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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 26th Apr 2019, 09:29
  #11841 (permalink)  
 
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Perhaps this clip about the use of AAMs is slightly helpful to all of us riffraff who shouldn't be opining but do want to learn.

Last edited by t43562; 26th Apr 2019 at 09:30. Reason: clarify reason why it's in this thread.
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 17:18
  #11842 (permalink)  
 
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Salute!

Anybody here that did not deploy a new plane before all the logistic “tail” was in place will understand. And having three variations does not help for some aspects of each plane. So I recall my experience with the A-37 Dragonfly when sent to Vietnam for operational testing.

At Bien Hoa in 1967, we had zilch logistic support because all the planes were T-37 shells with beefed up gear, spars, hard points, new engines, etc. So little of the trainer stuff worked. First thing our clever wrenchbenders and maintenance officer did was write home and ask Mom to send a Sears catalog!!

We soon had Craftsman tool kits, various power tools that could run off of our power carts, and Radio Flyer children wagons. Wagons hooked up to bycycles and hauled tools, parts and even engines to the flight line. Still laughing.

Fast forward 12 years to Hill AFB and first F-16’s. Even tho we were at the logistics HQ for the plane, we lowly operating units did not have all the neat stuff. So deja vu one more time. Use Fm 209 and go to local Sears or maybe Ace Hardware and get a Craftsman wrench set and while there get a ladder. And still,laughing thinking about it.

Gums recalls......


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Old 26th Apr 2019, 17:27
  #11843 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by gums View Post
Salute!

Anybody here that did not deploy a new plane before all the logistic “tail” was in place will understand. And having three variations does not help for some aspects of each plane. So I recall my experience with the A-37 Dragonfly when sent to Vietnam for operational testing.

At Bien Hoa in 1967, we had zilch logistic support because all the planes were T-37 shells with beefed up gear, spars, hard points, new engines, etc. So little of the trainer stuff worked. First thing our clever wrenchbenders and maintenance officer did was write home and ask Mom to send a Sears catalog!!

We soon had Craftsman tool kits, various power tools that could run off of our power carts, and Radio Flyer children wagons. Wagons hooked up to bycycles and hauled tools, parts and even engines to the flight line. Still laughing.

Fast forward 12 years to Hill AFB and first F-16’s. Even tho we were at the logistics HQ for the plane, we lowly operating units did not have all the neat stuff. So deja vu one more time. Use Fm 209 and go to local Sears or maybe Ace Hardware and get a Craftsman wrench set and while there get a ladder. And still,laughing thinking about it.

Gums recalls......


it was the same when Tornado entered service, although the Luftwaffe had spent the most on spares, the UK were the rob kings of the Tornado!
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 18:09
  #11844 (permalink)  
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 18:48
  #11845 (permalink)  
 
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Salute!
Thanks, ORAC. I am not upset with those numbers.

We would have to look at the criteria for all the levels of "capability", huh?

For example, in a very simnple plane like the A-37, we would report 80% or a bit higher as fully mission capable. We would have been 100%, but our X-band beacon used for blind bombing was missing or inop. That doofer was tracked by a ground unit and was like a GCA. Some dude gave us left right and then "pickle" - Combat Sky Spot ( which we called Combat Sky Dump). A great war story surrounds Lima Site 85, which had one of the ground stations and allowed dumps over Hanoi when wx was piss poor. A "company" helo got an A2A kill on a AN2 there!!
Another unit on our plane that kept us from FMC was a broken encryption doofer -KY-28 or 38. We only used it for SAR when up in North VietNam where bad guys heard everything we ever said.

So the F-35 numbers look about right for this stage.

Gums sends...
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 19:27
  #11846 (permalink)  
 
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Could spend an age picking that diagram apart. If we were to take the world famous Harrier and it’s servicability that was the envy of all other types...if you totted up the total in the U.K. - including those with BAE, ETPS, FJTS, in upgrade to the big donk etc I think you got into the mid 70s. About half that amount were fragged to Cottesmore. So that would be a AVA of 50%, wouldn’t it? So 50% AVA would seem quite good.
How do you measure time for the other two metrics? Days? Hours? If it flies once is that a day serviceable? If it does the morning go and falls over in the afternoon does that mean a bad day or a 50% day? If a squadron with 12 jets managed a 4 turn 4 turn 2 in the day and a night wave of 4 - (quite reasonable) what would that mean for ‘time serviceable’?
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 10:24
  #11847 (permalink)  
 
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Perhaps I could follow the leads of Gums and Orca and offer a few thoughts that may generate some thought on an important but seldom understood topic - military aircraft utilisation.

Managing fleets of military aircraft should not be an incredibly difficult task. As long as you have a clear and stable set of mission requirements, a well understood set of mission configurations, and a disciplined and structured approach to modifications, you should be able to achieve good levels of availability. Assuming, of course, well organised support systems and a stable production configuration.

Sadly, these conditions often don’t apply.

F-35 availability is being hit by early instability in its production configuration plus a seriously badly managed avionics software development programme. But that will improve. I agree with Gums and Orca that the figures being presented here aren’t atypical for the early years of a combat aircraft fleet.

What might surprise many people are the seriously bad levels of availability of many modern combat aircraft fleets and the main reason why they are so bad - really poor fleet management in service.

In my direct experience, many UK aircraft fleets have been decimated by poor management of in service configuration, mainly by indiscriminate application of in service modifications. Put simply, if you keep applying ‘mission essential’ mods to various groups of aircraft in a fleet, you can VERY quickly get to the point where you can only generate very low numbers of aircraft for ops. This phenomenon is called ‘fleets within fleets’ and has gone on for years in the UK. The main driver (and I choose these words carefully) is the desire of senior aircrew officers to get ‘new kit’ coupled with an unwillingness to engage with their engineers who are trying to manage the fleets being modified.

This is has been a largely unreported issue in the UK, mainly due to a general lack of understanding or even agreement around terms like ‘availability’, ‘readiness’, ‘serviceability’, ‘capability’, ‘mission ready’ and so forth. That has allowed the issue to evade scrutiny. I personally watched staff officers preparing replies to Parliamentary Questions on fleet availability that were perilously close to outright lies.

How bad are the numbers? My best guess is that no more than 20 to 25 percent of the UK’s main military aircraft fleets could be put in the air in a fully combat ready configuration at any one time. That’s averaged over some fleets that could do better and some that can’t even get to that. For my part, I think it’s an unreported scandal and should be investigated. Thoughts, anyone?

Best regards as ever to all those professional and dedicated service personnel working hard to meet the task,

Engines
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 12:31
  #11848 (permalink)  
 
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One of the real-world availability issues that is almost unique to the F-35 is the planned reliance on synthetic training, with remarkably sparse actual in-air training. Whilst this provides cost benefits and the ability to train in a more classified environment it does present combat availability challenges, some of which are reflected in the comments above.

Clearly on operations a squadron needs a squadron's worth of combat ready aircraft with the honed maintenance, weapon loading, logistics and the support teams behind them. Back in the Cold War sortie generation rates were drawn from specific exercises and fleet experience. Quite simply, we trained as we fought when it came to maintenance, weapons, logistics and support.

With the aircrew element tripping the light fantastic in the networked simulator just how do you gain realistic experience and data for everything else?

The RAF/RN are looking to operate just a handful of real sorties in any given week. If a real tail number has not been utilised for a couple of weeks how do you measure its serviceability - do you simply count the days not used as 'serviceable' if it was ok on the last flight? If you crew-in to that jet and it fails and you switch to another aircraft just how do you record the previous history - was it really serviceable for the last couple of weeks, but not tested, or was it 'serviceable' on the basis that nobody had actually tried. If a squadron's worth of support personnel can be utilised to launch a pair of F-35s can you really turn 4/4/2 for 10 days+ with your sister squadrons doing the same?

Even for typical FJ ops the switch from peacetime requirements and manning to actual surge ops can be dramatic. In peacetime trades such as armourers have little to do and are often manned below a rather parsimonious set level. Switch to a large-scale shooting war and we run these guys to the ground. Same thing will happen in other pinch-point trades and large-scale ops cannot rob personnel from other squadrons as they will share the same commitment and pressures. Not every war is timetabled months in advance with just 1 of X squadrons deployed on a set rotation.

The long-term effect on maintainers with 'little to do' has a deleterious effect on currency, competency and any meaningful level of on-the-job-training. I can think of one current ME type that was deployed on ops for years without ever needing an engine removal since first manufacture. When the inevitable day came the engine guys had zero experience and zero confidence in undertaking the task. Thankfully RR and a civilian company were brought in to help with the engine change in the UK. With the F-35 the lack of flying hours will reduce the experience of all those who will be leaned on when synthetic is switched for real operations. Equally live ops may be the first time we stress components over a short timescale and there will be discoveries and new arisings that have just not been anticipated.

A reliance on synthetic training is a gamble and I argued long and hard that a platform had to be tested and mature at all levels before parking most of the fleet and heading for the (aircrew) simulators and hoping for the best. I lost the debate.
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 13:10
  #11849 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Engines View Post

In my direct experience, many UK aircraft fleets have been decimated by poor management of in service configuration, mainly by indiscriminate application of in service modifications. Put simply, if you keep applying ‘mission essential’ mods to various groups of aircraft in a fleet, you can VERY quickly get to the point where you can only generate very low numbers of aircraft for ops. This phenomenon is called ‘fleets within fleets’ and has gone on for years in the UK. The main driver (and I choose these words carefully) is the desire of senior aircrew officers to get ‘new kit’ coupled with an unwillingness to engage with their engineers who are trying to manage the fleets being modified.
I would have to disagree with the bolded bit, IME the driver is cost. For instance we are buying 8 sets of HMCS and that's it. So any mods can only be applied on X number of frames. If we properly funded TES kit, we wouldn't end up with fleets within fleets.

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Old 27th Apr 2019, 13:16
  #11850 (permalink)  
 
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I’d like to respond to JTO’s really thoughtful post. Firstly, I absolutely agree that there is no substitute whatever for practicing ‘real world ops’ flying rates.

The issue, as he so well points out, is what ‘real world ops’ levels of flying are. Staffs can plan and assume all they like, but those plans and assumptions will almost always be way off. That doesn’t make the staffs bad people - it just makes them human.

F-35 does pose some interesting challenges in that many of its expected missions and tactics can only feasibly be rehearsed in a simulator, unless you have access to some seriously high end adversaries, ranges and threat simulators.

But as JTO so rightly says, not flying at near full rates means that key aspects don’t get tested. Weapon loading teams are one area. I’d add embarked ops. You simply won’t get that large and complex ‘system of systems’ working effectively unless it’s exercised at or near full rate. But there’s more. More flying generates better serviceability.

Here’s my experience, for what it’s worth. In 1982, I was an engineer officer on a 9 aircraft ASW squadron in a CVS. We were set up, manned and equipped to fly a ‘ripple 3’ for about 14 days.

In the event we flew a ripple three for around 71 days, plus another 3 or 4 lines during the day. Weapons were loaded and unloaded for almost all the ripple sorties. Most of the ripple sorties involved active dipping using a 1960s era sonar. Our main radios were 1950s technology. Our flying rates over those 71 days were about three times maximum normal peacetime rates.

Our serviceability levels, measured in terms of when aircraft successfully completed a ripple sortie, were somewhere above 85%. The main reason we achieved those amazing figures was not shutting the aircraft down between sorties. Hot refuels and hot crew changes kept the aircraft serviceable.

So, if I were in charge for a day, I’d instruct all FJ units to plan their sorties as ‘double bubbles’ separated by a hot refuel and hot practice rearm or dearm. In my view that would almost certainly raise availability by 30%.

Thoughts, anyone?

Best regards as ever to all those juggling the flypros to meet the training needs,

Engines
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 14:10
  #11851 (permalink)  
 
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Thoughts?

Certainly in the latter days of the Tornado Force they were making a lot of use of the hot pits.

The substitution of simulator training for real is certainly more complex than the bean counters and sim companies would have you believe. As JTO points out it does not exercise the whole chain, but even for the aircrew the whole sequence has to be completed for the sim to come close to being equivalent. By that I mean that to replace real flying, the sim exercise should include the boring bits: plan, brief, dress, start up, taxi, take off, transit, AAR etc etc. On the other hand, to practice specific skills the sim ability to reposition, hot start, reload etc is very useful. That sort of sortie however, is nothing like real flying and should not be claimed to be equivalent.

Last edited by Timelord; 27th Apr 2019 at 14:25.
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 18:02
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Hi Engines,

Great insight as ever. During my time with the USN we went through the pits all the time to hot refuel before a hot crew change - although we did it with the port donk shut down - can you FOD shield an intake on F-35 to do the same?
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 18:40
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Getting a second mission programed into an F-35 is (currently) not a quick task. Swapping a pilot with the engine running would be an event. My knowledge is not current but unless things have changed the ladder door had to be shut with the engine running due to the proximity of the intake:


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Old 27th Apr 2019, 22:39
  #11854 (permalink)  
 
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Orca,

Thanks for replying.

No, you can’t do a hot pilot swap on F-35. The USMC did look at whether it was possible for aircrew to exit and enter the aircraft by climbing along the wing and entering the cockpit from aft. Not a goer.

However, the aircraft definitely can be refuelled and rearmed engine running.

Hope this helps, best regards as ever to all those working out how to get the most out of the aircraft,

Engines
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Old 28th Apr 2019, 01:46
  #11855 (permalink)  
 
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Engines, I don't disagree with anything in your posts. Pretty much every modern military aircraft has had issues during 'the early years'.
However, I can't recall another program where "the early years" have gone on for so long. We're looking at a program that was initially launched 27 years ago, with down select to the Lock-Mart design in 2001.
Maybe I'm turning into a cynical old man, but the F-35 program has already lasted longer than some successful military aircraft have gone from cradle to grave, and we're still in the early years?

Back when I was in college, I remember reading a somewhat sarcastic editorial in Aviation Week. It said something along the line of, at the current rate of progression, by the year 2000 the a new military aircraft would be able to go Mach 10, pull 20g's, and defeat any adversary with ease. Oh, and the entire annual USA defense budget would be required to buy one aircraft...
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Old 28th Apr 2019, 03:50
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​​​​​​TDRacer,

i thought it might help if I replied to your post.

I’m not sure that it’s 27 years since the programme started, it’s 18 since the SDD contract was awarded in 2001. You can certainly trace the programme’s origins back to CALF and the JSF effort, but those were technology demonstration efforts, effectively pre-prototypes.

If you looked at, say, Typhoon, you could make the UK’s EAP the start point and get to a not dissimilar timeframe. My opinion ( and that’s all it is) is that combat jet design is getting harder and harder as time goes on, and the risks involved are not easing.

F-35 is a very, very advanced jet. The STOVL variant is especially advanced, and there were significant risks that had to be overcome in the SDD phase. That took time. And, as I’ve posted before, some incredibly talented Brits working the issues.

On the other hand, as I’ve also posted a number of times, the F-35 programme has suffered serious delays that were avoidable. My take is that there were three main areas where LM screwed up. (There were others)

First one was a absurdly over optimistic programme that assumed that advanced CAD would ensure that everything would be right first time and allow a far shorter development schedule. This placed severe pressure on the early design stage and led to:

Number two - really poor structural design of the airframe, which led to a severe overrun in weight. This is unforgivable in any combat aircraft, but simply lethal for s powered lift aircraft like the F-35B. By the time LM were told that they had a problem, all the variant designs were grotesquely heavy. The redesign added around two years to the programme.

(I should note that both F-22 and Typhoon also had serious weight issues during their development phases).

Number three was a poorly designed and again over optimistic mission systems integration effort. The DOD knew that this area wasn’t LM’s strong suit, but the ‘winner takes all’ policy for the competition gave them the job. By any standard, they’ve made a poor fist of it. The decision to have only one Systems Integration Lab (jointly made by LM and the customers) was an especially poor one, as it has caused serious bottlenecks in software development and testing.

My estimate is that had LM got these areas right, the programme would have been about 18 months to two years faster.

Hope this helps a bit. Best regards as ever to all those who have given their talent and hard work to make the aircraft what it is.

Engines
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 07:40
  #11857 (permalink)  
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 09:46
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Exclamation

Originally Posted by Engines View Post

However, the aircraft definitely can be refuelled and rearmed engine running.

Engines
Really? That goes against basic weapons safety principles that we all know and love! It was never permitted during Cold War OTR's. How would they achieve (eg) power-off no-volts checks and the like?

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Old 30th Apr 2019, 09:58
  #11859 (permalink)  
 
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Superplum

I could be wrong and I know this will sound facetious and also bear in mind I do not know the correct answer, neither do I know the processes involved in loading weapons onto an aircraft (I know how to drop them though) but it is possible that technology has moved on since the Cold War. Maybe LM have devised a way to do it with engines running? This is the 21st century after all.

Standing by to be corrected.

BV
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 12:11
  #11860 (permalink)  
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F-35B Hot Pit Refueling and Rearming

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