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Blue last won the day on July 5

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  1. Yup. Unlike in the past, I don't see a way for anyone to talk their way out of this. Every time politicians beat the war drums to intervene somewhere or another, there is grumbling along the lines of "if they want boots-on-the-ground in Syria/Libya/Africa/wherever, send the Congresspersons or their kids first." Entertaining and cathartic to think about, but obviously not feasible. Covid gave the occasional blurb about politicians disregarding their own lockdown decrees, but that was written off as "politicians behaving badly." You had AOC try to make some noise awhile back about how Trump and the Republicans failed her "Abuela," suffering in Puerto Rico with no help months after their hurricane. And then some of the normal right-wing pundits started asking the question about "what has AOC done to help," to the point of Shapiro, or one of those clowns starting a Go Fund Me for AOC's "poor Abuela." Entertaining, but just another bullshit AOC media sideshow. Now you have immigrants getting bussed to the blue cities. It's hilarious and fascinating in it's impact, but most of all, you gotta love the simplicity. I can see no real path to someone talking their way out of this. You said you were a "Sanctuary City?" Well, here you go. Provide some sanctuary! It's like watching some political black comedy movie unfold in real life.
  2. Valid, and something that became readily apparent once inside the belly of the acquisition beast. Contractors are incentivized to "ship it" and get paid, regardless of quality. The USG (civilian employees and military members) try to put up guardrails and speed bumps, but when push comes to shove, the contractors win. And it's on the USG to hope for the best, pick up the pieces, and try to make things work. All of that, I accepted as part and parcel with the entire acquisitions ecosystem. However...... While the F-16 is a ~$25 mil a copy, and the ACES-II seat is ~$2mil a copy, the choices that made the difference between life and death in this case were on the order of tens of thousands of dollars. My experience was the USG civilians and uniformed personnel in the SPOs had little sway with the stuff involving big bucks. They could however move the needle significantly when the dollar values were small. Somewhere in the forest of cubicles at Wright Patt or Hill, some Item Manager, Equipment Specialist, or Engineer could have made some noise about the availability of the shorting plug. They could have pushed the issue to the forefront, and it sounds like it's enough of a low-buck part that a company like Teledyne might have found another source just to make the USG shut up. Or, someone at Teledyne might have even taken notice, recognized the issue as well, and taken up the flag inside their company. While the company is incentivized by the almighty dollar, there are a lot of worker-bees punching a clock at these companies who really believe in what they're doing for the warfighter. Same with the decisions on setting and subsequently extending the TCTO deadlines, and signing off on life extensions of the DRS. Someone with the USG who cares could have raised the red flag. A USG civilian could have refused to sign off on the extension. Everyone knows the trope about USG civilians being next to impossible to fire. There is very little standing in the way of those folks saying "No." I spent the better part of my 20s and 30s in the belly of the beast, and I've had a good bit of time to reflect on it all. The Air Force has a literal army of civilians that are supposed to be managing all of this stuff, along with a smaller contingent of uniformed members. They're spread throughout the SPOs, Depots, etc. There is a tremendous amount of Make Work, and it's all very much a jobs program. In amongst the deadwood, seat-warmers, and oxygen thieves, there are also a lot of good people, who want to do what's best, and really believe in what they're doing on a day-to-day basis. In amongst all the bullshit, every once in a great while, I got to see instances when something no shit really mattered. Events where technical decision making by a conference room full of pasty-faced nobody civilians had a real direct impact on people's lives. Real "figure out a way to fix the oxygen system or they'll die" Apollo 13 style shit. And I was always surprised. The bullshit got put aside, the bureaucracy was swept away, and Shit Got Done. If people were lucky, there were some back patting, and maybe a couple beers together after work. On rare occasion, six months later some people tangentially involved with it would get a meaningless award or two. Mostly though, the people who made the wins only had their own job satisfaction as a reward, but for those folks, it was enough. It's not like there was a Big Red Button on the wall that someone pressed and everyone switched from bullshit-mode to get-down-to-work mode. It was more the fact that, as a whole, you collectively had enough people that gave a shit, that they were able to generate a critical mass to make something happen when it really mattered. I spent ten years in that realm, and last turned in my badge about ten years ago. I watched the mass of the lets-get-it-done folks dwindle over my time, and I can only imagine it's continued to deteriorate. People retire or get sidelined. Merit no longer gets you promoted, and often it's not even political games that move you up anymore. The Drive for Diversity watered down a lot of the experience, up and down the org chart. Shouting matches over the proper technical solution used to be, not common, but not unheard of. Once it was resolved, the combatants would usually shake hands and go get lunch. That sort of thing would have you written up by HR now. I'm just bitter about my own experiences as a cog in the wheel, how bad the whole enterprise was, and how much I saw it get worse over time. Events like the Shaw crash just get me dwelling on it all. TL:DR: Contractors gonna contract, but I wonder if some cubicle-dwelling USG civilians cared enough and put their foot down, they could have prevented some of the "holes in the swiss cheese" of the Shaw crash.
