Thinking the unthinkable about the F-35

Thinking the unthinkable about the F-35

An AvWeek headline this week posed a question that once had an easy, one-word answer: No.

The question was, per David A. Fulghum and Bill Sweetman: “Are there alternatives to the F-35 program?” But in post-super committee America, where the Air Force daydreams about growing its fleet with a service-life extension program for the Wright Flyer , things aren’t as clear cut as they used to be.

Back in the old days we used to say, c’mon, there’s just too much riding on this to seriously contemplate it going away. It’s the largest defense program in history. It’s the future of fast-jet flying for three U.S. military services and a host of international clients. It’s got an economic footprint across the country. All the right people in Washington have a stake in pressing forward, even as its schedule slides and its costs creep up.

Problem is, Washington does strange things. Difficult as it was to believe the capital would trap itself in a “Guns of August” crisis of process, that is what has happened: Congressional deadlock lit a slow fuse set to burn until early 2013, when a budgetary detonation could obliterate nearly $1 trillion in planned DoD spending growth over the next 10 years. The Pentagon, having shut its eyes and plugged its ears in hopes that would banish this monster, made no plans for what to do in exactly the scenario that has materialized.

The White House doesn’t want this bomb to go off, but under the bizarre logic of the moment, it has vowed to stop Congress from blowing out the fuse, in hopes that its continued burn will motivate lawmakers to get the kind of deal they couldn’t to begin with — which set the whole thing in motion in the first place. Plus there’s a nice little sideshow this week in which the Democratic president is in a showdown with the Democratically controlled Senate over detainee provisions in the defense bill.

So in other words, things that may have once made sense now don’t. All the reasons the F-35 was guaranteed to survive may no longer apply. Secretary Panetta himself dangled the program over the hotel balcony in his warning to Senate lawmakers about what might go away under sequestration. There are no brakes on this thing. At one point, we were supposed to get a thoughtful, soup-to-nuts strategic review that would show the way toward a new defense posture for Austerity America, but nope, nothin’ yet. Maybe this lack of any clear way forward is why people keep using the word “decline.”

Strictly speaking, the answer to Fulghum and Sweetman’s question probably still is “no,” in the sense that DoD can’t just whip up another advanced fifth-generation fighter for U.S. and international militaries. There is a school of thought that it doesn’t need to — that upgraded versions of today’s F-16s and F/A-18s can do just fine for the medium term. The international clients would be screwed, especially the British and Italian navies, but the way Europe’s economy is headed these days, buying new fighter jets might be least of their worries.

If the F-35 went away, Lockheed Martin would be devastated, but it would probably survive — it makes a lot of other stuff — though tens of thousands of people would be out of work in Texas, California and many other places around the country. Many of the jets in the arsenal today might end up as static displays, guarding the gates of Air Force bases. Others would go to the boneyard. For the record, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum already has an early F-35 in its collection.

With or without the F-35, it’s difficult to imagine how the services would cope post-sequestration, because it’s hard to sift through all of this fall’s warnings and melodrama and determine what was real and what was tosh. One thing is clear, though: Although canceling the F-35 might save DoD money, it would not eliminate the Pentagon’s need for a brand-new airplane. At some point, even the newest-model Vipers and Super Hornets will wear out, and even the austerity military of tomorrow will conclude that it can’t just keep upgrading airplanes first designed in the 1970s.

Maybe by the time that happens, America will be flush again and it can afford to try to salvage the “Joint Strike Fighter” concept, or maybe it will start from scratch with a brand-new airplane. (If, aerospace industry advocates would jump in here, there are any companies around that could do the job.) Or maybe, knowing us Americans, the Pentagon and Congress of that era will repeat the exact same mistakes they made in our era and foul up another attempt at a new joint program.

Is it worth the risk to save money now? Or should DoD try to protect the F-35 no matter what, given its long-term importance?  What do you think?

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I’d say stick with the JSF. Yes it’s had its share of problems, but from what I understand they’ve mostly been ironed out and the program is progressing well now.

To kill the F35 is equal with the killing of the entire USAF. The USAF has in the moment only 185 modern Fighter and all of them are F22 the rest of the Fighter Force is about 20 years old some are over 25 Years. With other Words them the USAF kill the F35 they will lose around 2020 is entire Fighter fleet. And to develop a new Fighter cost about 15 to 20 Years and it will be not cheaper and other alternative like unmanned Aircraft don’t exists and it will be impossible to develop a real unmanned Fighter in the next 15–20 years and also very expensive and wit a big chance to fail. The only alternative to the F35 is the restarting of the F22 line and the procurement of 400 new F16Block60 but this will cost more them to continue the F35 program. With over Words the F35 is too big to fail completely, why them he fails the entire status of the USA as a real World Power will gone with this program.

To cancel JSF and restarting at a future date is crazy. Make the same mistakes again, fail to learn from the same mistakes, just compounds the problems. JSF will be a kick-*** airplane(s), given time.

I doubt very much that the JSF will be cancelled outright. More likely is that it will go the way of that other over-ambitious hi-tech white elephant, the F-22, and be repeatedly scaled back until the unit cost becomes so high that production will be halted at a few hundred units. Then, the focus will undoubtedly be switched to yet another irresponsibly risky ultra super-duper flying boondoggle courtesy of the starry-eyed brass running the USAF.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘B’ get the axe, tho. There is simply no pressing military need for such an exorbitantly expensive and complex novelty now or in the foreseeable future.

The intrepid web denizen moves steadily through the internet jungle, ever alert for signs of data treasure or, just as likely, ‘bad JuJu’ ahead.
Suddenly! — his eardrums are assaulted by the “Thrumm! Thrumm! Thrumm!” of what he has come to know as the aboriginal “Anti-JSF” drumbeat. The “Sweetman” tribe is on the move.
Knowledge gained from years of experience exploring the darkest corners of this world allows the explorer to translate the ‘key’ parts. As the rythmic beat washes over him, the message unfolds.…..“the DoD is wrong”.….“media generals know better”…“there ARE options”…“repeat until someone– ANYONE listens”.…
Evil has come again.
Thrumm.… Thrumm.… Thrumm.…

The F-35 program will survive, but production scaled back, and total airframes cut. This will appease the politicians, and keep most partners happy. Upgrades to legacy aircraft will help the USAF weather the storm. There still is the possibility of –B or the –C (or both) being cancelled. The Marines will eventually adapt (after stomping their feet and holding their breath) and either buy only –C’s (if that model survives,) or Super Hornets — if they decide to stick with fast jets. If the –C is terminated, the Navy can always buy more Super Hornets in the interim, and start a new F/A-XX program in earnest (the USAF could benefit from this.) And they still have their X-47B in development…

As far as the Brits go, they have already decided to move to the –C. If that is terminated, they can buy Supers, or Rafales for their CATOBAR carrier(s). The Italians are basically SOL, but then again, how often do they (and the Spaniards) actually use their Harriers?

First of all, it’s a darn shame LM did not simultaneously joint-develop the F-16XL with partners along side the F-35 as both a strategic backup and in-house competitive option. It should be the only F-16 model LM is offering today, effectively replacing all previous block 50/52+/60 variants. As a bonus, it would be a no-brainer interim Plan B for the USAF ready to go and substantial money maker for LM.

To answer the question however, as to ‘thinking the unthinkable’, via alternatives… Every F-35 related decision going forward should be based on TRUE envelope performance and True evaluation of the data compared to computer model expectations. Top brass and Congressional policymakers need to be fully made aware of the detailed facts and then dead serious about US’s prudent decision making going forward.

That being said, I would still press forward with the F-35A SDD phase development with the current aircraft avaiable and actually accelerate follow-on block IV development. (Block IV should be the first model procured under so-called ‘FRP’, not the block III).

In the interim, the USAF and USN needs a true interim stopgap measure put in place. To simply continue with the stay the course policy, and in doing so increasing the risk taking year over year (basically speculating on US’s deterrence and force structure readiness) is unacceptable.

So in short, a stopgap procurement (to offset the growing and unexpected deterrence and capability gap) should begin in FY13 and should obviously include available late model F-16 + SABR and late model F-15E + APG-82. One could suggest a 5 yr MYB for starters here.

Beyond that, as noted, block IV F-35A should be accelerated and an LRIP for this variant should commence as soon as SDD is completed, if proven feasible and viable.

If not, continue procuring evolved versions of the current F-15 and F-16 design (for USAF) and evolved Super Hornets (for USN) and press ahead with a joint USAF/USN common 5th gen alternative development (jointly developed by Boeing, LM, Northrop and NASA) to be sustainable as a Program and affordable with as few as 40 combined airframes produced annually. The ‘Program Office’ should be a radical shift from the past process. It could instead comprise of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the GAO and even the DIA. DoD could be the main contractor. Depending on performance, sub-assembly work could be shifted around between the 3 main sub-contractors, taking away work share from less productive entities accordingly.

In addition, expand UCAV development and doctrine planning.

Maybe the only alternative to the F-35 is to buy into the Block 60 F-16. Look at buying into the F-15 SE Silent Eagle.

Over-ambitious hi-tech white elephant? On one hand most of the JSF critics say the aircraft is not capable enough, but then they call it gold-plated. Which is it?

Irresponsibly risky? Both the requirements and the aircraft’s layout were rather conservative. Some of the STOVL systems and avionics are ambitious, but we aren’t talking about anything as demanding as the requirements set forth by the ATF program.

Of course there are alternatives. The question is not whether they exist but whether they are any good.

One option not mentioned yet is to buy several hundred ISR-optimized NGBs and more or less give up on sophisticated penetrating fighters. Although a radical and hence risky move, it would probably be wiser than the current path, in that it would presumably be better against China and every bit as good against Iran or North Korea.

Obviously, it would be ideal to avoid choosing between new bombers and new fighters. Hopefully we can weed out enough of the useless crap and overpriced luxury items from the budget to prevent it!

The feeling of the F-35 as our next generation fighter would be the single greatest decline in American air-power in it’s history. The idea that this is going to happen is just ludicrous. It’s quite obvious that a hundred or so aircraft will be built money basically thrown away but the services will eventually tern to affordable alternatives.

American airpower will be less than it could be because of the money wasted on the F-35 but it’s not about to commit suicide just because Lockheed’s bottom line demands it.

Yeah, I guess you are on to something there. I never liked the F-35 anyway and always felt the YF-23 was the better plane too.

Easy fix to the F-35 problem. Dump it buy more F-22 and upgraded all F-15s to F-15 Silent Eagle version and retire the F-16.

With the new generation of SAMs and MANPADs how can anyone justify the F-15/16/18 variants?

Against the J-20 and the PAK-FA (and yes we probly will face them flying for countries that hate us), the teen series is lunchmeat.

Yeah trying to replace the AV-8 and the other aircraft was a bad idea but what choice do we have? Remember, the “experts” and “Pundits” who are knocking the JSF for costing so much lauded it for being cheaper than the F-22.

