Category Archives: High Technology

USAF NGAD: Big Laser-Shooting Arsenal Fighter?

Perhaps amongst other things. At US Naval Institute News:

Report to Congress on Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program

The following is the June 23, 2022 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program [NGAD, more on the CRS here–excellent and expert non-partisan papers].

From the report

According to the Air Force, the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program is intended to develop “a portfolio of technologies enabling air superiority.” The Air Force intends for NGAD to replace the F-22 fighter jet beginning in 2030, possibly including a combination of crewed and uncrewed aircraft, with other systems and sensors. NGAD began as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project. Since 2015, Congress has appropriated approximately $4.2 billion for NGAD.

NGAD is a classified aircraft development program, but the Air Force has released a few details. On September 15, 2020, then-U.S. Air Force acquisition executive Dr. Will Roper announced that the Air Force had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the NGAD program. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced on June 1, 2022 that NGAD program technologies have matured enough to allow the program to move to the engineering, manufacture, and design phase of development.

Is the Goal of NGAD a New Fighter? 

While a stated aim of the NGAD program is to replace the F-22 fighter jet, the aircraft that come out of the NGAD program may or may not look like a traditional fighter. The Air Force is developing technologies involved in NGAD to provide air dominance. Part of the program’s goal is to determine how to achieve that end, independent of traditional U.S. military approaches to air dominance. NGAD could take the form of a single aircraft and/or a number of complementary systems—manned, unmanned, optionally manned, cyber, electronic—forms that would not resemble the traditional “fighter.”

For example, a larger aircraft the size of a B-21 may not maneuver like a fighter. But that large an aircraft carrying a directed energy weapon, with multiple engines making substantial electrical power for that weapon, could ensure that no enemy flies in a large amount of airspace [my “arsenal fighter”]. That would achieve air dominance. There appears to be little reason to assume that NGAD is going to yield a plane the size that one person sits in, and that goes out and dogfights kinetically, trying to outturn another plane—or that sensors and weapons have to be on the same aircraft…

The USAF certainly seems to be thinking, and prototyping, very creatively. The efforts had better work.

A very relevant recent post:

The incredible Shrinking US Air Force, or, Waiting for NGAD

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Defence Aerospace Companies Now Federal Government Lobbying Outfits

Funny how the biggies will almost all have their HQs in the D.C. area–at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

First Take, June 13, 2022

Graham Warwick June 10, 2022

VIEW FROM THE BELTWAY

Virginia Snags Another Aerospace Giant

Raytheon Technologies will move its global headquarters from suburban Boston to Arlington, Virginia, this summer, making it the last of the Big Five U.S. defense contractors to base its operations in the Washington region. The move into an existing Raytheon office tower near the Potomac River “increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers,” the aerospace giant says. But it is not expected to result in a large number of job shifts. Boeing announced last month that it is moving its home base from Chicago to Northern Virginia, following Northrop Grumman (2011) and General Dynamics (1991). Lockheed Martin is headquartered in nearby Bethesda, Maryland.

Capitalism at its finest hard at work. eh?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Enfin, PM Trudeau’s Government Commits Money to Several Aspects of NORAD Modernization

Further to this recent post on US pressure on Canada over NORAD,

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

the Canadian minister on national defence made the Big Reveal June 20, likely with the June 29-30 NATO Madrid summit in mind (to show allies we are Doing Something on defence) as well as trying to placate the Biden administration.

It is clear the announcement at Trenton air base was rushed–a two tweets:

The news release is here. There is still no “Backgrounder”–customary with such major announcements–giving details about, and projected timelines and costings for, the individual projects mentioned.

Some key points:

1) The initial C$ 4.9 billion over six years (i.e. just over $800 million per year) for NORAD modernization is not new money; it was already included in the government’s April 22 budget; there are no details about what the promised $40 billion over 20 years is for;

2) All the major projects are related to detecting threats and processing the relevant information; only two projects relate to acquiring new kinetic defence capabilities. There are also some upgrades for existing NORAD-related facilities;

3) There is no indication of how these specifically Canadian initiatives relate to US plans to modernize NORAD (some of which may not fit in with this government’s thinking–see “left of launch” post below);

4) Canada is still staying out of the US’ GMD ballistic missile defence system;

5) Minister Anand, for some odd reason, did not name either Russia (main threat now) or China as the adversaries involved.

