We may have a new President in office who is supposedly shifting us from military focus to a diplomacy focus. However, thus far there is little to indicate that President Obama is ready to step back from the expensive toys of war and the mindset they represent. Drone attacks in Pakistan have been the order of the day – despite the high civilian casualty rate. Meanwhile new weapons and plans roll out of the Pentagon. And despite the Pentagon’s seeming inability to track their budget (over $2 trillion is missing somewhere), Gates is pushing for even less budget oversight.
A number of projects are in the works and all have a very high price tag.
Future Combat System (FCS)
The Future Combat System has a price tag of $159 billion, which the GAO says is unrealistically low. The FCS is a wireless network interconnection between soldiers, commanders, and eight weapons platforms which allows communications and guidance.
It is under development by Boeing and Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) – who of course have high confidence in the project.
The Future Combat System is the integrative component of Future Combat Systems. Don’t be confused over the names. FCS is the communications piece for the “systems” which extend the remote attack capabilities and the integration (one assumes) of the tech-homo “future war fighter” (soldiers enhanced with optical, computer and other embedded technologies).
Of course, this system might be disabled by another new weapon that “frys electronics.”
E-Bombs that Wreak Havoc
Several categories of weapons systems actually fall under this category. The military already has the capacity to fry electronic devices using either magnetic pulses or microwave. The new plan is to combine the magnetic version with an explosive component so that both electronic devices and physical objects can be destroyed at the same time.
This could either be really simple, or very complex. One would not want the explosive half to destroy the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) components. However, it would also not be a good idea for the EMP component to set off the explosive components. Further, since these are likely to be remotely controlled or perhaps delivered by drone, it would be counter-productive to shut down either the delivery vehicle or the wireless interfaces (as in the FCS). Oh the engineering challenges of efficient destruction.
However, in the world of micro-technology, a very small magnetic-based weapon has been mocked up. It is small enough to fit within a hand grenade and is technically named “Completely explosive ultracompact high-voltage nanosecond pulse-generating system.”
Surveillance is the perpetual need – particularly in a remote controlled world at war, and sometimes moving back means moving forward. Enter the super blimp.
Super blimp is “absolutely revolutionary” according the Werner Dahm – Airforce chief scientist. Yes, it is a blimp, but this baby is (of course) unmanned. It can cruise at 65,000 feet, and it can hang up there for 10 years. It would be filled with helium, and batteries are rechargeable by using solar power. The super high tech radar system will be built into the blimp itself.
One assumes that the information gathered from the semi-permanent blimp observation post could be used to direct Falcon.
Falcon is a drone on steroids. It is (planned to be) a hypersonic, and near earth orbit drone capable of traversing 9000 nautical miles in under two hours with a 12,000 pound bomb payload. Despite being able to take off and land or be launched from space, reach Mach 6, travel in near earth orbit, be maneuverable, AND deliver bombs with pinpoint accuracy, DARPA says Falcon will:
… provide the nation a new, small payload access to space capability. Thus, the Falcon program addresses many high priority mission areas and applications such as global presence and space lift.
Which Way the Future?
At least at this point, it would appear that a change of president is not changing the direction of weapons development. In other words, more remote weapons, more control of space for military purposes, more super-response technologies with global reach. The (military) tools of empire.
The Pentagon has a $500 billion budget – yet to be released – for the coming year. People get upset about the piddling amounts spent on social welfare and education. Many get up in arms at the supposed costs of a single-payer universal health care system. Yet the Pentagon’s budget runs around 25% of the federal discretionary budget – every year. That is not counting war costs, nor that leaky accounting system that “loses” billions – every year. If our budget reflects our priorities then we are assured war into the unforeseeable future.
source: CJO’s Avenger212
At the end of February, another huge “stimulus” package was announced but generated almost no comment, controversy, or argument. The defense industry received its own special stimulus package — news of the dollars available for the Pentagon budget in 2010; and at nearly $700 billion (when all the bits and pieces are added in), it’s almost as big as the Obama economic package and sure to be a lot less effective.
Despite the sort of economic maelstrom not seen in generations, the defense industry, insulated by an enduring conviction that war spending stimulates the economy, remains almost impervious to budget cuts. To understand why military spending is no longer a stimulus driver means putting aside memories of Rosie the Riveter and the sepia-hued worker on the bomber assembly line and remembering instead that the Great Depression came before “the Good War,” not the other way around. In World War II, it’s also important to recall, the massive military buildup was labor intensive, employed millions, and was accompanied by rationing, austerity, and very high taxes.
This time around, we began with boom years and spent our way into the breach, in significant part by launching unnecessary, profligate wars.
War for Jobs?
Economists have also weighed in on why “war for jobs” as a way out of recession or depression has entered the world of mythology. An analysis from the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute , for instance, finds that, for every one billion dollars invested in defense, 8,555 jobs are created. By contrast, the same billion invested in health care would create 12,883 jobs, and in education, 17,687 jobs or more than double the defense stimulus payoff.
It has often been said that World War II — and the production stimulus it offered — lifted the United States out of the Great Depression. Today, the opposite seems to be the case. The “war economy” helped propel the U.S. into what might turn out to be another great depression, and so, unlike in 1929, as our economy crumbles today, we are already on a global war footing.
As the Obama administration grapples with economic disaster and inherited wars, it will have the added challenge of confronting a military-industrial complex accustomed to budgets that reach almost three quarters of a trillion dollars, based on exaggerated global threats, unsubstantiated economic claims, and entrenched profligacy. When Obama’s analysts pour over the budget, looking at all those overpriced weapons and plum contracts, they’ll have to ask: Is each weapons system or program actually needed for American security and is it cost effective? Or are the defense contractors shoveling a load of shovel-ready bull?
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The US military industrial complex is deeply embedded inside the Washington beltway. According to the most recent reports from OpenSecrets.org, 151 members of Congress in 2006 had up to $195.5 million of their personal assets invested in defense companies.
The military, industrial, congressional, and administrative elite profit from defense spending, both financially and ideologically. Insider profit taking from pentagon spending is widespread in Washington. But perhaps more important is the belief that this global military machine is seen as necessary for the protection of US corporate interests and the American upper classes in an increasingly destabilized world. Given that belief, the Obama administration is unlikely to change the defense spending policies of the previous US administrations without significant disruptive pressure from anti-war activists and global empire resisters.
more – Peter Phillips