Defense Issues

Military and general security

Actual F-35 unit cost

Posted by Picard578 on September 28, 2013

In 2012, Lockheed has been awarded ten contracts for LRIP Lot 5, with total value of 5,876 billion USD for 32 aircraft; thus per-unit airframe cost is 183,6 million USD. This, however, does not include the engine; engine for F-35A costs 38,4 million USD, which makes unit flyaway cost of 222 million USD for Lot 5. Lot 4 aircraft cost 179,2 million USD without the engine, with engine adding 39,4 million USD; unit flyaway cost is thus 218,6 million USD per aircraft.

This earlier article shows F-35 LRIP 5 cost to be 203,4 million USD, with F-35A costing 172 million USD, F-35B 291,7 million USD, and F-35C 235,8 million USD. It is easy to notice that STOVL version – which is source of many, though not all, problems with F-35s design – is the most expensive one. According to this article, unit flyaway costs were 195,5 million USD for F-35A and 216,6 million USD for F-35B and C in 2012, and 187,7 million USD for F-35A and 277,9 million USD for F-35B/C in 2013. 2014 request gives F-35A unit cost as 188,5 million USD.

Israel, which unlike other countries can not use US help to buy aircraft (which has effect bringing the cost way below actual production cost) was offered 75 F-35As for a price of 202,6 million USD per aircraft.  As can be seen above, this cost is only what Israel would have paid for aircraft themselves, and does not include support hardware, weapons or other related expenses.

This document shows FY2013 budget submission for USAF. On page 10, FY2012 cost is shown to be 3.545.196.000 USD for 18 F-35A, or 197 million USD for each F-35A. Page 11 shows FY2013 cost to be 3.353.279.000 USD for 19 F-35A, or 176.488.368 USD for F-35A unit flyaway. F-35 modifications for FY 2013 cost 147.995.000 USD, or 7.789.210 USD per aircraft; as a result, F-35A unit cost is 184.277.587.000 USD.

Conclusion: F-35 unit flyaway cost is between 180 and 300 million USD depending on variant.

Costs are unlikely to go down, and are actually likely to go up. Reason for this is that modern fighter aircraft are upgraded continuously, disallowing design to settle and potentially be optimized for mass production. Moreover, F-35, with its exclusive dependance on high-tech gadgets, will end up being massively upgraded over its lifetime. This process is actually obvious in all modern fighter aircraft: F-16A costs 30 million USD; far more electronics-heavy F-16C costs 70 million USD. F-15A costs 42,7 million USD; F-15C costs 126,2 million USD. Eurofighter Typhoon is an exception, with both T2 and T3 costing around 137 million USD. All values are in FY-2013 USD. As F-35 is far closer to the F-15s philosophy of reliance on high technology than the F-16s philosophy of comparatively simple approach (in fact, F-16 had its internal space intentionally limited by Fighter Mafia in order to prevent too much electronics being stuffed into it), F-35 is likely to end up costing 600-900 million USD (FY-2013) by the end of its service. Further, modern fighter aircraft are not produced but built, especially stealth aircraft – there is no WW2-like assembly line, and stealth aircraft are inherently incompatible with it. Neither are savings predicted by the DoD – namely, in labor costs and parts production – likely to occur; if anything, these costs will increase.

In fact, while F-35 production costs have been going down between 2009 and 2011, from 2011 to 2014 they have been in a steady increase, without any sign of slowing down. This is in complete contrast with official line that costs are coming down, and is remiscent of F-22s cost increase. F-22s unit flyaway cost did level off at 200 million USD per aircraft by year 5 of procurement (2008), only to go back up towards end of the program, finally reaching 250 million USD (273 million USD in FY13 USD).

These costs also do not include R&D expenses, which are paid for separately. These are estimated to total 40 billion USD; with 3132 aircraft expected to be procured by program partners, costs will total 12,8 million USD per aircraft – more, if number of aircraft procured is reduced. In fact, my own estimate is that total F-35 procurement might fall down to 800 aircraft among program partners, bringing per-aircraft R&D costs to 50 million USD, and F-35A cost to 240 million USD – even discounting any design fixes and consequent R&D budget and production cost increases that are certain to happen. However, 40 billion USD for R&D is most likely an underestimation due to F-35s troubles; best avaliable estimate puts total R&D cost estimate at 60 billion USD. This results in 19 million USD R&D cost per aircraft if expected number of aircraft is procured, and 75 million USD in more likely situation of total orders being cut to 800.

There are other costs too: amphibious ships and even air fields require significant modifications to accomodate STOVL F-35B. Aircraft itself is very hard to maintain and requires large amounts of fuel. For this reason, it is likely to have cost per flying hour that is 70-80% of F-22s, translating into 42.700 to 48.800 USD per hour of flight – higher cost is more likely.

It should be noted that exports are not indicative of F-35s unit cost since significant percentage of cost is paid for by US Government, under expectations that any investment to secure F-35s exports will be profitable since F-35s have to go to US for maintenance and upgrades – which comes with a price tag.

How much capability is gained for all this expense? Not much, as F-35 isn’t good fighter aircraft – too slow and sluggish to survive aerial combat, too fast and vulnerable to carry out good CAS, and is not a good bomber either due to the limited payload when in stealth configuration – any external payload negates any stealth advantages it has compared to the F-16C. In fact, while it is expected to replace F-16, F-18, EA-6, F-111, A-10 and AV-8B, it is decisively inferior to each of these aircraft in their roles, and it replaces 6 aircraft types not with one, but with three. More in the links below:

http://www.winwithoutwar.org/blog/entry/the-f-35-newer-isnt-always-better/

https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/f-35-analysis/

https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/f-35s-air-to-air-capability-or-lack-thereof/

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221 Responses to “Actual F-35 unit cost”

  1. hgr said

    http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/112513-680586-beijing-east-china-sea-maritime-grab.htm

    This or similar is the likely scenario for the next non-nuclear conflict… China taking away small slices of this or that not worth a nuke but still worth fighting for.

    From the article, ” The islands became Japan’s territory after it defeated China in their 1894-1895 war. It was only after a 1968 United Nations survey reported the huge oil and gas potential of the area that Beijing began to protest the 1972 U.S. return of the islets to Japanese control as part of Okinawa. The U.S. is obligated to defend the islands under the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which covers all territories under Japanese administration, including the Senkakus.”

    The oil part reminds me of the Chaco war; they also thought there was oil there.

