Did CNO just take a big swipe at F-35?

Did CNO just take a big swipe at F-35?

The F-35 Lightning II has no shortage of critics among defense observers, congressional skeptics and other Beltway denizens, and now it has a new one: The boss of one of the services that will fly it.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert takes more than a few cuts at his Navy’s future F-35C in the July issue of the Naval Institute’s magazine Proceedings, further cementing the perception that if this Jenga tower were to fall, it might be because the Navy — never enthusiastic about the game — pulled out its bricks.

To be clear, the words “F-35,” “Joint Strike Fighter” or “Lightning II” do not appear in Greenert’s piece. But he has an entire section under the heading “The Limits of Stealth.” The Navy has never had a classically stealthy aircraft, and it won’t until it fields the C, but Greenert appears to argue that won’t matter:

The rapid expansion of computing power also ushers in new sensors and methods that will make stealth and its advantages increasingly difficult to maintain above and below the water. First, though, military sensors will start to circumvent stealth of surface ships and aircraft through two main mechanisms:

• Operating at lower electromagnetic frequencies than stealth technologies are designed to negate, and

• Detecting the stealth platform from angles or aspects at which the platform has a higher signature.

U.S. forces can take advantage of those developments by employing long-range sensor, weapon, and unmanned-vehicle payloads instead of using only stealth platforms and shorter-range systems to reach targets.

Stealth ships and aircraft are designed to have a small radar or infrared electromagnetic signature at specific frequencies. The frequency ranges at which stealth is designed to be most effective are those most commonly used by active radar or passive infrared detection systems. At lower frequencies detections do not normally provide the resolution or precision necessary for accurate targeting. Using more powerful information-processing, however, military forces will be able to develop target-quality data from these lower-frequency passive infrared signals or active-radar returns.

The aspects at which stealth platforms are designed to have their smallest signature are those from which detection is most likely. For example, an aircraft or ship is designed to have a small signature or radar return when it is approaching a threat sensor—or has a “nose-on” aspect. Improved computer processing will produce new techniques that can detect stealth platforms at target aspects from which they have higher radar returns. Multiple active radars, for instance, can combine their returns through a battle-management computer so radar detections from a stealth platform’s less-stealthy side, underside, or rear aspect can be shared and correlated to allow the stealth platform to be detected and attacked. Similarly, passive radar receivers can capture the electromagnetic energy that comes from transmitters of opportunity—such as cell-phone or TV towers—and bounces off a stealth platform at a variety of angles. With better processing in the future, those weak, fragmented signals can be combined to create actionable target information.

Those developments do not herald the end of stealth, but they do show the limits of stealth design in getting platforms close enough to use short-range weapons. Maintaining stealth in the face of new and diverse counterdetection methods would require significantly higher fiscal investments in our next generation of platforms. It is time to consider shifting our focus from platforms that rely solely on stealth to also include concepts for operating farther from adversaries using standoff weapons and unmanned systems—or employing electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.

Outrageous! Translation: We cannot afford to keep up our side of the arms race between “stealth” and detection — we are going to lose. So rather than trying to persist with stealthy platforms, we need new longer-range standoff weapons and new kinds of electronic attack. 

Greenert has cracked wise in his public speeches about how enthusiastic he is about F-35 simulators, given the numbers of dollars it will take to operate. That seems to be at the root of his objections — that the pornographic costs to buy and fly the F-35 as envisioned would be better spent elsewhere and deliver better ultimate effects.

Earlier in the piece, Greenert wrote this:

The ability of a few very-precise standoff weapons to be more efficient and effective than a larger number of less-precise weapons leads to a surprising result. In modern warfare, precision standoff weapons such as Tomahawk or the joint standoff weapon are now more cost-effective in many situations than short-range gravity bombs such as the joint direct attack munition (JDAM). A Tomahawk missile, for example, costs about $1.2 million, while a JDAM is about $30,000. To strike a single target, however, the total training, maintenance, and operations cost to get a manned aircraft close enough to deliver the JDAM is several times higher than the cost of launching a Tomahawk at the same target from a destroyer, submarine or aircraft operating several hundred miles away. That is one of the trends leading us to focus more effort on improving and evolving our standoff sensor and munition payloads.

A Block IV Tactical Tomahawk and its follow-ons, Greenert and others might argue, is just as good as a manned strike aircraft given that commanders can alter their courses in mid-flight. (Navy and Air Force leaders never tire of boasting about how an F-22 Raptor has shown it could re-target a Tomahawk launched from an attack submarine.) So even though the cruise missile by itself is more expensive, the total cost of a sortie is much lower than buying a dumb ‘ol airplane, training a pilot, training a crew, paying for maintenance, and on down the line.

Greenert’s piece removes all doubt about the Navy’s continued institutional resistance to F-35 — or at best, it now makes its official support very confusing. Why should it continue to take part in a program it considers obsolete before it has flown in combat, and more wasteful than other weapons? The short answer is that it must: It signed on the dotted line saying it would, but even that agreement, for 260 F-35Cs, made the Navy the smallest American customer of F-35s, with fewer planned than even the Marine Corps.

Moreover, the Navy also has shown it was willing to publicly undercut the F-35 anytime it pleased, with more orders for F/A-18E and F Super Hornets; its decision to begin studying a new “sixth-generation” F/A-XX it probably can’t afford; and its now-infamous leaked slide deck positing very, very high costs for the new jet. Greenert’s Proceedings article is only the latest example of that trend.

To be sure, no one appreciates more than Greenert the intense sensitivities over F-35 going as planned: As you’ve read here so many times, all it would take is one customer pulling out to increase the unit costs, which would drive others out, which would quickly devolve into a death spiral. That’s probably why he did not name the jet in his Proceedings piece, and he might also argue that he actually made a case for the F-35C in there: He concedes the jet’s stealth is helpful at a distance; it’s only when a pilot actually gets near or over a target to pickle a traditional bomb that the whole system breaks down. That’s why the Navy needs longer-range weapons and needs to rethink how it prosecutes targets. Hence Air-Sea Battle.

Still, an aircraft-launched standoff weapon with enough range and precision might mean you don’t even need a stealthy jet to carry it. The Navy’s existing Super Hornets (or Super-Duper Hornets) could get close to the dangerous boundaries of an “advanced adversary,” release their new super-missiles and then bingo back to the ship. Why bother with an expensive, advanced, stealthy aircraft whose “stealth” might not even work?

Because, the Air Force and the Marines and the F-35’s international customers all would argue, the world’s good guys need to take advantage of the commonality they’ll get from all operating the same advanced aircraft. Plus you could argue that Greenert is giving way too much credit to the bad guys’ air defense innovations and severely undercutting the performance of his own airplane. Plus you could argue that Greenert is putting way too much faith in long-range guided weapons and way too little in manned aircraft: What if his spooky new submarine-based suppression of enemy air defenses doesn’t work? What if tomorrow’s Super-Tomahawks can’t get a satellite signal to find their targets? You need a highly trained naval aviator in the cockpit of an airplane willing to ride the highway to the danger zone.

Greenert would doubtless agree — that’s why he doesn’t call for killing F-35 or scrapping the Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers. The point, he argues, is that the Navy must think as much about payloads as it does about the ships and aircraft that carry them. But platforms are still a pretty big deal to everyone else, especially when one of them is the biggest defense program in the history of the world. So even though the Navy remains technically onboard with F-35, Greenert has let it be known that even he seems to wonder why.

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Excellent entry, Philip. Congrats on the first rate reporting.

And very encouraging to hear Adm Greenert think so strategically and openly. It’s truly mind blowing to read something as strategic minded and analytical as this publicly given input. Good for the USN for calling it the way it is and calling to do what is strategic and necessary, but sustainable. And specifically, I must say Adm Greenert literally hit point for point, so effectively and as would seem to be, very accurately. And I’m sure most other ‘critical’ observers of US’s current National defense policies, posture and decision-making processes might feel the same as I personally, with this Adm speaking taking many of the words right from their mouths!

Well, I’ll look forward to this thread probably going ballistic and can’t help but anticipate reinforcing some examples on this one as the ‘stay the course’ proponents make their case! :)

I want to write this in all caps because I’ve been saying it for a long time and this is the Navy finally getting openly sick of it and honest about it today:


God bless you, Admiral Greenert.

Finally, an Admiral not afraid to speak his mind .. it’s amazing .. didn’t think many of them existed anymore.
BZ Admiral Greenert .. put yourself in for an Accomodation

Standoff weapons will NEVER replace the flexibility and precision of a direct attack weapon. Otherwise why not replace all bombers with long range missiles?

Sounds like a good description of the French Rafale equipped with the Hammer missile.

He didn’t say they would. He said though relying entirely on them does not stand up to the traditional cost effectiveness argument by citing the upkeep and personnel costs of manned aircraft.

The two types of weapons have different uses. TLAMs are not going to replace the likes of JDAMs and Hellfires and Griffins in the CAS role. Conversely, building a strategy around penetrating China’s IADS with manned aircraft is quickly not realistic, and it isn’t even cost effective as the good admiral points out.


I said China and not a ‘peer adversary’.….….

Super Duper Hornets versus Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft.

No, it should be a very tiny fleet of Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft vs. nearly 5x the amount of Super Duper Hornets equipped with the best in AESA, IR-sensors, and Electronic Warfare gear. That stacks up pretty heavily in our favor.

Decenters of the mandated message will not be tolerated. LOL Pathetic.

You could also count the once-canceled-but-now-under-construction-for-political-reasons DDG-1000 as something that might have been on his mind. Why spend billions of dollars per ship to get a “stealthy” destroyer when you don’t really need one?

“It is time to consider shifting our focus from platforms that rely solely on stealth to also include concepts for operating farther from adversaries using standoff weapons and unmanned systems—or employing electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.”

The author uses the above quote to make the case that they are a “lack of support for the F35”.

Ok, then…

“In modern warfare, precision standoff weapons such as Tomahawk or the joint standoff weapon are now more cost-effective in many situations than short-range gravity bombs such as the joint direct attack munition (JDAM).”

Then one can use the above quote to support moving away from a carrier based power projection approach. (sarcasm)

Bottom line that this is much ado about nothing. Stealth is here to stay. To defeat stealth the enemy is going to have to develop more advanced detection systems (as we will also). Those detection systems rely on side/rear aspects to get a fix. Well it’s kind of late by then and we work hard to destroy communication networks before going deep.

I’m not saying anything pro or con about the F35. (Neither did the admiral.) Just making the point that making assumptions about Navy support of the F35 based on what was said is as reliable as writing a story about the Navy questioning the Carrier’s utility because the admiral didn’t mention it specifically while specifically discussing subs, destroyers and “aircraft” (which could be land based, remember ASB?).

The Admiral’s comments are reasonable. They also provide the rationale for spending on other programs besides the F35. Including them as part of the case against a navy plan against the F35 is premature. The speculation is more than enough to get the anti-F35 crowd smelling blood in the water and going into a frenzy.

BTW check out the author’s accompanying piece where he said, “There’s a reason Adm. Jonathan Greenert didn’t call for the Navy to back out of F-35, his spokesman said Tuesday — he doesn’t think it should.” http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​7​/​0​3​/​t​h​e​-​n​a​v​y​s​-​a​d​van

The above story is just chum in the water to get the anti-F35 sharks swishing their tails.

China will have thousands of stealth aircraft against a few hundred SHs.

Not if their stealth fighter penetrates carrier defense and sinks the big deck first, taking down all Super Hornets with it. Let’s be realistic here, once the Chinese overcomes their technical bottleneck, they have the political will and financial muscles to mass produce any weapon systems deemed important to them. What makes you think US will still enjoy 5 to 1 numerical superiority by then?

You miss his key points:
“Operating at lower electromagnetic frequencies than stealth technologies are designed to negate, and detecting the stealth platform from angles or aspects at which the platform has a higher signature.“
He is hinting at classified information that F-35 stakeholders have just begun to realize. Stealth ability for the F-35 is a dimming prospect that will entomb this aircraft with operational limits until someone shrugs and decides to use it as a “conventional” aircraft.

You are wildly speculating unless you have access to classified data. He later says, “Multiple active radars, for instance, can combine their returns through a battle-management computer so radar detections from a stealth platform’s less-stealthy side, underside, or rear aspect can be shared and correlated to allow the stealth platform to be detected and attacked.”

The F35 isn’t perfect. We can have a more fruitful discussion without making stuff up. It hurts your credibility.

Occasionally, politician-flag-ranks, when under pressure, are capable of blurting out the truth.

Overall the fix to th Navy involves more focus on air superiority fighters and less multirole attack planes. It will cant get a whole new planes adopted this decade and 6th gen fighters are decades away sorry we haven’t got 5th get fighter in large numbers yet. Overall bring back F-14s and more focus on F-18s for job the F-35C was supposed to do would be just as good as the waste of the F-35B and yes even C would cause the Navy.

Part 1
To a degree we already do this. We use TACTOMs & CALCMs prior to air strikes. Against a near peer we would also be using JASSM-ERs. With A2/AD the relance on this prepping of the battlespace would have to be more significant. So a push for more and better standoff weapons makes sense.

But with all of the money going into F-35 overruns we keep pushing out the start of next generation weapons. Generally platforms get paid for first then we think about the weapons. Look at the F-22 and F-35, neither can internally carry a dedicated SEAD/DEAD weapon at this time. Neither can carry a cruise missile internally either (JSM & JSOW-ER are trying to change that). So you can call them 5th gen if you want to but they are still using 4th gen weapons.

Part 2
So as we pay for still more F-35 overruns, try to pay for a new bomber, pay for new trainers(maybe), try to keep a few warships in the Navy etc, will we have the money left over to pay for new standoff weapons? LRSO has already slipped, when will O-ASuW really happen, what about the replacement for AMRAAM & HARM (and AARGM).

The cost overruns on the F-35 program could have paid for some 20 new standoff weapon programs. Oh and by the way the new weapons could also dramically improve the capabilities of our existing platforms. It will be interesting to see if CNO’s ideas turn into any policy and funding changes.

Those “L Band ” radars can and do detect “Stealth” aircraft. The Russians are integrating it into their SU-35 and PAK-50 fighters in their wings, and will most likely be upgrading their current Flanker fleet in the future considering they are supposed to continue to fly past 2025. So the Admiral knows the F-35C’s “Stealth” won’t be much good going up against any of those aircraft. Now the Chinese, know one knows for sure what type of Avionics are being built into their J-20 and the new J-11B’s, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a ” Knock Off Copy ” of the Russian ” L Band” radar on those aircraft as well. They Steal from Everyone!!!

Or when the budget starts running out…

Okay, you guys are both results of the “CHICOM scare.” The J-20 is not going to enter service for a long time. The Russians are capable of fielding the T-50 in 2015–2016, the they will not have enough money to produce them in large numbers, despite the many good things their economy will get from entering the WTO. The J-20 is much farther out, like 2025. By then we could make a large number of Super Hornets for a relatively cheap price and also make great advances in electronics to deal with stealth. Aside from that I’m pretty sure that the radar systems on the Arleigh-Burke-Class destroyer and Ticonderoga-Class cruise are so precise they can find and kill enemy stealth jets as well as enemy cruise missiles effectively for the moment. I’d be more worried about Chinese carrier-killing ballistic missiles right now. I assume they are satellite guided and we might need to kill their satellites if they started trying to use those.

In the end you can only do so much with an old airframe.

I had a quick guess that he was a former sub officer and Im correct. Usually the case to think strategically when you have no real experience of the surface navy ( not even a regional combatant commander)
So you can safely assume he knows nothing about naval aviation

I guess, it’s better to have a strategic Naval and military thinker even without actual naval aviation experience, then to have a ‘stay the course’, single-dimensional Surface-tenured voice leading the show.

And btw, look into the history of USN Aviation when you get a chance. An ancestor of mine was actually the one who put out the first call to test it and acquire it back in the first decade, 1900s. There’s always an initial strategic thinker — an experienced and well-respected officer with NO previous knowledge or experience in the field — who instinctively realizes a certain innovative requirement and calls for a strategic re-evaluation of the current day doctrine as either not being sufficient, or otherwise needing adjustment.

Who said Standoff munitions should or would replace direct attack munitions in the sustained follow-on direct attack requirement?

But if more stand-off munitions in the inventory can equate to a better cost/benefit association as a deterrence and ‘day 1′ capability, then would say, a lower number of high-cost platforms… then I think that’s a fair debate to continue.

And even once an hypothetical future campaign has reached the phase where sustained direct-attack or persistent CAS is required, you still don’t necessarily demand a high-cost stealthy platform to conduct that!

Hell, you could get around 6–8 Super Tucano armed with Brimstone and with a 6 hr loiter performance, for the cost of one F-35C.

It’s about a sustainable and most cost-effective mix to procure that’s the issue here. Period.

Once we can wrap our fiscal budgets and strategic mindsets around that understanding, then we can better progress as a national defense capability.

They do steal from everyone but are much less successful from the Rusians. Either the Russians don’t sell them the good stuff or they have a much more difficult time stealing Russian secrets. Missile development is a good example. For decades they weren’t able to mimic soviet success along came Bill Clinton’s administration and they leap a decade overnight.

“In the end you can only do so much with an old airframe”

True, but who’s saying the SH should be the front-line airframe for the next 25 years?

It’s being argued as an essential stopgap and interim acquisition requirement, albeit in accelerated updated form.

and to respond to Black Owl… I must say, in this particular case, that I think your downplaying a potentially credible J-20 capability until 2025 at the earliest (along with the numbers of other next-gen platforms entering the force structure in the medium-term) is not the most prudent assessment.

I think people are kidding themselves about the future fiscal future of this country and its effect on defense budgets. What the Navy gets now may be what it is stuck with for the foreseeable future.


With all respect, it’s not about whether or not the F-35 is perfect or not… please. It’s about whether the specific F-35 Program and platform in general, and the F-35C platform in particular (as it’s now starting to be calculated, not as calculated and estimated in the early Program days), is fiscally prudent and valid as a cost/benefit expenditure.

It’s about what, in realistic and strategic fiscal budget estimates going forward (the hard cold true estimates, not the fluff as is arguably being put out before Congress in any give year) can and should be acquired as part of the overall High-low tactical mix and munition capabilities over say, a 10 year procurement plan.

Good points and submariners were the first ones to take stealth seriously , at least in the noise spectrum. And that has worked for them as he would know. But to diss it for everybody else ?
As I seem to remember the Russians developed satellite tracking of submerged submarine wakes to beat the advantages that US boats had for noise . Plus the USSR kept using full double hulls and much deeper diving and including titanium to reduce magnetic detection to negate US advantages.
Didnt see much strategic thinking from the submarine navy to counter these measures. But of course ‘clean sheets’ are easier to talk about for someone else.

Great posts, Weaponhead… both parts 1 and 2. Very well said.

Perhaps priorities will switch back to effective next-gen weapons development and procurement which will carry the punch in the end. There’s no doubt an abundance of the ‘stay the course’ conventional think-tank it seems.. in the current decision making chain.

While taking the austere budget environment into consideration though, it might be a harsh reality that well-intended and truly required new munition development Programs simply can’t all be funded. Even when excluding the F-35 Program from the picture.

Perhaps USN/USAF in the interim can switch tactics and planning and possibly evaluate more cost-effective evolutions and modifications of off-the-shelf munitions? For instance, is it possible to study whether or not it’s feasible to convert current surface launched munitions into air-launched variants?? (as was done during in past wars eg, when financial considerations were critical, yet requirements still necessary?)

Typical Ewing…SO despirate to find bad news about the F-35 that you simply make it up. So off the mark that a mear 14 hours later you have to post the responce from the CNO about how wrong you are. :)

Your 1st clue SHOULD have been that the F-35 was not even mentioned & your 2nd SHOULD have been “Those developments do not herald the end of stealth, but they do show the limits of stealth design in getting platforms close enough to use short-range weapons.”

So we shoot ourselves in the foot for the next 30 years because our political leadership has in less than a decade managed to bankrupt us? Hell, the Navy was sold on the Super Hornet in part because it was an interim design pending the introduction of A/F-X, and later JSF.

Mars – We’re talking past each other. There are tons of folks you can debate the pros and cons of the F35 with. My point was concluding the Admiral/Navy don’t support the F35 from Greenert’s comments was a huge stretch Yet it was red meat for those that love to beat up on the F35. In fact, in a sister essay by the same author the Admiral makes it clear he isn’t against the F35. http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​7​/​0​3​/​t​h​e​-​n​a​v​y​s​-​a​d​van

Eye’s comments were just as speculative.

“Who said Standoff munitions should or would replace direct attack munitions in the sustained follow-on direct attack requirement?”

Uh, the same guy you were giving complements to for “first rate reporting”

“A Block IV Tactical Tomahawk and its follow-ons, Greenert and others might argue, is just as good as a manned strike aircraft given that commanders can alter their courses in mid-flight.”

Well, actually HE’s not saying it. He’s putting words in other people’s mouths to start a fight. That was my point in my earlier post.

He isn’t referring to follow on attacks after an IADS has been disabled, the admiral is referring to follow on systems that will come on line in the future to replace TLAMs.

Please show me that budget. No nation, not even the Chinese are going to produce 1000s of gen 6 aircraft, that is fantasy.

The concept of radiogoniometry is well documented, hell I found in an high school library a book dating from the 60s about laser, and it was mentioned that a 1kw laser can ignite inflammable substance kilometers away, no classified information here. That’s the same strategy as using many smaller antenna to listen to the space for alien signal, many antenna aligned toward the same point in the universe, and amplifying it.

And for the furtive coating, let’s make an hypothesis (one that is in my head for decades), lets do this hypothesis by doing abstraction of Adm. Greenert’s speech. Regardless how and what it is, the furtive coating is transforming emf into something else (i.e. heat, electricity, chemical transformation). As we all know that perfection is not of this world, lets assume it’s not perfect, that is that it doesn’t and can’t absorb all form of energy it will encounter. It’s a safe guess to give to that unknown substance a point of saturation. Two strategies came in my mind. First, complete saturation, to simply push the substance capability of absorbing emf to its limit, just send more. The second, is to suppose that the substance, while transforming emf, have different proprieties than while it’s not. In other words, what would happen if I send both high and low frequency are sent at the same time, or forming a aleatory or predetermined mix of frequency. Can they all be absorbed, and leave zero trace? That’s seems impossible.

But the actual substance seems even less perfect, it can’t absorb all wavelength with the same efficiency. No need to say that electronic warfare is not new, and we both know that it’s not fantasy.

It’s true that his comment doesn’t not mention the f-35, I believe it was applying to the stealth in general. It apply so well to the f-35, that jet is designed to last for the next 50 years. What I understand is that the furtive technology won’t last this long, and significant effort and investment will be required to keep it floating. In other word, it need to stay state-of-the-art, so implementing it into all fighter jet simply doesn’t make sense, at least not the the level where the f-35 wan’t to incorporate it. It will cost more to acquire, more to operate and the main justification point being that it’s the future, that it’s furtive.

Just like I have always said, these fighter will need upgrade all the time. Better to implement everything that is implementable into more affordable platform –sensor fusion, hmd, data link. Yes stealth is useful, but it’s not the solution to all problem, and right now, way to much money is poured into stealth technology.

Typo: it’s not EMF, but EMR.

Can someone explain his comment about detecting a “passive infrared signature”, which by definition should not exist.

I do not see mention of ‘passive infrared signature’ but a mention of ‘passive infrared detection system’.

The main point being that the infrared signature is passively collected.

I would think that a technology which ‘looks’ for an aircraft’s or missile’s ‘RF shadow’ would be hard to foil. The way I envision this is that, given the sheer number of satellites there are which all transmit in the RF spectrum, a system which looks for the ‘hole’ in the noise made by an overflight wouldn’t need to transmit anything itself, and would look for the RF shadow that would appear below the aircraft in position relative to the seeker in the same way that an object passing between a light source and one’s eye would cast a shadow and could then be seen.

I would imagine that the CNO would be privy to any such sort of technology we possess or consider, and that might be why he’s reluctant to invest heavily in a weapon system, the F-35 in this case, that would be made obsolete possibly before it could even be fielded.

Now that he has spoken his mind, how long until we hear he was replaced like so many other officers recently?

So how much would it cost the Navy to cancel its F-35C contract for 260 aircraft?

Once you add Obamacare into the mix things just aren’t looking good for the US taxpayer. I think that the $500 billion cuts from the defense industry will be going to pay for Obamacare if the cuts fall through in January.

Less than 1% of the population serves. If the public has to choose between their entitlements and defense, guess who is going to lose.

“In the end you can only do so much with an old airframe”

Apparently you won’t be able to do much with a stealth airframe in the next 20 years either. You can still do a lot MORE things in the tactical spectrum with a conventional airframe and with the F-35 airframe all your capabilities that aren’t dependent on advanced sensors are greatly decreased. The advanced sensors (which don’t even work at the present time) could be retrofitted to the Super Hornet.

The PAK-FA T-50 will be more formidable than the J-20. It already has extremely sensitive IRST sensors, 3D TVC, 10 internally held A-A missiles, monstrously powerful engines, and L-band radar. The J-20 has none of these things. The only thing we’re waiting on is the radar, which the Russians are still farther ahead than the Chinese in that area of technology as well. The J-20 will need a lot more development if it’s going to come out as a formidable machine. Don’t forget that our electronic attack capabilities and anti-stealth capabilities will have advanced as well by 2025. The J-20 just doesn’t look that intimidating at this stage in its development. The PAK-FA does.

Interesting and thought provoking however they seem to ignore one highly significant point. The manned aircraft is a multiple use weapon, the tomahawk missile is a single use device therefore the classical analyst’s approach to a “one on one” engagement is flawed. One should make an educated guess on how many sorties the manned aircraft will survive and adjust the cost per engagement accordingly. ‘nuf said.

Michael — Are you talking for Mars, Ewing or the Admiral?

Don’t agree/disagree with proven tech vs. not fully developed tech. We need both.

I suggest you read the other story. http://​www​.dodbuzz​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​7​/​0​3​/​t​h​e​-​n​a​v​y​s​-​a​d​van… It becomes clear the Admiral wasn’t downgrading the importance of stealth but emphasizing we have to pursue ordnance improvement also.

At this point and time in history, Mike… even if being a little ‘too little, too late’… I’d beg to differ and actually have to expect the timing of this outspoken viewpoint to likely boost his credibility and support.

He no doubt would if he was John Kerry.

John, I actually think your point doesn’t differ too much from what the Admiral was calculating here. That is… calculate the total Life costs of a high-cost, high-maintenance stealth platform (along with it’s cumulative shorter-ranged munition costs employed over the years) taking into account how many combat sorties (where munitions are employed) and then compare against costs of employing more cost-effective platform assets, plus the costs of more capable and effective stand-off munitions. It’s a fair analysis on which to crunch numbers and ponder.

Another concept that is not exactly a secret, is bending light with some kind of gizmo I haven’t studied much yet. I saw the demo on YouTube. Later on a video from Defense Update, I saw a panel on a AFV that used the same stealth technology for light waves. If this can be done with light, then any electro magnetic wave can be done the same way — I imagine. In that scenario surface geometry will no longer be a factor. This technology makes square fighting vehicles disappear from both regular light reflected observation, and also infra-red. So I see a future where an upgraded Hornet could be even more stealthy than the JSF, and you couldn’t even see it with your eyes from a hundred yards!

Templar, read it again. First I’m not talking about the Admiral. Ewing was putting words in his mouth. Second Ewing was stirring the pot supposing Tomahawks were as good as manned aircraft but making it sound like this is what the admiral was saying (he wasn’t) and anonymous “others”.

>Michael — Are you talking for Mars, Ewing or the Admiral?

No. But somehow I feel that my comment was well located here. In part because I don’t share your opinion. Just like being realist about the actual limits of stealth technology is not downgrading its importance, unless you were to be a blind follower, which I am sure you are not.

I believe that stealth technology have to be overhyped to spend so much resources and money, like setting for objective to build a complete furtive (idioproof?) fleet of “low-cost” jet and surprise, it’s not how this is happening. That’s where –IMHO– Adm Greenert’s speech belong: a call for equilibrium, a call for adaptation, a call for change. Pure genius.

>Don’t agree/disagree with proven tech vs. not fully developed tech. We need both.

I don’t think that have showed such crystallized vision of technology. Some thing are by definition never meant to have a great ROI –that’s include nuclear bomb, the b-2, the f-22– while other are over everything –the M16– and it will be a huge and costly mistake to try to make things that are not meant to be this mainstream by counting on high volume and long service life, that where the f-35 is IMNSHO.

GLOMAR response…

Just as those other guys were the result of the “Chicom scare”, you’re the result of the Obamacare scare. Medical costs were (are) going to rise anyway, as a result of simple demographics; and uninsured people were going to get care anyway, but in the most expensive way possible (in an emergency room). Obamacare spreads the costs a little differently, and nibbles down costs with prevention and treating chronic diseases before they become emergent, but we’re looking at rising healthcare costs either way. The hit on taxpayers (and the effect on the defense budget) will be virtually the same with or without Obamacare.

