JSF Faces “Substantial Risk”

JSF Faces “Substantial Risk”

In a fabulous concurrence of conflicting signals, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said he doesn’t expect the Joint Strike Fighter program to incur cost overruns large enough for it to breach the Nunn-McCurdy threshold, which could have meant disastrous publicity for the plane. Schwartz also said the Pentagon has a plan to aggressively reduce program risk, increasing testing and slowing the move to production. But the annual report from the director of Operational Test and Evaluation paints a very different picture, saying the program faces “substantial risk” over the next two years.

“Continued production concurrent with the slow increase in flight testing over the next two years will commit the DoD and Services to test, training, and deployment plans with substantial risk. Program management needs to emphasize maintaining robust engineering and test forces, early completion of detailed test plans, fully resourcing those plans, and rigorous accreditation of models and labs,” says the report by Michael Gilmore, OTE director. The report has just been briefed on Capitol Hill.

Schwartz told reporters at a conference put on by the Institute for Policy Analysis that the head of Pentagon acquisition, Ash Carter, had pushed a robust effort to reduce risk to the program. This, he said, will mean less concurrency, the wonky term that means the program builds and tests as it goes along instead of building a few test planes which are then used to figure out just what needs changing in production models.


“We came to the conclusion that the path we were on was too aggressive,” Schwartz said. The new plan, which will be made public in the next few weeks, will increase the amount of testing and slow the program down a bit. It will also, he admitted, result in higher per unit prices “for a period” for the early planes produced by the program.

Lockheed Martin F-35 spokesman Chris Geisel noted that the OTE report, which take some time to clear for release and can be dated, left out some “recent significant accomplishments: First flight of the optimized CTOL variant on 11/14/09; the ferry of the first of the first STOVL aircraft to PAX River on 11/15/09 and subsequent ferry of BF-2 on 12/29/09. Finally, and probably most significantly we engaged BF-1s STOVL propulsion system in flight on two different sorties for the first time in January. The successful tests are the first in a series of planned STOVL-mode flights that will include short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings.”

With all the negative news about the F-35 over the last few months a growing chorus has been heard claiming that the program is in serious trouble. So I asked Schwartz if the JSF is in peril: “People should read this as an advanced high technology effort that is needed by then operational forces of a number of nations.” OK, it’s not an elegant or eloquent answer, but it gets to the heart of the matter. With F-16s aging fast the major NATO powers and some friends need a new plane and that’s the F-35 and it will be delivered in a reasonable timeframe, given how advanced the plane is.

He also said that some important F-35 systems are in much better shape at this stage in the program than they were at comparable points in the F-22 enterprise. Software, which caused huge problems for the F-22 and is often a major stumbling block for major acquisition programs, is “far better off” for the F-35 than it was for the F-22, Schwartz said.

At the same time, Schwartz conceded that the new plan will mean “less margin with regards to our aging force structure.” He described the relationship between F-16s and the F-35 as “pretty much nose to tail.”

That seems borne out by one of the tester’s comments. Gilmore says that completion of Block 3 capability “could occur in early to mid-2016″ Winslow Wheeler, former defense budget expert on Capitol Hill, says that means the military won’t get operationally ready assets deployed until then. “Moreover, this assumes everything goes flawlessly in the fight testing that remains (which is a fool’s hope, I might add). In other words, delivery to our military forces in the field and at sea will be not just one but a few years late,” he said.

However, Lockheed’s Geisel said that while, “late deliveries of aircraft from production to flight test have impacted early test results, the program has turned the corner of both production and test and verification and we fully expect to complete developmental testing in the prescribed time frame (2014).”

For those allies growing increasingly worried about when they will get the JSF and just how much it will cost, Schwartz said his “bottom line” was that “they have to have trust in our keeping our promises.”

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The wide gulf between these points of view makes all of the hype and promises out of the JPO appear to be a smoke screen for one of the most colossal Charlie Foxtrots of all time.

The whole JSF thing is getting ridiculous. People are taking the last three months of the program, drawing a straight line out to 2025, and saying “this is what it’s going to be”.

You know what I see in the JSF? I see a major technology-development program that’s proceeding about how such programs always do. The AV-8 Harrier had a LONGER development cycle with MORE problems, and I don’t see anyone seriously claiming that the AV-8 is a failed system that should never have been purchased.

As Density says, the JSF is no different from other programs. I recall that the C-5 faced similar difficulties, we were told that the AWACS was not needed/would not work/etc. The B-1 was cancelled until it was brought back. Every new program costs more than the one before.
We are far less tolerant of cost growth now, far less tolerant of uncertainty.
There are times that I fear that the F-16/F-15 might be the LAST piloted fighter (using the AF as our example) that we buy in quantity. Byron will be happy to point out the numbers of UAVs we are buying.
I do think we need a follow on fighter, in sufficient numbers that we can afford to use them in combat. But the trends are not making us confident.

Good Morning Folks,

This is called lower the life boats, women and children first. General Schwartz is putting on his best face here, but he still evaded Colin’s question.

It is very doubtful that Lockheed Martin will “share” in the over run costs on the F-35, they are even now way to big and on;y the DoD could cover them and with the Navy teetering on full cancelation it defies all logic.

As indicated on other sites the reasons for the cost over runs, missed bench marks and delays this time were not constant changes by the DoD, just pure mismanagement on the part of Lockheed Martin. The tax payers shouldn’t have to cover for a poorly run program for an item that isn’t even needed,There is no reason to believe any of Lockheed Martins estimates for future bench marks in view of their past record of not meeting any.