    If one looks at this it will be entirely Naval and over 3000 miles away from the USA. We will have Guam, Okinawa and what else to base our forces in and the carriers will have to be careful how close they get to this patch of land since they would be very vulnerable among those islands that will no doubt be infested with submarines.

  2. Jerrick said

    Radar-based combat never was decisive against competent opponent, and pilots often shut down the radar exactly to avoid warning the opponent. AdlA has recognized it, as did Dassault, and they chose not to sacrifice aerodynamics for uselessly large radar since Rafale is primarly air superiority fighter. Thus developing capable IR systems was imperative, and it shows: F-35 uses several narrow-view IR cameras as missile warners while Rafale uses two fisheye ones, a simpler and more reliable system.

    The AdlA/MN/MoD is hugely cutting back on Rafale orders, haven’t ordered an HMDS to save money, but is STILL spending millions of euros during a financial crunch to induct GaAs AESAs and develop GaN technology. And YOU still think radars are useless.

    You can also likewise hardly expect an IRST optimized for ground attack to have parity with IRSTs otpimized for air-to-air.

    Only if the IRSTs are comparable technologically. You’re yet to substantiate your assertion about France being ahead or even at par with the US.

    First look it certainly would be (especially against PAK FA or F-22), at least if equipped with capable radar warners in addition to the IRST, first shot is doubtful due to kinematic disadvantage.

    And yet the world including France isn’t racing to buy IRST equipped AJTs at a fifth of the cost of a conventional aircraft. Nor are air forces that are buying AJTs or light fighters overly concerned with getting an IRST onboard ASAP.

    It would appear your theory about radar based air combat becoming redundant has very few takers.

    Yes.

    And you don’t believe this opinion about ‘France being right and everyone else wrong’ is biased somewhat by your being French?

    I’d wait for few years before using Libya as an example. 98% accuracy claimed at first often turns out to be 9,8% after some time.

    In which conflict has PGM accuracy ever been recorded as 9.8%.

    So far we have your gut feeling vs actual records in combat.

    Except for NATO running out of PGMs during Bosnian and Lybian campaigns?

    Just goes to make my point. PGMs stocks ran low because PGMs were being expended. How much gun strafing took place?

    Except unlike US and Eurofighter consortium, they chose not to sacrifice Rafale’s aerodynamic performance for sake of mounting a larger radar.

    They wouldn’t have bothered with a radar if strapping an IRST for air-to-air and LDP for air-to-ground would have sufficed. For that matter they could have saved about $20 billion by foregoing the Rafale altogether, and upgrading the Mirage 2000 with an IRST instead.

    Yet not only did they put a radar on it, they’ve spend billions upgrading it.

    I did not include only major powers, and I did not include only powers which were fighting in 1939-1940. USSR was still in World War I mentality, so were United States, and especially all smaller countries (Netherlands with its water barricade system, Belgium with their forts, Yugoslavia, etc.).

    There WERE only three major powers during the day viz. Britain, France and Germany. The US had an isolationist military policy, the Soviet forces were militia centric and coping with the results of the Great Purge. NOBODY else had the industrial strength to implement mechanized maneuver warfare.

    So Germany being the ‘only’ one to figure it out is less impressive than it sounds. And the factors that influenced France and UK i.e. bureaucratic inertia and financial conservatism don’t apply to modern militaries.

    Every major air force today fields IRSTs and is well aware of what their real capabilities are. And there are extensive theoretical and field exercises carried out every year to validate existing operational theories and test futuristic theories of warfare. So the parallel to WWII doesn’t hold water.

    I never said it war, in fact Great Britain had a major influence on it, but Germany was only country to actually employ it.

    Both the UK and US fielded experimental mechanical forces between the wars, before funding was withdrawn. In France however, the influence of Foch and Petain curtailed the development of combined arms warfare.

    In war, the Germans were hardly the only ones to employ those precepts. Zhukov’s operation in Manchuria (Khalkhin Gol) precedes the invasion of Poland. Patton didn’t study under Guderian before taking command of the Third US Army. And before Rommel earned his sobriquet ‘Desert Fox’, armored forces under O’Connor had pulled off a major triumph in North Africa during Op Compass.

    Gripen E has been advertised as super-cruiser, never heard about Gripen C being advertised as such. And while Gripen C may be able to supercruise, it depends on altitude and temperature.

    That was a typo. The intended sentence was – the Gripen C has never been advertised as a supercruiser. So referring to its lack of supercruise is pointless.

    One of engines was in afterburner, another was in dry thrust.

    I’d like to see references, if you have any, to that. what was point of such an exercise? Besides that still isn’t supercruise in any case.

    This has nothing to do with procuring modern fixed-wing tactical aircraft, which is far more lucrative.

    What does ‘more lucrative’ have to do with it? The contracts cumulatively are worth over $7 billion, hardly something to scoff at, even for the US industry.

  3. Jerrick said

    Not effectively.

    Of course they’re effective. That’s why they’ve been employed by the thousands while the

    A-10 is being retired early.

    No, but they bump against each other and sometimes against the aircraft when released,

    bending the fins; guidance system always has a margin of error, and higher the speed and

    altitude, more likely it is to over- or under- -correct; guidance system can be improperly

    maintained, or fail during the flight; weather conditions can interfere with some types of

    PGMs (laser-guided bombs are especially vulnerable to this); it can hit a target that has

    been misidentified from high altitude (even satellites can’t tell cardboard cutaways from

    real things)…

    Unless the aircraft is engaging violent jinxing, there’s no bumping against the fuselage

    and as long as they are released in a staggered manner, there’s no question of PGMs bumping

    against each other.

    Modern guidance systems can and do steer the munition to within a meter of the target. MMW

    seekers are not affected by weather. And resolution of current EO sensors is three

    generations ahead of the Vietnam-era units that you have used to form your template.

    There are Su-25 operators beyond Russia (Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijian, Belarus, Chad,

    Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Gambia, Iran, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Peru,

    Sudan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan). Plus there are Super Tucanos, which are good CAS

    aircraft albeit more vulnerable than Su-25s (operated by Angola, Brazil, Burkina Faso,

    Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mauritania).

    Right. So air forces of Georgia, Ethiopia, North Korea, Sudan and Peru are capable for far

    superior CAS than those of any NATO force minus the US. Can’t say I’ve heard that before.

    Vietnam I think.

    So the last time CAS was ‘properly’ performed was 40 years ago in Vietnam?

    No idea, but fact that aircraft which are not designed for strafing, and whose pilots in

    some cases did not even train for it were forced to do it should be answer enough.

    Occassionally soldiers in the field employ sidearms. That doesn’t mean a pistol is in any

    way a substitute for a carbine or rifle. The fact that strafing has been perform on the odd

    occassion means nothing, especially when compared to the tens of thousands of PGMs employed

    over the last decade.

    You can’t take an aberration and standardize around it.

    You mean except for numerous friendly-fire incidents (some of which I have mentioned in

    another article BTW).

    Really? And how many of those friendly fire incidents happened because of wayward PGMs (as

    opposed to IFF issues)? And this is out of the thousands of times they’ve been employed.

    At first, but it would change after few friendly fire incidents.

    Other way round. Most operations in the Gulf and Balkans were flown at over 10,000 feet.

    So far we have only your opinion that PGMs are a hazard to ground forces. The sheer scale

    of their employment over the last decade is conclusive evidence against it.

    Issue was both.

    Issue was not both. The non-combatant casualties were sustained because of IFF issues.

    In ideal circumstances.

    In normal circumstances.

    Politicians wanted to minimize casualties and air force generals wanted to make the A-10

    look bad.

    You mean it was the politicians who concluded that flying medium to high altitude (instead

    of 45 feet like you suggest) was safer and not the air force? You’d be wrong if that’s the

    case. You’re the ONLY one suggesting that the A-10 can fly safely at 45 feet.

    A-10 can survive both most of the time.

    The A-10 was a casualty 100% of the times it was hit. And a write-off 66% of the time.

    That is their standard modus operandi. F-22 for example, which was not properly tested

    before being put into production and was underperforming in several major characteristics,

    including stealth.

    ^^

    These are called allegations. What actual EVIDENCE do you have that the FLM program was a

    scam?

    Less maneuverable despite having lower wing loading? And BTW, high angle of attack does

    not make you more maneuverable beyond the maximum lift AoA.

    Yes its less maneuverable despite having lower wing loading. The Mirage 2000 has a lower

    wing loading than the A-10C, it doesn’t make it more maneuverable than the latter at low

    speeds?

    At the low speeds associated with strafing and carrier operations, the aircraft with the

    higher AoA will almost always be more maneuverable.

    • picard578 said

      “The AdlA/MN/MoD is hugely cutting back on Rafale orders, haven’t ordered an HMDS to save money, but is STILL spending millions of euros during a financial crunch to induct GaAs AESAs and develop GaN technology. And YOU still think radars are useless.”

      Radar is primarly useful for ground attack and terrain mapping.

      “Only if the IRSTs are comparable technologically. You’re yet to substantiate your assertion about France being ahead or even at par with the US.”

      And what proof you have that US are at par with or ahead France, despite latter’s greater focus on, and experience with, IR technologies?

      “It would appear your theory about radar based air combat becoming redundant has very few takers.”

      It wouldn’t be first time entire world was wrong… sheep following a blind shepherd.

      “And you don’t believe this opinion about ‘France being right and everyone else wrong’ is biased somewhat by your being French?”

      Except I’m not French, I’m Croatian. Or maybe being fan of Star Trek makes me French?

      “In which conflict has PGM accuracy ever been recorded as 9.8%.”

      It never was 9,8%, but it never was as high as it was claimed.

      “Just goes to make my point. PGMs stocks ran low because PGMs were being expended. How much gun strafing took place?”

      PGM stocks ran low because expenditure was high and they were too costly to be produced in quantities required – and that against a minor opponent. In an actual war, gun strafing would *have* to take place because after some time there wouldn’t be any PGMs left.

      “They wouldn’t have bothered with a radar if strapping an IRST for air-to-air and LDP for air-to-ground would have sufficed. For that matter they could have saved about $20 billion by foregoing the Rafale altogether, and upgrading the Mirage 2000 with an IRST instead.”

      Radar is required to enable high-speed aircraft some level of ground attack ability, as for upgrading Mirage 2000, it is obvious that you don’t understand what you’re talking about. Mirage 2000 doesn’t come close to Rafale either aerodynamically or structurally. Plus there is always “we always used radar, let’s continue using it even though better tech is avaliable” mentality.

      “And the factors that influenced France and UK i.e. bureaucratic inertia and financial conservatism don’t apply to modern militaries.”

      If you knew anything about modern-day militaries you wouldn’t be saying so. Bureocratic inertia and financial conservativism are inherent parts of any military, even French and Swedish ones, and especially US military.

      “In war, the Germans were hardly the only ones to employ those precepts.”

      They were first ones to employ combined arms warfare in organized manner.

      “Of course they’re effective. That’s why they’ve been employed by the thousands while the A-10 is being retired early.”

      A-10 is being retired early because it is effective, as it is antithesis to dogma that more expensive weapons are more capable.

      “Unless the aircraft is engaging violent jinxing, there’s no bumping against the fuselage”

      Wrong. Ever heard about air flow? Vortexes?

      “and as long as they are released in a staggered manner, there’s no question of PGMs bumping against each other.”

      Again wrong.



      Better read the whole article:
      https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/the-myth-of-the-precision-bombing/

      “So air forces of Georgia, Ethiopia, North Korea, Sudan and Peru are capable for far superior CAS than those of any NATO force minus the US. Can’t say I’ve heard that before.”

      If somebody does everything he can to destroy his capability in a certain area…

      “So the last time CAS was ‘properly’ performed was 40 years ago in Vietnam?”

      Probably, if you’re talking about US and ignoring incidents (quite frequent) when A-10 pilots broke the altitude limits in order to perform CAS.

      “Occassionally soldiers in the field employ sidearms. That doesn’t mean a pistol is in any way a substitute for a carbine or rifle. The fact that strafing has been perform on the odd occassion means nothing, especially when compared to the tens of thousands of PGMs employed over the last decade.”

      Does it mean that soldiers should be denied their sidearms and knives, as “assault rifle is a primary weapon”? Besides, such incidents aren’t really rare.

      “You can’t take an aberration and standardize around it.”

      I’m not doing it.

      “Really? And how many of those friendly fire incidents happened because of wayward PGMs (as opposed to IFF issues)?”

      Wayward PGMs = caused by high-altitude flying.
      IFF issues = caused by high altitude flying.

      It’s the same problem, no matter how much you and USAF bureocrats want to separate it.

      “Other way round. Most operations in the Gulf and Balkans were flown at over 10,000 feet. So far we have only your opinion that PGMs are a hazard to ground forces. The sheer scale of their employment over the last decade is conclusive evidence against it.”

      Most operations in Gulf and Balkans were not CAS, and even then they caused far more harm to Coalition efforts than did they help them.