And they were screaming at the F-16 and F-18 (and F-111) for costing more than the F-4 in the 1980’s. Those aircraft were symbols of wasteful spending during the Cold War. Back when the defense press was convinced that “low tech” anything was best.

Even if the F-35 was to be scrapped, they’d never be satisfied.

You really got to read up on the whole hi-lo mix strategy.

What are we listening to here…did you learn nothing from the F-22 program…yea lots of jobs for lots of people and useless aircraft that after 18 years of development can not proform it’s mission. STAY ThE COURSE! White collar welfare for me.

Why not a new Single seat F-15, based on the latest advancements in F-15E derivatives for Korea & Singapore? A few hundred of these would keep things in perspective, nad furnish a New Air Superiority Fighter!

Somewhere in all of this, there has got to be some common sense applied. Its ridiculous to say that the F-35 is a “worthless” aircraft, just as it is ridiculous to portray it as the “weapon to end all wars”. Its neither. Its ridiculous to throw all of the DoD dollars at one acquisition program if we end up with our enlisted ranks on food stamps and ammunition bunkers empty. (Anybody else remember the days of the Carter administration?)

Im thinking that the choices should not be between the F-35 and upgraded F-16s or Super Hornets. It should be between a professional, well-funded military, capable of using the systems available, and properly compensated for its sacrifices by the citizens and society it protects , and a bloated procurement system of bureacrats, some in uniform, some in business suits, all looking further their particular agendas. History says that its not usually the most technically advanced systems that win wars. It is ADEQUATE systems, in sufficient quantities, operated by the best trained, most intelligent, most highly motivated and professional troops that makes the consistent difference.

There is something to be said for that approach. Aerodynamically the F-15 is STILL a pretty potent mix of flat out horsepower and payload. Tweak up the systems with the latest radar hacks, comm gear, and EOIR sensors, as well as perhaps upgraded AA and AG weapons, and with a good employment approach, it could probably hold its own. (and it WILL hold its own for quite a while even if the F-35 DOES come on-line!)

The first question would of course be the non-recurring and base acquisition cost of buying the aircraft. If we cant afford the F-35, the Super Eagle might not be much more affordable.

Go ahead and kill it. Lockheed made a profit off of every single day they dragged out the design and testing of that airplane. They will continue to make a profit right up to the day you kill that program, and if you terminate it now, they’ll get a bonus for all of their stupidity, and they’ll be one of 2 contractors bidding to build the replacement airplane. Or keep them working on the F-35. Sure its an expensive piece of crap, but the important thing to remember is that Lockheed makes a profit on every single day they can drag out the design and testing of that piece of crap.

Let’s face it, they win either way. Do whatever you want. Cancel it or don’t. The CEO of Lockheed laughs at the stupidity of the US taxpayer every single day on his way to the bank, and, you know what, you deserve it.

You are a bit too quick to dismiss the “teen” fighters against the J-20 and PAK-FA. Those are very capable aircraft for sure, but… the newest, most high-tech metal does not always make it safely back into the chocks when the game is for real.

For years at Red Flag and Top Gun, it has been F-5s and A-4s that collected the scalps of the “teen fighter” jockeys who insisted on playing the “superior technology” game. That first week of rat racing with the Aggressor squadrons was always a serious “eye opener”, if nothing else because of the bets collected in the O-Club after the debriefs. The Nimrods who continued to hang their hats purely on the technology in their rides, kept buying the beers! :-) Proper tactics, good dependable weapons, solid intel, and a trained, professional flying corps, as well as the maintenance and logistics support to keep them flying, make a HUGE difference.

by your rationale then we should cancel the F-35. It’s worse than worthless. Because for the same cost, we could get the upgraded F-16/-18 solution and fund all the remaining critical requirements and have more funding for more innovation & development!

Go down to one variant, the C. Make the Air Force buy the Navy version. The Navy version has larger wings and is a better strike bomber. Having one version will reduce program costs, both in terms of maintenance, as well as in initial purchase costs. Economies of scale will be better. Start a new fighter competition today. Then re-evaluate JSF in two years. This course of action will probably satisfy critics of the program, and will demonstrate DOD is serious about controlling costs. It will still provide fighters for the Allies, such as UK. Maybe extend more workshare to the UK to compensate for loss of the B, and the alternate engine.

“With the new generation of SAMs and MANPADs how can anyone justify the F-15/16/18 variants? ” ANS — if we cancel the F-35, with the remaining amount of funding required we could get upgraded –15s/-16s/-18s and more –22s as well, and still have more money for more improvements in decoys and SEAD. The enemy can use their expensive SAMs blowing up decoys, giving away their signature, and then we kill them with HARMs. We would also have more money for other innovative attacks such as cyber.

“… DoD can’t just whip up another advanced fifth-generation fighter for U.S. and international militaries.“
Last week, the USAF dropped the ICD for the “F-X” 6th generation fighter into the joint staffing system, per a recent congressional mandate. Although the capability gaps are classified, those familiar could make easy guesses. ” It’s deja-vou all over again.”

By your last statement I’m assuming you don’t pay taxes?

Upgrading the F-15 or F-16 to F-35 specs of (assumed) survivability and avionics capability would be more expensive than just pressing ahead with a troubled (to put it mildly) program that is seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

No place in the USN for a single engine A/C . I thought that is why we went with the Hornets and Supers. Not to mention with limited room on a Carrier’s hangar deck; the Hornets can drop engines in shadow. I think you need a little more room for the F35 to do engine change. Correct ? I’ll bet the Navy and others in the upper chain has the answer to that question. How much room is needed for the the F35 anyway?
Maybe the Marines get the VTOL. USAF gets the F35 and the NSN looks for a better solution.

A high low strategy only works is there is a functioning high and low. The F-35 at this point has no warfighting ability and its been that way after more then a decade of expensive development.

On the whole reading thing maybe you should try looking at something other then the latest glitzy PowerPoint from the marketing department over at Lockmart? Here let me help you:


Wrong, all the advanced avionics and computer systems already exist and could be integrated into new build F-15SE’s within a year. Out the door (with engines unlike the JSF) the F-15SE will run slightly more then $100 million each which is bargain when compared with the latest LRIP prices for the F-35.

Ditto for a block 60+ F-16, the UAE Vipers are already flying with everything we need in the interim.

F35 is a critical component right now. In my eyes we may not have a reason for human controlled fighter craft many many years in the future. If we do not get the program in place now we may run into a point of having inventory of aircraft that are unsuitable to fly and balancing on the concept of automated/remote flying where people may say, lets wait it out until we get the new automated concept going instead of putting budget towards manned aircraft.

Keep support for the F35 because is has many advantages for right now and will hold us over until technology is mature enough to do its own thing.

Absolutely right! The F-35 is worthless and further its doubtful that it will be able to do anything better then evolved versions of our existing legacy fighters.

We have a good stealth fighter already, its called the F-22 and we just need to make it in reasonable numbers to kick down the door on the first day of war and maintain air superiority.

Oh here we go again! More whining and blame-storming about the global conspiracy to hate the F-35. If it’s not APA, it’s Bill Sweetman, etc, etc, etc.

Just keep spewing the Lockmart marketing drivel while ignoring the now long list of technical design blunders, billions in cost over-runs, and the most incompetent and wasteful fighter program in history.

The F-35 will ultimately live or die on its own merits (or lack of) and all the critics in the world won’t change this.

The poblems with F-35 are numerous. It was conceived to be the low end complement to the F-22 not to acheive air dominance. It was designed with exportable stealth that AFA even admitted would not be good enough to penetrate near peer AA/AD airspace. It was conceived to be the same price as the fighters it was supposed to replace.
Now with F-22 dead, with too few bought, F-35 is having the air dominance role thrown on it. With an emerging AA/AD threat in China and emphasis on Air Sea Battle it really won’t be good enough to survive delivering shor range PGMs or attain air dominance in that scenario. In addition, it’s range combined with the range of its internally carried weapons is insufficient for this threat. Add to that, its price is looking like it will be about 3X compare to the previous F-16Block 52 or F/A-18E/F s. The value just isn’t there and the price keeps getting worse as does the development time-line and cost.

Part 2:
So not really up to the near peer task and overkill and too expensive for assymetric battles it really is in the non-sweetspot of design.

Best path forward (my opinion), kill the A & B models, make a common C model (with internal gun), it has longer range than the A model. This will substantially cut the development costs. Then, reduce the total buy dramatically (less than half) and buy legacy F-16/F-15/F/A-18E/Fs to fill out the force structure. The savings will allow development on new long range weapons needed for ASB, the LRS-B, new A/A missile (JDRADM) , and either more F-22s or starting on the Gen6 fighter..

F-16s are notoriously hard to “upgrade seamlessly” if for no other reason than the severe lack of space inside the airframe’s skin (thus all of the bulges on the latest versions). If we could just buy some of those hot-rodded F-16s to replace/augment some of our older models, it would defintely be an improvement… but NIH is hard to overcome….

F-15 has more room to work with, but… we would still have to avoid falling in love with technology for the sake of technology.

Neither would probably be as good overall as the F-35, and without a doubt, going for the signature control of a “designed in” aircraft would probably be unreachable, but Id rather wash my pizza down with a cold beer if I cant buy the champagne! :-)

LOL! Sorry I suggested “common sense” and “reason”!

What you are talking about is the “skip a generation” mindset that had the floor a few years back. Its all great except that the saved dollars that get dumped into the more innovation and development ends up costing production dollars at some point in the future, else it becomes “unrealized gain” just like the dollars dumped into F-35. In the engineering world, we are often cautioned about the need to accept “good enough” rather than perfect. Perhaps that caution should be applied more generally.

Honestly though, I could think of a LOT of options that would be far worse than buying a couple of hundred more F-22s to “front end” the current (but to be upgraded) fleet of F-15s and F-16s. If there are enough F-22s to as you say “kick in the door”, the rest of the fleet can fly at will, but that door needs to be soundly and forcefully kicked.… . .

I seem to remember the lack of room ( about 4 sq ft unused or somesuch ) in the F-16 was a ‘feature’ as far as the Fighter Mafia was concerned. They didn’t want the Air Force hanging a bunch of extra doodads of questionable value on the bird.

I’ll bet they never thought the Viper would still be front-line more than 40 years (!) after they designed it.

Junk the pig! The USMC just bought up all the parked UK Harriers which could soldier on for decades with upgrades. That satisfies the Marine problem of Harrier carriers. If you had to buy one it ought to be the C but that’s still a very expensive pig so F-18F’s and G’s make more economic sense and where’s the competition? F-15Ks for the Air Force and spend some money to make the F-22 the battlespace tactical focal point.
I can’t believe we got this far with the JSF program considering the flawed first day of the war concept. In case nobody thought about it, that’s what cruise missles are for.

