More good news, more bad news for F-35

More good news, more bad news for F-35

The newest member of Club F-35 — Japan — is like the new person at work, immediately wanting to change how things are done, “improve” the office and make an impression right away.

Japanese officials only selected the F-35 back in December, but they’re already telling the U.S. to watch out for those cost increases and schedule slips, because if not, jets might get cancelled, see? Here’s how Reuters’ Rie Ishiguro put it in a story Wednesday:

The comments from Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura come after Japan’s Sankei newspaper cited unidentified U.S. government officials as saying that Japan had threatened that it may even cancel its orders if prices climbed. Japan picked the F-35 as its next mainstay fighter in December, choosing it over combat-proven but less stealthy rivals.

“When we were selecting the fighter, we asked those making the proposals to strictly observe their proposed prices and supply schedules. Japan has conveyed this to the U.S. from time to time,” Fujimura told a news conference.

The Pentagon last week confirmed plans to put off orders for 179 F-35s over the next five years to save $15.1 billion, a move that Lockheed executive vice president Tom Burbage told Reuters would increase the price of the plane somewhat.

Canadian officials have been told the price of their jets would increase by a nominal percentage amount “in the low single digits” as a result of the U.S. slowdown. Japan’s Defense Ministry has said each jet would cost 8.9 billion yen ($112 million), or 9.9 billion yen including spare parts. The ministry plans to buy 4 jets in the year beginning in April and 42 units eventually.

Silly Tokyo! Didn’t you know that scare headlines, price uncertainty and schedule wobbliness were part of the price of admission into this club?

But judging by another story Wednesday, the Japanese Self-Defense Force will find that it was worth it. Another international customer, Great Britain, sent its first military pilot to fly the F-35C on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy announced — and he loved it.

“The F-35 has the best handling of any jet I’ve flown, which means it’s going to be easier to land on a ship than current aircraft, and pilots can devote all of their attention to the mission,” Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Jim Schofield said in the announcement. “Combined with the world’s best sensors which allow the pilot to find and target anything that’s out there, and a stealthy signature, which means the enemy can’t do the same to you, this is exactly the aircraft the UK needs to provide the best protection for our soldiers, sailors and airmen for the next 35 years.”

Schofield will fly both a C and a B during his visit to Naval Air Station Pax River, the Navy said, and the RAF sounds very pleased.  You can take a look for yourself here.

No mention of the likelihood that the C might need its tailhook to be redesigned before it can catch an arresting wire at sea, but Lockheed officials seem to think they can take care of that before large numbers of airplanes enter services with the U.S. or Royal Navies.

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That was quite a mouthful from a pilot on his first time out.

Also, the biggest alleged customer of the program, USAF, is not able to do estimates on what they will pay for the F-35 (btw same problem for the UK, Canada, Australia and others).
FY2009 USAF predictions show the average (weapons system cost) of each F-35 at $90m each and a total of $172B for the total buy of 1763. FY2013 predictions show a 30pc rise in average cost — $120m each, and the total buy for 1763 now at $212B. — That is a $40B cost blow out estimate in 4 years.
Maybe the Japanese are on to something.

(Test pilot checklist)
106 — post flight press release — check

Looks like Japan will learn US politics gets in the way of everything.

“Combined with the world’s best sensors which allow the pilot to find and target anything that’s out there, and a stealthy signature, which means the enemy can’t do the same to you, this is exactly the aircraft the UK needs to provide the best protection for our soldiers, sailors and airmen for the next 35 years.” Chock up this pilot’s integrity as one of F-35’s first kills. Let’s review Mathematics 101 for F-35 supporters: it is mathematically impossible to “find and target anything that’s out there”. It’s sad that F-35 is dependent upon marketing BS versus being able to stand on its own merit and performance to date.

The Japanese haven’t been in for 3 months and they are already threatening to cancel. Since the JSF yearly cost estimates have never ever been met they are going to cancel in the end. But then all they want is a couple units to evaluate the technology.

