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The Army Just Spent Billions On Helicopters It Can Barely Even Fly
At the end of June, Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky helicopter division signed a massive $3.8 billion Department of Defense contract for 257 UH-60 Black Hawk utility copters, destined for the U.S. Army and certain foreign military customers over the next five years. The contract, which included both the classic Black Hawk and its HH-60M MEDEVAC variant, includes opportunities for the Army to pick up an extra 103 aircraft, according to the Hartford Courant, a clause that would push the value of the deal as high as $5.2 billion through 2022.
The problem? The Army’s having some serious difficulty actually flying these iconic choppers.
Days before Lockheed Martin announced the new contract, a Pentagon inspector general audit revealed that the Army “did not provide adequate funding and training for H-60 pilots on the new equipment.” And if this problem goes unaddressed, the branch may face a shortage of up to 160 trained H-60 pilots by 2026.
Sadly, the Army has nobody to blame but itself for this problem. According to the DoD IG report, the shortfall in funding and training occurred “because Army officials did not agree which Army organization was responsible for funding and conducting H-60 new equipment training” — the various branch offices literally just passed the buck to one another. To correct the issue, the branch will require nearly $153 million more than currently budgeted for both training and new equipment for 1,390 Black Hawk pilots through 2035.
But training isn’t the only problem. The audit found that Army Aviation and Missile Command “did not effectively manage airframe condition evaluations for the UH-60 fleet,” with nearly 25% (460 out of 2,098) of the branch’s Black Hawk helicopters foregoing safety inspections and other mandatory evaluations between March 2016 and February 2017.
This problem extended down to the unit level, too. “Evaluators identified safety problems with some UH-60 helicopters that required the unit commander to ground (restrict flying) those helicopters,” the audit says. “However, the unit commander did not always allow evaluators to finish the evaluation of additional helicopters because he did not want to ground more helicopters if additional safety problems were identified.”
The Army wanted to have a fully modernized and upgraded fleet of 2,135 Black Hawks by 2035, according to the audit, but how the branch plans on squaring its new five-year billion-dollar contract with Sikorsky and its imminent pilot shortfall is unclear. Army officials did not immediately return requests for comment from Task & Purpose.
The White House doctor still under investigation for doling out pills like a ‘candy man’ is now running for Congress
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral who had a short run as the nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, now plans to run for a seat in Congress.
University of Phoenix to pay $191 million for lying to troops about its close ties with major companies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.
Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.
The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.