Incoming F-35 acquisition chief blasts Lockheed Martin

Incoming F-35 acquisition chief blasts Lockheed Martin

The nominee to head the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program fired a cannon shot across the bow of Lockheed Martin, the F-35 defense acquisition team and the military services Monday calling their relationship “the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan went on the attack in his first public comments since Defense Secretary Leon Panetta nominated him to take over as the F-35 program executive officer for Navy Vice Adm. David J. Venlet who is retiring.

He told a crowd of Air Force and defense industry officials at Air Force Association’s annual conference that the Defense Department and F-35 acquisition team has “to fundamentally change the way we do day to day business with Lockheed Martin.”

Bogdan laid bare his plans to fix the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition program — with frank language not often used by defense officials in public settings. He outlined his fears for the program while saying he sees a few “glimmers of hope,” and made it clear he will not hesitate to fire anyone he sees as “baggage.”

“I haven’t made any determination if there’s anybody wrong yet, but what I can tell you is my position is we have to fundamentally change the way we do day to day business with Lockheed Martin. And if there’s anybody not on the bus for that ride, we have to have a conversation,” Bogdan said.

Throughout Bogdan’s 30-minute speech, Lockheed Martin officials sitting in the audience uncomfortably shifted in their seats. Defense industry officials looked stunned to see an Air Force general follow up on his promise at the start of the speech “for a little bit of straight talk” on the F-35 program.

The F-35 has faced a litany of missed deadlines and spiraling costs over its eleven years in development. Bogdan called it a “great gift” when the Defense Department was allowed to restructure the program adding 30 more months of development and receiving extra funding.

F-35 program officials must operate knowing a frustrated Congress will not be willing to hand out anymore gifts to Lockheed and acquisitions leaders.

“We will not go back and ask for any more, simple as that,” Bogdan said. “This is fundamentally a fixed-price development program.”

The Air Force two-star has not yet received confirmation from the Senate to take over the F-35 program. He comes with serious acquisition chops as he’s credited with salvaging the similarly maligned tanker program and locking Boeing into a fixed price contract.

Bogdan has spent five weeks with the program since his nomination. He immediately took issue with the Pentagon’s inability to settle on a contract for the fifth production lot of aircraft noting how the Defense Department has spent nearly a year negotiating with Lockheed Martin.

“It should not take 10, 11 or 12 months to negotiate a contract with someone we’ve been doing business with for 11 years,” Bogdan said.

He called the splintered relationship a cultural problem that has festered in Lockheed Martin, the joint program office and the Pentagon. Bogdan said the poor relationship is the “biggest threat to this program today.”

“I will tell you the relationship with Lockheed Martin and our stakeholders is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Bogdan said. “We will not succeed on this program if we don’t get past that.”

He said frankly the long term sustainment strategy for the F-35 is “wrong and it needs to be changed.” Government accountants estimate the lifetime sustainment cost for the F-35’s planned fleet of 2,443 aircraft could eclipse the $1 trillion mark.

“We’ve been struggling for years and years just to get a darn airplane in the field. But if we don’t start planning for the long term strategies now, then we’re too late to the game,” Bogdan said.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley confirmed Bogdan’s conclusion that the Pentagon is out of money when it comes to the F-35. He said the Pentagon can’t afford to get the long term strategy wrong and risk needing to scrape money from other programs to keep boosting the F-35.

“Certainly, we’ve communicated to [Lockheed] that the department is done with major restructures that involve transferring billions of dollars into the F-35 program from someplace else in the defense budget,” Donley said shortly after Bogdan’s briefing.

Bogdan said Lockheed Martin has shown “some improvement” in production, but it has not come fast enough.

“Do we expect them to be a little bit ahead of the learning curve being on their fifth lot of airplanes? Yes, but we are where we are. And what I can tell you is I am seeing some glimmers of hope at Lockheed Martin,” Bogdan said.

His early evaluation is that Lockheed is “right on the edge of getting really, really good at this” and close to delivering on the resulting production savings.

He didn’t just single out Lockheed, either. Bogdan also poked his finger at Pratt & Whitney, primary supplier of the aircraft’s engine, to yield increased production savings.

“I’m going to want see that here really soon from our partners both on the engine side and the airplane side,” he said.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Michail Rein highlighted the company’s recent success in reaching or exceeding the total number of test flights and flight hours scheduled this year.

“We remain committed to continuing our work to solve program challenges and build on the momentum and success we’ve achieved during the past couple of years,” Rein said.

F-35s have flown 826 test flights this year. Officials had expected to fly 643 flights throughout all of 2012.

Bogdan is not as impressed as some other defense officials have let on. Tallying test points, flight hours and test sorties “is not the best measure of a test program.”

“We need to rework the enterprise so we can start measuring what’s really important to test,” Bogdan said.

When the F-35 program went through its restructure, officials removed 179 aircraft from production. Critics complained asking why the Defense Department would want to buy fewer planes. Bogdan saw it as a shrewd move.

He questioned why the Pentagon would want to buy planes it will likely need to retrofit as development continues on key systems to include the software packages and the helmet.

Bogdan sees software development as a “gorilla” in the room for the Joint Strike Fighter citing the 90 to 120 days behind schedule the upgrades have fallen back the past two years.