To begin with, an excerpt from an article last year in Aviation Week and Space Technology:

…the radars of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) are still functioning, although their days seem numbered…

The early-warning system lacks the range to detect Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 bombers [or Tu-95 ones] before they can launch cruise missiles and the resolution to track the latest Russian cruise missiles, particularly the stealthy nuclear Kh-102, after they are launched.

In other words, right now the capacity to intercept the bomber “archers” before they can launch their missile “arrows” at quite some distance from North American does not exist. And tracking those missiles on their courses to targets inside North America is exceedingly problematic. So it would now appear the main future challenge will be tracking and then shooting down the cruise missiles, not the bombers themselves (which may well have fighter escorts in any event–see this 2015 post: “NORAD to Face Escorted Cruise Missile-Carrying Russian Bombers?“).

Here are extracts from a Globe and Mail story:

Canada commits $4.9-billion over six years to modernize NORAD defences

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Patrick Brethour Tax and Fiscal Policy Reporter

Defence experts told The Globe and Mail the spending commitment, nine days before a NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid, seems to be an effort to create the appearance that Canada is devoting more money to the military. Canada has come under pressure from allies, the U.S. in particular, to raise its military spending to meet NATO’s target level for each of its members: the equivalent of 2 per cent of annual economic output. Canada’s current defence spending amounts to 1.33 per cent…

“As autocratic regimes [Russia? China?] threaten the rules-based order that has protected us for decades and as our competitors develop new technologies…there is a pressing need to modernize NORAD capabilities,” Ms. Anand told reporters…

The new setup will have several components, according to Ms. Anand. “Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar” will provide early-warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-U.S. border to the Arctic Circle [clearly to track cruise missiles through Canadian air space after they have been launched].

The second component will be a “Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar” system to provide the same coverage and tracking over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including Canada’s Arctic archipelago [clearly to track cruise missiles immediately after launch from Russian bombers well away from North American airspace–and perhaps track the bombers themselves–and not vulnerable to interception and attack by NORAD fighters].

A third piece will be a new network called Crossbow, which will be made up of sensors with what Ms. Anand called “classified capabilities.” They will be located throughout Northern Canada, where they will provide another layer of detection.

A final component will be a space-based surveillance system, which will use satellites to collect intelligence and track threats, she told reporters.

…She did not provide a breakdown of how the $4.9-billion would be spent, and did not offer any estimate of when the new surveillance equipment would be up and running. She said Canada will spend a total of $40-billion over 20 years for NORAD modernization under the plan [emphasis added]

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba [a professor who really knows her NORAD and defence stuff], said it’s important that Canada is “thinking about and working on the joint defence of North America.”

But, she added, she thinks Monday’s announcement was aimed first and foremost at Canada’s NATO allies.

“There is incredible pressure that Canada spend more on defence, so they can go to NATO and say, ‘Look, we are spending more,’ ” Prof. Charron said. “At least they are going to the table with something.”..

Asked when Ottawa would reach its 2-per-cent commitment [to NATO], Ms. Anand pointed to Canada’s “upward trajectory” in defence spending….

With the $4.9-billion for NORAD, she said, “our defence spending is now on an even sharper upward trajectory.” However, that $4.9-billion is part of the $8-billion announced in the budget [emphasis added].

But Ms. Anand declined to provide a precise defence-spending target, or to explicitly pledge that Canada would reach the 2-per-cent threshold…

Prof. Charron said the new radar and surveillance projects will take “years and years” to build [emphasis added]

And from a CBC story:

The new network will monitor not only the Arctic — NORAD’s traditional domain — but also Pacific and Atlantic approaches to the continent [see the “Worries” post noted at bottom of this one”–our two fighter bases are well to the interior at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec and ill-placed to deal with threats approaching from those oceans; might we start rotating fighters through east and west coast bases as thought needed?]

Canadian Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander at NORAD, said he and other top military officials have been taking notes on Moscow’s air campaign [vs Ukraine].

“Some of that assessment is classified, but I can tell you that we’re seeing the usage of cruise missiles in that theater, like we were expecting it, and like we expect that that cruise missile may be used in the future, against potential … critical infrastructure in North America [emphasis added],” Pelletier told CBC News in an interview following the minister’s statement.