I’ve taken Proceedings and Armed Forces journal for a long time and never read anything about Russian tracking technology or anything related to it so it must not have worked or the Russians were bluffing. The Russians only had a few of the deep diving Alpha subs and you don’t hear much about them any more. Don’t know abouit the Akulas though.

We’ll never have enough Tomahawks to attack all the targets we might need to. That’s why we have JDAMS and other weapons.

With what? The Marines beat the Japanese and Chinese even with large superiorities.

it is long-term chinese strategy. Think 30 aircraft carriers and 20000 offensive nuclear warheads. Get ready.

I was working on equipment for bistatic radar using existing broadcast (TV, radio and other signals) that would bounce off aircraft at non-standard angles over a decade ago. Stealth in its present form is not immune to this.

With GE setting up a plant there, they will soon have First Class Jet Engines very soon.

Thought all real leadership was gone these days. Very refreshing to see there is still one leader left. Thanks CNO!

Why buy the F-35C when the Navy X-47B UCAS is doing so well, just keep building that F-18 super hornet until its ready.

Because it is subsonic, can’t fire AMRAAM or other radar-guided missiles, and suffers from the same limitations of current UAV technology?

In other words it’s just like the F-35 then.

I was a warfare analyst for NAVAIR and always thought that F-35 was not what the Navy needed. This opinion was further reinforced when one of the lead analysts on the program told me privately that he personally favored the F-18 E/F.

while the CNO should be applauded for Leadership and candor of his feelings, it remains clear that the USN NEED A COMPLETE SEALTHY FIGHTER OR SOON WE WILL BE SORRY. THE F35C is testing now and would be available soon. That will be cheaper than starting anew.….

Well the Dutch are looking into it doing just that and I Quote ” the country’s Tier 2 participation in the program could hit EUR 1 billion. Then again, if reported figures regarding Saab’s JAS-39E/F Gripen offer are true, Dutch government budgets could still come out ahead. Industry may be less happy.”

So the the Dutch Parliament just voted to dump the JSF yesterday. see link below for both above comments

I love the Dutch. They are really a no-nonsense type of people.

Read Norman Polmars book on ‘Cold War submarines’ (US & Soviet). The diversity of the Russian programme will take your breath away. Fastest ever submarine , largest, deepest diving. Dont forget the supersonic torpedoes as well.

That will end up having the Swed’s, Swiss, and the Dutch all flying Gripen NG’s. The Dutch probably read the report by “Jane’s” stating the and I quote ” that’s a difference in lifetime O&M costs of about $250 million per fighter.” . Which is a huge savings in lifetime costs per airframe.

See link below for Jane’s flight hour comparison on Gripen, F-16, F/A-18 Super Hornet, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 aircraft.

The CNO’s comments sound strangely reminiscent of the “stealth have-nots”, i.e. European supporters of the less-than-stealthy Rafale and Typhoon.

Stealth technology doesn’t stand still; it advances just as defenses do. There was a good article on Aviation Week that described advances in stealth – it’s being called ELO, for “extremely low observables”, achieving signature reductions an order of magnitude better than current platforms. This would include capabilities against VHF radars that are now being fielded to counter current stealth. I’d give you guys the link, but unfortunately AW&ST has now made it subscriber-accessible only.

Perhaps what ADM. Greenert is really trying to say is stealth should be more affordable, something that the JSF originally promised but has spectacularly failed to deliver. It’s equally hard to see how its proposed “successor”, the F/A-XX, will be any more successful in this regard, given that it’s supposed to surpass the F-35 in stealth and kinematic performance, and will be a single-customer airplane with limited production run, unless DoD mandates a joint program with USAF for an F-22 replacement.

Glad the CNO was so candid about this subject. The USMC is getting a long needed shake up with its first Aviator in charge. The Navy has a CNO who is not business as usual. Would be nice if we could have the same activity taking place in the Army and Air Force(end of the Fghter Mafia Reign of Terror).
Glad to see this Senior Officer more concerned with the effectiveness of his branch(and costs too), than securing a “Golden Parachute” with a friendly Defense Corporate Giant. Or maybe he enjoys seeing Golf, Fishing and Grandkids in his future.

Admiral Greenert makes the type of short sited argument that was made in th 50s regarding missles vs guns and interceptors vs fighters. Then Vietnam changed all that thinking.

What’s a “decenter”? Something not in the middle? Yu muzt lern engrish!! “Dissenter”? perhaps???

