Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Your good news of the day: Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter Poised To Become One Of America's Biggest Exports

I guess the old Americans can still design and build a world beating product.
Over the longer term, virtually every military power that might one day need to contemplate coalition warfare with America will want to take a look, because (1) no other tactical aircraft will be as survivable, (2) no other tactical aircraft will be as versatile, (3) no other tactical aircraft will be as cost-effective, and (4) no other tactical aircraft will mesh as seamlessly with U.S. air power.
 After 9,000 flight tests, F-35 has demonstrated all of the performance features expected of it, including the ability to avoid being tracked by Chinese and Russian air defenses.
In addition, the price has fallen to a level where the most common variant will soon cost no more than the latest F-16 -- for a great deal more capability. For instance, the electronic warfare suite on F-35 will generate ten times more radiated power than previous fighters, meaning it will not need a jamming aircraft flying escort in order to safely penetrate hostile air space. Every military power within a thousand miles of Russia or China is likely to want that, because when combined with low observables ("stealth") it makes F-35 unstoppable.
What could be a more credible deterrent than a supersonic (1,200 mph) strike aircraft that can't be tracked by radar and yet can strike ground targets with pinpoint accuracy and see air targets hundreds of miles away? As if all that were not enough, neither Russia nor China are likely to have anything comparable until the 2030s -- if then. Bottom line: F-35 is setting the global standard for tactical air power through mid-century, and overseas sales of the plane will deliver a powerful boost to America's trade balance.


  1. a more credible deterrent would be a Mach 2.2 attack aircraft with 1200nm radius of action with low observable features capable of delivering enough ordnance on target to make a difference. that is at odds with the requirement of being a effective air dominance fighter. no way you can have both in one airframe. Strike Eagle compromised so much of its designed air/air ability that it was marginal. lets not mention the F111.
    having one airframe be all things to all missions is eventually too expensive. if you can afford it that way, history shows you would have been tactically better off with dedicated systems designed for their missions. F35 procurement was a purely political driven aquisition designed to get certain politicians in good with the companies and voters involved in design and building them aircraft. I have yet to hear the actual costs of spares and maintenance.

  2. Fast,

    The F-35 series is actually 3 different airframes based on the same planform. The A, B and C models have quite different internal structures based on their respective missions. The major commonality of the aircraft lies in the internal systems they have or the similarity of the design of the systems. The original concept by the military of being able to take parts from a group of aircraft and stitch them back together in a Frankencraft got lost after the X-32/X-35 demonstration program when reality struck.

    As to the cost of spares and maintenance, a wholly new approach is being taken in a joint industry/government logistics system. It has a unified back system that supplies the National/International bases and depots. It has been in operation less than 10 years and has had growing pains as it is different than the past. It is believed in the long run that having this more unified system rather than complete, separate logistics system for the Marines, Air Force, Navy, and each foreign nation there will be an actual cost savings.

    And if you remember that trillion dollar support estimate that was generated about a decade ago, it included all support for all aircraft both U.S. and Foreign till the last airplane was sent to a "bone yard" or a museum in the middle of this century. The estimate put its arms around fuel, munitions, maintenance, cost of personnel, cost of basic (food, shelter, etc.) support and any other thing they could throw in adjusted for international costs and inflation. And it might be good for all it covered considering that it is a 30 to 50 year projection; a trillion dollars is just a scary sounding amount of money.

    And I would ask, what major weapons acquisition procurement program does not have a lot of politics involved in it?

    1. BillB is spot on. What he doesn't mention is that the services have totally different acquisition systems and trying to graft in the one for the F35 has caused a great amount of cost (and resistance).
      As for is it a fighter? Think of detectability as a lance, held in the hand of a mounted Knight. His opponent on the jousting field is similarly armed but his lance is severely shortened, hardly past his horse's ears. Assuming every other capability is Par (and it ain't), who do you think will win? The jet is limited only by its weapons.

    2. ya know, the F111A and F111B and FB111 were actually three different airframes based on the same planform. Adm. Crowe stated that there was not enough thrust in all of Christiandom to make a F111B a navy fighter. all the FB111s were a one way ticket to the glowing clouds of hell and the F111As had engine airflow, electronics issues, autopilot issues and parts support issues that brought tears to the eyes of maintainers and pilots alike. none of them excelled at their designed tasks. they were retired finally because they cost almost as much to support as a B52 and would without fail crap out just sitting on the ramp. reliability rate sucked in the F111D bad that maintenance pukes would turn to drink. Digital my ass.
      F35 is slow, it has crap for range with ordnance, it is not stealth with ordnance hanging on it, it can't carry an effective level of ordnance at it's published maximum radius of action, the electronics and controls are susceptible to spoofing, mousing and pretty much any kind of rf interference you could care to shake a stick at(UH-60 is a good example of this) the pilot is so busy doing information related tasks that he must depend on the automated systems to fly the airplane while he decides which bells and whistles to pay attention too, the environmental and life support systems are still poisoning pilots, and that airframe can't pull the sausage off the plate when trying to turn with a load of bombs in its belly.
      as you say, support estimates are just estimates. having been in the job of supporting complex weapon systems for many years, i am telling you that estimates from industry for long term support costs are the grossest of fairy tales. lockheed is already pulling parts from the build shelves to fix fielded aircraft. wonder if that was included in their estimate?
      we have been sold a slow assed semi-stealthy turd and our war fighters will be paying the price. not all weapons need be state of the art-they just need to fulfill the mission parameters as they are today. it is slower than a F16, can't take ground fire and succeed in the low level air to ground environment like the A10, the Marines pilots will probably get enemas before flying their VTOL versions, do you get my drift?
      as much as you want to polish this turd, your hands will just smell bad and the turd will never shine....

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    4. Well, I've certainly heard what you say from other folks. A couple of points though to give some perspective to other people. The first thing is that the pilots flying the jets now aren't newbies. I don't know if the schoolhouse has pushed any out yet. There's a good representation from every service and every fighter aircraft that we fly. Every. One. And there isn't one that doesn't have something to gripe about. They've all got their pet peeves. But, I haven't met one yet that wanted to go back to their old airplane. Maybe it's the "new car" smell? The second thing is that it's not just a "spares acquisition system". That would be just bookkeeping and keeping the suppliers in the dance. This is something much harder. First acquisition program to do this. That part's unclassified so you can look it up but it's boring as hell.
      What's important is a number called the MR rate. Mission Readiness. Don't know if you remember when the F-15s started populating the ramps. I remember laughing about the MR number for the Eagles when they were at a similar stage of development. That was the number that the F35 bubbas were celebrating that they had beat.

  3. A Fighter she ain't.

  4. just reading today that Turkey wants the F-35, and said if we won't sell it to them, they'll go for the Russian Su-57 (not built yet). I say we take their money, but build in a 'feature' that allows remote 'de-tuning' should Erdogan decide to go (more) against us in the future (a la Iranian f-14s) ... course, if we sell it to them, the specs and other info will be sent to Sukhoi to help finish up the Su-57 ...

  5. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that when this steaming pile tries to do what a Warthog does, I'll bring it down with a Ruger 10/22 on the first pass.........

    1. Ok, that was good for my first big laugh today - thanks!

  6. Check this out, IAF F-35 vs Syrian Army S-300, the heavyweights.

  7. latest costs in $/flying hour from congressional record published:
    A10: $5944
    F16: $8278
    AV8B: $13733
    FA18F: $10507
    FA18D: $12605
    F15E: $21360
    F15C: $23124
    F35: $28455
    F22: $33538
    why is it the cheapest (in terms of combat systems) seems the most survivable while performing its missions?