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Transportation The Military United States Politics

Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine 108

schwit1 (797399) writes The U.S. Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket: "Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: "What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?" Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies. In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]"

The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing's Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.
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Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

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  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:36PM (#47740029) Homepage
    Perhaps the five most important words in TFA, omitted by TFS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @11:06PM (#47740131)

    Let's just copy the RD180. I doubt it has any patent ecumberances.

  • Re:Raptor? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @12:05AM (#47740297)

    You know that the bureaucrats eventually "won" in Rome, right?

    Rome collapsed under the weight of its complacent, entrenched bureaucracy. After Marcus Aurelius, every subsequent Caesar had less ability to change the trajectory of the Empire thanks to the political realities imposed by the bureaucracy. They had to act within the constraints of the previously established bureaucracies. Did you know that eventually Roman bureaucrats granted themselves military ranks? Bureaucrats also chose the last of the Western Emperors.

    Bureaucracy is a cancer.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @12:53AM (#47740461) Homepage

    First off, this is entirely off-topic. Apart from being built under the name "Lockheed Martin", the Atlas V is completely the F-35. Even that connection is a stretch, as they're managed under completely different divisions, and the Atlas is actually being built by a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing [].

    Second, you're only citing half of the story. The DoD originally asked for 42 [] F-35s, but had to cut back the order to 34 due to sequestration. The House Appropriations Committee denied some of the Pentagon's other requests, and moved that money into purchasing the additional F-35s.

    Finally, I find it interesting that your very first post to Slashdot is a heavily partisan off-topic piece, very nearly quoted verbatim from the article I've linked, but conveniently missing the paragraph that gives an even perspective to the matter. I have a sneaking suspicion you're not intending to improve this discussion.

  • Re:Raptor? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2014 @01:25AM (#47740551)

    True. On the other hand, it provided stability during times of some of the most ridiculous people to ever live.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2014 @03:28AM (#47740765)

    I'm sure that the Russians will happily continue to supply engines, if US economic terrorism stops.
    The reasons for sanctions against Russia are purely American self interest. Counties that behave in the way have ALWAYS, without exception, ended up in a pretty bad shape, if we look back through history.
    The American backed coup in Ukraine, has lead to the slaughter of thousands of people - and all for what - most likely because the US wants to replace Russia as Europe's gas supplier.

  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @10:33AM (#47741741)

    LM's been in a staring contest with the USAF for years, each trying to get the other to pay for the development of a domestic version of the RD-180. The USAF just blinked.

  • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @11:41AM (#47741977)


    The Atlas V was designed at a time when the Soviet Union was crumbling. Using Russian engines was an American ploy to ensure world stability by keeping Russian rocket designers gainfully employed instead of leaving them fend for themselves, building God knows what for the highest bidder.

    Did that work? Well, I haven't seen much progess in rocket technology by people crazy enough to start wars.

    Has this tactic outlived its usefulness? Yes, in view of recent developments, it's time for a new arrangement. Oh, look, that's just what they're doing.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford