Meanwhile, the F-35 is still a train wreck

posted at 12:41 pm on February 5, 2016 by Allan Bourdius

Now that votes are finally being cast, most Hot Air content is going to be revolving around the ongoing campaign, but it’s important we don’t lose sight of issue details that could wind up affecting the race, especially in areas where traditional Republican stances could leave one or more candidates very, very vulnerable.

National defense is a perennial Republican running point. More troops, more ships, more planes, more dollars is pretty much the mantra of every candidate. The worrisome story of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – a.k.a. the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – has been addressed here before by Jazz Shaw (July 1, 2015 and August 15, 2015), and since then, has gotten worse, not better. The F-35 is the most expensive defense acquisition project ever with projected costs exceeding $1.3 trillion.

Aviation Week and Space Technology obtained a leaked copy of the 48-page F-35 section (PDF file) of the Department of Defense’s FY2015 Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) Annual Report in late January. The report was released to Congress on Monday, February 1, 2016 but is yet to be publicly published in full. To quote from the AW&ST article by Bill Sweetman:

The Block 2B version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the Marine Corps declared operational in July last year, is not capable of unsupported combat against any serious threat, according to Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E).

Digging deeper into the actual report, the F-35’s problems are extensive and span across all three variants of the aircraft: the “A” model for the Air Force, the “B” for the Marines (it can take off and land vertically, like the AV-8 Harrier), and the “C” for the Navy (carrier-capable). Particularly troubling are the admissions that weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) – can you fire or drop a weapon and have it hit what you’re aiming at – tests had to have their constraints altered to allow the aircraft to pass. (Emphases mine)

Eleven of the 12 [WDA] events required intervention by the developmental test control team to overcome system deficiencies and ensure a successful event (i.e., acquire and identify the target and engage it with a weapon). The program altered the event scenario for three of these events, as well as the twelfth event, specifically to work around F-35 system deficiencies (e.g., changing target spacing or restricting target maneuvers and countermeasures).

In plain language: they cheated. The report continues:

The performance of the Block 2B-configured F-35, if used in combat, will depend in part on the degree to which the enemy’s capabilities exceed the constraints of these narrow scenarios and the operational utility of the workarounds necessary for successful weapons employment.

Would you want to fly into battle piloting an aircraft that depends on enemy cooperation for you to complete your mission? The Marine Corps has declared their F-35 variant operational, and it seems like that’s what they’re asking their aviators to do. I’m sure our enemies will be completely cooperative as a spit-and-bailing-wire F-35 engages them. Jazz’s previous posts discussed the F-35’s poor performance in air-to-air combat, and the DOT&E report details those problems in the “flight sciences assessment” for the Air Force’s “A” version:

Testing of operational “dog-fighting” maneuvers showed that the F-35A lacked sufficient energy maneuverability to sustain an energy advantage over fourth generation fighter aircraft. Test pilots flew 17 engagements between an F-35A and an F-16D, which was configured with external fuel tanks that limited the F-16D envelope to 7.0 g’s. The F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage on every engagement. Pitch rates were also problematic, where full aft stick maneuvers would result in less than full permissible g loading (i.e., reaching 6.5 g when limit was 9.0 g), and subsequent rapid loss of energy. The slow pitch rates were observed at slower speeds—in a gun engagement, for example—that restricted the ability of an F-35A pilot to track a target for an engagement.

This time, they tried to cheat, and even when handicapping the F-16 test adversary by loading it down with external fuel tanks, the F-35 flying clean still couldn’t wax the older plane’s tail. To make things worse, there’s a fuel system problem that affects the F-35 in any form and restricts the aircraft’s operating parameters to not exceed 3.0 g maneuvers – the plane’s design specification is for 9.0 g – until it burns off almost half of its fuel load! Sounds like the men and women who will be flying the F-35 should have faith in their ejection seats and bail out procedures. Well…

The program conducted two sled tests on the pilot escape system in July and August of 2015 that resulted in failures of the system to successfully eject a manikin without exceeding load/stress limits on the manikin…[T]he system failed to meet neck injury criteria.

These tests were performed with 103-pound (July) and 136-pound (August) manikins with sled traveling at 160 knots (184 mph). Consider for a second: the F-35 is a supersonic aircraft. Its testing scenarios – to say nothing of potential combat flights – are conducted at speeds much faster than 160 knots. How is this being addressed?

[T]he Program Office and Services decided to restrict pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying any F-35 variant…Pilots weighing between 136 and 165 pounds are considered less at risk than lighter weight pilots, but still at increased risk (compared to heavier pilots). The level of risk was labeled as “serious” by the Program Office based on the probability of death being 23 percent, and the probability of neck extension (which will result in some level of injury) being 100 percent. Currently the Program Office and the Services have decided to accept this level of risk to pilots in this weight range, although the basis for the decision to accept these risks is unknown.

For the slight of stature – including otherwise combat-qualified female pilots – tough, you can’t fly an F-35. What of heavier pilots? What of faster speeds? Both? The report is silent on those questions, but how can one not have doubts about any pilot’s survivability if they have to bail out?

The report contains damning result after damning result: software issues, maintenance issues, problems with the shoes necessary to be worn to protect the F-35’s low-observable coatings during servicing being too slippery and becoming a safety issue, Navy shipboard integration issues, and so on. There’s several on each and every page.

Regardless, the current plan is to move ahead with accelerated production of the F-35 – a “block buy” of up to 270 aircraft – before operational testing is completed and all the problems have been resolved. Oh, by the way, the DOT&E Annual Report also projects that most if not all of the current testing milestones won’t be reached by their already delayed dates and that testing is currently identifying new problems at a faster rate than the known ones are being fixed.

The F-35, and the potential “block buy”, isn’t just of questionable fiscal sanity: it may also be illegal (and the DOT&E annual report cautions as such). 10 USC §2306b reads as follows:

(a) In General.—To the extent that funds are otherwise available for obligation, the head of an agency (e.g., the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Air Force, et al.) may enter into multiyear contracts for the purchase of property whenever the head of that agency finds each of the following…

(4) That there is a stable design for the property to be acquired and that the technical risks associated with such property are not excessive.

The entire F-35 program, as it currently stands, is an excessive technical risk.

Every Republican candidate running right now has championed rebuilding our military and spending more on defense. With respect to the F-35, only Donald Trump has come right out and said the program should be cancelled. I don’t know if that’s the proper remedy, nor am I a Trump supporter, but more people in office and not had better start taking a serious look at this aircraft, its shortcomings, and what we’re spending on it. Most of the others in the GOP field haven’t brought up the F-35, but just over two years ago, newly-minted Iowa caucus victor Senator Ted Cruz visited the Lockheed Martin factory in Fort Worth, Texas where the F-35 is built and tweeted:

Lockheed Martin employs 13,700 of Senator Cruz’s constituents in Fort Worth, with a yearly payroll of $1.4 billion. The facility also claims $795 million per year in goods and services purchased from suppliers in Texas. Was the Senator referring to the F-35 program as a whole when he challenged, “Come and take it!”? I’ll leave that for you to evaluate.

Then, there’s Senator Marco Rubio, who explicitly wraps his arms around the F-35 not once, but twice on his “Marco’s Plan to Restore Military Strength” page (screen captures):

Rubio-F35A

Rubio-F35B

That “new amphibious-assault vehicle”? The Marine Corps cancelled their Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program in 2011 after $3 billion had been spent in development, and the replacement Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) is scheduled to complete its first prototypes late this year.

Rubio’s plan basically says “spend more on every possible weapon system”, including the Air Force’s new KC-46 tanker, with which I’ve already pointed out cost/benefit problems. His positions, taken alone, could easily be explained away if questioned, except Senator Rubio also claims to stand for this:

Rubio-OverhaulAcquisition

I call that a lack of intellectual honesty, plain and simple.

Both Senators Cruz and Rubio claim the mantles of fiscal conservatism, restraint, and responsibility. A balanced budget amendment is standard Republican fare. Until Republicans get serious about controlling defense costs and making sure we, the taxpayers are getting value for our dollars – and our warriors are getting equipment that does the job it is supposed to do at an effective, affordable cost – they should all be prepared to answer for their boasting. We must not wait for the opposition to challenge them.

Allan Bourdius is a co-founder of Vigilant Liberty Radio and the co-host of the station’s “Roundtable of Extreme Liberty”, host of “Their Finest Hour” and the founder of the blog of the same name. You can follow him on Twitter as @allanbourdius.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Unless I missed it…I am surprised no one brought up the F-105.

Maybe we can rename the F-35 in its honor…”The Son of Thud”.

Just kidding…maybe they will get things sorted out, but I would not put my money on it. For one I am not sold on Lockheed Martin’s ability to produce planes in mass. The F-22 took a lot of time of sort out. And…trying to create a plane that would take on the role of the Harrier, A-10, F-18, and F-16 sounds stupid to me…like something a 8 year old boy would come up with.

But, there are people smarter than me on this who say it can be done, but god knows at what cost.

Would it have not made more sense to have kept the F-22 program going (I know they are not replacing the same thing). We could have sold F-22s to our European allies, to Japan, S. Korea, which would have helped on the cost front. I know Japan would have paid above list price for them. The F-22, supplemented by keeping some F-15s and F-16s in service could hold the line until we can figure out what to do for the next generation. The Super Hornet is good enough as a navy fighter for the time.

he F-35 in my view will cost too much, and take too long to fix, to make a big difference in a limited with China for example. But who knows…

William Eaton on February 5, 2016 at 2:36 PM

GWB, the Raptor and Typhoon took longer and went more over budget than the F-35. It’s pretty much right in there with every other modern fighter in that regard, and hasn’t killed any test pilots yet.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 2:21 PM

The Site is just a place to post & share a PDF. It’s global location is irrelevant (much like most of the DOT&E report itself).

btw, the F-35 has only been in dev since 2001, not “decades”. Take a look at Rafale & Eurofighter as they took just as long and are much simpler in design. Even the F-22 took a long time and it has nowhere near the sensors or software load of the F-35 (no ALIS either). Most of the slowdown in the F-35’s dev cycle has been budgetary and not technical in nature.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

All weapons systems have teething problems, but I find arguments comparing the F-35 to other famed weapon systems to miss a vital point. The cost of the F-35 is so exorbitant, that is having an adverse effect on the purchasing priorities of the DOD and its respective services.

The Air Force, Navy, and Marines have other purchasing priorities besides the F-35. The program is sucking up so much money that the services are truncating vital force structure to afford what is increasingly becoming a shrinking buy of jets, which will need expensive upgrades because the DOD wants to make a buy now. We still have F-22s that haven’t been upgraded because the Air Force decided to get F-35s instead.

moebius22 on February 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Totally hoodwinked by people who mean you harm. Doesn’t that embarrass you at all?

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 1:53 PM

And who would that be? DOT&E?!? Jane’s? HotAir?

As it turns out, the F-35 is not quite enough superior to the F-16 to pull that off.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:27 PM

Which is the point.

The three variants of the F-35 are all specialized as a strike fighter.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:17 PM

It is supposed to be a multi-role fighter.

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 2:42 PM

build 2000 drones, 1000 f16e’s, 600 more warthogs…reopen the hagerstown plant, build 400 more f22

probelm solved for less money.

losarkos on February 5, 2016 at 2:43 PM

I think the only person that calls the F-35 a “flying brick” is Sprey, and that fraud has absolutely no experience with designing or evaluating aircraft (no, he did not design the F-16 or A-10, he just ran around trying to sell people on a list of related requirements that he didn’t even come up with).

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:43 PM

GWB, the F-35 was designed to have the same maneuverability as the F-16 and F-18, not be able to outmaneuver them with one hand tied behind its back.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:46 PM

GWB, the F-35 is multi role because that’s what it takes to be a strike fighter. It’s basically a bonus.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:48 PM

He doesn’t know how to build anything but slum housing and casinos.

Happy Nomad on February 5, 2016 at 1:04 PM

That’s probably the most stupid thing you’ve said here to date.

And, from the tone of your comment, it seems that you would prefer a whole lot of dead pilots rather than allow a president Trump to cancel a losing program.

But, I guess that TDS will do that to you.

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 2:50 PM

Steve, the F-35 will do air superiority just fine, but it’s specialty is still strike.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:35 PM

And in 11 of 12 weapons delivery accuracy tests, the F-35 couldn’t hit its target without the test constraints being relaxed so it could. Some “specialty”. I’m sure our enemies will be ever so cooperative in placing potential targets so the F-35 can strike them.

Allan Bourdius on February 5, 2016 at 2:52 PM

The F4F-4 Wildcat (which, in spite of its -4 suffix, was actually the first operational variant) was rather thoroughly outclassed by the Zero aka “Zeke”, with only the skill of its pilots allowing it to survive.

The later FM-2 version built by General Motors rather than Grumman (which accounted for most of Wildcat production), became an efficient BARCAP interceptor by (a) stripping out all excess weight, including the folding wing system and two of the original six .50 cal. machine guns, and (b)replacing the original engine with one developing almost 70% more horsepower. The price was high fuel consumption and thus very short range (even with drop tanks), hence its use as an interceptor that could really only get out about as far as the radar pickets, and once there had maybe five minutes maneuvering time if the pilot wanted to keep enough fuel to get back to the boat.

Grumman was aware of these problems as early as late 1941. Which was why the F6F Hellcat made its first flight in 1942, and went on to account for over two-thirds of the 6,000+ Mitsubishi Zeros destroyed by the U.S. air forces in the Pacific in WW2.

Here’s a good Cliff’s Notes on the Hellcat;

Dogfights- The Zero Killer

BTW, you could go vertical vs. a Zeke in an F6F or F4U, and the Zeke was toast. Never try it any Wildcat, even an FM-2.

clear ether

eon

eon on February 5, 2016 at 2:53 PM

I thought that we had learned something from the McNamara and the Navy F-111B fiasco. Having one air-frame trying to fulfill multiple missions had never been a practical solution. But there is also clear failure of Air Force leadership, who trying to find the money to continue the project. Saddle it with missions for which was not originally designed, this is a light bomber/attack plane not a fighter and it seems a not very good one. Now, it had become the proverbial tar baby. Thank God for the A-10C.

El Coqui on February 5, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Allan, the section you quoted doesn’t say anything other than that the series of tests was too ambitious for that version of the targeting software initially, and gives no context as to how reasonable the target scenario was initially, or if any other aircraft could have done better.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Meanwhile the Falcon, A-10, and Super Hornet are still three of the best planes in the world.

What a colossal waste of everything when our inventory already includes such stellar aircraft.

Bishop on February 5, 2016 at 12:45 PM

I don’t know about the “Super” Bug. I’d replace it with the Hercules.

Steve Eggleston on February 5, 2016 at 1:17 PM

Are you certain you’d want to replace the F/A-18 with a prop-driven cargo plane?

Or would you like a moment to reconsider?

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 2:59 PM

GWB, the Raptor and Typhoon took longer and went more over budget than the F-35. It’s pretty much right in there with every other modern fighter in that regard, and hasn’t killed any test pilots yet.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

So, one of your comparisons is to the … F22? That really doesn’t help your case. And, it doesn’t matter if “every other modern fighter” took that long, because they are primarily clusterfarks, too.

The Site is just a place to post & share a PDF. It’s global location is irrelevant (much like most of the DOT&E report itself).

So, why not a DoD location?
As to irrelevance, you think the designated DoD operational test oversight agency is IRRELEVANT? Holy cow, that’s incredibly short-sighted, if not outright idiotic.

btw, the F-35 has only been in dev since 2001, not “decades”.

Baloney. It has had money being spent on the program since the 90s.

The JSF development contract was signed on 16 November 1996

That would be the program that gave us the X-35. And that’s just the EMD phase.

Most of the slowdown in the F-35’s dev cycle has been budgetary and not technical in nature.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

That has been a problem, yes. But the primary problem is trying to build a super-tech super-fighter. Tech progressivism is just as bad as social and political progressivism.

There are LOTS of problems with AF and DoD acquisition, including the sorts of contract vehicles used, budgetary cycles (which include padding those development efforts with things like GWOT money), schedule-based acquisition (which tends, ironically, to lead toward missing milestones), too much consolidation within several industries, and plenty of “dragging the vendor across the finish line”.

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:02 PM

The perpetual dilemmas of either being too specialized to being too catholic. The latter is the sin of the F-35. To use a football analogy it is at once a split end, a tight end, a linebacker, an offensive tackle, a wide receiver, a nose guard, free safety, running back, quarterback and place kicker. It is obvious that any team who has players who can perform all these functions interchangeably will lose every game.

MaiDee on February 5, 2016 at 3:04 PM

I know someone directly involved with this fiasco.
She told me it is a complete cluster fark.

esnap on February 5, 2016 at 3:05 PM

The F4 was too big, too clumsy, too slow…

right2bright on February 5, 2016 at 1:25 PM

Not when a flight of them was coming through the tree tops using its guns and dropping napalm on a few hundred angry little asians who were all intent on killing your young ass.

Then, it was the most beautiful plane ever built.

I still love F-4s.

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 3:12 PM

GWB, so if they are all CF, then maybe that should tell you something about the nature of fighter development, and validates the strategy behind the F-35. On the assumption that every fighter project will run into similar delays and overruns, the F-35 has saved quite a lot of money over three such development projects.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:14 PM

moebius22 on February 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Yes.

GWB, the F-35 was designed to have the same maneuverability as the F-16 and F-18, not be able to outmaneuver them with one hand tied behind its back.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:46 PM

If it’s supposed to be equal, then why design a new aircraft? Yes, it’s just one aspect of the aircraft. But if it can’t beat the F16, then why not buy more F16s. The airframes are good, and more can be produced.

GWB, the F-35 is multi role because that’s what it takes to be a strike fighter. It’s basically a bonus.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:48 PM

It’s not a bonus. That has been the selling point all along. Because congresscritters keep asking that very pointed question: If the F16 is just about as capable, why don’t we buy more F16s?

Allan, the section you quoted doesn’t say anything other than that the series of tests was too ambitious for that version of the targeting software initially, and gives no context as to how reasonable the target scenario was initially, or if any other aircraft could have done better.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 2:59 PM

I have to ask a serious and important question here: Do you actually think that the operational scenarios the test folks come up with are not aimed right at where the acquisition program is supposed to be when they test?
The problem is NOT that the testers are getting together and saying “Golly, we would love to see this program die, so we’ll design something unreasonable and watch them fail.” That is absolute and utter bullcrap. The problem is very likely that LM promised things it couldn’t deliver (I’ve had direct experience with them in that arena), and the test showed that.
I wish I could talk about a program in which I have first-hand experience with another well-known military contractor, and the VERY SAME PROBLEMS that the DOT&E report cites about the F-35. And others noted how eerily close it sounded to that program when I pointed out this partial report to them.

This is a much larger problem than the F35. It is a problem with the way the DoD and AF do their acquisition. And with the politics played because of the amount of funding involved – do you know how much LM spends on lobbying Congress? It’s scads of money. And they can afford to spend it because of how much they’re getting paid.

And, the F35 is part of the mentality of the AF that every aircraft must be a “generation” better than the previous aircraft, and be much higher tech, and have superpowers (like invisibility and going faster than a missile). Oh, and it must be multi-role so we can buy fewer of them – even though multi-role aircraft are much like a jack-of-all-trades. It’s why they want to get rid of the A10.

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:18 PM

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:02 PM

\The reason that I used a PDF sharing site is that the PDF has comments added to it to give context & meaning.

Using your logic then every fighter can trace it’s heritage back decades. The X-35 did not have LO, avionics, the same engine, or even a weapons bay.

esnap on February 5, 2016 at 3:05 PM

So, I’ve spoken to F-35 pilots on several occasions and they love it.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 3:20 PM

I still love F-4s.

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Prove that, with a big enough engine, you can turn anything into an “airplane”. :)

GWB, so if they are all CF, then maybe that should tell you something about the nature of fighter development, and validates the strategy behind the F-35.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:14 PM

Or, more likely, that you’re doing them ALL wrong.

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM

MaiDee, football doesn’t work well as an analogy here, but, if you tried, the F-35 would be like a center who can also play any position on the offensive line, while the other positions are things like AWACS, drones, and ground troops. In reality, the F-16 already does all of the types missions the F-35A will do (just less efficiently and at greater risk to the pilot).

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Prove Proof that

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Dagnabit, FIFM.

GWB on February 5, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Anybody familiar with the program knows the “F” designation is just a sop to the fighter mafia. The F-35 is meant as a replacement for the A-6/A-7/AV-8 aircraft. It is not now and ever had been an actual fighter. The reference to the F-105 is a good one. The F-35 is a strike aircraft with limited air-to-air capability.

jerryofva on February 5, 2016 at 3:25 PM

GWB, or all of these problems are typical of any effort, anywhere, and are just being blown out of proportion by the Internet. It used to be typical for fighter development programs to kill off several test pilots before the aircraft even entered service.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:27 PM

GWB, the F-35 was supposed to be competitive with the F-16 and F-18 in maneuverability because that was sufficient. We need a new aircraft because the F-16 and F-18 are not LO (stealth), and that will shortly be the minimum requirement to accomplish anything in the air. The F-35 is massively more capable in combat because of it, and that isn’t even going into its other sensor advantages.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:32 PM

Anybody familiar with the program knows the “F” designation is just a sop to the fighter mafia. The F-35 is meant as a replacement for the A-6/A-7/AV-8 aircraft. It is not now and ever had been an actual fighter. The reference to the F-105 is a good one. The F-35 is a strike aircraft with limited air-to-air capability.

jerryofva on February 5, 2016 at 3:25 PM

You might want to tell the USAF since they will be using it to replace their “F”-16 not to mention the USN’s “F”-18.

“In all F-35 Program Office and U.S. Air Force air-to-air combat effectiveness analysis to date, the F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois,” said Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 3:35 PM

Jerry, true to some extent, except that, in air to air combat, the F-35 will club any of the teen series like baby seals, just like the F-22 does.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 3:41 PM

You might want to tell the USAF since they will be using it to replace their “F”-16 not to mention the USN’s “F”-18.

“In all F-35 Program Office and U.S. Air Force air-to-air combat effectiveness analysis to date, the F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois,” said Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 3:35 PM

Seriously?

The guy who’s career is riding on the F-35 produced a paper analysis that validates his own program?

Never saw that coming.

I wonder if the disastrous Sergeant York m247 program also had similar glowing reports?

sharrukin on February 5, 2016 at 3:45 PM

He did not produce the paper. The entire JPO, including thousands of member from nearly a dozen foreign countries, are deeply involved in the program and jointly develop & analyze the data.

A better question for you: A guy who has ZERO access to the actual data is more believable than the program?

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 3:49 PM

Count to 10

If the football analogy doesn’t work, how about the GADGET analogy. Every mechanical device, from a main battle tank to an aircraft is really a complicated gadget with hundreds of thousands of moving parts. Perhaps you remember the 70’s when there were those All-In-One “Entertainment Centers”–A record turn table, an AM/FM radio and an 8 Track (later cassette)tape player all contained within the same machine. Usually if you bought any one of these three components separately both the reliability and quality were enhanced in all cases.

Or, put another way, the F-35 really sucks and let’s hire the designer of the Su-27..

MaiDee on February 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

damn they could make this into movie and call it the ‘Pentagon Wars’. Don’t forget the Sgt York DIVOT.

RonK on February 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

I still love F-4s.

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Yeah, they were cool looking but I loved the A1 Skyraiders. They could hang around longer than the Phantoms and never seemed to run out of ammo. Once had to sink what was left of a Phantom with .50 cals. Sad day only recovered a few body parts from that one. Got shot up around Haiphong. Managed to get back over water then lost it. Don’t know how it went down but neither the pilot or RIO managed to eject. Still remember that day clearly.