The technology excuse by General Schwartz has been used to many time on to many projects. The F-35 by all indicators, from Lockheed Martin won’t even be ready for operational use till after 2020 and beyond. Since the F-35 was first conceived in the mid 1980’s that would make it upon delivery 40 year old design and technology.

Lets stop the F-35 from twisting in the wind and scrap the whole thing program.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

Hopefully the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be settled by then.

Seems like even the DOD is confused how many test flights the program has missed to date. This chart shows more…

http://​tinyurl​.com/​y​e​u​j​hzr

Ah-heh. The tiltrotor was “first conceived” in the 1940s by the Germans. By your reasoning that makes the V-22 a SIXTY YEAR OLD DESIGN. Try again, Glenn.

LOL 40 year old design and technology? You can’t be serious. That’s like saying the B-2 is obsolete because the Horton 229 was conceived during WWII.

I completely agree. This is what happens when you have so many requirements that involve so much NEW technology development with unrealistic budget and schedules.

Hello,

DensityDuck said:

“The AV-8 Harrier had a LONGER development cycle with MORE problems, and I don’t see anyone seriously claiming that the AV-8 is a failed system that should never have been purchased.”

The AV-8A was an Americanised variant of the Harrier G.R. Mk.1,it entered Marine Corps service in 1973 just 4 years after being ordered.
The Harrier G.R.1 itself entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1969,just 3 years after it’s first flight in 1966.
Even the P1127 and Kestrel,that the Harriers were developed from,first flew in 1960 and 1964 respectively.

The F35 on the other hand is not expected to enter service until 2016.
Even though the X35 first flew in 2000 and the Yak141 it is derived from first flew in 1987.

Unlike the F35,the harrier was also on time and on budget.

tangosix.

Personally, I think the whole JSF program is a joke. The same capability can be had with the more advanced versions of the F16, and overhauling/retro/upgrading the harrier. The same costs, lower risk, and guess what…they are ready now, in production as I speak, and are just as capable with LOWER cost. But as always,the more bells and whistles, the more Gates and his merry band of generals an yes men want this flying failure and future flop.

I think I’m with Duck on this one. JSF certainly is having more problems than we’d like, but is this really a surprise given the complexity of the required capabilities? (i.e. AF, NAVAL, MARINE STOVL) None of these problems is insurmountable.

I think we have to differentiate between promising what can never be delivered and what appears to be some seriously flawed programmatic problems. (overly optimistic tech timelines) There is a difference between program delays due to integration/mantech and technological development of improbable/impossible components.

All of this can be done; it’s just going to take a bit more time and money to get it right. If you were to do a sunk cost analysis (and assume all money spent is lost), you still come out much better with the continuation of the program. Besides……what is the alternative? Abandon the project after $200B and tell all the allies that signed on to go pound sand?

Godwin’s Second Law: Any spelling or grammar flame will contain a spelling or grammar error.

I am betting the F-35 will be a great plane and ends up being a workhorse. Discussions about it being obsolete sort of remind me of the first generations of Phantoms that had no gun on them because air to air missile technology was going to make them obsolete. Lots of air to air kills didn’t happen because in the ehat of battle the pilot didn’t have a weapon as reliable as a gun. I definitely think that unmanned platforms and new AI technology will make UAVs technological leaps much the same way an iPhone is about two generations ahead of the Nokias. But battles often boils down to a knife fight. That said, I am betting that we’ll still need men to fly planes and put weapons on target for a long time.

Respectfully,

Daniel Russ
Civilianmilitaryintelligencegroup​.com

Good Evening Folks,

To USMC USNA 93, since you have nothing of substance to contribute to the discussion I figure I have to give you some reason to post.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

Good Evening Folks,

To Daniel, all this is fine and good, history is a fascinating subject but if you look at the responders to my post none of them have given reasons why we need the F-35. None of you disputed any of my arguments with anything that resembles evidence or solid information. Like with most arguments around here it comes down to got cha and do personal attacks on me.

It would appear that the people posting have no real knowledge of or a for that matter any prospective on the scope of National Defense, I would suspect that most don’t even put up their own opinion but that of who gives them their check twice a month. Aposter who engages in personal attack and not put his name, real name, on the post, but to reference his class at the United States Navel Academy is rather low rent. Maybe again though he/she is representative of what we have for officers now in the military. They just like to blow smoke as we use to say, so I let ‘em blow, the readers are not fooled.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

Ain’t that the truth? LOL

Forgive my ignorance, but I’ve been curious for some time what “ALLONS” means.…

Lets see Byron we have been over the reasons we need the F-35 at least a dozen times now. You just seem intent on ignoring them. Shall I repeat them again for you, or perhaps you would be willing to “enlighten us” with your superior alternative to the F-35 that can realistically start entering service before 2020?

And Byron, regarding USMC USNA 93, some people prefer to keep their identities more protected than others. With good reason in this day and age.

The term house of cards comes to mind. LM has been busy engineering by PowerPoint, while scrambling to make a pitiful10% of the scheduled test flights last year.

The technical issues revealed in this report confirm what many of us have suspected for the last several years, this fighter is in real trouble. General Schwartz comparing the F-35’s problems with the issues experienced during the development of the F-22 leaves out a small detail, the F-22 successfully completed its test flight schedule. And since the good general brought it up, the F-35 has something like 8 millions lines of code in need of development, which far surpasses the 1.7 million needed for the Raptor (or any other fighter).

If LM can’t stick to the test flight scheduled (the latest version) this year, the whole program needs to be re-evaluated and perhaps scrapped, before more funding is wasted on a non-flyable fighter.

Just wondering, but doesn’t most of that extra 8 million lines of code come from requiring interoperability with our foreign partners in the JSF program, the wider range of munitions that the F-35 is capable of carrying, and VTOL flight envelope?