Lockheed Martin has made “tactical improvements” to speed the program from the Block 2A software package the production line is now installing to Block 3, the block pilots plan to fly in combat. Lockheed has added new common work stations and held better regression testing.

“I have seen some glimmers of hope that that is getting better but until we have some time to see that play out for block 2B and beyond I will withhold judgment whether that is a touchdown or not,” he said.

Bogdan also held reservations over the helmet. He worried it will not be ready for the Marines in 2015 when the Corps plans to declare Initial Operational Capability on their F-35s.

“You cannot go to war and you cannot fight with this airplane unless you have a helmet that works,” Bogdan said. “Today, we have a helmet that works in a very rudimentary way.”

The helmet will fall into Bogdan’s larger strategy to apply transparency and competition in a place where it went lacking.

“We need new business strategies,” he said. “We’re looking at other business strategies and injecting competition across all of the sustainment.”

Join the Conversation

Mayb with the EADS Cassidian passive radar going into production, stealth will become obsolete after all. Plus against the J-21, the F-35 is outmatched anyway.

Hello Super Raptor — you’re still around?

You can read more of my comments on the article Report: How to lower F-35 costs? Lockheed asks employees. I was replying to Philip Ewing when he posted the article and I was explaining to him about the my solutions that the costs of this aircraft should not be reduced, a wrong aircraft for the requirements and must be cancelled altogether.

Just scroll down on page no.2 until you’ll see “Guest” and read the reasons of why is the F-35 is a wrong aircraft that can’t fulfill the requirements. You’ll find my solution very interesting and amazed which I’m sure you’ll really like.

Regards Guest

I dont see a page 2

So it took the DoD 11 years to wake up. It’s about time. This thing could be going down in flames. Carrier Suit’ still looks like a huge risk for the C model.

Prudent actions: 1. Restart F-22 line. 2. Start F-X and F/A-XX Programs tailored to the Pacific AOR (more range, more firepower, more performance than JSF) 3. Buy more E/F/G Super Hornets with additional improvements 4.Accelerate O-ASuW & AMRAMM replacements 5. Cut your losses on F-35 and design.

There seems to be some circular logic found in the whole process, when we have an F-35 acquisition team leading the Tac-air recap charge for so long, as the Program as a whole becomes more and more unsustainable and inherently flawed as an acquisition business model.

I’m just curious, does the USN have an “F-18 Super Hornet acquisition Team”? I’m sure there’s probably some supervisory office, but you get the idea.

That to me seems to be a fundamental and inherent part of the problem with US’s TACAIR recapitalization map over the past 10 years. i.e., it’s Not a US armed forces TACAIR recapitalization strategy, it’s a US armed forces F-35 acquisition strategy! Two entirely and fundamentally different things! One is a requirement to fill aged and obsolete aircraft and their systems and weapons with updated new build aircraft along with sufficiently life extended existing aircraft and their systems and weapons accordingly. And the other is a pre-conceived acquisition of a pre-conceived successful and affordable aircraft type in pre-conceived long-term schedules, rates and unit prices!

And the good sir, new Program boss, feels that we need to ‘fundamentally change the way we do business’ with our acquisition strategy?!? Um hello?? Um, Yeahhh… You just found the solution to your problem within your statement!

“It should not take 10, 11 or 12 months to negotiate a contract with someone we’ve been doing business with for 11 years,” Bogdan said.

Oh yes it very well could take 10, 11, 12 months when negotiating a contract for a fiscal year Buy lot of a flat out unsustainable and inherently flawed aircraft Program! It’s the most stark indicator that the problem is with the business model of the aircraft Program from inception — not a management or technical incompetence of the manufacturer producing it for you!

Wouldn’t be ironic one day if we woke up to read LM had decided that unfortunately the Program was too much and liability and risk for the company and they have decided to pull out as lead contractor from the Program.

When are these guys going to wake up to the fact that the F35 is a trillion dollar fiasco and the sooner the plug is pulled on it the better. This is a virtual carbon copy of the ill-fated Raptor program and no amount of tough talk is going to solve the myriad of problems that afflict this money guzzling lemon.

“Virtual carbon copy of…Raptor.” Sure, maybe in the same way that F-16 is a “virtual carbon copy” of F-15. Meaning not at all.

I am glad he mention the fact that to pay for Lockheeds screw ups they have had to take money from other needed programs to pay for this. Programs like upgrades to Joint STARs and other ISR programs have been the whipping boy of the Lockheed overruns. Now maybe these programs can get the support needed to keep the troops on the ground safe and provide them with the needed info as to where the enemy is

I plan to go to the local car dealer and make a big speech calling our relationship “the worst I’ve ever seen” and saying that we need “to fundamentally change the way we do day to day business with Bob Tollefson Chevy”.

Then I’ll pay list price for a Cruze, because I don’t actually know anything about what a car costs but dammit if I say enough angry things then I can convince myself that I’m getting a good price.

This is the first stage of the F-35’s death spiral. I guess if anyone was going to kill it then it would have to be the USAF.

That example would be related to this only if you actually studied what a car costs and had experience buying them. Otherwise, totally not applicable.