Indeed, that “feature” was fully appreciated and guarded with wild enthusiasm! You should have seen the dogfights in the F-16 SPO CCB’s (Gen Abe era) when someone would come in with a new whoopdedoodle to stick on the A/C! Sometimes it got UGLY! LOL!

Have you looked at the latest version all tricked out with the “conformal” tanks, expanded “spine” and all? To have started out as a pretty sleek airframe, now it seems that you are going to end up with stubby little, F-104-like, wings sticking out of a shoebox with a little pointy end and a canopy! ROTGLMAO!

UK are having an all C force (unless they change their mind again) C with a gun would be ok for AF and Navy. However I think ultimately it is a VTOL design with too many compromises for normal ops. B offers Marines a step change from the Harrier that would give an extra 10 CBGs for low intensity stuff. I don’t think the A or C are a step change from upgraded existing capabilites nor provide the air dominence over long range vs multiple foes that will be the real future worry of US

Radical suggestion, If it works — buy the B and B only. AF and Navy can use if they want and/or upgraded F16s / F15s / F18s for AF and Navy. Develop a carrier capable (6th gen) air dominence fighter for AF and Navy built with no physical / performance compromises for VTOL and leveraging off tech / electronic developed for F35. I suppose an F35 (Heavy) then — Jv between Boeing and LM!

We in the UK should have either stuck with B or gone F18 — 2030 for carriers fully operational!! A joke.

The answer is still, “No”, no matter how much B.S. may wish otherwise.

“With the new generation of SAMs and MANPADs how can anyone justify the F-15/16/18 variants?”

It’s easy! Just put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, and chant “upgrade, upgrade, upgrade”

Because, as we all know, an F-35 is exactly like an F-16 only with some extra gizmos bolted onto it.

Who’s Lockheed?

Lockheed *Martin* hasn’t made a profit on the F-35 since 2002.

One thing to remember about all this is that the Super Hornet is an “upgrade” of the original F-18. Perhaps the answer to this dilemma is to cancel the F-35 and reintroduce the F-35B as the “Super Harrier Upgrade”, the F-35A as the “Super Falcon Upgrade”, and the F-35C as the “Super Avenger Upgrade”.

Ed Heinemann wasn’t happy at all when his A-4 got uglied-up the same way.

And, just to be clear, I don’t really think the old F-16XL has even a half-a-chance in hell of seeing production. But it doesn’t seem like a bad idea, either, when we need more range, speed, payload, and growth potential. Make it longer, not fatter!

And where do you conclude in that entire GAO report that the program should be cancelled? A decade of development? The first F-35A flew in late 2006, the X-35 was a significantly different aircraft. If you want things to move much faster you have to take more risks.

The E/F Super Hornet which initially had nearly the same avionics setup as the C/D Hornet first flew in 1995 and didn’t achieve IOC until 2001. It didn’t get the AESA radar and other fancy features until 2005. The F-35 by comparison has a lot of new avionics and electronics being incorporated into the design from the start, of course this was going to be a challenge. Yet that doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome.

OOOPS! You had better check that claim about the E/F’s having “nearly the same avionics” as the C/Ds. Even if you dont consider the radar, there were LOTS of changes. If nothing else, just count the number of 1553 busses on the birds and it will give you a clue. In fact, some of the basic systems are common, ARC-210s for example, but those are also common with the AH-1W and C-130s!!!

Once you get beyond those components and subsystems that are generally common to all USN aircraft, the E/F to C/D “kinship” gets to be pretty tenuous (except for the shape, if not the size, of the shadow on the flight deck! LOL!)

LOL! Yup! Two slick little airplanes that grew nasty old bulges… Oh well, that is the price we pay when we INTENTIONALLY make the things quarts in pint bottles!

The F-16XL had the misfortune and insurmountable problem of having to “dogfight” the early concept development mafia for the ATF and JSF in the hallways of the Pentagon. I also heard that it could have been a really good, not quite so little, fighter, albeit with JUST ONE ENGINE!

hehehe.. c’mon, ya got to give the poster credit for humor and delivery.. funny stuff.

At the end of a turbulent 2010 for the F-35 program, Lockheed Martin earned $7 million out of an available $35 million in award fees for milestones reached last year in the $379.4 billion single-engine stealthy fighter project. This is a tiny fraction of the $614 million in potential award fees through the end of the development portion of the project that was withheld from the company by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last year. Gates sidelined award fees on the massive development program owing to his dissatisfaction with the company in producing test aircraft, executing flight trials and initiating production. — http://​www​.aviationweek​.com/​a​w​/​j​s​p​_​i​n​c​l​u​d​e​s​/​a​r​tic

For those of you who can use speel check but can’t think, “award fee” is the term used to describe the profit contractors make. Sure they only got $7 million last year, but don’t worry, they typically make 97% of the available award fee on “cost plus award fee” contracts.

it would be better if the airframe would be developed first and fitted with existing avionics and then MLU-ed as the DAS, helmet, etc. would mature.
or at least tested first, produced second.

guns and a ranging radar, what else do you need?

Consider this, please. Back during the media debate on whether to continue production of the F-22, it was expertly established that the threat level did not justify anything better than a P-51. Recent operations in Libya confirmed that situation to the general public. When the USAF leadership agreed that the F-22 was not needed, presumably in order to secure production of the less capable F-35, they admitted their own irrelevance. There are many alternatives to an irrelevant force. A successful model around the world has been to maintain a small Air Force as an exclusive flying club, but abandon real effectiveness. Past decisions have set in motion the conversion of the USAF into another one of those exclusive flying clubs, at least for fast jets. A few hundred F-35s would suffice for that very important task. It is also unnecessary to rehab old jets and buy new tankers. No resources are available, anyway. There is no stopping this now. It’s a done deal.

Considering USN already prefers SH or X-47B and USMC plans tu use AV-8B till 2026, without SLEP, maybe, could you opt to extend the funding question to the next Gen Bomber and thus, to mix the both programs in two variants : An immediate –A for USAF and a delayed, but also navalised, F/B-35 with the fb-22 delta type expanded wing…

You’re right, it would be too risky. Besides, the NGB likely wouldn’t complete IOT&E until the late 2020s in the first place, while USAF and USN require modern TACAIR recapitalization in the near-term. Moreover, the price per NGB unit would be cost-prohibitive to procure on the ‘back end’ in such mass scale production rates as you suggest.

Better to consider a mix of modern Tactical platforms in the near-term, followed by VLO UCAV platforms in the follow-up phase.

And a simplified, common USAF/USN next-gen platform with F-16XL and F-15E range could be the more viable and cost-effective option for a late 2020’s phase recap.


It’s a good thought, but in truth the existing USAF F-15E cannot be easily ‘upgraded’ to an F-15 Silent Eagle version… there’s simply too much rewiring, refurbishing and reconfiguring to be done. Of course, the envisioned ‘canted’ tail would not be an option either. Flat out, the older F-15E are beat up and too rough around the edges to be in a legit F-15SE league. Perhaps an F-15E upgrade over time could include the CWB, new displays and new EW suite; general improvements like that.

More F-22? Not so easy and more development would be required to improve it to modern and more efficient standards. With the necessary start-up costs just to get the F-22 line in operating condition again and supply chain back together, USAF could probably buy 30–40 brand new F-15SG+ (w/ APG-82).

An F-22B development might a credible option as a longer-term alternative however.

retire all F-16? And replace with what? Yes, the older block F-16s will be retiring over the next 10 years but even they were assumed to be replaced by F-35A in large annual buy rates towards the end of LRIP and early FRP in FY16 (now delayed and significantly reduced in scope).

In the near-term, better to replace older F-16s with new F-16s, it’s as common sense as that and most cost-effective option.

Good post. Very true.. next-gen tactics, upgraded stand-off systems and next-gen geolocation techniques are how to offset a superior platform be it a SAM platform or a superior aerial platform.

For very high risk scenarios and requirements, you wouldn’t want to be snooping around at 25k’ in an F-35A anyway, hunting for next gen SAM traps or next-gen hostile stealth fighters. Those tasks would be better left for a ‘system of systems’ including said next-gen long-range stand-off sensor and munition capabilities and VLO UCAV platforms making up the mix.

To Thinking _ExUSAF: F-15 Engineer made a valid and credible proposal with a single-seat F-15E+ option, I agree. As to your question, re ‘Super Eagle’ acquisition costs (Total Unit Procurement Cost), it would still be less than a risky and unproven LRIP F-35 batch and likely even less expensive than the delayed FRP F-35A procurement due to significantly reduced buy rates now.

For USAF to procure a modern F-15E+ as part of a Plan B though, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be too ‘Super’ of an upgrade compared to already available ‘off the shelf’ variants. Add an APG-82 set to replace the (V)3 would cost perhaps $2mil, for example. The block 1 F-15E+ could come with minimal upgrades over the –SG too, in order to maximize the seamless upgrade cycle. Then, Jointly-develop and integrate follow-on systems, eg new big-screen displays as they come online.

To: F-15 Engineer:

Very interesting… I could not agree more with your proposed ‘single-seat’ optional F-15E+ variant. My question to you would be: do you conceive this to be a standard 2-seat F-15E model, with software and any appropriate display upgrade enabling it to become a fully functioning ‘single-seat’ capability? Or conceive it as a fully redesigned single-seat cockpit variant?

I too have recently proposed and advocated for a ‘single-seat’ option of some sort, for mere sake of saving Life Cycle operational costs alone and for potential Foreign customers who might not have the man-power or budgets to operate a 2-seat fighter as well. Perhaps one option could be to keep the cockpit dimensions as is and just remove the back-seat and display, replace with avionics, cooling and maybe just redesign the canopy??

I’d be interested to collaborate more on this concept if you wish, feel free to contact me via fb.

Near-term alternatives of course have always existed and still do today:

Near and mid-term alternatives:

1) New build F-15E+ (w/ APG-82 instead of the (V)3, PAWS-2+ w/ SAPIR vision, and later to integrate the DEWS EW suite and big-screen displays proposed for Silent Eagle or perhaps even Super Hornet block 3).

Total Procurement Unit Cost: less than an LRIP F-35A and likely less than an early lot (block III F-35A) under substantially reduced FRP rates starting around 2018.

2) New build F-16block 50/52++ initially (w/ SABR radar and CFT), with follow-on procurement including an F-16IN type configuration to include latest next-gen EW suite, upgraded engine set for durability and reduced-maintenance, next-gen displays and other advances to include proposed High-rate data transfer via the AESA radar.

Costs: F-16s would cost… yes, as much as an F-16 — ie considerably less than an F-35A even under FRP..