He’ll just point to UAS as being the wave of the future that makes manned fighters entirely obsolete, while readily ignoring any counter arguments concerning the growth of noise jammer weaponry that are already far cheaper to produce and eventually can become cheap enough for anyone to procure. Or the counter argument that artificial intelligence is nowhere near up to par to allow a UAV to operate autonomously in a high-noise environment and prosecute a war on its own.

Consider this: should in the future we move to an all UAS-force and an enemy decide to bombard a hot spot with intense broad-spectrum signals jamming, their cheap 4th and even 3rd generation manned fighters would still be able to drop cheap unguided bombs on our troops with relative impunity while our unmanned fighters go into fail-safe mode and return to the nearest base.

When did the AV-8 deploy from the forest or close to the FEBA/FLOT?

Why is there an F-35B?

I suppose it would be nice for the engineers to get those pesky humans out of the aircraft. What a distraction it must be…

Seriously, does anyone really thing you are going to have autonomous robotic shooters up in the air, in either counterair or ground attack roles ? Especially ground attack !!

I want my self propelled howitzer program back.

The AF and NATO are in a bind. They have to replace their F-16s / F-15Es as they run out of hours or do an expensive SLEP.

The Navy has hedged their bets with the F-18E/F and their need for the F-35 is less urgent.

ANY development involves uncertainty and risk. Bad stuff happens, things break or just don’t work. An original cost estimate is just that — and ESTIMATE.

The F-16 started out a dead-simple fighter and look at all the stuff that’s been hung on the Block 52. The F-35 is starting out with all the bells and whistles: stealth, advanced radar, advanced data link, land / carrier / S/VTOL versions.

You sound like the old battleship captians that said an aircraft could never sink them.….times they are a changin’.….the battlefield will sooner than later be all digitially converted and response times to actions in the air, ground and sea will be instanteous.…

The F-35 is a leap in technologies and capabilities that are needed if we are to sustain America’s role in the world.

After working on the C-17 program and watching the USAF add requirements while cutting budgets, there are and will be issues. Technology being only one of the issues, cost truly being the driver.

Being an ex-war fighter, please support getting the best technology out in the troops hands to do the job as it is getting harder by the day to stay ahead of those that wish to push fear over freedom.

Yes there are things to be said for unmanned aircraft, however, I believe as do many of the troops, that I’d rather trust a human that a machine when a complex decision is to be made based upon the task and instant at hand.

Respectfully,
A Marine

Wel, I think MUDD kinda covered it all…LMAO!!!

Frog-talk for “LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

“None of you disputed any of my arguments with anything that resembles evidence or solid information.”

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that every pro-F35 post was required to include a doctoral dissertation with both strategic– and tactical-level analyses of contemporary and projected air/land battlespaces.

Least we forget, the purpose of our new aircraft is to ensure we send our warriors into battle with superior weapons. The FA-18, F14, F-15 and F-16 have or are reaching the point where they are not combat competitive with some emerging Russian and (potentially) Chinese aircraft. Overall our pilots may be superior, but there is a break point where talent can’t overcome weapons capabilities. Consider the Russians have become the ‘bully on the block’ and can easily threaten our interests in Western Europe.

Concurrency, building while testing, in nothing new. See the video below:
http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​L​2​z​q​T​Y​g​c​pfg

Designing a single platform to perform multiple mission always increases risk. I thought we learned that lesson with the F-111.

They should take there time to construct. That way they can make sure everthing is working properly.

Does any of this mean a rats a——! This is the same old story of DoD and Military chompin’ at the hog trof while the American tax payers…and I don’t consider double-dippers and coporate former military lobbyists and staffers…keep getting tagged with the bills. One of these days soon, our advisaries will make their move to take back territory that provides them with needed resources and national pride, and the USofA will still be debating the need hi-tech ships and planes while the poor saps on the ground make do with equipment we have now turned over to the Chinese to make for us???? Let’s start looking inward at our own people’s needs and fix them first…the rest of the world is laughing at us while we bleed and go broke!

Too many mission requirements for one airplane. Designed according to the Cal Coolidge dictum, “Why don’t we just buy one airplane and let ;em take turns flying it?”

One problem with that; jamming. The enemy has never quit perfecting that black art; and never will.

Good Morning Folks,

I see nobody has come up with reasons why the US should BUY the F-35, just the same old babble.

So I will put out another factor why NOT to buy the F-35. The consensus is that 2025 is the earliest operational date, even with todays below market interest rates and inflation at about 2.5% average with in a 15 year period the price will increase by 50% without ant other factors.

That would put the per unit price of the F-35 well OVER $100,000,000.00 EACH. Meanwhile following following the same economics the price of Predator type UAV’s will be in the $20–25 million range.

The band with, jamming and encryption arguments are really a wash, weather the pilot is sitting in front of the engine at 50K Ft. or in a leather Lazy Boy at the 17th. Reconn. Sqdn. at Cheech AFB Nevada they still will need the same communications, that is unless you want the F-35 pilots to take a note pad and a Kodak with them and hand over their intelligence. when they land.

Gee where did USMC NSNA 93 go. I guess he is either another phony Marine, we have had them show up here before, or he is one of the officers described in yesterdays WSJ, the ones who fetch snacks for Congressional delegations while on trips.

I would think that with the US being at war there would be better uses for military officers, especially a Marine officer then being Congressional Aids which according to the journal are little more then a go-fors, like to a near by “Quickie Mart” for beer and chips to stock the planes snack bar, by the way, the tab is picked up by the DoD, again see the article, or a couple of bottles of Scotch for the Congressman’s wife. This is blatant abuse of the uniform.

