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US Major Defence Programs & the War of the Wide Bodies

In the quest for (some) transparency in defence spending, a new US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report provides a brief 2 page overview of 86 such programmes. The  US Department of Defense (DOD) 2012 portfolio of 86 major defence acquisition programs is estimated to cost a total of $1.6 trillion, reflecting decreases in both size and cost from the 2011 portfolio. Those decreases are largely the result of more programs exiting than entering the portfolio, as well as reductions in procurement quantities due to program cancelations and restructurings. GAO explains that this report responds to GAO's mandate in the DOD Appropriations Act, 2009. It includes observations on (1) the cost and schedule performance of DOD's 2012 portfolio of 86 major defense acquisition programs; (2) the knowledge attained at key junctures in the acquisition process for 40 major defense acquisition programs that were selected because they were in development or early production; and (3) key acquisition reform initiatives and program concurrency.  This GAO report can be accessed here.

For Airbus, the A350 XWB presents a wealth of opportunity, since the plane was designed to compete directly with both the 787 Dreamliner and Boeing's 777 and 777-X. It launches the "War of the Wide-bodies."  It is believed that Airbus has taken 617 orders for the three different variants of the A350. By comparison, Boeing has 890 orders for the Dreamliner (not counting the 50 it has delivered already) as well as 1,500 deliveries and orders for 777s. Airbus designed the A350 XWB to be highly fuel-efficient, thanks in large part to its use of composite materials in 53 percent of the plane. It is also using titanium and advanced aluminum alloys, Airbus said, bringing the total of the plane's airframe that is  made with "advanced materials" to more than 70 percent. The Airbus aircraft does not utilise Lithium batteries. An in depth analysis of the manufacturers approaches has been posted by Aspire Aviation here.