3) Offset loss of Stealth capability offered in the F-35A with A) next-gen enhanced passive sensor integration offered for the above platforms, enabling superior range passive geo-location and targeting and B) next-gen, improved-performance stand-off AAM and A2G (incl SEAD) munitions. Cost effective, asymmetrically improved A2A capability in the interim could include an AIM-162 derivative equipped with NCADE’s IIR seeker and follow-on variants equipped with an enhanced mmW seeker. These could be Plan B alternatives to the proposed JDRADM in case this missile is cancelled for any reason, or as an interim, specialized AAM munition to supplement the eventual JDRADM if and when it is finally operational.

You need a good TTP to get you in snug on the gomer’s tail at about 400 meters! Then… AMF!

Spent about 15 years involved in various aspects of putting “new boxes” on existing airframes. It most assuredly can be done, but its very rarely as easy as the initial set of Powerpoints suggest. :-) For example, lets consider your “big screens”..… . Its not quite the same as when you plug your laptop into a big screen monitor. The current round of MFDs tend to be “programmed” at a very low level, partly for speed partly to exercise the specific features of the box. A lot of work has gone into squeezing a lot of information and control options into a very little bit of display real estate. Now you double the size of the MFD. Do you just multiply the pixels of each character by two (functionally equivalent to giving the aircrew a pair of “readers”!), or do you keep the same text size and put more info on the screen? Now you are going to be reprogramming the MFD (and thats assuming that the new MFD could actually execute the software from the old units, which I would sincerely doubt!) The real world does NOT have to agree with the powerpoint slides! :-)

Remember that the ORIGINAL F-15 was a single seater! There is a very good reason why that GIB was added in (sacrificing about 300 lbs of fuel by the way). When the mission starts getting more and more complex, and you start performing it in a maneuvering fighter at night, that extra set of eyes and hands and brain just about becomes indispensable. Consider the Marines “Night Attack” F/A-18s, and the F-15E itself. Automation and good displays only goes so far, then you get sensory overload and smoking holes…. .

It’s well past thanksgiving the F-35 turkey should be dead already.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I totally concur with you that any ‘follow-on’ big-screen display would not be part of a quick and easy plug-in option. I didn’t say that. The initial F-15E+ variant could come with minimal upgrades over the F-15SG however and later ‘follow-on’ lots could conceivably come with improved and enhanced avionics including a ‘jointly-developed’ display option as well as others. That was the intended context in which the proposal was made. :)

Regards — Geoff Koh

The explorer halted at the instantaneous rustling in the ones and zeros ahead. Even without the whistling nose bone, he could tell it was probably only the first of many ‘Sweeties’ that were lurking in the digital overgrowth at the very moment. The Sweetie – he thought it was a ‘he’ — instinctively attacked the explorer, the native heaving with all ‘his’ might –“design blunders!”.….“overruns!”.….“most incompetent and wasteful in HISTORY!” at the explorer .
The shaft of the weapon was formed of a mere shadow of awareness as to how advanced technology programs actually progressed, giving it the logical flaccidity akin to linguini that had been steeped for a week. The forward end of the shaft arced towards him, tipped with a tautology reminiscent of a large, if somewhat stale, marshmallow.
The adventurer didn’t even flinch…didn’t have to. The arc of overwrought hyperpole in the throw caused it to ‘poof’ harmlessly at about half the distance needed to drive the ‘point’ home.

Normally, he would try and engage the Sweeties, “but when they’re on the warpath there’s just no talking to them” (at least in a character total constrained comment post). And while the “Thrumm! Thrumm! Thrumm!” didn’t really bother him, and though the Sweeties seemed harmless even at their worst, he knew prolonged exposure to them can’t be good: Four anthropologists had once ventured to study the Sweeties, and only the fourth one survived to tell of the others’ fates–They had been ‘memed’ to death. Our protagonist shuddered “whatta’ way to go” …
While the Sweetie to the front of him was still stamping his feet in the tribe’s ritual “Dance of the Epic Fails” — the Explorer fired up his browser and headed to the wider and wilder web. For a moment the “Thrumm! Thrumm! Thrumm!” abated, replaced by a jungle alive with the sound of what he first mistook as cicadas, then as the bilabial clicking of perhaps one of the Juu tribes. But then he recognized it for what it was: perhaps thousands of Sweeties clicking furiously to down-rate the encounter in a futile grasp for relevance.

Mac, do you ever read PowerPoint Ranger or Doctrine Man comics on Facebook? You could totally make a cartoon strip out of this.

Good points and again, I fully concur. Also note the ‘single seat’ concept being proposed could be an ‘option’ and not a replacement. Plenty of modern jets including Block 60, F/A-18E, Su-35, Euro-fighter, PAK FA, Rafale, J-15 and 20 are single seat requirements, with old F-16CJ wild weasel example being a highly proven and multi-task scenario single seater too. Moreover, one consideration might be to keep the standard pit layout, merely update the software to allow full systems operation by the pilot and only operate the GIB option per specialized mission requirements (eg future SOJ role, manual ISR/recon, and various strike/OCA requirements perhaps)?

Very fair analysis and proposals there, MickP.

I’m surprised to see that post get –3 thumbs down, tried to help out with one more up for ya m8. Cheers–

Sounds good.. would an additional side benefit be the sustainment of a second source (Boeing) as a prime integrator of a 6th generation tactical fighter?

Sorry but the F-16XL was a dead end and THE reason the JSF is one program instead of two or three is because Congress refused to fund more than one.

Stop-gaps are only feasible when you have the money to waste on soon to be obsolete platforms.

The F-16 Block 60 isn’t that much less expensive than the F-35A will be but is nowhere near as capable. The F-15SE would cost MORE than the F-35A will be & it too is less capable than the F-35A.

That does not fix any problem, it only makes it worse.

You clearly have zero understanding of the role of the GOA…

90% avionics commonality with the C/D was one of the biggest selling points of the E/F.

Because it would cost MORE than the F-35 but be LESS capable.

Dream on.

The F-16XL was a 1980 proposal. Its only “misfortune and insurmountable problem” was competing against what became the F-15E, not the F-22 or F-35.

The reason for the WSO on the F-15E is because at the time some of the most important AtG munitions required a man in the loop…

The vast majority of USN aircraft have been single engined.

The F-35C is >5′ shorter than the F/A-18C/D & >9′ shorter than the F/A-18E/F…

Wrong. The F-35 was conceived to be second only to the F-22 in AtA and to be THE air-superiority fighter for all customers other than the USAF. The AFA has never said that the F-35 would not be good enough, only that the F-22 is better. The F-35 was NOT conceive to be the SAME cost the the fighters it was to replace.

The price has & continues to track to were you will be able to procure 4 F-35A or F-35C for about the same amount as 5 F-16C or F/A-18E/F would cost respectively. That is a HUGE value given how superior the F-35 will be.

The USMC bought the UK Harriers to use as spare parts keep them flying until they are replaced by F-35Bs.

Quite the opposite.

The USN DOES NOT prefer the SH OR X-47B. The USMC plans to use the AV-8B until they are replaced by F-35Bs.

Wrong. Just like all the BS ‘plan B/alternative’ so many morons keep proposing it costs MORE than the F-35, takes as long or longer AND results in a LESS capable force.

No F-22s at least? Even an F-15E+ would be at something of a disadvantage in combat against a T-50 due to a lack of stealth.

F-16s aren’t immune to price increases. A Block 60 F-16E/F is going to cost at least $60 million, even if we assume the F-35A is going to cost $80 million, not a huge savings for the capability gap we are talking about.

The current RIM-162 uses semi-active radar homing, not active like the AIM-120. You’d probably want to incorporate the AIM-120’s seeker into that. As far as I know millimeter-wave radar homing is more of a method for engaging ground targets and doesn’t provide much of a benefit against aircraft.

The only way the F-35 gets cut is because defense cuts result in no money for weapons procurement. That means NO plan B, NO alternatives!

Interim being the key word there, we need to think long term here, and we need a better solution than “try again with a new program” which would probably replicate many of the F-35’s goals.

If you want an air-superiority aircraft at least go with the F-22, the aircraft that was supposed to replace the F-15 in that role. That is not to say we shouldn’t upgrade the F-15E. Those are very useful strike aircraft, but it is a lot costlier to operate than a single-engined aircraft. The weapons bays replacing the CFTs on the SE is more of a gimmick than useful feature.

If you have 200 planes that can carry 6 missiles each, then it takes 1250 planes (with 4 missiles each) to defeat them. Thats the logic the Russians used at Kursk. And the logic the Chinese used in Korea. And the logic either one of them would use again.

I work on the F-35 every day. i can tell you first hand that on the production floor this program is a complete and utter mess. they created a untenable monster with a monolithic management structure that cannot adapt to any type of a changing environment. They have turned a vast majority of their employees into their enemies. And pride themselves finding ways to games the system. This doesn’t even include the mess that the pentagon has made of the program either. And when you add the trifecta of political meddling and you have the perfect recipe for an aircraft that will never live up to its billing. This plane is an over engineered, overweight, underpowered hanger queen. But rest assured all you defence hawks, this plane would be right at home on the Walking dead. This Zombie just won’t die.


Good point… Indeed, a major design requirement for a WSO at the time F-15E was conceived was influenced by the value of man-in-the-loop type munitions of the era. Which is basically the premise behind what F-15 Engineer was suggesting for a next-gen concept: an F-15E class platform requirement, ie one which would not necessarily require 2 seats.

“Im thinking that the choices should not be between the F-35 and upgraded F-16s or Super Hornets. It should be between a professional, well-funded military, capable of using the systems available”

Well, isn’t that essentially boiling down to a choice then between either F-35s over the next 7–10+ years, or a mix of F-16, Super and F-15E+? That is, the operational and proven systems available for procurement today as you state, are in fact those very late model legacy jets.

Actually… sorry sir, but there is in fact NO evidence to support your claim that the F-35 Program is ‘tracking’ to eventually buy 4 F-35A or C, for the cost of 5 F-16C or F-18E/F. That is a huge stretch.

Note LRIP 4 F-35A is costing about $220m per bird in Total Procurement. What sort of track are you seeing when taking this figure and taking into account VADM Venlet’s recent call for further reductions in annual rates vs a Super Hornet’s Total Procurement eg, of about $88m each in FY11 dollars?

Here’s the rebuttal… Sure, I have no problem developing an F-22B as part of the next-gen mix to include more up to date architecture and reliability. Perhaps a viable procurement could be available by around FY16-FY17 and even include possibility of an export version. Joint-development prospect?

But in the near-term, you go with whats available, affordable and reliable: ie 4.5 gen platforms. An F-22B (perhaps jointly manufactured by Boeing and LM) type however could definitely be part of the ‘alternative’ mix if it’s proven to be viable and a better option than say, any next-gen 5.5 gen alternative marketed by other manufacturers. But note also, that an F-15E+ with enhanced IRST, Sniper SE pod and APG-82 would be able to detect that future LO threat flying in passive mode before the F-22 block 35 could. The ‘first see’ capability is still an indispensable advantage.

Regarding price comparisons… it’s too uncertain and the whole issue is thoroughly convoluted and confused still today. First off, all ‘current’ F-35 estimates are based on LM’s expectation that 3,000+ jets will ultimately be ordered and that annual FRP rates will ramp up to 150+ units per year. Chop both production estimates and price will adjust accordingly. In the near-term at least (for the next 8 yrs), the F-35 is most likely going to cost much higher than previously expected. For example, the total Procurement cost for an F-16IN type variant could be around $110m in FY14. Compare that to a reduced-rate FY14 F-35A procurement which could likely cost still north of $175m. (Total procurement).

LRIP 4 costs? Latest USAF estimates put the Total Procurement at greater than $220m. Compare that with an F-18E costing about $88m (Total procurement, same year buy). Hence, the notional $80m (REC/URF Flyaway) will unfortunately not likely be seen in 2011 dollars until at least around 2018–2020, if ever and even then the non-recurring and Total procurement will be proportionally higher. By then, the theory is that either a follow-on F-22 mod or a new more viable and reliable joint-venture fighter concept will be in development — something which would be more sustainable and affordable when produced in the Low Rate Production numbers of the future, than would the F-35.

Regarding AIM-162… of course, such an extended range capable AAM would likely require a new seeker integration (as suggested above) in order to expand tactical flexibility to the warfighter. One obvious optional seeker mod would be a high resolution IIR seeker, eg the NCADE IIR type seeker by Raytheon. That would be more effective against stealthy super-cruising fighter type threats (or small sized super-sonic cruise missiles) of tomorrow than would say, a tiny AMRAAM RF seeker. And a larger aperture mmW seeker would most likely be more effective vs ‘small, fast flying objects’, let alone those attempting to spoof an RF seeker. Note PAC-3 missile equipped with mmW seeker for terminal guidance vs very fast flying small objects. Respects.


And today with the GPS jammers out there, and the need to hit moving targets, and various different issues, the old fashioned laser spot guidance is staging a comback! The real issue is mission complexity. In a knifefight, the GIB is probably going to be most useful just keeping an eye on “six”, working countermeasures, trying not to bang his helmet on the canopy too many times, and keeping the GIF alert and out of target fixation. The pilot fights the arcraft. In a complex A-G delivery, let the GIF concentrate on flying the aircraft, keeping SA, and he lets the GIB fight the aircraft. In spite of the economics and the ego issues with putting in a back seater, when it gets nasty, and it gets dark, and lots of bad things are happening, two sets of eyeballs are just plain irreplaceable.

Actually, it does NOT boil down to that, even though many of the techno-addicts would prefer it that way. At one point in the Carter administration, we almost had more AIM-9 rails flying than we had AIM-9s, and our pilots were begging for flying hours because of the budgeted fuel. Anyone who was in back then has to remember feeling the embarassment for our jr enlisteds when we saw the “food stamp” signs in the commissary. The best of equipment, without the ordnance to go on it, without the training to learn to use it, and without the people to fly and maintain it…. . is just so much shiny new scrap metal sitting on a ramp.

I just picked the big screen displays because of the laptop analogy. The SAME issues usually apply to everything from upgraded radios (older ARC-210s to a GenV ARC-210 for example), to mission computers, to stores management systems, to navigation systems, to.…. While I do think that we could do a LOT to upgrade F-15s and F-16s before we get to the price of an F-35, you cant fall into the trap of thinking that its “minimal expense” and “easy to the point of trivial”. Just as the F-35 advocates need to suck in some realism, the detractors, and those proposing alternatives, need to do the same. There is very rarely any free lunch…

Perhaps, but the early technology development work for the F-22 and F-35 started in the mid-70s. Could be wrong, but I think that the F-15E was perhaps viewed as “less threatening” to those advanced development efforts than the F-16XL, which was a much more radical departure from the parent airframe.

But you are certainly right in at least one point. The contract DID go to the F-15E.

Yup! And I buy into every claim that I see in sales brochures! :-) And we all know that numbers on powerpoint charts cant bend the truth just a little bit either! ROTGLMAO!

There IS quite a bit of commonality across all USN aircraft in terms of the standard avionics. Its totally intentional, but.… . .you really have to look at the non-recurring engineering thats required to make that commonality viable.

You indirectly raise one very interesting issue in your discussion of the F-22.

IF all of the diplomatic and deturrence efforts fail and we end up in a full-blown shooting war with a major opponent (on a par with WW-II for example), could we realistically expect to be able to “spin up” an F-22 production line again in time to build for the war? One of the “cost savings” that have been invoked over the last two decades was to “shut down” unnecessary redundancies (aka “surge capabilities”) on military production facilities. Bottom line, can we still assume that we will be able to “build for war when the war starts” like Roosevelt did? That issue changes the logic for a lot of the now-day discussions, I think.

By the way, I already know the answer to this one, saw the result when the USN tried to replenish its Tomahawk stocks after the Clinton era strikes against bin Laden, just throwing it out for consideration.

How dare you confuse opinion and bombast by presenting numbers and verifiable facts! It so grossly and unfairly stiffles creativity and finely crafted, politically-motivated rhetoric when you do that! Shame, shame!

Can’t wait to see pcfem, sferrin, SMSgt Mac, Willie C and the rest of the Lockmart Kool Aid swillers rise up in righteous anger and call for the head of the blasphemous Adm Venlet for being so impiously crass as to tell it like it is…

Guess know we REALLY know why the Marines bought all those Brit Harriers. And why the USAF is looking to further extend the lives of its worn out “legacy” fleet. And why that unpleasant little over-due thing called the DAB report is always promised, but some how, never quite delivered…

This recent ‘discovery’ of the inherently defective design* of the “the sneaky little piggy that stayed home” means that production will slow even further, costs will continue to spiral upwards, and the numerous lemons already built will have to be tediously pulled apart and rebuilt at a cost of millions per jet. Either that, or be consigned to a place of honor atop of poles by the gate house…

I await with bated breath for ol’ Sarge to churn out one of his amusing little vignettes on this surprising(NOT) development.

A little nugget from Fox News…

Sounds like the Admiral has it about right.… .The only question would be how many of those other “hot spots” end up needing costly fixes (not even considering the “retrofits”, changing structure at this point in the program can get to be very expensive.)

Why the Marines REALLY bought all of those Brit Harriers is because their current Harrier fleet isn’t in the best shape due to attrition and wear and tear. It’s a stopgap solution.

Venlet is referring to the bulkhead cracks on the F-35B that have been corrected on the latest BF test aircraft. His concern over more cracks or structure flaws appearing in stress testing is legitimate, especially since construction with such very large % of composites is rather new. But grounds for cancelling the whole program? The only thing that will do is cost us more money in the long-run and set us years behind.

I thought the same thing when i saw that AOL defense scoop. Thanks for calling out the Suspects!!

Yes, the old “mistake jet” thing that the JPO and Lockheed said would never happen and that no money was budgetted to correct. Been pointed out for years by many sources, GAO, JET… Was totally ignored and now is being realised to be a problem. How utterly predicable.

You (US) should try Dassaut’s Rafale. Available, super-performing and quite cheap by JSF standards…

check it out : http://​www​.flightglobal​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​f​l​i​ght–

I’m sure “James” is not your real name ;-D But thanks for sticking your foot out there anyway, we need more people like you.

BTW, nothing I print in commentary is done ‘indirectly’ ;)

All very calculated and opined for a direct purpose.

And p.s., I concur with your answer to your own question… a big No. :)

Believe me, in no way do I fall into the trap of thinking any upgrade plan is ‘low expense’. For one thing, the current estimates quoted to SLEP F-16s will be pushed northward before all is done.

However, a new build F-16 with AESA and new build, fully equipped late model F-15E will still be cheaper than an F-35A at least for the next 9–10 yrs. I guess that was the point trying to be made: in comparing apples to apples.

The next-gen computer will be taking care of your working counter-measures in a next-gen knife fight.

The next-gen software and seekers will be countering the latest anti-jam and moving target tactics.

The GIB does have a specialized role, just as 14 guys might have a further specialized role in an AWACS or surveillance platform. But a next-gen computer will more than off-set 95% of the benefits of a GIB from a 1991 requirement.

That’s why you have a single-seat F-22, F-35, PAK FA, SU-35, J-15, J-20, J-10B, Typhoon, Rafale, block 60, F-18E International… the back seat is not as necessary as it was 10 years ago.

No probs m8, your comment spoke for itself reasonably and logically. Don’t let the ideological thumb-downers on the forums tell you otherwise. :)

Never too late to apply some logic and prudent policymaking.

However, just make sure to offset the lost procurement units in the interim with more affordable 4.5 gen stopgap units to supplement the fewer than expected F-35s procured.

That was the part VADM Venlet left out perhaps. Let’s hope he or Congress rectifies that issue by FY13.

Otherwise, enter a hollow force structure, substantial balance of power shift and an illusion of deterrence.

God speed TACAIR recap.

You are a poseur/imposter, and/or delusional and/or disgruntled, and/or a garden variety liar. Judging by your overreach into topics of which you are obviously not very well informed AND the fact that based upon the time tag of your post (made ~2:40AM when most all good ‘every day’ workers are asleep) , I’m leaning towards poseur/imposter. Easy enough to determine. In which parking lot do you park? What is the name of the main cafeteria? Is the Executive Conference center to the left or right of the main cafeteria? Describe the connector hallway between bldg 200 and the high bay. Answer these question correctly, and we’ll discuss what you actually got wrong in the first place. Or maybe the Admin can just tell us where your IP addresss resides.

Upgraded F-16s &/or Super Hornets won’t be ADEQUATE systems very long though…and wouldn’t be that much less expensive than continuing with the F-35 at this point.

Nah, sorry. Facebook is a security nightmare. Just sometimes the silliness of the JSF haters begs a good mocking. Thanks for the props though!
I may tweak the Sweeties again on the latest if the mood strikes me, but it was a fleeting feeling: comic relief from some peer-reviewed stuff I’m writing at the moment. I needed a break, they needed a clue. Thanks again

Or maybe they should just ban these officious contractor trolls who spend all their time defending their own greed.

Give us you name address and phone number so we can see you out of your hole troll.

And be stuck with a rapidly becoming INADEQUITE fighter force.

THINK ABOUT IT. What if we skipped the F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18 & B-1 because enough morons like you thought we could get by with the F-4, F-8, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106, F-111, A-4, A-6, A-7 & B-52 until the F-22, F-35 & B-2 entered service…

That’s right, defense contractors make MUCH more profit of programs that are on time & under budget than they could ever hope to on late &/or over budget.


Quite the opposite. LRIP 1–3 even whth all the delays they went through are ONLY 11–15% over cost, LRIP 4 is projected to be ONLY 7% over and the production time & cost of LRIP 4 is near HALF that of LRIP 1. The only thing really keeping costs from dropping EVEN FASTER (perhaps even being on budget) is reductions in LRIP production rates.

Lockheed will no doubt suggest their standard response to F-35 problems — reduce testing and up production.

Except that his ‘facts’ do not contradict mine.

Yes a stop gap and the whopping black whole of a gap is the F-35B

Man this really gets old.….…..The F-35 and none of its Variants are going to be cancelled. Think about it the US is on the verge of controling 80% of the fighter market for the next 2–3 decades. So, its going to cancel it now after spending billions. Only to let the Russians and Chinese take over the market! LOL

Where has the UK said it will have an all C force? The UK wasn’t planning on 138 F-35Bs JUST for its 2 planned carriers… Yes we are all very much aware of the budget issued most everyone is having TODAY but by 2015 they could be better & by 2020 many experiency ‘hard times’ now could be experiencing a boom.

Sorry but the C is the MOST expensive F-35 model, dropping the A & B is NOT going to reduce the cost of the C to make up for the significantly lower cost of the A.

The B does not meet USAF or USN requirements. The ‘step change’ of the A & C is GREATER than the ‘step change’ the F-14, F-15, F-16 & F/A-18 has over upgraded F-4s & A-7s.

The UK should have either gone with the C from the beginning OR gone with ~30,000 ton STOVL carriers. The 2030 ‘fully operational’ for the UK carriers is due to absurdly low aircraft procurement rate, NOT because the aircraft being procured is the F-35C.

You obviously did not bother to actually read the article…

Not even close. EVERYONE was fully aware of & accepted the inevitability of having to “correct” LRIP aircraft and money WAS budgeted to do so. The cost overruns on LRIP 1–3 INCLUDE these costs!

The ‘problem’ now is that with the defense cuts which have already been implemented PLUS those which could be, the DOD HAS to look at anything & everything it can do to reduce costs. So the question with the F-35 is do we (assuming there is even any money for procurement) go ahead with accelerating procurement (resulting in reduced unit cost) & hope that concurrency costs to not get out of hand OR to we minimize concurrency costs by keeping the production rate low & accept the resulting higher unit cost (& higher cost of having to keep more legacy aircraft in service longer).

Little itfunk/oblat is making threats now? How very sad…

A lot of people do not know, understand or even care to know the purposes of LRIP. One reason is to build up the production line and iron out any issues with converting the “hand built” prototypes into production items. Those corrective measures cost time and money. The OTHER big purpose is to provide some “production representative” test articles. When you test complex systems, you WILL find problems, at least you do if you run meaningful testing. Those corrective measures also cost time and money. SO.… focusing on the LRIP costs might not be the most reasonable thing for ANYONE to do. And as you say, the budgetary issues do tend to redefine the realm of the possible.… . .

Beauty and apparently facts are all in the eyes of the beholder. That would seem to contradict the definition of the word “fact” but, to each his own! XAF, out!

Then just take the next step. . .with the “next gen” computer handling all of the hard tasks, just let it take over the easy part, i,e. energy management, ground avoidance and optimized attack maneuvering.…. LOL!

I would much rather use that computer power to put the essential information (distinctly different from data by the way!) in front of the two aircrew and let the human fight the fight.

Have you ever played the computer game where you “broke the code”, found the trick for gaming the software, and then quickly became “king of the hill” as well as bored with the game? Computerize your warfare and you leave open that “back door”. Keep the unpredictability of human intellect in the loop and you never have to worry about getting “hard wired to failure”, at least not to the same degree.

If nothing else, watch the first Star Wars movie and the attack on the Death Star! ROTFLMAO!

I would argue that with the more capable A-D systems, complex weapons and sensors available today, that the back seater is far more ESSENTIAL now than just necessary in the past, but then Im not selling advanced computers! :-)

Lets see… GOA was the navalized SA-3 right? Or were you talking about the former Portuguese trading colony in India, or maybe just Gun Owners of America? LOL!

Just an aside, but the XL in the final analysis was a dead end — all aerodynamics w/serious drawbacks as a weapon system, which is also why it lost out as an alternative to the F15E. Looked cool though.

Honestly, with F-22 dead, it matters little what happens to F-35, as F-35 is masterpiece of everything being thought out exactly the opposite way they should be. How come you want to place two 2000 pound bombs into single engine plane with target empty weight of 24,500 pound and still be able to make same bodydesign VTOL is the greatest joke of aviation history, maybe after that M-15 biplane with jet propulsion. As F-16C line is still hot, so is F-15E. Navy can upgrade Super Hornets, and if need is, F-22 line can be reopened. And if USA finally loses it own manufacturing base, USAF can still buy Gripens and Su-35s, as long as China is willing to fund it. After the F-35 fiasco is removed from shoulder of all involved parties, sanity will return back to aerospace (maybe). So cheer up, it can only get better!

Let’s make it clear the only alternative to the F35 is the much expensive F22. The USAF and Navy need a Fighter not a Trainer and the F16Block60 and F15SE will be not more them Trainer around 2025. Hear a the facts the Russian are rise again and already armed with superior Air defense system like S400,S500,SA17,TOR M2 and many more and they develop also a new Air Superiority Fighter (PAK FA) how was designed to fight the F22 and they plan to export Hundreds of them. And at the same time Red China is on the Way to overtake the USA as the World leading Military and Economic Power. So they Chinese build more and more capable Fighters and have already tested their own F22 the J20.

It is insane to believe what the F15SE or the F16Block can be relevant in an Fight against enemy how fly PAK FA and J20 and defend their Air Space with overkill SAMs like the S500,S400,Tor M2 or the Chinese models HQ15,HQ19,HQ20,HQ25 and many more. The fact is what the F35 is already not modern and superior enough to beat all actual existing Air Defense Systems and it is also questionable them the f35 will be able to beat the J20 and the PAK FA. Since the F22 was killed it is already possible what the USA will lose their Air Superiority against their peer Concurrent (China, Russia) around 2025 and this with the F35. It will be hard to predict the chances of the F35 Program to survive under the momently situation with such an insane President and a not functioning Congress how look like disposed to ruin the country for their idiotic ideology.

At the end all will depend on the next election 2012 if Obama lose and the GOP take both parts of the Congress the Military will be spare from the doomsday cuts. Them Obama will be reelected but the GOP win the Senate I see a good chance to avoid a big part of the Doomsday cuts but them the Situation still the same like yet I’m sure what the Days of the USA as a great Nation with a superior Military will be over.

Once again I ask why do we believe what the Russians and Chinese say about their weapon systems (PAK FA, J20, etc) while we don’t about our own weapon systems (F-35, etc) when we have much better data access to own systems thru FOIA, etc while what we get from the others is questionable at best

So, to make it “clear”, you say that the F-35 isn’t good enough to deal with either the current advanced SAMs OR the projected Russian and Chinese super fighters, so therefore it’s absolutely imperative that we continue to throw tens of billions more into the insatiable JSF black hole or else America and the rest of the free world are utterly doomed. Is that about right?

I agree about the “not functioning Congress” and their “idiotic *Tea Party* ideology”, but as for the rest, well, you really need to get back on your anti-anxiety meds and chill, dude.

Don’t even compare that piece of crap F-36 to the F-23. They’re not even remotely in the same league.

What rock do you live under?

Yeah, the military industrial complex would never hire anyone to spew their propaganda on the internet. I mean, it’s not like there’s any money at stake here. Well, maybe a few billion here and there, but no real incentive to do that. After all, William believes that everyone always has his best interests at heart, especially defense contractors. It must be a wonderful world he lives in.

by the vast majority do you mean the F-18, F-14, F-4, S-3, A-6, EA6-B, E-2C, S-2, A-3, A-5

There are only 2 single engine plane the Navy has used in modern times

single engine A-7 retired way back in 1991
the A-4s haven’t been used on carriers since “Nam

The point Aquajet is using, perhaps it is lost on you, but the Navy flys over WATER, when a single engine fails, the plane in going into the WATER, it’s a total loss, and a possible loss of the crew as well. At least on land you have a very good chance of surviving a punch out by landing on firm earth.

What part of LM earned just $7 million out of an available $35 million in milestone award fees for milestones reached in 2010 &/or the $614 million in performance award fees being withheld don’t you understand?

No, by vast majority I mean since the advent of carrier aviation. And engines TODAY are more reliable than they have ever been so don’t give me that BS that single piston engines are OK but single jet engines are a flying coffin. And even of those that have been multiple engined, the majority of those have been so because two engines were needed to provide the necessary power. NOT because single engines are not safe.

No, Aquajetss inaccurate point is not lost on me. Navies are not the only ones who fly over water.

I am NOT saying that the additional safety margin offered by multiple engines is not nice to have but to say that there is no place in the USN for a single engine aircraft is just plain stupid nonsense.

Good God! By “everyone” I meant everyone involved in making the decision &/or everyone who bothered to listen/inform themselves of the risks vs benefits of concurrency. It is not like ANYONE (again I mean anyone involved in the making the decision &/or who bothered to listen/inform themselves) ever expected that these LRIP aircraft would not need modification. CONTRARY to Weaponhead’s BS, money has been & is budgeted for the expressed purpose of said modifications.

Quite the opposite. Intial OEW target weight for the F-35A was 26,500 lbs. Post-SWAT it is 26,664 lbs. And the stealth + weapons load + combat radius requirements meant that the CTOL model was going to be >25,000 lbs OEW REGUARDLESS of whether it shared a common airframe with the STOVL model or not.

There IS a reason why the F-15, F-16 & F/A-18 are referred to as legacy platforms…

Apparently the opposite of 24,550 being too much is >25,000lbs LOL

There IS a reason why thew F-35 is referred to as the turkey.

From the Oct 2010 UK SDSR, C will be sea and land based, and much less than 138 I think:

The strike needs to be made more capable. Installing the catapult and arrestor will allow the UK to acquire the carrier-variant of Joint Strike Fighter ready to deploy on the converted carrier instead of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant. This version of the jet has a longer range and greater payload: this, not large numbers of aircraft, is the critical requirement for precision strike operations in the future. The UK plans to operate a single model of JSF, instead of different land and naval variants. Overall, the carrier-variant of the JSF will be cheaper, reducing through-life costs by around 25%.

Post SWAT empty weight for the ‘A’ is not, 26,664 lbs, it’s 29,300 lbs. Says so right on the latest LM official F-35 site.

And yes, there is a ‘reason’ that the highly capable F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 are referred to as “legacy platforms”. But it’s not what you’re implying. It’s merely a rhetorical ploy aimed at encouraging the naive to believe that those extremely effective combat aircraft are out-dated and obsolete. IOW, just a weasel marketing term,. You know, just like “5th Gen”…

Can you show us a link to official USG documents explicitly describing the funding for the tens (Or hundreds, given that Venlet says that repairs…oops, I mean “updating”- will cost between 3 and 7M USD per jet) of millions of dollars that will be required to bring the existing “mistake jets” (and those currently on the assembly line) up to useful operational standards and the required 8,000 hr min life?

BTW, don’t forget that fatigue testing is still in the very early stages.…

Not to put words into your mouth but.… .Would you care to be so bold as to claim that the majority of SUCCESSFUL USN carrier aircraft since the jet era began have been single engine? Perhaps not? :-)

Out of the whole pile, I think of the A-4, the F-8 and its derivative A-7. Then there was the F-4, the F-14, the F/A-18, the A-6.… . . With the noted exception of the A-4 and F-8, I believe that history would suggest two engines are a fair indicator for success and single engine a promise of a mediocre or outright bad carrier aircraft.

Just call me a proud purveyor of plain stupid propaganda if you must but … history is what it is… :-)

You forgot the A-4, which was a very successful weapon system on the carriers. Having worked the acquisition/support of the propulsion systems on most of the above aircraft, single vs dual engine was not an indicator of success for carrier aircraft. The A-7 for instance, was considered an outstanding attack aircraft by its pilots, much preferred for its accuracy than the early F/A-18’s

Yup, I caught myself and fixed the reference to the Scooter. The A-7 was a big hit because of the weapons delivery capabilities. The lack of friendly flight characteristics was notorious and included such things as woeful lack of thrust and a very “invigorating” departure characteristic. From a reliability standpoint, the airframe was OK, the avionics was a bit sketchy (as would be expected from 1st generation systems), and the dear, old TF-41.… . Well, do I need to remind you of the old saying about the British taste for warm beer and the reliability of Lucas Electric refrigerators? :-)

Having spent 3 years as the PM on the TF41, I know it well…I wonder if we would have kept it as a Spey would it have worked out better? Near the end, with the incorp of single crystal and other improvements the TF41 was becoming quite the engine.

So back to your original statement, single/dual engine is not a very good indicator of carrier aircraft success

@JRL, it looks like what you will or cannot understand what I have said. Them I understand it right what have write it look like what your position is to kill the F35 but in the same time you don t say with what you will replace this absolutely necessary fighter?

And what I have also said is what the F35 is already a risky compromise between Performance and Affordability. And it exists also no longer a realistic alternative to the F35 except a restart of the more capable but also more expensive F22. What you have to understand is what the time of the legacy Fighter Generation is over and so it cannot be an alternative to replace the F35 with 30 Years old legacy garbage no matter it is call F16Block60 or F15SE this Designs have rich there limits and the USA need a Fighter for the next 30–40 years and not just for jet. I’m not a Fan of the F35 and I was never a Fan of this Fighter but on the other hand I can just repeat what are the alternatives to the F35?

You really wish what your Pilots should to face a S400 SAM or a HQ20 System with a 30 Years old F16 or to fight with a 30 Years old F15 against a J20 or PAK FA? And it is also too late to start a new Fighters Program why the entire USAF Fighter fleet has reach the end of their lifetime and some legacy Fighter have already broken apart in Air due to material fatigue. Therefore, my conclusion the F35 is not perfect but they is the only option how not holds an insane risk for the National Security and the Interest of the USA and there ally. With a F35 you have a good Chance to beat the most existing and Future Air Defense Systems and an acceptable chance to beat the J20 and PAK FA in Air combat you will not be superior but you will have an acceptable chance ! Without the F35 and with legacy Fighters in your Arsenal you will be beaten in a Fight against the J20 and PAK FA like the Iraqi Air Force was beaten by the USAF 1991 or better said you will have no chance !

Once again I ask why do we believe the J-20 or PAK FA is so vastly superior when all the data we have comes only from the Chinese/Russians vice the free flow of “data” we have on our aircraft?

I don’t believe what the Russian and Chinese are enable to build a better fighter them the USA but the F35 is not nearly the best what the USA was able to build. The F35 is a compromise he was designed as a small strike fighter to replace the F16, F18, A10 and AV8 of the USAF, USN and USMC and not designed to replace the F15 or the F14. Don’t forget the plan was to buy 600–750 F22 for the Air Superiority and as replace for the F15 it was never planned to make the F35 an Air Superiority Fighter. The J20 and the PAK FA is different from the F35 both there designed to beat the F22 they was first designed for Air Superiority so both PAK FA and J20 are larger and designed for Air to Air Combat. The PAK FA has for example a bigger X Band Radar them the F35 and also two L-Band Radars how was designed to detect Stealth Objects and she has also a IRIST System how was optimized for Air to Air Combat. The Pak FA is also significantly faster them the F35 and he can also carry more Air to Air Missiles in stealth configuration. This not means what the F35 will not have a Chance to beat the PAK or the J20 but the F35 will not be superior to these fighters.

A hypothetical Duel between a F35 and a PAK FA is comparable to a Duel between an F16Block52 and a Su30MKI this is not good for the USAF and USN but the alternative is a situation how is comparable to a Duel between a F16Block52 and a F22 and they all know the kill ratio of a F16 is such situation. ^^

I have reposed to your question, in your lower article.

I think we will just have to agree to disagree. In spite of adding the A-4, count the successes and failures for single engine versus twins.…:-). Numbers don’t ALWAYS lie.Sent from my iPhone

LOL! We may know some of the same people! Did they ever get rid of that awful Lucas TLA? I could tell you stories.….. If you didn’t already know! :-)Sent from my iPhone

The pre-SWAT weight was 29,040 lbs or so IIRC. Seems like there are some mixed up figures somewhere here.

How is “legacy platforms” a weasel marketing term? Quite simply, using F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s for another 30 years doesn’t cut it. And 30+ or 40+ years is the timeline for the F-35’s active service life we are talking about here.

I wouldn’t mind seeing some alternatives to the F-35 too, if not just to send a message to LM. Yet they need to be something more than just upgrading aircraft that were designed in the early-mid ‘70s.

You are right.
The YF-23 was much better than the F-36 or YF-22!

Gents, I think that you are perhaps forgetting a few details. The YF-23 was the competitor with the YF-22. It was a very different airplane than the F-35, just as the F-22 is different from the F-35.

Even though it was designed to the same requirements, the YF-23 was also a very different aircraft when compared to the F-22. The F-23 was supposedly more of a “reach” in terms of technologies than the F-22, in other words, significantly MORE developmental risk, of course that is what you get when you build what is supposed to be a more advanced platform. IIRC, one of the salient reasons that the AF went with the F-22 was that it was deemed inherently less risky than some aspects of the potential F-23. And again IIRC, there were some signfiicantly different handling characteristics, again in favor of the F-22.

I was a fan of the F-23 solely for the fact that it would have kept us from putting all of our fighter aircraft eggs in one basket.

This comment has been deleted by the administrator.

This one too.

Get a life.

I’m sure this higher math will amaze you. 97% of $614 million is $595 million. That’s Lockheed’s take on this program. Even if they only make $7 million in one year, they still *made* $7 million in profit. That’s above their costs for everything from staples to the CEO’s huge salary that they were reimbursed for from the US taxpayer’s pocket.

the question still is, “how” do you know that the PAK FA has a bigger x-band and two L-band radars? Because the Russians say so? Same with the IRIST system. Same with speed, etc. we don’t know for sure what the capabilities are, only what the Russians/Chinese say they are. Until we have the same degree of “openess” we have with our systems, we’ll never really know.

I was working it in the early 80’s. Don’t remember what TLA is, had more problems with bullnose vanes.

Just a little more fuel to the fire..I remember flat spins in F-14s due to engine flameouts and burst discs in F/A-18s so I’ll just say with my opinion.

Thanks for the good discussion

Temperature Limiting Amplifier. Reads the thermocouple loop on the nozzle and tweaked the fuel control. Had two failure modes. Engine either cut back to GROUND IDLE, or the 1st stage turbine nozzles & blades would be melted down! Neither was a good situation for a single engine A/C!

Had the opportunity to identify all of the TLAs with “zero MTBF”. Recommended that they be assigned to the USN squadrons with a strong suggestion that they should “go swimming”! Much better to “deep six” the broken ones than to pick them up in cornfields in Iowa! LOL!

I was mid-70s accident investigator for USAF. Helped my mentor draft up the TF-41 accident investigation handbook and spent lots of time in Ok-city with various abused parts of A-7s!.

Flat spins in F-14s, departures in A-7s, “stall-stagnations” in the early F-16/F-15 work, even the modified strakes for F/A-18s, and a lot of other little “gotchas”. When you build jet fighters they tend to show you things that you never suspected. :-)

By the way, the F-14 had some really spectacular turbine disk failures. I think that one (a low and fast pass on the carrier) is on Utube!

Check six!

I’ve worked on this program and the VH-71 program and can tell you he’s really not far off of the mark…

@MM99, Many Analysts say the same and you can also study the Photo Material and the known characteristics and you will come to the same conclusion like me. For example it was possible to see a prototype of the Russian X and L band and also the IRIST System of the Su35 and PAK FA on the last MAKs. Also are the some characteristics of the PAK FA known for example is since and is weapon payload and this is controllable and not Russian propaganda. I know the Russian and I don’t believe all what they said or better said I believe nothing what they said without question but the Russian and Air Power Australia are not the only Source of “information” and many thinks are also predictable. I know also that the Russian has no bad engineers and many of their Weapons have sometimes surprised the NATO States as they get access to them. For example the Vimpel R-73 Air to Air Missile how has shocked the entire NATO in the early nineties as they get some of them after the end of the DDR and noted after intensive tests what this rocket was far superior to every Western AA Rocket and this against all forecast of western Analysts of this time. And this is just one example form many also to call is the Russian superiority at Air Defense Systems how was sometimes confirmed by the USA and other Western Country’s how has bought Russian Air defense Systems like the S300 (bought by the USA and Greece) or the TOR M1 (bought by the Greece). Or better said Russia is not Iran, the Russian have the Know How and they have also the Recourses to build High End Weapon Systems. And the biggest Problem of the F35 is what she was never designed to be used as Air Superiority Fighter or to operate without support of the F22 and the B2 in a High Intensity Wars.

And don’t forget the original plan as the F35 program was started was to create an Air Force with 600–700 F22, about 120 B2 and 2400–2800 F35. A focus on Air to Air Superiority or high end stealth was under the original plan absolutely unnecessary. Therefore, I follow what the F35 is not nearly the best what the USA is enabling to build. Is stealth is inferior in compare with the F22, is Radar Systems is smaller and in Air to Air Mode clear inferior to the APG 77 of the F22. So the F22 still for example under an export ban why she is considered as to advance to be export to the closed Ally’s and this also said a lot about the performance difference between the F22 and the F35. The F35 was and still a project for a cheap and modern replace of the largest part of the old Legacy Fleet and was never projected as Air Superiority Fighter like the F22 how was from the first second created to beat and dominated every coming Soviet Treatment and also the F22 is a compromise and this why is base design was not the best possible. So the YF-23 was the design with the better Stealth Characteristics but the USAF selected the design with the lower risk the YF-22.

And you must also note that the USA has done a lot of pioneering work in stealth technology and tactic and the Russian and the Chinese has noticed this and this has made their own Work much easier. So the J-20 is in some Points based on the YF22 Design and the PAK FA is based in some Points on the YF-23 Design. Clear is the don’t know many about the PAK FA and the J20 but they know also not how good the F35 and the F22 really is and it is possible what no one has really know how god stealth will works in a High Intensity conflict. But this not means what they have to believe what the PAK FA or J20 are not far superior to all 30 Years old Legacy Fighter what the USAF and USN flying in the moment. And I think also what every man except Barney Frank and Ron Paul can understand that the Legacy Fleet of the USAF and USN must be replaced jet. And the F35 is the only remaining Option to do this.

I remember one accident investigation in the early 80’s where an A-7 decided to crash into a house near Cecil Field after the pilot turned away and ejected. The Navy ended up buying the house. During the investigation, we could not find the root cause except for a burnt out T1 thermophial, which was part of the control system (and a single point failure!)
Another instance was when we were getting flame outs during blue water ops, finally determined it was tape from the packing in the belly tank clogging up the fuel intake

those were the days!

UNLESS you happened to be onboard one of those SLUFFs when they decided to become a glider! Aside from basic reliablity, the root problem with the TLAs ended up being the ALC test fixture. The TLA unit bolted to the engine housing just about in the plane of the HP turbine, so.. . plenty of vibration and heat. The test bench, was exactly that, a wooden workbench, so “could not duplicate” became a standard repair reply. The one I found in Iowa made it past the full power trim, which was unusual for it, and decided that 32,000 ft over Iowa was a good place to shut off the engine!…. We never did find the engine shafts and bearings from the vertical impact.… . .The pilot caught a ride on a farm tractor.…

Your question is valid, but you might not like my answer. :-)

Some things are pretty obvious (such as an IRST ball) and others can be deduced pretty accurately (like the diameter of the fire control radar face via the diameter of the radome). Other things can be inferred from the “sales pitches” to potential customers and airshow displays. Then there is an unfortunate matter of “track record”, or at least many’s perception of honesty with respect to aircraft performance. Vne may be a totally theoretical velocity on a US aircraft’s mach meter, which the aircraft could never reach even if fired out of a giant cannon; Vne on a Russian aircraft means stop pushing the throttle or the aircraft might come apart! LOL!

As the budget crunch cuts into our flight hours and the PLA ramps up their training, we can’t afford to do nothing. The PLA brass saw 1991 as a wake up call. At one time they believed that the sheer size of the PRC military would deter the US. 1991 and OIF scared the daylights out of them. Hence the J-20 and the S-300/HQ-9.

The problem with stand off munitions is that newer radars can see them AND the non-stealthy carrier aircraft. I’m a 14E, we train for this. The teen series is done. Yes the F-5/A-4 won Red Flag/TOP GUN but that was because it was a training environment. We lost an F-117 over Serbia (along with an F-16) because we believe that our tech was so good.

We need the F-35 (no it’s not just a fancy F-16). Give me a TABLE VII certified crew on a PAC-3 radar and I’ll splash any F-16/Silent Eagle/F-18 you can put in the air.

The teen series needs to go to the boneyard.

To F-15 Engineer — I totally agree about the proposed single-seat F-15 its a great idea.

There’s should be several ideas and other options that can be discussed on the table about developing a proposed single-seat variant. The question from Tacair Command about conceiving the aircraft to be a standard two-seat F-15E model, with software and any appropriate roadmap upgrade enabling it to become a fully functioning ‘single-seat’ capability? Conceiving it as a fully redesigned single-seat cockpit variant?

To F-15 Engineer:

Or another option, is to conceive the aircraft to be a single-seat Silent Eagle concept with a fully redesigned cockpit. With a new designation called the “F-15F” and equip the aircraft with 2D or 3D circular thrust vectoring nozzles the ability to “turn and burn” greatly improves F-15s manoeuvrability to escape the missiles envelope of an enemy fighter. Also equip the IRST sensor pod to simultaneously track multiple targets over a large area and is unaffected by electronic attack or radar jamming and tracking heat sources on the aircrafts engine exhausts and fuselage.

Perhaps email to Brad Jones Director, F-15 US Air Force Development Programs or Roger Besancenez Boeing Vice President, F-15 Program about the idea of developing a new proposed single-seat F-15 as an export variant for new and existing customers to purchase the fighter for predictable costs.

To pfcem:

I’m going to stop replying to everything you post in responce to my posts. You are still “repeating and repeating” false facts and false information according to Black Owl’s responce. This is the last time I’m going to explain to you “The JSF is Unaffordable, its Unacceptable, its a failure, its too expensive to procure, own and operate for non-anti-access ops and it won’t be able to take on high end threats”. It takes money away from other valuable defence communities and the turkey program has been in development for well over a decade, in fact there was a discovery a number of potential cracks and hot spots on the JSFs airframe during the fatigue testing which means the production is going to be slowed down to get it right. That means extra time and support and more money to be wasted on this rubbish program.

To pfcem:

The question is “What will be delivered (if the F-35 ever arrives) will be obsolete, and that the JSF is certainly not affordable or sustainable to fly and maintain. With cost increases, schedule delays and continuing technical problems (when the aircraft becomes operational in 2018 or later and is having more failures which reduces its mission effectiveness, headaches for the maintenance crews and pilots etc) also increases the risk that the program will not be able to deliver the aircraft quantities and capability in the time required by the warfighter?

pfcem — Why Does the Pentagon, say the JSF is a true 5th Generation Fighter. Really?

Here’s a lot of the major problems with the JSF:

Cost. The estimate the cost of 100 JSF aircraft is up to $A33 Billion Dollars ($US160-$US230 million each). For the US to buy 2,443 aircraft is $337 billion and to maintain them etc etc is going to cost $1 trillion or more. I don’t care how Lockheed Martin puts their own BS comments on reducing the program to $65 million a copy.

Range. The short range of the JSF means they would have to be refuelled several times to fly across Australia, US or any nation.

Single-Engine. “Again this makes the aircraft more vulnerable to engine failure” You remember this word “ITS A DEAD DUCK”.

To pfcem:

Speed. The top speed of the JSF is only Mach 1.6, placing it at a significant disadvantage to Mach 2.4 aircraft such as the super cruising Sukhoi. Wing and engine intake geometry is optimised for sub-sonic flight — so a more powerful engine cannot fix the problem even if one would fit in the small JSF airframe.

Radar. The nose geometry of the JSF limits the aperture of the radar. This makes the JSF dependent on supporting AEW&C aircraft which are themselves vulnerable to long range anti-radiation missiles and jamming. Opposing Sukhoi aircraft have a massive 1 meter radar aperture enabling them to detect and attack at an JSF long before the JSF can detect the Sukhoi.

To pfcem:

“Partial Stealth”. It is argued that these disadvantages are offset by the JSF being “partially stealthy” in that it has low frontal visibility to millimetre-band radar. However, this is of little value against VHF radar using meter-long wavelengths. Russian engineers are now producing advanced VHF radar systems for the Sukhoi and for ground-based system such as Nebo SVU. As explained by my colleagues in the defence, this exposes most fighter-sized ‘stealth’ aircraft. While the radar technology will only improve, the stealth characteristics of the JSF are locked-in with its flawed geometry.

Unavailability. The JSF is not expected to be fully operational before 2018 or later.

Weight. The JSF seems to have a serious weight problem and may be unable to take off with a full load of fuel and weapons making it even more dependent on air-tanker support.

Only “Four” BVR Missiles. The JSF can only carry four air-air missiles (AAM) for Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat. By contrast late model Sukhoi Flankers can carry a wide range of AAM on twelve hard-points.

Classified Components. The JSF is likely to have a range of components that are ‘off-limits’ to the ADF or any foreign nation. It can only be serviced in the US.

Super-Cruise: No (-1)

High Agility Supersonic / Subsonic: Neither (-1)

High Specific Excess Power – Ps: No (-1)

Thrust Vectoring Control – TVC: No (-1)

To pfcem:

Highly Integrated Avionics: Yes (0)

Electronically Steered Array (ESA) Radar: Medium Power Aperture (0) (Detection range between 140 – 150 nm at BVR) still its not a long range.

Sidelooking ESA Apertures: No (-1)

High Situational Awareness (SA) — Onboard / Offboard: Yes (0)

Supersonic Weapons Delivery: No (Bomber Doors) again with only four air-to-air missiles (-1)

Large Thrust to Weight Multi Engine Thrust Growth: Middling T/W One Engine Little Growth (-1)

To pfcem:

High Combat Ceiling (> 7 deg/sec turn rate, sustained): No < 45 ft (-1)

Very Low Observable Stealth/Low Observables: Yes but Partial (0)

Large Internal Fuel Load (lbs): Yes >18 lbs (0)

Internal Weapon Carriage Hard Point Stations: Yes 4 (0)

So there you go, thats the result of why the F-35 is a wrong aircraft for any Air Force and Navy. Don’t say anything else because you’re gonna repeat the same thing again and again claiming its a right plane because its not.

The USAF could buy the Rafale…

Kill the F35B. The performance issues with the F-35B version is what prompted the costly redesign of the F-35 in order to meet the weight requirements necessary for the F-35B to perform its mission. Without the F-35B to worry about the program could have avoided this entire episode and saved at least 2 years. Also, the USMC is now the sole user of the F-35B with Britain opting for the F-35C killing it is really no longer an option. In order for the F-35 program to survive the F-35B which is responsible for the lions share of program problems and overruns must go!

US should scrap both Lemons and buy a decent aircraft that does work, like the Eurofighter

Back in the 1970s we decided to build an expensive, high performance fighter (the F-15) and a cheap multirole fighter (the F-16) to complement each other. The concept worked beautifully, and both aircraft have been extremely successful. The F-22 and F-35 were meant to fit similar, complementing roles. However, this concept only works if the cost of the lower performance jet is significantly less than the cost of the higher performance jet. With the current F-22-like price tag of the F-35, the relationship between the aircraft can no longer be compared to the F-15/16 relationship and the F-35 must be evaluated directly against the F-22, where, as an airframe (excluding electronics that can be added to any aircraft) it falls dramatically short of the F-22’s capabilities.

Though it is not politically feasible, the U.S. should reduce its number of active fighter units to preserve the current fleet, restart the F-22A production line with improved blocks to increase performance and reliability, and develop navalized and strike variants of the F-22. Otherwise, in light of 5th generation threats like the PAK-FA and J-20. the U.S. is purchasing a fighter that is essentially dead on arrival.


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