George C Scott had it right.….”**** yes he could”. Referring to the B-52 crew and their ability to singe the fur on a polar bear as they flew below radar(Doctor Strangelove). In other words a dumb ole Naval Aviator in an airplane would be one of many options available especially when all else fails. ” Position Maverick ready one on a superduper Hornet”

The CNO is a very wise and strategic thinker. I remember that from serving with him on the Honolulu, where he was our captain. He is both a politically savvy and militaristically sound thinker — and I am not surprised he is in his current position in the least. His near open assessment of stealth and its inevitable limitations (stealth is a materiale and mechanical / chemical engineering technology limited by the design/manufacturing and deployment phases — wheres the counter to that technology (sensor and system integration) evolves at a far more rapid rate, with more and more COTS based solutions to combat stealth technology evolving daily. Abandoning stealth completely would be foolish, but so would putting too much faith in it. Better to put faith and money in a solid generic flight platform that can be replicated, updated, and modified — with relative ease. A similar shift in thinking has occurred in the submarine community with the Virginia class, why not push that thinking in the aviation community.

I am more concerned with the fact the DDG-1000 only has a crew of 45 to 50. Who is going to save the ship when it gets hit. And it will get hit. Not enough men to save a half billion dollare ship.


Well, don’t worry about the Chinese and the Russians “Neysayers” . The Chinese cant even make house hold appliances or anything else in their economy that lasts. I think their military is the same. The Russians cannot even finish the India Carrier on time and have lost most all their defense contractors since their economic collapse.
The problem with the admirals strategy is, is that just like in “TopGun” you cant depend to much on missles and loose your “dog fighting” skills. If Sat missles take out the GPS sats then those Tomahawks are grounded. After that your back to at best laser guided munitions and missles that don’t use GPS.
So need to have a back up plan and train most of the time in it of how to prosecute a war without GPS Sats.

Forgive me, I’m not as close to this issue as many of you wonderful folks are. Just a note; we won the cold war because any and all opponents realized that there are no winners in a nuclear contest. Money spent on war is a pig in a poke. It ain’t worth a damn until it’s needed and then it’s everything. As we thread past this financial black hole into the future, I would ask that the brightest among us keep that in mind. There really are children starving every day and a whole lot of them could grow up, go to school and have happy families for the cost of one missel test. Never, never be casual about that thought. If the admirals and generals must dance to avoid the expenditure–and do, then applaud the life that springs from it. War is not an extension of diplomacy–it is the consequence of its failure.

balance of NavAir mothballed F-14’s, …F-14’s are history…most of them having been chopped or destroyed in such a way that parts from them could not be smuggled/used by to Iran for its remainng F-14’s…

I applaud the CNO for his foresight and for sending a message to all these bought and paid for congressmen/women and their defense contract puppet-masters that we aren’t going to buy overpriced and obsolete systems any more. We DO need to conduct business alot better than we have in the past and perhaps save a few veteran benefits as a result.

The navy is always sucking hind tit.thats why i left i 1957,airforce now tks hedge

The DOD appears to have mandated exactly that. See Wikipedia.

The X-47B UCAS will be capable ONLY of ground attack; the F-35C is a multirole fighter. Moreover, the F-35C can operate from Nimitz class carriers, while drones cannot because they are too light for their steam catapults. And neither they nor the F/A-XX will be ready until the 2020s anyway. The Super Bug is short-ranged, unsurvivable, and easy to shoot down.

interesting argument. about what i would expect fm a F’n Bubblehead CNO. does anyone remember when pres Clinton tried to fight the war on terror with T-hawks?

Standoff missiles are much harder to reload when the Ship or Sub empties their magazine. The sustainability factor comes in question to deployed units that need to replenish or even pull into port for reload.

So if Stealth is not dropping bombs, then the CAP aircraft must be stealth. The kill ratio in some scenarios for the Raptor is 10000: 1, which is HUGE compared to non-stealth, cheaper airframe.

The bottom line is that pilots will always be needed to make Tactical decisions in all warfare scenarios in the next 50 years of aviation, and it seems, will be more expendable, without this great advantage in Air to Air combat.

I say, don’t step back from technology; control the electromagnetic spectrum, and have the healthy mix of stealth, non-stealth, drones, and weapon’s tactics that work at places like Red Flag, and Topgun…Before the experts in Washington dictate the mix.

You also have to take into account of Chinese “junk” that doesn’t hold up. Crappy materials and construction.

The real “jenga tower” is believing that “stealth” is some sort of invulnerability shield that takes the place of capabilities. Pull that block out and your national air defense falls down.

The CNO is refreshingly correct and I personally think it’s extremely important for parallel and seperate developments to be undertaken by all the services according to their needs. It allows new concepts and development without putting all the eggs in one basket.

As to cost? Defense ain’t free. What’s more costly, developing systems or losing them all at the first shot? We should plan wisely for expense and capability…not trade one for the other.

Should not have retired the F-14 so quick

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Admiral Greenert creates the kind of brief located discussion that was created in th 50s regarding missles vs weapons and interceptors vs competitors. Then Vietnam modified all that considering.

while the CNO should be praised for Authority and candor of his emotions, it continues to be obvious that the USN NEED A COMPLETE SEALTHY FIGHTER OR SOON WE WILL BE SORRY. THE F35C is examining now and would be available soon. That will be less expensive than beginning once again.….

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