About the same price as an F-16.

Not just Lockheed the military screwed this up the B model alone was a waste of time. Overall both need to share blame for the programs failure.

Commanche II

And to other that think leads to more F-22s. Not going to happen, congress and the budget wont allow it USAF leaders do NOT want more F-22 quite dreaming.

I wonder if he meant virtual carbon copy in the sense of spiraling development costs; since it’s self-evident that a JSF is not a F-22.

Or robert assumes that any other jet is equivalent to any other jet, and any other low-observable jet is equivalent to any other low-observable jet.

I sense something hiding just beneath the surface with your post. Actually, a number of things…

Cancel the F-35 now-it’s bloated, budget busting, and doesn’t meet mission needs. Here’s what we do instead:
For the Navy, keep updating the F-18 Fleet, but start working on F/A-XX design that has very long range, speed, and payload, two crew design. Accelerate the X-47B development and get it operational asap.
For the Air Force-restart F-22 program if possible, if not join with Navy on F/A-XX program, keep updating current F-15/16 fleet
For the Marines, sorry you won’t get the B model, so take good care of your Harriers until we can figure out an
alternative, perhaps SLEP’d Harrier or modern version of the Harrier if possible, i.e. we don’t need no stinking high maintenance stealth design for CAS. We need something that is tough and rugged.

I second blight’s post. It seems like you’re hinting at something and I want you to be more open, blunt, and obvious about. I like hearing new opinions.

Wow! With only one picture of the J-21, you sure know a lot! You should think about working for the CIA.

you took the words right out of my mouth.….we are overloaded with all these self appointed experts.….such as super.….

Regarding your accelerated F/A-XX proposal, I wonder if the Super Hornet could be modified with new big-delta wing similar to the F-16XL’s modified wing? Any engineers on here who could definitively say right off that such a modification simply wouldn’t be possible for the Super?

If doable, perhaps that could be a poor-man’s FA-XX substitute and could likely be delivered 10 yrs prior to any full blown FA-XX model and at a fraction of the cost.

Perhaps coupled w/ slightly upward-canted, forward-swept canards (?) attached to a Lex section of the new delta wing for better control during slower approach speeds?

Maybe replace canted tail with a single, all-moving vertical stab made of LO materials?

If integrating the CFT proposed for Super Hornet, plus the centerline IRST-tank, plus the next-gen F414 EPE engine for improved efficiency, the range might be surprising. It probably wouldn’t super-cruise but would likely have superior performance and rate-of-climb over the current Super Hornet. Is that something even the Air-Force might consider as a cheap replacement for the F-15E and alternative to NGAD?

“Incoming F-35 acquisition chief blasts Lockheed Martin”

LockMart surely deserve a lot of the blame for the F-35 disaster. But so do the services and their acquisition staffs, and the insane design decisions they promulgated.

A friend of mine bitterly observes that the F-35 should not be called the “Lightning II”.

He says it should instead be called the “Shimmer”, after the satirical TV commercial from 1970s _Saturday Night Live_, which pitched a product that was “a dessert topping *and* a floor wax!”

Of course, in the real world, any product that proposes to be both a dessert topping and a floor wax won’t perform particularly well in either job.

And the F-35 has fallen prey to exactly that syndrome, staking out too large a trade space on requirements and performance.

It would probably have been technologically plausible to design a USN/USAF joint service CTOL stealth jet. It was the USMC with their VSTOL requirement who forced the idea into the realm of total implausibility.

VSTOL is hard. We know from the Harrier experience that VSTOL combat jets are going to be expensive, finicky, dangerous, short legged, maintenance intensive, and vulnerable to damage that wouldn’t down a conventional jet.

But to accomplish VSTOL and stealth too? At an affordable price tag? Without incurring horrible design compromises on the CTOL variants?

It was a pipe dream. And now they’re wedged in an inescapable corner of the overlarge trade space.

The jet has severe cooling problems, for example. Okay, things are crammed in too tightly. Let’s expand the outer mold line for better spacing and ventilation. Add some vents. What? We just compromised the low observable characteristics? You can’t just add random bulges and openings here and there on a stealth airframe? Oops.

It’s got aeroelastic flutter problems. And prolific cracks. No problem. Beef up the structure. What? What do you say? There’s only a hundred pounds of mass margin left before the B model can’t make spec for vertical bringback?

It can’t fly in afterburner without cooking the stealth coating off of the tail control surfaces. Okay, lengthen the engine nozzle. What? That fatally messes up the VSTOL balance?

It’s time to take this whole catastrophically flawed program out behind the barn and humanely put a bullet in its head. Every scarce dollar further wasted on F-35 is a dollar not spent on something that will actually work, e.g., X-47B.

Oh, and the Marines, with their institutional obsession about forward-based VSTOL CAS, need to remember that there are already a number of superb CAS platforms that offer genuine VTOL, not just VSTOL, and that cost a lot less than F-35B costs. Those platforms are called “helicopters”.

There are multiple picures available to look at on different sites, 2 engines, larger weapon bays, F-22 like underside. What’s not to like. We could learn from the PLA.
However even the J-20 and J-21 will be easily trackable by passive radar, putting into question the stealth enterprise of any nation.
Nevertheless, US TACAIR is in deep trouble. Without air dominance, we cannot do anything.

