Lockheed’s comprehensive Q&A on the F-35

Lockheed’s comprehensive Q&A on the F-35

You’ve heard what Congress’ watchdog has to say about the F-35 program – it’s crazily over budget; outrageously behind schedule; and it has a lot of technical catching up before it can perform as advertised.

So what does Lightning II-builder Lockheed Martin say?

Steve O’Bryan, the vice president for F-35 business development, went into granular detail with reporters Tuesday at Lockheed’s annual media day outside Washington. It will not surprise you that his view of the world’s biggest defense program is slightly different from that of the Government Accountability Office.

O’Bryan acknowledged that F-35 is not where it should be, but he presented a series of data-rich slides and tried to make the case that all other things equal, this program is on track and doing well. Herewith, we’ve broken O’Bryan’s hour-long brief into a smaller set of digestible questions and answers, using his latest data and details.

Q: What kind of performance have you demonstrated on the three F-35 variants?

A: The jets have made 546 flights so far this year, compared to 401 planned, plus the jets continue to stay ahead of their scheduled test points. The Air Force’s F-35A has been flown through much of its performance envelope, all the way out to Mach 1.6; above 40,000 feet; and out to 9 Gs. Testing with “clean wings” – absent external pylons, stores or weapons – is going pretty well, and that’s important because that’s the configuration in which they’ll almost always fly in the real world.

“I have to tell you, as we see the future of the F-35 and look at the use case, clean wing is how we’re going fly this airplane 90 percent of the time,” O’Bryan said. “That is with internal weapons and internal air-to-air missiles – where we are right now is approaching 60 percent of clean wing full envelope test points. We are moving along; we are hitting all parts of the envelope; we are seeing a high-performing fifth-generation airplane.”

The Marine Corps’ F-35B is not quite as far along as the A, Lockheed says, since it’s the middle sibling, but it too has demonstrated much of its performance envelope. It has flown up to Mach 1.5, around 49,000 feet, and pulled up to 7 Gs. It has marked off more than half of its clean wing envelope test points.

The Navy’s C model, as the baby, is the least far along, though O’Bryan said “it’s fair to say we’re ahead of plan on flights and test points.” The C has flown at Mach 1.4, up toward 40,000 feet, and been taken to 7.5 Gs.

Q: What about weapons?

A: The F-35 has begun “weapons separation tests,” with the goal of building up to an actual, no-kidding weapons release later this year.

Q: What about the F-35’s onboard sensors, electronic warfare capabilities, targeting and pilot systems?

A: “As you can probably imagine, it’s very difficult for me to get an unclassified public release on the electronic warfare system, on the electronic attack, or other things, but I’ve tried to get as much as I possibly can,” O’Bryan said. He showed video that came from the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System and its Electro-Optical Targeting System, as well as a sensor picture from its synthetic aperture radar.

The F-35’s sensors and targeting capabilities are world-beating, Lockheed says, and O’Bryan gave one example: “What’s unique about the F-35 is the resolution that I can’t talk about, but what it enables is auto target recognition and auto target locating. So you get the ability to see and classify tanks, [armored personnel carriers], double-digit [surface-to-air missile] launchers that are unique. No other airplane has that capability. It’s able to do it through the weather and because of the computer power of the F-35 it is something unique to the F-35.”

In addition to its radar and laser targeting, the jet has six mid-wave infrared cameras that feed video right into the pilot’s helmet, enabling her to look anywhere, including through the floor of the airplane. The IR video is incredibly detailed, O’Bryan boasted. He showed video of an F-16 from the DAS perspective, and pointed out that even though it was not a conventional TV image, you could see the rivets on the fuselage and even the tail markings that showed the Viper was from Edwards AFB, Calif.

Q: Sounds pretty high speed, but isn’t the helmet the pilot needs to use all this jacked up?

A: Lockheed wouldn’t use that term – O’Bryan said the company believes it can make its original pilot helmet work as promised. He detailed the three major problems it has faced: “Latency” — a lag between what DAS sees and what it shows the pilot; “jitter” — the effect a jet’s natural shaking has on the image the pilot sees; and “night acuity” – how sensitive an F-35’s sensors are in total darkness.

O’Bryan said Lockheed believes new software – ah yes, software; we’ll get to that in a moment – can eliminate the latency problem. As of now the lag between what DAS sees and what a pilot sees is “measured in milliseconds.” Engineers think they can solve “jitter” by incorporating “inertial stabilization units,” like the ones you might find in a digital camera lens. And a new camera will enable Lockheed to improve an F-35’s night acuity, to the point where you can land a B on an amphib at midnight, in the middle of the ocean, with no lights.

In the meantime, as you read here last week, the program is also pursuing a second, less wham-o-dyne helmet in case the first one doesn’t materialize as promised. But could it take advantage of the cameras and sensors built into the F-35? O’Bryan said he didn’t know. The original helmet has flown “successfully” more than 2,000 times, he said, and Lockheed believes it can bring it into spec.

Meanwhile, the GAO report said it’s costing $80 million to both improve the original helmet and pursue a second one in parallel.

Q: Government watchdogs have said the F-35 software situation “is as complicated as anything on earth.” What’s the latest?

A: O’Bryan talked about it very carefully. He said 87 percent of the software the F-35 needs is flying on airplanes today, including test versions of the next major block due out this summer. He said 94 percent of it has been developed in the lab.

“The variance is small and it is contained,” he said. “Lockheed Martin and [DoD F-35 program executive officer] Vice Adm. David Venlet agree the schedule is adequate to support the software build and funding is adequate to complete the software build.”

O’Bryan said that Lockheed has added a “$100 million lab” to work on F-35 software and added “200 heads” to the software effort. He said Lockheed and the program are “recovering schedule” on the software, and he laid down a marker for when we’ll be able to see how it’s going.

“The test of that will be when we release the complete Block 2A software to flight test – that’s where I’d be able to give you a metric to demonstrate that,” O’Bryan said. It should appear “this summer. I’d ask you to measure us to that.”

O’Bryan did not discuss — and in fairness, no one asked him about — the Autonomic Logistics Information System, the software that F-35s and their crews will use to manage parts and maintenance. GAO has said that is even further behind than the airplanes’ software.

Q: All right, we’ve talked about the helmet and the software. What about the C’s tailhook redesign?

A: Here’s what O’Bryan said: “The distance between the main landing gear and the tailhook on the F-35C is the shortest of any naval aviation carrier airplane that we’ve had. Because we have to hide the hook — because if you had a hook exposed you wouldn’t be as stealthy airplane, that distance is tighter than any other. So it means when you roll over the wire when you land on the deck, the wire goes flush to the deck, and then you have to pick that wire up as it’s generally on the deck. So what we’ve had to do is re-design the hook shank.

Every airplane’s hook shank — as you’d imagine, you ground those things down, dragging it around, so it’s a remove-and-replace kind of thing. It has a bolt through the back of it and it holds on to the hook and we’ve redesigned that to have a lower center of gravity, or in a more mundane way, to make it a sharper hook point. And that allows us to pick up the wire. And we’ve already done testing on that. We’ve done it at 80, 90 and 100 knots and we’ve got a good design for the hook point now.

The other thing we need to do is, we need to make sure that the hook stays flush on the deck. So what you don’t want — and I was a Navy pilot, so I apologize if I’m using a lot of vernacular here – you want to keep that hook on the deck so it doesn’t bounce, or the words we used was skip. It can do that a couple different ways. It can move laterally and it can hit other stuff and just bounce, if you will. Another technical term. So what we’ve done is we’re going to modify what’s called the hold-down damper, kind of a good name for a thing because it does exactly that, it holds the hooks down, it dampens any oscillation. We’ll increase pressure on hook to do that.

The whole thing is a remove-and-replace assembly so any modifications we make to it is an easy fix.”

Q: So when will we actually see an F-35C make its first trap aboard an aircraft carrier?

A: O’Bryan: “We’re accumulating loads; we’ve done rolling arrestments; we’ll do field arrestments next year and the plan is to go to the boat in early 2014, well in time to make the US Navy [initial operational capability].

Q: Wait a tick – according to the Joint Program Office, there is no official IOC for these jets right now. Is that an internal Lockheed IOC or one the Navy uses internally?

A: O’Bryan: “Why can I say that? I think you’ll see the amount of margin I have to say that means it’s reasonable to assume that. The Navy stated IOC publicly as post-Block 3F software, which the [F-35]A completes before the B, which completes before the C. On that, we’re not scheduled finish Block 3F testing until after 2016. So going to the boat in 2014 – they’ve said IOC is post-Block 3F, so there’s some margin there.”

Q: There was another component kerfuffle about a variant of this airplane: Canada had a little political dustup awhile back because its aerial refueling tankers use the probe-and-drogue system for its CF-18 Hornets. In that setup, the tanker trails a basket and fighter extends its own probe to refuel. But Canada plans to buy F-35As, which were designed for the U.S. Air Force’s refueling system, in which a human operator aboard the tanker flies a boom into a port on the fighter – in this case, on the A’s spine, aft of the cockpit. So has Lockheed talked with Canada about buying Navy-model Cs, to keep the probe-and-drogue setup, or modifying its As?

A: O’Bryan: “We anticipated a number of the operators would want probe-and-drogue refueling in the F-35A and we kept that space empty on the F-35A to accommodate probe and drogue refueling. We‘ve done a number of studies – funded studies, not projects – funded studies to evaluate that, paid for by the countries who want that to happen. It’s a relatively easy … doable change.”

So if you’re keeping score at home, you could almost count this as a fourth variant of the F-35 – because this program wasn’t complicated enough.

Join the Conversation

Waiting till January…

Adding a retractable fuel probe would hardly count as a 4th variant. Regarding ‘hiding the hook’, perhaps they could have looked at the early models of the Vought Cutlass from 1950

If Romney gets elected I bet he will double down on F-35. GAO, some members of Congress, media, and citizens can scream all they want, the program will continue unless a major media event happens, as a result of a mishap or whisleblower coming forward. An Obama with nothing to lose might delay / attempt to kill the program. The program makes an absolute mockery of defense acquisition law & regulation. F-35 sets the example that there is no incentive nor expectation to plan, estimate, and perform to a baseline.

—no-kidding weapons release later this year.—
A no-kidding-weapons shape release.

–And we’ve already done testing on that. We’ve done it at 80, 90 and 100 knots and we’ve got a good design for the hook point now.–
Just that it hasn’t been announced how much cut-wear that puts on the wire. How many captures? How many misses? You can also wager that had this retest been successful at a usable rate, we would have seen the mother off all press releases. Instead we see a press release with a photo of an F-35C evening take off.

…(Everything) is rosy
Since I found my Rosie
With a girl like Rosie
How could I be blue?
…Life is one sweet beautiful song to me
When love is right then
What can be wrong?
Life is one sweet beautiful song
To me!
1960 Broadway Musical Bye Bye Birdie, and the whole F-35 fiasco

No Romney talked about reopening the F-22 line a producing a lot more F-22’s, So I don’t think he’ll double down on the F-35. Hopefully he’ll cancel it or like you said in a earlier post, a Fly Off between competing aircraft would be nice.

Seems to be a lot of dreaming going on here . Heard of too big to fail ? , this is bigger

“I have to tell you, as we see the future of the F-35 and look at the use case, clean wing is how we’re going fly this airplane 90 percent of the time,” O’Bryan said.”

That’s an interesting little gem. He doesn’t think we’ll fly with external stores? If the 90% includes daily touch and goes, okay, I can see where the mileage stacks up over the lifetime of the plane. But it still begs the question of how long before he’ll have test data for flying with external stores? Is that a requirement to declare IOC? I’d hate to see them hit all their internal stores test points, pop out the champagne, then find out the wings fall off when they’re fully loaded.

I think Romney would do what is best for the markets & the economy. Do you (or anyone) have an idea of how the markets would react to F-35 cancelation and all the ensuing industry layoffs?

One might be curious of the APG-81’s SAR performance compared to the APG-77’s and more so, the APG-82’s. One might also be curious how a dedicated large-aperture IRST + next-gen Sniper SE pod would compare in auto-target-locating of air targets vs the EOTS?

With regards to flight testing though, so roughly 60% of the F-35A CTOL ‘clean wing’ flight envelope has been ‘flow through’ to date?

Does ‘flown through’ and ‘hit on’ automatically translate the same into the required and expected envelope points being able to be performed successfully and operationally? Just curious.