      “In normal circumstances.”

      “Normal” being “lab” to you.

      “You mean it was the politicians who concluded that flying medium to high altitude (instead of 45 feet like you suggest) was safer and not the air force? You’d be wrong if that’s the case. You’re the ONLY one suggesting that the A-10 can fly safely at 45 feet.”

      Air Force generals are also politicians, unfortunately. At least in USAF, and I’m afraid other NATO air forces aren’t much better.

      “The A-10 was a casualty 100% of the times it was hit. And a write-off 66% of the time.”

      If you’re talking about large SAMs, maybe.

      “These are called allegations. What actual EVIDENCE do you have that the FLM program was a scam?”

      They had to add more stealth coating to get original performance. Oh, and F-22s not being able to fly in the rain.

      “Of course they’re effective. That’s why they’ve been employed by the thousands while the A-10 is being retired early.”

      A-10s are being retired early exactly because they are effective.

      • HGR said

        The retiring of the A-10 is not exactly a done deal yet. The A-10 is victimized by USA AF politics and the excuse being given is that it is not “multi-role” and when forced to choose the multi-role aircraft is more valuable than the single role. And Picard has spoken about this subject… the single role is always superior at its one role than the multi-role is.

        Congress has not bought these AF arguments just yet and they might mandate that the airforce keep the A-10. Also possible is that the Army could complain and threaten to obtain permission from Congress to operate their own aircrafts like the Marines do and this will help the AF make up their mind to keep the A-10. Has happened before.

        All this fuels a huge fleet of rotary wing aircrafts that the Army has no problem operating and can rely on not being retired. But helicopters only go so far.

    • Jerrick said

      Radar is primarly useful for ground attack and terrain mapping.

      That’s a weak excuse and you know it. The primary sensor for ground attack is ALWAYS the

      LDP. Also the RBE 2 PESA could carry out terrain mapping just fine. You don’t need an AESA

      let alone a GaN AESA to reproduce the basic multi-functionality of PESAs and late model

      MSAs.

      And what proof you have that US are at par with or ahead France, despite latter’s greater

      focus on, and experience with, IR technologies?

      I don’t need proof. Its YOUR assertion that the EOTS is underranged, and the onus is on you to back that up. So far you’ve presented only hazy generalizations to support that.

      If you have actual range estimates or concerns about its range voiced by credible authorities, please share, otherwise all you have so far is guesswork.

      It wouldn’t be first time entire world was wrong… sheep following a blind shepherd.

      Well then, come out and say it.

      EVERYONES who’s developing, purchasing or considering advanced radars or stealth fighters

      (this including the French thanks to their AESA program) is a fool who can’t see that air

      combat involving radars is over and ONLY you i.e. Picard578 are right.

      If you believe it who am I to say otherwise. 🙂

      In which conflict has PGM accuracy ever been recorded as 9.8%.”

      It never was 9,8%, but it never was as high as it was claimed.

      So the 9.8% figure was rhetoric?

      PGM stocks ran low because expenditure was high and they were too costly to be produced in quantities required – and that against a minor opponent. In an actual war, gun strafing

      would *have* to take place because after some time there wouldn’t be any PGMs left.

      Since the British Army found itself short of ammunition in both Afghanistan and Iraq,

      perhaps they should give up bullets since they are ‘over-sophisticated’ and return to

      muskets if not swords.

      85% of employment in the Balkans in the 90s consisted of PGMs. If the Europeans ran short

      of PGMs in Libya than that is either an indictment of their pre-campaign planning or a

      result of biting off more than they could chew. Its certainly no reflection on the utility

      of PGMs itself, nor of strafing as an alternative.

      Radar is required to enable high-speed aircraft some level of ground attack ability, as

      for upgrading Mirage 2000, it is obvious that you don’t understand what you’re talking

      about. Mirage 2000 doesn’t come close to Rafale either aerodynamically or structurally.

      Plus there is always “we always used radar, let’s continue using it even though better tech

      is avaliable” mentality.

      The Rafale aerodynamic advantages vis a vis the Mirage aren’t something known only to you.

      And its equally true that the difference is not worth $25 billion.

      Also the Mirage doesn’t have an AESA but the RDY-2 is capable of all air to ground

      operations including SAR functions. It is curious however that despite knowing that the Mirage 2000 would serve till at least till 2030, the French didn’t integrate a dedicated IRST on even the newer Mirage 2000-5s (acc. to you its the aircraft’s PRIMARY sensor), leaving the Mirage with only a limited feed from its MICAs (and none once they’re expended).

      If you knew anything about modern-day militaries you wouldn’t be saying so. Bureocratic

      inertia and financial conservativism are inherent parts of any military, even French and

      Swedish ones, and especially US military.

      ALL bureaucratic organisations are slow and conservative. But you’ve clearly not studied the situation that prevailed during the inter-war years. Its not comparable in the least to the years when most current aircraft were designed. They was genuinely little money or political will available for mass scale mechanization of their armies.

      In contrast, if radars were obsolete (as you claim) current air forces have had more than adequate opportunity to discover it as well as enough incentive to sideline it operationally.

      They were first ones to employ combined arms warfare in organized manner.

      Wrong. Combined arms warfare played a critical role in breaking the stalemate in 1918. And as far as armoured manever warfare is concerned it was employed under Zhukov’s forces in Manchuria even before the invasion of Poland.

      • picard578 said

        “That’s a weak excuse and you know it.”

        Cut the bullshit. It is not an excuse, it is fact. Can you use LDP for terrain mapping?

        “Its YOUR assertion that the EOTS is underranged, and the onus is on you to back that up. So far you’ve presented only hazy generalizations to support that.”

        I did not present hazy generalizations, I have explained that EOTS is optimized for grund attack, which means different wavelengths when compared to air-to-air optimized OSF or PIRATE.

        “So the 9.8% figure was rhetoric?”

        It was.

        “Since the British Army found itself short of ammunition in both Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps they should give up bullets since they are ‘over-sophisticated’ and return to muskets if not swords.”

        Unlike PGMs, bullets are comparably easy to produce.

        “85% of employment in the Balkans in the 90s consisted of PGMs.”

        And US ran out of PGMs while achieving almost nothing of military value.

        “In contrast, if radars were obsolete (as you claim) current air forces have had more than adequate opportunity to discover it as well as enough incentive to sideline it operationally.”

        No, they didn’t. As I have explained, militaries are inherently conservative bureocracies, which means that they require a VERY hard kick in the ass to change their faulty ways. US received milder version of it in Vietnam, resulting in the F-16, F-18 and A-10; first of which came to account for half of US tactical air power, second of which outlasted “more capable” F-14 in US Navy service, and last of which is the only US aircraft capable of carrying out Close Air Support.

        “Wrong. Combined arms warfare played a critical role in breaking the stalemate in 1918. And as far as armoured manever warfare is concerned it was employed under Zhukov’s forces in Manchuria even before the invasion of Poland.”

        It was employed in World War I but that was, to my knowledge, rather ad-hoc and happened on operational, as opposed to doctrinal, level.

    • Jerrick said

      A-10 is being retired early because it is effective, as it is antithesis to dogma that more expensive weapons are more capable.

      A sentiment that is contradicted by the induction of UAVs in the USAF on a huge scale.

      Wrong. Ever heard about air flow? Vortexes?

      A hardpoint isn’t hinged. And unless there is a strong cross-wind blowing, the direction of the munition is always DOWNWARDS.

      Again wrong.



      http://www.combatreform.org/oops4.jpg

      Firstly, that’s not a staggered launch. The munitions in the pictures were deployed near simultaneously.

      Secondly, of the munitions mentioned i.e. Brimstone, Hellfire, Maverick and SDB II, the SDB II is the ONLY a glide bomb.

      Better read the whole article:
      https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/the-myth-of-the-precision-bombing

      You’re quoting YOURSELF as credible expert?! Ookay…

      Lets see there’s the expected but irrelevant reiteration of CAS in WWII, Vietnam and so on.
      Then there is misleading information such as the 2001 deaths of US SF members in a B-52 strike being an indictment of high altitude employment/PGM accuracy (the actual cause was an error in updating coordinates by the team on ground).

      Then there is altogether wrong information, such as the Tornado proving itself survivable in Iraq and only 14 militants being killed by drones in Afghanistan (Morning Star? Really?)

      But the biggest flaw is that you’ve entirely sidestepped the performance of the actual munitions that will be employed in CAS. Brimstone. Hellfire. Maverick. SDB-II.

      If somebody does everything he can to destroy his capability in a certain area…

      And this ‘someone’ includes nearly ‘everyone’, huh? UK, France, China, India, Japan … ALL sleeping.

      Does it mean that soldiers should be denied their sidearms and knives, as “assault rifle is a primary weapon”? Besides, such incidents aren’t really rare.

      Their use in combat vis a vis rifles/carbines is rare. And just like their one off employment in combat doesn’t change the rifle’s utility, the occasional strafing run in Afghanistan doesn’t change the PGM’s utility.

      Wayward PGMs = caused by high-altitude flying
      IFF issues = caused by high altitude flying.

      Please post actual evidence of PGM altitude changing with altitude (studies, reports and so on).

      Civilian casualties are more often than not a result of intelligence failure. There’s no evidence to prove that inadequate resolution on EO sensors has resulted in any significant casualties. On the other hand, if you have such evidence (actual evidence, not a gut feeling) do share.

      It’s the same problem, no matter how much you and USAF bureocrats want to separate it.

      Your asking your reader to take at your word, since you’ve posted very little supporting data.

      Most operations in Gulf and Balkans were not CAS, and even then they caused far more harm

      to Coalition efforts than did they help them.

      That they were flown above 10,000ft illustrates the AF’s threat perception (which is predictably at 180 degrees from your own). As for air operations being useless/detrimental, that’s your ‘opinion’. Devoid of supporting data, it doesn’t translate into fact.

      Air Force generals are also politicians, unfortunately. At least in USAF, and I’m afraid

      other NATO air forces aren’t much better.

      You’ve again sidestepped the question. What POLITICAL considerations prevented A-10 flights at low altitude (if they were perfectly safe as you suggest)?

      If you’re talking about large SAMs, maybe.

      I’m not talking about large SAMs. The A-10 was a casualty when hit by AAA, SAMs and MANPADS. 100% of the time.

      They had to add more stealth coating to get original performance. Oh, and F-22s not being able to fly in the rain.

      You’re sidestepping the question yet again. I asked for evidence for your claim about the FLM program being a scam, not about F-22’s stealth coating.

      • picard578 said

        “A sentiment that is contradicted by the induction of UAVs in the USAF on a huge scale.”

        UAVs are neither cheap or effective. Reason they are inducted in USAF is that they crash a lot, thus providing a secure source of profit for military industry.

        “A hardpoint isn’t hinged. And unless there is a strong cross-wind blowing, the direction of the munition is always DOWNWARDS.”

        Air flow around the aircraft is turbulent.

        “Firstly, that’s not a staggered launch. The munitions in the pictures were deployed near simultaneously.

        Secondly, of the munitions mentioned i.e. Brimstone, Hellfire, Maverick and SDB II, the SDB II is the ONLY a glide bomb.”

        Irrelevant. Point is that munitions released bump into aircraft and each other, so even PGMs can get bent fins.

        “You’re quoting YOURSELF as credible expert?! Ookay…”

        I’m trying to explain you my position and reasons why I hold it.

        “Then there is misleading information such as the 2001 deaths of US SF members in a B-52 strike being an indictment of high altitude employment/PGM accuracy (the actual cause was an error in updating coordinates by the team on ground).”

        Cause of death was usage of high-altitude aircraft.

        “And this ‘someone’ includes nearly ‘everyone’, huh? UK, France, China, India, Japan … ALL sleeping.”

        Yes.

        “Their use in combat vis a vis rifles/carbines is rare. And just like their one off employment in combat doesn’t change the rifle’s utility, the occasional strafing run in Afghanistan doesn’t change the PGM’s utility.”

        No, but it means that using aircraft that are incapable of proper strafing is just as idiotic as denying soldiers their knives. I’m not denying that PGMs are useful. I’m denying that they are magical.

        “Civilian casualties are more often than not a result of intelligence failure. There’s no evidence to prove that inadequate resolution on EO sensors has resulted in any significant casualties. On the other hand, if you have such evidence (actual evidence, not a gut feeling) do share.”

        Check employment of drones, well, everywhere.

        “That they were flown above 10,000ft illustrates the AF’s threat perception (which is predictably at 180 degrees from your own). As for air operations being useless/detrimental, that’s your ‘opinion’. Devoid of supporting data, it doesn’t translate into fact.”

        Yes, because bombing embassies and schools really helps war effort…

        “You’ve again sidestepped the question. What POLITICAL considerations prevented A-10 flights at low altitude (if they were perfectly safe as you suggest)?”

