Home » Air » F-35 Grounding Puts First International Flight at Risk

F-35 Grounding Puts First International Flight at Risk

by Mike Hoffman on July 7, 2014

F-35_maintainersThe Pentagon waited until the late hours on the eve of the July 4th holiday to announce the F-35 is officially grounded putting in jeopardy the Joint Strike Fighter’s first ever international flight at the Farnborough Air Show outside London later this month.

The announcement follows a June 23rd F-35 fire at Eglin Air Force Base,  Florida. The pilot safely exited the jet fighter before takeoff but engineers and scientists with the military and Lockheed Martin, the main contractor building the F-35, have yet to figure out what caused it.

“The root cause of the incident remains under investigation,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a statement. “Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered, and return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data.”

Pentagon officials were ready to unveil the F-35 in its first ever international performance as the headline aircraft at the Farnborough Airshow that runs July 14–20. It’s hard to see how the aircraft will make it now that it is grounded exactly one week prior to the show’s start.

U.S. officials had hoped to drum up international support for the F-35 at the show, but the grounding will lead to only more questions from allied military leaders. Those same leaders have already questioned whether the Joint Strike Fighter, which has been plagued with cost overruns and test delays, is worth the massive investment.

The U.S. needs international support for the F-35 to cut down on its cost. Otherwise, the most expensive defense acquistion program in U.S. history only gets pricier and likely cuts down on the number of aircraft the U.S. can afford at a time when military budgets are already shrinking.

The Joint Strike Fighter has been protected within the recent budget cuts even as the services cut down their ranks, but it will get harder for Pentagon leaders to do so if the price goes up.

The engineers and scientists investigating the plan are under intense pressure to figure out what caused that fire or F-35 program officials will have more than disappointed air show attendees — the U.S. will once again have to explain away another black mark for the program as a whole.

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{ 174 comments… read them below or add one }

Dfens July 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

Ok, that's it. Cancel the program. The next one will be better. We will do it right next time.

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Bernard July 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

The next one will be a suit of drones each optimized for their specific roles, none of which will get near to the cost of the F-35, all of which will do their jobs way better than the F-35.

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Riceball July 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

A suit of drones sounds awfully uncomfortable and I don't think that our tech level is there yet where we can drones small enough to be made into suits.

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Bernard July 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I meant to say suite. Sorry that last e was elusive.

Regardless, most of what the F-35 could realistically do is already being done by drones. The only operational difference is payload capacity. Bigger drones with more speed and stealth are already on their way.

Also, it is critical to realize the pace of change with computing technology. According to More's law every 18 months the performance of microprocessors double. Just 8 years ago only geeks had smart phones and back then they were called PDA phones. In the same time we went from single core CPU's to dual core (two CPU core's are placed on the same chip), to quad core (four CPU core's are placed on the same chip), all the way up to octo core chips (8 CPU cores) . Today, the iPhone and Android phones are nearly ubiquitous. In 5 years the drones we have today will look as antiquated as the flip phone is today.

As a software engineer, I can tell you from experience that the technology landscape changes every year. The next advancement will build off the previous set of advancements, leading to exponential increases in capability.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Yep, drones are the next magic answer to everything.

hibeam July 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

The Kangaroo Eagle does another face plant.

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Mark July 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

The F-35 additions to our services is happening and will continue to do so. The helmet mounted queuing and visual system is happening and will continue to do so.

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Keith Simon July 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Some of that "helmet mounted queuing and visual system" nicely "borrowed" from Russian aviation initiatives!

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Spec Ops Chief July 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

Yeah, Clint Eastwood stole it in Firefox

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Big-Dean July 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

but but but …
"It's too big to fail"
"We've invested too much time and money, we can't stop now"
"it's the most advanced fighter ever"
"it's doing everything that was promised"
"but we've already build 100's, we can't stop now"
"but this aircraft makes everything else obsolete"
"but the F-35 is better than the F-22"
"but this plane can do anything"
"but this plane is super fast and has super ability"
"but the F-35 is so stealthy even aliens can't see it"
"but this plane is even faster than Superman"

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hibeam July 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

"If you like your health plan you can keep it. Period. End of Story"

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BILL D July 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

We have to pass the bill to see what's in it.

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Bernard July 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Because giving people health care so that they don't die of treatable conditions is *LESS* important that spending billions of dollars on a fighter jet that can't fight, can't fly, and can't land.

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Blake July 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but

it is not being everything that was promised; only part of what was promised
it is does not make everything else obsolete; at least not in its current condition
it can not do anything; and no aircraft can
it is actually not that fast; the f-22 goes faster
And superman is way faster. He was fast enough to SOMEHOW go back in time.

Look we all wish that the F-35 was all of those things, but the sad truth is that it isn't. It is a good start to developing future fighter aircraft; after all, it has incorporated many advancements that have not been integrated onto other aircraft. But, they are never going to make the f-35 into the aircraft that they promised everyone it would be.

That is the unfortunate truth

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Steve Jenkinson July 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

What do you mean? It fulfills it's primary mission perfectly, which is fattening the wallet of Lockheed Martin.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

And if it wasn't making Lockmart's wallet fatter, it would be making Boeing's fatter, and that airplane was an even bigger piece of crap.

You want to fix what's wrong with F-35, then fix the procurement system. Stop paying private companies a profit to do weapons development. If they're not interested in building airplanes under those rules, stand up 2 airplane design corporations, one under Air Force and the other under Navy control. Contract out the building of weapons, not their design.

The sooner we do this, the sooner we will start getting weapons that are worth a damn. Until we do this, our weapons are going to continue to get worse and not better. There's no point in cancelling a program that's about to start building weapons when we have no chance of replacing it with a program that's as good, and "better" is completely out of the question. That's reality.

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Steve Jenkinson July 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Reminds me of Mr. Huntsman, the doomed candidate. I saw the exact moment he doomed himself on Fox News. He stated he wanted to end the two wars that were draining our economy. He then said he didn't want to cut the defense budget, he wanted to dismantle the current procurement system that had been fleecing the American taxpayer since WW2. I knew what was coming next and was not disappointed, the "news anchor" rolled his eyes and said, "Oh, THAT again.". That was pretty much the last we heard from Huntsman.

tiger July 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Your in dream land to think that is a solution.

Deuterium2H July 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Dfens, what you are advocating sounds an awful lot like the way things were done under communist Soviet Union. First, Lockheed Martin is a PUBLIC company, not a private company. There is a big difference. Perhaps you mean't to type "private industry"??

Second, you appear to be advocating that the USAF and USN establish their own "Design Bureau's". (**cough** Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau **cough** Sukhoi Design Bureau). Interesting idea…but I will take a big PASS on that. Unless, of course, you wish our military to always be twenty plus years behind, rather than twenty plus years ahead of our adversaries.

However, I completely agree that the current DOD Procurement policies and award-fee "Cost Plus" contracts need to be completely overhauled. We need to return to a fixed cost w/ incentives type of Contract/Award based system. Furthermore, the American public needs to force Congress into passing laws curtailing special interests and lobbyists, as well as imposing Term Limits. Half of the problem lies with dishonest and/or corrupt politicians and the cronyism that occurs when citizens legislators turn into career politicians.

I guess what I am saying is I agree, in principle, that a lot needs to change in the relationship between the DOD and military contractors / Defense corporations. However, curtailing free enterprise, and implementing socialist-type structures is not the answer, and would only stifle innovation, quality, and de-emphasize individual and group motivation for excellence.

Tinto July 8, 2014 at 6:00 am

Can't see it, because it's never in the air.

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rtsy July 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I thought the nail in the coffin of this program would be when they had huge cost overruns or when our allies cut their orders or when they found cracks throughout the super structure of test aircraft, but the sad truth is this program will go on until the Air Force decides to start another round of "next gen superiority".

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Nadnerbus July 8, 2014 at 1:07 am

You underestimate the power of pork barrel politics. I doubt the military could kill this thing now if they wanted to.

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BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

*Pulls out popcorn and starts eating*

This is getting good. I'm sure the worst part is yet to come. Meanwhile, NAVAIR is sitting back totally relaxed and is laughing its head off at the USAF, USMC, and allies signed onto the F-35 program.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

What a bunch of crap. The next one is going to be better, right? Tell us that one again. We're going to do it right next time. Come on, tell us that one too.

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BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Believe it or not, Dfens, we actually have built aircraft in the past well and without nearly as many problems as the F-35. Congress was the one that originally asked for a joint aircraft and mandated that the JSF attempt to please all three services. If the next program doesn't have that mandate (F/A-XX) then I'm confident it will actually turn out to be a good aircraft. Sure it will have problems, but it won't have problems at nearly the same scale as the F-35.

What really needs to be done to fix the way we build aircraft is to impose three laws on the MIC:

1. Make it illegal for any defense contractor or corporation to give money to any person of a political office for ANY reason, especially campaigning.

2. Impose a tax on defense contractor profits like we did in WWII.

3. Make a law limiting the amount of states (and countries) that a weapons system can dish out jobs to.

Rather than b****ing about how it's unfair all the time why don't you start coming up with some solutions to the problem.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm

You mean that maybe I should write something like this: You want to fix what's wrong with F-35, then fix the procurement system. Stop paying private companies a profit to do weapons development. If they're not interested in building airplanes under those rules, stand up 2 airplane design corporations, one under Air Force and the other under Navy control. Contract out the building of weapons, not their design.

I guess my latest list of solutions beat yours by an hour.

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BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I missed that post earlier. That's actually a good suggestion that I like.

William_C1 July 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

1 & 2. So it's okay when banks and every other company/corporation imaginable donates to political campaigns and such? Apply the law equally to corporations from all sectors of the economy or not at all.

3. The political aspect of selling aircraft/anything always involves industrial offsets and such. You don't allow for that and the Europeans, Chinese, or Russians eat up the market.

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oblatt22 July 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

Since bill wanted Lockheed to get a bonus for removing fire prevention valves – this really should be viewed as the opinion of the arsonist telling us the best way to put out the fire.

Dfens July 8, 2014 at 10:44 am

I don't think when Eisenhower said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." He meant that we should just continue to do business as usual. There needs to be a separation between public and private sector, and instead today we blur the lines more and more.

tmb2 July 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

BlackOwl, a couple problems with those ideas:

1 is definitely unconstitutional. You can't single out an industry and take away their First Amendment rights.
2. What would be the point of paying a contractor with government funding then imposing a second tax on them? In WW2 we simply limited their profit margin. I doubt a "defense contractor tax" would help matters since it would have to be applied to hundreds of companies big and small.
3a. You'd have Congressmen making deals with each other to decide which states got to keep their contractors while others would have to move. I can't picture the government straight up pointing at a business and saying "you're in the wrong state, you have to shut down."
3b. We export certain pieces of manufacturing to other countries because they do it cheaper. Your costs would inevitably go up due to having to restart some industries and paying American labor rates.

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tmb2 July 9, 2014 at 4:26 am

I can decide for myself who to converse with and ignore without getting into hyperbole, thanks.

BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

http://aviationweek.com/blog/shhh-its-vewwy-secre

"RAdm Bill Moran, director of the Navy’s air warfare division, noted that as well as funding APG-79 active electronically scanned array radar retrofits to all early Block 2 Super Hornets, “there are several other programs that I’d be happy to come back and talk about in a classified setting. They are very significant, fully funded in 2014 and will keep the Super Hornet credible through the late 2020s and early 2030s.”"

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm

The Sucker Hornet isn't credible now!

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BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Really? You got the same briefs on classified weapons technology in the Super Hornet as the director of the Navy’s air warfare division? Do you really think you know as much as he does?

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I think I know a hell of a lot more about airplanes than anyone in the Navy does, and for good reason. Hell, the F-18 isn't as good at offense as one of the airplanes it replaced and it isn't as good at defense as the other. If that's progress, then I'd sure as hell like to know what failure looks like. It's not stealthy. It's not anything. It's the original "jack of all trades, master of none". It literally paved the way for the F-35.

The ATF program sucked and took forever. The JSF program is sucking and taking forever. But the next program will be a winner, right? There's a reason we in on the contractor side always tell you that lie — because it's the lie you never get tired of hearing. Hell, you should see us come up with that crap. We laugh about it as we say it. It amazes me they can find someone to pitch those Powerpoint charts with a straight face.

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BlackOwl18E July 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

"I think I know a hell of a lot more about airplanes than anyone in the Navy does, and for good reason."

I find that hard to believe. What reason do you have?

Talosian July 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Yes, yes, the Super Hornet is an 'economy' strike fighter. This is old news. But it's cheap to operate, and it WORKS.
The bottom line is that the Navy made the best out of the pittance of a budget they were given in the aftermath of the A-12 debacle. The entire Super Hornet program was designed for less than what's been spent on just designing the engine for the F-35.
Further, the Navy has done a marvelous job incrementally improving the Super Hornet to squeeze the most out of that weapon system that they can, but it will fundamentally always be an economy strike fighter. No argument there, but no shame either.

Talosian July 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm

At the same time, the Navy has never been fully satisfied with Hornets, but they have to buy these giant grey things that float on the water as well as aircraft, so they could never have afforded a next gen, stealthy strike fighter development program on their own, in addition to all their other aviation priorites (when you have to spend $200M apiece for new patrol planes and new airborne surveillance planes, that eats up the budget fast).
A joint development program with the USAF seemed like the only way to field a new stealthy strike fighter (i.e., have their cake and eat it too). Alas, the gross incompetence displayed by LockMart has jeopardized everything.

BILL D July 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Let's not forget that the Navy is ordering up Growlers so the SUPER F35 [sarcasm ] can do its' job. This plane is a complete waste of time and money and if any other contractor had a project so over budget and behind schedule they would be barred from govt, contracts and thrown in jail for fraud.

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Lance July 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Meant more F-15 and F-22 less this light Stealth Fighter that doesn't work crap.

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Benjamin July 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

The F-35 is the Lo end of a Hi-Lo mix with the F-22. That being said I don't see the F-35 as a light weight fighter especially if you compare it to an F-16 or F-5.

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tiger July 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Building 40 year old designs for another 40 is not a answer…..

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Yellow Devil July 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Say that to the BUFF. If the political masters deem it, it will be so.

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Peter July 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I'm from the UK and I'm just getting sick of saying this, but here I go again…..

I wish we had never, ever decided to buy this piece of crap. It won't do what we want, it'll cost more than we can afford and I can see it hardly ever being fit to fly. We should have designed and built our own carrier plane.

Maybe then we could have sold it to the US when the F-35 is finally admitted to be a failure. If you have any money left by then!

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hibeam July 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

So I guess you won't want some of our Obama Care? It's good stuff.

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E Ring Escapee July 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Thank the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Party, who spent 12 years developing the A.C.A., only to have President Obama steal and implement it. hibeam, I understand your joy when children and the elderly die because they lack medical care, but those of us who are Christians, are unable to share your joy.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

And what choice did you have? What else were you going to buy, Su-27's? Maybe China will sell you J-20's? Oh, I know, maybe you can reopen the doors of one of your airplane manufacturers. Hell, I remember when that little old island in the Atlantic made some of the hottest shit in the sky. Let's see, short of pure f'ing magic, did I miss any other non-options?

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Kevin Smithwick July 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Developing a navalised Eurofighter would have been a feasible option if the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers weren't around the F35B. BAE has proposed the idea to the Indian Navy to armed the Vikrant-class aircraft carriers currently in construction.

Granted such a decision would be based on a comparative cost-analysis such as : What is estimated cost designing a STOBAR-capable Eurofigher?
What is estimated cost refitting the Queen Elizabeth-class with Ski-Jumps?
What are the predicted repercussions from the US Government?

In fact the Queen Elizabeth-class was originally intended to carry navalised Eurofighters. That proposal was overturned by the MOD which favor the F35B on the grounds they would be more "cost effective".

Given the first Queen Elizabeth carrier was christened this Saturday there is fair chance it will enter service with no fixed-winged aircraft. Had they not chosen the F-35B this would most likely been an issue. So yes the UK had an option and failed to implement it.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 9:28 am

The Eurofighter was designed as an airplane to sell to 3rd world nations from the beginning. Hell, it's like designing a red triplane to fight Me-109s in WW2. You had one real choice. You took it, and now everyone wants to second guess it, but no one has come up with another viable option so that's why you're still on the waiting list.

If you're really upset by the failure that is the F-35, have the RAF and/or the Royal Navy set up its own design corporation and start designing their own aircraft. It's not like you haven't done it before with excellent result. Hell, at some point doesn't the existence of your country trump the all the welfare hand-outs?

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Yeah the days of Supermarine, Fairey, AVRO, Bristol, Hawker, English Electric are a bit dead

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Nadnerbus July 8, 2014 at 1:16 am

The MOD screwed the pooch when they elected not to pay for CATOBAR capabilities. They saved a little money up front, and will now forever after have a carrier with very limited fixed wing options.

If they hadn't, the various Hornets would be available, as well as the Rafael. Not ideal, but at least some flexibility.

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Kevin Smithwick July 8, 2014 at 4:11 am

Modifying the Eurofighter for CATOBAR would have increased weight and lower performance. Although buying F-18s is definitely better than having no carrier aircraft for the rest of the decade.

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Dean July 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I’m from the UK too. I think we should just have gone with a naval version of the typhoon it’ll would have been cheaper then waiting for the f35

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm

You guys should have wised up after the F4 Phantom deal.

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Patty O' Furniture July 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

Peter, I have think the UK would have, if they could have……

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Riceball July 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

If we hadn't gone and canceled the F-22 then the AF could easily do without the F-35, just build Stealth Eagles to take its place and more F-22s to fulfill the old F-15 role. The Navy can almost certainly make do wit the Super Bug and slowly work on an F-34 alternative. The only service left holding the bag would be the Corps but a partial solution would be to procure Super Bugs to replace the legacy Hornets then it would be only a matter of finding/designing something to replace the Harriers. I wonder how long/difficult it would be to design a Super Harrier, we did design the AV-8B so, in theory, it shouldn't be too difficult to design an AV-8C.

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William_C1 July 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm

There was an AV-8C, some sort of upgrade (don't know what was upgraded) to the original AV-8A Harrier.

The Harrier II doesn't have any more room for growth, that design has reached its full potential outside of whatever minor improvements could be made to the existing systems.

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Riceball July 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I was thinking of super sizing the Harrier like we did with the F-18s when they created the Super Hornets, same basic shape and look but larger.

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William_C1 July 9, 2014 at 12:04 am

They already did that with the Harrier II. If you compare the Harrier II (AV-8B) with the earlier Harrier variants (AV-8A) it is quite a bit larger. I don't know if the method of STOVL operation the Harrier employs could be successfully scaled up a second time.

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tiger July 7, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Again not a real option. As F-22? Still yet to do jack anything & buggy in it's own way.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

And remember how everyone laughed when they tried to change the designation to F/A-22?

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P51-1945 July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Problem was: they tried to design and magic doorknob that would fly, disappear and fight and no one could see it coming. poppycock!
They (them) should have developed the airframe with TWO engines, wrung out all the bugs and then went on to add the subsystems after proofing airworthiness.
What we have now is a system that wont work with its other systems and a cost overrun of BILLIONS and more krap to come. The F-111 should have been evidence of a miserable failure that would do everything but nothing worked.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Long term the F-111 turned from ugly duck to useful Swan. Nothing today has it's load, range & speed. The 2 engine crap is just that. It is not 1958 & Westinghouse is not making weak power plants anymore. The list of fine single power jets is huge. Engine loss is not a real issue today.