As a USAF critic of the 1960’s dysfunctional TFX program (The McNamara boondoggle), I wonder why we’ve failed to learn that “joint” fighter programs are disasters waiting to happen. Each Service has its unique requirements that just cannot be fully met in a common design. The F-35 program merely reflects what we should have learned from the TFX / F-111 project.

What was wrong with the old USMC Bronco? It could launch and land on Tarawa/Wasp/America-class ships, had plenty of loiter time, and carried a respectable payload ideally geared toward CAS missions. I’m sure that the little paratroop bay in the back could accomodate a GAU-25 or the like and plenty of extra gas to give it more legs and more teeth…

You assume where these will be operating that passive radar will be available. Go read up on exactly what the passive radar requires and reply back to this. I work with this day in and out, it is not this simple. I am not a fan of the F-35, but you need to do a little more research on the tech you are criticizing.

Considering we used the VSTOL capability as /the/ deciding benchmark to pick Lockmart, perhaps all would have been satisified with Lockheed getting the liftfan and JSF-B and “the better competitor” picking up either navy or air force variants.

However, the experience of designing aircraft that do well in carrier ops and conventionally is mixed. There’s the Hornet and the Phantom on the one hand, and the F-111 on the other…eventually becoming F-111/F-14.

However, I can’t imagine Lockheed willing to trash money and economies of scales spent on –C and –A any time soon. Nor will the taxpayer absorb the idea of asking Boeing to design either the –A or the –C essentially from near-scratch.

Even the modest experiments of the F/A-18 Hornet and its F/A-18L variant suggest that a common platform for land and air is possible, but might not produce the absolute best aircraft in the process.

Let’s clear out the gray ghosts:
(1) The F-35 total cost will drop (as will its $1 trillion sustainment) once unmanned combat aircraft like the X-47B are ready. The 2,443 number will drop by at least 1,000.
(2) The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps share 50% or more of the responsibility for these continuing problems. They’ve know the degree of difficulty since 2000 and refused to focus on them because they didn’t want it known that it would cost double-the-price for this aircraft.
(3) The Marines were fine with Navy and Air Force close air support before. Let’s go back to that. If they don’t trust the Navy, they can still put their pilots in Navy jets if it makes them feel any better.

Part 2:
(4) If you want to send a message to Lockheed Martin, Bogdan needs to say at his confirmation hearing or anytime publicly that the long term LM program manager who let this get out of hand is FIRED immediately!
(5) With a monopoly on development and procurement, you really believe LM is going to give the government its lowest price? That’s why the second engine was a smart acquisition strategy.
(6) If Bogdan is serious, he should tell LM that the design belongs to the government and we can get someone else to make the F-35. After all, its assembled in a government-owned facility!

For some reason we’ve led ourselves to believe that “multirole” is possible with every platform and it will somehow do everything at less cost. What ends up happening is longer design and testing times, price increases, and fewer capabilities because the decision makers keep thinking we can cheaply defy the laws of physics.

The F-15 and F-16 were first designed and built as fighters and later reworked to do strike missions. You have to wonder what would have happened to these planes if they tried to pack every conceivable mission into them in the design phase that we’re doing now with the F-35. Conversely, what would the F-35 program look like if we just had the 3 services pursue separate aircraft programs.

And every service does this. The Marines wanted a high-speed AAV that would roll off the beach and keep plowing ahead with the armor and firepower of Bradley but kept falling apart (and needed an engine bigger than an Abrams), the Navy wants an undermanned ship that can do several missions using plug and play equipment that hasn’t been invented yet, and the Army wants to replace the Bradley (scout, infantry carrier, and anti-armor platform which took over 10 years to design) with a vehicle that does all those plus have the cargo space of a Stryker which is going through its third attempt since 2003. The Army’s defunct FCS tried to tie the future of the entire ground force to a single program with 8 vehicle types off of a common chassis.

The Navy needs to just drop out of the F-35 program already. I can understand why the USAF NEEDS it and why the USMC WANTS it, but the real outlier is the Navy who does not want or need it. This aircraft is not going to work for their needs, they have enough time now to get Super Hornet upgrades and focus on a new replacement. Keep building upgraded E/F/G’s through the decade and then start the transition.

the end of stealth is here.

It’s not that simple. LM has to absolutely compete for price vis-a-vis F-35 costs and hence by definition, there is NO Monopoly! There are other jets on the market competing for sales this moment… jets called the Super Hornet, Rafale, Euro Fighter, late model F-16 and Gripen to name a few.

And go ahead, take F-35 production away from LM as main contractor, or let LM preempt DoD by backing out on the F-35 Program liability and handing production over to Govt. Do you actually think an alternative consortium would be able to simply pump out mature, bug-free and cheap F-35 within a couple of years?

The problem isn’t so much LockMart as the main contractor… the Problem is the inherent flaw of the F-35 requirement in itself and JSF as a simply unsustainable and unrealistic Program business model. You can’t fix those fundamental flaws with arm-twisting, tough talk and whatever fines and fees you want to throw at the manufacturer.

