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MarkW

F-35 news roundup

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It seems to me that the Super Hornet is everything you want: on time, on budget, and on target.
But its also based on tech that is 20-30 years old too.

Its a good aircraft, but do you really want to be using 1980-90s tech aircraft in 2020...thats like operating an updated P-51 in 1960-70's

Who? The USN will be flying the Super Hornet in 2020 and all the way out to 2030 and beyond.

In fact, the Navy still have more Super Hornet than JSF in 2020. But after that, they will have received more F-35 while the number of F/A-18E/F will hold constant till 2025. Older Super Hornet will start to retire after 2025.

You can find more details on the Navy/Marine fighter aircraft inventory projection in the CBO report.

Edited by Kei Lau

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It seems to me that the Super Hornet is everything you want: on time, on budget, and on target.

Yeah, you might get a tail on deck, but in the 2020 and beyond timeframe you're looking at diminishing returns as anti-access and area denial threats grow. I'm not just talking about SA-10, 20, S-400s, S-500s ect, but the threats to the carrier itself. We can't always count on the enemy to be inept.

There are a lot of very smart people arguing that even the F-35C won't have the range needed for a war in the Western Pacific theatre- and it's an argument the DOD buys as Gates has commissioned a new Air-Sea battle doctrine that is being developed right now. Also one of the primary thinkers behind the idea is the Undersecretary of the Navy- Bob Work.

In those scenarios, the F-35 would need to be complemented with an extremely long range strike and ISR system to take down those threats to the ship before the carrier could move in closer to strike with the rest of its air wing- one idea is a broadband stealth UCAS with a very deep magazine. We're mainly talking about anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles that are being developed by China, which could force the carrier out to over 1000 nm from the shore. Further, there is still the problem of sea mines, diesel electric boats with AIP, swarming attacks by small craft etc, etc which would have to be dealt with by other means.

The USAF faces the same problem with Guam and Japanese bases likely being obliterated by ballistic and cruise missile while networks would be compromised by EW, cyber attacks, possibly attacks on US space assets (though the Navy will also have to deal with those to) and thus needs a long range strike capability along with a host of other investments.

So sure, the Super Hornet might be on time and on budget, but it might also be totally useless by 2030. (Though the same is probably true for something like the F-22 against China- unless some way to found to secure scarce bases that can be hardened against attack in the west pacific. Also perhaps a stealthy tanker that could stand off 100 nm from the coast of Chia, since the current big wing tanker would also have to stand-off ~500 nm from the coast)

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So by that logic, the F-35 tech will be already 15 years old in 2020 ...

Gregg

So by that logic which is better, flying a 30 year old design or a 15 year old design in 2020? I know what my choice would be. What would you rather today fly, an F-15C with all the newest additions or an upgraded F-4? It's the same type of comparison.

Unless we are just talking about a bomb truck for a low threat scenario similar to what is happening now in Iraq / Afghanistan, the F-35 is clearly in a different league than the F-18F (the E is even less relevant).

As far as the issue of being "combat proven", I would respectfully state the SH can't really claim this title either. It's never been tested against a nation with any kind of modern, robust air defense network and certainly has never gone up against a credible airborne adversary. Flying over Baghdad on the opening night of GW2 (I'm not even sure it was used that far north so early in the war) is not even close to the challenge of going up against a modern opponent in 2010.

I don't want to come across as an JSF fan-boy. The program has some serious issues and LM needs to be closely monitored and held to the quoted cost and schedule. If they can't, they need to be penalized.

The main question as I see it is this -

If the JSF is scrapped, what alternative is out there that will meet the needs of the three US services?

I just don't see one. The only service that has any kind of "Plan B" would be the USAF (assuming they could ever get permission to purchase additional F-22's) and that option is an extreme long shot.

If the F-35 is terminated, you will see the US flying a fleet of 2nd rate, refurbished combat aircraft for the next 20 years, while both friendly and not-so friendly nations drive the US combat aircraft industry out of existence by offering a range of more modern, better selling alternatives.

Regards,

John

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Watch, F-35C will be over ten years old by the time it reaches fleet ... AND it still won't have an internal gun !

Do we need it, maybe so, will it live up to the hype, don't know ...

I just think we're putting to many of our eggs in one basket ...

Gregg

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I don't understand the hang up over the gun pod. Harriers use a gun pod. There was a lot of thought put in by the Navy fighter community on that particular trade (and yes, they chose not to put an internal gun in). Maybe you know something from your vantage point the entire US Navy decided against?

By your math the fleet won't get the F-35C until 2023? I'm really trying to understand what you are basing this off.

Eggs in one basket? You prefer the SH basket for the next couple decades?

SH will be in the fleet until the 2035 timeframe. JSF is planned to at least 2051. When the SH fleet goes entirely away, there will be something else--a super duper JSF, some new stealth UAV, or who know what (shark's with lasers, I'm guessing).

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Well, they thought the gun was unimportant prior to the Phantom ...

Gun pod messes L/O ...

I'm basing my math on EVERYTHING about F-35 is running late and ever more so ...

When they catch up to the schedule, let us know ... The Original one and not some adjusted one ...

Gregg

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Well, looks like the Conservative gov here in Canada is after 65 F-35s without a competition. Boeing is whining about the Super Hornet. which should slow down the procurement by a few years. No word from EADS, or the Frenchies.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politi...article1595525/

The contract worth up to $9-billion would be awarded without competition, with the Harper government set to argue the only other aircraft that could eventually meet the needs of the Canadian Forces would be built in China or Russia, and that such a purchase “wouldn’t fly†in Canada.

Heh

Maybe I should do my X-32 kit as a CF-32 just out of spite?

Edited by Oroka

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Gun pod messes L/O ...

Not this one, the pod is stealthy... they've been looking at adding AESA arrays to it in future increments to give the F-35 360 degree radar coverage.

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Not this one, the pod is stealthy... they've been looking at adding AESA arrays to it in future increments to give the F-35 360 degree radar coverage.

M'kay, sure ... gotcha ... :explode:

Good luck with the AESA arrays, F-22 can't even get JHMCS ...

Gregg

Edited by GreyGhost

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M'kay, sure ... gotcha ...

Good luck with the AESA arrays, F-22 can't even get JHMCS ...

Considering my sources are a senior Navy Admiral and several high ranking members of LM's F-35 team, think I'll take their word over yours.

Frankly while the F-22 might have been a USAF priority, the F-35 is DOD's highest priority aviation program. It's got the full backing of the leadership- the F-22 most definitely did not.

The F-22 had been on DOD's hit list since the middle of the Bush administration and had been starved off cash and nearly cancelled during the Clinton administration precisely because no other service but the USAF considered it a priority. Rumsfeld was the one who trimmed it to 183 way before Gates because SecDef remember. Further, the USAF chose not to integrate a JHMCS on the Raptor of their own accord since they consider other upgrades to be far more important so this is not quite the same situation.

Further, the F-35 is being looked at very seriously for other roles such as electronic attack for the USMC and USAF while complementing the EA-18G. It's going to eventually receive the Next Generation Jammer for that role- NGJ is probably going to be a series of AESA antennas from what the prospective contractors are looking at. That's what DOD's planning folks are looking at- it's that simple. You don't like it perhaps you can take it up with the OSD- I'm sure they'll be thrilled to hear your expert insights.

Now frankly I could care less about most fighter programs these days, since I'm mainly assigned to cover ISR issues- but if I had to put in my two cents, short range tactical aircraft are perhaps not the best use of DOD's money given the potential threat especially in the western Pacific. Given what I've been learning in the last couple of days, I'm starting to think perhaps LRS and long range UCAS systems with broadband all aspect stealth are where we ought to be putting our money.

Edited by Rapier01

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Gun pod messes L/O ...

But in this case, the pod is stealthy. One thing the JSF has accomplished is all the performance measurements, especially in LO, are dead-on matching the design spec. Over cost and over schedule, absolutely. But LM is (in spite of themselves, I think) delivering the performance.

Also perhaps a stealthy tanker that could stand off 100 nm from the coast of Chia, since the current big wing tanker would also have to stand-off ~500 nm from the coast

We're still good at 500nm. Both the CTOL and CV have combat radii well in excess of 500nm.

When they catch up to the schedule, let us know ... The Original one and not some adjusted one ...

A 2 year slip is disappointing, for sure. But it primarily affects flight test, not development. The USMC will still have IOC on schedule. Considering the size and scope of this project (building something more complicated than a Block 60 Falcon that transforms...), is a slip really that unexpected? Pretending for a moment SH truly was on time/budget and even remotely as complicated as JSF has any other brand new weapon system we know of, and depend on today, been problem free?

I'm starting to think perhaps LRS and long range UCAS systems with broadband all aspect stealth are where we ought to be putting our money.

It's like you're reading DoD's mind... :banana:

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But in this case, the pod is stealthy. One thing the JSF has accomplished is all the performance measurements, especially in LO, are dead-on matching the design spec. Over cost and over schedule, absolutely. But LM is (in spite of themselves, I think) delivering the performance.

The Navy war planner loves the Super Hornet because the performance is proven in 10 years of fleet operation. It meets the maintainance objective in the harsh environment at sea. In the recent flight evaluation of the Super Hornet in India, the host was very pleasantly surprised that the SH pilot could perform all the preflight check out in the cockpit with only two ground crews and did it quickly. They were used to the lengthy and high manpower procedure of the MIG-29.

LO means seeing your enemy before your enemy sees you. The SH is one of the best 4th generation fight in that regard due to its AESA radar and other electronic warfare systems. 5th generation fighter rely on surface coating to achieve the smaller radar crosssection. The big question is its durability in the fleet. The super cruise engine is another new item whose maintainance record need to be proved. Whether LM delivers the performance is TBD. For the good of our country, we all hope that they will.

The F-14, F-111 and F-117 were all ground breaking new design in their generation and carried great promise. They are no longer in active service. The less sexy Eagle and Super Hornet are still defending the front line.

A 2 year slip is disappointing, for sure. But it primarily affects flight test, not development. The USMC will still have IOC on schedule. Considering the size and scope of this project (building something more complicated than a Block 60 Falcon that transforms...), is a slip really that unexpected? Pretending for a moment SH truly was on time/budget and even remotely as complicated as JSF has any other brand new weapon system we know of, and depend on today, been problem free?

Yes, a 2 year slip is disappointing, but doubling the unit cost is project threatening. Developmental program always carries a number of risk. A good manufacturer manages those risk to keep schedule and budget. A bad manufacturer covers up the problems and asks for bailout when the problem explodes.

"is a slip really that unexpected?" I hope that LM did not build this into their bidding. I believe that Robert Gate is trying to break up this type of thinking that defense contractor does not get a blank check when they win a contract.

We will see how it works out in the next major defense contract if EADS tries to low bid the tanker contract. Northrop Grumman withdrew and did not even file a complaint because they decide that the larger tanker cannot win on cost. In the 2008 competition, the lower life cycle cost number was not credited by the DoD because Boeing cost methodology was deemed too complex. NG asked for the Boeing cost information from the last competition and the DoD refused. NG withdrew shortly. Will EADS low ball the developmental cost to make up the difference? It is everybody's guess.

Edited by Kei Lau

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Wow, 2 years is just a "slip" ?

If you can't come close to meeting objectives maybe you shouldn't have the contract ...

Super Hornet first flew in 1995 and reached IOC in 1999, on schedule and as far as I know, very close to on budget ...

EA-18G is right on schedule ...