And I guess one might be critical of the claimed expectation and apparent requirement too, that 90% of all ‘real world’ F-35A operations would be conducted with a ‘clean’ configuration — both in air-air (w/ 4 BVR missiles) and air-to-ground missions? That’s interesting. 90%? I don’t know, that just doesn’t sound like the most efficient or most effective requirement for an F-35A type platform to me.

Last, one might be curious as to the rough range of the F-16 with respect to the video showing clear IR DAS imagery of the F-16?

“A no-kidding-weapons shape release.”

I see you need to go back to school and learn to read. A “no-kidding” weapon is just that, a real weapon. Be it JDAM, LGB, or AMRAAM.. I do not know.

“How many captures? How many misses? ”

Um, it has only been through ground testing, not on-plane & trapped testing. When you see the F-35C with the new hook landing, then the PRs will come out. You know as well as I that if they had released a “mother of all PRs” for the ground tests, that every critic would have come out of the woodwork to complain that it was not an actual trap.

Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Not layoffs, LM would just be producing the F-22 instead of the F-35, remember they are both from the same manufacturer. Some retraining, but the US would have a Fighter Aircraft, not this it may work some day if we are lucky F-35, that currently costs about $32 Million more than the F-22.

F-22 $ 140 Million

F-35A Cost: $172 Million
F-35B Cost: $291.7 Million
F-35C Cost: $ 235.8 Million

Sounds like a Winning solution. Cuts the costs( Budget ) and keeps the factories running.

P.S. That’s if they ever settle the current strike, so at this point not much at all is being done.

Also a new report on the “Visor” problem and GAO’s findings on it and I quote ” the GAO report says “these shortfalls may lead to a helmet unable to fully meet warfighter requirements — unsuitable for flight tasks and weapons delivery, as well as creating an unmanageable pilot workload, and may place limitations on the [F-35’s] operational environment.”

If you want to read the rest of the article it has even more damning GAO finding on the F-35, now I see why LM came out with this PR piece today.

Overall less tiny tactical fighters and more Air Superiority Fighters IE F-15SE and F-22 are needed. The F-35 may replace the F-16 but overall this program has a long way to go before production.

Good point Lance…I’d love to see the comparison of the –SE vs. the F-35 for the types of targets the F-35 was supposed to be taking on… For Christ’s sake, to think the JSF crew really thinks there’s a problem in how long it currently takes an F-16 or A-10 to “auto-reckognize” and “auto-target” a T-72 tank or an insurgent having a laser bounced off his jacke, that we need to invest in this super-expensive,super complex avionics system and aircraft… Am I missing something, because I believe the SAMs that took out an F-117 in Serbia are alot harder to take out than a silly tank or jihadist, so much so that unpiloted drones and long-range bombers hve been the stars of our latest wars — So why all the expense, for a plane that was supposed to be cheap? Invest in the F-15SE and Raptor and some “souped up” A-10s… Who needs a $150 Million plane to kill a $2Million tank or a worthless jihadist? Who knew they were that hard to kill?! Pathetic.

Let’s put Gates’ words to the test, shall we?: 1.The Raptor is too expensive… My reply: $143 Million for the BEST air sueriority platform that can break through any defense, with enomous growth potential to take on any role the F-35 was supposed to, VERSUS $150 Million plus for a –35 that can’t fly, can’t maneuver, hasn’t dropped weapons, can’t supercruise, has major design issues to get through, has no margins left for legit fixes, has a stand-in helmet with no DAS, and which you can’t even get a clear answer on regarding what its capbilities will be when (IF) it gets to IOC; that should’ve been a no-brainer! 2. The F-22 hasn’t been used in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya… My reply:That’s because it wasn’t needed, just like the F-35 wouldn’t have been needed. 3. The F-35 is cheaper and more flexible… My reply: Give us a break, don’t insult us with that silly talk.

The point in all this: What is so NEEDED about an aircraft that costs so much, does so little, and will be delivered in SOME form years later than it was supposedly NEEDED??? The prospect of $$$ always seems to cloud good judgment, don’t it? Strip the F-22 down to make it exportable/affordable, and in <5 years time we’d be pumping out a better, cheaper platform than the F-35 can hope to be at his point; and allies would be bangin down the door to get it! Another no-brainer!

He’s so obviously lying about the tailhook problems. Lockheed will probably announce in late 2013 that structural changes are needed. It will be a good time to throw in the structural changes which mean the F-35 can’t carry external stores on 90% of it’s missions, rumours about which have come up repeatedly over the last few years.

No need to mention your navy carreer Cpt O’Bryan when you decided to become a 10$ hooker for Lockmart you shat all over that.

You seem to forget that Lockheed has no interest in producing the raptor. while it is miking the taxpayer with the F-35. If the F-35 was canceled the F-22 which is basically a manufacturing disaster and poor design has pleanty of scope to balloon in price and Lockheed will make sure that happens to maintain it’s F-35 profit margins.

I otherwords no real testing has occured just alot of hand waving.

F-22 has stopped production and everybody has gone home. Just as well, its a dog as the computers date from 10–15 years ago. The stealth skin has to completely replaced– using the same material as the F-35. It could be possible to produce an updated version in about 5 years for twice the cost. The costs are no comparison as F35 is at start of production cycle and F22 costs were from last batch.

Dont believe the hype for the F22. Its good but flawed. remember when the computers turned off when it crossed the international date line. Ok that was a trivial problem but there is a good reason it hasnt deployed.
If there is $50 billion spare by all means create a version for 2020 and buy 120

The true beauty of the F-35 is how they have left all the important bits like aerodynamic testing until the very end with an aircraft that you cant change the aerodynamics without a major re-design because of the stealth shaping. Other aircraft can bolt on a wing fence to fix a problem but not the F-35 you have to redesign the entire wing changing internal loadings and systems — everything.

The Pentagon has classified the problems they are having with the aerodynamics which has already significantly deteriorated the shaping. In the end the F-35 will have to either be a lot less stealthy or simply not be able to carry external stores because of flutter problems.

Lockheed know they are sitting on a pile of sh_t shere they just want to keep the cash flowing until the stench makes everyone pass out.

Un-necessary . Hes served his country and making sure the next generation will be able to do the same.

Making sure the next generation will never return from thier first combat mission. The guy sold out his service his collegues and his country.

How can you tell that he’s “so obviously lying”? Why can’t the tail hook issue simply be one of shaping and dampening?

The F22 per unit tops $350 Mil from initial production to getting parked in a USAF garage.…The GAO Defense Capability and Management (DCM) people know what they are doing…they are painfully tedious, needling, scrutinizing and brilliant. Both the F22 and the F35 programs have come horribly off-track. LM should be held accountable for promising technological capabilities NOT YET DEVELOPED! How does one estimate production time and cost for something not yet achieved or even invented?! All of this said, the F35 variants will be more than a match for any competitor it may face on a modern battlefield. The Sukhois can turn and burn like no other save the F22, but they’ll really just be burning long before their pilots (or even radar) could get a bead on the F35s.
–Former GAO Defense Analyst

I’m having a real hard time understanding why this aircraft has been flying for so long and there haven’t been any real weapons tests so far. Is it just me that has this question? I know that the internal carry will require different testing and safety considerations, buy this seems a bit late in the game.

The production version hasn’t really been flying for that long.

It would probably react the same way when the VH-71 was cancelled, which btw was another huge LM circle-jerk

That may be true, but quite a few are at Eglin now. I was on the F-15 test force in ’73, and I know we had fired missiles before the first production aircraft made it to Luke AFB

Interesting info from you and ghostwhowalksnz. So how could future programs be held to tighter accountability so they don’t get so far down the road without corrections or cancellation?

the computers are from 10–15 years ago? That’s sad.

Will the expeditionary AM2 matting withstand the exhaust heat from the vertical F35-B variant?

3 years ago a call for coating technologies went out under Navy SBIR to overcome the melting of the aluminum matting which was specified for Harrier exhaust heat. F35-B temps will melt it. A long Island company met the requirement and was ready to coat the Alabama AM2 manufacturer’s product. Project was put on hold (waved off) for a “new” matting technology. Never mind the 5 year POM cycle, budget climate will not allow a “new” technology. There is about 40 M square feet of AM2 Harrier qualified matting sitting with Expeditionary Marine Engineer Brigades. Is this a LMCO issue? If not whose?

Don’t get me wrong, by rights these things should be pretty much in the fleet by now with most if not all of that type of testing and training sorted out.

Not necessarily. Romney, for all his flaws, is a business man (this is why he largely failed as governor in Massachusetts — and was the first republican governor in a generation to cause the loss of the corner office in the state house to a democrat). Organizations that go as far out of control with programs such as the F-35 would never survive in the civilian business world: they would be killed off quickly as cost containment is the key to maintaining profitability. And Romney has said, he loves firing people (that don’t perform).

Hence — that would not be a smart bet to make.

Incremental advancement in platform development and capability helps with risk reduction. I am surprised by the –1 at this point on my post. I don’t detract from the actual capabilities of the F22 and nor do I undercut the proposed or projected capabilities of the F35 variants.…to the contrary, I believe both to be superior to the Sukhoi family of aircraft. The actual cost of the F22, which I address, is upwards of $350 per unit from factory to hangar. So, if I’m getting dinged for that…well, too bad. It is what it is. Like others who post here, I have been and for other matters, am, privy to both classified and unclassified information and to funding documentation that supports the higher end estimates of cost for both of these aircaft. I know that I may be addressing something beyond the scope of your question, Zak, so I am sorry for that. Tighter accountability involves oversight in addition to limiting the scope of design, devlopment and manufacturing…one may need a Debbie-downer in the room during the conceptual phases of aircraft/systems development to hold the “dreamer$” in check. Nonetheless, I believe in the long-term success of both the F22 and F35 and hell, we’re in it too deep now.


I’m sorry, but if anyone actually buys this PR crap from Lockheed, then you are too blind to see that this is a desperate move by them. They obviously clawing for more support because of the cuts in January and the GAO report. The F-35C and F-35B are complete failures. The F-35A still has a chance, but they need to start conducting some real tests and maybe some simulated war games with it. They should also just ditch the helmet and some of the more complex systems to keep costs down and keep the aircraft simple. This would allow them to get a more economical version of the F-35A out to the fleet and out to our allies air forces much quicker. Lockheed should just admit that they were wrong about getting the F-35A to perform as advertised on time and settle for a compromise. The US Navy should buy Block III Super Hornets (which are in fact marginally less stealthy than the F-35C and better in all other performance parameters at 1/3 the cost) and the USMC should look into making an upgraded Harrier III that uses a version of the same engine with modern technical advances.

The last batch of F-22’s were slightly under $140 Million ( $137 Million ) and if we produced more and I Quote ( “The current cost for a single copy of an F-22 stands at about $137 million. And that number has dropped by 23 percent since Lot 3 procurement, General Lewis said. “The cost of the airplane is going down,” he said. “And the next 100 aircraft, if I am allowed to buy another 100 aircraft… the average fly-away cost would be $116 million per airplane.”

Read if for your self

Want to read the latest GAO’s Scathing report on the F-35, thats why the LM PR job.

90% of the flying is clean wing, and I’m guessing that 98% of the flying is non-combat; therefore, this raises the issue of putting the plane into a situation it’s actually designed for — combat. I worked at Lockheed, second generation at that, so I have a favorable view of the company; however, I’m Burbank, and present-day Lockheed has moved and changed, so while it sounds great, I’d just like to see the plane(s) fly some pseudo combat missions.

Adding things like wing fences during the development flying hasnt happened since the 80s. Computer aerodynamic models are that good that these fixes are sorted out before any metal is cut.
Internal structural computer models , not so good.

Its not just a combat aircraft problem, Boeing has $15 billion worth of 787s sitting around their plants waiting for modifications before being delivered to customers

http://​www​.military​.com/​o​p​i​n​i​o​n​/​0​,​1​5​2​0​2​,​1​8​7​7​3​7​,00… —Est no less than $200 mil per copy and this is an open-source calculation/estimate.
It didn’t take but my first audit engagement of DoD to see how they quantify and calculate…and it’s BS. Real costs, Sir, are what we pay for each unit to arrive in the USAfFs hands…$350 mil per unit. Read enough of the unclass GAO work and FAS independent analysis of this and one can garner enough understanding of the fiscal game that is being played. On a related note, I recommend looking at the current phase enhancements to enable the aircraft to meet its initially promised capabilities. This is not free. You buy a car with XM radio, but, the car doesn’t have an XM radio or the ability to use one other than a slot. A year later they install the XM radio, but charge you…hmmm…wasn’t that part of the initial cost projection? A year after that they enable the XM radio with necessary software and peripherals…more cost. These numbers (and look, I’m taking liberty here because it is never this cut and dry or neat) factor into the real cost to purchase the unit…not to own, as the USAF and LM currently try to play them off.

