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F-35 news roundup

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On 3/9/2019 at 11:43 AM, Mr Matt Foley said:

 

Scrap it and sell them to Poland.

 

lol. if you really want to make Turks angry, give them to Kurds in Syria. 😄

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From some articles that just came out,  it appears that F-35 readiness rates, especially for the B and C models are pretty bad ("pretty bad" may be a major understatement).

 

"The Navy document POGO obtained shows that the problem persists: the Marines' F-35B and the Navy's F-35C variants posted even worse figures in 2018 than in the previous year," the report said.

"The F-35B's fully mission capable rate fell from 23 percent in October 2017 to 12.9 percent in June 2018, while the F-35C plummeted from 12 percent in October 2016 to 0 percent in December 2017, then remained in the single digits through 2018," the group added.

 

NAVAIR Charts are here:

 

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5766283-NAVAIR-Readiness-Charts-2016-2018.html

 

More info here:

 

https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2019/03/19/navys-f-35-nowhere-near-combat-ready-watchdog-group-says.html

 

and here:

 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/27047/the-navys-operational-f-35c-is-fully-mission-capable-less-than-five-percent-of-time

 

My question is - what is the definition of Mission Capable?  Those numbers were referenced by LM as a bit of good news to offset the horrible Fully Mission Capable rates referenced above. 

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 All this goble di goop about aircraft capability is deeply depressing !

 

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47 minutes ago, Chris L said:

 

 All this goble di goop about aircraft capability is deeply depressing !

 

And deeply confusing.   One source says - single digit FMC rates, things are horrible; Lockheed sez - wait one minute, Mission Capable rate is much higher (like close to 50% of the fleet),  things are actually pretty good!  

 

So the jet is capable of performing the mission (which mission?) over 50% of the time but is only capable of fully performing the mission less than 10% of the time?  

 

Should we be happy or concerned?  

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On 3/21/2019 at 2:29 PM, Chris L said:

 

 All this goble di goop about aircraft capability is deeply depressing !

 

duplicate post

Edited by 11bee

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 I think mission itself means that you can bore a hole through the sky for pilot familiarisation .

 

 When the thunderbirds gave up their F-4E's to the regular air force the only mission they were capable to accomplish .

 

 As I said, the rest is pretty much goble di goop , so that you can put any spin on it that you want so as to please the listener .

 

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Look, the Navy only had 15 years to get ready for this jet. I'd be far more interested in seeing what the US Air Force mission-capable rates are as that should give a better indication of who has their act together logistics wise.

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55 minutes ago, 11bee said:

And deeply confusing.   One source says - single digit FMC rates, things are horrible; Lockheed sez - wait one minute, Mission Capable rate is much higher (like close to 50% of the fleet),  things are actually pretty good!  

 

So the jet is capable of performing the mission (which mission?) over 50% of the time but is only capable of fully performing the mission less than 10% of the time?  

 

Should we be happy or concerned?  

 

 

Those numbers really don't tell me anything without context, but we have no idea what the hell they are measuring. They weren't even IOC until a month ago. How can you be "Full mission Capable" when youre not cleared for initial operation? or if theyre measuring certain upgrades or software blocks.  Speaking of IOC a bunch of criteria has to be met in order to be cleared for IOC, as in the squadron has to show it functions and can fight. 

 

 

 

I asked Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the top uniformed official for Air Force acquisition, how concerned the Air Force is that Lockheed Martin has not been able to improve fleet availability above 60 percent for three years. The Director of Operational Test and evaluation issued his annual report yesterday and that fact was the grimmest in the review of the F-35.

“There was no improving trend in fleet aircraft availability….Fleet-wide average availability is below program target value of 60 percent and well below planned 80 percent needed for efficient conduct of IOT&E,” the report says. “The trend in fleet availability has been flat over the past 3 years; the program’s reliability improvement initiatives are still not translating into improved availability.”

More broadly, Robert Behler’s report says that the “reliability and maintainability metrics defined in the JSF Operational Requirements Document are not meeting interim goals needed to reach requirements at maturity.”

To his credit, Bunch addressed the question, although he had not been briefed on the DOTE final report.

“I’m not going to duck this one,” he said, clearly indicating he had considered just that.

“We are trying to get to that 80 percent number readiness rate for our combat coded aircraft,’ Bunch said. “We have a list of systems that are not performing as well as we want — the big drivers — and we are going to measure to see if we get the performance that we expect.”

 

and for the USMC

 

 

The F-35B's first combat strike was in Afghanistan in September, where the Marine pilots were flying close-air support missions, said Lt. Col. Kyle Shoop, VMFA-211's commanding officer.

From there, they flew more than 50 days' worth of close-air support and defensive counter-air missions in Iraq and Syria.

"Every day, [the pilots] were supporting over six hours of time in theater," Shoop said.

The Marines were prepared for a higher-level fight had they been provoked by other actors in the region, he added. Their encounters with pilots from Russia, which is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, were minimal though, he said.

"We were aware they were airborne," Shoop said. "There are some established de-conflictions that are already set up between Russian and U.S. forces. They were all adhered to, but we were aware."

The F-35Bs were able to give troops on the ground more information than would have been possible in the AV-8B Harrier jump jet, which the Joint Strike Fighter will eventually replace. Its sensors are better in poor weather, Shoop said.

The Marines ended up flying the F-35B about twice as much as the Harrier flew on past deployments, Nelms said.

"A conservative estimate is the F-35 flew 100 percent more hours on this deployment than a typical deployment for a Harrier squadron," he said. "When you consider that their readiness was 75 percent or better ... while doubling the amount of flight hours being flown, it's a real testament to the aircraft and the maintainers."

 

 

24 minutes ago, MarkW said:

Look, the Navy only had 15 years to get ready for this jet. I'd be far more interested in seeing what the US Air Force mission-capable rates are as that should give a better indication of who has their act together logistics wise.

 

LOLed

 

And before people panic, you'd be shocked at how good 60 percent is these days comparatively 

Edited by TaiidanTomcat

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

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 LOL ....  My wife being an accountant will be quick to tell you that you can make numbers say what you want them to .  Probably the same for statistics .

 

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Here's a down and dirty lesson on Mission Capable (MC) rates from what I remember.

 

There are three MC rates;

 

Full Mission Capable (FMC) - means 100% of the systems on the aircraft works and the aircraft can perform the mission assigned, no systems are degraded. If all your birds are FMC, you either just got brand new aircraft, you haven't flown them in a week and have done nothing but maintenance or your lying about on your aircraft status report.

 

Partial Mission Capable (PMC) - means the aircraft can still carry out part of the mission it is assigned, but one or more systems on the aircraft are not functioning. Example, F-18E Super Hornet with a down gun system is classified as PMC, it can perform all the missions it was designed for except for shooting it's gun. If one of the radio's is not functioning, the aircraft is PMC.

 

Non-Mission Capable (NMC) - in a nut shell, the plane is not capable of performing any mission it is assigned. Most of the time this is because the aircraft is in maintenance (special/phase maintenance, broke and is AWP (AWaiting Parts), mod, etc). If the aircraft is sitting in the hanger because it's in the middle of a Phase B inspection but every system is up, it's still NMC until it's completed it's Phase and passes a FCF (Functional Check Flight). If the bird is down because it needs a new tire and there's no tires on base, it's NMC.

 

For the F-35, the squadron does not have to be certified operational to have a FMC/PMC/NMC rate, they still have to report aircraft status daily to the wing, who reports it up the chain. Since the F-35 is still new, it will have a low FMC rate since the supply system is not totally set up (parts are not readily available/long time getting parts), technicians are still learning the aircraft and they are still working out the bugs.

 

Every new aircraft has gone through this, I remember when the F-18's first hit the fleet down at Cecil Field, after a few weeks some Hornets spent more time sitting on the flight line basking in the Florida sun than drilling holes in the clouds due to parts not being available and the wrench turners were still learning the aircraft. With every new aircraft, procedures have to be worked out, it takes time for the supply chain to get ramped up and for the wrench turners to learn how to quickly fix something when it breaks. It's not a reflection on the aircraft, every naval aircraft went through the same phase, give it a couple of years and you'll see the FMC rates go up and the PMC/NMC rates decline.

 

Edit: one more thing, the only time we had every aircraft up for flight was when we flew them to the boat and when we flew them off the boat. Any other time we always had a bird either having a special inspection or phase maintenance being done and usually had one parts bird because supply didn't have the parts we needed to keep everything up (flying).

Edited by GW8345

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1 hour ago, GW8345 said:

Here's a down and dirty lesson on Mission Capable (MC) rates from what I remember.

 

There are three MC rates;

 

Full Mission Capable (FMC) - means 100% of the systems on the aircraft works and the aircraft can perform the mission assigned, no systems are degraded. If all your birds are FMC, you either just got brand new aircraft, you haven't flown them in a week and have done nothing but maintenance or your lying about on your aircraft status report.

 

Partial Mission Capable (PMC) - means the aircraft can still carry out part of the mission it is assigned, but one or more systems on the aircraft are not functioning. Example, F-18E Super Hornet with a down gun system is classified as PMC, it can perform all the missions it was designed for except for shooting it's gun. If one of the radio's is not functioning, the aircraft is PMC.

 

Non-Mission Capable (NMC) - in a nut shell, the plane is not capable of performing any mission it is assigned. Most of the time this is because the aircraft is in maintenance (special/phase maintenance, broke and is AWP (AWaiting Parts), mod, etc). If the aircraft is sitting in the hanger because it's in the middle of a Phase B inspection but every system is up, it's still NMC until it's completed it's Phase and passes a FCF (Functional Check Flight). If the bird is down because it needs a new tire and there's no tires on base, it's NMC.

 

For the F-35, the squadron does not have to be certified operational to have a FMC/PMC/NMC rate, they still have to report aircraft status daily to the wing, who reports it up the chain. Since the F-35 is still new, it will have a low FMC rate since the supply system is not totally set up (parts are not readily available/long time getting parts), technicians are still learning the aircraft and they are still working out the bugs.

 

Every new aircraft has gone through this, I remember when the F-18's first hit the fleet down at Cecil Field, after a few weeks some Hornets spent more time sitting on the flight line basking in the Florida sun than drilling holes in the clouds due to parts not being available and the wrench turners were still learning the aircraft. With every new aircraft, procedures have to be worked out, it takes time for the supply chain to get ramped up and for the wrench turners to learn how to quickly fix something when it breaks. It's not a reflection on the aircraft, every naval aircraft went through the same phase, give it a couple of years and you'll see the FMC rates go up and the PMC/NMC rates decline.

 

Edit: one more thing, the only time we had every aircraft up for flight was when we flew them to the boat and when we flew them off the boat. Any other time we always had a bird either having a special inspection or phase maintenance being done and usually had one parts bird because supply didn't have the parts we needed to keep everything up (flying).

 

 

exactly, Most of the USMC's harriers are PMC because they don't bother to fix sidewinders and gunpods until its live ammo and dead bodies time. 

 

Numbers still seem funky to me... 

Edited by TaiidanTomcat

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1 hour ago, Chris L said:

 

 LOL ....  My wife being an accountant will be quick to tell you that you can make numbers say what you want them to .  Probably the same for statistics .

 

 

 

Wait until promotions hang on these numbers...

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13 hours ago, TaiidanTomcat said:

 

 

exactly, Most of the USMC's harriers are PMC because they don't bother to fix sidewinders and gunpods until its live ammo and dead bodies time. 

 

Numbers still seem funky to me... 

We had a missile shoot coming up back in my F-4N radar days at El Toro, about 1979 or so. The whole shop spent about 24 solid hours running test equipment on missile stations trying to find enough up stations or ones that we could fix in time for the sorties.

 

If maintenance control won't let you have the bird to troubleshoot deferred gripes because they need it to fill holes in the flight schedule, it's not going to be a FMC airframe.

 

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Same way in the AF, Had to keep the numbers up, especially fun at the end of the fiscal year when you had no money to order parts (we did, but we couldn't spend it yet) and we had to take a tire off of a jet that was down for extended maintenance and put it on a flier. Of course the next day when it was a "new" year we had to change that tire on the broke jet! Some times we wanted to kill the pro sup!😀

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Apparently not much has changed .  Maintainers wind up doing a lot of unnecessary in order to make someone  or something look better than they really are.  Ramstein was particularly bad.

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On 3/21/2019 at 4:22 PM, TaiidanTomcat said:

Those numbers really don't tell me anything without context, but we have no idea what the hell they are measuring. They weren't even IOC until a month ago. How can you be "Full mission Capable" when youre not cleared for initial operation? or if theyre measuring certain upgrades or software blocks.  Speaking of IOC a bunch of criteria has to be met in order to be cleared for IOC, as in the squadron has to show it functions and can fight. 

 

 

I can't answer any of this TT, you'll have to take it up with NAVAIR, those charts are theirs.    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5766283-NAVAIR-Readiness-Charts-2016-2018.html  Gotta believe there is some logic behind those graphs.

 

Of course, this isn't really that off from the legacy fleet.   I have a friend who is an SH maintainer (east coast squadron) and he said those charts look pretty close to their numbers for the F/A-18F's in his squadron (and that was before the navy pulled their aircraft and gave them older jets).   

 

I would very much like to see what the AF's numbers look like for the A-model.   

 

In a way, all of this is a non-issue.  Mattis (before he wisely jumped ship) dictated that readiness rates for all military aircraft (believe FMC, ready to deploy, not just MC) will be at 80% shortly.    Problem solved!  

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This is getting interesting...   Personally,  I think kicking Turkey out of the JSF program would be a wise decision.  While they are at it, might be prudent to pull those US-owned nukes out of Incirlik AFB as well. 

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-turkey-f35-exclusive/us-sends-message-to-turkey-halts-f-35-equipment-shipments-idUSKCN1RD316

 

Also interesting, albeit a bit dramatic, an article on the F-35's towed decoy system. 

 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/27185/f-35s-most-sinister-capability-are-towed-decoys-that-unreel-from-inside-its-stealthy-skin

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On 4/1/2019 at 9:00 PM, 11bee said:

those US-owned nukes out of Incirlik AFB as well. 

 

 

 

That will be a turning point. 

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On 3/23/2019 at 9:13 AM, 11bee said:

 

I can't answer any of this TT, you'll have to take it up with NAVAIR, those charts are theirs.    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5766283-NAVAIR-Readiness-Charts-2016-2018.html  Gotta believe there is some logic behind those graphs.

 

Of course, this isn't really that off from the legacy fleet.   I have a friend who is an SH maintainer (east coast squadron) and he said those charts look pretty close to their numbers for the F/A-18F's in his squadron (and that was before the navy pulled their aircraft and gave them older jets).   

 

I would very much like to see what the AF's numbers look like for the A-model.   

 

In a way, all of this is a non-issue.  Mattis (before he wisely jumped ship) dictated that readiness rates for all military aircraft (believe FMC, ready to deploy, not just MC) will be at 80% shortly.    Problem solved!  

 

And again, the charts lack a large amount of context.  There is a massive disparity between MC (which includes PMC) and FMC.  Finding a squadron with more than a 50% FMC rate is INSANE 

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Egads, this thread is starting to sound a lot like my day job. I've been working Hornet Readiness since last fall, almost 12 years after I went over to the unmanned world. As usual GW has the definitions correct. One thing you guys may not have heard about is that the Navy has brought in a high powered outside consulting company specifically to work Super Hornet Readiness issues. These are the guys working with major airlines on their dispatch rates. They are young and smart but are still learning the ins and outs of NAVAIR. 

 

It will be easy for the old timers or just jaded forum types to shoot this plan full of holes, but I will say this...these guys have the ears of very senior Leadership, and they are attacking the entire enterprise. Depots, O-Level, spare parts (buying, repairing, stocking and shipping), training  and the engineering stuff I'm directly involved in. Real measurable change is coming, hopefully we can move the needle enough before things swing back the other way. We have already expanded our efforts to the entire A-G fleet, and the other platforms are spinning up their own efforts based on what we've been doing with the Supers.

 

The down side is that all this leaves very little time for modeling 😕

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4 hours ago, CJ Martin said:

Egads, this thread is starting to sound a lot like my day job. I've been working Hornet Readiness since last fall, almost 12 years after I went over to the unmanned world. As usual GW has the definitions correct. One thing you guys may not have heard about is that the Navy has brought in a high powered outside consulting company specifically to work Super Hornet Readiness issues. These are the guys working with major airlines on their dispatch rates. They are young and smart but are still learning the ins and outs of NAVAIR. 

 

It will be easy for the old timers or just jaded forum types to shoot this plan full of holes, but I will say this...these guys have the ears of very senior Leadership, and they are attacking the entire enterprise. Depots, O-Level, spare parts (buying, repairing, stocking and shipping), training  and the engineering stuff I'm directly involved in. Real measurable change is coming, hopefully we can move the needle enough before things swing back the other way. We have already expanded our efforts to the entire A-G fleet, and the other platforms are spinning up their own efforts based on what we've been doing with the Supers.

 

The down side is that all this leaves very little time for modeling 😕

Interesting approach.   Given that the Marines are probably the worse off out of all the services on aircraft readiness rates, they may want to follow along closely.

 

Who's the contractor running this program?   I work with a good number of major C&E outfits (nothing to do with military projects), one of those guys mentioned something similar but didn't provide any details. 

 

Regards - A Jaded Forum Type

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9 hours ago, 11bee said:

Interesting approach.   Given that the Marines are probably the worse off out of all the services on aircraft readiness rates, they may want to follow along closely.