        1) I never said they were “perfectly” safe, I said they were safe enough.
        2) I have already explained political considerations: USAF hatred of cheap (but effective) weapons. Including teh A-10.

        “I’m not talking about large SAMs. The A-10 was a casualty when hit by AAA, SAMs and MANPADS. 100% of the time.”

        Anything supporting that 100%?

        “I asked for evidence for your claim about the FLM program being a scam, not about F-22′s stealth coating.”

        LM did not deliver on their promises. They underestimated the cost, and modern F-22 is several times as expensive as LM predicted.

  4. Chris said

    Apparently the cost per flight hour of the Marine Corps variant may be even higher:

    “Advances in simulator technology have allowed the equipment to evolve from being a tool used to train standard procedures for pilots to support advanced tactics training, because the software is more realistic. Ultimately, 52% of the training syllabus for the F-35B will be handled in the simulator, also reducing the CPFH for the aircraft, Schmidle says. ”

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_07_15_2013_p42-594937.xml&p=2

    The Marine Corps counts simulator hours as part of their flight hours now.

    • BMACK said

      Hi Chris,

      With respect, your reference article is somewhat dated and a bit biased and short on facts, For instance it supposes that no lessons were learned from the F 22 experience. here is another viewpoint with an entirely different set of estimates.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-unitedtechnologies-pratt-idUSBRE9BJ1CD20131220

      • Chris said

        Without solid numbers, unfortunately, the article doesn’t present much. There’s also no unit costs.

        All it says really is that they’re aiming to lower the costs, which considering their past performance doesn’t mean much.

        • BMACK said

          You should read the entire article because there are unit costs in it along with dates. Note the part that states $75M per unit by 2019. Again you make assumptions that some very smart people did not learn from the F 22 experience. An erroneous assumption because as stated in the article, the recent P & W experience proves otherwise and this will be the model for cost reductions going forward. Anyway it is clear that since you obviously did not even bother to read the article, that you have already formed your own opinion and are too closed minded to be swayed from it, even when facts and logic are counter to it.

        • picard578 said

          Lockheed Martin are not very smart and they definetly didn’t learn from F-22 experience.

        • BMACK said

          Duh OK genius, I guess they aren’t as smart as you eh??

          BTW Just exactly how many aircraft have you designed and built?

      • Chris said

        “You should read the entire article because there are unit costs in it along with dates.”

        You misunderstand me. The $75 million is highly dubious at best, an outright lie at worst. I did read the article. It’s just that I do not believe that Lockheed Martin’s claims can be taken seriously.

        Earlier I said: “Without solid numbers, unfortunately, the article doesn’t present much.”

        What I want to see is a projection of what it costs now, what the problems are, what they are doing to fix them, how much it will cost to fix the problems, what modifications have to made for future models, and how much that will cost. That and the costs to fly, maintain, the existing ones.

        There are several other issues to consider:

        1. Testing is not yet complete and it’s likely that additional problems will be found. Given that by the time testing is finished, there will be many planes complete, they will all have to be retrofitted.

        2. If testing reveals further problems, then it’s inevitable that unit costs will have to rise for future aircraft as well.

        3. Certain capabilities have not yet been delivered. For example, the USAF wants nuclear capability on their F-35As. The costs are yet unknown.

        In fact, at the moment, I would not be surprised if anybody does not know how much it actually costs.

        Here though are the SAR figures:
        http://comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2014/FY2014_Weapons.pdf

        Go to page 14.

        Procurement costs are $6,149.4B for 29 fighters, 10 for the USN and 19 for the USAF.

        • BMACK said

          I find it interesting that you are demanding that level of detail from my source while yours offers nowhere close to that level of detail when presenting their position but you are willing to take that source at face value. This is because you have already closed your mind on the subject. A point evidenced by the fact that you believe everything LM and the US DoD says is a lie. Citing current and next FY costs for test and low production aircraft and R&D costs at this point is meaningless because they have nothing to do the actual full scale production costs. As for all of the future improvements you want figures on, these are impossible to predict and you know that or at least should know. They are after all FUTURE (post production) costs and therefore not included in initial full scale production costs. You should also know that the cost of future improvements and operating costs will be inherent with any new aircraft and are not unique to the F 35 so this is just a red herring.

          Also, you didn’t answer my question. Just exactly how many fighter aircraft have you designed and built? You sure talk like you are an expert. What are your credentials?

        • Chris said

          “I find it interesting that you are demanding that level of detail from my source while yours offers nowhere close to that level of detail when presenting their position but you are willing to take that source at face value.”

          Ok let’s talk about this for a moment.

          What have you provided? So far you have linked an article with a claim from a senior Lockheed employee (the program manager) claiming that the cost will go down to $75 million. That is hardly “detailed information”.

          I have provided the SAR figures from the government’s own figures:
          http://comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2014/FY2014_Weapons.pdf

          Although admittedly not of the same level of detail that I would like, it does give the procurement numbers for 2013 and 2014.

          “Citing current and next FY costs for test and low production aircraft and R&D costs at this point is meaningless because they have nothing to do the actual full scale production costs”

          Why is that? These aircraft that are being used for tests are highly similar to the ones that will eventually enter service in a couple of years (possibly later if the associated problems are not resolved). At the very least, it gives us a base to work with. We can expect x% of cost reduction per x number of planes. However, it rests on several assumptions as well:

          1. That no future problems are discovered (and given that the plane has not completed testing, this is unlikely)
          2. That the current order number does not change

          2 is highly in doubt at the moment, because many of the foreign partners have expressed concerns about the rising costs of the program and may back out or reduce their orders. That and given the delays, it’s possible that even in the US, alternatives may be sought out. Also, in the event that the costs cannot be reduced, there will be a “death spiral” in the number of domestic US orders as well.

          “As for all of the future improvements you want figures on, these are impossible to predict and you know that or at least should know. They are after all FUTURE (post production) costs and therefore not included in initial full scale production costs.”

          Incorrect.

          They are not so much improvements as they are “fixes” to problems that should have been discovered by this point (this program is already late). They are not post-production costs. This includes the various software problems, the helmet sight problems, and other problems that will need fixing before the aircraft can enter service (ex: lightning protection which is standard on all aircraft).

          “You should also know that the cost of future improvements and operating costs will be inherent with any new aircraft and are not unique to the F 35 so this is just a red herring.”

          No, they are not. These fixes as you call them must by addressed before this plane enters service.

          An improvement is something that you add onto a plane once it enters service and you want to enhance existing capabilities or give new abilities. A better IRST sensor that replaces existing sensors for example would be an “improvement”. The current sensor is working, but a new sensor is being added to improve the airplane.

          I call the issues that the F-35 are facing “fixes” because well, the aircraft has yet to enter service and it cannot until the issues stated are addressed.

          “Also, you didn’t answer my question. Just exactly how many fighter aircraft have you designed and built? You sure talk like you are an expert. What are your credentials?”

          I have never built a fighter. But does that make everything I say invalid right away? I do have some training in cost accountancy. I am currently studying to be a professional accountant for one. And I do have experience in manufacturing (granted in the automotive sector).

          I find this to be something of a red herring. I should mention that there have been people who have designed fighters and who are very critical of the way the JSF program has proceeded.

        • HGR said

          Merry Xmass to all. Well, Chris you could be right but you are probably wrong. Since coming into this page I have learned more and more about this aircraft and why it’s costs seem over the top. They have been increases there but the overall cost of the aircraft is highly dependent on the production totals and the larger those are the lower the cost. So it is more probable that the aircraft will be less expensive.

          Something that is indirectly helping the F-35 is China and North Korea. They are single handily promoting an arms race where there used to be none and the F-35 has become the indispensable aircraft to confront China’s very real threats as well as North Korea’s. More countries in the Pacific Rim are expressing interest. I guess that as an attack aircraft it appears to be getting decent reviews.

          This is not to detract from useful discussions and I noticed that Picard has a new post on the F-22 which is interesting. It seems to hint at the F-22 not being any better than a Rafale with in visual range. That is something interesting not necessarily to prove it right or wrong but to keep an eye on and follow on the news, etc.

          As a side bar; New Zealand just bought some Penguin missiles for its helicopters. they have no jet aircrafts but they do have helicopters and the Chinese are making them nervous too so they have decided to enhance their sea defenses a tad. Those are decent missiles of Norwegian manufacture and we own them too. It is a nice missile to have.

        • picard578 said

          If you take a look at modern aircraft costs, larger number of aircraft produced does mean lower production cost, but reductions are in single digit percentages at best. What gets reduced are R&D and production line set-up expenses per aircraft.

        • BMACK said

          Sorry Chris but anyone who knows anything about production of anything knows that quantity produced equals price per unit reductions and much more than a few percentage points. Higher numbers of product are directly proportional to reduced PRODUCTION COSTS (not R&D costs) because it allows for the purchase of more parts from suppliers who are in turn making more parts and therefore cutting their production costs. Higher production results in a small increase in wage and material costs but also allows for far greater efficiencies in assembly with the corresponding savings far outweighing any increase in production costs. This is business economics 101 stuff and why the more product you buy the cheaper it is and fighter planes are no exception. Once again, how many planes (or anything else for that matter) have you designed and produced?

        • picard578 said

          That is a myth that has long ago been dispelled for modern fighters, they simply undergo too many modifications for learning curve to really kick in.

        • BMACK said

          Sure, whatever. have any proof to dispel that “myth” or is that myth just mouth?

        • picard578 said

          Take a look at all modern fighters:
          – F-15: cost increased between models
          – F-16: cost increased between models and with each new block
          – Typhoon: cost is increasing with each new Tranche
          – Rafale: cost is increasing with each new standard
          – F-22: cost increased for much of production

        • BMACK said

          Check your facts’

          F15 and F16, no cost increase above inflation except for the F15 Strike Eagle and Stealth Eagle which added a new capability to the aircraft.
          Typhoon and Rafale. Actual production costs went down once it went into production and continue to go down however the reduction in orders for the Typhoon will from cash strapped EU nations will affect the price of that aircraft negatively.
          F 22 costs went up when the order was slashed by more than half.

          What was your point again?

        • picard578 said

          You don’t know or don’t want to know.

          F-16A: 30 million USD in FY2013 USD
          F-16C: 70 million USD in FY2013 USD

          F-15A: 43 million USD in FY2013 USD
          F-15C: 126 million USD in FY2013 USD

          Typhoon’s unit flyaway cost has gone up between Tranche 1 and 2, and stayed level between 2 and 3 – in the best case.

          F-22s unit flyaway cost kept increasing until they stabilized at 200 million USD.

          So you’re full of it.

        • BMACK said

          “F-16A: 30 million USD in FY2013 USD
          F-16C: 70 million USD in FY2013 USD
          F-15A: 43 million USD in FY2013 USD
          F-15C: 126 million USD in FY2013 USD”

          These increases are not due to inefficiencies of project mismanagement. These are two different versions of the same aircraft. One has far more and newer technological capabilities in it than the other. You are confusing improvements in an aircraft after initial development and production with later (years later) improvements in technology. This is like saying that costs have increased on a Ford sedan from when they were first developed and marketed to now. Yeah, of course. This a ridiculous argument and shows once again that you haven’t got a hot clue on this subject.

          “Typhoon’s unit flyaway cost has gone up between Tranche 1 and 2, and stayed level between 2 and 3 – in the best case.”

          Nope, not true. Check your facts. The cost increase was due to improvements made to the planes. The same improvements that were then applied to Tranche one aircraft making them more expensive overall than Tranche two aircraft.

          “F-22s unit flyaway cost kept increasing until they stabilized at 200 million USD.”

          Yes, then when they reached peak production costs started to go down until Congress cut the order by over 50%.

          What was your point again, or do you have one? Never mind, please stop talking to me.

        • picard578 said

          You are one who doesn’t have a clue. Modern fighters are constantly “upgraded” and for this very reason any dream of cost going down by any significant amount is nothing short of idiotism, since that requires long time of no changes in design. Having a fighter’s design constantly fixed has the same effect since design cannot stabilize enough for learning curve to set in.

        • BMACK said

          Yeah, OK. I see that the basic economics of production versus R&D are completely lost on you.

          You are stuck on the fact that an “A” version of a fighter plane is cheaper than a later variant like for instance an “A” version of an F 15 vs an F 16 C or D version or an F 18 C vs an F18 E. Yeah they are but not for the reasons you advocate. Anyway, I joined this site to have an intelligent debate not waste my time on this nonsense. Merry Xmas.

        • BMACK said

          No one ever said that later, improved models will be cheaper. I am talking about the cost per version while in the R&D phase vs the cost for per plane for full up initial production. You do not even know the difference. You also do not have a clue about the F 35s capabilities and are stuck on the Rafale which is probably the best 4.5 generation plane on the market in my view, just nowhere near the F 35 in capability.

        • picard578 said

          I do know the difference, what I am showing is that plane is unlikely to get its price reduced by much more, cost reduction has already happened in fact, take a look at how much did first few F-35s cost.