  3. The question is who is "they?" I'd argue it's not so much the contractors, as it is the Air Force. In particular, AFMC and ACC. Contractors gonna contract, they're gonna occasionally be slow and provide substandard product. That's not ideal, but that's just reality of the supply base for military aviation. A former professor had a different way of putting it - the difference in standards between military and civilian aviation is why, when a 737 makes a smoking hole in the ground, the heirs of each person sitting in the back gets tens of millions. When a F-16 does the same, the heirs get a couple hundred grand in SGLI money and a folded flag. A morbid aspect of the difference in civilian and military aviation. And the topic of "counterfeit parts" is obviously incredibly concerning, but so far it just seems like a red herring in this case. It makes for good press, but hasn't yet been attributed as causal to the incident. In theory, AFMC and ACC should be the "adults in the room," advocating for keeping the best possible hardware in the hands of the warfighter. In the case of AFMC, it would be the System Program Office (SPO) for the F-16 and whatever SPO handles the ACES-II seat and components. One would hope that, due to the criticality of their application, all mods, TCTOs, etc related to the ejection system would be given the highest priority within the Air Force enterprise. Everything about this accident seems to point towards the ejection seat mods being treated the same as any other mod on the aircraft, and scheduled when they'd be the most convenient and least manpower-intensive. Either way, lots of missed opportunities: TCTO 11P2-3-502 was issued for the shorting plug installation. When the plug wasn't available in 2017, ACC decided to push the install 36 months, to the next seat maintenance opportunity. Why was such a safety-critical mod allowed to be pushed three years to the right? Who made that call, and what was their reasoning? What was the original compliance deadline on the TCTO? The shorting plug was out of stock, for some reason. Did someone from one of the SPOs go beat down the door of the supplier to expedite orders for the shorting plug? Did someone search out an alternate source? Or did no one take any action, and accept whatever slip they manufacturer gave them? The DRS reached it's life limit, and it sounded like ACC asked for three individual six month extensions. ACC is looking to the "big brains" in the SPOs in AFMC to provide well-reasoned technical guidance on whether or not the life should be extended. Did AFMC do any kind of no-shit analysis and come to a well-supported conclusion? Or did some desk jockey just sign it off to keep the boss happy? In hindsight, the combination of a required TCTO, along with expired service life should have given someone pause. When the shorting plug became available, ACC didn't install it on the aircraft. When the replacement for the DRS became available (the MASS), ACC didn't install it on the aircraft, either. Instead, they pushed all mods to the next available maintenance opportunity. That's great for efficiency in manpower and aircraft availability, but poor for safety. Again, an OK path if your mod is some mundane change, but poor if your mod is safety critical. Goes back to what was the deadline on the shorting plug TCTO? Who set the deadline, if it was pushed, who approved the push, etc. The question of manpower resources at Shaw comes up, too. I'm long since removed from any kind of military flightline environment. But the stuff you read on social media (here and elsewhere) seems to indicate the scepter of volunteering, bake sales, SARC CBTs, and everything else but your primary duty continues to be the focus. If some of that nonsense was diminished, would maintenance at Shaw have had the bandwidth to do the seat work sooner, and not wait for the next "convenient opportunity?"
