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The Flying White Elephant

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by Picdelamirand-oil, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    It’s been a bad month for American aviation. The 787 Dreamliner, our premier airliner, remains grounded due to safety issues. Now Wired is reporting that the F-35 Lightning II, intended to serve as America’s fighter-bomber of the future, has had its performance requirements downgraded. The Pentagon is admitting that the aircraft will be delivered “heavier, slower and more sluggish†than it had hoped. The Lightning II will be more vulnerable and less capable in combat.

    Worse, these are hardly the F-35’s first problems—it’s endured a litany of technical and budgetary issues. Acquisition plans have been dramatically scaled back—while America originally intended to have nearly 1,600 aircraft in operation in 2017, it now aims for just 365—and the aircraft has been temporarily barred from operating near thunderstorms amid fears that a strike could cause it to explode. Some are even skeptical that it’s stealthy enough to operate in a modern threat environment. The aircraft was designed to be used by multiple countries and multiple armed services while retaining many of the same features and parts. Instead, the F-35 may be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

    Understandably, foreign buyers are cutting back on their purchase plans, and the project is facing ever-increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and the media. The United States needs to ask itself several questions.

    First, are cost overruns, performance issues and long development periods a necessary element of modern fighter development, or is there something wrong with the development and acquisitions process? There’s no denying that the F-35 has some extremely sexy technology on board—among other things, its advanced helmet allows the pilot to see in any direction (including through the aircraft, thanks to cameras). Getting such technologies to operate smoothly on their own and with each other was always going to be a complex and time-consuming process.

    The complexity is compounded by the fact that this is a combat aircraft, so it will need both high reliability and relatively quick, simple maintenance to avoid becoming a liability in war. Still, it is somewhat boggling to see other heavy industries turning around projects quickly, Chinese aircraft manufacturers (historically regarded as third-rate copycats) spewing out prototypes, and advanced technologies being swiftly adopted throughout the economy even as the F-35 struggles to become operational in less than two decades. The Empire State Building was built in a little more than a year; the GBU-28 bunker buster was developed in a few weeks in 1991, and an adapted version is still in use. Has innovation really gotten so much harder?

    Second, are politics at play? It’s hard not to see a political-economic factor in the mediocrity: the program’s defenders regularly tout the number of people it employs as an argument against cuts, and components of the aircraft are manufactured in forty-eight states and around the world. Any legislator voting against the project would thus face accusations of killing jobs in his own state; any legislator defending it can tout the in-state jobs she’s saved from the axe. This reduces the political risk to the program, warping incentives to make the aircraft quickly and cheaply. Defense spending may be an inefficient way of propping up the economy, but it’s an efficient way of propping up incumbents.

    Third, are we approaching a decision point with the F-35, or have things already gone too far to try a new tack? The average age of America’s tactical aircraft fleet has been steadily increasing for two decades, and the capabilities of potential enemies like Russia and China have been improving. At some point, our current large fleet of older aircraft might be less effective than a small, mediocre but modern fleet of F-35s. That’s not certain, though—if the F-35 turns into a true logistics and maintenance nightmare, or if its stealthiness only provides a marginal increase in survivability, it could be less effective than our current set of aircraft. Still, if we can’t find a way to develop good aircraft in a short time, backing out on the F-35 could see us using forty- and fifty-year-old fighters.

    Fourth, is this really the aircraft of the future, or are there alternatives? Modern air defenses can be defeated by stealth, but they might also be defeated with massive swarms of cheap drones or, as the Israelis have repeatedly shown the Syrians, with advanced electronic-warfare capabilities. In low-intensity conflicts, modern jet aircraft might even be inefficient—the high speeds and powerful engines they need to survive against other combat aircraft leave them unable to linger and observe. The F-35’s unclear survivability in spite of its advanced technology suggest a new philosophy is worth exploring.

    Fifth, what does all this portend for our ability to maintain military supremacy? If America’s political system and economy, when working together, are simply incapable of deploying new military technologies quickly and in a useful form, our enemies will make relative gains as advanced technologies become more accessible to lesser powers. Washington will find its options constrained.

    The struggles of the F-35 may be an omen of American military decline. In this case, at least, our virtues have been overwhelmed by our vices. Let’s hope our leaders heed the warning.

