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With talk of more Super Hornet orders too, not good for F-35C ...

Theres always been talk of more super hornets. There will probably be talk of super hornets until the F-35C performs well in combat. Until then like the F-22, --even long after we have stopped making them --talk of buying more will continue. If the C doesn't trap, I'll actually worry.

TT, I always thought you were a bit "disturbed"... :whistle: :lol:]

I do what I can.

Update on the F-35 over on Flight Global. Mostly stuff that has already been hashed over before but one part I found to be of interest:

the F-35’s engineers are still struggling with overcoming the aircraft’s tendency for transonic roll-off and buffet, according to the report. The condition affects all supersonic fighters to some degree, but has appeared particularly acute on the carrier variant F-35C. Programme engineers have exhausted options for altering the flight control laws to compensate. Testing is still under way to decide if using leading edge spoilers on the F-35C will be necessary, the report says.

I thought the previous party line was that this issue would be cured by software modifications. Now we are talking about airframe alterations to the F-35C? If so, probably not good news from cost, schedule and weight standpoints.

I'll stand by on this one, the F-35C however is the variant with most time to play with, the USN not being in the rush the USMC is in. also it has more margin to play with in the weight department


F-35C already has some spoilers as well. (WARNING: Link contains Spoiler)

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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Who doesn't love some nostalgia?

Capt. Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, USN (Ret.)

I think it's a wonderful airplane, but you have to understand it's a compromise design. It's evolutionary, not revolutionary. From a flying quality standpoint, it has to be one the easiest planes in the world to fly. I could probably take a guy off the street and in 30 hours have him solo in the thing. It’s designed to be easy to fly because operating the complex radar and weapon systems is a huge challenge. From a tactical perspective, it was designed as a trash hauler…it wasn't designed to be a "hypersonic cruiser" air superiority aircraft. There were a lot of politics at play in its development…the AFX was shot down, the Super Tomcat got shot down, and as a fall back they went with this robust improvement of the existing F/A-18. For the US Navy flying off a carrier with this airplane, it's going to be the most reliable and safest airplane they've probably ever flown, and it will carry the "mail" for a long time.

From a 2000 report:

Section 124 of the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for

Fiscal Year 1999 requires us to review the Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft

program and report annually to Congress until a full-rate production

contract is awarded. The F/A-18E (single seat) and the F/A-18F (two seat)

aircraft is intended to replace the F/A-18C (single seat), F/A-18D (two seat),

A-6, and F-14 aircraft as they reach the end of their service life and are

retired. The F/A-18E/F is designed primarily to meet the Navy’s fighter

escort, interdiction, fleet air defense, and close air support mission

requirements. This is our second report under the congressional mandate

and our fifth report overall on the F/A-18E/F program.

Our prior reports addressed the developmental test phase of the program.

In June 1996, we recommended that, given the cost and marginal

improvements in operational capabilities the F/A-18E/F would provide over

existing F/A-18C/D aircraft, the Secretary of Defense should reconsider the

decision to produce the E/F aircraft and, instead, procure additional

F/A-18C/Ds.2 In June 1999, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense

defer multiyear funding for the F/A-18E/F program until all corrections of

deficiencies had been incorporated into the aircraft’s design and

successfully tested.3 In its comments on these reports, the Department of

Defense (DOD) disagreed with our recommendations. It stated that the

F/A-18E/F would provide superior performance over the F/A-18C/D aircraft

and that there were no deficiencies serious enough to warrant not

awarding a multiyear contract. A list of our prior reports is at the end of

this report.

This report focuses on the most recently completed phase of the

program—operational test and evaluation. The objective of this phase was to field test the aircraft, under realistic conditions, to determine the

effectiveness and suitability of the aircraft, its weapons, and its equipment

for use in combat by typical military users.4 The operational test and

evaluation report, issued in February 2000, stated that the F/A-18E/F was

operationally effective and suitable and recommended its introduction into

the fleet. The report was the basis for the Secretary of Defense’s

certification to Congress in April 2000 that the F/A-18E/F met its key

performance parameters (see app.I). This certification was required before

the Navy could enter into a multiyear procurement contract for full-rate

production of the aircraft. 5 Congress has 30 days to consider the

Secretary’s certification before the Navy can award a multiyear contract for

full-rate production.

Our objectives during this review were to determine whether the

operational tests (1) validated DOD’s statements that the F/A-18E/F will

provide performance capabilities that are superior to existing F/A-18

aircraft and (2) raised issues that could impact aircraft cost or the

upcoming decision on whether the Navy should award a multiyear

procurement contract for full-rate production of the aircraft.

Although the F/A-18E/F met its key performance parameters, such as range

and carrier suitability, the operational testers’ comparisons of the

F/A-18E/F to the existing F/A-18C showed that the F/A-18E/F did not

demonstrate superior operational performance over the existing F/A-18C

aircraft. The testers compared the operational effectiveness of the F/A-18C

to the F/A-18E/F in 18 operational mission areas such as interdiction,

fighter escort, combat air patrol, air combat maneuvering, and air-to-air

weapons. Using a numerical scale, the testers rated the F/A-18E/F’s

operational effectiveness essentially the same as the F/A-18C’s...

...The AESA radar is projected to weigh about 270 pounds more than the

current radar and will require a more capable cooling system than the

one currently on the aircraft. The Navy expects some minor degradation

in aircraft performance, such as slightly decreased range, as a result

of the increased weight and new cooling system.

In defense of the Super Bug (This guy was probably bribed)

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet: A Test Pilot Dispels The Myths

By CDR Rob Niewoehner


There has been a great deal of interest recently in the press regarding the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program, its progress through the flight test phase, and the requirements for the airplane in preparation for operational test. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation and innuendo from various sources that proclaim to be experts on tactical aircraft — and particularly on this airplane. In such an environment, it is important that we review the facts and dispel the myths regarding not only the requirements for the airplane but also its current performance in flight test.


In early 1991 with the cancellation of the A-12, an idea was born out of the Navy’s Hornet 2000 study to develop an affordable, follow-on strike fighter that would capitalize on all of the strengths of the most successful, multi-mission tactical aircraft the Navy had ever developed – the F/A-18C. The F/A-18E/F would improve on the F/A-18C’s capabilities, continuing a series of preplanned product improvements (P3I) into a new airframe that would provide the growth required for the next century. The Navy’s F/A-18C was approaching its limits for further growth, particularly in its carrier suitability weight limit.

As a result, the follow-on platform needed to meet several key requirements that would provide improvements over the F/A-18C. As stated in the F/A-18E/F Operational Requirements Document (ORD), "The CINC’s highest priority for the F/A-18 upgrade and the F/A-18 Operational Advisory Group’s number one hardware priority is increased internal fuel; other high priority F/A-18 upgrade requirements include improved carrier suitability and the postulated threat mandate improvements in three key areas: increased mission radius/payload, increased carrier recovery payload, and improved survivability/vulnerability."

It is these enhancements, with growth for future upgrades, that became the pillars on which the F/A-18E/F was built. All of the requirements of this airplane were to be built inside a "box of affordability," to ensure that the Navy could afford this platform in sufficient numbers to fill its carrier air wings of the 21st century.

Myth vs. Fact

As the airplane has finished its design phase and entered flight test, conversations with fleet aviators have revealed a number of prevalent F/A-18E/F myths. While these myths and inaccuracies come from various sources, the answers and the facts flow directly from the previously stated requirements.

Myth #1 – "The E/F is not a stealthy airplane." Fact – "The E/F is an extremely survivable airplane." Stealth is one approach to survivability — a very expensive approach, whose stand-alone effectiveness is limited to a few mission scenarios. A flexible airplane requires a flexible approach to survivability, one that will deliver significant survivability improvements across the full span of envisioned missions.

By balancing the survivability of the E/F (with a combination of reduction in its vulnerable area; signature reduction; employment of defensive systems; and integration of stand-off munitions such as JDAM, JSOW, and SLAM-ER), the airplane capitalizes on all the survivability technologies of the past decade.

For example, a glance at the airplane’s physical geometry and exterior features reveals the influence of dedicated radar cross section (RCS) signature control. Where it made good cost-vs.-capability sense, the signature was tailored. For those aspects where additional signature control would have been cost prohibitive, the Navy directed survivability resources elsewhere to get the best return for each survivability dollar.

Next, the real measure of survivability is not the likelihood of a single asset’s coming back from any one mission. The real measure of survivability is the number of pilots and airplanes left on the flight deck after a campaign. Similarly, lethality is the number of targets destroyed per aircraft lost. More fuel and more weapon stations will enable the E/F to make fewer sorties into the target area and employ more tactically desirable routes. Fewer sorties and better routing will result in less threat exposure and enhanced survivability.

How do more stations contribute to improved survivability? If a strike planner today wanted to put two laser-guided bombs and two High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs) into the battle space, it would require a flight of two C/D aircraft, each most likely configured with two external fuel tanks. The strike planner who could employ the F/A-18E/F would be able to get that same load into the target area with one airplane (configured with a single 480-gallon fuel tank). As a bonus, the E/F would be able to carry two AMRAAM on the additional out board stations. It adds up: more weapons, fewer sorties, increased survivability, and greater lethality.

Myth #2 – "Bigger means faster." Fact – "Bigger means more ordnance, flying farther, staying airborne longer." The F/A-18E/F moldline changes that provide for improved range, payload, and carrier suitability also, however, contribute to a steeper drag rise at transonic speeds, resulting in slightly slower level accelerations to supersonic speeds. A clean (no external stores) Lot XIX C/D will nose out a clean E/F in a drag race from 0.85 to 1.2 at 35,000 ft. But F/A-18E/F subsonic performance in both MIL and MAX power is significantly superior to that of a C/D, and manifests itself in shorter takeoff distances, better climb rates, and faster accelerations. In unloaded, tactically representative accelerations, the two aircraft are indistinguishable. "Apples-to-apples" comparison of the two aircraft must be done cautiously, however. One must remember that the E/F moves the C/D’s ever-present external wing tank fuel into the fuselage and wings. Deploying with a single centerline tank (its projected typical carrier configuration), the E/F’s acceleration performance will be a substantial improvement over a cruise-configured (two fuel tanks on wing stations) C/D everywhere in the flight envelope.

