01 Oct 15. The Pentagon on Wednesday said it has restricted some lighter pilots from flying the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet while it works to address issues with ejection seats that could injure them during a low-speed ejection from the jets. Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said pilots weighing less than 136 pounds (61.69 kg) were restricted from flying the jets from Aug. 27 given concerns about the seats made by UK-based Martin Baker Aircraft Corp.
He said the restriction currently affected one of the 215 pilots already trained to fly the new stealthy, supersonic jets. The aircraft is designed to be flown by pilots weighing as little as 109 pounds (49.44kg). The ban was put in place after tests discovered that the seat would rotate too far forward during a low-speed ejection by a lighter pilot, potentially causing injury to the back or neck, according to a defense official briefed on the issue.
“The safety of our pilots is paramount and the F-35 Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, and Martin Baker continue to work this issue with the U.S. services and international partners to reach a solution as quickly as possible,” DellaVedova said.
He said the program was still in developmental testing, which is designed to identify such problems. Lockheed referred all questions to the F-35 program office. The issue was first reported by Defense News, a trade publication. (Source: Reuters)
30 Sep 15. U.S. President Barack Obama will sign a stopgap funding measure approved by the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, but U.S. lawmakers should pass a budget that reverses harmful spending cuts known as sequestration, the White House said. “The American people deserve far better than last-minute, short-term legislating,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. (Source: Reuters)
30 Sep 15. President Obama Will Veto Defense Policy Bill. In a dispute with Republicans over how defense would be funded, President Obama plans to veto the 2016 defense policy bill due for a vote in the House on Thursday, a White House spokesman told reporters Wednesday. All but one conference committee Democrat refused to sign the conference report, which reflects a compromise months in the making between House and Senate armed services committees conferees over differences between their two versions of the bill. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, with the ranking Democrats of each committee — Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. — announced the report was finalized at a cordial Capitol Hill press conference late Tuesday afternoon. Reed and Smith collaborated with Republicans on the measure, but said they could not support it. Republicans have sought to meet Obama’s military budget request through the use of the wartime overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is exempt from sequestration budget caps, and which is part of the bill. Smith said this creates a disincentive to reach a deal on the federal budget that removes the caps.
“The lingering problem … is the OCO funding,” said Smith. “The budget caps are still in place. I agree that this is an appropriations issue, but it’s in our bill.”
The bill does not appropriate funding, but sets policy, creating authorization to spend money on a wide range of acquisition programs across the services. The bill also contains measures meant to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, ban torture, keep open the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, reform troop pay and benefits and overhaul acquisition rules.
After White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday Obama would veto the bill, Thornberry and McCain released statements blasting the president.
“It is unbelievable to me that an American president would threaten to veto a defense bill that supports our troops and gives him additional tools to use against aggressors, especially at a time when the world si