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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 27th May 2014, 12:40
  #4501 (permalink)  
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Expeditionary operations means what in this context, Mr Spaz? Can you explain why, if there's all sorts of test data on off-base landings, the program is keeping it vewwy vewwy secret?

(The program office, the Marines, and Lockheed Martin did not return emails about any part of this story.)
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Old 27th May 2014, 13:51
  #4502 (permalink)  
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Well then Mr. LO from fartwetterwettex please answer my rhetorical question instead. Why as a 'reader - now a long time civilian rather than a pilot in the old RAN FAA world' am I able to gather the information you cannot? I would like to know how to bypass your difficulties and just get on with it. Do I just e-mail the PR people at both USMC and LM? Thanks.

Last edited by SpazSinbad; 27th May 2014 at 13:53. Reason: funniloc
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Old 27th May 2014, 15:02
  #4503 (permalink)  
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(The program office, the Marines, and Lockheed Martin did not return emails about any part of this story.)

Thanks, and this discussion is over.
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Old 27th May 2014, 15:22
  #4504 (permalink)  
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Oh well then... I guess you should be more circumspect about trashing the USMC I'll wager.
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Old 27th May 2014, 21:52
  #4505 (permalink)  
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Spaz, I can recommend a very good relaxation technique if it will help you.

Oh, and play the ball, not the player. Remember?
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Old 27th May 2014, 22:32
  #4506 (permalink)  
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'CM' so how is this playing the ball?
"Spaz, I can recommend a very good relaxation technique if it will help you...."
You can go to all the pubs in Christendom if you wish. I'll prefer to find credible pubs written by credible people without fear or favour. F-35B and USMC bashing is a sport on this thread - or has been - for hasbeens.

Have a look at comments about me on this thread - you may find some useful epithets yourself.

I'm not really that interested in the junk one liner comments here; except for the very knowledgeable comments made by those oft mentioned for the same capabilities, and I'll mention only a few, with apologies to those not mentioned - but also worthy. Often these people have NavAv experience which is a bonus for sure. Many thanks 'Engines, John Farley, White Ovies' and the ones who knows who youse are. Tah.
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Old 27th May 2014, 22:58
  #4507 (permalink)  
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I can't believe people are complaining about the sound of freedom.
I grew up in a cheaply built house in the southern suburbs of Christchurch NZ.
My childhood memories are of hunkering down in bed on frosty still nights so cold you could see your breath in the room, being lulled to sleep by the earsplitting sounds of RNZAF pilot trainees doing night-time circuits from nearby Wigram in Harvards and CT4 Airtrainers.
What a noise.
Even now when I hear an old Harvard at an airshow, I'm instantly transported back to childhood.
I read with envy that due to runway work at Amberley down here in Oz, the Super Hornets will be re-routed over different parts of Brisbane on approach and take off... and the RAAF is apologising to people in advance.
Gentlemen, feel free to come down to Sydney anytime you want - and look out for a wannabe knucklehead kiwi who's eyesight and maths wasn't quite good enough down on the ground raising his hand in salute.
Full military power please.
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Old 28th May 2014, 09:27
  #4508 (permalink)  
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Opinion: F-35B Vertical Landings In Doubt For U.K. | Defense content from Aviation Week
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Old 28th May 2014, 10:31
  #4509 (permalink)  
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To everyone,

I think it's a little unfortunate when forum protagonists (from whatever point of view) resort to personal observations. Honestly, it undoes the value of these forums, where interested people should exchange opinions (and if possible, a few facts) to mutual advantage. I'm not trying to be a moderator, just an observation.

Here are a few facts around F-35B ops from various surfaces. make of them what you will. (i've also read the AW article linked to by TBM-legend - thanks for that). I hope they help.

The potential impact of F-35B jet blast on all operating surfaces was recognised right from the start of the programme. As a result, it included a substantial R&D effort to build on the largely empirical data the team had from Harrier operations. This effort included modelling and testing of the environment (pressure, velocity, temperature) under the aircraft and on the surfaces. It also included special testing of the surfaces themselves, which included AM-2, concrete (various grades) and asphalt, on a dedicated rig at Warton. Oh, and it included flight deck steels with various coatings.

The basic drivers were and remain the temperature, pressure and velocity of the jet as it hits the surface, coupled with the heat transfer and mechanical characteristics of the surface itself. The main destructive effects were differential thermal expansion, strength reduction through heat, and in extreme cases melting, aided by dynamic blast effects.

The results from this effort were fed into the flight test programme, which will be validating the earlier data. From my recollection, there were actually few basic surprises. The tar in asphalt has a very low melting point (ever encountered a sticky road in summer?) and any static jet blast simply tears ip up quite quickly. Concrete is better, but the spalling effect (due to thermal expansion, not boiling water) has to be watched for. AM-2 is vulnerable due once again to a relatively low yield/melt temperature.

So, the F-35 programme does know about jet effects on surfaces, yes, it has thought about the issue, and yes, it has some ways forward. Those later.

Requirements - I can't go into so much detail, as I'm not current on the programme. But what I can say with some certainty is that the USMC, like the RN, realised some years ago that doing VLs to an unprepared surface in any STOVL jet was not a good idea. Moreover, for the forward basing concept, which was built into the detailed requirements set at the outset, the USMC did not require the aircraft to carry out VLs at the forward base, but a short landing within a given distance, with a given load of fuel and weapons. In fact, the landing weight specified for the 'FOB' was well above the VLBB requirement.

I'll just repeat that for clarity. The USMC did not intend to carry out VLs at forward bases, but planned to exploit the powered lift capability of the aircraft to carry out short runway ops.

Once you assume that, the situation changes quite a bit. You are no longer looking at a steady hot jet working directly on the surface at one location for the whole landing, but a short duration hot 'wash' across the surface. The thermodynamics of heat transfer aren't simple (to me at least) but I can say with some certainty that it's a very much less severe test for any surface.

Of course, for the shipboard VL, the surface does have to take the jet blast, which is why it was tested so extensively, and why new coatings are going to be adopted.

I suppose what I'm trying to point out, using facts, is that the F-35 programme is not being surprised by the challenges of handling jet effects on operating surfaces. They were thought about at the requirements stage. They have been modelled, investigated and tested, and are now being validated in flight test.

Jet powered lift is not easy. No one, least of all me, claims that is is. But it is doable, and (admittedly in my view) can be extremely operationally effective. The Harrier and Sea Harrier showed just how effective, coupled with RN, RAF and USMC innovation in basing and tactics.

I hope this helps a little.


Last edited by Engines; 28th May 2014 at 10:35. Reason: Tidying
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Old 28th May 2014, 13:02
  #4510 (permalink)  
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Very helpful. (And why nobody can say this officially now, or could have said it four years ago, I have no idea.)

So in fact what you have here is two requirement levels. STOL for expeditionary operations from an extant runway (the length I have seen most often is 3,000 feet, set by a C-130 for support), and STOVL for ship ops.

There are alternatives for a 3,000-foot runway capability, including giving the Marines the A-10 and (or so I am told) an 800 m-runway supersonic multi-role fighter that is half the size and cost of the F-35B.

For the USMC, the strategic value of VL is limited by ship capacity. The long-term goal is still 11 LHA/LHD decks, each with six F-35s under normal circumstances (although the current number is nine, and the fleet will not reach 11 before 2024).

R&D and the design penalties imposed on the F-35A/C are sunk costs. The future acquisition of the most expensive combat aircraft in current production, and its operating costs, are not. How much are those (theoretical) 66 deck spots worth?
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Old 28th May 2014, 13:24
  #4511 (permalink)  
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The runway lengths that were being looked at were, by memory, around 1200 to 1500 feet. C-130 resupply was not a factor, given the CONOPS, which I won't go into.

I understand the arguments you deploy about STOVL on small ships, but perhaps they don't cover all the angles. Firstly, 6 aircraft per deck is when the LHA is fully loaded with all its other RW/V-22 aircraft. The USMC are looking at other Air Group configurations involving more F-35s. The deck is large enough to take them. I personally studied options to put up to 15 on board.

Second, the whole point of ship basing is to get aircraft closer to where they are needed. If you can't afford to get a full up CVN there then STOVL is how you do it. And 6 F-35Bs 10 minutes away are a powerful force in many scenarios. No, it's not mass air power. It's not 'shock and awe'. It's using aircraft from the sea. And it's what the USMC are determined to do.

The A-10 is not a credible aircraft these days in anything other than total air superiority and a low threat environment. It's a goner and I suspect you know that. You mention an '800 m-runway supersonic multi-role fighter that is half the size and cost of the F-35B'. Could you elaborate on what that is. please? And is '800m' taking off with a meaningful operational load?

And it's not 66 deck spots, LO. It's whatever the USMC can wring out of their decks, plus the QECs, plus whatever the other customers going for the B end up doing with them. My guess is somewhere over 100 F-35Bs sea basing in the future. But that's just my guess.

Look, LO, I know we are coming at this from totally different angles. And I respect your opinions. I hope you respect mine (and the facts that go with them).

Best Regards really

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Old 28th May 2014, 17:20
  #4512 (permalink)  
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As for the 800 m runway:


I count 5,000 lb of air-to-surface ordnance, two heaters, a centerline tank and a gun, which is probably meaningful, particularly if you are on the receiving end.

I don't know what the full support CONOPS is for the F-35B. I do know that some past AV-8B forward ops were supported by fleets of 8000 gal tanker trucks, which in a hybrid war scenario would make The Wages of Fear look like driving a milk float in Wimbledon.

I respect your views and experience and regard your facts as objective and reliable.

I'm just coming at this from a strategic perspective - and believe that the US has over-invested both in this particular capability, and, more generally, in the notion of amphibious assault against a defended coast.
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Old 28th May 2014, 20:52
  #4513 (permalink)  
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The A-10 is not a credible aircraft these days in anything other than total air superiority

Problem is, if you don't have air superiority (or at least close to it), the life span of an LHA in a contested area will be measured in hours, perhaps even minutes. Unless the F-35B is a whole lot better in the air superiority role than the critics are claiming, it won't be able to protect it's own ships, never mind go after the bad guys on the ground.
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Old 28th May 2014, 21:30
  #4514 (permalink)  
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Precisely. And even if you grant the claims for the F-35, you still don't have AEW&C unless there is a CV present, in which case you didn't need the F-35B.
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Old 28th May 2014, 22:17
  #4515 (permalink)  
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LO (and others),

I'm an engineer. I'm not a strategist, not even a tactician. I just try to get the technical facts out there to help keep some of the opinioneering from going too far off piste, especially when it veers into disrespecting the good engineers working the F-35, who, yes, DO have a scooby what they are doing.

Yes, the Gripen is a very capable aircraft. I don't think it would operate off an L class though. (sorry, probably a cheap shot, but we were taking about going somewhere where there's no host nation support). I seriously doubt that it would get off the ground fully loaded in 800 meters, but I'd be happy to be surprised. But if you are seriously suggesting Gripen as a practical option for the USMC, well, I don't think we've got much to discuss. All I'd suggest is make your mind up - A-10 or Gripen? Or both?

But look, we are in some danger here of having one of those 'bike shed' type discussions kids have. You know, the 'yes, but the X400 super bike has a bigger engine and...' type discussions. The points I addressed were about the technicalities of whether a STOVL aircraft like F-35 could operate from a forward strip.

You want to move on to strategy and the operational aspects, and I will happily leave any responses to that to others. If the basis of your argument is that the USMC's plans and strategy are all wrong, then please, by all means, have at them. Free countries and all that.

As to F-35 air to air capability, I'll respectfully take the assessments (not opinions) of the RAF and RN pilots I know who are developing the tactics for the aircraft, over opinions expressed on this thread. It's their abilities and imaginations that will swing the balance.

I think it's time for me to draw my role in this exchange to an end. Hope I've helped clarify a few things along the way.

Best regards to all those willing to try something new, somewhere new.

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Old 29th May 2014, 07:19
  #4516 (permalink)  
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Well, I can see that 1,200-1,500 foot runway including resupply by MV-22 Osprey and CH-53K, not C-130J.

As for the matter of AEW - the USMC has been looking into that, with several options (such as TOSS) - again using the MV-22.

And they are also preparing to extend the operational range of the F-35B - Osprey again, curiously enough.

This would allow additional F-35bs beyond what arrived in-theatre with the LHA/D to stage in from elsewhere to the flat deck, and to the newly-established FOB.
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Old 29th May 2014, 10:21
  #4517 (permalink)  
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Some of the pilots testing it tend to be show-offs!

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Old 29th May 2014, 14:51
  #4518 (permalink)  
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It's coming to something when it takes CGI to actually make the F-35B look impressive in flight!

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Old 29th May 2014, 17:44
  #4519 (permalink)  
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GK -

Whatever its merits, the V-22's 10,000 lb max payload is not tailored for mass logistics transport.

Also, I don't think the Marines have given a TOSS about TOSS, maybe because of TOSS's TOS, which will make sustaining 24 hr coverage burdensome aboard the amphib.

Yes, you can tanker-drag more F-35Bs into the FOL, but you still need the support equipment and personnel.

Engines - I don't think Gripen is a politically practical option for the USMC. However, it does seem able to handle an 800 m strip (a lot of today's fighters will STO - the harder part is always SL), and together with being designed for very light organic support, and needing around half as much gas as almost anything else, it's an interesting option for expeditionary airpower.

It underscores the general point that you don't need a lot of runway to make your aircraft design much easier. (Which is also the reason why VTOL airliners have never gone anywhere.)
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Old 29th May 2014, 18:32
  #4520 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by LowObservable View Post
I'm just coming at this from a strategic perspective - and believe that the US has over-invested both in this particular capability, and, more generally, in the notion of amphibious assault against a defended coast.
Where did you come up with this, LO?

USMC doctrine 20 years ago was evolving away from this very limited concept of amphibious ops. The USMC aren't assaulting Tarawa anymore. Their operation concept (as of about 9 years ago when I left the Navy) was a lot more nuanced than that, and used as a basic principle the matter of using their tools to assault behind the coast, as well as coming in over the beach ... but the beach is not necessarily what is being assaulted.

Been a bit out of touch of late, so I don't know for sure if they have regressed, but I think your concern is a bit dated. The one thing I found consistent in the USMC warfighting method was their combined arms approach to pretty much everything.
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