Oldnuke on February 5, 2016 at 3:55 PM

If we can’t protect our data from hacks and spies, it doesn’t matter if we build the friggin’ Death Star.

We’ve got to get better with the cyberstuff and with counterespionage.

hillbillyjim on February 5, 2016 at 3:56 PM

At least the Navy had the balls to admit its failure with the LCS program, and went even further to cancel the LCS program, change the specs, and call it a Frigate.

LCS CO’s got tired of getting blown out of the water by foreign Navy corvettes who have the LCS outgunned.

“I want some armor, and a real gun!”

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 3:58 PM

We don’t need an Air Force. Just every infantryman a Crockett Rocket.

Nuke’em, Rico.

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 4:03 PM

MaiDee on February 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

Sounds more like genetics, can breed great milk cow or a great beef animal but I get mediocre animal if I try for both.

wifarmboy on February 5, 2016 at 4:05 PM

wifarmboy

Yes!!

MaiDee on February 5, 2016 at 4:08 PM

What happens if you can only buy one cow? and you need Beef and Milk?

“Crockett Rocket” = never having to pay reenlistment bonuses ;)

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:16 PM

What happens if you can only buy one cow? and you need Beef and Milk?

“Crockett Rocket” = never having to pay reenlistment bonuses ;)

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Then you choose prime beef and not much milk or lots of milk and lower grade beef. Which is more important the beef or the milk?:)

wifarmboy on February 5, 2016 at 4:26 PM

Liberals idea of a strong military.
We have great planes but they can’t fly.
We have great boats but they don’t float.

Tommyhour on February 5, 2016 at 4:30 PM

In the case of modern warfare, you buy the plane with the best chance of doing A2G since that is what it will be doing a vast majority of the time (USDA Grade AA Milk). With the F-35 it also happens to be USDA Prime… just not Kobe :)

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Multi-tasking is indeed like genetically mixing a plow horse with a race horse and winding up with an animal which can neither plow nor race but is even WORSE than that because it will act like Murphy’s Law on steroids. Every new mechanical design has teething trouble even if single tasked. Multi-tasking adds to what WILL DEFINITELY go wrong and not only adds to to the problem but exponentially multiplies it.

MaiDee on February 5, 2016 at 4:33 PM

What happens if you can only buy one cow? and you need Beef and Milk?

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:16 PM

In that case, as soon as you select BEEF mode, you forever lose Milk mode.

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Let us hope it never meets kobe. BTW Unless its changed since I milked cows just grade A (for fluid use).

wifarmboy on February 5, 2016 at 4:39 PM

Classic example of a Dollar Auction….

bandarlog on February 5, 2016 at 4:47 PM

The Navy did not “recognize the LCS was a failure”, they basically caved to political pressure to change their plans for it, and then an Obama appointee slashed it. Keep in mind that it is the leftists that are behind the bulk of the agitating against the F-35, domestic and foreign.

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 4:48 PM

Are you certain you’d want to replace the F/A-18 with a prop-driven cargo plane?

Or would you like a moment to reconsider?

Solaratov on February 5, 2016 at 2:59 PM

On the list of “best planes out there” I sure would.

Steve Eggleston on February 5, 2016 at 4:50 PM

wifarmboy on February 5, 2016 at 4:39 PM

Since kobe = F-22, np.

btw, how quickly that we forget that the F-16 & F-18 are both “multirole” fighters yet nobody is screeching about their A2A ability.

Grade AA milk = key stuck and I did not catch it :)

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:51 PM

MaiDee, if you want a gadget analogy, the F-35 is a ratchet that a wide variety of attachments (weapon systems) can be attached to, but is primarily used to tighten bolts, and there are waterproof and electrically insulated versions that are identical except the handle (how they take off and land).

Count to 10 on February 5, 2016 at 4:53 PM

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 4:51 PM

I freely admit that I am not that knowledgeable about aircraft abilities. I’m just going on experience over the years of seeing what happens when things are made to multitask.

wifarmboy on February 5, 2016 at 4:59 PM

At least the Navy had the balls to admit its failure with the LCS program, and went even further to cancel the LCS program, change the specs, and call it a Frigate.

LCS CO’s got tired of getting blown out of the water by foreign Navy corvettes who have the LCS outgunned.

“I want some armor, and a real gun!”

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 3:58 PM

You may want to tell the Navy…

Allan Bourdius on February 5, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Every modern fighter is multirole with priority in different areas. Rafale (balanced A2A/A2G), Eurofighter (A2A Priority), F-22 (heavy A2A priority), F-35 (Balanced A2A/A2G), etc.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 5:07 PM

F-35 = jack of all trades master of none

RonK on February 5, 2016 at 5:14 PM

RonK on February 5, 2016 at 5:14 PM

And?

