Air Force May Accelerate F-35 Start Date

Air Force May Accelerate F-35 Start Date

The U.S. Air Force will inform Congress this week of when it plans to begin operational flights of the F-35 fighter jet, the service’s top civilian said.

The service must notify lawmakers by June 1 of the date it expects to have enough aircraft in the fleet to support missions, a milestone known in military parlance as initial operating capability, or IOC, according to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

“We will make an IOC notification to Congress next week,” he said during a May 24 briefing at the Pentagon with reporters. “We owe them a report by June 1st. That’s on track.” Donley, who’s retiring next month, appeared alongside Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh.


The press conference came a day after the Defense Department released a report showing that the estimated cost to develop and build 2,457 F-35 Lighting IIs — the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system — declined 1 percent in the past year to $391 billion due in part to lower labor rates.

Donley didn’t comment on news reports that the service plans to start flying its version of the aircraft, or F-35A, in mid-2016 rather than the following year by using a similar version of software as the Marine Corps’ jump-jet variant, or F-35B, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane.

The Pentagon in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 plans to spend $8.4 billion to buy 29 F-35 Lightning IIs, including 19 for the Air Force, six for the Marine Corps and four for the Navy, according to the budget request for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1. The plane is designed to replace such aircraft as the F-16, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B.

While lawmakers are drafting legislation that would fully fund the Pentagon’s request, they’re also concerned that the slow pace of software development may delay the most lethal version of the aircraft.

Donley said the service continues to evaluate how much it will cost to operate and sustain the aircraft over its planned service life. The Pentagon previously projected the figure at more than $1 trillion over 50 years.

“There’s no single number that locks in for the lifetime of the program,” he said. “These numbers will adjust as we get smarter, as we continue to deploy the aircraft, as we find efficient ways to operate it.”

The Pentagon figures the F-35 costs about $32,000 to fly per hour, compared with about $25,000 for the F-16, Welsh said.

“That number may continue to adjust itself,” he said. “We’re not flying it in a fully operational mode yet. It’s still in tests. We’re just started our training programs. That data has to mature, just like every airplane program that has a projected cost for support and sustainment. We don’t really know until we support and sustain it for a while.”

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The only way the costs-over-time will rise, is if there’s a consensus to raise costs…and, of course, even cancelling the F-35 Money Pit won’t zero out the costs…To even begin to imagine a “50-year service life” for the F-35 is the height of hubris…Service life spans for the F-15, 16, & 18’s can easily, and far more cheaply be extended decades…a much safer bet than the loaded-dice crapshoot F-35…(…didn’t we once have an F-22 Program, also…???…)
~silentum~:~excubitor~

The Block 3F “go to war” software load is sliding to the right again. USAF has to choose between another embarrassing F-35 IOC delay or dumbing down IOC capability and claiming a PR win by “accelerating” the IOC to 2016 with Block 2 software. Hmmmm, which would they pick? Of course they picked the later and will likely just wait for the block 3 software to finally get there to really be operational. Perception and selling has always been more important that delivering capability on the F-3$ program.

And of course, that assumes the F-35 isn’t obsolete once it rolls out en masse. It’s possible that the program will be due for a slew of avionics upgrades once it rolls out, which is what is happening to the F-22. Ironically, avionics costs to build out the original F-22 got its procurement numbers curtailed.

I always screw up and forget the correct nomenclature…Is it F-$5, or F-3$…???…

Let’s just keep 40 year old aircraft flyin’ and forget the F-35. That’s the logical thing to do, ain’t it?

So…if we SLEP the F-15, F-16 & F-18 we’re good to go, but the F-35 will be obsolete as soon as it hits the ramp (or deck).…?

nice story

I think everyone here is forgetting that there is a perfect alternative to the F-35 series that is readily available and can be delivered on time and under budget with fully funded classified upgrades that will keep it relevant into 2030: The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

I think it’s correctly written the F-$$…

…brownie, I’m gonna give you&yur post more respect than yur gushing sarcasm deserves…
First, look at the 10 years time from ~late 1930’s — 1940’s.…*DOZENS* of different aircraft designs literally flew off the drawing boards…*DRAWING*BOARDS* — this was the pre-CAD/CAM, pre-digital design era, remember…???…Sure, lots of Turkeys, but we STILL have several P-51’s, B-17’s, Corsairs, etc., etc., etc…STILL FLYING…60, 70 years later…the ORIGINAL AIRFRAMES…
Why not build *BRAND NEW* F-15, F-16, & F-18 airframes, with *current* avionics…???…
For *HALF*the$$$ DoD wasted on the Osprey, we could have beaucoup next-gen CH-46’s, and AV-8X Harriers, and waiting lines to get into pilot schools brimming with new grads…
Sure, we need to keep plugging along on DARPA-Stuff, but all the F-35’s that will EVER get built would NEVER do one bit better in Iraq/Afghanistan from 1991 — 2011, even *IF* we’d had them then… but a whole lot more F-15, 16, & 18’s sure woulda’ helped…
*I’d rather be immune to yur negativity and pessimism, brownie, and continue to be an infectious carrier of optimism & positivity.….
~silentum~:~excubitor~
rideslegacy773…
~bradford~

