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Analysts see Significan​t Breakthrou​gh in Recent F-35 Orders

Recent decisions by the Australian and Turkish governments are signaling a major upturn for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, undoubtedly the brightest star in the future military aircraft market.

In April, the Australian government approved the acquisition of an additional 58 F-35A aircraft. Following a 2009 decision to purchase 14 F-35As, the 58 additional fighters bring Australia’s total approved F-35 buy to 72 aircraft. The government is also considering the acquisition of an additional F-35A squadron in the future, further increasing the country’s F-35 buy.

On May 6, Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee tasked the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) with ordering the country’s first two F-35A aircraft. The SSM will order the F-35As as part of the F-35 program’s 10th low-rate initial production lot (LRIP 10). The Turkish government has also reconfirmed its long-term plans to acquire a total of at least 100 F-35As.

Like the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Lockheed F-16 multirole fighter, first produced in the 1970s, the F-35 program is a multinational effort that, despite budget considerations and rising program costs, is attracting nations eager to operate the world’s most advanced stealth aircraft. The recent Australian and Turkish announcements are welcome news to the F-35 program.

According to Forecast International aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski, “The Australian and Turkish decisions indicate that initial reluctance by customers to place early orders for the F-35 is dissipating.”

Dan Darling, Europe/Asia-Pacific military markets analyst at Forecast International, commented, “Further boosts may come from a planned South Korean order for the F-35 and a likely purchase by Singapore.”

Three versions of the next-generation F-35 fighter have been developed: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version, the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, and the F-35C carrier-based attack aircraft. The U.S. Air Force intends to acquire 1,763 F-35As, while the U.S. Marine Corps plans to procure 340 F-35Bs and 80 F-35Cs and the U.S. Navy intends to buy 260 F-35Cs.

The sheer size of the F-35 program dwarfs all competition. Forecast International projects that a total of 2,019 F-35s, worth an estimated $166 billion, will be produced over the 15-year period from 2014 through 2028 alone, with many more to flow off production lines thereafter. This initial total includes 1,499 F-35As, 325 F-35Bs, and 195 F-35Cs.

Forecast International aerospace analyst Douglas Royce said, “Our projections call for the F-35 to account for nearly 48 percent of the total fighter market over the next 15 years, a statistic that may well rise. Other fighter manufacturers are thus forced to compete for what is left, with the result that a number of other fighter production lines may well go dark during the next decade due to a lack of orders.”

Forecast International aviation gas turbine analyst Will Alibrandi said, “The F-35 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine. Turkey’s support for the F-35 program is substantiated by its plan to establish a final assembly and maintenance facility for the F135 engine in-country. This new facility could provide depot-level engine maintenance for all F-35 operators in the region. The engines for Turkey’s first F-35As will be produced in the U.S. by Pratt & Whitney, while engines for the planned fleet of 100 aircraft will eventually be assembled at the new facility in Turkey.”

Alibrandi continued, “As the sole supplier for the F-35′s engine, Pratt & Whitney stands to win big. Indeed, Forecast International expects that F135 production, including spares, will top 2,485 through 2028 and add some $27.3 billion to the engine manufacturer’s coffers – with much more to follow.”

Aerospace analyst Jaworowski summed it up dramatically, “The F-35′s market potential is outstanding! Nearly any nation that currently operates F-16s, F/A-18s, or AV-8B Harrier IIs is a potential F-35 customer.”

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Israel challenged by Iran charm offensive: analysts

As Iran’s new president reaches out to the West with a message of moderation, Israel’s hawkish approach on Tehran’s nuclear program looks likely to come under pressure, experts say.

President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday emphasized the peaceful nature of the Islamic republic’s atomic program, telling the UN General Assembly that “nuclear weapons… have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine.”

Israel scrambled to denounce the speech, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “cynical” and “full of hypocrisy”.

“This is exactly Iran’s strategy — to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons. Rouhani knows this well,” charged Netanyahu.

But Rouhani’s diplomatic overtures, which stand in stark contrast to the belligerent statements so commonly heard from his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are proving to be quite a challenge to the Israeli premier.

“For the past eight years, Israel’s efforts to convince the world… to tackle Iran’s nuclear designs head on relied on… adamant, Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad,” commentator Chemi Shalevan wrote in Haaretz newspaper.

“Ahmadinejad… served as Israel’s number one talking point, its strategic propaganda asset, a poster boy who self-explained Tehran’s sinister designs.”

Rouhani’s message is a “real diplomatic challenge for Israel,” Professor Uzi Rabi, an Iran specialist at Tel Aviv University, told AFP.

“The last time Netanyahu was at the United Nations, it was much easier for Israel to argue on Iran,” he said.

Last year, Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly and drew a red line on a cartoonish depiction of a bomb, saying the international community must act to prevent Iran from using its nuclear program to build a weapon, a charge accepted by the West but denied by Tehran.