Asked whether Canada will end its prohibition on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile system (BMD), Anand said the government will maintain the current policy of non-involvement [emphasis added]

As for those new kinetic capabilities:

Canada will also acquire new air-to-air missiles [the new AIM-260 the US is developing?] that will be compatible with the 88 F-35 fighter planes from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which will replace the aging F-18s of the Canadian military aviation in the coming years.

We will also work to develop options for a Canadian ground-based air defense capability” added the minister, remaining stingy with details…

Presumably that ground-based air defence capability will be missiles capable of intercepting cruise missiles closing on their targets. Will they be placed to defend our fighter bases at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec? Critical infrastructure such as ports? Nuclear power plants? Major cities in case of a possible demonstration nuclear attack (a 2016 post: “NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2“)?

Just for comparison’s sake, the current cost for the Stage 2 expansion of the Ottawa’s (pop. some one million) new Light Rail Transit system is $4.6 billion.

Here’s a video of Ms Anand’s announcement and news conference:

Those posts noted above:

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Still Trying to Up-Suck to the Dragon, Ace of Compradors Dominic Barton Section (cont’d)

(Video of foreign minister Joly noted in image at top of the post here, for compradors see here and here.)

Further to this post with two extremely well-informed hard-nose views,

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

it would appear the Liberal government remains blinded by the Celestial Empire’s light–and the lure of the filthy yuan. From an excellent and clear-eyed Globe and Mail columnist:

Ottawa may want to go back to business as usual with Beijing. But that’s not possible

Konrad Yakabuski

Canadians hoping for a reset in how this country approaches an increasingly assertive China were likely disappointed to learn that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had tapped Dominic Barton to sit on a new committee to advise Ottawa on its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mr. Barton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China until December, is a self-confessed “bull on China” who now chairs the board of directors for the British-Australian mining colossus Rio Tinto after overseeing the global operations of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co. Like McKinsey, Rio Tinto’s fortunes are deeply tied to the Chinese economy. China accounted for fully 57 per cent of the company’s US$64-billion in revenue in 2021 [see this post: “Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)“].

The 17 members of the Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee will be required to divulge any conflicts of interest, and “will be expected to recuse themselves from participating in discussions or activities of the committee should any potential, perceived or real conflicts of interest arise,” Global Affairs Canada said in a June 9 press release announcing the committee’s creation.

Even so, Mr. Barton’s past and present business activities are impossible to ignore. He has long advocated for deeper economic relations between China and the West. His decision to accept the Rio Tinto gig even after witnessing firsthand China’s hostage diplomacy in the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig suggests a willingness to look past Beijing’s increasing authoritarianism, militarism and human rights abuses in the name of business [emphasis added].

Mr. Barton’s seat on the new committee along with other notable China doves has left many observers wondering whether Ottawa’s much-vaunted Indo-Pacific strategy, originally pitched as a foreign-policy pivot away from China in the aftermath of the Meng Wanzhou affair, is shaping up to be a cover for a return to business as usual [emphasis added].

“We want to make sure we have a relationship with China,” Ms. Joly told Politico last month. “It is a difficult one – there were arbitrary detentions of the two Michaels … I’m glad that this issue is now over and we’re moving on … My goal is to make sure that we re-establish ties.”

This will no doubt delight many Canadian business leaders eager to seize on the opportunity to sell to a market of more than 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for this country’s natural resources and agricultural products. But as Canada moves to reset its relations with Beijing, many of our biggest allies are teaming up to take on the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century as China seeks to cement its world power status.

Western hopes that integrating China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 would lead to its democratization were perhaps always faint. But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved in the opposite direction, and has become a threat to the very rules-based international order that enabled it to become the world’s second-largest economy…

“Beijing wants to put itself at the centre of global innovation and manufacturing, increase other countries’ technological dependence, and then use that dependence to impose its foreign policy preferences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month in a major speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden’s China policy. “And Beijing is going to great lengths to win this contest – for example, taking advantage of the openness of our economies to spy, to hack, to steal technology and know-how to advance its military innovation and entrench its surveillance state [see this post: “FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?“].”

The Trudeau government is surely not blind to China’s designs. It did – albeit belatedly – decide to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in Canadian 5G networks last month [more here]. But its long delay in making that decision [OVER THREE FLIPPING YEARS] suggests that it did so only reluctantly. And it has not stopped Canadian universities from continuing to accept research funding from Huawei, raising questions about the potential transfer of intellectual property developed here to a company with deep ties to the Chinese military and state [note this post: “Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“].

This week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson conceded that Ottawa may need to take a tougher stand on investments by Chinese entities in this country’s critical minerals. But again, you don’t get a sense that the move is being made with any gusto. Ottawa’s latest discussion paper on developing a critical minerals strategy does not even mention China, despite that country’s dominance in the global electric-battery supply chain [emphasis added].

No wonder Washington has largely left Canada out of the loop as it builds new security relationships with Australia, Britain, Japan, India and several Indo-Pacific countries with the express aim of containing and countering China’s geopolitical ambitions…

As much as Ottawa seems to wish otherwise, there will be no going back to business as usual with Beijing.

One certainly hopes so. And much as this government wishes otherwise.

A telling paragraph from Terrible Terry Glavin on the reach of our comprador rot:

There’s the intimate connections between the Liberal old guard and the China-trade lobby, notable in former prime minister Jean Chretien’s son-in-law, the Power Corporation’s Andre Desmarais, the Canada-China Business Council’s honorary chairman [the council is Comprador Central, website here]. And of course there’s the daughter of Jean (“I am not a Liberal!”) Charest, currently contending for the job of Conservative Party leader. Amelie Dionne-Charest is the chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong [another nest of compradors, website here].

Earlier on Mr Barton:

Canadian Ambassador to PRC Dominic Barton, an Ace of Compradors, still Up-Sucking to the Dragon [2020]

Ace of Compradors Ambassador Dominic Barton gives up Selling the PRC to Canada [Dec. 2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

Interviews with two serious Canadian experts on the PRC–text from an e-mail from the first-rate Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

1) Canada’s Huawei Ban Comes Amid Heightened Tensions with China

Charles Burton, MLI

The Canadian government punted its Huawei decision for three years to avoid potential retaliation from the Chinese government, and resultingly, argues Burton, Canada is now perceived as an unreliable partner by our allies regarding our engagement with China. QUAD, AUKUS, the IPEF—we haven’t been offered a seat at the table. The CCP will retaliate and its retaliation toolkit is broad-based. Whatever they employ, they will make sure we understand it is because we insulted the Chinese state by not accepting Huawei.

The invasion of Ukraine, which China seemingly supports, as well as sustained tensions, and the potential for conflict over Taiwan, means that Canada must act in concert with other like-minded allies to counter the rise of authoritarian states. There has been mounting pressure for Canada to define its stances on China and Russia. We cannot continue our policies under present circumstances, which amount to appeasement, Burton Says. Canada needs an Indo-Pacific strategy consistent with our allies, make up for decades of policies that are no longer viable, increase our defence allocation, and, most importantly, prepare for conflict.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Charles Burton is a Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy. Department of Political Science at Brock University specializing in Comparative Politics, Government and Politics of China, Canada-China Relations and Human Rights, 1989-2020. Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy to China between 1991-1993 and 1998-2000. Previously worked at the Communications Security Establishment of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

2) What to Expect Following Canada’s Huawei Ban

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
ISSP, University of Ottawa

Last month, the federal government announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless network (5G), citing national security concerns. Despite encouragement from Canada’s Five Eyes partners, the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE still faced significant delays after the two Micheals were released. While the ban has been welcomed by many, there are still significant security concerns to consider in the near-term.

McCuiag-Johnston places particular emphasis on the challenges created by allowing companies and carriers until June 2024 to replace their 5G equipment. Telus has installed a large amount of Huawei software and hardware over the past two years, which means that Canada will have four years of exposure to the national security risk that we have been concerned about all along. Ultimately, de-installing Huawei will require constant updates and fixes to installed 5G equipment via backdoors. These are the very backdoors that could potentially be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Johnston applauds the Huawei decision but emphasizes that the government must not budge on removal deadline it has given to Canadian telecoms.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston  is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Senior Fellow with the University of Alberta’s China Institute and Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Formerly, she was Executive Vice-President at NSERC where she was responsible for strategic operations, including research policy and international relations. She was also a member for seven years of the Steering Committee for the Canada-China Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative.

These two are hard-nosed types about the PRC’s realities and dealing with the CCP. Do have a look.