Hi Weaponhead

For No.3. Buy more advanced F-15s and F-16s.

To all pro-JSF advocates

Did I not clearly explain that the F-35 is a failed project, the biggest and ugliest, by far, of all time and again the wrong aircraft for the future defence needs etc – you didn’t listen what I told you earlier. I certainly love to see the JSF (Junk Strike Failure) get sent to the Davis Monthan AB, Arizona and observe the “overweight baby seal” get chopped up and shredded away into the bin as a cancellation. Dust bin awaits.

Tom Burbage and his colleagues from the LM organisation can kiss their F-35 and their career a goodbye for good.

If you guys are curious about why is the F-35 called the “baby seal”?

The reason why the aircraft is given that nickname is because I’ve found the results when Peter Goon participated the simulated war games exercise during air-to-air combat in BVR and WVR scenarios. Peter said in the email to Stephen Gumley from Defence Material Organisation and the Defence Minister (at the time Brendan Nelson) said “One way Red Force summation of events has been described is that… it was like “clubbing baby seals”. Indeed the aircraft looks like one because it’s airframe design is too overweight and very delicate aeroplane.

Ummm, I think the 1000s of TLAMs and JASSMs that could be launched from bombers, subs, and surface ships without any tacair presence at all over enemy air space is probably a skosh more than not being able to do anything to an adversary.

Bogdan puts on a show for the press, but you can be sure that he’ll continue to pay Lockheed more to fail, and then wonder why they fail just like every other general has before him. The stupidity of our current procurement system is mind boggling.

Indeed, operating in an environment with radio masts and cell towers might not always be possible. A target nation might have to shut that stuff down, or it might get shut down for them if someone uses ALCMs to bring down power lines and power plants from afar.

The Stryker was also supposed to be a multi-variant vehicle. ICV, MGS, AT…

There is one fighter, used by the USAF, Navy, Marines, and a bunchof other air arms that could be considered a success story.….… the F-4 Phantom.

Go figure!

I would like to see Boeing self-fund a new wing for the notional Super Hornet block III — get rid of the drag, get more range.

but but um um but um something something MULTISERVICE WILL ALWAYS FAAAAAAAIL

How much did the first production run of F-16A cost? (Don’t forget to amortize in the entire cost of development, along with the cost of Northrop doing all that YF-17 work, which is what JSF critics do.)

Considering the hell that went through trying to make the contemporary-of-the-time F-111 work for the Air Force and Navy, it seems miraculous that the F-4 got fielded.

The F-4 was a Navy aiplane. The USAF was pissed to be flying it. Wonder how the Navy feels about having an Air Force airplane forced onto them?

The Stryker actually does have multiple variants. The main difference between the FCS variants and the Stryker’s variants is that instead of a common chassis with different turrets (big difference between a tank and a field ambulance), the Stryker is almost entirely the same vehicle with different weapons and systems on it. They put an LRAS on it to for recon, extra radios for fire support and C2, equipment for medevac, opened up the back for a mortar carrier, engineer support, added a missile launcher for anti-armor, NBC detection, and the mobile gun system.

Simply adding equipment to the existing vehicle may not be the perfect solution, but it didn’t cost much, does the job, and they’re all in the field now.

To answer your question we are extremely ticked off about this. The single engine instead of dual engine design seems to be the most pressing issue. If it had two engines the Navy might have been more fond of it.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan is speaking to the general public and the media. He is trying to sound tough so the money keeps flowing. He has no intention of doing anything different than his predecessors. Why? Because the F-35 is too big to fail. The Air Force is out of business without it. The General is not going to preside over the demise of the USAF. Kick that can down the road again. There is one thing that can cause heads to roll. That is: spectacular defeats of F-35s in combat. What’s the “over and under” on likely combat? Everyone is counting on low odds of that. Historically, that would indicate a certainty of it.

Yes, but the F-4 was designed and built as a fighter for Naval Aviation (carrier-based). The Marines flew it from carriers. That USAF adopted the F-4 — - tail hook and all — - and used it in the Vietnam era. I still have a copy of the USAF version of the F-4 flight manual, where the cover page has a cartoon of a USAF F-4 turning on final for a carrier landing , with all the personnel on the deck of the carrier scrambling for safety.

The F-4 was a Navy plane first and it didn’t become a multi-service aircraft until pretty much after all the design and testing was finished. The Air Force didn’t change much about the aircraft when they joined the program. Big difference.

“You can’t get there from here. You have to start from somewhere else” . I’m told the saying comes from Maine, but that is what they would say in St. Louis about these suggestions.

..or maybe the Grumman TBF Avenger…Yeah!…That’s the ticket.

Is it just me or does any one else hope that all this monetary waste is just a cover up for some black ops programs. Logistically how did we get to the spending we are today with what we have to show so far. Supply an demand got assassinated on this.

All USAF fighters have tail hooks, even the F-22, but that has nothing to do with landing on carriers. The Navy landing gear and arresting hooks are totally different, as is most of the mission equipment.

That old saw again? It was silly and ignorant seven years ago, it hasn’t gotten any better in the interim.

How many death spiral stages have been “called” by the peanut gallery now? This must make at least a half dozen.