The use of military officers to whisper into members of Congresses ears the needs as indicated in the WSJ article is a misuse of our military personal and should be stopped.

As to the use of one college class as a ID’er. We here are not the military. I do have a story on this. In 2007 at a meeting in Louisville in the bar one night the discussion got to class rings, most of the attendees were serving or retired Military Officers. We had to honor of sharing the bar with several lady CFO’s who were also holding a meeting at the same hotel we were at. The question came to which service academy or military school had the biggest ring.

The lady CFO’s, still pretty sober still, served as impartial judges and after careful deliberation the winner was.….…The Citadel of South Carolina. It wasn’t even close.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

I say enjoy the ride…this will be the last manned developed figther/bomber the US/DOD will build, as RPV technology will have grown to the point that once this aircraft is fielded it will be obsolete…In case anyone is missing it there is a techno reveloution ongoing with incredible growth in bandwidth, software, sensors, tactics, and command control stations that is changing how we are operating in combat environments.…

The F35 is without question a marvelous engineering addition to the defense of this nation. Whether we need such a weapon should not be in the hands of Clintons or Obama’s; nobody knew these folks until the uneducated put them in office. The lowest commonor can gain leverage only with the help of the media controlling the outcome. The people who know what is out there are not the majority leaving the dishonest orchestrator to push the money there way. The ony problem i saw with the F35 was the price; youi can purchase a wing of F22’s for the price of just one F35; why, there is not that much difference; the additional fan isn’t more than a few mil more. To think an
AWAC cost’s $280M.
The question is do we need the plane in our arsenal, YES without question; those trying to stop the implementation of this plane soon to be reveared as Zeus’s Chariot. Finding the nerve to push the Obamas, Clinton;s etc.back to where they came from is the first order of business.

Fighter discussions (particularly F-22 and F-35 discussions) always seem to be of the lowest denominator.

While relying longer on legacy (albeit newly built) fighters may be not all that bad an idea, it ignores the fact that the Navy, Marines, and Air Force justifiably need a future air platform. UASs will likely lower the amount of 5th Gen fighters we need, but the need is still there…that’s until UASs can turn like a fighter w/o loosing connection. They still can’t fly in civilian air space– which says a lot.

Still I’m a bit unclear on how much it would cost to build new block F-16 and Marine Harriers (cost of reopening closed lines and what not included), versus buying the F-35. Would we really save money?

Build the plane, deliberately and safely, but build the plane; it is not like we have a choice. Sooo let the
manufacturers and designers move with a purpose. Build it, test it, and share it with solid allies. What
is the holdup? yeah, I know, it is a challenging endeavor.. So was the first mousetrap…

Where did you get this “consensus” of 2025 being the earliest operational date for the F-35. “Consensus” means that it’s widely agreed upon. One or even a few people saying that (and I have never honestly seen that number before with regards to the F-35) doesn’t a consensus make.

Scrap the whole F-35 program? With what is the Air Force supposed to replace its F-15s and F-16s? Those won’t last forever. They’re old designs and most of them will be gone by the 2020s. By then what airframes are left will be old.

“Since the F-35 was first conceived in the mid 1980’s that would make it upon delivery 40 year old design and technology.”

This immediately jumps out to me as rhetoric that is meant to sound like a much more powerful argument than it really is. The F-35 involves cutting edge technology that other fighters don’t have; it is supposed to be second only to the F-22 overall (while surpassing the F-22 in some areas). If this is a “40 year old design”…then what are the F-15, F-16, Eurofighter, Rafale, and Flanker? Antiques?

You can’t just single out one plane and call it “40 year old” by picking a year when some of its technology was merely conceived. Be consistent and apply that same stringent treatment to other aircraft. Is the F-15 1960s tech now? Is it a 50 year old design?

“The same capability can be had with the more advanced versions of the F16, and overhauling/retro/upgrading the harrier.”

Neither aircraft is stealth, which is a major factor. The F-35 can safely approach enemy fighters or SAM sites and fire before being seen; the F-16 cannot. Same capability from upgrading the Harrier? The Harrier is a short-legged, subsonic light attack plane. That can’t be changed.

Byron,

I admit, I am just reporting my gut instinct about the aircraft.

Respectfully,

Daniel Russ
Civilianmilitaryintelligencegroup​.com

My lack of support for the F-35 does not translate into a lack of support for manned aircraft. The loss of the F-35 can be handled by new updated builds of our legacy aircraft, and a honest amount of Raptors to fly cover.

Drones used against a technological opponents in a conflict up to this point have all had the same problem, they get shot down. Discounting the very real issues impacting drone operations such as jamming, cyber hacking, EMP weapons, and the destruction of communications satellites with ASAT weapons is not an honest appraisal of these problems.

If you were on the ground pinned down by enemy fire, who would you rather see? A predator drone controlled by an operator sitting stateside, or an A-10C with a combat experienced pilot at the helm, flying over the battle, talking with you in person, and ready to use a very large gun on the dirt bags shooting at you?

Enough said.….

http://​news​.bbc​.co​.uk/​2​/​h​i​/​7​3​5​8​7​6​1​.​stm

“The band with, jamming and encryption arguments are really a wash, weather the pilot is sitting in front of the engine at 50K Ft. or in a leather Lazy Boy at the 17th. Reconn. Sqdn. at Cheech AFB Nevada they still will need the same communications, that is unless you want the F-35 pilots to take a note pad and a Kodak with them and hand over their intelligence. when they land.”