This year, when he addresses the UN General Assembly on October 1, the Israeli leader will seek to play down the differences between Rouhani and his predecessor, the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily said.

“Netanyahu will say that, like Ahmadinejad, Rouhani also adheres to the goal of destroying the State of Israel and attacking the entire Western world.”

Rabi agreed: “Israel is trying to make sure everyone is keenly aware that the Iranian charm offensive is just tactics – it doesn’t mean there’s real change.”

Israel’s concerns over a thaw were further stoked on Monday when officials said US Secretary of State John Kerry would hold his first nuclear talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a landmark meeting at the UN headquarters on September 26.

“Netanyahu… is not going to be in the negotiations room so he’s trying to remind the US of the reality that there’s not been evidence of change,” Dr Emily Landau of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies told AFP.

Israel fears the meeting could undermine its efforts to put further pressure on Iran, according to Dr Raz Zimmt, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Iranian studies centre.

“Israel’s government and prime minister are facing difficulties convincing the international community to treat Iran the same way it has treated it before,” Zimmt told AFP.

“In the West, they see Rouhani as totally different from Ahmadinejad. They’re right, but… Rouhani hasn’t come up with a concrete proposal on how to resolve the nuclear issue.

Washington has been “working behind the scenes to allay Israeli concerns and has said that the Iranian president will be judged by his actions,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper said on Sunday.

But Rouhani’s “charm offensive,” together with developments in the wider Middle East region, may trump Israel’s protestations, analysts warned.

“Both the US and Iranian administrations have decided there’s a window of opportunity to talk,” Zimmt said.

Holocaust is ‘reprehensible’

In a radical about-turn from his Holocaust-denying predecessor’s rhetoric, Rouhani, in an interview with CNN aired on Tuesday, condemned the Nazi genocide as a “reprehensible” crime.

“I’m not sure the US can help it. Rouhani is the star of the UN,” Rabi said.

“The Iranians could come up with an interim suspension of uranium enrichment, but in the long term Iran is going to prevail when it comes to its nuclear plan,” he predicted.

And with much of the Middle East in crisis, Iran knows Washington may need its help in other areas, such as Syria.

“This is why they’re coming up with a new initiative” to talk with the West, Rabi told AFP, saying Iran was “capitalizing on the Syria saga.”

In a bitingly sarcastic tweet, the Israeli embassy in Washington, has derided Iran’s new president as an expert salesman who is bullish on nuclear proliferation.

The tweet poses the question of what Rouhani’s LinkedIn page might look like.

The spoof of his LinkedIn page has him describing himself as “a career politician, expert public relations professional, leading international salesman and longtime advocate of nuclear proliferation.”

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Raytheon studies intelligence analysts’ tradecraft to learn more about decision-making process

By on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Raytheon has created a scenario-based gaming exercise to study in depth the intelligence analyst’s tradecraft to ultimately help analysts produce the best intelligence products and streamline workflows.

“One way to think of this is that we are analyzing the analysts,” said Karen Ebling, analytics strategy director for Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS) business.

“We are conducting research to help the government look more closely at both the critical and creative modes of thought within the analyst tradecraft. Our end goal is to enable analysts to produce the best products possible.”

User-Centric Analytics Grand Challenge
Called the User-Centric Analytics Grand Challenge, Raytheon data scientists and engineers use instrumented software tools to assess the analytic process and to recommend approaches.

This process – backed with scientific rigor – gains quality improvements and helps to find efficiencies for intelligence and defense customers.

The cognitive researchers are using a gaming concept along with Raytheon data and analytic software to reproduce a day-in-the-life of analyst teams.

The objective is to help the teams learn what they can do to build on their day-to-day productivity and product quality by closely studying how they make decisions.

Penn State University has provided complex data sets based on real scenarios to support the exercise.

“We created unclassified, high-fidelity physical and soft data sets based on real information over a two-year period,” said Dr. David Hall, dean of the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology and a former Raytheon employee.

Jake Graham, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, is professor of practice and director of the Center for Network-Centric Cognition and Information Fusion. He leads the team that has supported Grand Challenge.

“We brought realism to the exercise using plausible data messages and storylines in miniature vignettes,” Graham said.

Former intelligence analysts who now work for Raytheon, and current analysts serving in the reserve component, are participating in the first phases of the exercise. Later stages of the study will include exercise engagements with government analysts.

“We have been working shoulder to shoulder with our intelligence analysts for decades,” Ebling said.

“This research is an extension of our commitment to deepen our understanding of our customers, their mission data, and how they work, so we can continue to provide them the best analytics solutions.”

As each phase of the Grand Challenge concludes, Hall said the university plans to build on the findings to contribute to continued research and teaching at the university in reasoning, analysis and decision making.

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