Date as it is 2006 report. Your tax dollars at work…and this product was likely on time and under budget. Respectfully, brother.

Ah really? So the Super Hornet’s wing drop and transonic buffeting problems must have been intentional?


“They should also just ditch the helmet and some of the more complex systems to keep costs down and keep the aircraft simple.”

Do you know what simple airplanes do in real combat today? They die.

“The US Navy should buy Block III Super Hornets (which are in fact marginally less stealthy than the F-35C and better in all other performance parameters at 1/3 the cost)”

I’m so sick of this “Silent Hornet” crap. The Super Hornet is a pretty good airplane, but it is not the stellar performer you seem to think it is, and it is no where near as stealthy as the F-35C. As Denys Overholser said, “Stealth involves 4 things: shaping, shaping, shaping, and materials”. You dont just get a stealth airplane by sticking RAM on the outside, regardless of whether you have a fancy weapons pod or not. Read a book or two on radar and RCS and you’ll find that in order to halve the detection range of a given radar you have to reduce your RCS ten-fold. I guarantee you the Boeing guys haven’t managed that on the SHornet.

“USMC should look into making an upgraded Harrier III that uses a version of the same engine with modern technical advances.”

I don’t think you realize how hard it is to “just upgrade” the Harrier the way you are saying it. By the time you have a prototype flying, you’re going to have spent just as much money as they did on the F-35B and you still have a shitty 4th generation airplane at best. Get an aeronautical engineering degree, do some flying, and a lot of these “horrible decisions” made by the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Lockheed start to make sense.

You don’t sound like you care a fig about the taxpayers. This plane is not what we need now. Romney likes it because he thinks it will win votes. As we have seen, he does not care much about wars, as he never engaged in one and made sure his sons did not.

3.2.1. Conspiracy!

If Lockheed is deliberately downplaying the time that the F-35 flies with external stores. In reality, the F-35 is likely to spend most of its flying hours with external stores, if the past 10 years of combat is any marker of the future. Flying close support for soldiers with only 2 JDAMs or 8 SDBs is an awfully poor package.

Here’s the conspiracy: Lockheed is running into some pretty bad numbers when the add on the external stores. Hence, the silly line that external stores will only rarely go onto the airplane.

If the past 10 years of combat is a marker for the future, then it won’t matter what the flight envelope of the jet is with external stores since there won’t be a threat…

And flying 90% of the time with internal stores only makes a lot of sense when you think about how many sorties throughout the airplane’s lifetime will actually be flown in combat. When you can fly entire missions on internal fuel and still carry internally the equivalent combat load of an F-16, why bother putting pylons on the thing in peacetime?

Does anyone else find this odd that given the microscope this project has been under and the information that has been revealed what’s left for the bad guys to figure out on our Next Gen fighter? Just asking.

Wing drop was found to be related to wing fold structure which was missed in the wind tunnels and computers models. that was 20 yrs ago Im sure they wont get that detail wrong again
Buffeting problems ? I cant seem to find any reference to a real problem there

“Do you know what simple airplanes do in real combat today? They die. ”

Well I sure don’t want to look to you for guidance. You do know that in WWII the Me-262 was the most complex and best aircraft during the war. It was easily outnumbered and defeated by the simple P-51. The F-35 only has two AMRAAMs in its standard combat configuration. If it comes up against 3 MiG-21s it can only kill two of them. You’re not thinking in terms of actually using this jet in combat and throwing a surprise its way. Also, how would you know what simple airplanes do in REAL combat today? When’s the last time we had a major air war against a worthy opponent? When’s the last time we even had a worthy opponent? The simplest tactical jet aircraft we have is the A-10. Do you mean THAT kind of simple? The A-10 has been called many things but no one ever calls it obsolete, especially after the last two wars.

“but it is not the stellar performer you seem to think it is, and it is no where near as stealthy as the F-35C… Read a book or two on radar and RCS.”

Well the Super Hornet can land on a carrier and doesn’t corrode away in the face of sea water. The F-35C can’t do either of those. I took a college-level engineering class that covered radars and I know how they work. The Super Hornet has significant radar shaping to make it difficult to detect from the frontal aspect when it is in a clean configuration. The elimination of external stores with the weapons pod will allow it to maintain that low frontal RCS and be armed in combination. It may not be the same as the F-35C in that it is not stealthy from the sides, but if you have 3x as many Super Hornets bringing 3x the weapons carrying out operations in this configuration it provides capability that exceeds the F-35C in firepower, flexibility, usefulness, and many other things. Not only that, but the F-35C supposedly has problems with using external ordinance that further testing will soon find. The Super Hornet has no such problems so it can make that easy transition to a non-stealthy heavily armed death machine if we face an opponent with numerical superiority.

“By the time you have a prototype flying, you’re going to have spent just as much money as they did on the F-35B… Get an aeronautical engineering degree, do some flying,”

The Harrier III was difficult to design in the 1960s. Do you honestly think modern computers couldn’t handle the redesign of a Harrier III? In the 1990s thought was given to a new Harrier III and how much it would cost. The British and the Americans in the end concluded that a Harrier III was easily possible to design, but it wouldn’t cost much less than making the F-35B. Keep in mind that this in the 1990s when they thought they could make the F-35B at $50 million dollars per unit: http://​www​.scribd​.com/​d​o​c​/​9​1​0​4​0​7​8​7​/​F​i​g​h​t​e​r​-​C​o​n​cep

The Super Hornet, which is an upgraded redesign of a proven airframe, took about 4 years to develop. The Super Hornet also proved that making an upgraded redesign of a proven platform is like making a jet with half of the airframe testing and half of the R&D already done for you. Let’s say that a Harrier III takes 5 years since it too is a proven air frame. The F-35 is expected to enter IOC in 2019. The Harrier could beat that very easily with good program management. I am not an aero-major but I happen to work with many of them and many of my friends are aero-majors. I have also done a fair amount of flying. The “horrible decisions” now look even worse than they did before hand when I was ignorant of the subject.

I read your other link before posting. That’s the report I mentioned. Gave me a good laugh.

Everybody should start of by reading the big lies of the contract trolls

1) The F-35 project is a failure but all projects are failures. Failure is normal.

2) The F-18 cannot survive in a high intensity combat enviroment so we should spend 4 times more for an aircraft that cant survive in a high intensity combat enviroment either. Rather then save 3/4 and put it towards a successful design (see 1) about how no design can be successful)

3) The F-35 in the brochure is the same as the pile of stinking sh_t on the tarmac

4) Because 20% of the funds have been wasted we need to throw the other 80% down the sinkhole too.

5) Given enough time and money the F-35 will eventually “work”. Given enough time and money pigs can be bred to fly — wouldnt that be a better investment ?

6) Front aspect stealth is the secret source that means you can design an aircraft with 1950s performance and not be simply laughed at.

7) rememeber folks the F-35 credo — “Eject at the merge” — http://​imgur​.com/​6​a​rZ6

So we just overwhelm their missiles by throwing lives and planes at them? That isn’t going to work with modern technology. A missile is cheaper than even a basic F-16A.

The F-35A in a “standard” configuration of two 2000lb JDAMs and two AMRAAMs would be trying to hit something on the ground of course. It wouldn’t be alone either. If the F-35 was an escort or doing CAP it would be carrying either four or (after Block 5) six air-to-air missiles. If the threat is hordes of MiG-21s being thrown to destruction, you could load the thing up with an additional 10 external air-to-air missiles.

Even with the weapons pod a notional Block III Super Hornet would not be as stealthy as the F-35C, frontal RCS included. You can’t retrofit that level of stealth to any aircraft. Also, using those weapon pods the Super Hornet would be carrying less than the F-35 does internally.

Even going with your logic that we could buy 3 Block III Super Hornets for the cost of 1 F-35C (and you can’t with real world prices), our aircraft carriers are still going to be carrying the same number of aircraft! Where are these extra aircraft going to appear from? If there is room for 50 fighters you aren’t going to be able to fit 150 Super Hornets.

The history of STOVL aircraft is a long and troubled one. Nothing is as easy as it seems. This “Super Harrier” you reference was a concept from former UK company AVPRO for the Future Carrier-Borne Aircraft (FCBA) program, one of the many predecessors to JSF. They had other concepts for this program too. Yet outside of the same configuration to achieve STOVL, I doubt it would have had much in common with the existing Harrier II. The airframe would have to be all new and it’s likely more thrust would be required. The concept didn’t get too far, probably for good reason.

If you want the same level of avionics, networking, and sensors the F-35 has, the problems faced in developing the software and systems aren’t going to be exclusive to the F-35 airframe.

Its it me or is your English getting worse? As far as I can tell there is NO aircraft program you support outside of European and Chinese ones.

I agree, for a “Next Gen” Aircraft you would think that they would keep this under wraps. I’m sure there’s nothing about this that the enemy doesn’t know about by now. You would think that if this was such a great aircraft that the Russians and Chinese would be trying to copy it like they did with the F-22, but they aren’t. Hmmmm.

I think that this could have been a worthwhile project but it has gotten completely out of hand. I would love to see a full blown investigation into where all this money has gone and I would love to see the people who have run this project into the ground be punished severely.

I understand that all new aircraft have developmental problems, but the 787 is not being paid for by my tax dollars, the F-35 is. Don’t misunderstand me, I am a proponent of this aircraft, it is needed, but to field an aircraft when it’s reason for being has not been tested doesn’t sound right to me.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Mission Creep + keep busy work for a company that loses competence by the year. But plenty of fat campaign contributions for friendly Congressmen.

Defund this mess now. The country is broke.

Why do we even need the “A” model of F-35? All services used the F4 Phantom II in Nam.

Oh wow. Look at all the crying here. Somebody quick, tell me how to get a viable 5th gen alternative in STOVL, CV, and conventional models, sooner and cheaper. Oh, that’s right. Can’t be done. Thanks for playin’.

Yes, on both sides. The run-on testing that was touted as the doom of the F-35C and impossible to fix was repeated with a modified hook design and, amazingly, worked well. As outlined, they will start arrested landings in 2013 on shore and then 2014 on a ship. What’s so hard to understand?

What do you mean by throwing planes at them? These planes will be low observable and heavily armed. They will be doing the killing. Thank you for talking about the terms of how much planes cost. Guess how much cheaper a heat seeking missile is than an F-35?

Yes, an F-35 with that configuration would be trying to hit something on the ground and it wouldn’t be alone, but you are missing the big picture. I’m not talking about 3 MiG-21s meeting 2 F-35s. I’m talking about a force of MiG-21s meeting a force of F-35s in a 3 to 1 ratio. If every F-35 only has 2 missiles then they can only kill 2/3 of the force before running out of missiles. The Block 5 is a dream that will not be technologically possible since the F-35’s weight margins are so thin that bringing upgrades to it that add more weight is extremely difficult. If redesigning the tailhook was this hard I can’t imagine what kind of difficulties and EXPENSES would come with redesigning the internal weapons bay. The Super Hornet with external stores outperforms the F-35 in all performance parameters. It can carry more ordinance externally and it is faster and more maneuverable.

You must have the frontal RCS data for both the F-35C and the Super Hornet Block III then. Care to share? I talked to an F-14 pilot who transitioned to F/A-18Fs and he said that the Super Hornet in a clean configuration was difficult to find on radar. I don’t know how difficult it is in relation to the F-35C, but it provides a significant increase in low observable ability and that significant increase is all we need. We can then use good tactics and anti-radar missiles to deal with SAMs.

Guess what we do with carriers when get into a fight? WE BRING MORE THAN ONE TO THE TABLE! You’re not thinking of the big picture. We usually have two carriers operating in tandem when we get into a fight. On top of that we usually have our carriers spread out around the world. We need fighters for every single one of our carriers and the F-35C (if it ever gets fixed) will not be able to be made in nearly enough numbers to replace all the fighters on all our carriers.