You’re talking about ISR. I’m talking about your specific point that you made in numerous posts prior that UAS will replace fighters, attackers and bombers.… armed aircraft designed for combat. Yes, in a high-noise environment that will disable the GPS capabilities of our guided bombs. But we still have:

1) Laser guided bombs. The F-35 has it’s own laser designator to lase targets. However, in CAS they’ll need communication and guidance on targets with ground forces. In a high noise environment, the pilot won’t have enough info to lase his own targets. Instead, ground forces can lase the targets for him and use visual indicators (such as flares) as the go-ahead to bomb.

2) Guided bombs can still be dropped like regular dumb bombs, this is where training in back-up procedures comes into place.

3) In this scenario IR missiles and cannons still work for air-to-air combat. The F-35A still has an internal cannon (B and C variants will have an external cannon on a centerline pylon). While not optimized much for air-to-air, and especially dogfighting, our pilots still possess superior training over all others. Also, while not as maneuverable as the F-22 and many 4th generation fighters, it’s still maneuverable enough to keep up with most 4th generation fighters. Again, superior training becomes the decisive factor.

The Israeli’s have long been concerned with fighting in a high-noise environment while their military has become a netcentric force. It’s for this reason they have, and will continue, to maintain a high degree of manned combatant aircraft with UAS to complement them, not replace them.

Also, much of the F-16’s capabilities are add-ons. The aerial targeting systems pods (LANTIRN, sniper, LITENING targeting pods) and external fuel tanks.

The F-35 doesn’t need targeting pods because it already carries the equipment internally. Also, it carries more internal fuel that it doesn’t need external fuel tanks to operate within the same combat radius as an F-16. Having them mounted externally also adds a maneuverability penalty, as well as a drag penalty (which directly leads to speed and range penalties).

The cost of the add-on equipment on top of the unit price of the F-16, not to mention the cost of man-hours to install, uninstall, and reinstall those pods and external fuel tanks, that narrows the price margin between the F-16 and F-35. Oh, and the fact that the F-35A will replace the F-16, F-35B will replace the AV-8B, and the F-35C will replace the F/A-18C/D’s.… combining the supply lines for three distinctly different aircraft into one aircraft family that has at least 80% parts commonality between variants will make for a HUGE savings. The initial investment cost is fairly steep, but will be easily made up for in the future.

I’d say theres know inherent problem in RCing an A-10. A lot of you guys talk about pilotless planes as the “ultimate advancement”. I do not. I think it’s only a matter of time before a technological advanced nation becomes capable of breaking/jamming any kind of data link. Which brings us back to the need for a somewhat capable autonomous decision making “machine” in the fighter. That means a human in the forseeable future. Or a decent AI preferably not built by microsoft.

Well, let’s put it this way. ACAT I programs have taken a whipping this past year. And yet, it never seems to be enough for the K Street crowd. Transformation has just become an excuse for doing nothing, for squeezing every last nickel out of that imaginary peace dividend. Realistically, there is no avoiding the inefficiencies associated with program stretch outs, cancellations and restructuring…but don’t you dare call it good and image that the grapes are really sour. That is a lot of malarky.

See what I wrote about. Less is not better. Less is just less. Stop pretending that it is.

Errata — see what I wrote above.

(1) All aircraft need replacing at some point in their lives. Mods and life extension programs can only do so much.
(2) Think of the procurement portion of the F-35 as just a replacement program for a number of current aircraft.
(3) Technology and all the bells and whistles drive the R&D design and development phase. We could exert some cost control in this area, but never seem to do so because of all the “wants” of the operator and flag officer who wants accolades for developing the next Star Trek Enterprise.
(4) In the F-35 case, we gain some damn good technologies which will create some operational advantages. We just need to work through the engineering problems, which will be solved.
(5) Once those technical problems are resolved, we need to drive down the reproducibility costs and not let contractors milk the public.
(6) Transformation is not replacing manned aircraft with UAVs. Transformation is an advanced manned aircraft with a UAV on each wing tip that can do the preplanned job, while the man-in-the-loop can adapt and attack as a changing situation requires.

Dear readers:

I’ve had to edit a number of posts in the last few days that strayed from making pungent, articulate and focused comments about defense issues. Those who make personally insulting comments risk being barred from our site. Be vociferous and rant all you want about the defense enterprise and critique arguments. Don’t sling mud and get personal.

On with the debate! Politely…

Good Morning Trophy,

I have attempted to avoid mentioning UAV’s vs. the F-35 but it appears that’s all the left for a reason to by the F-35, so here I go. I will address you 3 points.

1. Laser Guided bombs (weapons). Reapers have been for many months using the GBU-12 and quite effectively. It is a laser guided weapon. UAV’s also have used the AIM-9X Side winder in an air/ground mode quite successfully.

2. The use of free fall munitions have been avoided in use by the UAV,s for the simple reason they have a tendency to cause collateral damage, which is according to General Mc Crystal to be avoided at all cost. There is no technical reason that a UAV couldn’t drop a conventional bomb if that was required.

3. The “Gun Run”, this is a secondary mission of modern A/F aircraft. At cost’s of in excess of $50 million for the least expensive and the F-35 surely will go beyond the $100 million when deployed it doesn’t make sense to expose such an expensive airframe t ground fire, MANPODS and RPG’s when you have A-10’s, Apache’s and Cobras that are dedicated aircraft. Te Gun (30mm cannon) on a modern fighter aircraft is purely a legacy system with no practical application.

4. Four following post. The ETOS that will appear on the F-35 in or about 2025 is already on the Reaper, will be on the Warriors (Spring of 2010) and the Avengers( sometime in 2011) by the time the F-35 comes out this ETOS will be a museum piece at Wright Patterson AFB and Ft. Bliss.

