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F-35 Pilots Compare it to the Jets of Yesteryear

by philewing on July 12, 2012

FARNBOROUGH, England — How does flying the F-35 Lightning II stack up against older-model fighter jets? We asked two of its most experienced pilots that very question after their presentation this week at the air show.

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

majr0d July 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Comments about how these guys are shills in 3…2…1…

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Black Owl July 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm

This is another disgusting attempt by LockMart to bamboozle our leaders into buying something we don't need! The public is being swayed by these obvious corporate shills. I wonder how many millions of dollars changed hands for this testimony… LockMart probably threatened their families or something… The F35 doesn't even look cool, so it's only logical that it doesn't perform well. End of story.

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BlackOwl18E July 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm

You can stop impersonating me now. Everyone knows I will only comment on this website with this account from now on.

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4FingerOfBouron July 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

Troll

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Ahmad July 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

It looks gorgeous!

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BlackOwl18E July 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Thank you for giving yourself away, majr0d.

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majr0d July 13, 2012 at 2:43 am

Wasn't me but I like the rent free condo in your mind. :)

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Big-Rick July 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm

.8… .7….. .5…. .2 ……. .05….. .025….

ok I'll bite, reminds me of new car salesmen that say:
"with a single push of a button this car will parallel park itself"
"with car is so self-aware, with camera's everywhere, that it will brake automatically for you if it see a hazard and it'll even know if you are feeling drowsy…when it does the a n al probe will activate"

I wonder if the F-35 will have the anti-drowsy feature they obviously left off on the F-22 ;-D

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tmb2 July 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

The title of the article is a bit misleading. Except for the guy saying he had to do more work in the Harrier, they didn't really compare the F-35 to other planes. The first pilot spent his entire soundbite talking about the situational awareness systems and the second pilot about the push-button landing system. Nothing really controversial to discuss. You couldn't give the guy an umbrella while you made him talk in the rain?

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tmb2 July 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

^TMB. Finally devoted the 5 minutes it took to get an account like all the other cool kids.

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BlackOwl18E July 12, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I know what you mean!

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Hunter76 July 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

Doesn't the US Military forbid umbrellas?

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BlackOwl18E July 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I think all of the technologies that these pilots are talking about are great. Boeing is already proving that the F-35-style sensors and systems are able to be added to the Super Hornet. They already added a detailed glass ****pit as well as IR sensors about the aircraft for spherical scanning and missile/laser warning. My question is how difficult would it be to add the software from the F-35B to an upgraded Harrier III?

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4FingerOfBouron July 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

Harrier is a turd. Non super sonic, high kill rate (of its pilots) week payload and maintence nightmare. How long do you think a combat airframe can last? I'm not talking B-52, I'm talking turners and burners…

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SirSapo July 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Boeing's upgrades have never even flown on an airplane before, after all this talk of not believing Lockheed's "sales brochures" you sure are quick to believe Boeing's. You would see a huge spike in cost if you start putting that stuff on a legacy airplane because you aren't just upgrading whats already in there, you're putting things on the airplane that were never there. Add the cost of an advanced targeting pod (ATFLIR, SNIPER XR, whatever), all your IR sensors, and the most advanced passive detection suite in the world (which would be next to impossible) to the airframe cost of the Super Hornet, and you'd end up with a hefty pricetag. There's a reason that the new versions of the Strike Eagle (F-15K, F-15SG, F-15SA, etc) cost over 100 million dollars, and that reason is electronics. In my aircraft design courses back in school, we used the rule of thumb that per pound, avionics are 6 times the cost of the airframe and twice the cost of the engine. I'm also skeptical that they will be able to fit all the supporting equipment into the Super Hornet to run all of that fancy new stuff, the Super was criticized during development for its lack of expansion room and I imagine the problem hasn't gone away.

The reason why you see the most recent F-35's costing so much is because the original LRIP-5 order was for 42 jets, with all the long term lead items associated with their construction, however the contract was reduced to only 32 airplanes, so you get a spike up relative to the LRIP-4 numbers, which were coming down. The realistic costs for an F-35A right now sit a little above 100 million dollars per jet. Yes it is more expensive than a vanilla Super Hornet, but as I've said before, you get what you pay for. And that $54,000 dollar per flight hour is a guess from Winslow Wheeler, not an actual number. While the F-35C will probably cost more money per flight hour than the SHornet, I doubt it will be that dramatic of an increase. Also I highly doubt that the F-16 costs more to fly than the SHornet, I wouldn't mix each service's accounting methods there.

I'm not sure if you linked me to the right article on the whole Harrier III thing, I didn't see anything in there about BAe actually doing any serious design work, it read more like a thought experiment. Irregardless, sure you could make a Harrier III, but that's just what it would be, a slightly higher performing Harrier. If you want something that can lift more and still go fast and maneuver, you won't do any better right now than the Lift-Fan system and the F-35B. And before you say that the Lift-Fan doesn't work or whatever, left me point out that in the 791 flights of the B-model so far, 70% percent of them started with a short takeoff, and over 40% ended with a vertical landing.

I'm not a huge fan of Lockheed these days or how the JSF program seems to be playing out, but as it stands, the whole program is still a way better alternative in terms of performance and capability than upgrading 4th generation fighters. As much as I would like to see some new Vipers or Eagles to freshen up the fleet, its time to move on.

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David July 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Great post. I have been waiting for someone to punch holes in BlackOwl's ridiculous arguments for a while now.

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BlackOwl18E April 26, 2014 at 1:48 am

It's disgusting that they keep deleting these arguments. It shows an obvious bias.

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BlackOwl18E May 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Ha! Found my old post. Wasn't exaclty in the right spot for the argurment, but it did wind up getting the gist of my side:

You're going to have to show me a link or something for the fixes on the F-35. I refuse to just take your word for it and the JSF's PR team hasn't shown the same exactly.

Of course the helmet is well on the way to being fixed. That's why they're making a second lower tech helmet right? NO. That makes no sense. The helmet's not even close to getting fixed.

You can't guarantee me anything about the upgrades in weapons or aircraft systems for the next 40 years. You can't see the future. The F-35 has terrible issues with expansion room. All you are giving me is your word and that's not good enough for me. NOT AT ALL.

The Super Hornet has a significant range increase over the older Hornets since it holds 33% percent more fuel and it has almost the same airframe. All the Super Hornet pilots I have talked to and many of the accounts of Marine Hornet pilots that flew the Super can attest to that. The conformal tanks are very low drag and are designed to create more lift. I already know that the fuel weight doesn't equate to an increase in range but you are not taking into account that the Block III Super Hornet can use the weapons pod to carry ordinance and have low drag with nothing under its wings. You also aren't taking into account the EDE engines with enhanced endurance for the Super Hornet that allow it to maintain the same performance with less fuel consumption. The Block III Super Hornet will not have a significant range difference with the F-35C.

And, No, the F-35 can't benefit from everything else that I listed on the Block III Super Hornet because it doesn't have the room for it. It's not as flexible in operations as the Super Hornet is and it doesn't carry nearly as much ordinance. Once you mount ordinance on under the wings then it basically becomes an F-16 in terms of performance that costs 3x as much. Not only that, but if we buy the F-35 we will not have enough money to make all those systems or enough of those systems to matter because we'll be too busy paying for the obscenely high operating cost of these jets that do in fact rely on a technology that is becoming increasingly vulnerable with enemy advances in electronics. The F-35 relies entirely on a technology that could easily go out of fashion in the next decade. A technology that is extremely expensive and is not worth its price in capability. The F-35 price is STILL GOING UP as the flaws are fixed and there is no way that 1 F-35C is worth 3 Block III Super Hornets.

I refuse to continue this any further until you ANSWER MY QUESTIONS. What types of the maintenance did they perform on the F-35Bs? You said they aren't replacing the lift fan every week, but how often are they replacing it? Does LM have permanent fixes for the F-35B engine for it to work perfectly? If not then why don't they? When will the F-35C trap a wire? LM has had over a decade and billions of dollars. We should be seeing some results by now. You also don't seem to understand that every time you call the Block III Super Hornet imaginary, I'm just going to call a fully functional F-35 far more imaginary because that's the truth.

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The great jessmo July 13, 2012 at 1:30 am

Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that it has agreed to buy 4 Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) at a cost of $128.61 million each, an increase of $3.7 million over the $124.83 million price negotiated last December. The four aircraft are scheduled for delivery in Fiscal Year 2016.

A formal letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) was signed in Japan on 29 June and includes four conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants of the F-35, spare parts, and two simulators for a total of $756.53 million. Although the base price of the aircraft itself increased, the cost of the spare parts and two simulators dropped from an initial estimate of $258.48 million to $240.83 million, a significant savings for Japan.

It feels so good sometimes, destroying F-35 haters.

Copy and paste the link before the anti-F-35 guys bann or sensor me http://defense-update.com/20120704_japan-formally

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STemplar July 13, 2012 at 2:22 am

I wish we would stop pissing away so much money on tacair period. If anyone read Greenert's piece about how he sees all the parts fitting together the role of the F35C in the USNs eyes is very different. Bottom line is the 2400ish # the DoD keeps quoting isn't going to happen. The damn this is too expensive to buy and the cost per flight hour is ridiculous. We are going to buy the F35, just a hell of alot less than 2400ish when its all done.

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gaylord_gaylordson February 28, 2013 at 2:05 am

That's probably why they haven't used that number for years. It's 1,785 total.

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Merlin July 13, 2012 at 2:54 am

This plane is old news. If the public has seen it. Its been flying for 15-20 years. Your not paying for the f35. Your paying for the next gen that you have not seen yet. Figured all you guys would know this by now.
If not come back in 15 years and we will talk some more. Need proof? Go google earth NAFB and see 25 F35's sitting out on the tarmac on ready status.

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ltfunk2 July 13, 2012 at 7:51 am

Yea I hear thier have a team of alien pilots rescued from UFOs flying them.

Its alwasy funny to hear thwe claims of secretly amazing things the F-35 can do that we dont know about. Well what we know is it cant fly very well, cant launch many weapons well and cant fullfill real world missions.

But maybe when the alien technology is fully integrated things will improve LOL

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gaylord_gaylordson February 28, 2013 at 2:08 am

We do?

I thought that we knew it was the only survivable fighter available in the West for at least 10 years.

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The great jessmo July 13, 2012 at 4:03 am

Okay, here’s the first BIG DIFFERENCE between the Hyper Hornet and the F-35C. The Hyper Hornet has had very little money actually put towards it because Boeing wants a customer to fund the upgrades. That’s why no version of it has flown. The F-35 has had obscene amounts of money pumped into it by us and our allies and it still doesn’t work. It doesn’t trap a wire or fly vertically without breaking apart. The software doesn’t work, the helmet doesn’t work. It hasn’t even done live weapons testing or spins yet.

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2012/07/12/f-35-pilots-com
Defense.org
——————————————————————————————————————–

The F-35 Lightning II is making good progress through flight testing this year, a top Lockheed Martin official says. Most of the biggest challenges faced by the programme should be well on their way to being fixed by the later part of the year.

One major issue that has recently popped up on the US Navy's F-35C variant is that the aircraft's tail-hook has had to be redesigned. That is because the existing design has failed to catch an arresting cable during trials. Lockheed is working on a new improved hook design that should fix the problem.

"We have modified the hook pointwith a lower center of gravity," says Steve O'Bryan, Lockheed's vice president for F-35 programme integration and business development. Additionally, "we've redesigned the hold-down damper."

I will also add that so far the fix is working and the new design has caught a land hook.
http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35-pr
http://defense.aol.com/2011/10/18/f-35b-sea-trial
No falling apart here. Your making this to easy

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ltfunk2 July 14, 2012 at 10:41 am

>I will also add that so far the fix is working and the new design has caught a land hook.

So did the previous failed design. So claims that it's working are havent been tested yet. Just another example of the inherent dishonest of F-35 shills.

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Dave July 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

great comment.

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Taylor July 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

Sorry to give Jessmo a negative vote accidentally. Thumbs up.

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jack July 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

it would help if the right prices are used
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/dae/articles/com

BY2012 $M
The Program Acquisition Unit Cost (PAUC) inc. engine = $134.5 M
The Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) inc. engine = $109.1 M
Average F-35A Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $78.7 M
Average F-35B Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $106.5
Average F-35C Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $87 M

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ltfunk2 July 13, 2012 at 7:48 am

>it would help if the right prices are used

Yea it would, wouldnt it. But instead you cherry picked the lowest cost you could find. Whos going to pay for the non-recuring costs the development costs and everything else you missed out on – your fairy godmother ? LOL

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jack July 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

try reading the link, or look up what PAUC and APUC means, they inculde what you said was missed as a combined price for the A, B and C

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BlackOwl18E July 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

F-35A: US$197 million (flyaway cost, 2012)
F-35B: US$237.7M (weap. sys. cost, 2012)
F-35C: US$236.8M (weap. sys. cost, 2012)

I'll give you one shot at guessing where I got these from.

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jack July 15, 2012 at 12:10 am

I guess you got it from wiki. from someone that doesn't know how budget docs work

Dave July 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

finally, a sensible cost documentation for the F-35.

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BlackOwl18E July 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

We need the F-35 to be fully completed and the production line to be rolling out battle ready jets before it can be considered sensible.

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ltfunk2 July 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

No doubt old F-105 thunderchief pilots will tear up with the F-35 because the performance of the two is about the same.

Buts it's good to the the F-35 is so easy to fly. You dont want to waste an expensive highly trained pilots in an aircraft where a SAM lockon is a death sentance because the aircraft kinematics are so poor.

Oh yea I forgot no SAM will ever lock onto a F-35 no AAM will ever be fired against one because they are magically INVISIBLE. LOL

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William C. July 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

The F-35 is closer to the F-16 in performance than the F-105. Not that you're interested in facts or anything.

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ltfunk2 July 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

It has the same wing loading and thrust to wieght ratio as a F-105 but "it performs just like F-16" LOL

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SirSapo July 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

The F/A-18 has almost an identical combat wing loading as the F-105, as does the F-16. As for thrust to weight, the F-35 is in the same class as both of those airplanes.

Fun fact: Aircraft performance is more complicated than two numbers.

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Anlushac11 July 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Agreed. F-35 pilots have reported the aircraft handles and flies almost the same as the F-18E/F. At minimum it should be as survivable as the current 4th gen aircraft.

USMC needs the F-35B badly. The Harrier has been out of production for years and there are no new airframes. USMC has been buying everyone elses Harrier's and parts just to keep theirs flyable.

When you can get a Hyper Hornet to fly off and land on a Gator let me know, otherwise F-35B is all the Corp has.

ltfunk2 July 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Just hilarious, the F-105 "lead sled" was such a poor performer in Vietnam that it had to be removed from combat due to excessive losses.

Thefact that we are building aircraft that cant go up a 60s era MIG-21 is a scandle.

Sanem July 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

the F-35 is the most advanced jet on the face of the earth
but it broke the bank, and it'll be outdated in less than a decade

either way the West will be bankrupt very soon, the F-35 will be ancient history, and it'll be the rise of the machi… er, drone

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Big-Rick July 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm

yep, we seem to want the gold platted version when silver will do just fine and be
1/4 the costs

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citanon July 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Name any 4th gen fighter with 1/4 the unit fly away cost of the F-35?

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BlackOwl18E July 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Well in March the F-35B was $291.7 million per unit and the Super Hornet Block II last had a listed unit price of $66.9 million per unit, which is less than 1/4 of the B-model's cost.

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jack July 15, 2012 at 12:51 am

you need to qualify what unit cost, if it's TY or BY $, if it's a full production price or a LRIP etc

Mehmet November 20, 2012 at 3:12 am

RE: Coming from the other side of it, It’s always aeolsutbly baffled me why people consider their income to be something so deeply personal that it’s unforgivably rude to ask about it. I’ve seen people who are willing to divulge intimate details about their sexual fetishes or health problems who blanch at the thought of putting their income range on an anonymous survey. What’s the deal? Can anyone explain this to me? Please, I am genuinely puzzled. Maybe it’s just a generational divide.By the by, as people seem to be having difficulty with this whole incomes thing, lemmie help you out a bit. The median household income in King County is $53k year at last I checked.The per capita is $29k.According to wikipedia, for the city of Everett, the median household income is about $40k and the per capita is about $20k.From my admittedly rough calculations that means the 50th percentile of incomes in Everett can afford approximately a maximum of about $200k on a mortgage at todays interest rates. Once again, rough calculations. So you may want to readjust your thinking on what is affordable . You could assert that the 50th percentile has no business owning a home and should rent, as I have seen it not stated but implied on these forums before. In that case, we could bump it up to the 60th or 70th percentile and say that the prices are bang on, but that creates a simple supply and demand problem. If you are arbitrarily reducing the percentage of the population that should be able to afford a home, to say 30% to pick a random percentage, you had better make sure that there are only homes available for 30% of the population and a **** of alot of rental space. Otherwise supply exceeds demand and prices will have to come down. I think it’s important that people get over their (baffling, to me) squeamishness about incomes and start really looking at what kind of money people make around here. Presuming everyone is about like me is foolish.

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Blue July 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I am thumbing up all the pro-F-35 comments and thumbing down all the anti-F-35 comments.

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Atlanya July 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

It's no secret that the F35 is a larger chunk of change than we'd like it to be. F35B, for example, is looking to replace the Harrier, correct? I'd venture to say that replacing the Harrier with a brand new platform is worth the cost.

Marines are having to buy other countries old stocks of Harriers for parts. That's not good. Harriers are, what… Vietnam era? There's no way a Harrier can be combat effective on the modern battlefield. And I'm not talking about OEF. I'm talking if we got into a fight with a legit Mil instead of fighting pissed off farmers.

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Atlanya July 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

Sure it has a large payload and can even fit a light bomber role. But do we really need that in this day and age? The payload/loiter perks were great for the 90's and early 00's, of course. But with drones and sat's running the surveillance that loiter time isn't really needed. Speed and precision will be the name of the game in the next conflict.
I hate the cost of the F35, don't get me wrong. I'm not much a fan of the single engine. I wish it had more payload. But the fact that it's a brand new aircraft that can do the same tricks as the Harrier, and then some, is a pretty big plus. Harrier had a great run. Will go down as one of the greats in history.

This is just one of those rare occasions where need outweighs cost. And I think top brass knows that, despite how stupid they're portrayed as being. Just wish that cost wasn't so gargantuan.

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dubweiser101 July 15, 2012 at 11:36 pm

For that price it better be easier to fly than the Harrier.

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TJRedneck July 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

As far as the F-35 replacing the A-10, AV8B, F-16, & F-18 – The A-10: No way anything could replace that except an upgraded A-10. The AV8B – Yes, I can see it replacing that. The F-16 & F18, not sure the jury's still out on that.
I would like to see the Air Force do away with their version and adopt either the B or C model. They need to get away from fighters that need long runways to take off, all the enemy has to do is take out the runway and the whole squadron is grounded.
I do know that the F-35 is progressing and I would like to see them test it at the next level – which is against other aircraft.
Here's what they have so far: https://f35.com/building-the-f-35/testing/f35b.as

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BillDanner July 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

I revel in what BRASS had to say – I was around the SKUNK WORKS when the F-35 was being developed. He is right on target in every aspect. This aircraft is designed to make the pilot's job easier when evrything about him is turning into a personal nightmare regarding bogies. It allows him to concentrate on the job at hand, eliminating the bad guys, while not having to worry about constantly scanning his guages for aircraft problems. …as far as the comments about a black box or the display failing and everything is lost, there is something called redundancy – and at the SKUNK WORKS we didn''t work to the 3 sigma level of probability we worked to 4. ….as for the didplay, you don't think we put redundancy into that also – - that if it went out the pilots would be blind as to their guages and such, give me a break. This gives the pilots the abilityt to, and please BRASS allow me to quote you "I wonder how we keep essential skills and the split second decision making skills that are necessary. We live in an age where our defense and government computer systems suffer millions of attacks in one day

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Smokeman July 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

so the only difference between the F35 and platforms like the F16 18 and 15 are the avionics? Why are we spending so much money on a new platform again?

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BlackOwl18E July 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Welcome to my world…

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Joe Macqueen October 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

The cost is the last item on the table will this aircraft fufill the need's of all the service's which the military has asked for as I can't see the gov't going back to the drawing table.
The US. has more at stake then their other member's as the fleet of plane's they plan on replacing is overwhelming to say the least.
I as a Canadian feel our view's are of no importance for the amount of plane's our country is talking about are less than a drop in the bucket soo if they decide to opt. out so what. I have no idea what these aircraft will be used for aside from having the same type if in another conflict make's it easier to service at that time.JSF.is the program.we will be part of.I don't envey you america's.

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Steve December 22, 2012 at 2:47 am

I'd really love to get an idea of how the F-35 actually handles compared to other fighters. Ive never seen it doing anyting all that impressive in videos ect. Not even a minimum radius turn. Just want an idea of how maneuverable it is.

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jack July 13, 2012 at 4:28 am

why do you just guess?

it's reported by sweetman the naysayers friend, that the f-35a is 12% more than the f-16.= $25.2
the RAAF costs the f-35a at $21,000

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BlackOwl18E July 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

The RAAF doesn't currently have the F-35A.

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jack July 13, 2012 at 6:12 am

does that mean you accept that it was reported that the f-35a will be 12% more than the f-16?
RAAF doesn't have f-16 either
Jane doesn't see that as relavent http://www.stratpost.com/gripen-operational-cost-

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4FingerOfBouron July 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

Gripen is no competition for F35, please, apples to apples…

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4FingerOfBouron July 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

Can't say its cheaper as it hasnt been funded.

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Johnny Ranger July 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I'll repeat my comments from the "Navy Won't Bite Just Yet On F/A-18 Refinements" thread:

"I don't understand the point of the F-35B. Everything I've read tells me it would be a good – maybe even great – STOVL strike fighter…but why do the Marines need a strike fighter? I would think they'd have a much more urgent need for a real AV-8B-replacement CAS platform. Something that can fly low and slow and lay down a lot of 25mm, rockets, cluster bombs, ATGMs, etc. The 35B has half the cannon ammo of the Harrier and doesn't seem geared towards low and slow anything, or persistent loiter, or lots of ordanance. I could see a few fighter variants to protect the gators (or for the UK's QE-class carriers), like the Harriers that were made AMRAAM-capable, but I have to agree that some sort of "Harrier 3" (or, in my dreams, a revived OV-10!) would be better suited for USMC CAS needs. But that's just the musings of a former ground pounder…"

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majr0d July 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

LOL, can't believe you're referencing the thread where you didn't know the difference between a CH46 and CH47? Does wonders for your credibility and the way you handled your ignorance is a beacon of maturity. Faking a screen name (if it's faked) is much more up your alley.

Yeah, YOU're pilot material (sarcasm). Keep the barista gig.

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SirSapo July 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I did answer your question about the lift fan, it isn't "cracking" as you seem to think. The issues with it involved air loads on the doors and actuators causing them to crack, not the fan itself. Again it was a quality control issue from the the subcontractors who build the actuators. They've been flying the B with the fan on for years now and they aren't replacing fans every week like you seem to think.

And the SHornet has been doing combat ops over Afghanistan and Somalia, hardly a high threat environment. I'm talking about if you wanted to go into someone's airspace that has their air defense act together…

As for upgrades, most of the ones we'll be seeing on the F-35 will involve software rather than new hardware, and those "paper thin" weight margins really apply only to the B-model, which is still able to meet its requirements.

Also, upgrading fighters doesn't mean the Air Force is "losing faith" as you seem to think. The USAF's fighter force is only getting older and something has to be done until F-35A's can start filling squadrons. Besides, they've been talking about upgrading to "Platinum Vipers" and "Golden Eagles" for years now, this is not a new development.

As for the CAW, I'm sure they're just great if you stumble inside that 300 mile ring where the Super Hornets can get to without tanker support, but the point is that isn't enough anymore.

You seem to think that I believe the F-35 is the answer to all these problems, but it isn't. Buying more 4th generation airplanes and assuming they can get the job done in the future, however, is an even worse idea.

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Johnny Ranger July 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

…although upon further reflection, if we were to develop a "Harrier 3" for the USMC's CAS requirements, the unit cost for the the few remaining 35B's needed to defend our gators and to fly from the UK's carriers would probably be cost-prohibitive…but if the Harrier 2 was able to be morphed from a great CAS platfom into a decent strike fighter, I bet a Harrier 3 could too…

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SirSapo July 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I'm not sure what "Presidential Commision" that article is refering to, since the only one that recomended cancelling the F-35B came out in 2010 and they obviously aren't following that. The delay that the article is refering to is when Congress decided to cut back on the amount of concurrency jets bought through 2015 (hence the drop in numbers in LRIP-5 I talked about). But there was no call about buying more 4th generation fighters in the meantime. The reason that article mentions the F-14 (and thinks the F-16 is still built by General Dynamics) is because that is a site about the economy, not combat aircraft or even the military, and the author doesn't have a clue.

As for the bulkheads cracking, that was found in a lifetime fatigue loads test of the F-35B. They aren't finding cracks in the flying airframes at all, and the A-model is almost completely done with its fatigue testing for its entire lifetime. The B-model's bulkhead cracking was fixed over a year and a half ago by the way. Just because an article is recent doesn't mean the information is current, especially when it is not written by an aerospace professional. As for the buffeting, this is a common issue in fighters with twin vertical stabs. Even the original Hornet had issues with excess buffet from the strake vortices striking the tails, to the point that they were getting cracks within the first few years of service. The Raptor had the same issues, as did the Super Hornet and the Eagle. And the helmet is well on the way to being fixed, and the pilot's are happy wearing it.

The weight margin is there for the STOVL variant because it is the most weight critical version in terms of bringback and short takeoff. There is no hard "weight limit" for the other versions. I guarantee you that no "upgrades" will attach to the undercarriage of any airplane, and the F-35 has no issues with expansion room.

Just having fuel weight doesn't equate to the same range. A good rule of thumb is that half the fuel you're carrying externally is used to offset the drag of having to carry it. I'm sure conformals are a little better, but you don't get something for nothing. I didn't forget what you said, it just shows an underlying lack of understanding when it comes to how airplanes work. The Super Hornet barely beats out the Legacy Hornet in range, and strapping drag onto its back isn't going to fix that problem overnight.

The F-35 doesn't rely only on stealth, and it can benefit from everything else you have listed that will help the imaginary Super Duper Hornet. The Air Force has been forced to do something about its tactical fighter fleet because of delays in the JSF program, hence the upgrades to the Viper fleet (only about 30%).

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BlackOwl18E July 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm

You're going to have to show me a link or something for the fixes on the F-35. I refuse to just take your word for it and the JSF's PR team hasn't shown the same exactly.

Of course the helmet is well on the way to being fixed. That's why they're making a second lower tech helmet right? NO. That makes no sense. The helmet's not even close to getting fixed.

You can't guarantee me anything about the upgrades in weapons or aircraft systems for the next 40 years. You can't see the future. The F-35 has terrible issues with expansion room. All you are giving me is your word and that's not good enough for me. NOT AT ALL.

The Super Hornet has a significant range increase over the older Hornets since it holds 33% percent more fuel and it has almost the same airframe. All the Super Hornet pilots I have talked to and many of the accounts of Marine Hornet pilots that flew the Super can attest to that. The conformal tanks are very low drag and are designed to create more lift. I already know that the fuel weight doesn't equate to an increase in range but you are not taking into account that the Block III Super Hornet can use the weapons pod to carry ordinance and have low drag with nothing under its wings. You also aren't taking into account the EDE engines with enhanced endurance for the Super Hornet that allow it to maintain the same performance with less fuel consumption. The Block III Super Hornet will not have a significant range difference with the F-35C.

And, No, the F-35 can't benefit from everything else that I listed on the Block III Super Hornet because it doesn't have the room for it. It's not as flexible in operations as the Super Hornet is and it doesn't carry nearly as much ordinance. Once you mount ordinance on under the wings then it basically becomes an F-16 in terms of performance that costs 3x as much. Not only that, but if we buy the F-35 we will not have enough money to make all those systems or enough of those systems to matter because we'll be too busy paying for the obscenely high operating cost of these jets that do in fact rely on a technology that is becoming increasingly vulnerable with enemy advances in electronics. The F-35 relies entirely on a technology that could easily go out of fashion in the next decade. A technology that is extremely expensive and is not worth its price in capability. The F-35 price is STILL GOING UP as the flaws are fixed and there is no way that 1 F-35C is worth 3 Block III Super Hornets.

I refuse to continue this any further until you ANSWER MY QUESTIONS. What types of the maintenance did they perform on the F-35Bs? You said they aren't replacing the lift fan every week, but how often are they replacing it? Does LM have permanent fixes for the F-35B engine for it to work perfectly? If not then why don't they? When will the F-35C trap a wire? LM has had over a decade and billions of dollars. We should be seeing some results by now. You also don't seem to understand that every time you call the Block III Super Hornet imaginary, I'm just going to call a fully functional F-35 far more imaginary because that's the truth.

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PMI July 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Stop feeding the troll.

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jack July 15, 2012 at 12:43 am

I also guess you have nothing to dispute the PAUC,APUC and the average A<B<C flyaway from the DoD SAR link that I gave

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blight_ July 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm

The F-105 was thrown at properly designed SAM defenses in an attritional fashion. Losses were to be expected.

Not like we're bombing a technical in the desert, as in today.

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Riceball July 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

You keep on stating that based solely on 2 figures that the F-35 is no better than the F-105 in spite of being told that wing load and thrust to weight ratio alone are not indicators of an aircrafts performance and also in spite of pilot testimonial that it flies (surprise!) like other fighters. If you're going to hate on the F-35 based solely on a comparison to the F-105 you're going to have to do better, not even Blackowl (possibly the biggest F-35) hater here has never tried to argue that the F-35 flies like and F-105. According to an interview w/Italian pilots involved with the F-35 program its performance envelope falls somewhere in between an F-16 and and F-18. http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,186349,0

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tiger July 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

The F-105 was never meant to be a great fighter. Tac nuke dropper was the orginal mission. Not my choice to play with in those days. I'll take the Crusader any day over it. Even a Mirage III.

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majr0d July 16, 2012 at 2:34 am

Sir Sapo, I'm still trying to form an opinion on the F35. Appreciate your knowledgeable posts and more evenhanded treatment of the F35. It's pretty hard to get to the truth as there are so many haters out there praying and rejoicing over bad news. The F35 may be a mistake but it's not getting a fair eval on the internet.

The same phenomena exists around the Osprey and was also popular with the introduction of the Blackhawk which carried the moniker the "Crash Hawk' for over a decade even after being proven in combat on Grenada. It's cool to be cynical.

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Riceball July 16, 2012 at 11:57 am

I hate to say it but both you and Blackowl have gotten one basic fact wrong about both planes, neither one carries a single ounce of ordinance and even if they did who cares which one can carry more pieces of legislation enacted by a municipal authority. Now if we're talking about ordnance then that's an entirely different matter.

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majr0d July 16, 2012 at 2:52 am

Marine doctrine is different than ours. Not only does Marine air provide CAS (the best/most responsive there is), they also feel they must be able to influence air superiority over the MAGTF. They don't even rely on the Navy completely for this mission and considering they may have to operate from a gator for a short period of time without carrier or air force cover it makes sense.

Considering how the Army lost the CAS mission and has suffered evr since I don't blame the Marines one bit for jealously guarding their air missions. Slippery slopes do exist. Look what happened to the army with the C27. We started the program to replace Hurons and Sherpas. The Air Force took it over promising to operate the planes and is now seeking to mothball the whole C27 fleet because C130's can do the job. Well, C130s don't do inratheatre logistic runs unless the Air Force decides the mission is important enough which is an additional bureaucracy to convince vs. when the Army owns its own intra theatre fixed wing lift assets.

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Johnny Ranger July 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

Valid points all. Too bad we just can't act like we're all on the same side…

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SirSapo July 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Ha, good point riceball, I stand corrected!

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SirSapo July 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Thank you, I think the major difference between the JSF program and prior procurement endeavors (besides scale) is the level of media exposure. Its easy to get a skewed perception of how things are going when no airplane has been scrutinized during development so publicly before. The layman has never heard of the crippling gun exhaust flameouts in the prototype A-10, cracks in the prototype F-15's stabilator, or the carrier landing difficulties of the original S-3. However if you ask anyone about the F-35, they'll be able to tell you all about the hairline cracks in the fuselage, or the tailhook issues because every stumble is spotlighted by the media.

It's good to make up your own mind and read all you can on the airplane, just be careful of your sources. I've found that when you see a really negative or a really positive story about the jet, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Good historical perspective on the Blackhawk, I think the same can be said for a lot of (now proven) military tech, like the Abrams and F-117.

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Dave July 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm

yet another excellent response full of facts and figueres and sources. Keep them up.

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daniel February 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

isn't there a saying that "if it looks good it probably flys good" or something like that.

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