Related posts:

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

“Top Gun Maverick”: Tom Cruise is Flying the Wrong Fighter

An article at Aviation Week and Space Technology–their writers know their stuff:

The Weekly Debrief: Why The F-35 Should Have Been The Star Of The Top Gun Sequel

Top Gun: Maverick is—no spoiler!—a movie. And here are two things the Paramount blockbuster, which netted $151 million on its opening weekend, is not: a documentary, or a fictional account based on a true story. 

This seems obvious, but it’s important. The actors and director of the Top Gun sequel are in no way required to produce a realistic account of a strike mission. Their scriptwriters are, likewise, not obligated to constrain their characters to conventional tactics, or limit weapon systems to known specifications or even physics. 

For the sake of storytelling, your author prefers that they don’t, as long as any fictional conceits make the story more entertaining. By the subjective standards of this column, the Joseph Kosinki-directed sequel to the 1986 action film succeeds in ways that few follow-ups ever have.

All of that stated, it is time—and here come the spoilers, so you’re invited to stop reading if you care deeply about plot details yet missed opening weekend—to ruin a central premise of the plot of Top Gun: Maverick [emphasis added]

In an early, expository scene, Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a semi-successful hypersonic test pilot who has been re-assigned to train a detachment of elite Fighter Weapons School graduates for a seemingly kamikaze strike mission, explains that only the Boeing F/A-18E/F is capable of hitting a target in a GPS-denied environment. As a result, he explicitly rules out the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II as an option for the mission. 

Unfortunately, it appears that Mitchell—er, Maverick—is not only foolish and dangerous (Iceman’s words, not mine): He’s also wrong. To borrow Maverick’s 2022 reply to a spiteful rear admiral: “Maybe so, sir. But not today.”

Maverick’s assessment of the F-35 was once correct. As filming of Top Gun: Maverick was beginning in 2018, the real stealth fighter was limited to an internal load-out of GPS-guided munitions. By November 2018, however, Lockheed Martin had integrated the Raytheon GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II. 

This dual-mode, GPS- and laser-guided munition gave the F-35 the ability to strike moving or stationary targets in almost any situation. If an enemy successfully defeated the munition’s anti-jam technology for receiving the GPS signal, the pilot could still designate the target with a laser. The F-35 could have performed the mission. 

As Maverick is fond of saying, “If you think up there, you’re dead.” Likewise, if you think during a Hollywood movie account of air combat, you’re probably missing the point. 

If you do, however, you might wonder why supposedly elite Navy pilots are dispensing flares to defeat radar-guided missiles, why an enemy with at least three Su-57 fighters somehow relies on 60-year-old SA-3s for ground-based air defenses and why the same enemy did not think to harden their mountain hide-out against anything except an attack by a 30,000-lb, GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator. 

Despite some discrepancies in the details, Top Gun: Maverick highlights one of the biggest challenges in modern air combat. More than 30 years after Operation Desert Storm, GPS can no longer be relied on for accurate targeting by stand-off munitions. 

Next year, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory plans to launch the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 into orbit, hoping to field a regional alternative to GPS guidance for munitions with greater resistance to enemy interference. Meanwhile, the Army’s Assured-Positioning, Navigation and Timing program is seeking to provide similar navigation support to dismounted soldiers. 

To quote one of the sequel’s less-heralded characters: “Put that in your Pentagon budget.” 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.

Plus a good background story at the NY Times (just right-click on the headline below):

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

What a Twist of Fate if Airbus Helps Kill Bombardier as a Bizjet-Maker…

…with a bizjet version of the A220 airliner that Bombardier created. Airbus is looking to break into the long-range business net market big-time with a bizjet version of the A220 (once upon a time the Bombardier CSeries; the Canadian company now just makes bizjets, see latter part of this post: “Bombardier to Build New Plant for Bizjets at Toronto…”). Start of an article at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

ACJ Eyes Long-Range Bizjet Market As TwoTwenty Nears Entry To Service

Angus Batey

In the high-end bizliner market, 10 or 12 sales would qualify as a good year for a manufacturer. So, when Benoit Defforge, president of Airbus Corporate Jets, says he expects to be able to sell 10 of just one model of aircraft in a calendar year—without cutting into sales across the rest of its range—it is clear that the company believes it has a hit on its hands.

The aircraft that has got Dafforge and his colleagues at ACJ so excited is the ACJ TwoTwenty. And the reason for their bullish perspective on the likely market—for a jet which, as yet, has not been delivered in a business configuration—is threefold. “Between the budget, the space and the range, this aircraft is at the sweet spot,” he says.