In fact by the time the F-35 is ready to be operational in the 2025 time window I would think that all of todays technology leading cutting edge UAV’s will have long been scrapped, and we would be looking not a a fifth generation manned fighter but a fifth generation UAV’s that will be doing things not even imagined in 2010.

Even the most pashinate supporters of the manned aircraft will have to admit that the learning and technology curve for the UAV has a much high faster and accending curve the the manned fighter

Good Morning Trophy,

I have attempted to avoid mentioning UAV’s vs. the F-35 but it appears that’s all the left for a reason to by the F-35, so here I go. I will address you 3 points.

1. Laser Guided bombs (weapons). Reapers have been for many months using the GBU-12 and quite effectively. It is a laser guided weapon. UAV’s also have used the AIM-9X Side winder in an air/ground mode quite successfully.

2. The use of free fall munitions have been avoided in use by the UAV,s for the simple reason they have a tendency to cause collateral damage, which is according to General Mc Crystal to be avoided at all cost. There is no technical reason that a UAV couldn’t drop a conventional bomb if that was required.

3. The “Gun Run”, this is a secondary mission of modern A/F aircraft. At cost’s of in excess of $50 million for the least expensive and the F-35 surely will go beyond the $100 million when deployed it doesn’t make sense to expose such an expensive airframe t ground fire, MANPODS and RPG’s when you have A-10’s, Apache’s and Cobras that are dedicated aircraft. Te Gun (30mm cannon) on a modern fighter aircraft is purely a legacy system with no practical application.

4. Four following post. The ETOS that will appear on the F-35 in or about 2025 is already on the Reaper, will be on the Warriors (Spring of 2010) and the Avengers( sometime in 2011) by the time the F-35 comes out this ETOS will be a museum piece at Wright Patterson AFB and Ft. Bliss. I think it would be a safe bet that by 2025 ALL of the targeting ISR that is cutting edge now will be old low tech stuff.

In fact by the time the F-35 is ready to be operational in the 2025 time window I would think that all of todays technology leading cutting edge UAV’s will have long been scrapped, and we would be looking not a a fifth generation manned fighter but a fifth generation UAV’s that will be doing things not even imagined in 2010.

Even the most passionate supporters of the manned aircraft will have to admit that the learning and technology curves for the UAV has a much higher and is moving upward faster then the almost flat curve of the manned fighter.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

Where is this consensus of F-35 becoming operational in 2025 coming from?

Dude, you totally missed my counter-argument.

To further clarify what I said: UAS won’t be able to operate in a high-noise environment designed to actively counter the use of UAS. A UAV will simply lose signal and go into fail-safe mode, returning to the nearest friendly airstation. Manned fighters will still be able to operate in a high-noise environment, though they won’t be able to use their GPS capabilities.

And this is where I went into using laser-guided bombs and free-falling bomb. And I totally did not say anything about “Gun runs” against ground forces, as I explicitly said “air-to-air” combat in addition to IR missiles.

It appears that the time has come for the DOD to take a serious look at executing a detailed analysis between the F-22 and the F-35. With the level of technology of unmanned air support we still need a state of the art fighter.

The F-35 cost is fast approaching the F-22 levels.

There has been a total disconnect between what Gates and his leadership having been saying in support of the F-35, and how off track the program has been for several years. A short review of some the technical issues that have hobbled would be helpful:

1. Continuing weight management problems resulted in a total redesign of the airframe through the SWAT initiative. Even after the SWAT work, the F-35 remain one of the heaviest single engine fighters in history. This compromises both the planes power to weight ratio (and performance), and ability to carry ordnance.
2. Issues around reliability of both of the F-35 engines, and the necessary multiple redesigns of both power plants have been costly and added unnecessary expenses to the program.
3. May 3rd 2007 test flight, AA-1 is almost lost during a test flight due to a total failure of the electrical system. After control is restored by test pilot Jeff Knowles, the plane is put down in an emergency landing at 220 knots due to the flaperons not working, resulting in damage to the wheels and undercarriage. A 270 volt power component is identified as the culprit, and since the F-35 uses electro-hydrostatic actuators, a costly redesign of the entire electrical system is required.
4. The F-35C is designed around an under capacity Hamilton Sundstrand electrical generator generating only 65% of the necessary power output, and again requiring a serious and expensive system redesign.
5. The alterations to the airframe to add the large canted weapons bays have compromised the under body RCS, and also may require weapons to be deployed at subsonic speeds due to the large bay panels that now extend into critical airflow.
6. Stealth requirements have reduce the number of missiles that can be carried internally in a2a missions, putting the F-35 at a disadvantage when facing foreign fighter threats that can carry 3 times the missile load.
7. The large amount of computer code required for the F-35 (8 million lines) means that the initial production examples of this fighter will have little or no a2a capability, and will be essentially bomb trucks. This will impact nation partners like Norway which need a new fighter (now) that can be used in the regular intercepts of Russian aircraft that are required.
8. The 2009 test schedule was a dismal failure at 10% of the test flights being completed. At this point, of the nine pre-production airframes, only two have the marginal ability to fly.
10. The overall projected airframe performance puts the F-35 at a disadvantage when facing the new fighters from Russia and China. Since the JSF was designed to operate in a high/low mode with the F-22 flying cover, the smaller number of Raptors will put the F-35 in a a2a mission that it is poorly suited for.

Again I ask the question, how can this plane be considered a “lower cost” alternative to flying and functional F-22? Could we have a lower price and better developed F-22 if the huge amount of funds diverted to the F-35 had been used for the Raptor? How can we be selling the F-35 to our partner nations as a alternative to the F-22 when it is completely inferior in performance?