You’re on a carrier that needs to attack several locations. Do you want to send you single wing of attack aircraft on multiple attack waves, with all their support aircraft, over a period of days?

Or do you send your multiple wings of F-35s in a single wave that hits them all in a single day?

There is a reason that every 1st world military is going with multirole fighters. Specialized fighters are too expensive.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 5:21 PM

You may want to tell the Navy…

Allan Bourdius on February 5, 2016 at 5:03 PM

The Navy is quite aware already:

As the LCS transitions to the frigate, certain design features, like the crane and the back mission bay doors, will be eliminated to save weight for other add-ons like armor and missiles.

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 5:22 PM

One can only hope this is a giant disinformation effort to lull our enemies into a false sense of security…..NOT!
No at this point our only hope is with laser weapon technology and SDI.

devan95 on February 5, 2016 at 5:36 PM

I’m an old F-16 guy and as much as I love my “lawn darts” their days are getting very, very numbered. There isn’t a single airframe in service with the USAF right now that isn’t at least a decade old. All the airframes we had while I was in the 36th FS (Osan, AB RoK) rolled off the production line between 88-90 (this was in the early 2000’s). We’re only a few years away from hitting the “generation gap”… you are going to have kids fixing/flying airframes that were manufactured before they were born.
You’re talking about airframes designed for high G maneuvers being flown,on average, 6-9 times per week for DECADES on end. If you don’t think the stress of that kind of flying isn’t starting to show go talk to some kid who spends his days turning a wrench on one.
Right or wrong the F-16 does not have the airframe life capacity remaining to bridge the gap between dumping the F-35 and starting over from scratch.
My personal opinion, get it operational, fix what you can, give it some time to develop like the F-15/F-16 both had (multiple upgrades over multiple decades). If it really does stink then use it as a stop gap measure and get something else moving ASAP.
At the end of the day the US will still, likely, control the skies given the sheer amount of training that is given to our pilots as compared to other air forces.

AzDesertRat on February 5, 2016 at 5:50 PM

For those of us with LOOOOONG memories (long enough to remember with F-35 was known as JSF), the F-35 was supposed to be inexpensive.

The F-22 was to be the super-duper hot super-stealth invincible fighter that cost an arm and a leg.

The F-35 would be the good-enough cheap fighter that could be produced by the zillions and sold cheaply to our allies. What we’ve ended up with is the most expensive fighter in history that’s not nearly good enough.

AtTheRubicon on February 5, 2016 at 5:50 PM

A big increase in JSF (yes, I too have been following it since the mid ’90s) cost has been the DoD’s decision to cut the annual F-35A build rate from 120 to 80. You can’t cut the rate by 33% and not expect a significant cost increase.

It will still be less than half the cost of an F-22 when it reaches FRP.

SpudmanWP on February 5, 2016 at 5:54 PM

Much of the f-35 problem lies at the feet of congress and our politicians of both parties. They built this nightmare procurement and test system. Not allowing the services to split the program to move to more robust testing and so on…. What is ironic is we have built the son f-111 and it works. But maintaining it my so expensive it could eat most of the budget. A super weapon you can’t use cause it breaks your budget every time it lifts off. Wonderful…(Don’t blame the builders for the LCS. That is all on the Navy, both Uniform and Civilian leadership. They knew it was a dog from the get go, but their egos would let them slow down to fix, or cancel the program.)

flackcatcher on February 5, 2016 at 6:17 PM

…would not…(SIGH)

flackcatcher on February 5, 2016 at 6:18 PM

But there is also clear failure of Air Force leadership….

El Coqui on February 5, 2016 at 2:56 PM

To be fair, Air Force promotions are based on a willingness to follow, not the ability to lead….

PersonFromPorlock on February 5, 2016 at 6:55 PM

To be fair, Air Force promotions are based on a willingness to follow, not the ability to lead….

PersonFromPorlock on February 5, 2016 at 6:55 PM

When did they stop using golf handicaps as promotion criteria?

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Constantine claims “the Japanese Zero did not outclass American planes at the beginning of the war”?!!

wow, you have said a LOT of dumb things on this site- but that may take the cake!

There is literally no one in the world who is an expert that would agree the 1942 Zero was not superior to the P-40 Warkhawk/Kitthyawk, the F4F Wildcat, the P-39 Airacobra, and far superior to any torpedo bomber/dive bomber in the inventory. Even the movie “Pearl Harbor” mentioned that the best fighter we had at Hickam would get demolished by a Zero in a straight up dogfight!

AirForceCane on February 6, 2016 at 3:18 AM

Even the movie “Pearl Harbor” mentioned that the best fighter we had at Hickam would get demolished by a Zero in a straight up dogfight!