Death spiral is generally associated with elimination of programs. I don’t think this is going to result in that, but l do see a reduced buy.

read the article. it speaks for itself.

This is the problem when you produce one aircraft for all the services. Remember the F-111. What a joke that was. Was at NAS Pax River for that fiasco. We are making aircraft too sophisticated. Who are we going to fight with all this sophistication. The KISS principle has to come into play somewhere. 11 years and how many billions? I hope we don’t have to fight a war again. Had this type of aircraft development occurred during WWII we would be speaking German and eating rice. Good Luck General.

Passive radar will easily track our sluggish subsonic cruise missiles making them ineffective. If we had supersonic cruise missiles like the Chinese or the Russians we would be in better shape. but I guess we have decided to fall behind relying on 40 year old Minutemen III missiles while China is building new 8400 mile range ICBMs with 10 MIRVs each which can strike deep into the heart of the US.

The Pentagon have no one to blame except for themselves as Lockheed didn’t hide anything from them as the Pentagon has been looking over Lockheed’s shoulder at every point of the F-35 program development and should have realize that there was no possibility that the F-35 would cost $55-60M from the very beginning when the current price of a F-16 Block 55 or 60 is about $125-150Million.

How effective is passive radar against terrain-hugging platforms?

Actually it does, since 68 Air Force pilots flying in foreign countries have to have carrier quals just like Navy pilots. The landing gear and hooks are the equivalent to the Navy’s since they can if need be land on a carrier.

The main difference between a Navy F-4 and an Air Force F-4 was in the AB system (after burner). The Navy F-4 was faster. I really did not think there was a difference until I was involved in some missile tests at Hunter-Ligget Army base. I did a TAD in country and sent a memo to the Army command that I saw way too many helicopters downed by enemy air craft and that it would be easy to fit them with AIM-9 sidewinders for defense. Well, the Navy command came down and assigned me to outfit a helicopter for testing. In the first tests we used Air Force F-4’s and the Army radar had no problem tracking them, but in subsequent tests we brought up VX-4’s Phantoms and they could not track them on attack runs. I had no problem in our telemetry van so they hooked their equipment into my antenna array so they could track the jets. Anyway by the time they got choppers out in the field that could defend themselves we were pulling out of Vietnam.

What terrain are you hugging in the South China Sea?


We can tell you are a grandfather, mainly by the overuse of caps.

As of mid-2005, F-35 and (other programs) were (are) bankrupting the US Government. F-35 with LM is a F’in monopoly. Intelligent approach is to have F-35 jets assembled and operational at multiple locations with multiple contractors (Not just LM Palmdale). Been 6 damn yrs and we have seen only ~ 4 F-35 (to the tune of how many billion)??? WTF? DOD and US Govt needs to go after entire C-Level staff at LMC. Have Stevens fund F-35 with his own personal money. No more OPM for LockMart until they get 100 F-35 jets operational.

Not aware if F-35 is a cover for some black ops programs. Fact is it is used to pad LMC C-level and executive asses. Have a nice day.

Bingo. Absolutely the correct perspective and hard cold reality which needs to be understood despite all of LM’s failures and flaws. Pointing fingers at LM though, when the acquisition decision makers and strategists should have assessed from inception that it would simply be an unsustainable Program, is unfortunately a classic CYA and cop out. Either that, or a complete and total miscalculation and poor planning in estimating the Program to be sustainable and as such, even giving it the go ahead from the beginning.

The only difference I might have with your comment is with your price quote (for a unit Weapon System cost?) of a current late model F-16 variant rolling off the line. The unit weapons system cost today for a block II+ F-18E is around $85m and one could guesstimate a similar cost for a late model F-16. A proposed F-16V would of course likely be higher, but would still need to compete with a Super Hornet unit cost. Still, the original premise and sales pitch which allowed the F-35 Program to even make it to the first jet was that the F-35 would be an F-16 priced jet and produced at 200+ units per year giving substantial industrial benefits to Partners, was radically miscalculated and flawed.

Point blank, it’s an acquisition process catastrophe due to radically flawed original Govt estimations and acquisition decisions. No other manufacturer or team of manufacturers in the world today could produce this jet successfully, achieving the original schedules and cost estimates.

That’s tough talk and sounds good, but it’s just not how it would work with the F-35 program in reality even if you could distribute around final assembly in a controlled manner. You can’t force or legislate a successful, reliable F35 development and production along with the revolutionary F135 engine and software, etc. It’s a flawed aircraft design acquisition, flawed requirement, flawed original estimates and simply unsustainable business model from inception. My prediction for awhile is that LM would back out of the Program as lead contractor and hand production over to Govt if it becomes too much a liability.

I’ll agree with you on that one. And in all fairness, you can add the A-4 to that list, although the F-8 did have some reliability and design issues.

Passive radar is clever but it is hardly the end of stealth. Its drawback is that is uses existing EM emissions to develop its image. The US with EW can throw so much EM garbage into the sky about all passive radar will do for you is let you know the USAF and USN are on the way to blow up your favorite stuff.

“I’ve never read that the single engine F-8 Crusader and A-7 Corsair II were unpopular with Navy pilots.”