The bizliner [versions of airliners used for private business purposes] territory that is traditionally fought over by ACJ and their colleagues at rival Boeing amounts to, Airbus reckons, about 400 in-service aircraft. 

“It’s interesting,” Defforge says. “It’s a niche market. It’s the high end of our market. But it’s a limited market. But if we go to the high end of the traditional business-jet market, it’s more than 2,000 aircraft. And we are addressing this market with the TwoTwenty.”..

Read on. The Airbus webpage for the plane is here.

Meanwhile Bombardier fires back for the high-end bizjet market, good luck:

Bombardier launches latest ultra-long range business jet Global 8000

Eric Martel, CEO of private jet maker Bombardier, attends the launch of the Global 8000 aircraft during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 23.DENIS BALIBOUSE/Reuters

Bombardier Inc BBD-B-T -5.79% decrease launched a new long-range business jet on Monday [May 23], as it looks to stay competitive in a market that serves the ultra-rich and has remained robust amid COVID-19 driven boom in demand for private aircraft.

The Montreal-based planemaker said the Global 8000 will become the world’s fastest business jet with an ultra-long range of 8,000 nautical miles (9,206 miles) and a top speed of Mach 0.94 (721 miles per hour).

The plane will enter service in 2025 and compete with high-end models offered by rivals General Dynamics and France’s Dassault Aviation – the Gulfstream G700 and Falcon 10X, respectively [and now the ACJ TwoTwenty?].

Bombardier said the Global 8000 will have a list price of $78 million, slightly higher than the $75 million which its predecessor and the company’s flagship Global 7500 lists for. Both rivals, the G700 and the Falcon 10X, are also priced at $75 million…

Looks like another derivative from an existing aircraft, a usual Bombardier approach. But how much longer? A relevant post from October 2021-

How long can Bombardier go on without Government Subsidies to Develop a new Bizjet? Or a Takeover?

UPDATE: Yep, new Bombardier just another update–also at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

An upgrade on the Global 7500, the Global 8000 will use the same fuselage as its predecessor, which it will eventually come to replace…

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

When Flying Boats Ruled the Air and the Waves

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “The Yankee Clipper, circa 1939.”)

The Globe and Mail’s “Moment in Time” for May 20, the year 1939:

Yankee Clipper offers first regular transatlantic postal service [scroll down at link]

Twelve years to the day after Charles Lindbergh took off on the first solo, non-stop transatlantic flight, and seven years after Amelia Earhart embarked on her historic solo jaunt, the Yankee Clipper made history of its own. The plane, a Boeing 314 owned by Pan Am, was a behemoth weighing 38 tonnes and featured a dining room and three lounges for passengers. U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt had christened it in March, 1939, with a champagne bottle filled with water from the seven seas. On this day the same year, the plane was loaded with more than 100,000 pieces of mail and inaugurated the U.S. Postal Service’s transatlantic airmail service. The Clipper took off from Manhasset Bay, Long Island, N.Y., and flew over the heads of crowds at the New York World’s Fair on its way to Marseille, France, with stops in the Azores and Lisbon. The trip took 26½ hours. It was far faster than the only other option – the record for an ocean liner crossing at the time was four days. It’s a long way from the Clipper to how we send messages by e-mail at lightning speed today, but the driving impulse is the same: faster, faster, faster. Dave McGinn

More details on transatlantic air mail service here:

Item #MA1804 – First Trans-Atlantic Airmail Service First Flight Cover.

The start of passenger service soon followed:

Pan American’s Dixie Clipper Makes First Regular Trans-Atlantic Passenger Service to Europe

June 28th marks the 81st anniversary of the first regular trans-Atlantic passenger service via Pan Am’s Boeing 314 ‘Dixie Clipper’. The aircraft left Port Washington, New York with 22 passengers on the southern route to Horta, Lisbon, and Marseilles…

This flight began the era of the heavier-than-air trans-Atlantic passenger service. Later, on July 8, the Yankee Clipper would launch Pan Am service across the Atlantic on the northern route, carrying 17 passengers to England.