You’re right that STOVL aircraft have a long history of being troublesome. I think we would be fine without STOVL aircraft all together, but a conversation with a Marine Aviator convinced me that STOVL fighters do bring a unique capability to the table that can be used effectively, but only if you have the right aircraft. The F-35B is not that aircraft. In fact it goes entirely in the opposite direction of the what the right aircraft it. It is too delicate, complicated, under-armed, high maintenance, and expensive for the job. Its worst weakness is that it contains high risk classified technology so if it gets taken out it then the same Marines it was supposed to support will need to waste more time and resources to get to its crash site. That’s counting that it was shot down in an area where they could get to it before another country or group that might have an interest in selling the wreckage to Russia or China for reverse engineering.

A Harrier III with low tech, heavy armament, stealth shaping, light-weight armor, and an upgraded engine would be the ideal STOVL fighter for the USMC and the UK. Also, the F-35B’s engine is WAY more complex than a Harrier engine. Considering the fact that the F-35B’s engine still breaks apart when it goes into vertical flight-mode and doesn’t work up to spec it’s obvious that an upgraded Harrier engine with an increase in thrust would be easy to make. The US and UK thought making a Harrier III supersonic was technologically feasible in the 1990s. I’m sure its gotten much easier today. The only reason the concept didn’t get far was because the F-35B looked good and cheap at the time. Now that we know it isn’t we should go back and do something that we know for certain will work.

Lastly, we don’t need the same level of avionics, networking, and sensors that the F-35 has. They don’t even work properly right now. We certainly can’t afford them now and our current techniques work just fine. I know they have come out with upgrades for a few of our old systems such a new one to replace the Link 16. Our potential enemies don’t have anything like the combination we currently have and they will take a while before they can catch up. The avionics of the F-35 are just not needed now nore will they be needed anytime soon. We should keep developing them and perfecting them in tests before we ever put them on a production fighter.

You have to be kidding, from a OT &E point of view the F-22 is operational and actually works and they are out there with validated weapon clearances including external stores. The computers turning off over the date line was a stuff up but who in their wildest dreams would use that as a defence for JSF ??? (compare that one incident to all the JSF stuff ups eg. cannot land on a carrier etc).

Before I forget — what moron out there still thinks the single engine on a $150 mil plus aircraft is a great idea?

What a heap of junk !

I completely agree.

America will never move forward, until Lockheed is nothing but a bad memory. All Lockheed executives must be executed in public along with every single active service member of the united states armed forces who was active on September 11, 2001.

How to shape our air power to win in the Pacific:
1. Re-start F-22 production ($400M to restart is less than the price of fixing F-35 mistake jets). F-22 cost are roughly comparable with F-35 actual costs.
2. Kill F-35B, a stealth short range CAS aircraft for $200M is not going to be a factor and is a luxury we can no longer afford.
3. Put F-35B cancellation savings into more LRS-Bs.
4.Start F/A-XX program ASAP. F-35C is not the answer for projecting power from CVNs. Too compromised in terms of survivability, payload, and range and still will not provide the USN with an air dominance platform that it will need.
5. Expidite LRS-B, LRSO, AMRAAM replacement, and O-ASuW.

great info and more is better as far as I’m concerned. I’m a software developer so I have virtually no knowledge of aircraft production (other than I used to work as a lathe & mill operator), the requirements for aircraft (I imagine they are vastly different from software requirements), and only a little exposure to the program management side of things. So I love hearing more just so I can expand my understanding.

My biggest concern with dropping the F-35 is that many of our current aircraft are long in the tooth so will it be possible to start another program to develop an effective replacement in time?

I have no idea how long it would take and I don’t think it’s helpful to use the example of developing simplistic aircraft (comparitively) like the P-51 Mustang to a modern aircraft.

But what are we supposed to do when we’re attacked by 4200 PAK-FA and J-20 at the same time? That’s clearly a realistic combat scenario and there’s no way to stop it with the F-35! Obviously the solution is to go to a proven, trusted, well-designed cost-efficient aircraft like the P-51.

Exactly. No matter what happens, it’s a failure, or it’s not realistic, or it’s not representative, or it’s behind schedule, over budget, not what was promised, not what we “need”, something something it’s just wrong okay stop arguing!!!

“what moron out there still thinks the single engine on a $150 mil plus aircraft is a great idea?”

The old F8U seemed to manage okay with a single engine.

” You do know that in WWII the Me-262 was the most complex and best aircraft during the war. It was easily outnumbered and defeated by the simple P-51.”

I can just hear Zap Brannigan describing how his plan is for the Earth spacefleet to form into straight lines and fly directly down the muzzles of the enemy guns, clogging them with bodies and debris so that they can’t fire.

“The Super Hornet, which is an upgraded redesign of a proven airframe”

Dude. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT if you think that the Super Hornet is an “upgraded redesign”. It’s a wholly-new aircraft that looks vaguely like an older one. It’s as much like the “earlier” models as the Tu-22M3 is like the Tu-22.

but dude the p-51 could totally beat the ME-262

therefore gigantic swarms of p-51 is the answer to fifth-generation combat aircraft

And it’s cheaper too! ;-)

Love it. Meet the requirement by declaring it isn’t one. *massive eye roll*.

If that’s the best you’ve got to say then you shouldn’t even get into a debate with me. You’re out of your league.

The Super Hornet is in fact a redesign and upgrade of the original Hornet. The most complex part of every fighter jet is the engines. The F414s on the Super Hornet are literally just F404s that have been enlarged and modernized with new technology. The Super Hornet even uses some of the same parts and avionics as the older Hornet and the airframe testing used much of the development of the older Hornet as a foundation. Some new systems came out that do what the older Hornet’s did 10X better so they simply took out the old and replaced it with the new. It is no doubt an entirely new aircraft, but it was designed purely by building on the older one and preparing it to meet the threats of the future. It also turned out great.

First off, the Me-262 was nigh unstoppable in air combat against traditional fighters, the only reason you see large numbers of them being shot down was because they had to slow down and land at some point, and the Allied fighters were right there waiting. Also, the A-10 is great for what we’re fighting right now, but if you put any threat near them, they are toast. Ask an A-10 pilot how long they would last in a “real” conflict, and they will just laugh at you. What I’m saying is that in order to survive on the modern battlefield, you need good electronics and as we move into the future, all those “expensive toys” on the F-35 are going to make it the only thing that can survive sans the Raptor.

You should have payed more attention in your radar class, because you simply cannot make an airplane like the Super Hornet anywhere close to the level of stealth as the F-35C. Sure the SHornet has some edge alignment on its access panels and snaking of the inlets, but it lacks planform alignment, and all those little probes and holes on the airframe just act as little radar reflectors. Yes the airplane has a reduced RCS, but reduced RCS and Low-Observable are two very different things. Also, I’m still not sure how you think the Super Hornet is going to be able to do the job of the F-35C with such short range, especially “clean” with that massive stores pod on the centerline. If you’re going to give the F-35C crap because it can’t land on a carrier (yet), then I can say the Super Hornet can’t fly stealthy yet since no one has ordered that pod and it has never flown on an airplane.

And even if you do buy 3 Super Hornets for every one F-35C (which you arent going to manage anyways), you’re still going to end up paying waaaaay more money for the same capability. You want to pay the salaries of 3 times the amount of pilots and maintainers over the next 50 years? What about 3 times the spare parts on an airplane that already needs twice the spare engines. Where are all those airplanes going to park? Fuel costs? The list goes on and on, and highlights what everyone seems to forget: The price you pay for an airplane is much less significant than its operating costs over its lifetime.

“the F-35C supposedly has problems with using external ordinance that further testing will soon find.”

How does it supposedly have problem with external ordinance if further testing hasn’t found them yet? Guess what other airplane still has problem with external stores: the Super Hornet.

“Let’s say that a Harrier III takes 5 years since it too is a proven air frame. The F-35 is expected to enter IOC in 2019. The Harrier could beat that very easily with good program management.”

Here’s the difference, McDonnell Douglas was still building legacy Hornets when they designed and built the first Super, no one has built a new Harrier in over 15 years. Knowing how to build an airplane is a perishable skill, and no one has done any engineering on the Harrier for a very long time. And besides, why would you want to update the Harrier? The design is even more dated than the Hornet, and the Marines have lost over a third of the fleet to accidents so far. And you seem to think that this new design wont run into any of the development woes of the F-35 for some reason. Problems during development are not a new thing, and just because this is the first program with such high visibility doesn’t mean that this stuff has never happened (and been fixed) before.

I’m not talking about being an Aero major at a service academy, I’m saying talk to a no-kidding aeronautical engineer or test pilot, and the vast majority of them (and almost all of them in the know) think the F-35 will do just fine. And I guarantee the guys in charge are way smarter than either me or you.

Manufacturing disaster? Poor design? Obviously you have your “F-“s messed up.
Regarding a ballooning price: That’s exactly WHY Pentagon wants to Open source its hardware and software — to remove the possibility of LM controlling/ballooning upgrade costs.

Ghost:Yoiu have NO idea what you’re looking at when you look at the –22, do you? What does that tell you when International pilots go nuts in exercises against the Raptor when it doesn’t even have an IRST or an HMDS? And what does that tell you when even LM admits that the Raptor without that stuff is far superior air-air than the F-35 would be, even ASSUMING the F-35s DAS and HMDS work as advertised?
The Raptor’s “good”? Give us a break. Forget about the software glitch over the IDL… The F-35 can’t even get outta the hangar, never mind drop a bomb or fire a missile as advertised. Wait til you see what happens to the –35 the first time it tries to take off with a full internal and external load… Oh yeah, that’s right, they just told us that 90% of the time it won’t carry anything external — What good is it then?

… You are not seriously questioning the reliability of the A-10 in combat are you? The A-10 pilots I have talked to have told me that they are only worried about fighters and as long as the fighter jocks maintain air superiority then they feel that they can kill the enemy and still make it back home in the A-10.

You still haven’t answered my question. How do you know that the F-35 sensors will be all that revolutionary? How do you know what REAL conflicts will be like? You simply don’t. There’s no way you could.

The fact that you have read a book on radars and I have taken a college-level class at a service academy taught by military officers that actually use the systems shows our difference in education. The fact that you could only tell me I should have “paid more attention” in my radar class is even more telling. You have nothing on me in this area. As I said before, the Super Hornet Block III provides a significant increase in stealth. That significant increase is enough, especially when you can make 3X the aircraft. I also forgot to mention something else: the EA-18G Growler. The electronic warfare capability practically doubles the effectiveness of Super Hornet strike groups against radar threats.

You also obviously don’t know about the conformal fuel tanks that add 3,500 pounds to the Super Hornet. The F/A-18E can hold 14,950 pounds internally. The conformal tanks bring that to 18,450 pounds, which is not too far away from the 19,750 pounds on the F-35C. The difference in range is negligible.

“If you’re going to give the F-35C crap because it can’t land on a carrier (yet), then I can say the Super Hornet can’t fly stealthy yet since no one has ordered that pod and it has never flown on an airplane.”

Hahahahahaha! Let’s compare. How much money had been put into the weapons pod? How much into the F-35C’s tail hook? Is the technical difficulty in solving these different? The Super Hornet’s worst technical difficulty were the weapons pylons, which were solved at the cost of increased drag. None of the Super Hornet’s problems are comparable to the F-35C’s. They aren’t even in the same league.

I know for certain that 3 Super Hornets would be cheaper to operate than one F-35C. The F-35A’s cost per flight hour is $35,300, twice that of the Super Hornet’s which is a little over $18,000. Lockheed has refused to release the costs of the F-35C or F-35B per flight hour. What does that tell you? The F-35C’s cost in parts alone are several times that of an F/A-18E/F because stealth is expensive. In fact the costs of developing and procuring the F-35C are over $100 billion projected. That dwarfs the costs of making more Super Hornets and the salaries of a few extra sailors. The U.S. Navy could in fact replace every Hornet in inventory with a Block II, add an extra squadron of Block IIs to all carrier air wings, add another carrier air wing, and still save money.

As for the Harrier III, the personnel that made the AV-8B are still around. The Harrier III concept itself is extremely simple when compared to the F-35B. The technical expertise we have on aircraft has increased and not decreased. I can’t say that a Harrier III wouldn’t run into development problems, but I can say that it won’t run into the same development problems that hold down the F-35B. The main problem with the F-35B is the engine. The Harrier engine is much more simple and the US and UK have known for a long time that it can be upgraded easily to have more thrust and make the Harrier III supersonic.

Do not give me the “problems during development are not a new thing” argument. The problems with the F-35 are new in that they have NEVER happened on the same scale and they have never been this EXPENSIVE. This is completely new and has made the services cancel many other useful projects to feed money to the F-35. The F-35 has also dragged in our allies with it.

Guess who teaches aeronautical engineering classes at service academies? Aeronautical engineers! Test pilots! The test pilot for the Super Hornet is even an academic adviser here at USNA. I haven’t talked to him, but I have talked to several of the fighter pilots here and ones that visit here. The F-35C is actually a taboo subject. Fighter pilots that say negative things about the F-35C could lose their jobs. A few years ago I got mixed answers with some Super Hornet pilots thinking the F-35C was great and some saying it was entirely unnecessary. Now I only get pilots saying the most politically correct answer that’s in the PR book: “It will be great if it can do what it advertises.”

When I made my original comment I was thinking more like strike/CAS missions where the plane needs to be loaded down with bombs, rockets, and AGMs, not full to the gills with air to air missiles.

Thanks for that perspective and insight, Robert. I’m actually in the minority myself in being critical of the original JSF/F-35 Program concept, yet generally favorable of Lockheed. I really want to feel like I can just write off the F-35 Program and give LM a pass on this one, you know, special case… do it better next time, etc. I personally wish LM had gone full throttle with the F-16XL development and tried to solicit at least one foreign partner as joint-venture. I’d also support an FB-22 joint-venture development in the near-term.

Other than that, I feel it is inefficient to select a strike-fighter platform in the first place which will only suck more development and procurement funds than are affordable, and which cannot be confidently flight operable and perform at high-performance, reliably, with pylons and under-wing stores. That’s where real-world operations will be conducted by definition, as any mainstay next-gen platform cannot be designed or expected to fly solely under ‘day one’ clean configurations. So I’m critical on this point as I feel it’s just another example of moving the goal posts as yet more cover and more justification to ‘stay the course at any cost’.

First of all, in my view there should be a top-down strategic assessment for actually needing a >$200m stealth CAS jump jet for the Marines. Once that re-evaluation is made, then go to the next point. Personally, if the requirement truly is out there for a >$200m stealth jump jet, then reconsider the potential mission requirement. Perhaps a small number of 80–90 could be justified in a separate budget line to be operated under US SOCOM for special requirements/missions, if truly necessary.

Secondly, in lieu of any near-term F/A-XX development ideas, I’d propose a joint-developed, common, 80k lb MTOW FB-22 platform for USAF/USN. I could be wrong, but working off an existing platform might give an accelerated starting point and actually require less R&D funding in the end. I’d also include Boeing and maybe even Northrop in a joint venture to economically develop and ultimately produce it in-country.

Thirdly, one of the most brilliant concepts I’ve ever read from ‘sferrin’, was his proposal years ago for an air-launched ESSM (AIM-162) tipped with a NCADE IIR seeker. I give him full credit for that innovative and cost-effective asymmetrical concept. That’s where true strategic thinking needs to be focused on today, not on unsustainable, mass-quantity platform-based Programs — regardless of being well-intended — but on outside the box, innovative, exploitative ingenuity. Build muscle, cut fat.

To William,

With all respect, a pre– block V-mature F-35 will need to be escorted by an upgraded F-15E, Typhoon, or a Growler, on many actual combat scenario missions!

Yeah because starting over will be cheaper. And guess what, multirole is pretty much all anybody is buying these days. What, you think it would be cheaper to buy the USAF a dedicated medium range fighter and a seperate attack aircraft, the USN the same, AND a STOVL for the USMC? You must come from the Obama school of economics if you think five different designs are going to be cheaper than 1 with three variants.

You likely wouldn’t understand it so what would be the point? Even if you did you’d be disappointed. You no doubt think LM executives are flying to the Bahamas and snorting coke of hookers asses but you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

Hey ELP how do you think your STOVL model Super Hornet would do against a J-20? *snort* *guffaw*

“You are not seriously questioning the reliability of the A-10 in combat are you?”

Reliability is different than survivability. Again, like the Super Hornet, the A-10 is a fine airplane when its in its element, the only problem is that the battlefield is becoming much more dangerous for anything that isn’t stealthy with good EW.

“You still haven’t answered my question. … How do you know what REAL conflicts will be like? You simply don’t. There’s no way you could. ”

Exactly, which is why you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Buying more Super Hornets in lieu of the F-35C is the exact opposite. If you could look into a crystal ball and say definitively that we will not have to penetrate a modern IADS or go to war with China, then yeah buying Super Hornets is a great idea because they can do the other jobs just fine. Despite what you want to believe, you don’t get that capability with SHornets, even the imaginary International Roadmap version, which is why the Navy is investing in BOTH designs. You of all people should know the F-35C is not replacing the Super Hornet, but they are supposed to share the flight deck for the next few decades.

“The Harrier III concept itself is extremely simple when compared to the F-35B. The technical expertise we have on aircraft has increased and not decreased. The main problem with the F-35B is the engine. The Harrier engine is much more simple…”

Ah but the difficulty lies in the details… The lift-fan acts as a huge source of mass flow, and the only way you would get those levels of thrust without it is with a massive inlet. About 50% of the over 40k pounds of thrust generated by the F-35B in the hover comes from that fan and it lets you build a normally configured airplane (engine in the back rather than right in the middle). The X-32 tried to use the “simple” Harrier approach, and they couldn’t even get the thing off the ground without taking all the panels and access doors off. In other words, Lockheed knows what they’re doing.

“Hahahahahaha! Let’s compare. How much money had been put into the weapons pod? How much into the F-35C’s tail hook? None of the Super Hornet’s problems are comparable to the F-35C’s. They aren’t even in the same league. ”

No one has put money into the weapons pod because it is a bad idea and everyone who is smart enough to be in charge can see that. Again you seem to think I’m attacking the Super Hornet, its not a bad airplane, its just yesterday’s airplane and investing the next 20 years of carrier aviation on it holding its own is a bad idea. And to think that buying 3 times as many worse airplanes is cheaper is ridiculous. Just the gas bill will be enough to offset your initial “savings”.

“You also obviously don’t know about the conformal fuel tanks that add 3,500 pounds to the Super Hornet. The F/A-18E can hold 14,950 pounds internally. The conformal tanks bring that to 18,450 pounds, which is not too far away from the 19,750 pounds on the F-35C. The difference in range is negligible.”

Okay, the same amount of fuel for two thirsty “leaky turbojets”. And there is no free lunch, you don’t just add wetted area and weight to an airplane and get better performance. Just ask the guys who have flown F-16’s with conformal tanks, its not the same airplane…

“Guess who teaches aeronautical engineering classes at service academies? Aeronautical engineers! Test pilots!”

Yes I know that, because I graduated from the Air Force Academy with an Aeronautical Engineering degree. We can get in a pissing contest about who has the better teachers, but I think we can skip that. I have spent a good amount of time with Test Pilots, FTE’s and Aero engineers both at the Academy and out at Edwards at TPS and the 461st FTS. Having spoken personally with the pilots flying out there, they think the airplane is going to be great, and the problems are nothing they havent seen on other airplanes before. These are the guys who are out there flying the sorties every day with the plane and the helmet, and they are not in the least bit concerned that this airplane is the future. I tend to believe them over APA and what you read on the internet.

Now that we’ve established that the difference in education isn’t quite what you thought, I will reassert that you must have missed something in your radar course. Look at your equations for radar detection range and you will see, like I said, you must reduce your RCS ten-fold to get just half a reduction in detection range. Yes the Super Hornet has some shaping and coatings, but no it is not anywhere close to the league of the F-35 or F-22. As for the Growler, I know its a good airplane, I haven’t said anywhere in these posts that the SHornet or any of its variants are crap, just that we need to be investing in the future, not just polishing the ok airplanes of the past.

Also, try not to be so snobby about going to a military academy(especially before you even graduate), that sense of “I’m better than you” is what gives us all a bad reputation.


Thanks to Heartless Harry Stonecypher that didn’t happen now did it…

I personally think the ability to carry 6 internal air-to-air missiles should have been an IOC requirement, but I’m not in charge. The F-22 is what should have been doing the escorting anyway.

Sferin: So you’re defense for continuing the status quo for the –35 is that you buy the line that we actually NEED a “viable 5th gen in STOVL, CV, and conventional models”- THAT’s the whole problem with the damn program, too many people believing that somehow the ideal andidate for a cheap replacement for a circa $40Mil aircraft is one that costs 5 times as much, while requiring a build of roughly 3000 to come anywhere near that mark!
Let’s see here: we replaced the $80million Eagle with an aircraft SECOND TO NONE, and whose per-unit cost, including R & D, was 5 times its replacement (approx. the ratio we”re looking at for F-35 vs. F-16) — and we did it with a “cut off your nose to spite your face” move equalling ONE-FIFTEENTH the planned F-35 build number! Feel free to THINK this through on your own, because the JSF Team’s strategy and business plan are ridiculous; and Gates’ comments on the –22 being so expensive,and your “march to the drum” stance, get more and more ridiculous by the second.

Too many people thought it was “ugly”… Ironic, isn’t it, seeing as the F-35 Program is looking very UGLY right now :-)

Much of the criticsm comes from those who know very little about the development process of military systems, while some of it is certainly valid. Many trigger-pullers have no or little idea how complex is the process, much of the complexity being caused by congressional requirements and the bureaucracy of DOD purchasing procedures. Just don’t support the reduction-in-force thinking of the idiot reactionaries in the obama administration. Others here just make comments to display how smart they are and how much minutia exists in the recesses of their minds.

What was the price of the F8U ? To use a further variance of your example have a look at the RAAF with the loss rate of the Mirage III as opposed to the F-18/a. The vast majority of aircraft losses where thru engine ingestion and similar. Current since 1986 the RAAF has had no loss of a F-18 due to maintenance or hardware failure, furthermore hundreds of times aircraft have returned to base with a engine shutdown with a extra engine as a backup. Compare the same stats to the F-16 world wide ! Again if the aircraft was being developed as a teen series aircraft or say a f-5 (relatively cheap in that case) I can see the argument for a single engine (to cut costs). But to have the biggest defence project in history (apart the the myriad of other disasters with the project), to have the F-35C $220 mil plus with only one engine ????????

As being a engineer who has devoted their life to RAAF and working with USAF, USN and USMC on a daily basis I would really like to have some valid reason why this total and utter stuff up of a project has only one engine ??? Again really ?????


Design tool can be quite useful when used properly, but they are everything except the perfection. The tool fail and you screwed. It actually happen all around the world, and not just in aeronautics.

Even if Lockheed got a 15Petaflops supercomputer powered by its own nuclear power plant their design tool have failed. Finding the solution is not always as simple as a re-run with a sofware patch.

Well put, MARS.. “Staying the course”, no matter the cost, has cost us the NEEDED –22 airframes, since all of these very expensive, INeffective, DEfective, late-to-arrive –35s are certainly gunna need protection in any real scenario — Unles, of course, we only fight current-war style warfare, in which case, what do we need a $150Mil+ F-35 for when F-16s, F-18s, A-10s, Apaches, or drones have clearly shown they’re more than up to the task? Claiming the F-35 is NEEDED to defeat FUTURE threats, while at the same time claiming the F-22 is unneeded because it was designed SPECIFICALLY for those threats… That’s just plain ridiculous, and clearly a case of ignoring the facts in order to sell a product! Now that the Pak Fa and J-20 are on the horizon, I suppose we’ll soon begin hearing a change from “the F-35 is superior air-air to all others besides F-22″ to something akin to “don’t worry, Big Brother’s got your back… we have –22s!”…

Talk about a recipe for getting us involved in future conflicts we neither need nor should get involved in! If we’re gunna arm our “friends”, I think we owe it to the American taxpayer, who’ve shelled out billions, to arm them to win a conflict ON THEIR OWN!

It would make sense. Flying with underwing stores hides its stealth radar profile.

“Yes I know that, because I graduated from the Air Force Academy with an Aeronautical Engineering degree.”

Huh… didn’t see that one coming.

“Also, try not to be so snobby about going to a military academy(especially before you even graduate), that sense of “I’m better than you” is what gives us all a bad reputation.”

I am not usually like this. I only act this way when I’m on DoDBuzz or Defensetech discussing the F-35. That’s usually because whenever I say anything bad about the F-35 I get the same snobby attitude from people that simply don’t know anything about aviation. When you appeared to be someone who had only read a book on radars and was telling me I should have paid more attention to my engineering class I thought you were one of those people, but I guess not.