And for those that think that the existing US fighters are good enough and we don’t need Raptors or new build upgraded legacy fighters, I suggest reading the attached link below. In short, a smaller number of Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons gave a superior number of USAF F-15’s a severe beating in mock combat. This has now happened on multiple occasions with US front-line legacy fighters and Typhoons. For the JSF fans out there, the F-35 will never be a match for a Typhoon, and this gap will grow in the near future with the introduction of the Meteor missile, and the new Captor AESA radar. I guess its good that they are on our side right?

http://​www​.alert5​.com/​2​0​1​0​/​0​1​/​t​w​o​-​s​p​a​n​i​s​h​-​e​u​r​o​fig

And why should our tax money be going to other less worthy causes? I would gladly have my tax dollars go towards military modernization than this health care disaster for example. Entitlement programs eat up a huge portion of the budget that those who want to slash the military budget always overlook.

RSF, I just want to address a few things:

Addressing issue 1: When you consider the sensors and targeting systems that are built into the airframe (negating the need to carry ATGS pods such as LANTIRN, Sniper or LITENING), that explains much of the greater empty weight of an F-35A versus an F-16. For CAS and strike missions, this is an advantage as far as maneuverability, range and speed (less drag from pods and pylons if only internal stores are used). But in the air-to-air role, where the targeting systems aren’t needed, it’s just deadweight.

Also, the another significant portion of the operating weight (note I mentioned empty weight earlier) is the greater internal fuel capacity versus an F-16. This is an advantage in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions since it reduces the need for externally-mounted fuel tanks, providing the same advantages as the paragraph above.

Issue 6: I just wanted to add that only two air-to-air missiles can be carried internally, and only the later versions of the AIM-120 family. The AIM-9X can only be carried on pylons under the wings. For stealth combat air patrol missions, it’s a bit of a gamble to only carry two AIM-120’s. If the enemy possesses radar jamming capabilities, it’s good to have an IR backup in the form of the AIM-9X. Even the most sophisticated flares have little effect against today’s IR missiles, and the only jamming that would work is laser-based. Fortunately the AIM-120 does possess a “home-on-jam” ECCM capability. Still, having an IR-based backup is desirable.

Originally I had an overall negative view on the F-35. I’ve come to respect it’s current and potential air-to-ground capabilities, and recognize the advantages it possesses over legacy fighters. However, I continue to believe that this fighter is no substitute for the F-22.

Also, while the initial investment cost is high, there is a huge amount of savings to be found in the future. Very few people think of the maintenance (to include maintenance training) and supply costs when it comes to debating fighter weapon systems. Rather than having three distinct airframes (F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8B) with three very distinct supply lines (less than 1% parts commonality), having one family of airframes with 80% parts commonality between the three variants is extremely cost-effective. That’s where the real savings comes from, especially when you look over the life of the airframe (likely to be 35 years) spread across thousands of aircraft. Historically, production, maintenance and supply costs go down over time and once significant numbers have been bought. The F-22 was never given that chance because it’s high initial price scared too many, resulting in too few being purchased and it was barred from being sold to our closest allies. But yeah, back to my original point: even if the initial unit price reaches what the F-22’s was, in the future it would have paid itself off in savings from merging three airframe families as well as with our partner nations.

RSF, I find that I’m generally on the same page as you, cheers.

Nice try, Wikipedia Wonderboy, but the Yak-141 was far from the first Soviet VSTOL fighter. And the F-35 wasn’t “derived from” the Yak-141 any more than the Tu-160 was “derived from” the B-1.

Actually, I found some comment *quite* pungent…

Good Morning Folks,

A few points to consider the F-35, it will never be used for ground support, period. The F-35 like all AF A/F15’s and 16’s will not come below 10K ft. They are to expensive and to few to risk to “low tech” ground fire, RPG’s or the odd SS-16/SS-18 shoulder fired missile that might appear on a battle field.

On the deck ground support is the mission of the A-10’s and the AH’s. Not uberexpensive Fighters. They will drop laser/radar/IR or what ever guided munitions form 10K but that the extent of their ground contribution. Beside of those restrictions the AF’s window of 15–30 minutes to be on station for ground assistance is to long, the fighting most likely is over by the time the AF gets there.

An example of a 180 degree turn in tactical air deployment is the AH-64 Apache and what happened at Karballa in Iraq. The concept of an Apache strike died when 38 went in, one went down, 37 returned only to be sent back to CONUS for major repairs, target not hit. Now Apaches only operate in conjunction with ground forces, not as a stand alone strike force.

On stealth, question where has it ever been tested?

The only example that I can think of where US stealth aircraft went against a modern air defense system, the S-300PM2, was in Kosovo and the Serbs managed to bring down an F-117. That was the beginning of the end for the Nighthawk.

In Iraq during either war stealth was really seriously tested, (AF after actions on both Gulf War’s I and II). The F-117 during the 1991 conflict was used over Bagdad exclusively, it suffered no loses and had about a 60% target hit rate.

The AF admits in the AA’s, that the radar, AAA and SAM environment in Baghdad was on the “primitive” side. During the ten years of no-fly no Iraqi radar, or SAMS scored any hits on patrolling aircraft and towards the the end the USAF and Navy were got so good at taking out radar and SAMs they started using inert, instead of HE’s or CBU’s, practice bombs to take out Iraqi radar and SAM sites. In 2003 any air defense was a no show. The few Iraqi pilots who took to the sky went up blind and came down in a fire ball.

Looking at the evidence it would be hard not to say that all the money put into stealth has been well ill spent . It has yet to be challenged by any state of the art radar or sensor systems.