The aircraft flew the southern route across the Atlantic, landing in Lisbon the next afternoon after a flight of approximately 27 hours (which included a stop at Horta in the Azores), and then flew to its final destination in Marseilles, France the next day…

And here’s an excellent website on the Boeing 314, “The Airborne Palace”:

That is one airplane I dearly wish I could have travelled on. Some tweets:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Where’s the US Army Going to Shoot its Missiles from in the Western Pacific? (Note Hypersonics)

(Images at top of the post are related to army’s long-range hypersonic weapon.)

Further to this 2020 post,

Who will be Willing to Host US Intermediate-Range Missiles in the Western Pacific?

Congress would like answers–from an article at Breaking Defence, note at end potential overlap with Marine missions:

Lawmakers worry Army doesn’t have basing agreements for long-range fires

“I don’t think it would be wise for us to wait to develop the kinds of weapons systems, we need for a future conflict until we had the diplomatic agreements signed,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said.

While the Army has hyped its foray into long-range missiles as part of its Pacific strategy, members of Congress expressed concern that the service is missing a critical element: the basing agreements with friendly nations there where the weapons would need to be effectively deployed to deter any Chinese designs on Taiwan.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., asked Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville whether the Army had sufficient basing agreements, only to have McConville defer to policymakers and say that “there’s discussions” ongoing.

Likewise, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told lawmakers that there is “still conversations and work to be done,” but named Japan and the Philippines as allies the Army believes it has solid relationships with {Philippines? With Marcos fils to be new president?].

The Army leaders said they were wary of discussing potential specific basing locations for the Army’s long-range fires capabilities in the public hearing. Asked if he felt that Army was in where it needed to be to deploy the Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) — the service’s new theater-specific units that employ long-range precision effects, including missiles, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities — McConville nodded his head in the affirmative.

“There are possibilities for basing the MDTF, but I also think we have to have a pretty robust diplomatic effort with other countries in the region to try to open up opportunities for basing and access [emphasis added, good luck with any widespread basing],” Wormuth said, adding that “it’s remarkable” how Japan’s “threat perception has changed in the last few years.”

Gallagher said it was time for a full court press.

“At least in Indo-PACOM, this has to be our top diplomatic priority,” he said. “What we should integrate is the State Department moving heaven and earth to negotiate basing agreements with key allies so that we can deploy teams of Marines or soldiers in order to deny PLA invasion of Taiwan.”

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., followed up on Gallagher’s questions by pressing the two service leaders “from where” in the region the service planned to launch its forthcoming ship-targeting Mid-Range Capability, raising skepticism because the earlier exchange pointed to the fact “there was not any identified basing locations that we [the US military] have access” to [emphasis added], she said.

“I don’t think it would be wise for us to wait to develop the kinds of weapons systems we need for a future conflict until we had the diplomatic agreements signed,” Wormuth said.

Long-range fires are among the Army’s key modernization priorities [emphasis added]. The MDTF will be armed with two of the Army’s forthcoming missile capabilities, the Mid-Range Capability missile and Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon. The Mid-Range Capability, McConville told lawmakers today, can fly “about” 1,000 km, while the LRHW has a range of about 2,775 km [emphasis added].

The Army established the first MDTF back in 2017, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The second MDTF is assigned to Europe, and the third MDTF, which will be officially established this year, will be based in Hawaii…

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is also developing precision strike capabilities for its expeditionary advanced base operations concept [emphasis added, see this post: “How US Marines’ EABO Concept (deploying “Stand-in-Forces”) is Supposed to Work in Western Pacific, Part 2“]. That concept is a focus area for the Marines’ new 3rd Littoral Regiment, established to be highly mobile and low-signature, and equipped a ship-sinking missile battery. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., asked the Army leaders if they were working with the Marines to develop some commonality and interoperability in the weapons systems.

Wormuth said that the Army is in “active discussions” with the Marines and sees the Multi-Domain Task Force and Marine Littoral Regiment as “complementary [emphasis added, really? two separate capabilities both needed?].” Both the LRHW and Mid-Range Capability are being developed in tandem with the Navy. First prototypes of both capabilities are set to be delivered in fiscal 2023.

And what targets are those “long-range” army missiles going to hit that could not be covered by missiles from USAF and US Navy aircraft (not to mention PGMs), and from navy ships and subs? Other related posts–those US services just can’t help competing with each other for missions and funding (as in fact is the case in a great many countries):

What’s the Poor US Army to do when the Main Adversary is the PRC?