  4. I've had the pleasure of working with folks from a couple different carriers that went away via mergers, albeit corporate types, not pilots. It's been interesting to see the differences. The former Continental folks were all incredibly proud of what they had accomplished at their former carrier. Their bags and backpacks often had a tag emblazoned with "Ex-Con" and the Continental logo. Mechanics had similar stickers on their toolboxes. Newark was longtime Continental stronghold, and as late as 2013 (three years post merger), there was a Continental flag the size of a small house hanging on the wall in the hangar, and all the mechanics still had Continental logos on their uniforms. Legend has it that all changed very quickly when some higher-up took a tour of the hangar and subsequently blew a gasket. All those ex-Con folks were incredibly proud of "where they came from," and the afterglow of the halcyon days of Gordon Bethune were evident. At the same time, they didn't come across as any kind of "know-it-alls." More just proud of their heritage, and occasionally privately shaking their head at some of United's post-merger stumbles. Very much keeping with the polite, South Texas heritage of the former Continental HQ in Houston TX. The former Northwest folks didn't really have any kind of outward displays of their former employer. The odd decal here and there was about it. And they (mostly) didn't immediately revert to bellowing "well back in Minneapolis...." when in a meeting. But get those folks in private, hoo boy! Northwest Airlines was God's fucking gift to the airline industry. They were breaking new ground every time they stepped into the hangar in the morning. Every single employee from top to bottom was the world's leading expert in their field. There was no higher pinnacle in the industry than being employed by Northwest Airlines. A janitor in Minneapolis was superior to a Director at any other airline. Their way was the best way, and anyone who even approached questioning it was deemed a fool. It was very keeping with their humble, but incredibly passive-aggressive Upper Midwest ways. The corollary to "Minnesota Nice" is often "Minnesota Passive Aggressive and Back-Stabby." All the ex-United folks seemed to be merely happy to have a job, and quietly reflecting on how the proceeds from selling their 1,200 sq ft home in San Fran was able to buy a mini-estate in the Chicago suburbs. Airline history, and how some people make it part of their identity, is a weird aspect of the industry.
  5. I don't know man. I do know that the only person talking about legal immigration - is you.
  6. Lots of interesting technical aspects to this. None of them good. The AFRL report acknowledges "AFRL has not seen evidence that any of the suspect counterfeit components were causal in the failure of the ACES-II ejection system." and "Presence of counterfeit parts in DRS would not necessarily result in operational failure of ACES-II ejection system." So, based on what they know now, they haven't been able to tie potential counterfeit parts to the ejection seat failure. They haven't been able to rule them out, either. They also twice mention finding "obsolete" parts in the DRS. I wish they'd go into that more - how'd they know they were obsolete? Older part number, or date code, or similar? On another note, they also raise concerning questions about what Teledyne (the manufacture of the DRS) did with it after the mishap. Seems like they were doing all kinds of testing and analysis, with no regard for maintaining the DRS as a piece of evidence in the mishap. Handing the unit off to the manufacturer like that, with no controls in place, seems like a real gap. The AFRL report also brings up "Counterfeit components in DoD inventory has been an ongoing problem over the past few decades. Often the manufacturer/supplier is not aware the components are counterfeit. The DoD is aware of this problem and is working to eliminate these components from supply chains." Supposedly, there are checks and balances in place to guard against counterfeit parts. In theory, you should be able grab an avionics box, and trace the pedigree of every subcomponent back to where it was manufactured. I think in reality, that's not always the case. And when you get down to commodity-level components like flash chips and the like, it's very much a "race to the bottom." Corners inevitably get cut, and someone pads their profit margin (wittingly or unwittingly) by introducing counterfeit parts. Hadn't read the AIB before this, but the section on Substantially Contributing Factors has a section on "Ejection Seat Malfunction" on page 45-46 of the .pdf. Issues with the DRS were highlighted during an ejection in 2014: Following the 2014 DRS failure, a time compliance technical order (TCTO) 11P2-3-502, Installation of the Shorting Plug on the DRS Electronic Module, was issued on 20 January 2016. The shorting plug was designed to prevent noise bias issues observed in channel three of a three-channel system. Two channels are required to be in agreement for the DRS to function properly. Channel three noise bias issues have been observed in approximately 9% of all live ejections and sled tests. TCTO instructions allowed for installation of the shorting plug