    Commentary: The Flying White Elephant | The National Interest

    [​IMG]
     
    anant_s, Inactive, Lord Aizen and 8 others like this.
  2. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    Or they could buy Gripens. Twice or thrice the AtA capability at one-fifth the cost.
     
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  3. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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    or they can use any other 4.5 gen fighters from other countries and can sponser them to reduce the rcs.. It will be more effective and cost-effective

    (will be almost free if they go for chinise:troll:)
     
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  4. smestarz

    smestarz Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Based on what I made bold. thats what everyone knows, who does not know that??
    Now. is there a good news?
     
  5. smestarz

    smestarz Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Actually they can get Chinese J-21 and modify with American Avionics and then have a competition between F-35 and J-21 mod and then give the order to the winner. I think the chinese plane might have a better chance, (F-35A against J-21) and that might actually save the Americans a lot of money and they can afford to give at lower price as agreed to the buyers. its win win win win situation for everyone.
    Then Lockheed martin can take their own sweet time to develop the B and C versions.
     
  6. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    They could have made F-35 at least a twin engine fighter

    that would have solved a number of it problems
     
  7. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    The F22 and F35 are about a 25 year leap in revoluntionary aircraft design, this a very difficult concept for people from developing countries whos aircraft are already 25 years behind the USA to understand and accept. The F22 and F35 could be half as good as they are and still the USA would defeat any airforce in the world.
     
  8. Marqueur

    Marqueur Peaceful Silence ELITE MEMBER

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    person who cannot differentiate between a lion and tiger ... is telling us about f22 n f35 concept ...
     
  9. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Pentagon Downgrades Specs for Its Premier Stealth Jet ? Again | Danger Room | Wired.com

    The latest bad news came in mid-January the form of the annual weapons-testing report (.pdf) overseen by J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. The report revealed that the government’s F-35 program office had changed performance specs for all three JSF variants: the Air Force’s F-35A; the vertical-landing Marine Corps F-35B; and the carrier-launched F-35C flown mainly by the Navy.

    [​IMG]

    “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,” Gilmore’s report stated. The F-35B and F-35C also had their turn rates and acceleration time eased. The B-model jet’s max turn went from 5.0 to 4.5 g’s and its acceleration time to Mach 1.2 was extended by 16 seconds. The F-35C lost 0.1 g off its turn spec and added a whopping 43 seconds to its acceleration.

    The changes likely reflect higher-than-expected drag on the JSF’s single-engine airframe, according to Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week. The implications for frontline pilots are pretty serious. Less maneuverability makes the F-35 more vulnerable in a dogfight. And the slower acceleration means the plane can spend less time at top speed. “A long, full-power transonic acceleration burns a lot of fuel,” Sweetman explained.

    This is not the first time the Pentagon has altered its standards to give the JSF a pass. In early 2012, the military granted the F-35 a longer takeoff run than originally required and tweaked the plane’s standard flight profile in order to claw back some of the flying range lost to increasing weight and drag.
     
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  10. G777

    G777 Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    FUK IT!!!

    If the govt and America fuks up then let it be, I will write them an email "I told you so". Goddamn idiots.
     
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  11. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Lockheed's Dubious Claim: Stealth Fighter Will Get Stealthier With Age | Danger Room | Wired.com

    There have been a lot of sketchy claims made about the long-delayed, over-budget F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, history’s most expensive weapon program. But this one takes the cake. According to Stephen O’Bryan, a vice president at F-35-maker Lockheed Martin, the radar-evading jet fighter will actually get stealthier over time — without any upgrades.

    To be clear, every other stealth warplane has steadily lost its ability to dodge enemy radars owing to wear and tear on the plane’s special skin coating. Not so the F-35, O’Bryan said.

    In the latest issue of Air Force magazine, O’Bryan insisted the single-engine JSF, which is projected to cost $1 trillion to develop, buy and maintain, is fundamentally different than its predecessors. “The surface material smooths out over time, slightly reducing the F-35’s original radar signature, according to the Lockheed Martin official,” John Tirpak wrote.

    With the older F-22, B-2 and F-117 stealth warplanes, the opposite happened. All three of the previous models saw their surfaces gradually degrade and all required expensive upgrades just to maintain their radar-avoiding qualities at the original levels. In light of other empty promises Lockheed has made regarding the F-35, it’s highly unlikely the new jet will buck this historical trend.

    Looking back, the 59 Lockheed-made F-117s, retired in 2008, was by all accounts a nightmare to maintain — a consequence of its 1970s-vintage technology. The F-117 owed its stealthiness to its angular shape, putty and later tape to cover radar-reflective seams in the fuselage and an external coating of radar-absorbing material.

    The F-117s were hand-built by Lockheed, each to a slightly different design with varying levels of stealth. Maintaining them was said to be more of an art than a science. Over time, that only increased the jets’ differences — and their visibility to sensors. Starting in 1999, the Air Force spent roughly $1 million per plane to normalize the fleet. “Standardizing the configuration will preserve radar cross-section performance,” the Federation of American Scientists explained.

    The 21 B-2s, manufactured by Northrop Grumman in the late ’80s and ’90s, were based on more sophisticated technology than were the F-117s, with smooth surfaces replacing the sharp angles. But like the F-117s, the larger B-2s lost their radar-defeating edge over time. In particular, the radar-absorbing material surrounding the B-2′s engines cracked and disintegrated in the extreme heat of the jet exhaust, compromising the bomber’s stealth. In 2010 the Air Force Research Laboratory demonstrated a new composite material meant to better resist the heat.

    Likewise, the 187 F-22s that Lockheed built for the Air Force ending this year also required upgrades just to maintain their elusiveness. A Washington Post investigation in 2009 found that the F-22s’ radar-absorbing coatings could be damaged by rain — a claim the Air Force denied.

    In any event, “the number of maintenance personnel required to maintain the F-22A’s specialized stealth exterior has increased, posing a continuing support challenge for this aircraft,” the Government Accountability Office warned in May. Now the Air Force is installing new, more robust stealthy components under the $1.3 billion Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program.

    Lockheed’s O’Bryan told reporter Tirpak that the F-35′s advanced technology will reverse this trend of gradually eroded stealth. In contrast to old-style coatings, “the conductive materials needed to absorb and disperse incoming radar energy [on the F-35] are baked directly into the aircraft’s multilayer composite skin and structure,” Tirpak reported, citing O’Bryan.

    Over time the JSF’s skin will settle, O’Bryan boasted, making it even smoother and more radar-evasive — all without any of the expensive upgrades required by previous stealth planes.

    The F-35, of which the Pentagon plans to buy more than 2,400, is a brand-new design that’s still only part-way through testing, so it’s impossible to verify O’Bryan’s claim. Only time will tell for sure.

    But it’s worth noting the extreme pressure on O’Bryan and other Lockheed execs to extol, even exaggerate, the F-35′s capabilities. When JSF development began around 15 years ago, only the U.S. possessed stealth warplanes. But today Russia, Japan and most notably China are also working on their own radar-defeating models. It’s no longer enough for the F-35 to merely duplicate the skills of older U.S. stealth jets; it must significantly improve on them in order to stay ahead of foreign rivals. In this context it’s not hard to see why O’Bryan would promise the impossible, or at least improbable.

    That said, Lockheed officials have made unlikely claims before. Back when the F-35 was still on the drawing board, the firm said the new plane would perform better than conventional fighters such as the F-16 — and would be cheaper, to boot. Neither claim turned out to be true. Nor did the F-35 enter service in 2008, as originally promised.

    So when O’Bryan insists his company’s new stealth fighter will dodge a problem that has vexed every previous radar-evading jet, it’s wise to be very, very skeptical.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    F-35 is 25 year leap backwards, and that is counting from 1980. Crap maneuverability, huge IR signature, large visual signature, large RCS v/s any radar except X-band ones, can fly four times a week... do I really need to continue?
     
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  13. G777

    G777 Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Is that why its so heavy. Because the skin is like concrete :troll: congrete gets hard over time. Although I do remember finding in the past that the stealth coating is different to the F-35s, however, I only found that it was due the skin being more maintainable and cheaper, however I doubt the skin (if true) will get a chance to become stealthier over time due to wearing out over time with operational use.
     
  14. G777

    G777 Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Leave it to this guy:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
  15. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    God save the F-35:smile:

    Its one really harassed plane and its got no one but itself to blame.
     
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