision, Aerofex is flying a proof-of-concept craft developed as a test-bed of manned and unmanned technologies. -Aerofex Corp.

This is just neat. But what I was thinking about after watching this, is the military application if this technology actually becomes refined and durable. IED’s are designed to explode when you drive over them–or pressure detonated. Or they are remotely detonated or triggered by a physical trip wire in the form of  a wire or beam.  With a vehicle like this, you could set the hover height to be well above vehicle height, and have nothing touching the ground in order to avoid the pressure plates.

A vehicle like this would be nice for areas that do not have roads, or the roads are hindered and muddied due to weather. The key advantage here is getting the vehicle off of the ground.

The other thing to note is that this vehicle is really more a test platform for the concept of Tandem-Duct propulsion. The company’s paper on what makes it work is sold here. Interesting stuff and check it out. –Matt



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Paracargo: Contractors And Low Cost, Low Altitude Aerial Resupply In Afghanistan

“These airdrops bring the supplies closer to the troops, and lowers the risk of IED attacks by taking convoys off dangerous roads,” Bobby Robinson, a government civilian logistician, told an Air Force public affairs officer last year.

I don’t think people realize how significant LCLA resupply is to the war effort. Every paracargo bundle dropped, is one less convoy operation that could be exposed to IED’s. It get’s the troops off of the roads and diminishes the effectiveness of IED’s. That’s unless the Taliban can figure out how to mine the sky? lol

But what is key here is the amount of contractor involvement with this crucial logistics method. Below I have posted three separate bits of news that when combined, are pretty significant.

The first is a video showing an old Caribou dropping paracargo in Afghanistan. Wired’s Danger Room did a great little post on this and got some quotes about what was going on with it. No word on what company this is, but I am sure the Caribou clubs know and are cheering them on. I also would not be surprised if the pilots are former smokejumper pilots, because the way they were dropping that stuff is exactly how the jumpers would do this.

The Army deployed to Marzak in January. Anticipating the need to supply it and other remote locations, in October the Army hired a boutique resupply company built around a single, 50-year-old DeHavilland Caribou and 15 civilian pilots, staff and ground crew. The Caribou and its crews, based at Bagram airfield near Kabul, are asked to do things most military airlifters cannot: Fly low and fast to drop small loads of critical supplies with pinpoint accuracy.

The company, whose name we’ve been asked to keep secret, began flying resupply missions in October. Since then, it has delivered more than a million pounds of cargo, according to a source close to the company. The secret to its success is the skill of the flight crews, the mechanics’ meticulous maintenance of the 1960s-vintage Caribou and upgrades to the rugged plane’s engines that give it extra oomph. “It makes for a perfect LCLA airdrop platform,” the source tells Danger Room.

“Low-Cost, Low-Altitude airdrops by civilians in Afghanistan is an extremely vital asset that’s usually overlooked by most,” the source continues. The lack of publicity could be intended to spare the Air Force any embarrassment. After all, until recently the flying branch did possess one small airlifter in the Caribou’s general category that could possibly have equaled the civilian plane’s low, pinpoint drops. The would be the C-27J, built by Alenia.

On a side note, smokejumpers used this aircraft for operations back in the day. We have used all sorts of aircraft, and we still use the DC-3 from WW2! lol  I remember watching this really cool 70’s video of some smokejumpers doing some loadmaster work out of a Caribou over some forest fire. The footage was amazing and vintage, and in color!  If I find it or someone posts it on youtube, I will put it up one of these days.

The next bit of news is that FlightWorks Inc. just won a $13,182,338 firm-fixed-price contract for LCLA resupply in Afghanistan.  They also have to provide short take off and landing aircraft for the contract.  That means aircraft that can land on small runways up in the mountains, much like how smokejumpers use their aircraft to supply folks. No word yet on what type of aircraft Flightworks Inc. will use, or if they will be using their own loadmasters or not.

Last I had heard, contract aircraft would fly the stuff, but military loadmasters would kick it. Maybe that has changed and we will see. I would also be curious as to what this company will do for preparing pilot, air crew, and aircraft for combat operations? Because dumping this stuff at low levels will definitely expose them to enemy attacks. Dangerous stuff, and if an aircraft crashes, that air crew must have the tools necessary to survive until rescue. From weapons to first aid supplies to survival items–they must be prepared.