during regularly scheduled 36-month maintenance/inspections. This presence of noise on one of the channels makes this sound like a crappy design to begin with. Shit happens in electronics design, but would have hoped that aircrew escape systems would be designed to a higher standard. And adding a "shorting plug" sounds like a technical band-aid. Would like to see the TCTO itself, along with the other technical data contained in the AIB tabs, but it appears those aren't publicly available. Regardless, they issued the TCTO in 2016. The mishap airplane was on the schedule to get the mod during scheduled maintenance in 2017, but the parts were "not available." Things like a "shorting plug" are not complex, so it's kind of unconscionable that they weren't available. Regardless, because of the parts unavailability, they pushed the TCTO to the next 36 month maintenance scheduled for July/August 2020. In the meantime, much like many ejection seat components, the DRS has a limited service life (in this case, 10 years). This expired in Feb 2019, but received three life extensions from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center out to July 2020. So, I assume three individual 6 month extensions. Would like to see the technical backing for justifying those extensions. Someone within AFLCMC should be able to produce some no-shit life cycle analysis that substantiates the life extension. And maybe they can, but my limited experience has been that someone may have just signed off the extensions with a cursory glance of past data. In the meantime of all of this, a replacement for the DRS was fielded that negated the need for the TCTO. This was the Modernized ACES II Seat Sequencer (MASS), and became available in May 2020. The AIB isn't clear what happened here, but it sounds like the installation of the MASS was scheduled for the next time the seat was due for it's 36 month maintenance in July/August 2020. I don't know how it works turning wrenches on ejection seats. In a perfect world with unlimited resources, every ejection seat mod would be given the highest priority, considering the implications. But it seems like that's not the reality, and mods were scheduled with convenience and efficiency in mind, not aircrew safety. Sadly, the incident happened 30 June 2020, just short of the planned ejection seat maintenance. TL;DR: Problem with the DRS was found in 2014. TCTO issued in 2016 with what amounted to a simple, "band-aid" fix of a shorting plug. Mishap seat was pulled for scheduled maintenance in 2016, but TCTO parts not available. So, TCTO was pushed 36 months, to the next scheduled seat maintenance period in July/August 2020 In the meantime, the DRS should have been removed anyway due to reaching it's life limit. The Air Force issued three 6-month extensions, in order to line up with the next scheduled seat maintenance. There was a new and improved replacement for the DRS that was fielded, the MASS, but rather than replace immediately in May 2020, that was also lined up for that July/Aug 2020 date. Aircraft crashed just a couple months short of that next seat maintenance, and seat failed due to a faulty DRS. The DRS was past it's service life, had a known defect, and had a bunch of (potentially) counterfeit parts.
  7. Sigh. You over-privileged, foolish fucking midwit. STFU with your Boomer nonsense.
  8. "They're cutting our pay/manning/etc. so they can afford more F-35s!!!" has always been a common refrain. However, I always felt it was challenging to draw a real clear line between "more F-35s" and "personnel getting shafted," due to the inherent complexity of DoD budgeting That article however has this gem from Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin: Allvin acknowledged that officials do “lose touch” with the needs of everyday airmen in the process of crafting future budgets. “We carve out little bits of money here and there to afford that next F-35, or to be able to do that development and testing here. But that doesn’t resonate very well,” he said. “We all have work to do to understand the impact on recruiting and retention.” Ultimately, Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, et al, all have highly paid lobbyists on Capitol Hill, looking out for those companies, working to keep the money flowing. There is something like 325k people on active duty in the Air Force. Who is their lobbyist? Who is looking out for them on Capitol Hill, to ensure they get a fair piece of the budgetary pie? The answer is no one. Absolutely no one of consequence is going to stand up on Capitol Hill and argue for less funding to F-35s and more to personnel. Folks complaining about cuts to things like Special Duty Assignment Pay need to recognize these facts, and act accordingly. Some truth to this. The old Charlie Beckwith quote “I’d rather go down the river with seven studs than with a hundred shitheads” comes to mind. There are a lot of studs, and a whole lot of shitheads. Would be great to better support and grow the studs, and weed-out the shitheads, but the entire personnel system isn't really structured to do this. Probably more accurate to say the existing personnel system is designed to coddle the shitheads, and hope enough of the studs stay in to keep the wheels from coming off.