 

Who's the contractor running this program?   I work with a good number of major C&E outfits (nothing to do with military projects), one of those guys mentioned something similar but didn't provide any details. 

 

Regards - A Jaded Forum Type

 

 

speak of the Devil, Via USNI:

 

Even before the Mattis memo, the Navy and Marine Corps had taken steps to improve their strike fighter readiness. In addition to pouring funding into spare parts, engineering support, depot maintenance and other readiness-related funding accounts, the sea services also looked into other barriers to readiness. Navy and Marine Corps officials detailed for lawmakers their strategy for reducing Class C mishaps, which involve damage to aircraft or a non-fatal injury, that were frequently occurring during repair work or while towing aircraft, Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic, told lawmakers during a June 2018 hearing.

However, even with such gains, lawmakers remain concerned the Navy is still taking risks in the way it manages strike fighter readiness, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, said in her opening statement Thursday.

“[The Navy] has an identified shortfall of 54 aircraft, which amounts to one carrier air wing,” Hartzler said. “We need to better understand what impacts this has to overall readiness and what we can we do to improve the situation from a modernization standpoint,” Hartzler said.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program – which the Navy and Marine Corps are still in the early stages of incorporating into the fleet – has a high readiness rate for all three fighter variants, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the F-35 program executive officer, said during Thursday’s hearing.

“We’re on a trajectory to reach 80-percent capability by the end of the year,” Winter said.

Currently, the F-35A variant used by the Air Force has an availability rate of 61 percent, the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant has an availability rate of 64 percent, and the F-35C carrier variant has an availability rate of 84 percent, Winter said.

When F-35 squadrons deploy, Winter said they now bring spare parts packages with them. With those packages, Winter said, “those mission capability rates average between 65 and 85 percent.”

Winter’s office has worked with to suppliers to build up spare part inventories at depots and on the flight line, Winter said. Now maintainers have the right parts on hand, so they don’t have to keep going back to the manufacturer to order more parts. The F-35 program is doing a better job of keeping maintainers stocked with parts such as canopies, blade shields and wingtips. And when possible, Winter said, flight line maintainers now have the authority to fix parts.

“We can get spare parts to maintainers one of two ways – get new parts to flight lines, but also giving the authorities for maintainers to fix parts on the flight line,” Winter said.

Plus, as the program has matured and is nearing full-rate production, Winter said the production line ironed out many of the problems that caused the first F-35s to require more maintenance.

“The aircraft itself, lot over lot over lot, is getting more reliable,” Winter said. “Therefore, it doesn’t break as often, so therefore it’s more ready.”

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19 hours ago, 11bee said:

Interesting approach.   Given that the Marines are probably the worse off out of all the services on aircraft readiness rates, they may want to follow along closely.

 

Who's the contractor running this program?   I work with a good number of major C&E outfits (nothing to do with military projects), one of those guys mentioned something similar but didn't provide any details. 

 

Regards - A Jaded Forum Type

 

The Marines are deep into this, A-D Hornets have recently been integrated into the same process stood up for the Supers. The company we are working with is the Boston Consulting Group (BSG). I wouldn't say they are running things, but their advice carries a lot of weight. 

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14 minutes ago, CJ Martin said:

 

The Marines are deep into this, A-D Hornets have recently been integrated into the same process stood up for the Supers. The company we are working with is the Boston Consulting Group (BSG). I wouldn't say they are running things, but their advice carries a lot of weight. 

 

Thanks for that info CJ.  I'd never heard of these guys before.   From a quick peruse of their website, they seem like a pretty interesting outfit.  Hope things work out and this program changes things for the better.   As mentioned, that buddy of mine who is an SH maintainer is telling me some horrible stories about readiness rates down in Virginia.   Said pretty much everyone he works with is demoralized, most days only a few jets are able to fly, some days none of the jets can fly, etc.   I found this to be surprising because I though the Navy would have had better readiness given that it's SH fleet is still "somewhat" young.  

 

Didn't mean to go so OT on this thread, so getting back to main subject, here is an interesting article about F-35B deployments on Navy amphibious carriers.

 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/27253/u-s-amphibious-assault-ship-in-south-china-sea-with-unprecedentedly-large-load-of-f-35bs

 

I do wonder if that's a great idea, given that these ships are slow and much less well protected than regular carriers.   Still, it definitely seems to be a good force multiplier. 

Edited by 11bee

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