Uh, they didn’t know that at the time. The military had dismissed reports from sources like Flying Tiger organizer Claire Chennault about Japanese capabilities. “Pearl Harbor” is a horribly inaccurate movie overall.

kd6rxl on February 6, 2016 at 3:54 AM

The F-22 took a lot of time of sort out. And…trying to create a plane that would take on the role of the Harrier, A-10, F-18, and F-16 sounds stupid to me…like something a 8 year old boy would come up with.

William Eaton on February 5, 2016 at 2:36 PM

Or a bean counter. Bob McNamara turned that thinking into an art form with the F-111.

Younggod on February 6, 2016 at 8:17 AM

We still have F-22s that haven’t been upgraded because the Air Force decided to get F-35s instead.

moebius22 on February 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM

We also cut the feed budget for army mules.

Younggod on February 6, 2016 at 8:20 AM

When did they stop using golf handicaps as (Air Force)promotion criteria?

BobMbx on February 5, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Don’t confuse Air Force officers with dentists and captains of industry.

You can’t swing a club with your tongue up your boss’ ass.

Younggod on February 6, 2016 at 8:24 AM

Sometimes these engineers come up with great stuff…sometimes, not.

But, I get the impression that in this case the engineers have been tasked with more than maybe is possible at this point in time with current technologies?

With so much money pumped into these boondoggles, the PTB won’t just give up on them.

I have yet to hear the stellar reports about how the Bradley performed in Iraq.

Bradley Exploding Coffin

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 6, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Here’s my thought:
A single F35A ($98 million, WITHOUT the engine, $160 million ready to go) has the following characteristics:
Main Gun – 25mm, 180 rounds
Payload – 18,000 lbs
Combat Range – 600 nmi
Fuel – 2300 gal
TOL Room – 700 ft

A single P51D (Yes, a WWII era fighter/attacker, cost around $680,000 in today’s dollars. Fully modernized, let’s say 5x that cost, $3 million each.) has the following characteristics:
Main Guns – 6x .50 cal, 1,840 rounds
Payload – 1,000 lbs
Combat Range – 500 nmi (880 nmi with small drop tanks)
Fuel – 227 gal
TOL Room – 1500 ft

So, cost equivalents, we could afford to field 32 fully modernized Mustangs for the cost of 1 F-35. They could loiter overhead much longer (almost 50% more range with drop tanks), for a tenth of the fuel, and still bring roughly 500 lbs each (16,000 lbs total) of explosive ordinance. This 2,000 lb loss is balanced out by bringing 10x the ammunition, allowing much more close air support (similar to Spectres).

To put it bluntly, once air superiority is achieved, there is NO PRACTICAL REASON to continue to use jet strike fighters like the F35 to carry out ground attack. It’s inefficient, impractical, and ultimately a waste of money. Furthermore… Well, I’ll put a pack of 32 skilled P-51’s up against any jet fighter any day, and I’m certain we could design something significantly better by this point than just recreating a Mustang with modern avionics.

Asurea on February 6, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Unless I missed it…I am surprised no one brought up the F-105.

Maybe we can rename the F-35 in its honor…”The Son of Thud”.

William Eaton on February 5, 2016 at 2:36 PM

Smooth landing or crash landing…..all you heard was Thud.

HonestLib on February 6, 2016 at 6:46 PM

A recipe for losing a war.

J.B. Say on February 6, 2016 at 11:43 PM

Asurea on February 6, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Some years ago, I was involved in a project to replace the ALVIN deep submergence vehicle with the ALVIN II (never happened, btw). Deeper, bigger, more stuff, etc…

One of the design requirements was to provide “improved viewing for the passengers”. Having a manned vehicle increases the cost astronomically, btw. In one early meeting I asked “why don’t we drop the manned requirement and build a smaller vehicle for 1/10 the cost and install as many HD cameras on it as we could buy”.

I almost got fired.

BobMbx on February 7, 2016 at 3:23 PM

This is the Single Use Stadium Era all over again. Three Rivers, the Kingdome, Veterans Stadium, and all the others were all totally demolished just a few decades after construction because they sucked on ice.

They’ve mostly been gone for a long while now. But of course, since this is government we’re talking about, all the private sector wisdom is learned decades late at 1,000 times the already exorbitant private cost – and counting.

Fighters should fight. Air support should do air support. Bombers should bomb. Stealth fighter should sneak. It is blindingly obvious to every functional citizen in the 21st Century, (let alone actual engineers) that you can’t have a one-size-fits-all solution to insanely complex problems.

It is implausible that *any* expense or engineering supremacy by America would be sufficient to allow an unfocused Swiss Army Knife of a plane to defeat a *specific, engineered* countermeasure by even a second rate power. If Russia sends a fighter and we send a …a thing, Russia’s fighter is going to win no matter how many trillions we’ve spent on it.

There’s a reason you don’t use your Swiss Army Knife for *anything* if you have a real knife, flashlight, tweezer, or pair of scissors at hand.

TimesUp on February 10, 2016 at 11:33 PM

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