Myth #3 – "Then, bigger means less maneuverable." Fact – "In the subsonic regime, the E/F performs as good as or better than a C/D in almost every respect." The challenge posed to the contractor was not to compromise the Hornet’s superb capabilities as a dogfighter. "As good as, or better than..." was the standard to meet. The result is that the turning performance charts overlay one another. At high angles of attack, the E/F’s agility truly shines, with superior roll performance and much more carefree handling.

The heritage Hornet was already the stand-out, high angle-of-attack (alpha) machine in the U.S. inventory. The E/F is "hands-down" superior in that environment. As of the end of July, the test program had completed the high-alpha and spin programs on the E-models for all symmetric loads, and on the F-model for fighter and centerline loadings. Lateral asymmetries and F-model stores testing are in progress.

There will be no angle-of-attack restrictions for the symmetrically loaded E or F models. Spin characteristics are benign, with a simplified recovery compared with that of the C/D, and no sustained falling-leaf departure exists in any stores loading tested.

My last flight in the E/F was in aircraft E4, loaded with three 480-gallon tanks and 4 Mk 83 bombs, and with the center of gravity ballasted to the aft limit of 31.8 percent. In that configuration, the airplane maneuvered without restriction from -30 to +50 degrees AOA, performed zero airspeed tailslides and spins to 120 degrees per second of yaw rate, and unsuccessfully attempted to generate a stable falling-leaf departure. We’ve engineered out all the known departure modes for rolls up to 360 degrees.

The air combat maneuvering (ACM) flights have revealed that the airplane may still be maneuvered at speeds as low as 80 KCAS. This airplane will be quite comfortable in any type of a "phone booth" close-in dogfight.

Agility, however, should really be considered in terms of the lethality of the complete weapons system. While thrust vectoring is maturing at a pace that might have allowed incorporation into the E/F, the weight and complexity penalties were prohibitive. Instead, adding the Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (HMCS) and a highly maneuverable off-boresight missile (AIM-9X) generates E/F total-system lethality that exceeds that available from a much more agile airplane with current missiles. HMCS and AIM-9X will enter the Fleet in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

Myth #4 – "Ninety percent avionics commonality with the C/D means that the E/F is recycling 1970s technology." Fact – "Today’s F/A-18 C/D comes off the production line with a state-of-the-art cockpit and weapon system, thanks to a significant investment in growth since the F/A-18A’s introduction." This actually represents a compelling case for E/F. The F/A-18A/B/C/D’s phenomenal growth in systems and missions are at the brink of physically exhausting the space of a 1970s airframe, while the weapons system inside is unquestionably 1990s. Modest improvements from Lot XX C/D to E/F are all that is initially required to make the Super Hornet state-of-the-art. What is needed is a 1990s airframe that can handle the growth for the avionics and weapons systems advances of the next 5 to 20 years. The F/A-18E/F is that airframe.

Where technological jumps in E/F avionics were possible, they were made. The touchscreen Up-Front Control Display (UPCD) is the most prominent feature of the Super Hornet cockpit. While other services were tentative about embracing touchscreen for tactical aircraft applications, we’ve seen this display move successfully to maturity. The prime piece of real estate dedicated to administrative tasks in the heritage Hornet (the UFC, or Up-Front Control), is now a full participant in the warfighting display suite.

Flight Test Highlights

How’s the airplane flying? Seven aircraft, in the third year of a flight test program at the Naval Air Weapons Centers at Patuxent River and China Lake, have flown more than 3,000 flight hours. Five Navy pilots share envelope expansion responsibilities with five Boeing/Northrop test pilots. Highlights of the testing to date have included Initial Sea Trials (January 1997, aboard USS Stennis), Operational Test Phase IIA (November 1997), and more than a million pounds of weapons expended off the aircraft.

The weapons separation effort is key to the entire program. It represents the true product to be delivered to OPTEVFOR/VX-9 for the Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) in the summer of 1999 – an airplane ready to go to war with several dozen cleared weapons loads.

This represents a significant challenge to the test team. Hanging heavy, aerodynamically significant stores on a flexible structure means that each of the desired configurations is virtually a different airplane to be cleared for its flying qualities, performance, flutter, loads, and weapons separation. Due to the scope of the weapons program, it is not uncommon for the weapons-separation aircraft to be dropping bombs and firing missiles in parts of the envelope cleared only days prior by the airplanes devoted to airworthiness testing.

Results of testing to date have generally been very encouraging. Performance is coming in right on predictions. Technical challenges surface daily. They are an expected part of a "test, analyze, fix" process, the highly publicized "wing drop" having been only one of scores Boeing and the Navy have faced together. Each of the seven aircraft are being modified continually to accommodate what has been learned in the previous weeks and months. The effort is strongly focused around preparedness for the airplane’s final exam (OPEVAL).

Flying Qualities

But what is it like to fly? "It’s a Hornet, only better," were my comments after my first flight. When one accounts for the 90 percent commonality with the C/D avionics suite, nearly identical cockpit switch positions, and preflight procedures copied directly from the C/D NATOPS manual, a Hornet pilot’s first impression is to feel right at home. It’s upon second glance that the changes become more significant. An E-model’s start-up internal fuel state is 14.5 (14,500 pounds of fuel), vice the C’s 10.7 (10,700 pounds). The Up-Front Control has been replaced by the versatile touchscreen Up-Front Control Display. Up and away flight handling is very similar to the C/D’s by design, though less susceptible to the anomalies the C/D exhibits at some conditions. In the landing pattern, even the C/D’s wonderful handling characteristics have been improved upon, with the increased weights providing better rejection of low-altitude gusts and much more stable ground handling. The airplane doesn’t even appear to notice load asymmetries to 30,000 ft-lbs. Approach angle-of-attack remains the same, but the larger wing provides for substantially lower approach speeds. In summary, getting comfortable flying the airplane takes no time at all, but the changes are so positive that a pilot may not want to go back even to the C/D.