Western Pacific, or, the US Services all Want to Try to Sink PLA Navy Ships–US Army Section

Western Pacific Maritime Cockpit: US Marines, US Army, US Air Force all Fighting–each other for Missions and Funds. Who’s “Stupid”?

Western Pacific, or, US Army vs US Marines for Missions, Part 2

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The EV Revolution is Delayed

Further to this March post,

Mining Minerals in Northern Ontario (if these projects even happen) Has Little to Do with Battery, Electric Vehicle Production in the Province

here’s some nasty news for the EV dreams of PM Trudeau and Ontario Premier Ford–and of President Biden. From an opinion piece by the Globe and Mail’s excellent man in Rome:

So much for the electric vehicle revolution. You cannot make the machines without the metals that power them

Eric Reguly European bureau chief Rome

Any successful politician is adept at finding the one bit of good news floating in the ocean of despair, then gushing about it to try to drown our worries.

So it is with U.S. President Joe Biden. A few weeks ago, when the war in Ukraine was propelling gasoline and diesel prices ever higher – regular gas hit a record average of US$4.43 a gallon on Friday – he suggested that painful pump prices will speed the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), fear not.

Voila – no more hard decisions about filling your SUV or feeding your kids. “Transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles, powered by clean energy, will mean that no one will have to worry about gas prices,” he said on Twitter. “It will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as a weapon.”

Nice idea, except for one minor inconvenience: Gas and diesel aren’t the only commodities turning into luxury goods.

Most of the metals that go into EVs and their massive batteries – copper, nickel, cobalt [see this post: “Congo’s Cobalt Key to PRC’s Grasp for EV Dominance“], lithium [see this post: Lithium and Batteries for EVs look like just another Canadian Hi-Tech Pipedream”], plus a variety of rare earth metals – have climbed even faster than pump prices because they are in exceedingly short supply and high demand. Cobalt two years ago went for US$15 a pound; today it’s US$40. Lithium carbonate prices have climbed about 600 per cent in the same period.

The metals’ scarcity means that the endlessly touted EV revolution will almost certainly be delayed, perhaps long delayed, barring the invention of batteries that use far less of these crucial metals, or none at all [emphasis added]. Ditto then green revolution in general, for many of these same metals go into wind turbines and solar panels…

Already, Tesla boss and co-founder Elon Musk is screaming about excruciating metals prices while quietly jacking up the prices of Tesla cars to make them even less affordable for the average family. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average price of a Tesla is US$52,200, up almost 3 per cent since late 2021 [emphasis added]

Mr. Musk has been a lot smarter than most auto executives in protecting supply chains. As far back as 2020, just before the price charts went vertical, he realized that shortages could translate into production and profit-margin squeezes. He negotiated a cobalt supply deal with Glencore, the world’s biggest producer of the metal that is essential for battery production. No more middleman.

General Motors and BMW recently did similar deals with Glencore, through presumably at a much higher price. Tesla is now trying to replicate the process with nickel producers.

In March, Volkswagen announced a joint venture with two Chinese companies to secure nickel and cobalt supplies from Indonesia. The deal thrusts VW into the mining industry, taking a page from the supply chain strategy created by Henry Ford a century ago [emphasis added]. Mr. Ford was so obsessed with security of supply that he bought coal mines, timberlands, sawmills, a railroad and a fleet of freighters to make sure iron ore and other materials would reach his factories.

…While the in-ground reserves of some metals are genuinely in short supply, such as copper, others, notably lithium, are blessed with generous reserves on several continents. But that’s not the point. The point is that building mines to extract the lithium, and plants to process it, can take five to 10 years. Cobalt mines can taken longer [emphasis added]

Every big automaker in the world is ramping up EV production. Forecasts say that tens of millions of these cars will be produced each year by the middle part of this decade. Maybe not. In the United States alone, about 13 lithium-ion plants are in the construction or planning stages – but what is not known is where the lithium will come from. There is only one operating lithium mine in the U.S. European and Japanese carmakers face similar supply constraints.

The EV revolution is beginning to look like an evolution. EVs are coming, but not at pedal-to-the-metal speeds.

Follow Eric Reguly on Twitter: @ereguly

And a very relevant recent post (note that Ontario is finally getting, with big federal and provincial subsidies, a battery production plant)–but consumers too still will have to pay to play with Ontario-assembled EVs:

Feds’ and Ontario’s EV Dream: Pay to Play

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds