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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 5th Jan 2015, 10:40
  #5581 (permalink)  
 
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are you interested in being a partner in western force projection



Emm, NO!
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 17:41
  #5582 (permalink)  
 
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Yo! Blair!

[Borat] High five [/Borat]
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 17:56
  #5583 (permalink)  
 
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Any more laughable than Obama referring to 'call me Dave' as "bro"?
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 18:33
  #5584 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by busdriver02 View Post
If all you're interested in is defending your own airspace and providing CAS in semi-permissive environments, the F-35 is massive overkill.
I think this point needs repeating. The fighters are hardly the only CAS/airborne fires resource in the year 2014, and 20 years from now that won't have changed. As more smart munitions are made available to other platforms, how often to you think they'll call in the Lightning for CAS? It isn't the only show in town.
The CAS via P-47 strafing has gotten some upgrades. While wish the A-10 would stay around for longer, the F-35 will be a capable -- even if NOT OPTIMAL -- CAS asset. Its original name was Joint STRIKE Fighter. That mission it will serve well if it ever actually goes IOC.

The NATO & allied nations who signed up for the F-35 program a decade and more ago made the presumption (as we in the US did) that any significant military operation we'll do in the future will be with allies. That is a political assumption that becomes a fact for planning, and if we look at how the last 15 years of real ops have played out, it is the political fact of major military operations and thus was a valid and necessary planning assumption well made.

This aircraft isn't just about what mission it does. It's been immersed in politics, at home and abroad, since before the fly off and is part of keeping the defense industrial base warm. If you don't keep the DIB warm, it dies, now that we have gotten a lot of tech generations away from beating plowshares into swords.

The Joint/Politicsl/Congressional premise of JSF was that one size fits all, with "mods" for tailored needs, and heaps of savings via "commonality" on the logistics and support side. I suspect similar belief was embedded in the political decisions in other nations as future forecasting and planning went on. I found out back in the 90's that after the much trumpeted "parts commonality" spiel about the SH-60 Seahawks and the UH-60 Blackhawk, the actual parts commonality between then was less than 40%. Food for thought as one considers the "parts commonality" of F-35A, B, C, and export versions.

Crystal balls are generally murky. The F-35 case illustrates beautifully.

When you commit to a serious warplane program, you commit to multiple decades of ops, support, and of course the upgrade cycle that take your bird through two or three decades of service. At least, that's what the last 40 years of conventional wisdom has taught the acquisition communities.

Is that conventional wisdom right or wrong?
Your opinions are all over the map on that, I suspect, but I'd like to hear them.

Aside:

I read Fallow's piece. (I get Atlantic in print version each month). The cover story (and his core sales line) is misleading. Defining victory is a political line. The military function and its core competency is use of force to accomplish a subordinate objective to the larger political objective. Calling the Iraq War a "loss" and blaming it on the armed forces is bizarre.

Saddam was removed, as desired, and Iraq was changed. A long list of political decisions led to the mess it became, and remains, but Fallows uses the standard scape goating short hand. No surprise. That a variety of operational messes were also made in trying to polish the turd is hardly surprising. When the Sec Def ignores the Chief of Staff of the Army, Shinseki, in terms of "Sir, if you want to do this, it takes this to achieve it" and tries to do it on the cheap .... you get what you pay for.

I was more intrigued with his commentary that quoted Admiral Mullen's cogent observations, and James Webb's similar concerns: the unintended irony of what has happened to the vision of the American Military reformers (POst Viet Nam, "all volunteer force."

They tried to make a better Army, and one that could not be used and abused the way it was in Viet Nam. Sadly, it has happened again. It just doesn't piss people off via the Draft ...

Fallows bitches in the piece about a lack of "reforms" when there was a major "reform" episode begun in 2005-2006 as Patraeus came back and worked with joint services on improved COIN doctrine.
Fallows of course only tells half of the story. He's got an axe to grind. Likewise, he overlooks a variety of things being done to structurally change the armed forces that get in the way of "reforms" since none of that happens in isolation.

The result of the past 40, years, as he sees it, is that we have an Army (armed force) further alienated from the people whom it serves, less representative of whom it serves ... which was one of the issues they were wrestling with Post Viet Nam.