The poor squadron leader — you could see by the expression on his face that it was painful squeezing out that tur d. What he wanted to say was…

“The F-35 handles better than the Nimrod I used to fly, turning sucks but in a straight line it’s OK. Which is great because then you can concentrate on all the warning indicators and failures that come up on every mission. If one day it could land on a ship that would be great too, but I’m not holding my breath. Combined with what the brochure says about the sensors that don’t work and the helmet I couldn’t use and the stealth I couldn’t evaluate it’s going to be 35 years before we have a usable aircraft. Luckily I’ve decided to fly for BA next year”

It reads like like one of those statements read by a terrorist’s captive.

That’s a straw man argument. He clearly did not really mean “anything.” He was most likely referring to aircraft alone, in which case his statement rings true.

Looking at thie F35 jet on what it can carry and deliver comparing with the 300 Russian’s Yak 130 trainer jets and the125 Iranian modified Northrop F-5E with twin tails . It looks like the Russian and Iranian’s made some good decisions on numbers and capabilities.

The japanease are doing exactly what every country should have done, to be interested to the plane only if the merchandize is delivered. And I am sure that they are not playing a game as apparently they took their position very clearly from the beginning. That’s a big contrast, compared to country like Canada.

Don’t be too worried about the helmet, they might get one very similar from the eurofighter. ;-)

That the kind of speech to expect from a pilot whom received the order to provide a good feedback.

Apparently the Australian company Think Tank does not have the same opinion: http://​english​.peopledaily​.com​.cn/​9​0​7​8​6​/​7​7​3​6​2​8​5.h
Title: Australian think tank: China’s radar can easily capture F-35 fighter
“According to news report from Taiwan, Peter Kwan, founder of an Australian independent defense think tank, said that the Australian Air Force had set too high expectation about the stealth performance of the F-35 stealth fighter and the combat capability of the fighter has also been exaggerated.

He stressed that the F-35 stealth fighter are vulnerable to advanced radar system. After China and Russia acquire brand-new radars, they could easily detect the jet fighter.”

When I look at this, I think that the Canada would be better to upgrade the old good Canuck. With more modern engine, control and command, and all new sensors (and smoother rivets!).

Sometimes I really wonder what are the NATO limitation about the number and types of aircraft that they can buy.

And this was the Reuters’ bad news this article mentioned but didn’t post?

“…Lockheed Martin Corp lost $31.5 million in award fees for its new F-35 fighter jet in 2011, the second consecutive year it did not meet Pentagon development goals for the aircraft, which is now facing a third restructuring.”

My guess is the slight increase in price that Mr Burbage spoke of will MINIMALLY be to recoup this lost award amount,…minimally (hopefully not per each aircraft: half a trillion bucks, here we come. Ouch!).

The F-35 already exists. The F-15 with AESA exists. Let them fly against each other and one would have some real data who detects who and who gets shot down. And maybe the F-35 customers would be say I better start looking at the F-15 SE and drop out of the F-35 club. And maybe the brainwashed USAF should do the same

I’ll bet if he’d said it sucked you’d believe him.

Hilarious that the RN pilot states that it’s going to be “easier to land on a ship than current aircraft,” when it physically can’t do it due to problems with the arrestor hook.

LOL! Brainwashing implies that it was done by someone else! :-)

Seriously, the F-15 radar is pretty much a fully mature system and the F-35s radar (and possibly even its “full stealth configuration) are still in the works. All else aside, there are a few things that fancy signal processing and “more advanced” powerpoint engineering can not do in terms of a radar’s capability and ONE of those is make up for a lack of aperture. The F-15 has a nice fat radome. Not sure about the dimensions of the F-25 radar array but.…. as the old football coach said, you cant coach size. :-) Given that, Id still suggest that any radar that could be put on the F-35 could also be bolted to the firewall of the F-15, but perhaps with a somewhat larger array.

With billions of dollars on the line of course there’s going to be a pilot that gives good feed back. If he didn’t he probably get hammered by his superior.

The SHIRM is all around a much better aircraft than the F-35. The only advantage the F-35 has over the SHIRM is that it’s stealthy from the front and sides while the SHIRM is only stealthy from the front. However, for every 1 F-35C you could make 3 SHIRMs and for every 1 F-35B you could make 6 SHIRMs. The SHIRM is also cheaper, more reliable, more heavily armed, and more flexible than the F-35: http://​www​.boeing​.com/​A​e​r​o​I​n​d​i​a​2​0​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​A​e​r​o​_​I​ndi

I forgot to expand my idea. There were a little sarcasm in it. I mean if all Canada need is to provide a 24/7 coverage over four cities, then anything that can fly, have a radar and fire a missile is “good enough”. And since supersonic flight is so irrelevant then even a canuck would do the job.

And while talking of Iran, I am pretty sure that their radar are potent enough to find a f-35. All of this would be destroyed easily in the event of a war, anyway. And I don’t think that their fleet would have any survivability, even against a hornet. After all they did not have put all their faith into their plane…

Seriously, I got the very feeling that stealth technology like furtive approach with absorbing paint that the f-35 have will be near to useless in less than 10 years, and everything will became a pure sensor war. To that point, everything will be a question of technological upgrade and as such a low-cost operating platform would be more desirable for every-day operation, and some lower-count more capable one.

Direct energy weapons are much less fictional than one might expect!

Which ‘he’ are you talking about? There is at least two ‘he’ right now.

And regardless of the ‘he’ , if I were to believe anything from everyone then I would be a huge f-35 supporter.

Sorry, faulty logic.

I would see it a little differently. Super hornet got AESA radar, eurofighter got the AESA radar, almost everybody can have an AESA radar. The main point would be to determine from where any of the hypothetical victory from the f-35 over its competitor came from, and how would it compete –in this case against all the other domestic models– if all of them had the same electronic equipment that is possible to install, like the computer with its all new algorithm, sensor, etc. Only then the real capability or impotency of the f-35 will be discovered.

Even if “anything” was an exaggeration or hyperbole, he still said it handles great, can land on a carrier (which he didn’t do), has sensors that can fight anything (which he didn’t do), and said it would be the next big thing for 35 years (where did he come up with that number?)

Why Japan didn’t contemplate an advanced late model F-15E+ variant instead of the Super Hornet in their selection process is rather baffling. It’s not like Japan would be the only F-15E+ operator in the region and potential ally in a coalition made up of F-15E operators.

But flat out, the F-15E (with superior active radar and superior IRST along with superior next-gen Sniper SE pod) would have far greater situational awareness than the Super as well as superior performance and un-refueled range. An F-15J+ multi-role would be the closest US equivalent to the F-35 capability-wise (superior in some BVR situational parameters), while being available earlier and at a more predictable cost.

There’s a big difference between giving a positive experience and spitting out talking points. He could have simply said “I had a good time, it handled well and was more user-friendly than my last plane. I have high hopes for the program.”

The article said they were putting off 179 F35 over 5 years? i have not kept up with this website like I usually do, but how many planes were they wanting over the next 5 years?


Isn’t that the the same plane they used in the movie “Hot Shots”?


If he’s used to landing Sea Harriers on ships, he’s absolutely right. The F-35C will be much easier to land on a ship than a STOVL aircraft.


Obviously, none of the negative commenters have never near an F-35, much less sitting in its cockpit. Worse yet, it is almost certain that none is a fighter pilot. But they, nevertheless, feel free to past judgements anyway. What’s even more hilarious is the fact that they also based their judgements on others’ allegations and speculations –the same ‘experts’ who also had never touched an F-35.

What enemy radar could find an F-35? Nada. They all would hope to do so with their theoretical powerpoints.

Which modern 5th generation could beat the F-35? Again, nada. Both the T-50 and J-20 hope to do so. But so far, that dream is still a speculative specification requirement for their designers to cope with. In the mean time, the US is already equipped with dozens F-35. By next year, they would get more than a 100.

The Russian only have 3 prototype without a supercruise engine. All 3 combined only had 120 flight tests after… mor than 2 years. The Chinese has only 2 prototypes (that we know of) and they have even less test flights than the Russsian.


I base my criticism on the litany of slipped schedules, failed specs, cost overruns, and design failures.