Buying the F-35 is not preparing us for the worst. It is preparing for a very specific kind of warfare style at a very high cost and at decreasing our flexibility. The F-35 carries too small an internal payload for us to go to war with China, who will definitely have numerical superiority in most scenarios. Also, you are thinking that penetrating an enemy air defense system is the only way to win. My thinking is that using SEAD is better. We should put our focus more on finding SAMs and killing them rather than passively sneaking around them with stealth and leaving them there. We could do that easily with the Super Hornet and the Growler and a lot of better anti-radar missiles like the AGM-88. If we were to make an AGM-88 with speed of mach 4–5 then we could kill radars a lot faster and a lot quicker. The F-35C is simply not worth its weight in the amount of other capabilities that we could afford for the same price.

The F-35 relies on penetrating air defenses, which it can do well, but the fact is that the advantage stealth brings to the table is slowly being eroded away by electronics, which are much easier to advance. The F-35 was made with the arrogant idea that our enemies would not be able to come up with a way to counter stealth technology in the next 20 years. The problem with investing all you resources (or a vast majority of your resources as with the F-35’s case) is that your enemies now know what to prepare for and what types of counter measures to invest in and that’s exactly what’s happening with stealth technolongy. L-band radars, better IR sensors, and new SAM batteries coming out like the Russian S-400, which looks pretty threatening even to stealth aircraft like the F-35, are all making stealth much less effective. We need to switch to a more aggressive approach of finding enemy SAMs and killing them instead. Putting a vast focus on defensive technology rather than offensive has never worked well in the past either (Maginot Line).

As far as I’m concerned an imaginary International Road Map Super Hornet is still less imaginary and much cheaper to make than a fully functional F-35 of any version.

The F-35B’s lift fan is also the source of the problem. The fan simply can’t take the force of making that much thrust for vertical flight. It keeps breaking apart whenever the Marines fly it. The X-32 used the Harrier approach in theory only, but not an actual upgraded Harrier engine, which is why the Harrier will fly better: http://​www​.aerospaceweb​.org/​q​u​e​s​t​i​o​n​/​p​l​a​n​e​s​/​q​0​042

“and everyone who is smart enough to be in charge can see that.. And to think that buying 3 times as many worse airplanes is cheaper is ridiculous… gas bill will be enough to offset your initial “savings”.”

Not everyone who is in charge reached they’re position because they’re smart. Also the gas bill will still be pretty small compared to the acquisition of the F-35 in general. You should just stop trying to argue about the costs of more Super Hornets vs fewer F-35s. There’s no way to get around the acquisition cost. For $100 billion dollars we could make 1494.7 Super Hornets. Lets say we don’t make that many because we don’t have enough carriers for that. Say we only make 600 Super Hornets so that our Super Hornet fleet is a little over 1,000. That’s still $60 billion dollars in savings that we could use buy fuel, buy aircraft weapons, making cruise missiles for our subs, keeping our ships afloat etc…

As far the F/A-18E/F being worse than the F-35, if the Super Hornets have 85% of the capability of an F-35 than either the Super Hornet is not that much “worse” than the F-35 or the F-35 isn’t all that great to begin with.

“the same amount of fuel for two thirsty ‘leaky turbojets’. And there is no free lunch, you don’t just add wetted area and weight to an airplane and get better performance.”

Okay, you don’t understand this about the Navy and I wouldn’t expect you to because you’re in the Air Force. Who gives a Navy pilot a single engine aircraft and tells him (or her) to fly far distances over water away from his carrier? Air Force pilots have it easy in this regard because if they suffer an engine failure or an engine flame out then they’re typically flying over land and can find an air strip, a road, or a flat piece of land to put the jet down. Navy pilots don’t have that option. Navy pilots lose the jet and go swimming. God forbid we suffer a frickin bird attack out there. The thought of a being in an F-35C and getting a seagull sucked into the intake far away from a carrier is a thought that makes Navy pilots have nightmares. The F-35 in general was an Air Force idea and this part of it clearly does not suit the Navy. Also the F-414s are far from bring “leaky engines.” They are tough as nails and extremely reliable. Since you’re an Aeronautical Engineer then you should know the single engine on every F-35 provides more thrust and burns A LOT MORE FUEL faster than a single F-414 in order to provide the amount of thrust required right? It’s not that much better in terms of fuel economy than two F-414s. The Super Hornet with the conformal tanks might have decreased maneuverability, but I highly doubt it will be less than maneuverable than the F-35C in that configuration.

“the problems are nothing they havent seen on other airplanes before”

Now I am questioning whether or not you are getting paid by Lockheed or are a member of the F-35 team to say that. What other airplanes are they talking about? I’ve never seen any aircraft attempt to use the same engine as the F-35B and wind up having the lift fan break repeatedly. The Russian Yak-141 didn’t even have that problem. I’ve also never heard of another carrier based jet aircraft have the tail hook mistakenly placed too far forward to be effective in the last 30 years. Do you mind if I ask what you’re current job is?

I paid quite a bit of attention to the radar portion of my class and I’m pretty confident I know my stuff. Also, I NEVER read APA. Once they claimed that the F-22 would not be more maintenance intensive or expensive than an F-15 they lost all credibility in my eyes.

“I get the same snobby attitude from people that simply don’t know anything about aviation.”

Says the guy who doesn’t know the difference between a CH46 and CH47 nor the differences in performance between an Osprey and a CH46. http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​6​/​1​5​/​f​-​3​5​-​b​y​-​t​h​e​-​num

Be warned Sir Sapo, when he loses the argument he’s going to say he knew it all the time and was just jerking you around because “it relaxes him”. ;)

No, I’m not kidding. Check the link.

Majr0d, I have only done that with you because I was under a lot of stress at the time and I knew it would work on you. I wouldn’t dare try that with an Aeronautical Engineer from the Air Force Academy and I certainly wouldn’t even joke like that when the subject of the F-35C and F-35B comes up.

“a lot of stress”? Yep, being a barista is a dog eat dog world.

Do you mind if I ask what your background is?

Only because it would have already been cancelled. And you know that’s the ultimate dream of most of the whiners on this thread.

Guess how many times the price the F-15 was of the F-4. Or the F-4 that of the F-86. You think if we cancel the F-35 and keep on with 40 year old designs the rest of the world will follow? Grow up. People whine about the cost but they never consider the cost of losing air superiority.

If today’s internet was around back in the 80s you guys would be whining about expensive F-15s, unreliable Apache’s, Bradleys with exploding armor, and worthless Abrams tanks. “ZOMG!! do you know how many M48 tanks we could buy for the price of one gold-plated Abrams!!!!” Sadly most of you are too young and stupid to realize it. Ah well. Have a nice day!

Sure, right after you share yours…

Who’s in who’s head now? ;)

… That’s not even how you begin to play a mind game with someone. We’re done here.


F-22 could be escorting, sure, but the Raptor was actually designed to be a stand-alone multi mission aircraft. It was designed to do the high-end threat removal (air and ground threats) on it’s own terms and employing it’s own methods so that follow-on cost-effective aircraft could then persist to support, slug out and see the final round win. Why would you want the F-22 to alter it’s mission envelope and mission characteristics retroactively to ‘escort’ a subsonic flying, 25k’ cruising strike-fighter?

And I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways! You can’t argue the F-35 is almost as equal to the F-22, if not better, and then go on to argue the F-22 is needed to escort the F-35! No, the F-35 will require escort from more cost-effective and more suitable platforms. At least until block V equipped squadrons achieve IOC. 2025?

By then, even more superior platforms (manned and/or unmanned) to the F-35 block V will likely be operating around the world, or available for production.

Flat out, the JSF business model from inception was just that… about making business. Not strategic or sustainable, very unfortunately.

I have to disagree with respect to ‘you guys’ whining about expensive F-15s. F-15s were actually a helluva lot cheaper than F-22s and many, if not the majority of F-35 critics are actually pro-F-22 concept, even at the extreme cost.

It comes down to how to recapitalize the USAF and USN with most cost-effective, reliable and superior next-gen capability, when it’s required… whether it’s a stopgap measure or via a successfully designed and on-schedule new model.

In this case, the F-15 was delivered and able to achieve IOC pretty much as required, despite the relative costs, whereas the capability gap and loss of deterrence over the next 10 years thanks to the stay the course strategy is arguably damning and flawed.

But you have a point. If the plan was originally being sold in the mid 70s that the USAF would not need this light F-16 procurement crap, as the F-15 could do it all and be bought cheap if simply procured at over 1,700 eventual units instead of the F-16… then I think you’d have some push back and demand for a cost-effective and timely high-low mix to fill the requirements.

“My thinking is that using SEAD is better. We should put our focus more on finding SAMs and killing them rather than passively sneaking around them with stealth and leaving them there. We could do that easily with the Super Hornet and the Growler and a lot of better anti-radar missiles like the AGM-88. If we were to make an AGM-88 with speed of mach 4–5 then we could kill radars a lot faster and a lot quicker.”

F-35’s can use those missiles just as well as legacy aircraft, the only difference is that the F-35 can actually get close enough to use them. In your next paragraph you said yourself that weapons and sensors like the S-400 are making stealth less effective. Well when you’re starting from “really really hard to see” (ie F-35 and F-22) and now you’re at “really hard to see”, thats not too bad. When you’re relying on HARM to kill these SAMs, you need to get close, and when you get close, your Super Hornets are going to die, regardless of how much active jamming they are using. Those new SAMs can reach out waaaay beyond the WEZ of our anti-radiation missiles. The only solution is to get close without them knowing you are there. That capability is why we need something like the F-35C, and why throwing 4th gen fighters into the fray is not going to fix the problem, regardless of how many plus’s you put after the 4…

The Navy flew single engine fighters for a long time and with the reliability of modern turbofans, I don’t think the reliability issue is valid anymore. Sucking up a seagull, maybe, but a single engine land based fighter is in the same boat since landing a fighter like the F-16 with an engine failure on anything but a nice long hardened runway will not end well. If any high performance military jet loses all (or its only) engine, the pilots will eject. With that in mind, the F-16 has been doing just fine with its single engine and I think the F-35 will be fine as well. My dad was a USAF fighter pilot for 22 years (even did a Navy exchange flying Hornets), and in all that time he never had a single engine failure.

“Also the F-414s are far from bring “leaky engines.” They are tough as nails and extremely reliable. Since you’re an Aeronautical Engineer then you should know the single engine on every F-35 provides more thrust and burns A LOT MORE FUEL faster than a single F-414 in order to provide the amount of thrust required right? It’s not that much better in terms of fuel economy than two F-414s”

The “leaky” part doesnt have anything to do with reliability, it has to do with bypass ratio. The F404 (and by extension the F414) are relatively low bypass ratio engines, kinda of like turbojets that leak air around the sides. That low BPR means you will have difficulty getting the TSFC of a higher bypass turbofan like the F100 or F135. I’ve not seen the TSFC numbers for the F135, but with the other numbers we do know, I find it hard to believe that it is less efficient in cruise than TWO F414’s.

“Now I am questioning whether or not you are getting paid by Lockheed or are a member of the F-35 team to say that. What other airplanes are they talking about? I’ve never seen any aircraft attempt to use the same engine as the F-35B and wind up having the lift fan break repeatedly. The Russian Yak-141 didn’t even have that problem. I’ve also never heard of another carrier based jet aircraft have the tail hook mistakenly placed too far forward to be effective in the last 30 years. Do you mind if I ask what you’re current job is? ”

The issues with the lift fan are not related to the fan itself, but to the clutch that transmits power from the F135 to the fan. The problem is that in forward flight, the shaft that carriers that power was too close to the clutch mechanism, so you ended up with really high temperatures and undue wear and tear. Another problem was that the airflow around the lift fan doors was different than predicted, so the actuator were wearing out faster than normal. Neither of these problems has anything to do with the lift fan not being able to put out the power it needs to, and both of them have been resolved. The reason the Yak-141 didn’t have problems with its lift fan is because it doesn’t have one, it has a dedicated jet engine up front that weighs more and generates less thrust and greater fuel burn than the F-35B’s fan. As for the hook issue, there have been a lot of airplanes that had trouble trapping on the carrier at first, but that’s what testing is for, and by all accounts the problem was one of dampening and hook shaping which they are well on their way to resolving.