A sad irony, and quite possibly true, in terms of who serves and who is familiar with what it's all about. Maybe you Can't Have It All, and that if you will have one, the forces we have are a better fit.
The result is a tool more easily used and abused by our politicians with less pushback from the public. <=== That is true for both parties, and is the core issue that needs fixing. But that's a political fix, not a military fix. Fallows however blames the military services. (Yes, he's a good writer, but I also think he's a true ).

How does this aside tie into the F-35 program? The acquisition system tries to make its large programs watertight, by getting as many districts of as many Congressional areas involved as is practical. Fallows covers this well enough.

And then the military gets blamed.

Gee, who set this whole game up, rigged that way? Congress. Fallows once again rails against the "military industrial complex" but the most culpable group in that whole show gets left out of that old warning by Ike: Congress. Cpmgress is in bed with them all, and both. Ike's little warning was to both houses of Congress, and Congress has demonstrated for fifty years that it ignores Presidents whenever possible. All that is left is a sound byte that is dishonestly parroted by people with an axe to grind.

As PJ O'Rourke once referred to our government, it is a Parliament of Whores. The F-35 is the next bastard child of standard political fcuking around.
It won't be the last.
And it won't be cancelled.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 5th Jan 2015 at 18:52.
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 21:45
  #5585 (permalink)  
 
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No it wont be cancelled, but the yanks [see I'm being nice to you tonight] may find that they have a less than optimal co-al-li-tio-n of compliant countries in the VERY near future....
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 12:38
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glad rag:
Nowhere did I present coalition as compliant. You did that. My experiences with real life coalition operations is that herding cats seems simple in comparison. The political fact remains (see the Libya deal for a superb recent example): we (the West) will generally go at it in groups (of varying composition) for a variety of reasons, and will continue to do so for a while. A few can of course manage unilateral ops, and many can manage that as well in smaller ops.

PS: thanks for being so nice.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 6th Jan 2015 at 14:12.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 13:54
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I cannot see the F35 being 100% cancelled, what I do not understand though is how the Pentagon thinks that it is going to afford to run thousands of F35s, there is sequestration going on and the USAF is / was hoping to retire early fleets of aircraft that the F35 was meant to replace on a one for one basis, vis A10.

We have seen that the sizes of future air forces in Partner countries has reduced dramatically due to reductions in available resources in these nations, not helped by late IOC and over target acquisition price and higher than expected running costs, this is resulting in lowering of the total build for the F35 allegedly.

Can anyone explain why the Pentagon is still so gung ho about the F35? Or is the plan changing to: -

A) We will eventually get the plane sort of working declare IOC, get plaudits etc

B) Then like the F22 and B2 decide that we cannot afford nearly as many as we thought that we wanted so will only procure say 25-40% of the number that we initially said that we wanted.

Move along nothing to see here, what was that 6th generation project.....
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 14:13
  #5588 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by PhilipG View Post
Can anyone explain why the Pentagon is still so gung ho about the F35?
I have two ideas:
A. It's the only show in town.
B. Sunk costs.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 14:27
  #5589 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
glad rag:
Nowhere did I present coalition as compliant. You did that. My experiences with real life coalition operations is that herding cats seems simple in comparison. The political fact remains (see the Libya deal for a superb recent example): we (the West) will generally go at it in groups (of varying composition) for a variety of reasons, and will continue to do so for a while. A few can of course manage unilateral ops, and many can manage that as well in smaller ops.

PS: thanks for being so nice.
More people need to remember it's nice to be nice.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 14:36
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I hope they have something (G6) flying at KXTA, else they'll struggle to get it introduced by ~2030.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:43
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Lone Wolf
Yes I see your

I have two ideas:

A. It's the only show in town.

B. Sunk costs.

As I recall these arguments were made for the B2 and the F22 as the only show in town and that the USAF could not possibly exist without 132 B2s however 21 were eventually procured and for the F22 the initial plan was 750 and 187 operational planes have been procured.

My point was, is it not likely that the Pentagon, under political pressure, will like it did with the B2 and F22 decide that it possibly does not need and cannot afford quite so many F35s?