Our current enemies don’t have access to or much interest in ADS’s. Iran has old Soviet S-300’s that they now don’t want to finish paying for, claiming they don’t work. Meanwhile Russia has said that it’s done developing the S-400 system and most likely either manufacture a only few for export to try and recover the money it spent and then abandon the technology entirely. Russia says that it will start developing an S-500, but gave no time window one has to assume with past Russian projects that a working S-500 is sometime in the distant future.

It would seem that any future stealth development would only serve the Russian efforts, no other countries are currently working or planning a ADS to deal with existing US stealth, to develop a counter system. Why not let them spend the money to counter what’s already on the table, then up the bar and make them start all over again as they had to do with abandoning the costly S-400 ADS?

Perhaps this is a good time to take a breather on stealth technology, move it to the back burner and spend our money on what is needed in the wars we are currently involved in.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

“A few points to consider the F-35, it will never be used for ground support, period. The F-35 like all AF A/F15’s and 16’s will not come below 10K ft.”

You do not need to fly below 10,000 feet to provide ground support with JDAMs. If the F-35 can’t do it, then how did F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s, not to mention huge ungainly B-52s, do it in Afghanistan and Iraq?

“The only example that I can think of where US stealth aircraft went against a modern air defense system, the S-300PM2, was in Kosovo and the Serbs managed to bring down an F-117. That was the beginning of the end for the Nighthawk.”

The F-117 was not shot down because it went against an S-300 and couldn’t handle it. It was shot down by an old SA-3 missile (and I’m sure you’re going to turn around and use that as “proof” of the stealth plane’s supposed ineffectiveness)…only because the Air Force was negligent and sent its F-117s on the same exact courses night in and night out, so that it got predictable enough for the Serbs to pick up faint signals and position their defenses for a close shot.

That one shoot down did not speak of the typical, system-wide performance of the plane. It was still the only stealth plane ever lost in combat, and the F-117 remained one of the most survivable US aircraft right up to its retirement. And it was retired not because it couldn’t perform, but because it was being replaced by a better aircraft (the F-22), which is also a stealth plane.If a stealth aircraft like the F-117 or the F-35 is no match for an S-300, then F-15s and F-16s are dead meat. Of course the USAF doesn’t agree with you.

“The F-117 during the 1991 conflict was used over Bagdad exclusively, it suffered no loses and had about a 60% target hit rate.”

I’m looking at an af​.mil PDF right now, that summarizes the F-117 strikes on Baghdad and states a target hit rate of over 87%. Where do you keep getting these mystery numbers that you use to denigrate the performance of high-tech American aircraft?

Good Morning Folks,

After nearly a week on this topic nobody has come with why we need the F-35. The has not been a single mission that has come up that would be unique to the F-35, not one.

Some say we need it for the fighter threat from China/Russia, so OK a miracle cold happen and both these countries could build a fifth generation fighter, India is indicating that they will build the Russian Mig 35 this decade in a quantity of 160, the US still will have 187 F-22’s, with normal technology/avionic upgrades the F-22 will most likely retire in 25 years as still the only 5th. Generation fighter in the world.

Some of you think that there is a ground support role like dropping JADAM II’s for 10K feet. Other the obvious absurdity of using a $100 million dollar plus airframe as a bomb truck, but If that is really, really, needed, might I suggest that the AF bring out the 419 T-37’s (A-37 Dragonfly). This is a proven ground attack air frame, it is in air refuelable, a 3K weapons load, has the ability to go down on the deck and get dirty with the Infantry and carries an extra pilot (set of eyes), also it can be outfitted to do what ever ISR the ground pounder need. The best part is we already own them.

FYI this week the first Army Warriors will start operations in Iraq with the 1st. Cav Division, in Phase 0 of their certification.

The first missions will be ISR in support of ground operations with hanging Hellfire II’s to come later, then the mission will have the Warriors serve as a quick reaction force for units out in the bush. All opperational control will be out of Division HQ’s in country.

Just one more reason why it just a waste of money to buy any of the F-35’s.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

The reason we need new aircraft is because the airframes of the current ones are nearing their end. High speed runs put a lot of stress on them, not to mention carrier take offs and landings. repetitive maintanance also causes a lot of wear on equipment. We need an up to date replacement — I’m not saying the F35 is it, but why would we spend billions in acquiring out dated 16’s and 18’s that cannot be upgraded much further. UAV’s is a fad, remote pilots cant react fast enough, they can be and are being jammed, still require eyes on the ground despite what is being told, and cost more than what’s published. Prop aircraft like the old corsairs are coming back as well for COIN ops, contracts already in the works and will be carrier capable as well. New fighters will happen — but would be greatly reduced in cost if it’s not a joint country program and was a sole US design, the joint weapons system and firecontrol capability is what is driving it up so high.

Continued: Look at it this way, each country will use thier propriatary systems and weapons. Sounds easy till you figure in that each countries equipment uses a different type connector — so now either everyone has to rebuild all thier equipment to use the same type connectors, design all new systems using one common connector, or have mutiple pigtails and wire looms throughout the aircraft adding to the weight of it. That is one of the main issues behind the high cost of joint programs. Then you have to add to the scenario that each country wants a piece of the action, so if we use your airframe, then you have to use our engines, and thier hydraulics, and so on with each wanting to make as much off of their component as the others. Joint programs are a total mess from the start.

We have come up with any number of reasons, and your response is “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEEEEEEEAR YOOOOOOOUUUU, LOOKS LIKE NOBODY CAN COME UP WITH ANY REASOOOOOOONNNS!”

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