  9. Seriously? I mean, the entire country (and the world) was thrown into 2+ years of chaos. Lives ruined, and the after effects of it all are going to be felt for the rest of our lives. Side effects from vaccines, the reshaping of the economy, the mental damage its caused people, etc, etc. To say nothing for the subset of politicians out there that are spring-loaded to move back to lockdowns and masks just as soon as Covid numbers "spike" again.
  10. Yeah, conservation of energy, aka There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. If you have an electric car, and try one of those power generation ideas (windmill on the roof, generator on the wheels, etc), the losses you experience from drag and friction are more than the power you generate. Exception being the "regenerative braking" setups, where some of the power is recaptured when you're braking. You're recapturing the energy that would normally be lost to heat and friction with the brakes.
  11. At least part of the dynamic you encounter is directly related to @FLEA's post above. Anecdotally at least, I felt like the pool of non-rated officers started off along a standard bell curve when it came to skills, situational awareness, motivation, intelligence, etc. Maybe a bit biased towards the geeky, anti-social side...... After the initial commitment (four years for ROTC/OTS, five for Academy), you lose a lot of talent at the upper portion of that bell curve. The good folks get tired of all the normal stuff (bureaucracy, asshattery, etc), and decide to punch. A lot of those folks who stay in are at that left end of the bell curve. Ebbs and flows along with the economy, too. Got a good economy going? You're gonna lose a lot of your good people. Good people are more likely to punch when the economy is good. A non-rated O who retires today is someone who took a look at the roaring economy of 2006/2007 and said "You know what, I'm going to stay in." You get a small number of hard-charging true believers, and a lot of shitheads. Somewhat related, a lot of the health professionals don't even attend full OTS, rather they do an abbreviated version. I think the criteria to pass is ability to put on the uniform correctly 3 out of 4 times.
  12. Yeah, this. Holy hell, I appreciate the level of discourse here, but @Prozac, sometimes I wonder if you're a bot, a paid shill, or what. No offense or nothing. But at some point, it's quibbling, and/or nonsense like arguing the definition of "is."
  13. It's fascinating to see otherwise intelligent people look at what's going on in the world, and think it's some screenplay being acted out in real life. The US and Ukraine are the good guys in white hats. Russia is the bad guy in the black hat. Challenges are faced, obstacles overcome, the good guys win, the bad guys retreat, and the credits roll. It's fucking bizarre.
  14. Yeah, this is a metric shit ton of money being sent to US defense contractors, which in turn are shipping out weapons to Ukraine. If you listen closely, you can hear the champagne bottles being popped in the boardrooms at Northrop, Boeing, Lockheed, etc. Also, from the linked fact sheet: United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes: Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems We keep littering the globe with advanced man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, we're not going to like the result. Such things have a tendency to make their way into the wrong hands. Thanks @brwwg&b for linking that fact sheet; I hadn't seen that before. As a recap, in the past 6 months, we've committed 12.9 Billion dollars in "security assistance" to Ukraine. 12.9 Billion. In "Security Assistance." Over just six months. Lemme translate that for the people in the cheap seats. The United States is at fucking war with Russia. We're in a real live shooting war, and no one even bothered to ask the American people if they cared or not. I don't know, maybe it'll turn out to be the right decision. Maybe Putin will get toppled by some of the more moderate folks in his circle, and we'll all settle back into a nice frenemy relationship. But if you take all this in, and think that everything is all hunky-dory with our support of Ukraine, then you're an absolute fucking fool.
  15. JFC. It's a political cartoon. You gonna post a sniveling reply to every stupid meme, too?
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