Home » Air » F-35 Watch » Report: F-35 Cracks in Tests, Isn’t Reliable

Report: F-35 Cracks in Tests, Isn’t Reliable

by Brendan McGarry on January 29, 2014

F-35_maintainers

The U.S. Defense Department’s newest and most advanced fighter jet has cracked during testing and isn’t yet reliable for combat operations, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said in new report.

The entire F-35 fleet was grounded last February after a crack was discovered in a turbine blade of an F-35A. While the order was subsequently lifted, more cracks have been discovered in other areas and variants of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made plane, according to the latest annual report by J. Michael Gilmore, director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

Durability testing of the F-35A, the Air Force’s version of the plane designed to take off and land on conventional runways, and the F-35B, the Marine Corps’ model that can take off like a plane and land like a helicopter, revealed “significant findings” of cracking in engine mounts, fuselage stiffeners, and bulkhead and wing flanges, according to the document. A bulkhead actually severed at one point, it states.

“All of these discoveries will require mitigation plans and may include redesigning parts and additional weight,” Gilmore wrote in the report.

The F-35C, the Navy’s version of the plane designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers, has also had cracks in the floor of the avionics bay and power distribution center and, like the F-35B, in the so-called jack point stiffener, according to the document.

The hardware problems, along with ongoing delays in software development, among other issues, led Gilmore to conclude that the fifth-generation fighter jet’s “overall suitability performance continues to be immature, and relies heavily on contractor support and workarounds unacceptable for combat operations.”

He added, “Aircraft availability and measures of reliability and maintainability are all below program target values for the current stage of development.”

The Joint Strike Fighter program is the Pentagon’s most expensive acquisition effort, estimated last year to cost $391 billion to develop and build 2,457 F-35 Lightning IIs. The single-engine jet is designed to replace such aircraft as the F-16, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B.

The Pentagon this year plans to spend $8.4 billion to buy 29 F-35s, including 19 for the Air Force, six for the Marine Corps, and four for the Navy. The funding includes $6.4 billion in procurement, $1.9 billion in research and development, and $187 million in spare parts. The department in fiscal 2015 wants to purchase 42 of the planes.

The Marine Corps had expected to begin operational flights of the aircraft in 2015, followed by the Air Force in 2016 and the Navy in 2019.

The Corps’ schedule depends on using a more limited version of the software, known as Block 2B, designed for use with such precision-guided weapons as the AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, GBU-32/31 Joint Direct Attack Munition and GBU-12 Paveway II bomb.

The first operational flights, however, will probably be delayed because the aircraft’s software won’t be ready in time due to ongoing glitches, according to the report.

“Initial results with the new increment of Block 2B software indicate deficiencies still exist in fusion, radar, electronic warfare, navigation, EOTS [Electro-Optical Targeting System], Distributed Aperture System (DAS), Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS), and datalink,” it states. “These deficiencies block the ability of the test team to complete baseline Block 2B test points, including weapons integration.”

Lockheed has reassigned more engineers to improve the software, and the Pentagon has assembled an outside team of experts to study the issue.

Even so, the report touches on other problem areas.

The aircraft remains vulnerable to “ballistically-induced propellant fire from all combat threats,” such as missile strikes, according to the document; its computer-based logistics system, the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, was fielded with “significant deficiencies;” and the program has a “significant risk” of failing to mature modeling and simulation technology, known as the Verification System, or VSim, according to the document.

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{ 243 comments… read them below or add one }

Mill1 January 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I understand learning curves, new technology, etc. However, things like this can generally be discovered during engineering development of components given load factors. There is either a flaw in development, construction, material QC, or something along those lines. For $350+ Billion, I expect something, even during trials, to be a bit more combat ready this far into it. I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling about this.

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Nadnerbus January 30, 2014 at 2:21 am

I am an aircraft neophyte, but I seem to recall torture testing being done on old school airframes like the F-14 where they subject test airframes to freezing conditions, rain, fog, and other environmental factors in controlled conditions to find out how the thing handled it, never mind the carrier impact simulations done on the landing gear and airframe to test durability for carrier landings. Is this not done anymore?

Also, from what I have read, the F-35 is already pretty heavy for its size, once they start bolting on structural reinforcement and stuff, it is really going to become a little piggy.

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blight_ February 2, 2014 at 10:15 am

I'm sure Lockheed is chomping at the bit to let the Pentagon pay for R&D to pay for a re-design to use weight-saving composites…yay, more R&D!

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CMSGT January 30, 2014 at 11:15 am

Remember that this is a concurrent acquisition program. In other words, engineering development and low rate production are happening at the same time. I think it's a stupid concept for a weapons system this complex and expensive. And then you have to retrofit all of the birds that were manufactured. But LM tells us that they have it under control. Trust them….and give them money.

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Tad January 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Can't be discovered early on if you make testing concurrent with building and purchasing.

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J D February 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Yes, consider Lockheed Martin's (?) failing Freedom class Littoral Combat Ship program! Consider Lockheed Martin's failure to retain the contract to replace it's own P-3 (which I flew in 34 years ago); lost to Boeing Corp.! And now this really stabbing news about the always troubled F-35 program!

What has happened, though?! This company used to engineer and manufacture many fantastic aircraft and weapons! Where has all that engineering experience and expertise evaporated too?? No wonder my wife is so nervous at her job. After 15 years she still earns a good income but she doesn't like going to work and being told that there isn't any work for her to do – and yet she is supposed to dream up something to report weekly to the supervisory team to justify her time.

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Mike February 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

They will just keep sinking billions into it so that the Congressmen and Generals have jobs when they retire.

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CGibbs February 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

Relentless Root Cause Corrective Action required. A corrective action plan based at the root cause starting with the first failure will lead to the biggest factor. Failure meaning getting down to what supplier where, whom, building from bottom up. My cup of tea. Love it, enjoy this.

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Sam Cro February 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The Defense Department has the fine motor skills of a dinosaur. This is a fine place to start cutting.
A small unmanned drone with air-to-air missiles can shoot a $150 Million F-35 jet out of the air. It is like the obsolete battleships of WWII. Luke AFB is expecting 144 crafts. At $150 million each! For a total of $21.6 BILLION DOLLARS. No wonder this country is going bankrupt.

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Raypc800 January 29, 2014 at 7:11 pm

The more I here about this plane the better the upgraded F18E/F looks. After all what we want is to keep them Flying High, not cracked up.

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notveryfast January 30, 2014 at 9:58 pm

The problem with that is that it leaves the Marines high and dry. With the Harrier fleet rapidly aging, and the losses they suffered during the September 2012 ground attack on Bastion, less and less of those airframes are able to be certified. They NEED the F-35 to not suck at life, otherwise they're SOL when it comes to Harrier-like aircraft.

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redstate January 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

What a great idea! Too bad the pentagon is pushing hard to shut down the F/A-18E/F production line in 2015. To much competition is a bad thing for the Pentagon’s prize program.

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Greg January 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Can you imagine if they were f-35's at bastion. 6 aircraft destroyed would have equaled a billion dollars. I don't see these operating from a farp, far too delicate.

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MItchell Fuller February 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Marines have the Hornet and they have Harrier airframes purchased from British, time to pull them out of the desert and do a refit to fill in numbers.

The F-35B is most complex model and based on complexity re reliability and expense it will not be operating from any forward deployed position. And the drive shaft from engine to lift fan is not a reliable component.

B model needs to be cancelled and A and C model redesigned with two engines and frame strengthened and with strategic pivot to the West given legs to fly long distance without refueling.

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Hialpha February 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Marines hitched their wagon to the F-35, so it's their mistake and they should have thought of a workaround or alternate option. Their C's and D's are beat to hell, and their only option left is the Harrier — not a great option all things considered — to fill the gap.

Politically engineered or not, the F-35 isn't "too big to fail." Somebody once said near the same about the Titanic, and how wrong they were.

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Leon February 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm

what are they going to do with a plane that can't get in the air. Thye deserve to be SOL fo decisions they have made re aricraft

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Glockster 20 January 31, 2014 at 12:48 am

We should just stay with the F22

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William A. Peterson January 31, 2014 at 10:25 am

So, we're going to disband the Navy, now? Remember, the Air Force had a stated requirement that the F-22 could NEVER be designed in such a way as to make operations from a Carrier possible! (YES, this was idiotic!) We DO need the F-35, if it can be made to work. the F-18 is obsolescent and not really good enough. If the F-35, ultimately, cannot be made to work, then it's back to square one, and design of an all new aircraft, with all the costs THAT entails (Ouch!). Let's hope Lockheed starts getting it's act together!

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Mark January 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

We DO NOT need this airplane. The fat cats with their hands in everyone's pockets are telling you that we need it. Please enlighten us on this being the overall replacement when it doesn't have loiter time, can't carry a load, can't dogfight, etc., etc. etc.
So, just what is it?

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Phil January 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm

As someone who flies super hornets I can say without a doubt it’s not obsolete

Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Need? We need a plane to be the back bone of our forces for the next 40-50 years. We can not keep flying 1970's & 1980 designs into 2060……..

Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Too big too fail…….. 20 years & too many partners in to start from scratch.

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Doc Coleman February 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

350 billion for a horribly degraded group of planes the military does not need. However, slowly stripping funding from military retirees and their families is what’s dragging down defense spending? This is not logical.

Spaycace February 6, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Maybe the Navy & Marines should turn to the “losing” aircraft from the F-22 battle and pick it up! It was a political choice to begin with … since the lead congressional rep was from GA, the home of Lockheed. I saw both planes and the F-23 would look beautiful sitting on carrier decks, instead of being dead!

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Which is a non answer, never filled the job requirements for a JSF & frankly has yet prove jack it's self……..

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Hrntphxr January 31, 2014 at 2:03 am

Hornets had similar problems in the early days, that's where the strakes (sp) came from . . . . How many Hornets are still waiting center barrel replacement due to cracks in the main mounts for the gear, or have engine fire wall issues. . . . if your going to spout off and compare new programs to mature, be sure to do your home work!!!

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redstate January 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

Recommend you do your homework. Hornets never had such issues so early in their service life’s. All aircraft have to deal with fatigue and associated cracks but the point of the article is that they are much worse than expected on the F-35 so early in its life. Yes, the Hornet has significant crack issues today but that’s because the services are having to extend their lives due to….

F-35 delays.

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Curt January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

You might want to actually read the report on the nature of the cracks. By the last count I have seen, the F-18E/F has 18 cracks that they are actively tracking as a result of exactly the same fatigue testing the F-35 is doing now. Not to count the cracking that has been occurring/projected as a result of significant increase in the number of full weight landings over projections since the 1990s. Homework, something everyone should do.

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William_C1 February 1, 2014 at 6:45 am

Several of the first F-111As becoming victims of wing-separation, compressor stalls with the F-14A and early F-15s, not enough F100 engines for said F-15s, the F/A-18 not meeting range/payload requirements based off the performance of the earlier A-7 and F-4, fatigue cracks discovered in the mid 1980s on some F/A-18s, what else? I wasn't aware of those cracks on the Super Hornet but those have occurred despite the fact it is a significantly more robust airframe than the classic Hornet. Shit happens.

You Lie! January 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

And the fact that the F-35 isn't worth the effort of time.

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Hazel Lee February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Without a doubt I agree

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RRGED January 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm

F!$@K this is bulls!@$t, this test and procedures has gone far too long, I wish China and Russia can develop a fighter that can kick our butt that is the only way these contractors can get their s!$t together.

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That Guy January 30, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Your priorities are clearly errant.

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Dan April 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

The Indians that just tried the PAK-FA T-50 prototypes said that it is pretty bad too.

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Dfens January 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Ok, don't get all upset by this news. There is an up side. All these problems are going to ensure Lockheed makes record profits this year, and if they really get lucky maybe the program will get cancelled right before production starts so they can "propose" (euphemistic for "lie their ass off") to win the next great defense program where they will once again siphon off huge profit for no risk during the development phase and perform so badly that the next one will get cancelled just before production too. After all, our once great nation pays them more to f up, and SURPRISE they know that. The only people who are blissfully ignorant of this fact are the US taxpayers.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 1:48 am

They don't make decent profits on the F-35 program when they screw up. Most of their profits come from working products like their missiles, bombs, avionics, the F-16 etc. They rightfully should be made to feel financial pain from these structural failures. Unless fixed those airframes won't reach their 8,000 flight hour requirement.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 9:38 am

Well, there you go. Clearly Lockheed isn't really making record profits year after year from F-35, it's obviously a conspiracy by the news organizations that report they make these profits. And who is going to make them feel "financial pain from these structural failures"? You, the great apologist for the status quo? Here in the real world Lockheed will get a change to their contract that the government will fund which will allow them extra money to fix these problems. That change will come with the customary 10 to 15% "award fee," otherwise known as profit, and Lockheed will fix the cracks and make more profit and then there will be other problems later on that will require more money to fix and Lockheed will make more profit on those problems, and so on. What kind of idiot can't figure that out? Obviously Lockheed has figured it out.

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oblatt2 January 30, 2014 at 11:30 am

Bill is just saying its nothing compared to the money that will be rolling in when thousands of defective aircraft have been built and need to be fixed.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I don't think he knows what he's saying. He certainly doesn't have any facts to support whatever it is he's alluding to. Lockheed has been milking the F-35 development cash cow for decades now. A quick glance through their stockholder's report shows that it has always been a high performer when it comes to profits. The only period where it wasn't bringing in the highest numbers of all their programs was when the political heat was turned up high and they were getting hit on their award fees. That lasted about 2 years. Hell, it's perfectly obvious that Lockheed themselves lobbied Congress to cancel the F-22 program when its production threatened the continued funding of the F-35 development program. That was no secret, although it may have been a conspiracy by the news agencies reporting that Lockheed was lobbying to have F-22 cancelled when really they wanted F-35 development to end instead. Apparently there are cornball conspiracy theories everywhere but none so blatant as those that suggest "for profit" companies are actually motivated by profit.

William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

If the government can't competently write up a contract despite their countless accountants and financial experts they have only themselves to blame. Go ahead and read Lockheed Martin's annual reports if you want but you're not seeing the sort of profit made in a lot of other economic sectors.

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Dfens January 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

So now you're saying that there's a conspiracy within Lockheed to withhold information from stockholders? The fun just never ends with you, does it?

And here's a news flash for you, Willy, if the government can't competently write up a contract they don't lose any money. The American tax payer is the one that gets stuck with the bill. You ought to pay taxes, you might feel a little more strongly about what's going on here.

CMSGT January 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

This is a cost plus program that is just now morphiong into a fixed price program. this means that the government assumes all of the risks and pay for their screw ups. The only penalties at this time come from deficient financial and contracting processes, nothing technical.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

If you mean none of the over run amount Lockheed incurs every year is ever paid without award fees as that over run should be paid in a "cost plus award fee" contract, then, yes, you are absolutely correct. It is sad that the government does not allow the "cost plus award fee" contract to run as structured. A relative of mine championed that approach over NASA's old "cost plus fixed fee" approach to contracting thinking it would make the contractors more responsive to government oversight, but it turned out the "award fee" really doesn't have any teeth in practice.

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CharleyA January 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

They make about 11% per air vehicle.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm

They make 11% on every dollar they spend.

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blight_ January 31, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Better ROI than the bank.

Not sure where else to find an 10% ROI at zero risk.

J D February 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Nonsense Dfens (that is about the record profits for Lockheed Martin)! My wife has been feeling nervous and pinched at her job here in Fort Worth, for a couple of years. A couple of her supervisors and 3 or 4 of her higher level co-workers have already left to find other companies to work for before they get the ax or the bad news. She also says all her supervisors at least 5 levels up are feeling the stress!

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Dfens February 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

Right, because no one has ever been laid off from a profitable company in this country.

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Tony January 29, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I find it hard to believe that this program started back in 1996. Im 20 now and remember when I saw the original x-35 compete against the x-32 on tv one night. Man I feel like this should be the last nail for the coffin and end the program.

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Steve B. January 29, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Agreed. Somebody should develop the balls to cancel.

Problem is if it was the SecDef, it'll look like Obama made the decision and if BO did make the decision, the wing nuts would be all over his ass, even though it's the gutsy and correct call.

The plane is a POS that costs way too much and it's doubtful they will ever get it to full functionality. LM should be forced to lose their collective shrts on this.

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Dfens January 29, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Yeah, the F-35 sucks compared to the plane we could or perhaps should have designed, but why is it that you think cancelling this one will help? Why do you believe the next program will be better? Hell, the only trend I see is that weapons get worse and worse, not better. Programs take longer and longer, they don't get shorter. So let's cancel F-35 and then what? Hope that technology never advances beyond what we can bolt on to some lame 1950s, 60s, or 70s airframe? That's insane.

