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Is the F-35 JSF a failure?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am posting this here in the hope of getting manton's view, since he has been banned from CE.

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-pentagons-new-trillion-dollar-jet-is-a-garbage-can

"The U.S.'s Stealth Fighter Is Too Heavy and Slow, So the Pentagon Made Its Performance Tests Easier"
Excerpt:
Quote:
The Pentagon's pursuit of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jet has been a heartbreaking one. If you're a tax payer, the program's estimated $1 trillion price tag probably breaks your heart a little bit. If you're an aviation enthusiast, the constant whittling away of the do-it-all aircraft's features, which in many cases actually amounts to adding weight and taking away maneuverability, must hurt a little bit, too.

If you're just an everyday American, though, you should be downright shattered that after a decade and a fortune spent, the F-35 will actually be more vulnerable than the aircraft it's replacing. At this point, the Pentagon is literally rewriting its rulebook so that the dumbed-down super jet will pass muster.

The Defense Department's annual weapons testing report reveals that the military actually adjusted the performance specifications for the consistently-underperforming line of F-35 fighter jets. In other words, they couldn't get the jets to do what they were supposed to do, so they just changed what they were supposed to do.

"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35A, reducing turn performance from 5.3 to 4.6 sustained g’s and extending the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by eight seconds," reads the report drafted under J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. (The F-35A is the standard model, so to speak, that the Air Force will use. The line also includes the F-35B, the Harrier-like vertical landing version built for the Marines, and the F-35C, a Navy version that's optimized for aircraft carrier takeoffs and landings.)

Read more: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-pentagons-new-trillion-dollar-jet-is-a-garbage-can#ixzz2M8h8d1vk
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Can we re-start the F-22 program or is that too dead and too hopeless?
post #2 of 10
Well, much may be said here, but the F-22 and the F-35 were never meant to be interchangeable. The 35 was always going to be an inferior plane but more versatile, buildable as a Navy, Marine (VTOL) or AF plane, also usable in a bomber role, and designed for export to allies (There was a ban on exporting the F-22).

The F-22 was pure air superiority, replacement for the F-15, not for carriers, not for anything but controlling the skies and killing other planes. When it was cancelled on the ground that we no longer had to ever worry again about air superiority, the government came up with the BS explanation that "Not to worry, the F-35 can do all that anyway just as well" which was not true and never true.

Even if we could restart the F-22 production line (which I think we could), it could not "replace" the 35 because you can't land it on a carrier and there is no VTOL version.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
OK. What do you think of treating the F-35 like kids from bad schools - failing to make the grade results in lowering the standards? I don't know that I trust Vice magazine, but I don't know enough to judge for myself.

This, also from the Article, presumes that the F-35 was supposed to be good at air combat, but now isn't:
Quote:
To put it bluntly, the Pentagon's new trillion-dollar fighter jet doesn't go a fast as it should, doesn't turn as sharp as it should and doesn't handle as nimbly as it should. This is bad news, explains Wired's David Axe. For the pilots who will eventually take the F-35 into combat, the JSF’s reduced performance means they might not be able to outfly and outfight the latest Russian- and Chinese-made fighters," writes Axe. "Even before the downgrades, some analysts questioned the F-35′s ability to defeat newer Sukhoi and Shenyang jets." That all sounds like bad news, doesn't it? If our expensive new jets can't beat the Russians or the Chinese, who can we fight? I'm pretty sure al Qaeda doesn't have an air force.

Read more: http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-pentagons-new-trillion-dollar-jet-is-a-garbage-can#ixzz2M8ke5vqi
Follow us: @motherboard on Twitter | motherboardtv on Facebook
post #4 of 10
In this day and age where the internet makes everybody and expert on everything, i have a hard time reading a Vice author who obviously is against the program.
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post

Well, much may be said here, but the F-22 and the F-35 were never meant to be interchangeable. The 35 was always going to be an inferior plane but more versatile, buildable as a Navy, Marine (VTOL) or AF plane, also usable in a bomber role, and designed for export to allies (There was a ban on exporting the F-22).

The F-22 was pure air superiority, replacement for the F-15, not for carriers, not for anything but controlling the skies and killing other planes. When it was cancelled on the ground that we no longer had to ever worry again about air superiority, the government came up with the BS explanation that "Not to worry, the F-35 can do all that anyway just as well" which was not true and never true.

Even if we could restart the F-22 production line (which I think we could), it could not "replace" the 35 because you can't land it on a carrier and there is no VTOL version.

Well said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dopey View Post

OK. What do you think of treating the F-35 like kids from bad schools - failing to make the grade results in lowering the standards? I don't know that I trust Vice magazine, but I don't know enough to judge for myself.

I'd love to hear what Manton thinks. Personally, I obviously don't like it, but so far as I can tell, the fact is that the F-35 is so far into development, with so much money already spent, and existing F-16 and F-18 airframes are so old, that pretty much no matter what, they are going to get this thing into production as fast as they can. If that means dropping the acceptance criteria (and that's really what these "specs" read as to me--criteria by which the Pentagon will say "OK, we will accept this" rather than actual performance ability), then that's what's going to happen. Hopefully some of the issues can be ironed out later, though some of them clearly cannot--for example, I recall reading that part of the problem was that the airframe itself is less aerodynamic than first expected, which you can't really do too much about once it's rolled off the assembly line.

I'm not any expert, so I'm not sure where the delays and issues are coming from, but I'd guess a lot of it came from trying to make it so modular. Combine this with the need for a VSTOL version, which will have some pretty large fundamental differences, and you have a huge amount of complexity introduced, which I'd imagine has sent them back to the drawing board on many parts of the aircraft many times. Hopefully they can make up for some of this added complexity on the back end (simplified maintenance), but who knows--my gut says no.

Manton, not to derail, but if you're familiar with it, I'd be curious to know what you think of the oxygen issues the F-22 has been having.
Edited by aravenel - 2/27/13 at 4:48pm
post #6 of 10
Isn't the F-35 supposed to be a "jump jet" for Marine usage as well?
post #7 of 10
Yeah, the Marines are the primary customer of the VSTOL version. The Navy has ordered some as well, as have the British navy and some others I believe. The US Navy has primarily ordered a version that has foldable wingtips (to allow tighter packing of jets on a carrier) and larger wings (to allow better control at the slower speeds jets are launched/recovered from on a carrier).
post #8 of 10
Also, people keep throwing these $1 trillion number around, which is somewhat misleading. That's the full projected lifetime cost of all of the aircraft they are planning on acquiring--it's not the money that has been spent, or even what it will cost to buy the >2000 planned aircraft. It's how much everything, all in, maintenance included will cost over the next 50 years.
post #9 of 10
Too bad about the Marine version. A friend was supposed to fly it, but now it looks like they're ordering more souped-up F-18's
post #10 of 10
Another tidbit I read today--apparently, the aft visibility out of the cockpit is terrible, which is a huge handicap in a dogfight.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/f-35-blind-spot

Granted, dogfighting isn't the primary mission of the aircraft, but still, it seems to be pretty poor.
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