The last story though is the most eye opening. The military just announced multiple contracts totaling $838 million for the manufacture and purchase of pre-packed paracargo chutes. That is a lot of cargo chutes.

But what I was most concerned with is that they are one time use–supposedly. That is surprising to me if true. These chutes should be re-packed and used over and over again. What a waste of parachutes by just using them once and throwing them away?  If anything, a company could be contracted to re-pack them in Afghanistan, and re-distribute those chutes to aerial resupply units that need them. Either use a local company that is managed well by professional cargo chute packers (contract civilian Master Riggers?) and re-use these things. That is what makes the concept ‘low cost’. Here is the quote from the author of the post.

These so-called LCLV parachutes are one-time-use ‘chutes designed to deliver fuel, ammo and food to troops at isolated bases in Afghanistan and elsewhere. They’re packed into a “Low-Cost Container” as part of the Army’s “Low Cost Aerial Delivery Systems” program. Beginning to notice a pattern?

Perhaps the author of the blog post made a mistake here and that there is a paracargo packing system in place to re-use this stuff? That is how we used paracargo chutes in the smokejumpers, and those things can last forever if taken care of properly.  One chute can be used for hundreds of paracargo missions, and when I was jumping, we would pack and use everything form the old French Cross military cargo chutes to converted and chopped up older/out of service canopies. Jumpers would repair these cargo chutes to get even more use out of them, and it was a system that worked great. Even our rigging was re-usable.

Either way, this is great to see private industry meet the requirements for these crucial logistics. We are also flying helicopters and cargo aircraft all over Afghanistan, and private aviation is crucial to the logistics there. It also saves lives, because every bundle that can be flown, is one less bundle that has to be transported on IED infested roads. –Matt



FlightWorks, Inc., Kennesaw, Ga., was awarded a $13,182,338 firm-fixed-price contract.
The award will provide for the short take off and landing and low cost low altitude aerial resupply services in Afghanistan.
Work will be performed in Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 26, 2012.
One bid was solicited, with one bid received.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W560MY-11-C-0005).


Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm A flock of Low-Cost, Low-Velocity parachutes gently drop bundles of needed supplies to a remote forward operating base in Afghanistan.


They Better Be 100% Silk
By Mark Thompson
April 18, 2012
Five of the first six contract awards announced Tuesday were for parachutes costing nearly $1 billion. All five contracts were for “low-cost, low velocity parachutes.” Alas, as is becoming increasingly common, the contract announcements don’t specify how many are being bought, so it’s difficult to assess the “low cost” claim. We trust the competition keeps prices down.
These so-called LCLV parachutes are one-time-use ‘chutes designed to deliver fuel, ammo and food to troops at isolated bases in Afghanistan and elsewhere. They’re packed into a “Low-Cost Container” as part of the Army’s “Low Cost Aerial Delivery Systems” program. Beginning to notice a pattern?
The parachutes aren’t made of silk, but of a polypropylene fabric similar to that often used for sand bags. “These airdrops bring the supplies closer to the troops, and lowers the risk of IED attacks by taking convoys off dangerous roads,” Bobby Robinson, a government civilian logistician, told an Air Force public affairs officer last year. “LCLV parachutes look like a big Hefty bag flying in mid-air.”
They’re dropped at a rate of less than 28 feet a second from cargo planes at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,250 feet. Each can deliver up to 2,200 pounds.

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History: Prime Minister Winston Churchill On The Flying Tigers, WW2

This is neat. I stumbled upon a great post by Defense Media Network about the Flying Tigers and they opened it with this quote. I had never heard of it before, but Churchill’s words are pretty significant. Especially when he compared the Flying Tigers to the RAF during the Battle of Britain.  (which also had a significant amount of foreign volunteers in it during that time)

On a side note, did you know that the Flying Tigers were converted into the 23d Fighter Group, which exists today and has flown in the current wars? They fly the A-10 Warthog which is an awesome aircraft. They even paint the Flying Tigers shark mouth on the aircraft. Kind of cool to see a government military carrying on the traditions and memory of an American PMC like the Flying Tigers. Enjoy. –Matt


“The victories of these Americans over the rice paddies of Burma are comparable in character, if not in scope, with those won by the Royal Air Force over the hop fields of Kent in the Battle of Britain.”-Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the Flying Tigers.


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