…I sure like the way you sarcastically over-simplify an argument into irrational submission…
I’d say, given the cost-per-unit, the F-3$ will NEVER be as good as ANY SLEP F-15,16, or 18…
You REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND Moore’s Law, do you, Hall Monitor…???…

A JSF demonstrator with OTS electronics vs an OTS electronics Super Hornet would be near parity, though theoretically in favor of the stealthier platform. But the promised electronics that are supposed to provide overmatch of the platform beyond legacy systems aren’t mature yet, and similarly the promised “upgraded Hornet” is bottlenecked based on the availability of the technology that’s /supposed/ to spin off from the JSF program. Otherwise the Mega Hornet is just as much vaporware as the JSF.

I’m curious what gets delivered by Lockheed, and how it compares to legacy platforms, especially when those platforms begin to reap the fruits of JSF’s R&D. It’s worth asking “The Price of Stealth”, though the F-35 has the advantage of being purpose-built for its hardware, versus having parts shoehorned into it like legacy fighters will.

I agree 100%, BlackOwl18E…the 18E is a major upgrade/redesign of the original F-18, correct?…
THAT’s what I’m trying to say, too…I think DoD is trying TOO hard, to go TOO fast, to get to the TOO perfect, TOO soon…When the DAMN GOOD ENUFF is available NOW…and will STILL be good enuff, if we need it TOMORROW…

Moore’s Law works for the other guys, too. Adversary capability is not standing still, or even creeping along slowly. If it were, we could stretch out the F-teen platforms and I’d agree with the argument. But the enemy gets a vote here…

Throughout the Cold War NASA in collaboration with industry and other people interested in high tech aircraft (cough cough CIA cough) invested in demonstrators and research that went back into production aircraft. We did not spend tons of money on electronics that acted as the bottleneck to platform delivery.

The JSF demonstrators that flew in the ‘90s demonstrated that to some rudimentary level it was possible to design three aircraft based on semi-common parts. Whether or not it met up with lofty ambitious powerpoint bullet points is something else entirely.

Of course, a lot of demonstrator programs would find it hard to survive funding whimsy if not married to a well-protected program like JSF.

Hey speaking of Joint aircraft. Anyone remember the F-8 and F-7? How About the F-4?

Funny thing. They were great air craft and because they were great they fit a multitude of jobs needed.

Build a Great aircraft and it sells itself. Unless the Air Force kills it.…..

LOts of new electronics going into existing Super Hornets between now and 2017, fully funded. Not even talking about roadmap options down the road.

Another question would be which HMDS system gets into an early USAF jet? Gen II like the Marines will get, or Gen III like the Navy. It’s possible that 3I will not support Gen III.

…“the ENEMY gets a *vote* HERE…”…???…whah?…
…do you REALLY hear what you’re saying?…that U.S. should tax-n-spend us all into submission, and also keep making *NEW*ENEMIES*…???…while scrapping perfectly good equipment, to better chase pies-in-the-sky, while the ChiComs hack into *ALL* our critical infrastructure…???…Hey, if we can get SKYNET fully online before the MotherShip returns…
…I think you need to re-solder some of the electric leads on yur tinfoil hat…they don’t work so well with BluTooth, huh…???…

Empty promises until paid for. Just like with JSF.

Accelerate the IOC of something how far behind schedule? Is that re-accelerate? un-delay? Anti-overrun? I’m confused.….

I agree the F-15C++ orF-15SE is the best counter to the failed JSF Id love F22s but with production gone the Raptor is over sadly.

I agree this is a waste more F-22s and F-15 upgrades for teh air force and more F-18s for the navy would have been worlds better than this billion dollar mess for a inferior less fast and maneuverable plane than the teen fighters or the raptor. think the USAF is having wishful thinking.

They are already paid for. The Navy has confirmed that there are classified upgrades for the Super Hornet that are fully funded and will keep it relevant into the 2030s: http://​www​.aviationweek​.com/​B​l​o​g​s​.​a​s​p​x​?​p​l​c​k​B​l​o​gId

“The Pentagon figures the F-35 costs about $32,000 to fly per hour, compared with about $25,000 for the F-16, Welsh said. ‘That number may continue to adjust itself,’ he said.”

Self-adjusting numbers. From the department of self-licking ice cream cones. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Here’s the way to ensure that the flag ranks and SES take ballooning F-35 costs seriously: put their pension money in the same pool as the monies for F-35 sustainment costs. If the jet costs far more than they are projecting to actually sustain, their pensions don’t get paid. Not a penny.

Only a portion of the F-16 fleet has a decade or more of life left in them. Same with the F-15 fleet. “Cheaply extended decades”? Nothing is cheap.

Without new aircraft, not just rehashed old designs, we will lose the ability to obtain air superiority and enemy air defenses. The F-22 is limited in its strike capability (even with upgrades) and can’t operate from a carrier. It’s also a design impossible to produce in the numbers needed to replace aircraft like the F-16.

The X-35B and F-35B have proven that this method of STOVL operation can work and allow for an aircraft far more capable than the Harrier ever was, it would be a damn shame to waste that and for the Marines to lose their STOVL capability in the coming decades. Because the F-35B is it, there are no other STOVL fighters on the market or in the works.

One of the reasons the F-35 has been in software development hell is because they are creating a whole new system from scratch designed to be far easier to update. The execution has been flawed, but it’s something that really should be done.

So when does the Navy get a new fighter?

Also, the Super Hornet Block III is no where near being as much “vaporware” as the JSF is. The Super Hornet Block III uses only existing technology. Everything that is supposed to be incorporated into it already exists. It’s just a matter of putting it into the airframe. I think I went over this with you before, but Boeing’s uses more technologically simple approaches to solve the same problems. On top of that, putting them into an airframe that already has significant stealth features and already works is much easier and cheaper than putting the technology into the F-35. We don’t have the money to afford the aircraft right now, much less get the advanced systems it relies on to work anyway.

What do you mean “making *NEW*ENEMIES*”??? Not sure I understand that statement.

We don’t have the money for it and it doesn’t need to be done. The F-16, F-15, and F/A-18 are far from obsolete.

Here’s a thought: Why we just make new-build F-16s and F-15s. Brand new aircraft and very capable to handle anything. Problem solved.

Pretty sure you have, but I’d have to recheck the IntenseDebate history to find it.

I stand by my previous comments re tech though. There’s also the inevitable question of downgrading the F-35’s just to get something that works into production, then upgrading it later. There’s a redesign cost and penalty, and it would throw a wrench into the timetables to retrofit OTS into the JSF; and I think Congress would see it as a sign of failure of The Program, but it may buy the contractors time to work out the –35’s systems for eventual incorporation.

I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be a bad idea to continue with the –B alone, even if JSF explodes into a flaming train wreck.

They should keep the A-10 flying. It is the only jet that can use an unimproved runway and not worry about FOD!

Thank-you for proving my point. You don’t understand. That’s what I’m saying. You don’t understand. Thank GOD you’re not the decider…

Hall Monitor may simply mean that we already have all the enemies we need, and enemies from new quarters are unlikely. Broadly, we have sufficient competitors in the nation-state space and people that hate us in the non-nation state space to keep America busy and spending for decades.

Of course, there is always the tangential possibility that “friends” may turn into enemies, but unless all of Europe decides to attack, there’s no Navy to power project.

pronounced farce

Yeah, I’m pretty happy not to be the decider right now myself.

However, I know what the national security and national military strategy say the DoD must be able to execute. There are adversaries in that strategy that the DoD is directed to deal with…and those guys are developing new capabilities every year. Hence my comment abou the enemy getting a vote.

OK, OK, I *TRIED* to let it go!…but NO!…you guys gotta gang up on me.….
I’m not trying to down-play how dangerous the world can be, I just wanna see more better diplomacy, *AND* a better, stronger, more effective U.S.Military.….
It’s been over 70 years since a truly “World War”, and use of nuke weapons…I just hope&pray that continues indefinitely…We’re flying Starship Earth, and that’s a TEAM effort…(…but I guess ganging up on ME is a “team effort” 2, huh…???…lol…

What’s not effective about the military at present? It isn’t easy to move 100 thousand soldiers to a country to invade and occupy it. It’s certainly easier to move a thousand guys on technicals to shoot up a few villages though, and because of that the United States will always look a little slower than the terrorists.

I’m not sure how diplomacy works for those guys. It has its place with nation-states, sure; but the Taliban aren’t interested in negotiation or playing nice. Look at what they did to Najibullah.

’til 2014, and we really have no idea what the classified upgrades are (for obvious reasons).

Hypothesis One: Interesting programs, probably incorporating JSF spinoff. Obviously these programs get more expensive if JSF dies or disappear entirely.

Hypothesis Two: Somewhat mature programs, evolutionary improvements of the “new stuff” beyond what is already on Block 60 F-16’s and the like. Will survive a JSF death.

Hypothesis Three: Incorporates known, mature electronics that just haven’t been ported to the Super Hornet yet. Least gain, least risk. How much gain is least gain? Who knows until you do it…?

Where are you getting this from? The Block III technology is nothing new and it’s not “bottlenecked” depending on the JSF technology. It is in no way dependent on the JSF technology. Show me where you learned it had to rely on the JSF tech being available, because otherwise it sounds like you just made that assumption up in your head. Also, what specific technology from the F-35 that is part of the Block III Super Hornet are you talking about? The only thing in the Super Hornet’s upgrade list that even comes close to fitting that description are the spherical IR scanners, which is something that the Russians were able to make for the MiG-35. Keep in mind that out of the fighters entered in the MRCA competition the MiG-35 was the only aircraft that had this technology and it was still the cheapest. The F-35 uses full on IR cameras connected to a helmet in a complex manner.

I know for certain that the International Road Map tech wouldn’t be hard or expensive to integrate on the F/A-18E/F Block II. These technologies all exist already. Building a fully functional F-35 still requires millions of line of software code to write and test as well as straight up inventing new technology to solve existing problems that they have no fixes for at the moment. The F-35 is the most vaporware idea ever.

To be honest, that sounds like a terrible idea. The downgraded F-35s would be no better than any of the legacy aircraft they’re replacing and would cost nearly 3x as much. If their only advantage is stealth, which is an advantage that is slowly eroding away as newer counter-stealth technology comes out, then they lose their advantage at the same rate stealth does. As far as that goes, what’s the point of buying them when our economy is not good, sequestration is taking effect, and upgrading the Super Hornets we have will make them nearly just as good as the F-35 was meant to be? (of course I’m talking from a Navy stand point, but still.)

Okay, blight, let’s here it. What do you think we should do to solve the crisis with our fighters?

Buy Super Hornets? Stick with the F-35? What solution do you want to implement to get our fighter fleet in fighting shape?

The solution is to mature the technologies in demonstrator form, then spiral them to the fleet. JSF should have been procured with more OTS electronics, though retrofitting DAS, IRST and HMD into the F-35 would be expensive, and procuring an aircraft little better than the demonstrators and perhaps not that much more advanced than a Block 60 F-16 would produce cries of outrage in every think tank.

In short, review what can be fielded more rapidly, then shoehorn it into the JSF. Cry me a river about losing the ability to overmatch 3000 MiG’s, but if the JSF buy gets cut again (already cut from ~2800 to 2400) there won’t be enough aircraft to turnaround, let alone attrite.

Abandon the pretense of being able to Moore’s Law our way out of this one. Aircraft electronics get expensive when you decide that they are a blank check for R&D. I suppose Boeing has a modest advantage in that they can use civilian fly-by-wire aircraft as a starting point for their aviation hardware/software, but Lockheed doesn’t have that luxury. It lives and dies on the military market.

Then we’re paying for a massive technology development program masquerading as a new fighter program. By acknowledging that a –35 with a reduced tech package is pretty worthless, we acknowledge the only thing worth saving is the technology package, asides from the sunk investment that went in the JSF program.

For Block III Hornet vs F-35
“IRST”: Probably an OTS system, or one closer to OTS. Not same as EOTS if JSF-independent, similar to EOTS if JSF-dependent.
DAS-no mention of DAS
“next-generation ****pit”: Reduction in complexity of ****pit, like F-35. Independent effort of F-35
Spherical missile/laser warning systems: Akin to EOST/DAS, but no details.

enclosed weapons pod: nothing to do with F-35
enhanced performance engines: nothing to do with F-35
conformal fuel tanks: nothing to do with F-35
http://​www​.indiastrategic​.in/​t​o​p​s​t​o​r​i​e​s​9​9​1​.​htm http://​aviationintel​.com/​2​0​1​1​/​1​1​/​0​6​/​m​o​r​e​-​i​n​f​o​-​comhttp://​livefist​.blogspot​.com/​2​0​1​0​/​0​8​/​b​o​e​i​n​g​-​o​f​fer… blogspot/UQMw (LiveFist — The Best of Indian Defence)&utm_content=Google Reader http://​theaviationist​.com/​2​0​1​0​/​0​7​/​3​0​/​s​u​p​e​r​-​h​o​r​net

In a happier world I wouldn’t be talking about downgrades to the F-35’s avionics, but the fiscal environment is rather dire. If technology development is holding back the –35, then if you want to field you must truncate technology development. If your technology is mature but the integrator (read: Lockheed) is having problems integrating, then your options are to motivate Lockheed to work harder, since telling Lockheed to dumb down the aircraft will consume engineer-hours which are better spent fixing the F-35.

The Israelis and the Arabs are paying to keep the lines open for some time. Pragmatically, they are not pinning a ton of hope onto the JSF, even though they have the deepest pockets. If I recall correctly, the UAE paid for F-16 Block 60 development, and that was probably a considerable expense just to get fighters.

I’m just happy we have 2 major airforces that go about things differently and the Navy decided to fund the Super Hornet continuation. We’ll see how the results work out down the road.

What’s awesome is that you chastise people for disagreeing with you when it’s you that do not understand what’s really going on. Please continue to humor me though.

Okay, so you want to bull-rush the F-35 into the fleet as fast as possible. I’m against that for two reasons. The first is that the cost would be ridiculous, while the benefits dismal at best.

The second has to do with something I have learned from the F-35’s we have already built. The more changes made in the production line mean the further the F-35’s we have already built become from the finished combat ready model. In fact, there are so many changes that have already been made in the production line rumors have surfaced recently that the F-35’s we already have are not ever able to be made ready for combat because they are so different from the design changes that have been made. The F-35’s are only 40% done with their testing and many more changes in the production line have yet to be made.

Overall there is really just no real need for this jet at all. The services could ignore it and make new upgraded models of their current aircraft and be fine until at least 2030, which we could possibly have developed F/A-XX and get it into a somewhat decent working order by then.

“By acknowledging that a –35 with a reduced tech package is pretty worthless, we acknowledge the only thing worth saving is the technology package, asides from the sunk investment that went in the JSF program.”

That’s exactly what I’ve been saying! The new technology is the only thing good that has come out of the JSF program and that’s the only thing that we should continue with. The aircraft itself is a failure in terms of design and we need to ditch this thing as soon as possible, while at the same time keeping this technology in development for the next fighters like F/A-XX.

New build F-16s and F-15s with a huge radar signatures compared to low RCS Russian and Chinese designs that will be introduced in the coming decades?

Yes that’s great to here how things are going in terms of f 35. I found interesting pics here http://​www​.airforce​-technology​.com/​p​r​o​j​e​c​t​s​/​j​sf/

So much negativity; the Legacy F-18, F-16, F-15, and A-10 need to be replaced to take the military into the next decade and beyond. The F-35 was made to do just that. If the acquisition wasn’t managed so badly you guys would be praising our new war fighting machine.

You have got to be kidding me!?! This thing is/was a boon dougle $$$ PIT from the get go. From what I have seen so far, the F135 motor is going to be just as ‘hungry’ for tax $$$ as the F-119 is. “Mother Pratt” has bent over Uncle.…AGAIN.

We’re going to find out real soon how good AESA/IRST is at picking out low RCS aircraft…

Ain’t no way they are goint to replace the A-10, Example the Buff!

You fail to realize that even with the Block 2B software, the F-35 will be more capable than any other plane besides the F-22 Raptor. It will add to that capability over its entire life by adding updated software. Even 3F software will not be the end all in software. All they are saying is that Block 2B will be good enough to go to war with, if needed. Do you really think they would not go to war with a few F-35s today if they needed. Of course they would. IOC is really just a term of art. So try not to get too wrapped up in the whole issue.

For one thing, many oilots died trying to recover from maneuvers that weren’t well understood in those planes that “flew off the drawing boards” as you claim. None of them were designed to withstand 9g maneuvers, trans-sonic buffetting, digital fly by wire fligth controls, and many other factors that we take into account. Now, if you want to build a $100 million dollar plane and not make sure if won’t break up in flight, we could do it the WW II way, but that seems pretty stupid when you consider the cost of the plane. I would prefer the plane to be built correctly after you’ve completed all the testing, which will in fact go on for the life of the plane as new capabilities are added. And all the current planes are limited by there design, which the F-35 has already taken into account to allow for improvements over the coming years.

If you remember the 60 Minutes shows of the 80s, almost all our weapons were turkeys. I think the Serbs and Iraqis should sue 60 Minutes for slandering the US military and putting out false info. While the F-4 wasn’t the best fighter, I’m sure there were a lot of NVA soldiers that cursed its 16,000 lb bomb load. It also served well as a Wild Weasel, and recon plane (even in the 1st Iraq war). It is interesting that some of our poorest weapons systems usually developed into great variants. Remember the EF-111 Spark Vark! Even old aircraft carriers have been turned into motherships for minesweeping helicopters.

Actually, consider that by deffering their buy, the US Navy is essentially allowing the USAF and USMC to pay for the bulk of the F-35 development. So by virtue of their waiting, they are getting a better deal. They get more F/A-18s up front, and a more capable F-35C when they put them on the carrier. They are in fact risking being on the losing end if we go to war before 2022, as the USAF and USMC will have a more capable F-35 fleet, while the US Navy will still be forming F-35C units and training them on their carriers.

Problem is, we can’t keep using older planes or the rest of the world will soon out class us. Stopping the F-35 and starting over would likely be even more expensive and will extend the prospect of new replacement aircraft by at least a decade or more. In fact, the F-35 cost a similar amount of money compared to the F-15 in its early days when inflation is factored in. But the F-35 brings many new developments over the F-15, and will be revolutionary ina similar way as the F-15 was.

Given the development of the J-20 and J-31 he has a point. Legacy aircraft are already. Critically vulnerable in defended airspace and will soon be at far greater risk in air to air combat. That being said, I’m not a fan of using 35’s as interceptors.

I agree with the need for more F-22s and upgrades of F-15s, F-16s and F-18s for more Stealth and improved avionics, reliability and war fighting capabilities. The F-35 will never replace the A-10 in down and dirty support to Ground Forces. The F-35 lacks the armor protection and is way too expensive to lose in this role.

The latest Flanker and Fulcrum variants on the market can achieve parity with the latest F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s. Within two decades we’re looking at the T-50 from the Russians and new Chinese fighters, the details of which are mostly unknown. The T-50 at least will definitely outclass those previous generation fighters.

How so? Besides for foreign prototypes we’ve still got the only real truly operational VLO aircraft. An advantage we’ve managed to squander.

Yet all of that new technology is the primary reason the F-35 program is so expensive and a “failure” in your eyes. EODAS, HMDS, MALD, sensor-fusion, the whole new code architecture. All of that is the main reason the software and IOC keep getting delayed.

Have you been listening to anything that I have been saying ever? I said the tech is valuable, but we don’t need it right now and it’s just not worth its cost.

The stealthy materials are keeping the F-35s at a high price. As long as those materials are in that aircraft it will never be cheap.

Also, the tech is not something I often target when I criticize the F-35. I focus on the needless complexity of things such as the B-model and uselessness of it all. I am also talking about the stupid mistakes. The REALLY stupid mistakes that are making costs skyrocket like the F-35C’s tailhook.

The F-35 has a myriad of problems that unrelated to the tech. It is needlessly complex and because of this it is expensive and does not work.

We and our allies combined have more teen-series fighters than our enemies will ever hope to have. The T-50 is only going to be made in 100 units, which is still less than the dismal amount of Raptors we have. The Chinese stealth fighters are too far out to even count.

Lastly, stealth is an eroding advantage. Advances in IRST and multi-bandwidth radars have strong potential to make stealth useless by the end of this decade.

Also, people keep forgetting that all of these weapons are completely useless if your economy is in shambles. We need a healthy economy before we need fighters.

This sort of technology doesn’t emerge overnight and it will provide many advantages once fielded. It is worth persisting with, even if it happened to be developed outside of the F-35 program.

Stealth is not the problem, the coatings and materials used on the F-35 are a major improvement over the F-22. They require far less maintenance and are more robust. No, the reasons the price has been driven so high isn’t stealth, it’s the avionics suite, the problems the aircraft has encountered necessitating redesign of components, changes to schedules and production lot sizes, and dozens of other factors.

Yes like any fighter program the F-35 has encountered problems, more so considering the scale of the program and the three separate variants. Yet I don’t see anything that is insurmountable. Once the bugs are sorted out, which is indeed a major challenge, I simply do not see any reason we shouldn’t be able to produce the F-35A or F-35C at costs comparable to a theoretical Block III Super Hornet. The idea that the stealth features of the aircraft prevent this is downright lazy when you consider what American aerospace companies has managed to do in the past. There is no excuse for failure there.

The tailhook issue will finally be settled once they finally test the thing on a carrier. I can’t give a reason as to why this is taking so long other than how risk-adverse we’ve become, but this isn’t exactly the first time an aircraft has had the tailhook design modified in development. It even happened on the X-47.

In retrospect what should have been done was to plan around fielding the aircraft meeting the original performance targets with an avionics package not much different from a Super Hornet or Block 60 F-16. AESA radar, a “basic” EOTS based on the Sniper targeting pod, etc. The rest could have come later.

I think you are underestimating both the Russians and Chinese. That’s a dangerous game. Lets not forget the new generation of SAM systems the Russians are more than glad to export.

Stealth will never be “useless”, an aircraft with a large RCS will always be detected before a low RCS design. It’s just simple physics. Plus a low RCS will make ECM more effective. There is still room for improvements in stealth design as well. It’s not gold plating, it’s an aspect of aircraft design to be considered along with everything else.

Cancelling the F-35 and whatever else certainly won’t do anything to help the economy if that’s what you’re implying.

According to my numbers (Cost from F-15: Eagle Engaged), the F-15 program was roughly $8 billion 1971 USD. That equates to about $45 billion USD in current funds. It is important to also note that with the exception of stealth and some electronics, the F-35 does not offer significant performance increases over the latest model F-15. And Boeing is still working on retrofitting better electronics and partial stealth under the F-15SE program.

You need to chill out, its really not a big deal. Someone so optimistic and positive surely shouldnt let someones opinion bother them, right?

whoa…keep the hog!

if I listen hard enough.……I can still hear that grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.….…grrrrrrrrrrrr long live the hog!

Roger that, the F-35 for all that $$$$$ ain’t got no b’ness going low & slow for CAS!

I don’t remember. The F-8 was a Navy fighter, not operated by the USAF or the US Marines. I don’t think an F-7 ever made it to production status because I am having trouble picturing it. Perhaps you mean the A-7 or A-3 which had Navy and Air Force versions, but the Marines did not get it.; or the A-4 which had Navy and Marine versions, but the Air Force did not get it. The F-4 was a joint aircraft. I see that.. Even though each version had its own unique components, they were far more “common” to each other than the F-35s.