The problem with the Harrier’s design is that you place the most dense part of the whole airplane (the engine) in the very middle of the airframe. Modern fighters are all about relaxed static stability, and that is really hard to do when all of your mass is immovable at the middle of the airplane. That’s the genius of the lift-fan, it let Lockheed design a normally configured airplane, and by putting the lift fan in there, they get even more thrust than they would with a direct lift design like the Harrier.

I was given a pilot slot when I graduated from the Academy, but I’d rather not say what I’m doing past that for obvious reasons, so you can extrapolate from there. And I can guarantee you that Lockheed doesn’t give a shit what either me, you, or anyone else on the internet thinks, and therefore they aren’t paying anyone to spout opinions about their jet.

Very Good The F-35 is dead sould we pay more for this?

Close the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture; and restart the F-22 line and build another 200 to 300 of those. And build the F-35. There are always development problems; the B-29 had tremendous problems even after it was deployed, but it helped win the war. Pouring money into social programs means nothing if we can’t defend ourselves. And it’s never a bad thing to be the toughest guy in the room. Peace through superior firepower.

Grow up??? Me??? I don’t believe I’m the one who’s naive about the F-35 — How do you figure we’re gunna lose “air superiority” when we’ve got F-15s and F-22s? The F-35 was never designed to ACHIEVE air superiority — It, like the F-16, was supposed to be able to operate within combat areas where AIR SUPERIORITY IS ALREADY ATTAINED… My Gosh, amazing how you fanboys can accuse others of whining about something you clearly do’t understand, and therefore have no hope of legitimately defending against anyone but the totally oblivious. Now grow up, and read the F-35 specs and requirements — At the TOP of that list is affordability — STRIKE ONE, and that’s before we get into IOC dates, the weapons it will no longer carry, the threats it can no longer handle, and the much-promised capabilities thet are so NEEDED that we need to wait until 2020 to see how little of that capability we’re ever gunna get for WAY MORE thait’s worth! The TRUTH ALWAYS HURTS, at least you should learn somethin from it. Too big to fail?, too late for THAT

Seriously the administrator is going to start censoring me now? That’s just shows this isn’t right.

Just tell him that’s what you WANTED him to do :)

You wouldn’t happen to be the one doing this would you?

It does that to my post every once and awhile, It happens so fast that I think its an automatic thing that is messed up rather than someone actually doing it.

LOL, heck no but it’s funny how I’m living in your head.

A lot of room in here and the walls are bare! ;)

People need to read closely what edward says. This is the ass covering mentality that cripples our defense industries. These people are so so self absorbed that there is basically nothing you can do to retrain them.
Massive cuts are needed to get the dead wood out of the industry and only then can it be rebuilt.

Sound smore like Stupidity through lack of Education.

Look, you need to play a mind game with someone before you can get into their head. The tactic I used with you was to get you so riled up over the subject that I clearly got you frustrated. You have not done that with me. The fact that you keep trying to claim that you’re in my head when you’re not just goes to show how good and effective my mind game was on you and you’re still not completely recovered from it.

The F-35 can’t hold the AGM-88 internally. If it’s going to use the AMG-88 it’s not going to be stealthy. As for the HARM needing close range to fight. That’s why I’m saying we should upgrade the HARM so that it has a max speed of mach 4 or mach 5. If the HARM could reach the target 4x or 5x times faster it would negate the need to get in closer. This would also force SAMs for fire at their targets from much greater ranges if they wanted to survive and this would in fact give away their position much better and allow the aircraft targeted more time to employ counter measures, jammers, and terrain masking if it’s available. This would be much easier with more Super Hornets armed with many upgraded AGM-88s.

Again, two engines is what separates the Navy from the Air Force. The Navy’s mentality is entirely different because we’re always over water. We want the security that two engines bring. Bird attacks, engine flame out, and engine failure still have the potential to happen and are something we worry about constantly. Also there have been several instances when a two engine jet took damage in combat that destroyed a single engine and forced the aircraft to rely on the second as a back up. If we are using fighters that cost $235 million per unit, then we want that back up. The F-35 also risks classified technology and materials over the area it flys in so we better have that back up because if one goes down and it ends up in an area where a hostile country that might have an interest in selling the wreckage to Russia or China could get to it then we just gave away a good portion of our secrets.

That Harrier’s design isn’t perfect, but it works and it’s good enough. That’s all the USMC needs for CAS and its other missions like forward basing. They don’t need a $300 million dollar super complex, high maintenance, high risk, aircraft that risks classified stealthy materials close to the front lines.

“And I can guarantee you that Lockheed doesn’t give a **** what either me, you, or anyone else on the internet thinks, and therefore they aren’t paying anyone to spout opinions about their jet.”

Then why is it that there was such a big deal about the whistle blowers for the F-22? Why is it that the one incident where the F-22 crashed in Alaska was entirely blamed on the pilot despite the fact that they knew the problems with it? Why is it that Navy fighter pilots can only give politically correct answers about the F-35C? Something seriously doesn’t add up here.

Do we never learn from history? Remember the F-111. The Navy version never went anywhere. It was forced down the Services throat but no one wanted it and it didn’t work either.

Just shows how far gone you are that you think Lockheeds bad solutions are “requirements”. But my experience is that defense contracts are pretty hazy on what a “solution” is anyways they seem unable to distinguish it from failure.

Its just sad that the contractor trolls keep on refering to thr F-15 and F-16. Its just desperate. The F-35 performance is so bad it cant outfight fight either aircraft.

No the F-35 is the F-111 of the 60s and 70s imagine what would have happened if all three services had decided to adopt the F-111 as thier front line fighter in the 70s, nstead of deciding to bail from what was obvious suicide ? It would haver been a disaster against flankers and fulcrums.

The contractor trolls want that secnario to pan out with the Russians and Chinese in 20 years. They will have high performance aircraft and we will have an aircraft that as rand says cant turn, cant fight, and cant run.

As Willian Crook once commented that he hated that we won the Cold War — sounds like he’s doing everything possible to lose the next one.

Well he’s lazy, it’s not much, but really his security clearance should be revoked if it isnt already.

Sferrin: Didn’t we already establish that YOU’re the only one whining like a kid who wants his shiny new over-priced BROKEN toy? If not, then it’s established now. :-)

No I’m notwhinning but Lockheed has alot to offer. Their plate getts fuller and they want more I think in our time money crunch a cuple companpies need to come together to make a better aircraft. Lockheed and Boeing are doing a good job with the F-22, Maybe Lockheed should let boeing take a Look at The F-35 for some fresh eyes Maybe they’i see what Lockheed is missing

yeah, you keep believing that :)

I realize that pilots want that security, but the statistics don’t lie and single engine airplanes are almost as safe if not safer than twins these days. Do you know how many Pratt & Whittney powered F-16’s with –229 engines have crashed due to engine failure since 1991? Zero. And that’s because the F100-PW-229 uses tech developed for the F119 and F135, which are both extremely reliable engines. Since 1981, the F/A-18 has had about a 3.4 Class A per 100,000 hour accident rate. If you take the F-16 in that same time frame, you get an accident rate of barely 3.5 per 100,000 flight hours. And in the past 10 years, the F-16 has an accident rate of only 1.9 per 100k hours. That’s pretty damn good for an airplane that only has one engine and its only getting better.

The moral of the story is that both the Navy and the Air Force have lost waaaaay more airplanes to pilot error than to anything engine related (4/5ths of all Class A accidents in fact), and with today’s technology it really doesn’t matter in the long run (safety wise) if you have one engine or two.

And every single jet has a ton of classified material on it, even the Super Hornet, so the whole “its too sensitive to lose” angle doesn’t make much sense.

I’m not going to argue about the whole forward basing thing. I for one think its stupid to even put a Harrier in that situation, and I’m not convinced the Marines have ever used a Harrier in a situation where another airplane couldn’t have gotten the job done. However, the capability of having 5th generation fighters on any small amphib carrier is something that I think will be very useful. Especially if those airplanes have the combat radius and payload that rivals those of it’s big deck predecessors. And again, the whole classified material thing doesn’t hold water.

The accident in Alaska shows the very fine line between mechanical failure, and the pilot mismanaging the situation. Lets say a jet loses an engine and then the pilot applies inappropriate procedures which results in the plane crashing. Yes mechanical failure initiated the incident, but the pilot also wasn’t able to complete the required steps to solve the problem. So who is at fault? Yes the Alaska situation was initiated by the faulty Bleed Air Fire indication, but the pilot didn’t get to the emergency oxygen in time. So who do you blame? The Air Force obviously thought that his failure to maintain his attitude while getting to the green apple was what actually caused the crash. Is that fair? I’m not sure, but I don’t think it is a conspiracy by Lockheed or the USAF.

Just because people wont give you a straight answer on the F-35C doesn’t mean there’s a huge conspiracy regarding Lockheed and the DoD shutting those guys up. What it probably means is that they realize that they don’t really know what is going to happen with the airplane and rather than guess at it (like the internet), they are happy just sitting back and waiting. There’s nothing wrong with saying “It will be great if it works”, because its true.

Making them go faster doesn’t solve the problem that you still have at best a 50nm range compared to the SAM’s 200 mile. Even with an upgraded HARM you have to get well inside the SAM’s WEZ to use it, and if you’re not stealthy, good luck. Active jamming and towed decoys are great, but they aren’t enough against these newer threats.

Strike has just reached a tentative settlement, may vote soon.

Did you notice the adds for the article you cited. Eurofighter Typhoon. Don’t think the article might be a little biased?

What makes you think $2 million dollar tanks and jihadist are our only enemy? Do you think the Russians will stop producing the T-50 if we stop buying F-35s and buy F-15SEs. Do you think the Chinese will stop building the J-20 and other aircraft designs. I would even bet their next fighter looks a lot like the F-35 based on their interest in stealling computer data on the aircraft..

Would love to see a streched version with two F-135s on it. That would be a beast, adding more fuel and weapons, with better performance.

No production F-35Cs have been produced. There is no real concurrancy problems there. Doubt the tailhook problem will amount to much.

Doubt the weapons tests will be much different from the F-22. The managed to release from F-22s in all kinds of speeds and angles of attaks, so really don’t think this is a problem, except you have to do the tests before you can use the weapons on the plane for real. So I hope they do start releasing them soon.

Did you noticed the other one on the right: dassault rafale.

Conclusion:that’s a website with european publicity, nothing too alarming here. You might read a pro-european article, or you might be reading an article without pro-american bias, or it might be an impartial article.

EADS and Dassault are not different than other companies, if you end up visiting their websites, you’ll definitely get biased stuff. But at the same time, the pro-european bias is in my opinion easier to catch because of the distance. For example by clicking on the eurofighter adds, it leads up to the eurofighter world magazine. The latest issue contain an article (p.14) named “stealth designs: is it really a story of success?”. Yes they are downplaying to have the stealth capability (especially the B2 and the f-22 IMHO) but they got it right: ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’. Yes they are presenting the eurofighter as the best trade-off –but the article still present interesting point– after all it’s named eurofighter world.

AFAIK there is nothing on earth that does not contain a bias, that’s part of our human nature. Even scientific got bias toward scientific approach. ;-)

The F-35 can’t carry the HARM in its internal weapons bay. Again, if the F-35 is going to use the HARM as the missile exists now, then it won’t be stealthy at all. This is why I’m saying we should take the HARM and upgrade it so that it has more speed (mach 4 or mach 5) and more range. Making a missile with 200 miles of range isn’t difficult. We can expand the WEZ so that it now threatens the S-400. Also, again how do you know how well active jamming and towed decoys will work against new threats?

I agree that all jets have classified tech on them, but no jet has as much classified tech as the F-35 (except for the F-22 maybe and other jets we don’t know about). Again the second engine isn’t only for reliability but also damage resistance, and we really don’t like the idea of being vulnerable to seagulls. Twin engines is simply better. I’m also very skeptical of whenever Air Force or Marines blame a lost jet to pilot error for obvious reasons.

I think in some cases it’s a dumb idea too, but like it or not that’s what the Marines do and they have done it effectively in some cases. For the most part I think you’re right that it would be difficult to make a case apart from a few select examples of how VTOL capability in a tactical fighter aircraft make a difference. This still doesn’t change the fact that the F-35B is entirely not suited for CAS, which is something major in the USMC.