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padre July 26, 2014 at 3:10 am

You didnt design the AV-8B. It was a British design which was licensed, built with american manufactured parts and then adapted. It was still inferior to the British built Harrier

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BILL D July 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Give the Corps all the A10s and throw in some more Cobra Zulus and I think they would be real happy.

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 4:18 am

Good luck fitting A-10s on LHDs.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Kevin Bacon needs to hunt down A-10 cult Followers. They are as dangerous as Joe Carrol…

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Hunter76 July 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm

New opportunities to improve this dream plane. Who could be against that?

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hibeam July 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I predict that some day the F-35 will be considered a great jet and Obama will be considered a great president. And the Taliban will embrace Christianity.

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hialpha July 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Awesome.

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Gambler6 July 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Well said…

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Frank July 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Great Point!

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tiger July 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

And the Cubs will win?

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E Ring Escapee July 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Will that happen before or after Cheney is declared a statesman instead of a war profiteer?
Will that happen when the neoconservatives are once again allowed to run foreign policy?
Will that happen when Rumsfeld is once again offered the SECDEF?
…. and George W. Will be proud of his War for Iraqi Oil?

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Mike Garcia July 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

The helmet is going to be the biggest issue – Its the Single point of failure for this aircraft and should be a security concern. If I a nation state targeted the Life support building where they will be maintaining the helmets – destroy that building- VBIED – than the plane will just sit on the runway – because without that helmet you can't fly/fight
Who the hell sold us on that ……single point of failure! Now Security Forces will have to guard Life-support facilities – the new Critical Infrastructure!

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George McSwain July 8, 2014 at 9:15 am

We nicknamed USS Arleigh Burke DDG-51, USS Always Broke as she was always getting towed back to port during testing. Lucky for us on USS Barry DDG-52, we were able to fix these problems prior to most of our testing, but then we had all new problems. Fires in the clutch brake assemblies, cracks in our fuel tanks, corrosion in our uptakes, lack of a helo hanger. All these problems and more than a few others were corrected and the DDGs are everywhere now. Damn happy to have them too. My point is new systems always have new problems. You find the problem, fix it and move on. Its is far easier to sit on the sidelines and point out issues than it is to be the man on the deckplates having to fix the problems.

George McSwain. DDG52 GSM1 Plankowner.

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yyy July 11, 2014 at 11:47 pm

But by the time most problems are fixed, the ship has become obsolete against modern anti ship missiles. The Always Broke class destroyers have broke the bank and yet have proven virtually defenseless against a wide range of missiles.

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Kim Scholer July 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Lots and lots of fine aircraft prototypes, pre-production ones and early versions went through teething troubles and/or crashed, but ended up being successful planes anyway. WW2 examples are the Fw190, the P-38 Lightning and the B-25 Marauder.

Much as I dislike the whole F-35 program for its ridiculous cost, an engine fire is just an engine fire. And fixable.

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Ben July 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm

But unlike programs of the past, the F-35's insane sticker price ups the stakes significantly for every malfunction and crash. You can't just shrug it off like you could with an F-18/F-16/F-15, everything costs a lot more to fix or replace.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm

So the problem is that the F-35 costs too much, and your solution is to cancel the F-35 because the next program then won't cost too much? And you've extrapolated that result by looking at how much the F-22 cost, no doubt. If you want airplanes to stop costing so much, why don't you stop paying the contractors who design them more for airplanes that cost a fortune than you do if they design airplanes that cost very little? You pay these "for profit" companies more to screw you, then you wonder why they screw you repeatedly. It doesn't seem that hard to figure out, to me. Fix the actual problem, then cancel F-35. Then you'd actually have a reason to believe the next program will be better.

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Ben July 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Damn. All I have to do is say the F-35 is comparatively expensive and Dfens knows the inner workings of my philosophy on defense contractors and the future of aircraft acquisition. Do they have a school for special guys like you?

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

It's called "having something to say".

Jdxy43 July 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Too bad that the monies that could have been used to purchase an alternative (better?) engine was paid out as bribes and graft to the corrupt MIC and senate dumbokraps.

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Skyraider July 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

To add insult to injury the flying door knob has only one engine and will be a fish if it cranks out over water. We could probably have done better with NEW F-16's.

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Could you point out to me where this second engine is on the F-16?

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Frank A. July 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

The Air Force will charge ahead with this no matter what, the cost be dammed. The Navy may want to bale out at some point but the pentagon won't let them. Will it ever work? Who knows. Look at all the cost's and the lives we've lost in the middle east. How long has it been 10-12 years? I would spend the money over here. Convince me one plane can do it all.What is the maintenance cost's going to be?

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Back to square one is not a option for the services or the industry.

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tiger July 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Holy Crap, Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in World Cup.

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German July 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Brazil should sue Colombia for taking out its star striker.

If Brazil had not lost the striker, it would have lost only by 2-4.

I'm just BS'ing. I can't stand English soccer. American football is a much better game.

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German July 8, 2014 at 10:24 pm

F-35 should get a new name: Roasted Turkey, or Flying Fireball.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

True. It is a shame to give Lightning II to this Plane. The P-38 deserves better…

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F22 Pilot July 11, 2014 at 7:39 am
Tim UK July 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

B2 , can only fly a mission a week due to stealth , F22 is still not achieving high operational rates due to stealth coating and the JSF is a disaster . Sure the JSF will fly and eventually deliver some of the capability Liarheed promised but a decade late at massive cost to western air power.

All the above jets were leaps too far in tech and the practicalities of them operating in real world hi tempo scenarios blatantly ignored.

You will see the UK and other Allied nations halve their orders and press forward with UCAV’s in the next five years.

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 10:02 am

You're right in your observations, though I hope you're not right in your predictions about the UCAV's. No one has tried to replace a fighter jet with a UCAV to date, and it seems unlikely to happen any time in the foreseeable future. I would certainly like to see our allies step up to producing a credible fighter or fast attack aircraft some time soon. Hell, we'll all walk away from the F-35 if that happens.

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William_C1 July 9, 2014 at 6:12 pm

So you're saying stealth is terrible but then go on to say that UCAVs (which are also stealth designs) are the future?

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HEXJUMPER July 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm

YES I CAN compensate the very expensive stealth technology failures ! give me a fleet of 50 x C-130 Herc with crews and two dozen of forklifts able to lift couple to Tons stuff and this makes me able to deliver real STEALTH attacks on the enemies for a price that will save plenty millions of taxpayer dollars…yes! you read it right.millions of dollars saved.here is my strategy: 1: load up to maximum payload all them Hercs with…rocks ! (very cheap to find in them enemy countries !) witha weight between 100- 250 Kilo. 2: fly the rockbombingraids at night between 2 and 4 am at maximum allowed safe ceiling for the Herc's . 3: above the target drop all them heavy rocks on the enemies..repeat raids till all enemies are wiped out. BTW these 100-250 Kilo rocks falling from a certain height at night will be really stealthy and therefor can't be traced nor avoided by the enemies and will slam into buildings,cars,planes,… with a very destructive force.
YES WE CAN…make war much cheaper !

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Meth use & net access do not mix…..

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Dave July 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Surprise same team that gave us the POS f-16 General Dynamics now Lockheed . Too bad real company that built the F-15 McDonald Douglas was forced out by politics and generals who think they are the same as corporate leaders pushed for goverment to buy this crap. But hey like they say get a college degree in anything can't find a job join the Air Force they take any non related or non science degree and now your a leader. Are you surprised?

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Uh……POS F-16? Most popular & sold fighter since the F-4? Want to re think that post?

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Mitchell Fuller July 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

So many issues with this plane. At the least use two different engine manufacturers for platform. one engine for AF, different engine for Navy / Marines. So an issue with the engine doesn't ground entire fleet. Hate to see this happen in war time.

The real question is at full production what will it cost per unit and in service what will be its mission ready rate? iIf you have 100 planes but only 10 are mission ready then you really have 10 planes not a 100……

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Padre July 26, 2014 at 3:03 am

Originally Rolls Royce was contracted to provide an alternative engine but this was scrapped by the pentagon

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Mr Kent July 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

We should buy Jas-39 Gripen instead, much cheaper, better and it works, it is upgradeable, and will fly around circles any F-35 still flying – 24/7. We should have made a procurment and let the best bidder from start make a plane for the US according to specs. Getting the Europeans especially sweden in with us, Since they usally massacre all US-made airplane over joint excerises in Norway, and are doing extreamly well in Red Flag joint excerises

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Fine plane. Personally one of my favorites & is selling to a number of nations. Now the but……………..
It does not meet the needs of the JSF program. Great for South Africa. Great for Brazil. Not much help for the USMC,USN or RN Fleet air Arm.

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William_C1 July 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

A fighter with less thrust to work with than the F-16 is not ideal for a strike aircraft, and that is what the F-35 is first and foremost.

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Has many fine qualities. Easy to refuel & arm. Short landing needs. Small size. not pricey. Has no political strings like US planes. Just not a exact fit for the JSF program.

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F22 Pilot July 11, 2014 at 7:38 am

Freakin hell, the F35, really this plane was supposed to become the next A10 Warthog

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Mr Kent July 11, 2014 at 7:54 am

F-35 strike aircraft? It is flyging bus!!!! Can t turn, Can t run and can fight, it is a turkey….

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Mr Kent July 11, 2014 at 7:57 am

According to some pilots at was flying vs Gripen in Northern UK with F-15, the F-15 was easy pray….. so, how many gripen do you get for one F-35? 4-5 or more, it is small aircraft but is more then a match for the latest big fat Russian, US planes, Lets take the Swedes plane upgrade it with what we need for the USAF and Navy

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Mystick July 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

So… when are we going to start taking planes out of mothball storage to meet the air defense needs of the country, since we obviously can't build a new functioning airframe anymore without DECADES of pre-deployment fixing of bugs and testing?

I believe it's time for the procurement system to go back to purchasing COMPLETED, fully tested products – not ideas, models, and prototypes.

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Mr Kent July 17, 2014 at 3:22 am

Agree, Who ever has been involved in this procurement should be fired. And theire should be a hearing in Congress about this whole messy business. Otherwize it will only repeat it self, next will it be tanks? Or is this just US keep some 300.000 citizen at work since there is no industry at work in the US after the "Bambu-curtain" falled…….

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Well, for one thing, I design airplanes for a living. There's a reason I get paid to think rather than to throw a baseball or pull on a stick. F'ing old joints and tendons is just one of them.

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William_C1 July 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Oh please, the very existence of F/A-XX should be enough to prove to you they know the Super Hornet will be horribly outclassed by 2030.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

If he's doomed, then that would explain the observed similarity.

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Yellow Devil July 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Nah he failed when started to speak (pretty good) Mandarin Chinese on his campaign trail. That's a big no no in national politics, you don't talk a potential rival's language to make yourself appear worldly, it just makes it look like you are out of touch.

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 6:11 pm

The Navy made it at a different time than now. It's a 1980's airplane, not one that's being designed today. Hell, the F- <22 is cost effective if you compare any of them to a current day program. Here's the thing, it's not the '80s anymore. It's 2014. We have to deal with 2014 problems. The biggest of these is the fact that defense contractors get paid more to drag out and f up our fighter airplane development programs. They didn't in the '80s. That didn't happen until 1992 – 1994 right in there.

And, hell, I'm not saying cancel the F-18. I'm just saying be realistic about what it is and what it can do for us now.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Jack of all trades, Master of none…..

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Dfens July 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm

The Navy bought off on that f'ed up A-12 design and they tried to get the Grumman ATF design to fly and it failed. That's where all their money went. The F-18E/F was the boobie prize. Of course, in those days no one ever imagined that a fighter program could be drug out for 3 decades, so the Navy thought those were just temporary setbacks, not a generation-and-a-half's worth of f up. Hell, now they're crying that they don't have enough money (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-07/u-s-navy-warns-it-can-t-meet-30-year-funding-needs.html) but naturally there's nothing they could possibly do to be more efficient. After all, paying a company $1.10 for every dollar they spend designing their latest ship or airplane is the way everyone in the commercial sector writes contracts, isn't it? I sure as hell wish I could find some rich moron to give me a contract that would let me spend myself rich. Because stupid people should not be allowed to keep their money.

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William_C1 July 7, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Northrop gets a lot of flak for the B-2, but it certainly seems like they would have been the better choice for the A-12.

The A-12 and the NATF was the Navy's original plan, but after NATF led to nowhere their focus for fighters was a major F-14 modernization, starting with the F-14D, most of which would be newly built aircraft. This would likely have been followed by a further upgrade along the lines of Grumman's Super Tomcat 21 proposal.

The Super Hornet was based on some earlier studies but emerged as an alternative when Dick Cheney and other critics went on the offensive against the F-14, primarily due to reasons of cost.

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Nadnerbus July 8, 2014 at 1:06 am

Not that long ago, there were several government owned and run shipyards for the Navy that produced combat vessels. The end of the cold war put an end to that, and ever since, costs have been going up and up in our ever more consolidated defense industry. I didn't see anyone screaming socialism when LBNSY, PNSY, Mare Island and others were turning out ships and subs for the Navy.

Let's face it, there is hardly a thriving market in big ticket defense these days. You have a choice of two or three companies in any given acquisition program, and they pretty much all get a piece of the pie because the military has a national security interest in keeping the industrial base viable. Said programs are coming along once a decade or less, instead of every few years, making the stakes even higher for the companies vying for a cut. Right now we have a de facto government run defense industry (at least on all the really big ticket stuff) only privately held (publicly traded:semantics) corporations are in it to get as much money out of the defense budget as possible.

If the government is not willing to do an end run around the Lockheeds and Northrop-Grummans of the nation, I don't see that anything is going to change any time soon.

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Nadnerbus July 8, 2014 at 1:11 am

Pierre Sprey?!

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BlackOwl18E July 8, 2014 at 3:06 am

What kind of aircraft did you design?

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Deuterium2H July 8, 2014 at 3:24 am

Hi Nadnerbus,
While it is absolutely correct that some shipyards were Govt. owned and operated (PSNY still is), the "heart" and "guts" of the subs and ships were supplied by major Companies. Who do you think the prime contractors were for the nuclear reactors on the SSN and SSBN's? During their production at PSNY, Westinghouse designed the reactors: S2W, S3W, S4W, S5W = Westinghouse. The steam turbines were either Westinghouse or GE. The Polaris and Poseidon SLBMs were designed and built by Lockheed Martin. Major subsystems such as electric generators, environmental systems, sonar, torpedoes, etc. were all produced by various mechanical / defense contractors.

So even given the examples of DOD/Navy owned shipyards, in general, the following dictum has and continues to apply:
The Service (e.g. USN, USAF) defines the mission, and technical/performance requirements ==> Industry (contractors) builds and supports it.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 8:59 am

Oh hell no. I haven't designed a whole airplane that actually flew. I've got pieces flying on a lot of airplanes. You gotta pay the bills. Plus, today any kid out of college can be an airplane designer. You've seen some of the crap they come up with. You just didn't recognize it as crap.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

Mostly the kind that stays on paper.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

NATF didn't lead to nowhere, it led to the F-18E/F. It was just a convoluted path. Northrop deserved a lot of flak for the B-2. They come up with good ideas, but have always had a hard time translating those into products. The A-12 showed that MD had some fundamental flaws in their understanding of both stealth and human factors, but like I've said in those days airplane programs didn't last a generation. If you made a mistake it was replaced by a better airplane a few years down the line.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 10:09 am

It's nothing I can take credit for. It's just history. That's the way we did it when we had a defense approach that worked, and it worked that way for hundreds of years. Which means in today's Pentagonese it would be referred to as a "high risk" solution.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 10:32 am

You're focused on the wrong end of things. The problem isn't at the ship yard end. Parts and pieces and even whole ships have been manufactured by contractors for many years. It's the design of ships that was only recently outsourced. That's where the catastrophe happened. That's when the costs started going out of sight and the quality of the ships went in the toilet.

The Army and Navy always designed their own weapons. The Springfield armory designed our Army's guns for, what, 100 years or more? They designed cannons, tanks, all sorts of things. When Browning designed the M-2 he was working for the Army on a contract basis. Similarly the Navy had their own ship design houses scattered across the country. The Air Force relied mainly on contractors to design airplanes, but the Air Force Research Labs designed the X-1 through the X-15 and contracted their construction out to contractors. They then made the data they collected from their flights available to US airplane manufacturers to help them come up with new supersonic airplane designs. That didn't happen in the USSR, it happened here in the USA. Our armed forces are socialist institutions. The founding fathers wanted it that way. They weren't raving idiots hoping to get on some 24 hour news program with a sound bite. They were practical men with practical solutions that worked.

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Mike Garcia July 8, 2014 at 11:49 am

Great Point……that is why I like reading feedback ….puts things into perspective…many other issues that could be called Critical ….thanks!
Mike G

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BlackOwl18E July 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Well, that's certainly admirable and you probably know more than me since I just focus on the stick and operating part. However, unless you were involved in the development of the Super Hornet or other tactical aircraft, for now, I will take the word of the director of the Navy’s air warfare division over yours. I'm pretty certain that he knows the Super Hornet inside and out and has probably the best idea of its effectiveness as a weapon system against the current and projected threat. He also gets briefs on classified capabilities of the Russian and Chinese weapons and no doubt understands their limits and what the Super Hornet is capable of against them.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Your the dude in "Flight of Phoenix," right !!!!!

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Talosian July 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The F-35 will be horribly outclassed by 2030. And it'll probably still be in development then.

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tmb2 July 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Are you out of flight school yet? What are you flying?

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Besides, what option do you have to flying the F-18? Last I checked there isn't another choice. The thing is, an engineer is going to look at the situation differently. It is the job of engineers to look at what could or should be instead of what is or what will be. If we don't think like that then there is no future.

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Yellow Devil July 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Our Armed forces are not "a Socialist institution". Totalitarian maybe, but to imply that the armed forces institute policies on economics is a somewhat false analogy. I also doubt the Founding Fathers wanted the military to be a "Socialist institution" either, given the reliance Washington had on private individuals and businesses to supply his army when Continental Congress failed to do so properly.

Weapon systems have a mixed history when it comes to development. Sometimes it is done in house with the Government, other times it is done through private organizations and individuals. I won't speak on planes and ships since they are outside my lane, but firearms I am more familiar with. During the Revolutionary War, most militia members were required or expected to use their own privately owned firearms. During the Civil War, Springfield Armory (the Gov't owned entity, not privately owned business of today) was issuing muzzle loaded percussion muskets to the majority of soldiers, individual units and soldiers would try to procure privately developed and manufactured Sharps or Spencer Carbines as better alternatives. Springfield Armory was also quite reluctant to innovate firearms even when battlefield tactics were changing and frequently used Government connections to protect itself. This was evident when it heavily backing the M14 and was strongly against the AR-10 and M16 pattern rifles. Also government contracting is one thing, input and design is another. The development of the M2 was based on years of experience Browning gained when creating other machine guns and weapons he developed outside of the military, in which he sold the final results to interested parties both foreign and domestic (Belgium was a huge market for his products). The BAR and Thompson submachine gun were all developed privately and sold to the government with little to no input prior to adoption. The Thompson survived the lean years after the Great War by marketing to law enforcement. AR10 and eventual M16 were developed privately as well, and sold to Colt for marketing and than adopted by the Airforce first, than the Army and Marine Corps after some (questionable) design input by the services. The M40 and XM 2010 sniper rifles are heavily modified version of the civilian Remington 700 series rifles. Notable exceptions can be made for the M14, M1 Garand and M1 Springfield, but I contend that the M1 Springfield is just a heavily modified by American Government Mauser rifle (which again, was privately developed but design and production rights sold to the German Government) and the M14 was just an evolution of the M1 Garand.

Because firearms are inherently less complex than ships or planes, the problems with Government contracting and procurement is less evident. But most of these cost skyrocket because of changing government conditions and political influence that plague the decision making process (see Army ACUs or efforts to find a better replacement for the M4 as examples).

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Peter July 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm

It wasn't so much a problem installing cats'n'traps on the new carriers as the fact that our government decided not to. I think we should have done and, at the very least, bought Super Hornets. But then again ideally I think we should have designed and built something of our own. Maybe a marinised Typhoon or maybe something totally new. We USED to do that type of thing very well!

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Kevin Smithwick July 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm

The problem with implementing Rafales is mostly political France is notorious when it comes to protectionism. French labor unions would be major obstacle, especially regarding a " license-production with British engines". That would likely cause legal dispute between Rolls-Royce and Dassault.

If you look closely at the Rafele you can recognized it share some similarities with the Eurofighter. That's no coincidence, France was a member of the Eurofighter Program until 1985. France left the project partially because of the dispute between Rolls-Royce and Dassault regarding which company would secure the engine contract. Rolls-Royce secured the engine contract with the XM-40 which latter evolved to the current EJ200.

In short the largest obstacle is political..

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

You guys have other things to worry about. Like where to stick a Trident base when Scotland kicks you to the curb.

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm

It it will be still in development because modern aircraft see development throughout their lives. The F-15 Eagle is still seeing further development 40 years after its first flight in the form of upgrades to the radar and avionics. I guess it must have been a failure, right?

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm

McDonnell Douglas didn't have anywhere near the stealth expertise that Northrop or Lockheed had. In an ideal world that information could have been shared for the use in the A-12 program but that leads into a whole debate about government economic polices.

So in the end MD had to learn a lot of the hard (and costly) lessons that had already been learned by the competition about developing a stealthy airframe. Then it got cancelled.

And it probably deserved to get cancelled, but the follow on A-X didn't get very far either. They wanted more air-to-air capabilities so it became A/F-X and then it was cancelled before any serious work was done. Because a navalized variant of the JSF looked really good from a budgetary standpoint at the time.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

The US military does everything the Soviet Union did short of growing crops on the fields of collective farms, and there may even be a few programs like that I don't know about. The military is definitely a socialist entity. It spends money in the manner dictated by either its own command structure or by the president or by Congress. It does nothing by the profit motive. It would be asinine to set up a military motivated by profit. The founding fathers saw this clearly.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Plus, NASA, when they were worth a damn, designed their own rockets. The Saturn V that launched the astronauts to the moon was designed by Werner Von Braun, NASA employee! They contracted out the building of the rocket, not the design. Once they started contracting out rocket design with the shuttle, then that's what started the precipitous decline of our manned space program. Hell, now the only way we can get an astronaut to our own space station is to rent a ride on a Russian rocket.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Wow, that's a reach even for you. The F-15 spent about 4-5 years in development, a year in test, and has been kicking ass ever since. That's not the case with the F-35.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Plenty of data on stealth was available to MD. That wasn't their problem. Their problem was that they didn't have any airplane designers. That's why they out sourced the design of the F-23. That's also why Stonecipher started the Phantom Works.

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Kevin Smithwick July 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Rolls Royce can't due to contractional obligations to Lockhead Martin and that would cut into Lockhead's profit margin.The political ramifications for breaking the contract would destroy Rolls Royce's reputation.

The arms industry is not about building weapons, it's about wealth redistribution and keeping the population employed. From a historical standpoint it's obvious the Great Depression was caused by a shortage of market/labour demand. When WW2 began it created a obligatory manufacturing/labour demand and re-established market stability in America.

In fact America partially re-entered the depression at the end the WW2, only to rebound when the Cold War began in 1948. A simplistic way to describe arms manufacturing can be defined as this:

Create overtly complicated projects displaced over multiple legislative districts. Create an artificial demand for your product and tie said product with the nations population in a form which economic and/or idealogical.

The F-35 is the pinnacle of a morally bankrupt procurement system, it has become an ill-managed project that's considered "too big to fail".
By displacing itself over multiple states it has effectively distorted the American political system and established an economic stranglehold on the American workers tied to the project. This project is extortion masquerading as patriotism. The politician claims if the project cancelled the American people will be in danger and American workers will lose their homes. But why should Lockhead be rewarded for their importance while pocketing the tax-payer money.

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Do you expect them to operate as privately owned companies or state owned enterprises? Singling out one industry in particular only further blurs this line you speak of.

And then how are you going to apply it? Only to the big contractors like Lockheed and Boeing, or to the hundreds of sub-contractors that work with them? What about P&W and GE? What about the areas of these companies that make non-military products like Boeing's airliners? Where do you draw the line for applying such laws here?

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm

What was it Thomas Jefferson wrote about banking institutions being more dangerous than standing armies? Regardless, I don't see mention of banks or any other corporations being restricted from lobbying. Just the military-industrial-political complex which you seem to think is some sort of monolithic entity. Would these laws applies to a small company that makes bolts for military and civil aviation for example? How are you going to attract any subcontractor to work on a project if by accepting the work they're accepting some tax they wouldn't have otherwise?

Proven liar? I've heard you say this before but I've yet to see any of these proven lies. Or are you still under the impression that I'm working for Lockheed getting paid to post commentary on the defensetech website

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Painfully long development/testing aside the F-35 will achieve IOC well before 2020 so the only way this 2030 claim makes sense is if he is counting all plans beyond Block 3F as the aircraft "still being in development".

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Their own in-house design for the ATF lost out so they were prime subcontractor with Northrop.

I know nothing of their internal situation during that time period but where would that expertise have gone? In the 80s they had a large share of the market for fighters between the F-15 (all them), F/A-18 (them and Northrop), and AV-8B (them and British Aerospace).

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hialpha July 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Dfens,

You've definitely made some great points. The perspective of an engineer working to give the tactician what he needs is what we all hope for in these acquisitions and that clearly is not always the case.

However, the Super is a great machine with a fantastic sensor suite. It's got great avionics and weapon systems and is a great aircraft to fly behind the boat. I was an Grumman guy and I drank the Hornet Kool-aid when I took it to the boat. The SA that it can give you and it's landmark reliability make it a great plane for combat. I'm not saying that we wouldn't necessarily bloody our noses against a Flanker or whatever comes next in a drawn out fight, but we have preserved some great advantages tactically over the years with this type/model/series.

That being said, there are few pilots who don't dream of more thrust, more gas, more SA and better Pk weapons. I think, however, that the politicians who bankroll the F-35 don't understand or care much about that or perhaps they simply believe what they are told.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 11:15 pm

The problem making the F-18 obsolete has nothing to do with avionics boxes. Hell, you can bolt a box to anything.

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Dfens July 8, 2014 at 11:19 pm

More shit you read on the internet?

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Bernard July 8, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Not exactly. When it comes to human interaction an actual person is a superior choice and likely will be for a long time if not forever.

Psyop, Civil Affairs, nurses, therapists, politicins, are just a few such roles where human interaction is key. They will not be replaced by drones. The scientists and engineers along with the key subject matter experts used to develop these systems will be incredibly valuable as well.

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William_C1 July 8, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Books mostly from credible authors. You honestly don't believe MD submit their own in-house design for the ATF competition? Why would the public history of the program lie about that?

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hialpha July 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

Indeed you can. When I flew the Prowler there were many boxes bolted in her guts. Still no comparison because Boeing software engineers pull everything together into a tactically usable interface. Additionally, the FCS makes it very easy to fly well.

I'm curious in what respect, as an engineer, you think the Hornet is obsolete? If you overall argument is: "it can be done better for cheaper." I don't think very many would disagree, who actually fly the thing.

I'm not an engineer, though I've learned over my career that engineers are obviously talented, but what is promised in a product isn't always what is delivered. So the solution that works as advertised (mostly), is the one I choose. Give the thing more gas and guts, and it will pay off.

The Super is good. For now.

As for the -35, you are the engineer, you know better 'n me by looking at her.

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 9:38 am

It doesn't have stealth. It doesn't have legs. It doesn't go supersonic even though it is burdened with a thin, supersonic wing. It's heavy. It doesn't do a good job as either a fighter or as an attack airplane. It works. The Navy has found a way to make it work, but it excels at nothing. That's good enough for now, but that's the highway to an ass whipping.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm

See anybody Buying your Super? They have they have lost every Major oversea buy in the last 5 years.

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 9:41 am

It's nice your crystal ball is so much better than everyone else's.

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 9:50 am

Oh, from credible authors. Perhaps you could give us a quote from one of these "credible authors." Not that anyone would ever doubt your veracity, naturally.

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William_C1 July 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Considering I have a four year margin of error to work with I'll stick by that prediction. More likely than 2030 to be sure.

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William_C1 July 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

My go-to-source for all things ATF is the book Advanced Tactical Fighter to F-22 Raptor: Origins of the 21st Century Air Dominance Fighter. Authors are David C. Aronstein, Albert C. Piccirillo, and Michael J. Hirschberg.

There was an official artist impression done for MD back in 1986 when the companies submitted their proposals for the ATF program and the design clearly isn't the F-23.

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Dfens July 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Oh, a picture book. How convenient.

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tiger July 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Our 2014 problems are not even in the air…..
ISIS & Al Quedia are on the ground, not in Migs or SU's.

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William_C1 July 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm

No it isn't a picture book but I'm starting to think that's the only thing you'll understand.

I'm just trying to prove to you that McDonnell Douglas made their own bid in 1986 for the ATF program but lost out to the designs of Lockheed and Northrop. Yet as a part of a team deal they arranged with Northrop they were prime subcontractor for what became the YF-23.

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Dfens July 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

Not even that good. I'm happy if my designs get to the RC model stage.

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Dfens July 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

It's hard to "prove" BS, but don't let me stop you.

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Atomic Walrus July 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Uh, no. Werner von Braun set the architecture, but the engines were designed by Rocketdyne, the S-IV stage was designed by Douglas, and the S-II stage was designed by North American. The S-I was designed by Huntsville, but was generally considered one of the less mass efficient parts of the design. To get into a little more detail, many of the key features of the S-II design were invented by North American in opposition to Von Braun's team. The common bulkhead between LOX and LH2 tanks and the application of insulation to the exterior of the tank are good examples. The result was a stage with one of the highest specific impulses ever achieved.

If you're looking for a source of problems with the Shuttle, look no further than the politicians and the Air Forces. The politicians cut the budget for the Shuttle by 50%, resulting in many of the design compromises. They also forced the Air Force to use the Shuttle as a launch vehicle, which necessitated the large cargo bay for recon sats and the large (heavy) wings to provide cross-range on re-entry.

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Dfens July 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm

You can add fighter and attack aircraft to your list of things that won't soon be replace by drones too.

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Dfens July 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

That's BS! Those companies built that hardware, they did not design them. They don't even claim to have designed them, even though they've claimed everything right up to that point. It really pisses me off when people rewrite history.

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

In my lifetime, we will see those cylon fighters over Caprica…

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Atomic Walrus July 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm

You're the one making up history. Pick up a copy of "Angle of Attack" by Mike Gray for details on North American's involvement the S-II stage design. Or read "Stages to Saturn", the official NASA history. NASA "designed" those vehicles in much the same way that the Air Force "designs" a fighter – they wrote the specification based on analysis of what they wanted the vehicle to do. It was then up to the contractors to figure out how to translate that specification into a piece of hardware. You might want to take a look at pictures of all of the different Space Shuttle proposals from 1969 as well – each contractor had a different idea of how the thing should look, based on the same requirement set.

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tiger July 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm

In my book, WW3 started 9/11/2011. The war on Islamic extremist & terrorists has last lasted longer than the first two. Has as many nations involed, Costs as much as the last two as well. The magic fantasy war I spent the Cold War waiting for did not happen. Yet your still planning it. The enemy does not fly Migs. They ride in pickup trucks screaming "Allah" in crappy 3rd world spots like Yemen, Nigeria & Iraq…… Not China or Russia.

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Dfens July 11, 2014 at 10:20 am

You don't know what the f you're talking about. I don't give a f how many books you "read." Damn armchair experts.

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Atomic Walrus July 11, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Wow – that's a compelling retort to a response citing references.

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