Still believe we should never have mothballed that black sleek
SR71… Miss that piece of titanium…

blight: not to be splitin’ hairs but du u mean ” a thousand tehnicals high on khat can invade an city & occupy it”

BlackOwl18E:
It sounds like you were/are a front or backseater of one

Which is more or less my position, but this is stuff that should have been done /at the beginning/. I don’t know if it’s still cost-effective to go back to it this late in the game, or if pushing the aircraft into early IOC and deferring capabilities (which we are already doing with F-22!) is preferrable.

The SHIRM has a bunch of touchscreens that mimic the whole “see through the aircraft” that is supposed to be on the HMDS.

For giggles, how effective would an F-35 be with reduced levels of whizbang? It’s worth asking, especially for the export customers.

Will:
BO18E: is using the German tiger tank mentality, build about 1k of ‘em, far superior to the Russian T-34 & American M-4 Sherman, und ve vill zwin da war!.…. well histroy tells us.….. well you get the analogy.

I think it’s too late to go back and take a route now, not unless we want more delays and even larger development costs.

Theoretically there is nothing preventing EODAS imagery from being displayed on the F-35’s displays. But for night operations the HMDS display is certainly preferable.

You don’t listen well do you? I never said the technology wasn’t worth it. I said we don’t need it now and it’s far from perfect now. We don’t need the F-35 right now that matter either.

Stealth is expensive, but the other factors that you listed definitely contributed as well. The F-35 is more expensive than the F-22 program after all.

For the last time, NO. The F-35 program is not like any other fighter program. The problems it has experienced are not like any other fighter program in history, especially the software problems. The F-35 program is unique BECAUSE of its problems. The problems that it does have that can be found in the other programs have taken on a scale never seen before in history. If you don’t see any reason we can’t make the A-model or C-model at the same price as a Block III Super Hornet you are a blind fool and I can’t help you fix that.

Do you realize how shameful it is that you are comparing the F-35C’s tailhook to the X-47? Do you realize how bad that makes the F-35 look? The X-47 conducted wire traps within the early stages of its testing for carrier ops. The F-35C hasn’t done one in the 13 years it has been consuming taxpayer dollars. I don’t care what Lockheed has told you about it doing traps in tests. If they can’t produce a video of it conducting a wire trap then it hasn’t done it yet. I looked up how they conducted wire trap tests shortly after they said that they had managed to get it to work a few times and was completely disappointed to find that the only way they could get it to trap a wire was to run the jet over the wire with the tailhook lowered while GROUNDED.

I still miss the YF-23. I think it’s an awesome and a credible plane. I think it is more cost effective than F-35 because it is solely design and made in US. I’d like to see it fly again by the numbers for the country’s security.

Swarm drones will defeat any air force driven by humans.

Original IOC was to be declared in Oct 12 so fall of 16 is already 4 years late. But keep in mind what IOC is, minimal combat capability; maybe 24 PAA.….

The 1st F-35C should be delivered to Eglin this month (Jun 12).

I miss the F-86!

Me too.…

The next fun question is if development of export-grade hardware and software packages proceeds simultaneously with the American hardware and software. Anyone know if the hardware is supposed to be same, with features disabled? Or worse, parallel development forks?

FIX THE OXYGEN SYSTEM ON THE F22„„ FORGET THE F35 DOG.…

I can’t vouch for your cost figures, but you’re mixing apples and oranges by comparing F-15 costs across models. The early Eagles were A/B and C/D air superiority models. The “latest model F-15″ is the E model optimized as a strike aircraft (hence the name Strike Eagle) and has a different radar, mission specific rear cockpit, different EW equipment, additional fuel capability, and is nuclear weapons capable.

One other point. Costs per aircraft decline as the manufacturing learning curve takes effect, i.e. the 150th jet is easier and, therefore cheaper, to build than the 15th because the manufacturer learns how to do it more efficiently. That’s true of aircraft, tanks, dixie cups, and t-shirts. Your figures compare total program costs, but don’t discuss the economies realized by smarter manufacturing, lower life-cycle sustainment costs due to systems with improved technology, and more effective training procedures.

FYI, I don’t work for Boeing, Lockheed or anyone else—I’m retired.

I’m having trouble spending lots of money on STEALTH when the enemy is a RAGHEAD in a cave.

“If the acquisition wasn’t managed so badly you guys would be praising our new war fighting machine.”

It isn’t acquisition, it’s program design. Writing new avionics software de novo combined with new technological capability de novo and integrating new capability de novo is not cheap, no matter what Lockheed Martin’s powerpoints would’ve said. I doubt even Boeing would’ve been able to pull off the Joint Strike Fighter project without significant problems.

Kelly Johnson looked at the hydrogen-powered aircraft proposal and passed. I think his successors would’ve said “Think of the billable hours!” or “It provides disruptive capability by generating velocity overmatch versus peer rivals”

Not a chance — Check back in 20+ years and umpteen billions developing the first drone to dogfight. And you may want ot look closer at every single drone out there — They do surveillance; and target tanks and towelheads… any prop-plane with a camera, a gun, and a datalink can do that. an air superiority aircraft needs to be autonomous, and that’s a long ways off!