Okay this whole response it totally not right. The F-22 pilots that suffer from hypoxia repeatedly said that the cases were so bad they were having difficulty making basic movements and actions. The USAF still made them fly and blamed the pilot anyway. In this case the USAF something was wrong in advance and didn’t fix it so when something bad happened it tried to cover its ass by blaming the pilot.

Also, is it right and normal that and F-22 could lose his job for saying something wrong about the jet? I’m not a very big conspiracy guy, but there is A LOT of evidence and a lot of money and credit at risk to support that Lockheed and the DoD do that.

I personally don’t understand why the mbda meteor havn’t been designed to engage ground target. Mach 4+, 140km+ range, data link etc. http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​j​8​K​O​P​z​L​b​dF0 (you might want to start the video at 2:03 and BTW their promo video always make me laught)

Good new, the darpa is funding a triple target terminator (T3). http://​defense​-update​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​t​/​1​8​1​1​2​0​1​0​_t3.…

If the F-35B isn’t well suited for CAS, then neither is the Hornet or the Harrier that they currently use.

So we should purposely not give pilots the best technology just in case they get shot down? I think it might be better to give them the stuff that helps them not get shot down instead…

Twin engines are not better for a lot of applications, they are more complicated and heavier (therefore more expensive) than a similar aircraft with a single engine.

So you think that the Marines and Air Force are skewing their accident rates now? For what “obvious reasons” would those particular services blame a pilot?

I know the F-35 can’t carry AGM-88’s internally, but you dont need a HARM to kill a missile site when you have such a good passive sensor suite. With how much closer you can get in a F-35, you could drop an SDB on it, or simply ignore it and get on with your mission.

“Making a missile with 200 miles of range isn’t difficult.”

Unless you want it to be small and light enough to mount it on an airplane, then it becomes very difficult. Its easy to say how straightforward it would be to make such a missile when you’re not familiar with missile design. But just saying “I’m sure the engineers can figure it out” when it comes to a very long range hypersonic missile is a little naive.

Yes there is obviously something wrong with the jet, but thats not the point I was making. I’m saying that an accident investigation is a very complicated thing, and who do you blame when there is both mechanical and pilot error. And you make it seem like the Air Force knew what was wrong and how to fix it, but didn’t. OBOGS units have issues in a vast majority of their applications (from Hornets to Mirage 2000’s), but the environment they operate in isn’t nearly as extreme as the Raptor’s. After years of investigations (and a whole year on the Raptor specifically), they still haven’t found the inherent problems with the system.

What is the Air Force supposed to do with the guys who refuse to fly the airplane? If you’re a Raptor pilot and you decide you don’t want to fly it anymore for whatever reason, is the Air Force supposed to just send you to a different airframe with all the training that involves, or do you just have to suck it up at a desk job?

I’d like to the the ton of evidence there is to support your Lockheed/DoD coverup conspiracy.

I’m not just saying “I’m sure the engineers could figure it out.” I know it’s possible because the Russians already working on it. The Vympel KS-172 is designed to kill AWACS and it has a range around 200 miles and a speed of mach 4+. Do you know what the Vympel R-37M is? It’s an air-to-air missile that has a range of 220 nautical miles and a speed of mach 6. The Russians were able to get such long ranges by simply adding a jettisonable booster rocket to the back of the missile. Also, the AIM-120D AMRAAM has a range of 120 miles and a speed of mach 4+. Making an anti-radar missile with these characteristics that is slightly bigger than the AMRAAM shouldn’t be a problem by adding a booster rocket. It sure as hell would be much easier and cheaper to make than a fully functional F-35.

No, I’m saying we shouldn’t give pilots technology that isn’t worth risking in combat, is obscenely expensive, and isn’t worth its weight in capability, when we could give them equipment that is good enough to get the job done and allows us to make more planes so that they can have a lot of help when they are doing their missions.

As for two engines being heavier and more expensive, maybe you can explain why the F-35 is so much “cheaper” than the Super Hornet and so much more “maneuverable.” It only has one engine right?

Are you serious? The Super Hornet is well suited for CAS. It has a large payload, is flexible, and can tolerate a lot of damage. During the first Gulf War the original Hornet took a direct hit from a shoulder launched SAM and still made it back to base. The older Hornet has even survived a mid-air collision and was still able to land despite extensive damage. The Super Hornet builds on that and has excellent slow speed maneuverability. The Harrier actually provides a lot of fire power for its price and does what it’s made for fairly well (at least the AV-8B does). It sure as hell is better suited for CAS than the F-35B. It’s cheap and moderately armed so if you lose one the Marines it was supporting don’t need to race to the crash site to recover the wreckage. If a CAS fighter went down with classified stealth technology, then that is an entirely different matter. Why risk a $300 million dollar aircraft to shoulder fire SAMs? That makes absolutely no sense.

THAT WAS NOT PILOT ERROR. The pilots reported the problems and reported that the hypoxia was extreme. They did what was right and the USAF made them fly anyway fully knowing the risks, but not wanting to admit that there was something wrong with the jet. Why did they do that? I never said they knew what was wrong. I said they knew SOMETHING was wrong, but they weren’t willing the ground the jet and take it apart piece by piece until they found the problem. That would have attracted a lot of attention. I have no direct evidence, but the Lockheed/DoD wanting to hide the problems because there is serious money and credibility on the line makes sense. You have to be blind beyond reason to say that it wouldn’t at least make a realistic explanation.

Oh, wow. It looks like DARPA has decided to use a similar idea to my own, only with an air-to-air twist. I look forward to seeing this missile take realistic form.

First off, those missile ranges mean nothing without context to the launch conditions. Most of the longest ranges you see in missile specifications are the range of the target when the missile is fired, not how far the missile has traveled. Add onto that the fact that those numbers are often against a best case non-maneuvering target fired from head-on at high altitude and maximum speed, and you can see why the actual practical ranges are much smaller. The AIM-120D improved upon the C-7 model’s range by about 50%, so I’d believe a range around 50 miles, but not 120… As for your KS-172, look at the size of that missile. It’s nearly 25 feet long and it still has a warhead smaller than the HARM.

According to google, the KS-172 weight 748Kg (1,650lbs). Ouch!

The Super Hornet is cheaper because you get what you pay for. Compare the SHornet to another 4th gen fighter like the F-16 Block 60 if you want to see how costs compare. If you want to see what a twin engine F-35 would cost, just look at the F-22.

The most expensive part of an airplane by weight is going to be its avionics, so once you start upgrading stuff to bring these 4th gen airplanes to F-35 levels of avionics capability you get huge spikes in cost. Just look at the F-15SE, once you put the fancy internal bays, DEWS and upgraded radar in it, you end up with a price tag over 100 million.

Read the accident report, the OBOGS was not at fault in the Alaskan crash. The airplane either indicated or had a bleed air problem, which shut down the OBOGS so that it wouldn’t poison the pilot. Yes they should probably move the green apple on the Raptor’s seat to make it easier to get to, but the OBOGS wasn’t what caused that crash.

Did you know that there are 4 times the amount of hypoxia incidents in OBOGS equipped Hornets than other LOX equipped aircraft since 2000? There have been at least two fatal accidents in F/A-18’s since 2000 that can be attributed to OBOGS related hypoxia issues. And all the Navy did was increase hypoxia awareness training!?!? How irresponsible… Or maybe they knew something was wrong and they LET the pilots continue flying because there’s always risk in flying and they deemed this one acceptable…

The F-35C can carry more ordinance than the Super Hornet at a longer range and with more endurance. As for toughness, most modern jet fighters are about at the same level there. Even single engine F-16’s have been plugged by SAM’s in the Gulf War and Allied Force and still returned to base.

I still dont understand why you think a crashed F-35 needs to be recovered. We’re exporting these things all over the world, I’m pretty sure they’ve made it pretty damn hard to figure out how something works by just looking at the charred wreckage. Whenever any airplane gets downed nowadays they get a JDAM dropped on them for good measure, not just the stealth ones.

And they won’t cost 300 million dollars a piece, not even the LRIP copies cost that much, and that price will only go down.

The f-35C is still an immaterial aircraft. I think that it’s limited to 4,000lbs internally, and it’s unclear whether the airframe can handle the hardpoint without modifications. It’s even more unclear how much weight they will be finally capable to support.

As all the report like to remind us, there is a HUGE difference between what the f-35 is supposed to do and what it is capable to do right now, and what it will be capable to do is not crystallized.

Don’t forget to take their speech “on budget and ahead of goals”, that system have been proved to be unreliable.

“EVMS is the monitoring system that allows contractors to make the claim that a program is “on cost and on schedule.” Lockheed’s cost and schedule tracker has been under review since 2010, when the Pentagon opted to decertify Lockheed’s EVMS. At that time, DCMA found fault in 19 out of 32 areas; DCMA is still finding significant issues in 13 areas.

And that batch is not 5% cheaper because it so better than anything else.

Typo to the third paragraph.
Don’t forget to take their speech “on budget and ahead of goals” **with a grain of salt**, that system have been proved to be unreliable.

And what about the fly-cost per hour? F-35A should cost ~32,000$/hour to fly, that substantially more expensive than the super hornet, and it look even more catastrophic once compared to the f-16.

Unless the operating cost end up being closer to a f-16 than a f/a-18, I see a lot of reason to keep using super hornet. Are you going to give every soldier a HK machine gun and pistol, because everybody need the best equipment available? I think that the cost difference is not in the few percent range.

Many good points made by Owl above, I have to say. I hardly read every post and every word in the exchange, but no doubt it’s unwise to assume the F-35 platform alone, coupled with internally carried SDB, can simply go about it’s mission unchallenged by any next-gen IADS.

Equally so, it’s unwise to assume that substantial SoJ and AEA jamming, coupled with decoys and sufficient stand-off munition types on a more affordable platform could not more cost-effectively satisfy the same requirement.

With respect to making AGM-88 into a faster and longer ranged munition… maybe a starting point could be studying feasibility of using the RIM-162 body as an air-launched missile and modified for ground-strike capability? That would give a built-in internal carriage munition with built-in mach 4–5 speed and at least 150km range. A more strategic, air-launched, long-range counter-system could simply be evolved from the RIM-174. That should give at least 250km range @ mach 4. Just add UCAV.

You really should stop talking to yourself. It’s unhealthy. But I suppose a compulsive liar like yourself has all sorts of mental issues he hasn’t worked out.

Tell me, when do we get to ltfunk3 or Oblat2?

You know what was nice about the Cold War was that there were less fools like yourself shouting “the Cold War is over, cut everything, we don’t need industry or a military!”

Clueless as usual. How is the shaft-driven lift fan a “bad solution” for STOVL which is a requirement of the USMC and for good reason. But of course you wouldn’t know the first thing about aircraft design.

The point, Chuck, was that the F-35 is SUPPOSED to be a cheap, flexible airframe that can be used to attack a WIDE RANGE of targets — you know, like the F-16, A-10, etc. do… I AGREE with you about the T-50 and J-20, which is exactly WHY the F-22 exists, and why it is as capable as it is! The F-35 can forget about taking on those kinds of target, so WHY THE EXPENSE???? I didn’t think this was so hard to understand, but apparently it is.
I believe we have to plan for future threats, but when the F-35 doesn’t have an airframe to put it in the league of what’s gunna be deployed (SAMS, T-50s, J-whatevers), what are you left with? An airframe to hit ground targets, whether they’re a T-72, an insurgent, or an airfield — So, again, why the EXPENSE??? Answer: Because they dumbed-down the airframe and tried to comp it with super-avionics, thereby extending the design phase, skyrocketing the cost, and leaving us with a plane that is too expensive and compromised to risk against a tank with a little AAA cover… Forget about J-20s and T-50s

Bottom line: No matter how comprehensive the “Q & A”, LM has taken on a project that required the design of an AFFORDABLE, 3-variant strike aircraft to replace a boatload of aircraft designs and capabilities. As if that weren’t tough enough, the approach that was decided upon was to incorporate stealth, a new-gen engine, and an avionics system that was (and still is) a pipedream; you know, all the things that make an aircraft UNaffordable and late. And if it still weren’t bad enough, it was further decided that concurrent build/design/test and commonality in design and parts was the way to achieve low cost, but which has only INCREASED costs and delays and left each variant strapped with compromises to airframe, capabilities, weapons variety, etc. to satisfy the design changes needed on the other 2 variants. Finally what we see in the culimnation of all these decisions are delays, cost increases, design changes and the like, with a long road to “tough it out” as we stick to this “model”. Not good, unless of course you believe it’s worth $1.5 Trillion.


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