Last edited by PhilipG; 6th Jan 2015 at 15:44. Reason: Typo
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 16:04
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The B-2 and the F-22 were ordered/procured at a time when the USAF still had a lot of A-10's, B-1's, B-52's, F-15A/C/E's and F-16's, so a cut in order numbers of the F-22 may not have been that difficult to sell. However, the F-15/16 are getting tired (F-15E excepted), the B-52 is positively geriatric (although it'll probably outlive all of them!) and the B-1 has been problematic since introduction. Given that the F-22 will eventually assume sole responsibility for the F-15C's job, with the F-15A now gone from the inventory, and the F-35 is meant to eventually replace the A-10/F-16 and eventually the F-15E (for a combined fleet of around 1400+ jets), I don't think a buy of a couple of hundred F-35's is going to cut it. They will have to be bought in significant numbers, whether they will reach the numbers actually wanted remains to be seen...

-RP
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:05
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Philip, my crystal ball is murky.
The tri service requirement and the fact that the buy has already shrunk from the original (the number of air wings that were projected 15 years ago as this program got up and running is larger than the number of air wings now ... ) argues to me that the production run will most likely be the number being bandied about now ... plus or minus a few. If longer delays mean that more foreign orders tank, that's a separate but equally important issue on the economics of the program, writ large.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:17
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Roughly 10 years ago, I voiced the opinion that the USAF should cancel the F-22 and go full out on the F-35.
Boy did I get that wrong - with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the F-35A isn't coming out to be meaningfully less expensive to build than the F-22 and yet is less capable. I think the USAF would have been better served to punt on the F-35A and put all it's money into more F-22s, leaving the nightmare of sorting out the F-35B/C to the Navy .
Unfortunately Rhino is probably correct - the option of additional F-22s has passed, and the F-35 has turned into the only game in town.
The F-35 has truly become 'too big to fail' (or at least too big to be allowed to fail).
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:19
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Sunk Costs considerations are demonstrably stupid. By even considering them, politicians are showing they are stupid, but hope they can spin it to an electorate they consider even more stupid.

I do not think the original decision to go with F35 was wrong, but the World has changed.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:22
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Surely cost benefit analysis has been ignored.

F35 against an advanced foe could be a game changer. Risking the same platform against a Toyota pickup is a nonsense, but necessary if that is the only weapon in the armoury.

If you have lots of other toys then you have a choice.

I was employed on an operation where the bottom line was we were not to risk loss of even one aircraft. No such stipulation was laid down for the other aircraft.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 20:47
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A few years back, AF chief Norton Schwartz remarked (IIRC) that the AF was "all in" on the F-35. This can mean "fully supportive" but it can mean committed in the pig-and-hen sense. In gambling terms, you've already mortgaged the house and maxed your credit cards. The USAF has no other options that stop an already old fighter force from continuing to age.

If the service wants to have 1800 tactical aircraft in the inventory and wants to work with a nominal lifetime of 30 years it has to buy 60 aircraft a year, but so far has bought 187 F-22s and 103 F-35s in the past 20 years - so it is 910 aircraft, or 15 years' production, in the hole. If it was to stop buying F-35s or fail to reach the 60/year replacement rate, the hole will keep getting bigger.

The question is what must be sacrificed to feed the F-35. The A-10 is at the top of the list, but the abandonment of F-16 modernization has to mean that those aircraft (with primitive EW and 1980s-tech mech-scan radars) have a limited effective life. F-15 upgrades are the next place to look for money: will the EPAWSS EW upgrade get funded?

And before the F-35 production program for the AF is anywhere near half done, the F-22 will be at mid-life.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 21:18
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LO, EPAWSS is still seen as a "must have" for the C Model, largely because there are only so many f-22s and nothing around to take on its Air-to-Air duties. TEWS is labelled "obsolete" and F-35 is too far away - debatable if it would do Air Dominance anyway. There are some concerns about funding it for the E, though.

Bit of a hole there, for sure.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 21:57
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As I noted many pages back, it is a worthwhile bet that F-35 is the last manned fighter program we'll ever have. What they are doing with the unmanned strike vehicles is likely to keep expanding, even at the expense of other systems.

LO: F-16 upgrades have been going on since the 1980's. What F-16 modernization program were you referring to? (Crap, are they already past block 60?) Will look that up ... OK, I am guessing you refer to the new radar?

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 6th Jan 2015 at 22:17.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 23:02
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I assume LO is referring to the CAPES programme? Which has been kicked into the long grass...

-RP
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