You ARE kidding right? Are you still purporting the same crap we’ve been hearing all along from JSF?… “Don’t worry we’ll figure it out eventually” The FACT is we’re 12 years into development and this what we have: A fleet of non-combat caoable aircraft that has less capability and higher operating costs than promised, an UNKNOWN pricetag, a ton of testing to complete, and a whole mess of whiz-bang technology that the aircraft REQUIRES before it will be of any use; technology that ISN’T ready, and we don’t know WHEN it will be. Let me ask you, if you’re 12 years into development of ANYTHING, and you’re major selling points are still undemonstrable, there’s a PROBLEM, a serious PROBLEM, if the plan moving moving is to continue what you’re doing… it’s called insanity, which is exactly what this program has been for quite some time, supported by people of the same mentality and lack of common sense. Upgrade what we have that works — If and when JSF tech is ready, and the airframe is tested, we’ll decide then. But for Pete’s sake, do SOMETHING other than walk blindly into the darkness, all the while ignoring the flashlights all around you.

Sory, Black…The whole “counter-stealth will make stealth obsolete” is silly, and for very common-sense reasons: WITHOUT stealth, you don’t survive, plain and simple. And the very notion that these anti-stealth technologies will someday defeat stealth completely indicates that you have no knowledge of what stealth really is and what it brings to the field, or even what anti-stealth means. “anti-stealth means it is (emphasis) BETTER at detecting a stealthy aircraft than a conventional radar. Claiming that they will obsolete stealth is the equivalent of saying that the AAM and SAM have obsoleted the airplane — WOW, let’s stop building airplanes because there are SAMs out there; and let’s not have any tanks because there are mines — The last time I checked, the B-2 bomber has been obliterating air defenses, and where those defenses were in place, it could also choose to slip through them, something an unstealthy aircraft can’t do at all. Besides that, EVEN IF anti-stealth were capable of detecting, they ain’t worth a snot for targeting; so you get to detect the fact that you’re under attack, SHORTLY before it happens. And lastly, do you really think anti-stealhth radar has ANY problem finding a non-stealthy aircraft, from ranges WAY beyond a stealth fighter? You see, stealth is a zero-sum game — without it, you lose. Think of it like our jamming gear — a non-stealthy aircraft needs ALOT of support… and yet I would never claim that stealth has obsoleted EWS systems… Common sense, my man.

wpnexp: The f-22 was not used in combat because it’s unneeded — It’s far superior to anything flying, so why bother. On the contrary, since you brought up the –35, HOW exactly are they going to use an aircraft with an untested airframe, no/limited night vision, and with no working weapons to speak of? And WHY would they risk a $150Million aircraft just to see if it works when there is not a single F-35 target set out there that an F-15E and an A-10 can’t obliterate with ease. It’s quite simple: The F-35 and all its whiz-bang tech means it won’t be ready for anything other than “trials” until such time as the powers that be begin looking after the US taxpayer and begin refusing to buy an aircraft for the next 7+ years while they figure out IF DAS will work, WHAT weapons the darn things can/will carry , and HOW MANY can be afforded because of all the “unknowns” that have to contantly be “restructured out” (read, “smoke and mirrors”). It really IS that simple.

NO HMDS wlll be on early USAF jets — Unless of course you’re using the term EARLY to describe 7+ years late — Either way, if they don’t get DAS working, we get nothing more than an aircraft with none of the promised capabilities, even IF they get a gen-whatever HMDS, the F-22 doesn’t get to leverage that techmology, and the much-vaunted 360 degree situational awareness amount to squat — So let’s all HOPE they get it figured out. My contention is that we shouldn’t be sitting around, 12 years into development, billions of dollars over-budget, and long way off from completing airframe testing and systems integration waiting to see IF it’s gunna pan out… It was stupid 12 years ago, it’s stupid AND insane now.

Without the fancy, the JSF isn’t /that/ much better than a conventional aircraft, asides from low RCS and internal stores, which should help in the range department if going internal.

Without the fancy, the F-35 is worse than just about every aircraft flying that it’s meant to replace in terms of raw performance — Because it’s ALL fancywhiz-bang stuff that’s expensive, untested, incomplete, etc., etc. So if its raw performance doesn’t match up ((ok, it can out-accelerate and out-range a bomb-laden A-10 or Harrier, we’ll give them THAT; but it’s turn performance is similar to an F-4 at altitude), and its DAS/HMDS are not-items until “sometime down the road”, we’d probably be able to take an F-15SE, complete its development, and field the whiz-bang stuff when its READY — faster, greater range, WAY more maneuverable, twin-engined, and probably available to fight years before the F-35 — As for the carriers and Marine STOVLY, they can wait for the –35 (any pay for it, too!)

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