The F-8 and A-7 and A-4 were, by modern standards, dirt cheap. And bought in quantity reflecting that cheapness. And used tactically in ways reflecting that cheapness. They could afford to be lost.

Small numbers of expensive jets alter that calculus.

This is to say nothing of the less risk-averse culture of the era of the F8/A7/A4, which was one in which pilots could also be lost in rather large numbers without the public and Congress freaking out. That situation also no longer obtains.

Not if we flood the skies with EM crap via EW platforms, or do you think it is just coincidence they tested the X47B with ten X the EM interference typically done?

No airframe is able to perform multiple roles, as the great aircraft designers all stated design an airframe to do one job and make damn sure it does that job better than anyone elses.
The F-35 is firmly in the corner of being asked to perform way too many functions and is not able to do one to the absolute best when compared to other airframes.
Each mission asked of an airframe place different stresses and performance issues upon it, asking it to excel in all areas is idiotic. Something has to give if you want it to do everything. The aircraft designers of old knew this and hence developed specific airframes to do specific roles, maybe new designers and those in the positions of acquistion need to re-learn these very important lessons.
The whole F-35 program reminds me so much of the issues associated with the Me-262 / Gloucester Meteor development it isn’t funny. The designers of both aircraft were left tearing their repsective hairs out with the constant changes in what people wanted their respective aircraft to do, that in the end neither did their roles as spectacularly as they could have if they had been allowed to meet the original parameters.

Also go ahead with the B-1R.

The main problem I have with the F-35 is that it was advertised to be able to replace the AV8B, F-16, F-18, and A-10. It would be able to do those jobs and better than all those aircraft. Well, sorry but I don’t think anything can do that and by the time the F-35 will be in full production it will probably be obsolete. I can see the F-35 being a useful bomber or attack aircraft, but not a fighter. I just don’t see it out dogfighting an F-16 or F-18, although I hope I am wrong about that. But there is NO way that anything could replace the A-10, unless it is an upgraded A-10. Every war has proven that we always need a heavily armed ground attack aircraft that can hang around the battlefield for a long time.

The reason they weren’t unpopular is because the Navy didn’t have a dual engine jet fighter until the F-4 Phantom came along and even then the F-4 Phantom had its own set of issues and deficiencies when it was compared to the MiG-17, MiG-19, and MiG-21.

Now every Navy aircraft has two engines. The F-35C was something forced on us and we really didn’t want it.

However, you should know that the Canadians are studying this and arguing whether or not to purchase F-35 vs Super Hornets vs Arrow. They have shown that two engines has made a big difference in the operations they have had with their CF-18s.

Between 1988 and March 31, 2012, there were 228 precautionary mid-flight engine shutdowns. It should be noted that a precautionary engine shut-down is not an engine failure.

Two engines makes a difference and the U.S. Navy knows it better than anyone.

The F-35 is not the X-47 and is already obsolete at 200 mill/plane. And the J-20 will pick off the X-47.

Directing TLAMs through Vietnam may be an option, but will cost in range to get it done.

For direct firing over the SCS, perhaps skimming over the ocean might help a little.

Not many pilots like to fly the F-8. The piston that raised and lowered the wing would fail on a regular basis and would cause the wing to lift up off the plane. I went to three crash sites, two with VX-4 at Pt. Mugu, and one at China Lake. The plane was grounded for almost a year after several failed in the same year, four in the states and something like six or eight on deployment.

As far as the two F-111 planes that VX-4 had, both crashed and killed four. The problem was with the ejection system in those first few planes. I was discharged before it came into the fleet.

When I was discharged the gear on the runway was the same as on a carrier. As far as the landing gear on the F-4 it was the same, the same contractor, the same material, and the same tires. Mostly the difference between the Air Force F-4 and the Navy F4 was in the AB and the radar. The Air Force used the Falcon AIM, plus Sidewinders and Sparrows, where the Navy/Marines carried Sidewinders and Sparrows for Air-to-Air, plus the cannon and ground support rockets and bombs. When the cannon was attached they could not carry the inboard sparrows.

I was attached to a small unit at Pt. Mugu, we ran telemetry for the PMR and tested F-4’s stationed in California prior to their deployment to Southeast Asia. I have sat in the front and back seat of both Air Force and Navy/Marine F-4’s and they are very similar other than radar controls which were slightly different.

As for the folding wings, when I was discharged in 70 all F-4’s had folding wings. All F-4’s could land on carriers.

Indeed, the Cutlass had two engines and that didn’t help its reputation; the Panther/Cougar, on the other hand, had one engine and did just fine.

The very first jet the Navy operated had two engines, you moron.

You’re right. I forgot about the F9F Panther. Good catch.

The F9F Panther served mainly as an attacker (and yes I do know it got the first jet-to-jet air kill in history) and I still think of it as an attacker. Guess why it served as an attacker? It was very rugged to damage and the dual engine design gave it great redundancy. ;)

For starters I said nothing about the F35, I pointed out stealth is hardly extinct because of passive radar. Secondly, all the assertions made here about fighter on fighter dog fights is utterly absurd and speaks to how little most of the people who post here know about air campaign strategy. The J20 is every bit as much a big ‘?’ as the F35.