Flash vs. Value

"What does the F/A-18E/F have for me?" Appreciating the F/A-18E/F also includes understanding the benefits to all of Naval aviation’s stakeholders. The E/F does not include every flashy type of technology ever mentioned in Aviation Week, but rather those that deliver significant warfighting value. The F/A-18E/F does not universally out-perform all of the airplanes it is replacing. Any aircraft with the F/A-18’s multi-mission capability will necessarily compromise some attributes to maximize the best overall capability. While every pilot longs for "more knots and more turn rate," each needs to realize the value of the enhancements the F/A-18E/F brings to the carrier’s arsenal and to every interested warfighter in the joint arena.

The F/A-18E/F does deliver a superior strike fighter aircraft that will provide each stakeholder with substantially enhanced capabilities. We’re not just buying an airplane for the lieutenants to win the fighter or bombing derby—although the E/F will do that. We are buying a proven combat system to put into the hands of a theater CinC to execute our national military strategy. Logisticians, maintainers, and air staffs—as well as pilots—are stakeholders in the capability of that system.

With that said, the F/A-18E/F does not need to apologize for any of the design trades that were made, for every pilot and NFO coming to the airplane will find attributes that more than make up for what he or she is leaving behind. The transitioning F-14 pilot will clearly give up some high-speed dash capability, but in return will gain phenomenal systems reliability, survivability, agility and mission systems designed for strike warfare lethality. F/A-18 pilots will find the extra fuel they always wanted, while also gaining payload flexibility, carrier bringback, survivability, improved flying qualities, and welcome crew station improvements. The transitioning F-14/A-6 NFO who becomes the F/A-18F Weapon Systems Operator (WSO) will appreciate the state-of-the-art aft cockpit as well as the offensive and defensive weapon systems technology.

Those involved in support and maintenance are justifiably excited about this airplane. Squadron and Air Wing maintenance officers will get another step improvement in reliability and reduced mechanical complexity. (E/F is 25 percent bigger than C/D but has 42 percent fewer parts). The logisticians will see a resultant reduction in parts support to remote theaters. Air Bosses and Air Operations Officers visiting the Test Team have been excited about an airplane that will provide dramatic improvements in flexibility around the ship and the return of a tactical airborne tanker in the air wing with E/F’s Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) capability. Finally, the Strike Operations, Carrier Group staff, and Joint Air Staffs will be thrilled with the force-multiplying effect of a longer range, more lethal strike fighter on the flight schedule.

Low-Risk Combat Capability

The F/A-18E/F is the center of the Navy acquisition strategy, whose objective is to procure the best possible value in a power projection aircraft, thus "maximizing bang for the buck." Maximizing carrier combat capability within the available fiscal resources meant pursuing a larger airplane while leveraging from the tremendous warfighting legacy of the F/A-18 C/D. Program opponents, both inside and outside the Navy, cite the F/A-18E/F’s technology as a marginal improvement over the Lot XX C/D coming off the ramp in St. Louis today. True, there are few tremendous technology leaps in this aircraft. What such a pundit does not appreciate is how much more combat capability the F/A-18E/Fs state-of-the-art improvements will deliver, when compared to the improvements that cannot be realized by modifying the C/D. The F/A-18E/F’s improvement in combat capability is substantial, making the technical low-risk approach of E/F a procurement bargain.

A story from Initial Sea Trials (IST) illustrates the success of this approach to technical risk. My partner, Mr. Fred Madenwald, Boeing’s Chief Pilot, returned from the airplane’s first flight in St. Louis in November 1995 and proudly proclaimed that it was "ready to go to sea." With 14 months of flight testing to go before the aircraft’s first arrested landing aboard ship, the test team treated his remark with friendly derision as brash and premature. After IST, everyone was compelled to apologize. He was right! The airplane had been ready for sea: Not a single significant flight control change affecting IST had been required, and no significant problems were discovered while at sea. This was a remarkable achievement for the Hornet Industry Team, as multiple changes had been required to get the original F/A-18A through its IST. More importantly to the Navy, it was a validation of the basic strategy of getting the most warfighting value by keeping technical risk low and leveraging the proven capabilities of the heritage Hornet into a larger airplane that could deliver the goods.

Range... Payload... Growth... Bringback... Survivability... We’re getting what we asked for.


* The initial production Super Hornet was an interim configuration, with improvements to be added in production as they became available. Following initial production, several improvements were introduced, including:

A more powerful processor and modernized cockpit displays.

The Raytheon AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting FLIR (ATFLIR) pod. ATFLIR includes advanced infrared imaging and laser targeting gear, allowing to locate, identify, and designate targets from greater altitude and range. It can also be used for strike damage assessment, and for detection and identification of air targets.

The MIDS / Link-16 datalink.

Over the longer run, the Navy is planning to introduce the "Block 2" Super Hornet in 2005, the primary features of which will be the Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, plus a new rear cockpit scheme, the "Advanced Crew Station (ACS)". The new avionics will required enhanced power and cooling systems, as well as a fiber-optic data bus.

The AN/APG-79 is derived from technology developed by Boeing and Raytheon for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The radar has an antenna that consists of a matrix of programmable transmit-receive (T/R) modules, which can act cooperatively or individually, allowing the system to act as a "low probability of intercept" radar; a precision jammer; or an ELINT system to locate and target emitters. Functions can be performed simultaneously by allocating blocks of T/R modules to each function; the AN/APG-79 is "multimode" in a very strong sense, since it can actually operate in several modes at the same time, tracking an aerial target while mapping out ground targets. Astonishingly, the high degree of parallelism allows the front-seater and the back-seater to effectively each have their own radar. An AESA is so capable that it is really not entirely accurate to call it a "radar", as it is more than that.

Even ignoring its ability to perform operations in parallel, the AN/APG-79 is much more capable than the AN/APG-73 that it replaces. The AN/APG-79 has greater range and incorporates a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode that is far superior to any similar capability on the AN/APG-73, allowing the Block 2 Super Hornet to take over the maritime targeting job from the Viking. Production of Super Hornets with the AESA began in 2004, with introduction to operational service in 2006.

The Block 2 will have a completely new forward fuselage, partly to support the new systems. However, the new fuselage also reduces the parts count by 40% to improve manufacturability and maintainability, and provides better maintenance access. The new forward fuselage was actually introduced into production in 2003. All Super Hornets with the new forward fuselage will be capable of being refitted with the AN/APG-79 AESA.

Most of the Block 2 Super Hornets will be two-seaters, reflecting Navy doctrine for "net-centric" warfare, in which weapons platforms are "nodes" in a network where volumes of tactical data are transferred back and forth. In net-centric warfare, two crew are needed because the back seater has to track the network activity; make the appropriate decisions based on that data; and control the aircraft's systems accordingly, while the front-seater actually flies the aircraft. This means the back-seater is more a peer to the front-seater than ever before -- and in fact, in the Block 2 Super Hornet, the back-seater can actually perform weapons release.

Boeing leased the very first F/A-18F back from the Navy to perform experiments to demonstrate the utility of the Super Hornet in the net-centric combat environment -- for example collecting video data from a SHARP pod and transferring it to an airborne command post, as well as a FAC on the ground. The Navy is currently retraining F-14 back-seaters, traditionally known as "radar intercept officers (RIOs)", to become Block 2 Super Hornet "weapon systems officers (WSOs)".

The Block 2 Super Hornet will also feature an improved defensive countermeasures system. The new Raytheon AN/ALR-67(V)3 RWR is now in production, and the BAE Systems / ITT AN/ALQ-214(V) Integrated Defensive Electronic Counter-Measures (IDECM) system has completed its operational evaluation. The IDECM integrates an ITT signals receiver; a BAe Systems onboard jamming techniques generator; and the AN/ALE-55 fiber-optic towed decoy (FOTD). The FOTD is trailed behind the aircraft on a fiber-optic cable and broadcasts the jamming or deception signals produced by the techniques generator. This means that if a missile has a "home on jam" mode, it will attack the FOTD and not the aircraft.

* Along with the improved avionics, the Block 2 Super Hornet will carry new weapons. The longer range and greater capability of the AN/APG-79 AESA implies a longer range and more capable AAM, and the result is the "AIM-120C-7" variant of the AMRAAM. The AIM-12OC-7, also known as the "Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) Phase 3" AMRAAM, is now entering service, and features a new, smarter seeker and an improved flight control system that stretches its range.

Work is beginning on an "AIM-120C-8" or "P3I Phase 4" AMRAAM. It is scheduled for introduction to service in 2007. Details remain classified, but it is believed it will probably have an improved motor to further extend its range. With the AIM-120C-8, the Block 2 Super Hornet will be able to provide long range air defense for US Navy carrier groups, just as the last F-14 Tomcats are phased out.

The Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder is now in service. This new version of the venerable Sidewinder family not only provides off-boresight targeting, with its seeker cued by the pilot's JHMCS sight, and extreme agility, it is even capable of a degree of "beyond visual range (BVR)" engagement. Aircraft sensors can allow it to obtain a lock at ranges in excess of 22 kilometers (12 NMI), and Raytheon is now working on a "lock on after launch (LOAL)" mode that will allow the missile to engage targets at the very limits of range or behind the launch aircraft.

* Beyond the Block 2 Super Hornet, other improvements in the pipeline include:

A new 20 x 25 centimeter (8 x 10 inch) tactical display for the rear cockpit. This item will be delivered from late 2005 and may be retrofitted to earlier Block 2 machines.

A "Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)", a programmable radio that will be interoperable with a wide range of current radios.

An improved navigation system that will permit delivery of GPS-guided weapons with greater accuracy.

A "Hornet Autonomous Realtime Targeting (HART)" system now being developed by Boeing that will using the AN/APG-79's SAR mode to get a radar image of target, then convert the image into a template for a new precision infrared terminal guidance seeker attached to a 225 kilogram (500 pound) GBU-38 JDAM bomb; an AGM-154C Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) glide bomb; or the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). HART and its associated weapons will be introduced into service in late 2007 at earliest.


CDR Robert Niewoehner, USN, Ph.D., served as the Navy’s lead test pilot on the Super Hornet program from prior to first flight until July of this year. During that time he flew 296 E/F missions and more than 450 flight hours. His principal responsibilities were high- and low-speed envelope expansion, including flutter and spin/departure testing. He is currently assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy as part of the first cadre of Permanent Military Professors.

good times. close your eyes and see if you can't switch F-18E/F for F-35 and see some similarities :thumbsup: my favorite arguments are the recycled ones.

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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With talk of more Super Hornet orders too, not good for F-35C ...

The recent talk is of the US Navy getting a couple for free...A-12 Settlement

The real driver behind the "more SH's" is Boeing...without more orders, a big chunk of the St Louis facility will be shutting down. And it's tough to market it without a hot production line. Add in the end of C-17 production with the closing of Long Beach and soon the F-15 will be the last McDonnell-Douglas design still in production.

I had to give a chuckle to the USMC choices, which are not a new dilemma for a weapons system. "I can improve what you have and fix things while the aircraft isn't being used operationally or I can give you a more useful capability sooner." The fleet will pick "now" every time. That said, without the fleet hours on the airframe needed to improve the maintenance numbers (btw, those numbers are totally normal for a program where JSF is...) they'll get a suitability black mark during the OA....tough call for the program.


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Q. Should we expect to see multiple platforms removed from the budget?

A. Yes. That is the only way to make the numbers meet, the direction we were given. Now, again, whether the politics will let us do those things are another thing. Unfortunately, if I am told, “OK, we understand about the A-10, you can take half the A-10 fleet” — that, sadly, does not leave me in a very good place because now we have to keep all of that infrastructure that supports the A-10. I get to save some portion of money by cutting certain squadrons, but they will save the large dollars that goes with that infrastructure piece, and now I have to go after squadrons of other airplanes so I reduce the overall capability of the Air Force, and I am in a worse place then I would have been if I just cut the whole A-10 fleet.

Q. Do you believe those program cuts can make it through Congress?

A. Your guess is as good as mine. With the budget, we told them what we thought we needed to do, and now it is a matter of the politics of things, whether they will allow us to do it. There is a lot of opposition on the Hill, but that opposition does not come with money saying, “Here. You use this money and keep that fleet.” They are just saying, “No, you cannot get rid of that fleet.”

But they are still cutting the budget so I have to do something, and, unfortunately, the something that is left is worse than cutting the A-10 fleet. It is far worse for the nation if I have to keep the A-10 and cut a bunch of other stuff because they will not give me enough money to keep it all....

Q. Are there any programs you would fight tooth and nail for in the budget?

A. I am going to fight to the death to protect the F-35 because I truly believe the only way we will make it through the next decade is with a sufficient fleet of F-35s.

If you gave me all the money I needed to refurbish the F-15 and the F-16 fleets, they would still become tactically obsolete by the middle of the next decade. Our adversaries are building fleets that will overmatch our legacy fleet, no matter what I do, by the middle of the next decade.

I have to provide an Air Force that in the middle of the next decade has sufficient fifth-generation capability that whatever residual fourth-generation capability I still have is viable and tactically useful. I am willing to trade the refurbishment of the fourth gen to ensure that I continue to get that fifth-gen capability.

I am fighting to the end, to the death, to keep the F-35 program on track. For me, that means not a single airplane cut from the program, because every time our allies and our partners see the United States Air Force back away, they get weak in the knees.

Q. So you remain committed to the 1,763 figure that has come out?

A. Absolutely. Not one plane less.

Q. What about upgrades to the F-22?

A. The F-22, when it was produced, was flying with computers that were already so out of date you would not find them in a kid’s game console in somebody’s home gaming system. But I was forced to use that because that was the spec that was written by the acquisition process when I was going to buy the F-22.

Then, I have to go through the [service life extension plan] and [cost and assessment program evaluation] efforts with airplanes to try to get modern technology into my legacy fleet. That is why the current upgrade programs to the F-22 I put easily as critical as my F-35 fleet. If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22. Because I got such a pitifully tiny fleet, I’ve got to ensure I will have every single one of those F-22s as capable as it possibly can be.

Q. Has the readiness issue subsided?

A. The bottom line is, despite the budget deal, we are still going to the same spot at the bottom of the cliff that we were going to when they started the sequestration madness. They have shallowed the glide path a little bit over the next two years, but we pay it all back in the out years and we still hit at the same spot at the bottom of the cliff.

We still have an urgent need to be allowed to reshape our force, to resize ourselves to fit within the amount of money the country is putting for defense, and as long as Congress is stopping us from doing that, we are going to have difficulty making readiness.


more at the link.

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I can tell Winslow Wheeler knows his Big Macs...

He could be a Whopper experten.

Cool F-35 footage, right down to the part where it became an F-22

Well, morphing camouflage is in the works. The next logical step is transfiguring aircraft.

I need to re-watch that. Was a single fact stated or was it all just a high school dis-fest?

Also need to check out the website: http://www.f35baddeal.com/

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He could be a Whopper experten.

Well, morphing camouflage is in the works. The next logical step is transfiguring aircraft.