Gregg

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SH made budget by cutting the number of tails in half. How is that on budget? And why is that the only plane in the existance of humanity when it comes to JSF discussions? By the SH argument, it should be the ONLY plane in the US inventory, because by (inflated) SH standards, every other platform has failed. Yeah, 2 years to complete flight test on a program this size and complexity is a slip. If that is so hard to fathom, you really should look at the last 30 years of acquisition, and the impact of acquisition reform on how we buy stuff.

5th generation fighter rely on surface coating to achieve the smaller radar crosssection.

This statement is factually incorrect. There is far more that goes into LO than just surface coatings. Otherwise, why not just coat F-16s and F-18s? Oh, wait, did that, didn't work. Not to the level JSF and F-22 are producing.

It seems there is a lot of bile and bitterness building up in the discussion here. As far as I know, and I may be wrong, the JSF hasn't personally run over anyone's dog or knocked over their mailbox, but the emotional responses are still there. I'm not trying to knock SH, it's a great platform and will be a wonderful asset for decads to come. So why the personal investment in it? Are your guys jobs or pensions tied to it somehow? Or do you truly believe F-35 spells the end of Western Civilization? I just don't understand the emotion here.

There also seems to be a different fact base for some folks, which makes discussion difficult.

I'd like to keep this thread from getting locked, and have it focus on the "news". My intent was not to judge the news, merely present it, but if the discussion keep wandering off into one sided JSF bashing, I don't see how the thread will avoid being closed.

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I have posted news links in regards to JSF but you just dismiss them ...

What makes your news links better ? Because they support your rhetoric ?

All the links I have posted have come from reputable sources culled from the net ...

I brought up SH because to was already brought up and it's called a response ...

Sure, there are other aircraft in production, advanced versions of Strike Eagle and Super Viper just from the US ...

Gregg

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Where have I dismissed anything? The only counterpoints I offer are to factual inaccuracies. I welcome all news on the JSF--if nothing else, it highlights the wildly different views in the media on the subject.

Sorry if you feel dismissed. You clearly have a far greater emotional investment on the subject than I do, and I will therefor limit myself to correcting factual errors and leave any attempts at humor out.

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It's probably more so the other way around, you seem to have an obligation to defend the program ...

Maybe you have an invested stake in it in some form, occupation or stock options ...

I just look at it as being the customer, a US Taxpayer ...

Gregg

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Children... settle down. Canada, F-35, ordering very soon.

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That's good news. Everything looks better with Maple Leaves as the roundels. Even in grey.

Alvis 3.1

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That's good news. Everything looks better with Maple Leaves as the roundels. Even in grey.

Alvis 3.1

I thought it was 'Maple LEAFS' up there ? :thumbsup:

Gregg

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1. Without getting too political, the recent Dutch elections are likely to result in a coalition govt willing to continue participation in the JSF program.

2. As of yesterday, both the CTOL and STOVL versions have achieved supersonic flight.

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Alright, not to create firestorms, but why doesn't F-35 supercruise? Seems there is enough power in the engine...

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We're still good at 500nm. Both the CTOL and CV have combat radii well in excess of 500nm.

That's true, but China is a huge country with a lot of strategic depth. If they're standing off 500nm, it only gives around 200nm of penetration.

It's like you're reading DoD's mind...

More like talking a lot of senior folks in last few days.

The Navy war planner loves the Super Hornet because the performance is proven in 10 years of fleet operation.

That true for the present, not the future.

When I spoke to Adm Manazir a couple of weeks ago during a round table, he was saying it was reaching the end of it's usefulness in terms of upgrades. He explicitly said the F-35 is the future... since he's one of the folks who makes the decisions I think I'll go with his take. Further, the senior leadership at DOD is solidly behind F-35- it's a fact.

Though Bob Work, the Undersecretary of the Navy, is a huge backer of the UCAS concept. It's one of the few times I've heard a senior figure like him being called a visionary.

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Drag counts. It's too fat.

It is funny because its true :thumbsup:

can't wait to see them flying in active navy service.

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