Like I said, most pilots going to Vietnam had to do carrier quals so at least from mid 60’s to when I was discharged in late 70 they did take-off and land on carriers.

The A-7 was popular for many other reasons, but a single engine wasn’t one of them. The aircraft the Navy replaced it with has two engines. Two engines makes a difference in the end and the fact of the matter is that a dual engine design is more reliable, more tolerant to damage, more suitable for long range missions, and better for the pilot and the carrier environment. The Navy knows this and that’s why there is such strong resistance to the F-35C.

The JSF is not what we want and the capability if offers is not nearly worth what it costs. There are many other cheaper and more effective ways of killing SAMs and getting the job done. Anti-radiation missiles with greater technological improvements and advancements in performance would destroy SAMs and be much more effective. If we have one type of fighter, but that fighter is designed to do literally everything in the tactical spectrum and has a badass pilot at the controls then that’s all we need. The Super Hornet is that fighter and it could handle advanced SAMs with better anti-radar missiles and the improvements from Boeing’s International Road Map program.

Canada is looking at trying to get the Avro Arrow back. They did an analysis and came to the conclusion that a revamped Avro Arrow is really what would be ideal for their forces and ideal because of the vast amount of land they possess. It has longer range than the F-35, its faster, and has a bigger payload. If they made a modernized version of it then they would have a formidable long range interceptor comparable to the MiG-31. From what I can gather, they’re right. A modernized Avro Arrow would be better suited for their needs. I think Canada’s best move would be to cancel their F-35A purchases and buy a very small amount of Block III Super Hornets to keep their capability and their interoperability with our forces, then proceed to develop their own version of the Arrow with Canadian designers and the American Defense industry doing the work. Keep in mind that I’m still biased and want more jobs here in the states and my thinking reflects that. The Super Hornet Block IIIs would also serve as a buffer in case the revamped Arrow runs into any problems. I would also like the Arrow to be fitted specifically for American missiles and American weapons.

By the way, where is “here” for you? Are you in Sweden?


the panther was a single-engine aircraft

and it wasn’t the first jet type operated by the USN

that was the FH-1 Banshee


Wow, I’m all sorts of hosed up this week. I’m going to go take a break and come back when I’m not making mistakes like this. Thanks, DensityDuck, for your honesty.

So True, that’s one of the reasons why the UK & Saab are working together on the Sea Gripen. Don’t be surprised if Canada gives it a much better look with the F-35 in serious trouble up there.

I’m sure we could get the Yak-41 line jump started for a small amount so the Marines have what they need. The F-35B program was just so the Marines didn’t feel left out by not getting to eat at the adult’s table. A CAS platform that has more speed and longer legs than the Harrier is what was needed. The F-35B never was that aircraft. Here is a brand new idea. Everywhere the Marines float in their various amphibious groups, they could be followed by one of those new fangled aircraft carriers, I hear they have planes that can drop bombs and shoot guns. Let the Marines keep their Helos and Ospreys, MAKE the USN provide them with fixed wing air support.

It looks like everyone has forgotten when the award was given to LM it was the aircraft of the future. The Program length of this aircraft was to be 50 years into the future. Look back and see the excitement when this Program started. We are 20% into this program and still trying to figure out issues. If it were easy, anyone could do it. Do you believe cost over runs are done on purpose? Let’s give some credit to some remarkable tasks that have been accomplished in this manufacturing world. Does anyone think they got their on luck? Believe me, there has been a lot of it, along with long hard nights wondering and worrying. It is really sad to see LM taking it on the chin. Not being there in these top level meetings is no place I want to be. As I said earlier, if it were easy, anyone could do it.

This discussion(for some reason — amusingly); reminds me of the mysterious training my dad took early in the air war in WWII; where he was required to land and take off a very short runway in an Army Air Corps B-25. He and some of the crew were sent to Africa and ended up in B-17s. After Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo, the weird lines painted on the tarmac suddenly made sense. He had been training for that raid and didn’t know it. I’m glad they didn’t need them as back up, or I wouldn’t probably be here commenting! :)

Jimmy ended up in Africa later also — they never knew each other though. It is still funny how Air Force planes end up useful Naval planes, and vice-versa(once in a blue moon).

I thought it was just Canadian’s who were wondering why we are not getting out of this JSF program as it would appear that this aircraft is headed out to pasture like the F22. I find aggreement that maybe they are trying to do too many application’s for one aircraft 11yrs. is quite a long time and still caught up in problem fixing. I would not say Canada should purchase any aircraft they don’t feel part of the team but time is running out for CF 18’s replacement , if they have another aircraft they can fall back on we haven’t heard about it not that the puplic should ever be involved, good luck to the US puplic you can only hope the gov’t. can turn it to a positive conclusion.

Actually. the F-111 turned out to be an excellent combat aircraft, serving in the tactical attack, strategic attack and electronic warfare roles. In fact, it almost surely would have worked for the Navy also, if the Admirals had not insisted on side-by-side seating (which drove the weight above their carrier maximums). Truth is, many thought the Admirals just wanted their plane built by a traditionally Navy supplier (Grumman) and in fact turned over a lot of the F-111B data to them to help in building the F-14.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.