STOVL aircraft are EASIER to bring aboard than STO/CATOBAR aircraft. RAF Harrier attack pilots had no special problems adapting to shipborne operations in the Falklands War. I doubt very much if their fellow RAF F-4 pilots would have found it as easy to trap aboard a carrier. Esp in lousy weather…

In regards to the veracity of F-35 test pilots, does anyone remember Jon Beesely’s quote a few years ago about how wonderfully the HMD worked?

Upton Sinclair famously remarked that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — and it’s even more difficult to get a man to criticize something when…

But you personally have conducted, or at least observed first-hand, wide spectrum radar detection testing of F-35s in actual flying operations, right?

And BTW, not one of those US F-35s that may be on the flight line by next year will be fully combat-capable, if at all.

$200M+ for trainers is pretty steep, donch’a think?

Well, if the F-35 wants to prove its critics wrong, let if fly against an F-15 with AESA next week and spread the news as was done with F-22 against the F-15. Nothing is as convincing as factual observations.

John MF Beasley is an F-35 legend!! Lol! I did meet him once, he’s a pretty laid back pilot.

Jar Jars so out of touch he makes Mitt Romney look like Jay Z.

Yar Yar, my criticism of his sound bite is that he praised the F-35 for doing things that so far have only been accomplished on PowerPoint. This was his very first flight in the F-35 which probably didn’t include much more than a couple circuits over the base. The F-35 finally carrying inert weapons and flying above 40,000 feet was considered newsworthy this week, but I’m wrong for thinking his quote of “this is the best thing ever” is a stretch?

>What enemy radar could find an F-35? Nada. They all would hope to do so with their theoretical powerpoints.

Wait a minute. They have much more than a theoretical power point sheet under their teeth. Plan of an unnamed joint development have been stolen. Did lockheed have been victim of cyberespionage in the past? Absolutely. Does stealth = 0 signature? Sorry but that is mathematically impossible. You can fool any measuring instrument you want and get to the conclusion that nobody can find it but in reality you just didn’t get anything concluent with what you have tested. At the best your attacker will need to innovate a little bit by solving more complex problem. Stealth is not irrelevant but it’s not free either. At best it is idiotproof, and for a period of time much shorter than its expected lifetime. And radar signature is not the only trace that a plane left behind him. Nothing else than lockheed have launched a satellite to track IR trace of jet turbines…

>Which modern 5th generation could beat the F-35?
Who cares if it’s a 6th, a 5th or a 4.5+th generation as long as it win? With satellite such the one mentioned above it won’t be just a question of the plane anyway. And those “generations” does only represent technical caracteristic, by no mean it’s a scale of superiority. With some imagination you’ll find scenario where the latest generation will loose agains a lower generation, even as an high-tech war.

>The Russian only have 3 prototype without a supercruise engine. All 3 combined only had 120 flight tests after… mor than 2 years.
>The Chinese has only 2 prototypes (that we know of) and they have even less test flights than the Russsian.

Even those strategy look better than digging a hole with a 1/2 Trillion capable program that is not working as expected, because some people thought that their brains, know-how and resources were capable to solve any problem trowed at it. This is not Manhattan project, period.

He’s pretty laid back with the truth, all right…

““We have flown in the past with helmet-mounted sights, such as Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, or JHMCS,” explains Beesley. “This system is used for off-axis symbology for tactical maneuvering. But because of higher latency, or lag times, these systems cannot be used to fly the airplane. This ***latency issue has been solved*** thanks to improvements in computer technology that allow very quick update rates needed for information associated with flying the airplane.”

My asterisks — JRL

And for the real story of the HMD latency issue — go to page 9 of the F-35 QLR

This is certainly a major problem with management and not the machine. Any project as complex as this would suffer the same kind of teething problems. On one hand it is constructive to have close scrutinization of the program, on the other hand it is simply ridiculous to see a lot of these negative speculations.

How would you know that? Do you have a crystal ball and control button for the test schedule?

If you’re willing to take a closer look, acquiring the Eurofighter ended up costing almost the same. And it is a 2-decade old technology.

It’s not a bad idea. Too bad, neither one of us have the power to make it so.

What? A hip-hop, flip-flop kind of rebuttal, you mean? :-)

Well, he is entitled to his own opinion. But at least, he is a pilot who actually flew the F-35C.


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