If you really want to screw Lockheed, make them build this piece of crap. And if you really want to hit them were the live, put an end to profit on development contracting for weapons. Or cancel every weapon program just as it goes into production and see what that gets you.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 1:59 am

I don't know why you obsess over supposed profit from development contracts. If there is any profit it is minimal and the bulk of their income comes (for Boeing or NG or BAE, or anybody else for that matter) come from what works. Hell, they have an opportunity to produce what could be 3,000 fighters, future upgrades for those fighters in later years, weapons for those fighters, and more. Nobody sane is going to throw that away. Do you think Pratt & Whitney does not want to make thousands of new engines? What about the many other subcontractors? Considering Lockheed inherited the F-16 from General Dynamics this is a concept they should understand.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

Yes, I'm sure Lockheed hates making that $17 billion from the $170 billion F-35 development contract. Clearly they'd rather be building the airplane instead of designing it. All of the defense contractors would rather be building weapons than designing them because obviously all the risk is in the design, right? Yeah, that's just the way the real world works. You should visit it sometime.

William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 2:30 am

If you want to reform this mess of a system you need to start with:
- Greater accountability on all levels
- Greater penalties for failing to meet requirements as in this scenario
- Encourage companies to provide realistic estimates as opposed to whatever the politicians want to hear (see A-12 Avenger II)
- Politicians who will fund those programs without constantly adjusting the budget, numbers, schedule, etc.
- Better risk assessment (more input from the veteran engineers)
- Less redundant government agencies and red tape whenever possible
- Financial incentive to exceed requirements
- A degree of understanding that some problems will always arise and need to be corrected
- Better methods to ensure no price-gouging is taking place
- Encourage more competition without sacrificing capability

Most of these are hard goals but it seems to be what we need to focus on. Of course reality means we don't want to penalize a major company to the point where it goes under (sort of the same our banks and financial institutions), or force them to cut most of its workforce. So as always it's a balancing game.

Not paying anybody for the developmental work (which is a very large undertaking on something as big as the JSF) won't fix anything, no company is going to take a risk when it can result in disasters like the F-20 which was a relatively simple machine.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

Wow, where did you get those great ideas. I've seen them somewhere before. Oh yeah, it was on a defense industry talking points chart. Because procurement reform is hard, and harder if you continue to pay companies more to f up.

And here's a news flash for you. We do not need defense contractors to design our aircraft. If corporations don't want to take the risk in designing new aircraft, the Air Force can design its own aircraft, much like they used to when they designed the X-1 though the X-15. The US Navy used to design their own ships. The US Army used to design their own guns. That's they way it was until the federal government in its infinite wisdom decided to pay companies a profit on designing weapons. Once that gravy train started, then every damn company wanted to design weapons. It's free money. Hell, if someone offered me $1.10 for every dollar I spent, I'd take it too.

oblatt2 January 30, 2014 at 11:35 am

> no company is going to take a risk when it can result in disasters like the F-20 which was a relatively simple machine.

If you don't want to take the risks of the business then you shouldn't be in the business – that's business 101.

If Lockheed thinks it is too risky to build a small jet fighter on time and on budget then it should save everyone a lot of trouble and go away.

Steve B. January 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Because after all the billions get spent you still end up with a plane that for about 80% of the missions is inferior to those 70's designed aircraft. It's an underpowered dog is what it is, with an avionics suite that doesn't do what it's supposed to.

The AF could easily go to upgraded F15's, the Navy to the same in an F/A 18.

Leverage the 35 technology that WORKS into different aircraft down the road, but with the money saved buy more 15's and 18' s. At this point it would be cheaper to re-open the F22 line.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Cancel? And fly what for the next 40-50 years?

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SMSgtMac February 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

The 'Program' starts in late October 2001–FY2002. The program before that was to develop technology demonstrators to prove the tech was obtainable, not build prototypes. It just so happens the F-35 doesn't look too different from the X-35, because the X-35 technology demonstrator was closer to what the production form ended up than what the F-32 would have been compared to the X-32.
And BTW: Congratulations on 20 years. How many programs have you worked? (Need to know to weigh the relevance of your perspective/opinion.)

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Jay B January 29, 2014 at 7:47 pm

USAF Gen. Michael Hostage put it quite well the other day, expressing publicly that they cannot cut a single airplane from the program because it would instantaneously send the entire F-35 program into an unrecoverable death spiral. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140128/DEFREG02/301...

Sounds like the love for this behemoth is pretty much gone at this point.

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lbeberdick January 30, 2014 at 3:58 pm

What the general meant was that if he cuts a plane, he won't have a job with lockmart when he retires.

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SJE February 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Lots of other high tech programs (e.g. fusion reactors, particle accelerators, NASA missions, big rail projects) get cancelled when costs spiral, and we find other alternatives.

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FMA February 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

That General is a robot, he doesn't have a say. Smartly salute and fall back in line. His retirement check is on the line.

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Esther Grupenhagen January 29, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Civil Air Patroll is deteriorating into Civil Aor Platoon being sdministered and managed by NCO who can't comprehend that volunteers aren't raw recruits!

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UAVgeek January 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Perfect opportunity to show the overfed and underworked American teenager some discipline.

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dr. agreeable January 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm

huh?

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Mr. Military February 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Nobody has time for CAP, tell tem to join the military.

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Clint Notestine January 29, 2014 at 7:56 pm

oh come on thats just lockeed padding the bottom line

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mpower6428 January 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I wonder if the rest of the free world can budget that degree of " designed obsolescence "… wait a minute, can we…?

I am fresh out of concern for or about this thing. " Nail in the coffin " doesn't quite sum it up.

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Lance January 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Shows more waste in this Billion Dollar boondoggle. Face it the USMC B is a waste you can argue for a USAF F-16 replacement but for the A-10 or harrier no this carries is and is not meant for CAS missions. I wish they cut there losses scrap the B and go on with the A model for replacing the F16 only. But the Pentagon is to stupid to do logical things anymore.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Lance, that is not a answer.

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Konstantinos January 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm

First mistake: development of three different types to satisfy more the ego rather than true operational needs. They could all have the B or C variant and decrease the cost and complexity of the program
Second mistake: the competitive phase ended too soon. Arguably more money would have been spent so far by extending the competitive phase, but the motivation would be much greater for the companies.

Aren't you surprised that for competitive programs the companies deliver working, almost operational models right away, but for programs, where a single developer exists, there are huge delays?

Anyway, I believe that at this point going ahead with the program is the only option. Canceling it would entail not only losing all the R&D money so far but additional R&D for a successor program.

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Don Meaker February 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Remember when we were told that we didn't need another engine contractor? Keep in mind that the engine is furnished as Goverment Equipment to Lockheed.

Pratt and Whitney engines have cracked turbine blades. Gosh, I wish we had General Electric as an alternative supplier…..

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Chuang Shyue Chou January 29, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I am convinced that the aircraft will eventually be perfected, however, to what cost?

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Ben January 29, 2014 at 11:18 pm

But here's the real question: Is even a perfected F-35 going to be enough?

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xgrunt February 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm

And will we be able to afford more than one "perfected" F35?

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Vpanoptes January 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Want a really off-the-wall idea? Maybe Lockheed is secretly and almost completely owned by certain secret groups and interests within the Chinese politicomilitary- government complex and this is their inscrutably clever way of both destroying our defense base and bankrupting us at the same time. Fiends I tell you, they’re fiends! Wonder what they’re going to (eventually) charge us for a J-20 or J-21? Or an LCS replacement that might actually be able to fight someone besides the Angolan Navy?

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Dfens January 29, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I wish that were the case. Can you imagine the news that would make. The country would be united in indignation. Instead what I fear is that we have a bunch of Americans selling out their country for the customary 30 pieces of silver. A guy like Bob Stevens of Lockheed wastes literally hundreds of billions of dollars a year just to clear a $25 million a year salary. Hell, we'd be better off to just give him $25 million a year guaranteed to get the hell out of the country and quit screwing us over.

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Don Meaker February 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Lockheed is a publically owned company. You can check public records to see who owns it.

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JCross January 29, 2014 at 11:25 pm

The thing that bothers me most about these flaws, are the failures of the AIM-120 and the DAS. However, the AMRAAM not working is extremely troubling for any fighter as it's the backbone A2A weapon. Even more baffling is they have no clue why. Individual missiles that were tested on other platforms to work failed to work on F-35. For the DAS, it apparently cannot recognize between incoming missiles and flares, even the F-35's own flares. Meaning that the automated flare system will pop flares in response to other flares, and then pop more thinking these new flares are more missiles. Repeat until out of flares. The other flaws: fragility, low availability and more delays is simply normal status for the project.

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mitchRAvet February 4, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Dont buy anything from the enemy

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10thdiv January 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Remember when they thought the F-35 would be the cheaper plane to supplement the F-22?…… lol

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JCross January 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm

This is what I don't get. Sure we need a new plane to replace our inventories, but at this point we'd be better off just building more F-22 variants. We saved the designs and the production equipment after all.

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octopusmagnificens January 30, 2014 at 6:21 am

Just F-22 for the USAF, F-18E for the NAVY and drones for the Marine Corps.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 6:25 am

No drone that will be able to replace the Harrier II anytime soon. We'd need to build many more improved F-22s for the USAF and chances are they would still want a program for an F-16 replacement. We're going to need better than the F/A-18E for the Navy in the near future, better than the F-35C as well some would argue.

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45K20E4 January 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

Please tell me again why the USMC needs their own fighters, in this day and age of combined forces? Total waste to give them their own planes to play with.

Then again, this is the same USMC that has a fascination with amphibious combat landings…something that is entirely outdated and would result in massive casualties the American public would never tolerate.

CharleyA January 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

Helos for the small decks, transfer the Navy's F/A-18Cs to replace the beat up A+s and some F/A-18Fs to replace the Ds, recap the fleet with all Super Hornets in the interim, while developing F/A-XX by a more competent contractor.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Good luck finding that "more competent contractor." When you pay them more to be stupid it's kind of stupid to expect them to work smart.

Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

That is not a 50 year solution. Nor helps the RN Fleet Air Arm. Nor potential buyers in Spain, Canada or Japan.

Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm

THE F-22's have their own issues. Nor do they meet the specs for a JSF.

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Nadnerbus January 30, 2014 at 2:15 am

Yeah, the article mentions buying 29 more aircraft, I assume in this coming fiscal year, for a procurement cost of 6.4 billion dollars. By my math, that is a fly away cost of some 220 million dollars per airframe. Almost 290 million dollars each with their share of the R and D included. I know it's still LRIP and all, but holly crap.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:38 pm

So please send in your 1040 forms on time…………

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rtsy January 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm

How long do you think it will be before the investigation reveals that all the problems with the program were caused by Chinese espionage?

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:42 pm

More likely American Engineers who cheated through "Statics & dynamics", off the Chinese kid in seat ahead in college.

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mitchRAvet February 4, 2014 at 7:58 pm

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Auyong Ah Meng January 30, 2014 at 12:02 am

hmmm…

cracks…

Possible due to the recent odd weather condtions?

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009 January 30, 2014 at 12:08 am

CRACKS! Well what do you expect, this plane is basically made out of plastic!

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 2:11 am

Composite material in fighters is nothing new. It's been increasingly common from the F-16 onward.

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009 January 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

You're right, however it's more pronounce on this plane.

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gildas January 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I hate to say it, but apparently, it(s the alloy parts that are cracking.

From the pictures I've studied, the airframe of the F35 (also the Grippen, Eurofighter and Rafale) is mostly an alloy monocoque… All of these, in concept, inferior to the "true composite" construction of the DH Mosquito (!). There must be a reason they do it..

Somebody talked about stealth, from what I understand, the F35/F22/B2 have very good stealth against the smaller dish radar's found on fighter's. Not very good against AWAC's. Totally useless against long wave ground based systems.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

So?????? We used to make fighters from Piano wire , balsa wood & Cotton fabric….

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Jeremiah January 30, 2014 at 12:29 am

The title seems a little sensationalist. Its a turbine blade crack not a structural thing in the plane itself.

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Jeremiah January 30, 2014 at 12:30 am

Nevermind, didn't read past the first paragraph before I commented. Retracted.

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MacPaul January 30, 2014 at 5:00 am

This plane is a complete disaster, but great for the industrial-military complex, cause they can earn a shit load full of money with ever going on upgrades.

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Tinto January 30, 2014 at 6:34 am

Sorry to say, but the US is continueing to doom. A program starts in 1996 and it is still a piece of crap. With the performance of programs, ie., F-22, F-35, P-8, LCS, army´s replacement to the Bradley, and programs on and on. Couple this with the performance of AmTrak, USPS, and the AWA (Ocare), I guess that all we can do is produce crap and wast Trillions. While, all the while, we are headed to be a 2nd World Country. Thank our Politicians (both side isle), Defense Dept, (all branches), and Contractors, for contributing to the demise of life as we knew it. We are never going to fight in a global war, we are becoming as one.

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SMSgtMac February 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Correction: A program starts in late October 2001–FY2002. The program before that was to develop technology demonstrators, not prototypes. It just so happens the F-35 doesn't look too different from the X-35, because the X-35 technology demonstrator was closer to what the production form ended up than what the F-32 would have been compared to the X-32..

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Where can I put in a application?

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TonyC. January 30, 2014 at 7:39 am

This program has been scrutinzed more than it's predecessor, the F-22A. The F-22A has had it's share of problems, but that program is calssified and the problems aren't for public debate. The F-35 program will succeed, the technology is new and the problems are expected. Look at the Russian PAK 50 and there are similar reports about problems. The F-18E/F are out there until the F-35 is available. The F-15/F-22 are also out there. The issue is metal fatigue for the 4th generation fighters. The cracks in the F-35 are probably for composites to be evaluated and corrected.

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Christopher Bloom January 31, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Can you point use to these sources on the problems the T-50 has been experiencing in Development/production.

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TonyC. February 3, 2014 at 6:33 am

Comments by the Indian Defense Minister concernig the performance of the PAK-50. He calls it Russian Rubbish. It is not stealthy enough, it is unreliable, and it is expensive. the avaionics aren't working as designed and the engines
designed for it aren't ready.

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Stratege February 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

The Yellow Press reports…

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Stratege February 4, 2014 at 12:09 am

India buys FGFA, not PAK-FA…

J Kotva February 3, 2014 at 10:26 am

The F-35 is not meant to replace the F/A18E/F/G nor the F-15. The F-35 was meant to replace the F18C/D the F-16 and the AV8B. The F/AXX is meant to replace the F/A18E/F/G The F-22 was meant to replace the F-15 but became too cost prohibitive to continue production.

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Devo January 30, 2014 at 8:47 am

This is what happens when you try to make one air frame do everything. It was a grand idea but it was a failure in the past and appears to be a failure in progress now. There are just too many differences between the demands of each service. So the saying goes, Jack of all trades, master of none!

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 10:01 am

Sure, this airplane would be great if only it were being designed for a single service. It wouldn't have any problems at all.

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DuneTribune January 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

The TFX in the 1960s and early 70s is the classic example …

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 10:18 am

Yeah, it would really suck to get two airplanes as good as the F-111 and F-14 out of this fiasco.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Would be great if the Navy could get their own more capable stealth fighter, but will Congress pay for it? Even with the F-14 the Navy had to cancel all sorts of plans like the F-14B with the definite F401 engine. Thus until the late '80s all F-14s were A models with the TF30 which was intended to be an interim solution, hence all sorts of crashes and losses.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Spitfire/seafire, F-86 Sabre/ fJ Fury, F-4 Phantom II, F-8 Crusader. UH-1 Huey……

It can be done & has before……

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OldFedVet1941 February 5, 2014 at 6:48 am

Same Mistake Hitler Made.

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Don Meaker February 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm

The cracks are in the turbine engine, furnished by the government to Lockheed. The engine has two jobs: suck cold air in from the front and blow hot air out the back. The problem is, we only have the one P&W engine rather than pay GE to develop a competitive engine.

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Dimitris May 12, 2014 at 6:31 am

Nope, it was not a grand idea to begin with. There are contradicting features in the 3 versions. Ground attack version must be armored, while airforce version must be lightweight and agile. Marine version requires a tilting to vertical exhaust, while navy version requires very strong landing gears. Bombing version requires a huge payload, while stealth requires ordnance to be carried inside the belly of the airplane. Only a fool would attempt to bring all those together. The end result is an airplane that is too fragile for ground support, too heavy for aerial combat and carries too small a payload as a bomber. Its a huge clusterf**k.

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retin88 January 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

About the engine. Wasn't there a big flap about having more than one source for the engine. Maybe we need more than one source for the aircraft. Of course that depends on who/whom of the retired O6 plus fat cats are on who/whoms board.

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hibeam January 30, 2014 at 9:20 am

Big government is always a nightmare of stupidity and incompetence. Always. Its a rule. Accept it. Deal with it. Keep big government out of every area possible. Defense is one of the few areas where they have to take the lead. Health Care? Hell no!

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Chuck Schwinger January 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Healthcare is the one thing government is good at. Medicare is the most cost efficient system in the nation. It delivers the most care per dollar spent . Expanding medicare to ALL americans is the wave of the future. Nothing drives cost down like mass buying power.

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Big-B January 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

Who would have guessed building more / only F-22 and do not bring the F-35 at all would be cheaper :-)

I never understood the need for a A and a C version, i think the AF would have been happy with a C as well. I know the C costs more than the A but the saved money on RD for the A could have been used for buying the C for the AF as well and the AF could have left of the hook to save some weight. If the AF really needs the F-35. And why a F-35 at all for the carriers? imho what the F-18E needs is a bigger and better brother like a "naval F-22" with long legs that can protect the F-18 and the carrier. The F35 needs to be protected by the F-18…

Just to be correct its "just" a crack in a turbine blade so its a problem of PW and exceptionally not LM THIS time.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Better keep reading that article.

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Big-B January 31, 2014 at 3:07 am
Dfens January 31, 2014 at 9:12 am

The further through the article you get, the more cracks there are. Definitely not all of them are in the engine.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm

You make naval aviation sound as simple as a Home Depot project. Just go to Hardware on the top shelf for tail hooks.

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Larry January 30, 2014 at 9:38 am

I think im not a prophet when i say this program won't go the hole way to number 2,457.

The six generation fighter will come up half the way when it goes on like that and i think it's time to bring in the drones big time.

We all know that they are the future and that they will be the wingman of the six generation (or will fight for themselves) so i think they should intensify the work on real combat drones NOW.

Start filling the gap before it comes into being.

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oblatt2 January 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

There is only enough money for 250.
2457 is based on gutting every other program.

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madhatter January 30, 2014 at 9:38 am

Wasn't there a movie made called the "Pentagon Wars" that covered something similiar to this? Amazing isn't it.

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Weaponhead January 30, 2014 at 9:59 am

Hey at least the F-35 is consistent. They always need more time and more money, it's like a mantra. At this rate, SDD is going to take longer than the A-12 lawsuit did!

So I ask you, if we allow programs so poorly conceived and run to keep going ad infinitum, why pay hundreds of millions of dollars into EVM to track the cost & schedule?

As Rand pointed out, it would have been cheaper to build 3 separate aircraft optimized for each service. But the drunk at the craps table keeps putting down more $ because he has lost too much already.

Carnac predicts – 1 year from now when the 2014 DOT&E summary comes out it will say the same things. Maybe the F-35 program should bet against itself in Vegas????

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CharleyA January 30, 2014 at 11:53 am

They're not getting any more money, so it will be fewer airframes.

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Big-B January 31, 2014 at 3:09 am

i like the idea with vegas :-)

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Willie January 30, 2014 at 10:48 am

What do they expect from a plane built from low bid contractors from several countries?
No surprise here! Dont put all the blame on lockheed.

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Viq January 30, 2014 at 11:44 am

Can't the cracking issue be fixed by another 100 million lines of code at taxpayer expense? ;-)

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Fyayldt January 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm

This plane seems to be riddled with problems cracks all through the structure. That indicates that it was poorly designed and that the structure cannot handle the loads being placed on it. In that event reinforcing it will likely not solve the issues but will require massive redesign of the whole aircraft or massive changes in the materials being used. More billions for what was supposedly going to be a cheaper replacement for existing aircraft. I think we might have been better off just working with what we already had and improving those aircraft. The A-10 is an old warrior but it is one of the finest ground attack planes we have ever come up with and it does the job magnificently that it was designed for. Sometimes you have to come to a point where you just have to say if it isn't broke don't fix it. We have some great aircraft in our inventory that could probably be tweaked with better engines and software upgrades and perhaps even design changes for a next generation with new materials and other changes as well but all this garbage about designing specialty aircraft for each service I don't see it because we already have a full deck of them. Improve the Osprey and others and make them more battle ready since we've already invested so much in them. Or better yet quit being dumb asses and trying to fight everybody's wars and stay our ass at home for a while and quit trying to bully everybody into doing what we want them to. We have spent too many lives and too much blood in countries where we had no vested interest in being there.

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Curt January 31, 2014 at 1:48 pm

You realize that the majority of the A-10s had to be rewinged because of main spar cracking way before service life right? Just saying.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm

So was the Stuka… and like the Ju-87, the A-10 is great when conditions are in it's favor. As for the Inventory? Time does not stand still.

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Hunter76 January 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Is anyone surprised at this?

I just hope there are people working hard on an F-35 Exit Strategy.

This program was insane from the beginning. Trying to incorporate so many diverse functions in one airframe was a pipe dream only politicians, defense CEOs, and similar blowhards would try to peddle.

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Derek Birch January 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Well, I am not going to mention all the problems which have afflicted, or are afflicting, this 'super' advanced attack fighter which is said to be so essential to the USA and the UK.
Basically, my questions are:
1) Is the F35 able to do all it was said to be capable of doing? (at least as well as current in service aircraft-if not better given the projected cost per aircraft).
2) Are all faults, flaws, glitches, etcetera etcetera, able to be resolved without excessive cost, and without excessive delays to previous expectations of operational in service entry?
3) If the whole project was scrapped, would current in service aircraft be capable of performing the same combat roles, as effectively as the F35 was / is said to be capable of achieving? (without 'additional' risk to aircrew and aircraft).
4) Would the USA be so kind as to lend our Royal Navy some modern aircraft, until such time as problems with the F35 are resolved? (so our new aircraft carriers actually have some decent aircraft capability to carry!).
Thanks.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Don't go down the toilet with us. Hell, the UK once had one of the greatest aerospace capabilities, arguably in the world, so what's wrong with you now? Waiting for us to save you is not the smart play right now.

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Big-B January 31, 2014 at 3:30 am

i totally agree: Canberra, Harrier, Vulcan, Buccaneer, Lightning all beautiful.
Same goes for canada with their avro canada cf-105

too much national pride in the wrong area nearly killed our european fighter industry. it would have been wise to bring the british, french and our german aircraft companies together decades ago: this way we could have had our own european 5th generation fighters. Today the brits building good trainers and are part of the Typhoon-Team with germany and others, building a fighter without stealth but with a RD story comparable to the F35. And the best part: We are fighting (commercially) vs. the french dassault rafale pretty much about the same niche…

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Mitch S. January 31, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I just can't understand why the Brits didn't spend the money to put catapults on their latest carrier. It was already apparent that the F35B was running into trouble and facing major delays. It'll really suck to have a nice new carrier like the QE with nothing other than helos to fly off it.
For the price of about 10 F35s the Brits would have had the ability to choose from a number of carrier ready alternatives.

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Chuck Schwinger January 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm

throw another 50 billion at it.

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Peter January 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I'm from the UK and all I can say (again!) is I wish to God we weren't buying this plane. And then bear in mind we are building two carriers which can ONLY carry SVTOL planes so we can't even change our minds and go for F18's or a navalised Typhoon.

So, as I see it, not only are we going to end up with useless aircraft but two useless carriers as well.

We're nearly broke as it is but this shambles is going to help, not!

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:26 pm

You should learned from the Phantom II buy 40+ years ago….

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hibeam January 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm

No problem. Create another version. The F-35POS.

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purpleheartpark January 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm

As a Positive note for everyone on our site, Buy Lockheed Stock….

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Bernard January 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I think Lockheed should be suspended from procuring new defense contracts for the next 10 years for this. This is a massive financial catastrophe and a national embarrassment.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Like Boeing is doing any better? Making ASW planes that can not find subs?

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Larry January 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I don't understand why anybody should be surprised, after all there was a competition and the cheapest bid was selected. Additionally you would have thought we would have learned from the F 22 debacle, but we didn't. Do we never learn from our mistakes? Or are we caught in this loop to continue to make the same mistakes over and over the cheapest plane when.

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Big-Dean January 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm

This entire program is cracked-those who continue to support it are on crack, and we taxpayers are getting a cracked back…

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Ede January 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Forget about LM’s bottom line. Something has been missed by the previous posters. Engine blade cracks have been cleared. Go past the first paragraph. There are STRUCTURAL cracks in the engine mounts, fuselage stiffeners and bulkhead and wing flanges. Also, “The aircraft remains vulnerable to “ballistically-induced propellant fire from all combat threats,” such as missile strikes”. Problems with high fallutin’ electronics and software I can almost understand. But, CRACKING STRUCTURAL MEMBERS I just cannot understand. Name the material and we probably have a pretty well developed static and dynamic model of it. And, “ballistically-induced propellant fire from all combat threats,” such as missile strikes”. What are we supposed to do? Ask the boogie man to only shoot cotton balls at us?

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Scott Eugene Campbell January 30, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Problem, Contracts go to lowest bidder. Sometimes paying more for a quality product is the answer. It will save in the long term of things. The F-35 program is a prime example..

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Scott, we only have 3 jet builders. It's not like we have a lot of bidders….

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Steve Norris January 31, 2014 at 2:05 am

I believe from the reports that this aircraft was released far too soon and is relying on the skill of test pilots to find all of it's weaknesses. When the aircraft is finally released, the proposed cost would have soared. Let's just hope that no-one is hurt/killed whilst ironing out all of these "bugs" Warm feeling,,,you'll have to wait a while? The predicted cost "The Joint Strike Fighter program is the Pentagon’s most expensive acquisition effort, estimated last year to cost $391 billion to develop and build 2,457 F-35 Lightning IIs." The final cost…Probably a lot more for an aircraft that should be ready to replace so many "AGEING" ones.

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Larry January 31, 2014 at 9:37 am

As a check on the piling on the F-35, you all might want to review the critics during the 70's on the F-16 and M-1.

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Karl January 31, 2014 at 10:36 am

What I have never been able to figure out is how they think this aircraft has the ability to replace the A-10 for close air support? It has neither the loitering ability or weapons payload for the job. Also if used at low altitude is highly vulnerable to AAA….It seems more of the shinny new toy mentality and "make me rich" scheme than anything else.

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John Doe January 31, 2014 at 10:50 am

Excellent job of leaving the facts out! The cracks happened after 9,000 hours of Equivalent Flying, 1,000 hours after the "first life cycle." This isn't happening on acft that are new, and has not happened on any acft that are flying. Just another example of the press/media selectively quoting reports to make them sound worse than they are.

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Curt January 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Actually some are into the third service life, it was only the first one (F-35B bulkhead and already fixed) that happened at 9000 hours. Which all the posters could have learned if they had actually read the report as opposed to the cherry picked lines in it.

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Sev January 31, 2014 at 11:08 am

I wonder if the B-2 and F-117 went through the same crap. I mean they probably did but we just never heard about it. Why is it that all of our top military research projects are reported on in the news and broadcast to our enemies? SHouldn't this shit be classified? This is retarded. Keep it under wraps until its ready you f-tards!

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Curt January 31, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Every tactical and strategic aircraft goes through this. For example, the A-10 had to be re-winged because of cracking, the F-18E/F is actively tracking something like 18 cracks from the fatigue test, etc. Important things to note are that all of the cracks appeared after the first service life in testing. Well except for the F135 crack which was the result of using the afterburner about a 100 times more than normal. In fact, the F-35 is relatively crack free compared to most aircraft in testing so far.

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Leo Gerald Johnson January 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

What kind of material is the outer skin of the fuselage made of? when you sacrifice "Strength"for "Stealth "that's what you get.

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oblatt2 January 31, 2014 at 11:56 am

Other programs have had cracks but only the F-35 has bulkhead separation. Its really in a league of it's own in terms of program failure. There isn't a single main subsystem that functions properly even after the specs have been reduced repeatedly.

Its well known what the solutions are and they all involve adding weight which is why Lockheed has been putting off testing as much as possible. An aircraft that wouldn't have been able to survive in the skies over Vietnam int he 1960s is going to get heavier slower, shorter ranged and less maneuverable – even more of a dog.

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William_C1 February 1, 2014 at 6:30 am

Bulkhead separation? Do you even know what that bulkhead is? The fix for the cracks on 496 bulkhead (unique to the F-35B) is expected to add no more than two pounds. If there wasn't a "single main subsystem that functions properly" thousands of flights wouldn't have occurred.

Do tell me how the F-35 wouldn't be able to survive the skies over Vietnam. The only chance they would have of downing any would be through blind luck in the form of firing as much AAA and SAMs that can't even be guided to the target via radar into the sky as they possibly can. Maybe in this alternate reality of yours there will even be a coherent strategy so we Linebacker them from the start and win the war. You'd hate that wouldn't you?

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charlie January 31, 2014 at 3:23 pm

It's keeping jobs in how many congressional districts?? Good luck getting rid of it.

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OMEGATALON January 31, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Some of the problems that the F-35 program is experiencing has to do with training the maintenance staff on how to handle the new systems as Lockheed's LCS has experienced maintenance issues with their USS Freedom also; the author of this article doesn't say after how many hours did the jet engine experienced a blade crack as there were no reports of this type of issue while the F-35B was being tested aboard the USS Wasp last year.

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Steve B. January 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm

"cracking in engine mounts, fuselage stiffeners, and bulkhead and wing flanges,"

This should not be happening at this stage in the process especially on an aircraft that is already overweight and under-powered.

Not for 'nuttin, but even given past history's of aircraft like the C-17, C-5, F111, this platform is so much more poorly designed and built that it begs for cancellation. They cancelled the Comanche for fewer issues.

Cancel it.

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Anon E. Mouse January 31, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Whew, for a second I thought you were quoting the report. I see now you were only quoting the 'journalist'.
I'd say you should read the report, but I doubt you would understand much. the cracks are being found in durability test articles. Those mentioned that are not old news, are mostly second-'lifetime' test results. If they weren't finding cracks after the first lifetime, I'd be suspicious.
The planes are all under the target weights, and the 'under-powered' engine you speak of is only the most powerful fighter engine in the world. Is there anything else you don't know or understand that we can help you with?

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oblatt2 February 1, 2014 at 3:27 am

only the most powerful fighter engine in the world.

Isn't enough to lift the pile of shiit that the F-35 is.

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Edward Heaslip January 31, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I was fortunate to know early on, and successfully predict, the F-22 and the F-35 are both a waste of money and very poorly designed. I'm with an earlier commenter who said the upgraded F/A-18 is looking better and better! The last thing ANY branch of the service needs is another single-engine aircraft.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm

False premise.

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BigDaddy57 January 31, 2014 at 8:42 pm

I felt from jump street this plane was a bad idea. Every time they try to make a one size fits all weapon system it doesn't fit anything.

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alien-1 January 31, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Billions, billions, and more billions. Just think how many more F-22 Raptors the U.S. could have fielded and even up graded to even a better stealth fighter. Also the Navy could have already fielded a better and stealthy F-18 fighter . All that's going to really happen with the f-35 program fighter is that we will continue to spend billions until we get it right and give it to the rest of the World for a cheaper price because of the length that its taking to get right, and then they will have all that great technologies that the billions, an billions that the tax payers paid for turned around and used against us all in the name of friendship. Then we are back in the same boat trying to out design what we have already made into one of the greatest aircraft ever. only if we can keep the Chinese and all other countries from stealing for there on secret aircraft. And so on . Wake up America, we can make the f-15 , F18 , and the F-22, better than any other aircraft in the world. We need to keep our F-15 the big scary super fighter. and make it even better, the world already no's the its one of the best aircraft ever built and its a proven platform. God bless our country

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:38 pm

America would rather make better pot & porn than planes…….

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yusuf February 1, 2014 at 4:13 am

Should be consult with Mr. Crack that had been resolve the problems NATO warplanes that often fall in Germany in the 60s era.

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Rick Zastrow February 1, 2014 at 6:53 pm

F-35 replace A-10? Can it loiter for hrs? Does it carry 30 mm Gatling, can it fly low and slow and protect the pilot. All food for thought.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Everything gets replaced.

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blight_ February 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

A-10 replace the Bronco? Nevar!!!!

Give me an old Skyraider, WW2 Corsair or Flyer One with some guy in goggles with a rifle

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Troy Jones February 1, 2014 at 7:24 pm

The comments seem to forget that every dollar spent on a contract replaces a dollar
spent(?) on unemployment, welfare, and other benefits to potential employees, etc.
So, yes we should manage them better and examine proposals better and demand
performance, etc. etc. but everything costs money that goes to feed someone and
their spouses and children. If we want better performance, eliminate the taxes paid by the employees and other beneficiaries of the contracts or eliminate the welfare
payments to those who would not be employed if we did not have the contracts.

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Troy Jones February 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Every contractor should have his feet held to the fire. The taxpayer should get his money's worth. There is no need to hurry a plane into production before it's ready.
Those who depend on the plane should be able to have confidence that it performs and is as safe as the Dash-1 describes. We already give away too much money to
people who do nothing for it.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 8:51 pm

We can not build a Healthcare web site, Yet you expect a fighter jet to work?

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Deuterium2H February 1, 2014 at 11:42 pm

The F-22 hypoxia issues have been solved. The platform is solid, and there is no other fifth generation fighter that can touch it in terms of unmatched lethality — which is a combination of superior performance, all-aspect ultra low observability, and advanced radar and sensor fusion. Yes, there are Networking and communication integration issues that the USAF would like to see implemented…but this is something that can be solved with upgrades. The bottom line is that Gates should have never canceled the F-22 program after such few numbers.

Lockheed Martin hoodwinked the USAF by exaggerated, unrealistic claims that the F-35 would perform multi-missions, at greatly reduced cost. They essentially sold themselves out of the F-22 business…as LM convinced Gates and high ranking USAF generals that the F-35 would be "good enough" to perform deep penetration strikes in Denied Airspace, while also handling the F-22's role of being an air superiority/air dominance fighter. We now know this was utter bullocks.

The best solution, which I realize will NEVER happen, would be to re-start the F-22 production, and develop a bona fide ground attack/precision strike capability for the F-22. This could be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of the bottomless money pit that is the F-35. Or, re-start the F-22 line, keep it's primary mission/purpose as a Denied Air Space penetration, air dominance / air superiority fighter (Tip of the Spear), and purchase 200-300 Boeing F-15 Silent Eagles as the second line fighter and precision ground strike platform…to come into the fray once the F-22 (and other assets) have neutralized enemy air defenses, and achieved air dominance.

The Navy will be happy to buy upgraded F-18 Super Hornets, and they can continue their development studies on a next generation naval air superiority fighter…while also continuing to develop the UCLASS systems.

I don't have a good solution for the Marines, unfortunately, especially as they a dead set on having a STOVL capabiity for their LHA's.

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Tiger February 2, 2014 at 1:16 am

What is not solved is the primary weapon system is still faulty. The F-22 is not worth much if the ARRAAM missiles are still unreliable. The F-22 does not meet the role of the JSF. Buying more does not change that. Nor does telling the USN & USMC to make do for 30-40 years with what they have. A 20 year old update of a 30 year old design.

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blight_ February 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

AMRAAMs work well, it's just that there was a change in supplier for the missile propulsion system resulting in faulty performance.

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Konstantinos February 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I see several mistakes being written that show total ignorance.

1) Does anyone really believe that the A10 can survive in a high threat environment? We need a fast (to cover larger areas), stealth (to survive from AA) aircraft. Regarding the 30mm cannon let me remind you that the F35 carries a 25mm weapon and that it will engage tanks with stand off weapons)

2) The STOVL version brings a whole new level of operational capabilities that we haven't realized yet. We complain about the decreasing number of aircraft carriers; have you realized that with the SOTVL version we can bring aircraft carrier capabilities to the LHA/LHD fleet? Have you realized the shorter turn around time the STOVL version will bring during the amphibious operations?

3) Have you realized that modern air superiority will be based on stealth capabilities and that legacy platforms are outdated in that aspect?

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Mick February 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm

What wars have you been fighting? Seems like for the last twenty-some odd years we've been engaged with middle eastern wars. The days of mig-alley are over! WE NEED warplanes that can fight the fight we're in instead of some maybe war against a perhaps enemy. Mr. K is wrong on all counts with his plagiarized comments!

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Konstantinos February 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

If you ask me, I believe that the Air Force should buy the STOVL variant and develop a concept of FOB bases that will have a short runway for the landing of C130 or C17s. The base will be deployed for a short period of time (hours to days) just to refuel and rearm the operating F35s near the target area.

No need for massive air refueling operations. Much shorter turn around times that will decrease the number of airplanes needed to execute the mission.

The fuel will be stored in inflatable tanks. The weapons will be kept inside the cargo airplanes. If the situation gets hot, the cargo airplanes take off, the fuel is ignited and in a few minutes the base is abandoned and everyone safe in the air.

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@ArishiaNishi February 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Please excuse my naivete, but does this mean the A-10 might continue in service a bit longer? I love that plane and the thought of them being chopped up is just sad.

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Robert February 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm

The President should assign Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi. To over see the development and production of the F-35. They did such a great job getting Obama care passed. They read every page of the bill. To protect the interest of the American people. We need more people like them in Congress to serve the best interests of the people.

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BlackOwl18E February 2, 2014 at 11:56 pm

I can't believe I missed this…

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Fano February 3, 2014 at 3:02 am

DOD out of control…whats new….billions of dollars wasted….but not to worry they will get it back from us the retiree's.

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M1mech February 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

This aircraft and I use aircraft loosely, has be a flop from the beginning the first one to Edwards AFB was delayed 6 months because the engine fan blade broke and shredded the front of the plane in Texas. Last I heard can't do more than Mach 1.3 without vibrations starting. They call this the first supersonic VSTOL, NOT TRUE, the AV8 has a supersonic engine for it and the Brits had a few but liked the slower more agile non-supersonic. Navy and Marines were forced to take this piece of junk. Why would the Navy want a single engine aircraft, they stated after A6 Shyhawk they were only getting twin engine so the aircraft would have better chance getting back to carrier if engine problem. OOPs engine problem in F35C going down no chance to limp back to carrier only 1 engine aviator in drink and billion dollar aircraft gone. Yea every aviators dream. Then even if it gets back to the carrier they still have not fixed the arresting hooks little problem of ripping off the aircraft in testing also. Air Force don't care they are always over land.

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Flexworker February 3, 2014 at 11:13 am

"last I heard…"
Better stop doing that especially when it comes from people with no clue.
All variants of the F-35 are declared flutter free at Mach 1.6. And that is as official as it can get.
Are you seriously comparing 50's jet Skyhawk with 50's engine to that of the F135 engine from today?
Are you that daft?

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@twobitsworth February 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Star Wars Lucas should have received contract, Air Force dreams of the millennium fighters. Lockheed depends on military cost overruns, should be a gov't agency.

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Robert February 4, 2014 at 7:28 am

No matter what the problem is. No corrections will be made until the members of congress are voted out of office who are connected to the special interests. Who have corrupted many levels of our government. Veterans vote these members out of office.

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mitchRAvet February 4, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Need to do maintenance and stealth on existing technologies as the IAF does. In ancient history during the 73 war the arabs had high tech soviet Jets.The IAF did not..they simply mounted rearview mirrors on them and DEFEATED the enemy!!! Assess,adapt,overcome,win!!

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Shawn A, Simmons February 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm

F-35 or F-22?

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Doug February 4, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I was never crazy about this jsf due to way better planes out there in operation right now that only need upgrades to keep up the pace. I don't personally like the f22 either due to all the problems but at least they are getting somewhere with those due to being very minor problems even though they have cost a couple of lives. this thing is like money being poured down a very deep hole and getting nothing in return. currently the suhkoy mig 29 could whip it in any kind of manuvering capabilities. way past time to pull the plug on this one and start fresh with a different model and different materials.

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AJ West February 5, 2014 at 12:17 am

This is what happens when the acquisition corps decides they know more that the late Col. John R. Boyd, USAF (Ret.) about designing and building fighter aircraft and instead insist on building multi-mission tactical aircraft, that the world can acquire and fly to their little heart's content for a pittance. Folks not familiar with his life's contribution and adoption by the USMC are invited to read his biography by Robert Coram.

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x.s.charm February 5, 2014 at 2:32 am

Sounds like the Chinese been operating their own little STUXNETs over at Lockheed. Karma's a

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falconbrother February 5, 2014 at 10:54 am

You know, if this wasn't national security it would be funny. Wasn't the F-35 supposed to be a cost saver????

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brad February 5, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I say modify all pilot based F-35s and turn them into remotely piloted fighters with no onboard crew. This will bring an incredible weight savings, probably solve any number of structural issues, increase ordinance loads, range and maneuverability.

Let's dump manned fighters and start moving in the direction all this is going to take us in the event…remotely piloted fighter aircraft. It'll cost less ultimately and save pilot lives.

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JSFMIKE February 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I remember when the F-100 Super Sabre couldn't get into flight reliably and several crashed, killing the pilots. The C-17 cracked main ring frames at the landing gear when it first tried landing exercises. The first F-14A flight test jet crashed while on approach and the test pilots ejected. The list goes on and on. The F-35 program was pushed to be completed in half the time of the F-22. That didn't work. The F-22 program was pushed to be completed in half the time of the F-15. That didn't work. Get the point? Airplanes should be developed to engineering time, not scheduling time. Not someone idea in management as to what makes a good schedule. Pushing three variants out the door when each config is so different is fool hardy. And finally – the X-32 that was flown in competition is not the airplane Boeing proposed to build. The 2 tail surfaces were going to be changed to 4 tail surfaces. Boeing proposed a paper airplane that nearly had its engine burn through its casing. Not a good way to start, huh?

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Mike February 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

And I bet the AF will continue to pour money into Lockheed Martin to fix it versus making LM pay for the ineffective aircraft.

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CardinalII February 5, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Shades of F-111A & B modeis! The cost overruns were justified back then because McNamara insisted that the Navy and Air Force have "common" aircraft.

Lockeed Martin has had a TERRIBLE track reord when it comes to militay contracts. Invariably, any of their programs have ASTONOMICAL cost overuns.

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SAWOLF February 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Just when we figured out how to build the better airship, the Raptor, we shut down production. What is wrong with the Brass?

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big j February 5, 2014 at 11:25 pm

the dam tea party is funding the f35 big j

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Hal Donahue February 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

Alright. Coming to the conclusion that all military procurement should be drastically curtailed until the Pentagon house is cleaned. Hagel is correct systemic ethics failures at all levels are a major military challenge

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Andy February 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

America has become so corrupt is just unbelievable.

This isn't an airplane, it's a wealth redistribution program.

And in the end, we won't have air superiority anymore.

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Norm February 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Once a contractor fails to produce what we paid for, they should be unable to bid on contracts for an extended period of time, ten years or so. No government contracts at all. After all we are their biggest buyer.

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secone February 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Find out which politicians own the majority of Lockheed stock and you will find the reasons for delay.

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Frank Doering February 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I say again, you put all your eggs in one basket and when that basket falls..all you got left is to scramble…sure, it keeps some/most costs down but to what end? what happens when you have to ground the plane during a skirmish/police action/war? all your missions are grounded…then you scramble to get other programs up or old programs back up and running…flailing all the way!! once we let Congress dictate (by way of $$) what the military should be, we lost how we should protect the country when Congress has no longer any use for HISTORY!

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Savaş Uçakları February 11, 2014 at 8:37 am

Thanks for the upsetting news. Meantime here you can have a look at some great F-35 photos:
http://savas-ucaklari1.blogspot.com.tr/2010/07/f-

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Vers February 14, 2014 at 12:09 am

The F-35 Cracks in Tests and isn't reliable? Tell us something we don't know already.

Neither the F-22 nor the F-35 will work in a real war against a competent foe. Too bad there is nothing we can do about it. Not enough competent engineers and scientists.

We can send our religious fanatics (Christians and Catholics) around the world and advocate a freeze on weapon development though.

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Thomas February 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm

How many schools could we have built for $350+ billion?

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mark March 2, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Performance targets/requirements have been downgraded, the radar doesn't work (it can't acquire and track targets), distributed aperture system doesn't work, the helmet mounted display is messed up beyond hope (lag, swimming images, useless night performance), software is too complex to have it meet expectations even in the most optimistic scenarios, etc. Russians and Chinese have already developed radars and tactics to get around stealth. What about the huge infra red signature? Net-centric performance of the plane will be eliminated by the opponents at the very beginning of any engagement (consider the Iranians tapping into the UAV some time ago). If the aerodynamic performance is then added in, the F 35 is a flying coffin.

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Tomcat_Rider March 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Hmph the damn F-4 did better than this lol

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John April 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

Australia to buy additional 58 Texan-built F-35 jets The F-35 jets will replace the retiring FA-18 Hornets which will have been in service for three decades.
That will help lockeeds bottom line.
last time Australia bought a heap of plane helis there where lemons looks like Australia is the dumping ground for defunct technology they love to buy old tech at high prices.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

What choice does the UK have? You gave up your own defense industry for many of the same reasons the defense industry in the US is struggling. Do you think if you wait for the next program everything will magically get better? FAT CHANCE! What are you deciding between, the F-35 and unilateral disarmament. Good luck with that.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Bingo. Then they act as if they are doing us a favor by screwing us over on one airplane program right after another. It is the height of arrogance. Pride goes before the fall. I hope that old axiom holds because I'm going to laugh my ass off when they finally do get theirs.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Do you think a company can sell a modern jet fighter like a car? No, everything has to go through the government and get a thousand stamps of approval.

The F-35 is not a "small fighter jet" it's a massive undertaking. By comparison the F-20 was mostly a development of the existing F-5E using as much off-the-shelf technology as they could leverage.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Or they are being realistic about the value of stealth.

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Dfens January 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

They are fantastic airplanes if this was the early to mid 1980s. Unfortunately it's the 21st century and there's that stealth technology that, like most new technologies, won't just jump back into the bag and leave the world like it never existed.

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm

You do realize Lockheed made less in 2013 than it did in 2012 right? Their stock in the 4th quarter fell some 14%. Is that intentional?

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

You want to drive all of the major aerospace companies out of the military market? Because that is what will occur when you tell somebody to spend billions designing, prototyping and testing a fighter meeting a long list of requirements. I presume that in your scenario the government wouldn't be obligated to buy any after all of this work is done. That's not the sort of business many want to be doing. What sort of new companies would try it? Where would they get the money?

But I'm sure the Europeans or Russians will love it once we have to go to them for combat aircraft. Do you think their methods of aircraft development and procurement differ greatly from ours?

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Can you send me this chart, because obviously the government hasn't been successful at many of those concepts. A contractor doesn't get more when they **** up. How many ways can I explain this to you?

In some of those experimental X-series designs various government agencies and departments (USAF, USN, NACA, NASA, DARPA, etc.) worked directly with the contractor to build the thing. Others like the X-5 and X-13 were sponsored (thus funded) by government agencies but the contractor did most or all of the design work themselves. Some like the X-27 were unique in that all of the initial design work and was funded solely by the contractor in the hopes the concept would pick up government interest. In that case it didn't work out.

As always you over-simplify everything until it doesn't match reality!

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William_C1 January 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Oh do enlighten us about how worthless stealth is. So worthless the Chinese and Russians are increasingly incorporating such features into their aircraft. Even the Europeans have made some attempts in UAVs and concepts like the BAE Replica.

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William_C1 January 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Where did I claim there is some sort of conspiracy? No, it's there on paper, they aren't making "record profits" when they are doing worse this year than last year.

As a taxpayer I am more concerned at the state of the military as a whole than Lockheed's finances. I want to see those 2,400 F-35s we planned for. Hell, I want to see more than that, a new air-superiority fighter/interceptor for the Navy for starters.

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Dfens January 31, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Damn straight. It's nothing but free money.

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Mitch S. January 31, 2014 at 8:40 pm

About equal to an automaker's dream year.

(2011) "BMW the world’s largest maker of luxury vehicles, earned more money per car than ever before in its 95-year history, lifted by surging deliveries of the revamped 5-Series sedan.
The automotive unit’s first-quarter operating margin climbed to 11.9 percent from 2.7 percent a year earlier."

(2013) "Hyundai Motor Company the world's most profitable major automaker measured by operating profit margin. The company has achieved over the past few years an operating profit margin of about 10%, which is much higher than its global competitors average, which includes Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Toyota (TM) or Honda (HMC)."

And if an automaker's product develops serious structural cracks during normal use, the government makes them recall the vehicles and fix them on the automaker's dime.

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Dfens January 31, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Yeah, I'm sure it's a huge conspiracy of some sort. It's so sad that they didn't break another record this year. Did you send them a sympathy card? You should have.

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Dfens February 1, 2014 at 12:43 am

And there's none of that "zero risk" crap in the automotive market.

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William_C1 February 1, 2014 at 6:35 am

And 10 years from now when the T-50, J-20, and J-31 are in service can you say the same? Mark says we don't need new aircraft today, and maybe that's true today, but this is about tomorrow and new fighters aren't just going to spring out of the ground when we need them.

In truth the Navy is probably going to need something better than both the Super Hornet and F-35C as their first rank carrier fighter.

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Hazel Lee February 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm

I flew the original and I wonder who the idiot was that came up with a single engine over the water, just not a good idea

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William_C1 February 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

That is why you land where the enemy isn't. Hence the LCAC, V-22, etc.

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Tiger February 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Because, they are good at the job & Friendly 10,000 ft bits of concrete are few and far away…

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unwillingvictime February 3, 2014 at 3:11 am

Let's put most of the blame where it belongs, incompetent politicians! It's come to a point where it makes no difference who has the better design, but, who's palm gets the most grease! How many millions have been wasted by giving contracts to unqualified companies, even under no bid contracts, due to these inept people lining their own pockets? Colt got zip to help them develop the M-16, but what is still used 40 years later? Then Eugene Stoner sold it by demonstrating it. Some even tried to keep it from having a fair trial. Now you have a company that is trying to build the JSF they SAID they could make but is now, here is the big surprise, way over budget. Why are their failures still being funded when more and more problems keep coming up? It's like someone who keeps throwing money into an old car. It doesn't take long before you realize it is cheaper to buy a new one. All the money they have put into this project will never be recovered even if they were to correct the problems found up to this point. When you keep seeing the same house when you are driving, it's time to take a different route, not keep in the same one hoping it will be different the next time.

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