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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 24th Nov 2014, 15:08
  #5401 (permalink)  
 
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CM,

It does seem to have been something of a media hobby since the report of ADV Tornados flying around with concrete lumps in the nose, no amount of reassurance that all from the 19th airframe onwards would have a functioning radar while the first 18 would be retrofitted. Particularly our own popular press love to latch onto any released data which may suggest any encountered hiccup along the road of development, often resulting in needlessly perilous stories. Mind you, long before the Foxhunter/Blue Circle issue, there was sufficient concern among the more rarified levels of command that UK air defence would be better served with a mixed fighter force consisting of F-15s, F-16s or F-14s with a smaller number of ADVs. Each of the American options was discounted on either cost (F-15 and F-14) or ineffectiveness for long range AD patrols (F-16). Their concerns at the time I don't recall getting into the public domain, but they were actively seeking an alternative, at least in part.

FB
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Old 24th Nov 2014, 15:49
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Was it sensible to go so public?
I think it is. This is the first mainstream combat jet to be developed almost entirely in the new social media market, and folks were craving for any information as it was a highly visible program. The program was and is a juicy target as being the most expensive program ever, prone to overruns as just about every program has been, and has some questionable design characterics/compromises (3 distinct missions in one airframe). Folks in the media, blogs and forums such as this were going to talk about it no matter how much or how little the program officials or manufactures released.

Better to be somewhat pro-active, than just reactive. Yes some of it is PR hype, but it seems to have been done on a slow build. Perhaps deliberate. Perhaps better to temper expectations.

The defence departments seem to be much more savy about getting press releases, video etc out pretty quickly- and even then we punters are not even happy with the shots they provide as they "must be hiding something".

In the USA I think something was learned from the MV-22 program, which seemed much more problematic, and much more reactive, with one bad news story after another. This led to false hype, overpromisses, coverups, faked numbers, and other problems. The F-22 also seemed to have more hype.

It is perhaps noteworthy that there has not been a crash or spectacular casualty that would surely generate headline news. Over 100 built and hours building at an ever increasing rate, with perhaps one write-off (the A with the engine fire). While the overall effectivesness and cost, and even the program its self are bigger stories; perhaps the failure to fly at the UK shows post fire seems to be the largest specific PR ding to date- perhaps even larger than the fire itself.
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Old 24th Nov 2014, 17:26
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Courtney,
To pick up on FB's comment about the media sniping at F-35's faults, I wonder if this program has been handled well.
IMHO, it hasn't.

To begin with, any product, be it a washing machine, a golf club or an advance fighter is dependent on the shortest time to market to gain the maximum technological edge. The longer the time to market, the less the technological edge to the point where no edge exists at all. 13 years from go to not being in the market yet seems to place the F-35's technological edge on the very edge of viability, a few more years and it will be gone. The lapses in security at LM aided the competition in more ways than one. Then the wishes of the customer and the promises of the producer verses the reality of the day lead to the less than optimal situations currently being experienced.

The amount of technical information being flung around about the F-35, before it is even operational and in service, is unquestionably the most of any US defense program in history. Between the US DoD and LM, not only are the capabilities openly discussed, but the shortcomings as well, even identifying how the capability goal posts have been moved to fit reality.

The media outpouring by LM & US DoD is nothing more than their fear reaction to combat the possibility the overall program could be reduced in size and scope from the original dream.
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Old 24th Nov 2014, 19:17
  #5404 (permalink)  
 
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Very interesting answers. Thank you. Food for thought.

TurbineD, I like your point about technological edge. I guess the increased efforts in V/UHF radars is a prime example.

Shame about LM's security.
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Old 24th Nov 2014, 20:40
  #5405 (permalink)  
 
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To pick up on FB's comment about the media sniping at F-35's faults, I wonder if this program has been handled well.
To know if its been handled well you would have to have actual inside information of the program. Well is dependent on how good or bad things actually are.

To be honest, in todays society with all the means of media information transfer, and political ping ponging in regards to military purchasing, they don't have a choice but play the media game.
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 09:41
  #5406 (permalink)  
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AW&ST: Israeli Panel Rejects Proposed Increase Of F-35

An Israeli cabinet panel has rejected a decision of the defense minister to procure an additional 31 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and limited the procurement of Israel’s second batch of JSFs to only 13. It is unprecedented that the ministerial committee on defense procurement would reverse an air force requirement that was already approved by the defense minister, the former government and the National Security Council. The Israel air force, which currently has 19 F-35s on order under a $2.74 billion contract, will have to be satisfied with a total of 32 aircraft in the coming years, and will not be able to complete two full squadrons as planned.

Defense Minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya’alon, who had already concluded with the Pentagon the terms of a $4.4 billion contract for an additional 31 F-35s, is now asking the DOD to maintain the same terms for a smaller number of aircraft. The U.S. has agreed to grant Israel $2.4 billion in credit for the deal as well as to conduct offset procurement totaling $5.3 billion, under the expectation that Israel will acquire a total of 50 F-35s. The JSF procurement is financed through the $3.1 billion annual military aid that the U.S. provides to Israel. It is unclear, though, whether the U.S. will agree to provide Israel with the same terms for the smaller deal. "Minister Ya’alon will try to convince the Pentagon that this is a minor delay and that eventually Israel will procure the 50 aircraft," a senior defense source told Aviation Week.

Leading the surprising opposition to the F-35 deal was Minister for Intelligence Yuval Steinitz, who declared: "We are not rubber stamps for the [ministry of defense] and air force." In five different meetings of the panel on defense procurement dealing with the JSFs, Steinitz presented several articles published in Aviation Week from 2003 and 2008 raising doubts on the effectiveness of the F-35. "For maintaining stealthiness, this aircraft has compromised maneuverability, shorter operational range and significantly less payload capability," a senior Israeli official told Aviation Week. "We shouldn’t be buying so many of them when it is unclear whether the stealth is effective, or there is a countermeasure that would negate it. There are vast gaps in performance between the F-35 and fourth-generation fighters."

The IAF and defense ministry have rejected Steinitz’s claims as "old and irrelevant." But Steinitz went on, calling for acquiring only the 19 F-35s already ordered and buying more F-15s and F-16s. He was joined by Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who claimed that the F-35 procurement would consume the whole of the U.S. military aid and would lead Israel to increase defense expenditures. In response, the Israeli air force presented data that acquiring new F-16s or F-15s would cost even more than the F-35. That led the ministers to form a compromise resolution calling for the procurement of only 13 aircraft in addition to the first batch of 19.

Lockheed Martin has not received anything official on Israel’s next procurement. "It would be inappropriate to respond to a speculative story," spokesman Mike Rein says. "We stand ready to support Israel with whatever decision they make for a follow-on procurement of F-35s."

Israel’s first two F-35s are expected to be produced within the eighth batch of low-rate production aircraft and delivered in the second half of 2016. Deliveries of the first set of 19 JSFs is expected to be completed by 2018. Deliveries of the second batch of F-35s are expected to begin in 2019.
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 16:24
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"We're only going to get 48, at least that many albeit, which we know of, rather than the 138 originally planned"

Finningley - that's a very big assumption. It is quite possible we'll cancel the lot given the state of public finances

The next Govt could very well be a Lab/Lib/SNP coalition and the defence budget will take an enormous hit
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 19:10
  #5408 (permalink)  
 
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HH,

I agree, that nightmare is quite feasible, but it would be extremely interesting. The only consolation prize for those in uniform, made redundant, would be the loads of money they'd get from such a socially concerned conglomeration in Parliament for signing on and sitting at home.

For as long as that would last of course!

FB
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 14:20
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The Israelis need ground combat vehicles now vs. a future, somewhat nebulous, stealth capability - hence the redirection of funds away from near-term purchases of F-35s. Plus, buying later means possible better terms, because as it stands today, F-35As are still very expensive aircraft to buy and maintain.
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 16:01
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UK national debt is costing the taxpayer £1billion per week in interest only, the debt continues to grow to over £1.5trillion

That's a billion squid leaving the coffers per week without touching the sides.

Something will break soon.
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 11:59
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I guess the Isrealis are looking around thinking that none of their probable opponents are likely to have equipment that requires then to re-equip with an expensive, a relatively short- legged, possibly sort-of-stealthy strike aircraft in the next 10-15 years

they already are one of the worlds experts on drones and they have a bundle of F-15's

Who in the region has anything like that in any numbers? and when will they be able to upgrade?? It takes years to build up serious capability

Best to save the cash now TBN
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 16:01
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It's nice to see the aircraft carrying UK PWIV and ASRAAM.



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Old 28th Nov 2014, 16:10
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Smile

Indeed.
"Leading the surprising opposition to the F-35 deal was Minister for Intelligence Yuval Steinitz, who declared: "We are not rubber stamps for the [ministry of defense] and air force." In five different meetings of the panel on defense procurement dealing with the JSFs, Steinitz presented several articles published in Aviation Week from 2003 and 2008 raising doubts on the effectiveness of the F-35. "For maintaining stealthiness, this aircraft has compromised maneuverability, shorter operational range and significantly less payload capability," a senior Israeli official told Aviation Week. "We shouldn’t be buying so many of them when it is unclear whether the stealth is effective, or there is a countermeasure that would negate it. There are vast gaps in performance between the F-35 and fourth-generation fighters."
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 16:14
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Wink @ JTO

Awesomeness indeed....but we already have a proven bomb truck that does all this, better, faster and wait for it it's FREE.....
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 17:31
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Awesomeness indeed....but we already have a proven bomb truck that does all this, better, faster and wait for it it's FREE.....
I get what you are after, and I will grant you faster, but it really depends on how you define "better" and "free".

If your bomb truck can not operate in certain high threat environments, or would have a unacceptable loss rate is it really "better"? If you are plinking targets in a low threat environment, then yes you are good to go with what we have already- heck we could do that with C-130 with the right targeting pod.

Yes, it may be "free" as it's already in your garage, but operating, maintaining and upgrading and aging airframe is hardly free- and it will not last forever.
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 18:23
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Sandie,

Stealth is a double-edged sword. In an environment without V/UHF radar, yeah, it's an advantage. Head on, the RCS is impressively small. Other aspects are not so good. It doesn't make one invisible, only the Klingons can do that. The other edge is all about the compromises already mentioned.

The problem is that the compromises really come into play in those areas where the stealth isn't so good. And range and payload is compromised even where the stealth does work. And how fast can you run away?

By the time this comes into service, technology will have moved on even further. That will be the time when we can balance the advantages of stealth against the compromises necessary to make it happen.
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Old 28th Nov 2014, 20:42
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I think we have inherited a similar situation to the late 1930s.
Replace the term 'stealth strike fighter' with the term 'turreted fighter' and you can see a few parallels between the F-35 and Boulton Paul Defiant. Of course the performance of these two aircraft is not quite up to their contemporaries but this is more than made up for by other features.
Knockers of the F-35 could well do to look back at history.
RAF Defiants battered the Luftwaffe in the early summer of 1940


And that continued for pretty much most of the first week!
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 00:59
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Typerated,
I agree.
Replace the term 'stealth strike fighter' with the term 'turreted fighter' and you can see a few parallels between the F-35 and Boulton Paul Defiant.
Knockers of the F-35 could well do to look back at history.
RAF Defiants battered the Luftwaffe in the early summer of 1940. And that continued for pretty much most of the first week!
There are potential parallels between the two, they are not good.

Last edited by Turbine D; 29th Nov 2014 at 01:04. Reason: corrected wording
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 16:18
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I don't know how anyone could expect anything other than what has happened.

In 1995 the Pentagon decided to bet the entire future of air power, for the US and its allies, on a single, fixed set of RCS numbers (magnitude, aspect and wavelength) and an aircraft that was in other respects no better than what it was replacing.

It will have taken 25 years by the time that solution is in service in significant numbers, and it will take 30-35 years before those aircraft are the majority of the fleet.

Surprise, surprise - adversaries use that time to react.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 16:19
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As a point of discussion, with all this talk of design compromises, becoming a white elephant, or the next Defiant- it is interesting to note there have been aircraft with some significant compromises that had long careers. "Gimmickry", design compromise and performance in some aspects less than the aircraft it is replacing (or contemporary designs) does not automatically equate to failure. Some have been game changers.

I offer:
The Harrier, first generation- A very compromised design, all revolving around the V/STOL requirement. Slow, poor visibility, poor load when compared to contemporaries. Had a long, successful career.

A-7 Corsair. Bucked the trend of 1960's faster is better. The SLUF served as a capable, under sung aircraft.

MRCA/Tornado. RAF was looking for a Vulcan and Buccaneer replacement. Did not have nearly the range or payload capability of either. Used the swing wing to meet requirements, which complicated the aircraft, and was/is seen as gimmickry by some. Has had a long career with some success. The "best" intruder ever? I'll leave that alone.

Phantom. Designed for fleet defense. Gimmickry all missile design as guns were considered obsolete. Compromised dog-fighter. Lack of guns was later proven wrong and the plane was adapted in later versions. Major upgrades and multiple versions and multiple roles. Successful by any measure. Perhaps the F-35 will mature like this?

Tornado IDS. Replacement for the Lightning and Phantom. Performance less than those (yes I understand it was not intended to be a dog fighter). Mid range career, of debatable success. Best interceptor ever? Probably not.

F-18F Super Hornet. Replacement for the F-14 in Fleet Defense. Less performance than the Tomcat in most aspects, but seems to be doing just fine. Granted less sexy.

F-104. Majorly compromised design, with high speed trumping all else. Had a long career, good orders (yes cries of bribery I know) and adopted to other roles. "Best" fighter? No. "Best" nuke delivery? No. "Best" maritime strike? No.

For every Defiant, Buffalo, XB-70, Cutlass, B-58 etc, there have been others with serious compromises in design and performance than have served just fine- I think it is way too early to profess the obsolescence of the F-35
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