I need to re-watch that. Was a single fact stated or was it all just a high school dis-fest?

Also need to check out the website: http://www.f35baddeal.com/

I still get tickled every time I see sprey going off on the F-35 after he declared the F-22 wouldn't have any maneuverability. that was classic LOL Remember before that he said the F-16 should be a visual only day fighter and the F-15 would never work.

The rest just looks like the standard military industrial complaints with LM taking the role of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.

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Making fun of journalists in exchange for millions of dollars for your Washington, D.C.-area “think tanks.” It’s not bad work if you can get it.

Loren Thompson is the Chief Operating Officer and front man for the Lexington Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Arlington, Virginia that lists just eight staff and reportedly rakes in more than $2 million a year. He also heads Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy.

Thompson is really quite mean. It’s basically his job to denounce, discredit and denigrate reporters covering the U.S. defense industry—and especially anyone writing about Lockheed Martin, the jet fighter-maker with headquarters in Maryland.

Lockheed, America’s biggest weapons producer, is also one of Thompson’s best clients. The company’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—the most expensive arms development in history at more than $400 billion—is late, over-budget and riddled with design problems.

But don’t take our word for it. In late January the Pentagon’s own testing agency released a 20-page report detailing serious flaws with the F-35’s software, sensors, weapons and radar-absorbing coating. The agency warned that the stealth jet might not be ready for combat as planned starting in 2015.

“Even if the JSF manages to meet its 2015 deployment deadline, it could fly into combat unreliable, confused, defenseless, toothless and vulnerable,” is how we summed up the report’s findings.

Thompson quickly responded in a column in Forbes, insisting the F-35’s negative test report “doesn’t matter.” The 60-something former Georgetown professor referred to our “unreliable, confused” line, commenting that our claim “reveals such abysmal ignorance about the status of the program that it discredits anything else the author might choose to say on the subject.”

Apparently unaware of the irony, he added a disclaimer. “Many of the companies working on the F-35 program including prime contractor Lockheed Martin contribute to my think tank.”

No kidding.

It’s worth noting that Thompson also defended the F-35 against critics in 2009 following some equally scathing testing reviews. He called for “confidence” in the pricey jet. “The F-35 program isn’t really all that troubled,” he wrote.

Thompson accused critics of the $400-billion program of being lazy and ignorant. “If you don’t follow the defense business closely, then you can be excused for believing that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is in trouble,” he practically chuckled.

But Thompson’s timing could not have been more hilarious. Shortly after he published his column, the JSF program nearly collapsed. “Within weeks, the [F-35] program manager had been fired,” Aviation Week reporter Bill Sweetman recalled. “Within months, outside review teams found enough nasties in the woodshed to delay the program by multiple years, and tens of billions [of dollars].”

And we’re the ones being discredited?

C-SPAN capture

The Beltway mercenary

Thompson has a long history of badmouthing reporters in the service of his donors. In 2009, he launched the Lexington Institute’s blog by slamming independent writers. Most military-industry blogs, Thompson contended, are “tendentious nonsense.”

“For every interesting, competent effort like DoD Buzz, there are dozens of ill-mannered rants masquerading as insight,” he wrote. “To say that blogs have lowered the standards of public discourse on policy matters is an under-statement — there are no standards. Anybody can say anything.”

It was no wonder Thompson would highlight DoD Buzz. That blog had recently praised Thompson as “uber-connected.”

Long-time defense writers were unimpressed by Thompson’s bluster. “Let the marketplace of ideas speak for itself,” the naval commentator “CDR Salamander” pointed out, “but if [Thompson] thinks his blog is covering anything new, then he isn’t reading blogs.”

“Besides, in the blogosphere your argument, not your resume, is most important,” Salamander added.

As for Thompson, his arguments are always “pro-industry,” government watchdog Nick Schwellenbach, then with the Project on Government Oversight, told the Mobile Press-Register newspaper. “I don’t think you’ll ever see him calling for less spending or cutting programs.”

Thompson has admitted as much, in his commentary about political appointees. “It is very hard to be objective when you come out of the defense industry,” he told The New York Times. “You are constantly aware that anything you do might be interpreted by outsiders, so either way you are motivated by external factors rather than the merits of the issue.”

Case in point: in 2009, Thompson wrote a paper calling for the Air Force to buy more C-17 cargo planes from Boeing at a price of around $200 million apiece. “The military needs many more C-17 airlifters,” Thompson insisted.

Boeing also funds Thompson’s think tanks, but the Chicago plane-maker’s checks apparently couldn’t match Lockheed’s, because just a year later in 2010, Thompson did a 180-degree turn on the C-17 issue. “The simple truth is that it looks like the Air Force will soon have all the long-range airlift it needs,” he wrote.

As Flight reporter Stephen Trimble pointed out, Thompson began advocating for the C-17’s main rival, a rebuilt version of Lockheed’s 1980s-vintage C-5.

In 2009, Thompson had criticized the elderly C-5’s notoriously poor reliability. But in 2010, he was calling the Lockheed plane “greatly enhanced” and claiming it cost a “fraction” of a factory-fresh C-17’s $200-million price tag. In fact, a rebuilt C-5 set the taxpayer back around $150 million—hardly a “fraction” of $200 million.

“Which Loren Thompson is correct? Thompson09? Or Thompson10?” Trimble asked.

We’re not privy to the balance sheets of the Lexington Institute or Thompson’s for-profit consultancy, but we’re willing to bet that a shift in corporate funding explains the switch in positions. “I’m not going to work on a project unless somebody, somewhere, is willing to pay,” Thompson told Harper’s. “This is a business.”

So when some unwitting reporter quotes Thompson as an “expert” or he pens a screed of his own, remember that it seems that money, and money alone, motivates Thompson’s arguments.

When he calls a reporter “ill-mannered” or accuses them of “abysmal ignorance,” he’s just doing his job—being mean on behalf of the arms industry.

We’ve published a new book all about the F-35. Sign up for a daily War is Boring email update here. Subscribe to WIB’s RSS feed here and follow the main page here.

Self proclaimed "journalist" David Axe complaining about being picked on unfairly. Axe complains Loren Thompson, is only saying what he says to make money, Axe then links to f-35 book he is selling. No mention of Axe's trolly headlines and juvenile writing that exists solely to get clicks.

TT laughs until his tears are sucked into an irony vortex

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Well, pots and kettles do have a history of animosity.

The rest just looks like the standard military industrial complaints with LM taking the role of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.

Chairman Mao will be most upset at his omission. Am I going to have to send you another Little Red Book?

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I just never realized how LM controlled everything, even before the JAST downselect, to include TSPR and the entire acquisition strategy.

Thats just what the Marine Corps and Stone Masons want you to think...

My apologies to Mao. LM is the devil though for turning a profit in a free market via government contracts that are funded by tax payers. Its just really hard to sell F-16s to private citizens. I'm sure they would all feel much better if LM was losing money, contracts for weapons came from private armies, funded by corporations.

Obviously facts aren't a problem, they are just using LM and the F-35 as a club for the same arguments. Sprey just keeps repeating "simple" "simple" and "too complex" "too complex" He dislikes every system that isn't "his" 1970's F-16 concept. (I use the word concept because an F-16 never flew in the conditions he preferred)

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So Mr. Thompson is as trustworthy as Mr. Sweetman. :rolleyes:/>/>/>


No Gregg, that isn't the case at all. Allow me to explain. Loren Thompson is now doing guest spots for aviation week. Aviation week is Bill Sweetman's employer as well, and also links to David Axe. David Axe returns the favor by linking and referencing aviation weak at every opportunity. Since Aviation Weak started employing both of them they have written 4 arguments and counter arguments for each other in the last two weeks alone. Aviation week gets 100 percent of the web traffic this way. By having both blowhards with their own agendas take extreme positions against each other they are linked and referenced by both sides of the Great F-35 Internet Debate, while also giving each other easy straw men to debunk, and setting up the next round of arguments. This ensures a great flow of internet traffic allowing Aviation week to charge more for advertising.

so basically: Group of money grubbing F-35 conspirators come together to call attention to F-35 money making scheme. People like Sweetman, Wheeler, Sprey, Goon, Axe, and Kopp are all employed by the F-35 indirectly. its relatively low risk, as well since they can talk smack about a new system and then its forgotten when they start talking smack about the next system. Goon and kopp stil have pages on their site that talk about a super F-111 and advocate another aircraft that hasn't been built in years. But hey, who's counting?

Sprey is a great example, he was proven completely and utterly wrong about every system he criticized by the 1991 war and him and his buds should not have been able to a cup of coffee in the defense world. But luckily a whole new generation of unproven weapon systems is in development, and unlike being wrong on the now proven F-15 and Abrams tank, the F-22 and F-35 have yet to fly in combat. So its a second life for a guy to remake 1970's arguments that were proven false at nearly every level year ago. All he has had to do is crossout F-15 and write in F-22 and now its F-35-- until the LRS-B, UCAVs or NGAD rolls around. come on paychecks! may they be ever late and delayed!

Aviation week doesn't mind because there is more money in appealing to dumb masses of people that will even leave stupid comments on their site. Sure they are no longer a respected journal of news and opinion, but neither is pro wrestling and they make fine money. Aviation week is trying to be the Mcdonalds or Wal Mart of aviation journalism. And Bill Sweetman is the helpful bloke who gets you your big mac.

You want to feel smarter than those Maroons in the Pentagon? Those idiot test pilots and aeronautical engineers? Never served a day in the military but you just know in your heart that you are smarter than someone with 30 years of actual experience including combat? Well step right up and read this article and then comment how you would have done it better all from the comfort of your moms basement!

The last thing they would want to do is an even handed or in depth piece about the complexity of the world of fighter aircraft development and procurement. Because that would make you feel dumberer. that would give the empreshun that this is a tuff process that warrants intelligent critism or uh kriticsesm, umm things what went bad and should be pointed at. but that would take a lot of time. way too much time. the shortest article would be like 40 pages and I aint in the book reading business. I aint gonna read a book! tell me you found cracks so i can go on a forum already. Don't go explaining how the cracks appeared in fatigue testing --a process specifically meant to produce and find cracks. I aint got time for that crap. Just find a report that says cracks, have someone "interpret" that for me because I ain't smart enough to read it and interpret and comprehend the whole thing myself, keep it under 500 words and make it so I can post it in a forum that links back to your website.

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