      • Chris said

        “Sorry Chris but anyone who knows anything about production of anything knows that quantity produced equals price per unit reductions and much more than a few percentage points.”

        When I say, I mean that the individual partners at the moment backing out will cause the price to increase by a few percentage points.

        Here is an example:
        http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/09/22/drop-in-numbers-of-f-35s-being-ordered-could-mean-increased-costs-for-a-canadian-f-35/

        Have you looked at military aircraft historically after WWII? Even after adjusting for inflation, their costs increase with time. There isn’t so much a learning curve as much as there is a curve of how much the future generations will increase in cost.

        For example, look at the Eurofighter. Each successive “tranche” has increased in costs. Some of that is due to many nations cooperating (issues there caused the French to drop out), but even national programs like the F-15 have progressively gained in unit cost.

        That’s because with each successive generation, the amount of complexity has gone up, which increases cost and the mass of the aircraft.

        “anyone who knows anything”

        That’s a dangerous fallacy to be making.

        A lot of “conventional wisdom” (if it can be called wisdom) does not stand up to reality. I often find for example that among Americans, there’s a tendency to believe that the “conventional wisdom” is that American equipment is automatically superior for no reason other than it being … well, from the US.

        Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes though … it can be a surprise.

        ” This is business economics 101 stuff and why the more product you buy the cheaper it is and fighter planes are no exception.”

        The thing is, in case you haven’t noticed, a lot of foreign partners are walking away (or reducing their orders) from this plane. So the total life cycle costs per plane are going to increase rather than decrease.

        Similarly, there has been talk of buying less JSFs due to the budget constraints in the US.

        “Once again, how many planes (or anything else for that matter) have you designed and produced?”

        Seeing as I have already answered that question, are you really looking for an answer? Let me ask that question back to you. How many have you designed? What experience do you have in manufacturing?

        Oh, and one more thing:

        Earlier you said this:
        “Citing current and next FY costs for test and low production aircraft and R&D costs at this point is meaningless because they have nothing to do the actual full scale production costs”

        These are the full scale production aircraft we are talking about, so they are directly comparable.

        In fact, this whole program was to showcase “concurrency”, building an aircraft in full scale production while testing is still incomplete (I believe that the plan is to finish testing by 2018, although I suspect that there will be more delays).

        Finally, I will repeat what I said earlier. If major problems are found during testing, EVERY plane that has been made will have to go back to the factory for refitting. That is will be very expensive if it occurs.

        “Something that is indirectly helping the F-35 is China and North Korea. They are single handily promoting an arms race where there used to be none and the F-35 has become the indispensable aircraft to confront China’s very real threats as well as North Korea’s. More countries in the Pacific Rim are expressing interest. I guess that as an attack aircraft it appears to be getting decent reviews.”

        An interesting point. But is the China and North Korea that are provoking the race, or is it the United States, or are both sides?

        • BMACK said

          Chris,
          Your problem is that you are all over the place with your arguments. You confuse current costs for test aircraft and low production aircraft with initial full up production costs and again with future development costs. Stick to one topic. First of all continuing to cite in year costs for test and low production aircraft as proof of costs for full scale production aircraft is just ludicrous and not based in reality. And no, the F 35 is NOT in full production, you are simply wrong on this point. Full production rates are 200 aircraft a year and this is not due to happen before 2106.

          And now you are citing partners “walking away” or in other words production numbers going down as an indicator that that prices will rise (which BTW was not at all what you said before) but somehow you refuse to acknowledge that the opposite is true and that increased production numbers by way of both full scale production and new orders will drive prices down. In fact the main reason for the Typhoons ballooning costs was in fact reductions in orders. So you are arguing against yourself on this point and not making much sense.

          But just to set the record straight, “lots” of partners are not “walking away” from the F 35. In fact not one partner to date has “walked away” from the F 35, not one, if you know of one then name them please? Some, such as Italy have actually reduced their numbers and that was due to their catastrophic economic outlook as they teeter on bankruptcy (they slashed their entire military budget by over a third) and the NL who are also cash strapped. And then there is Denmark which is simply doing exactly what Canada is doing and holding a competition.

          I also see that both you and your source fail to include any of the new F 35 customers in your estimates such as Japan, S Korea and Israel and others likely to come such as Singapore, India and the Saudis to name a few (there are at least 8 more I can name that are serious about the aircraft). Omitting facts to make a point does not make for a very credible argument. As well your source is dated because Turkey is back in:

          http://www.defenceiq.com/air-forces-and-military-aircraft/articles/turkey-reissues-order-for-f-35-joint-strike-fighte/

          So to date there have been reductions in orders totaling 71 planes and new orders for a 158 planes and Singapore is expected to sign on any day now for 100 more. Others will surely follow as the plane matures.

          Finally, no one is saying that when a technologically improved F 35 rolls of the production line in 2040 that it will not be more expensive than the initial production model made in 2017 but, as you point out, this is true of any aircraft so what exactly is your point here? Of course, the reasons for this are more to do with inflation than complexity but that also has a role in driving costs up. Again so what? How is the e 35 any different than any other plane in this regard? And so what is your answer, not to buy any plane or just to buy a technologically inferior one?

          As for my experience, I have spent the past three decades in the area of military procurement and project management and in fact am still doing it today.

          Note: I can’t comment on your arms race quote because I did not make that comment it but I agree that it is an interesting point.

        • HGR said

          “An interesting point. But is the China and North Korea that are provoking the race, or is it the United States, or are both sides?” – It is China and North Korea.

          You need to understand the magnitude of China’s threat; it is the equivalent of Italy wanting to rebuild the Roman Empire. They have claims of land and sea all around them including in India and a strategy of chipping away small bites of land that do not justify major warfare but that on the aggregate increase their territorial expanse and influence. North Korea’s instability and track record of provocations is a worry for both Japan and South Korea; they view the F-35 as a vital aircraft in the early stage of the conflict because of its ability to evade detection on its way to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear capacity.

          Chris, while the F-35’s cost is an issue. There is no hiding that. But there are more countries looking at the aircraft very seriously. The cost is an issue because many of them also have other mundane but vital needs such as maritime security and anti-piracy that also consume resources and are vital to their everyday commerce BUT their minds are increasingly being made up about their need for this aircraft by the hostility of their nearby neighbors.

          The Osprey was mercilessly criticized too. Cost was one of many criticisms. Well, now that it is operational its 300 plus MPH speed, range and ceiling is viewed as a precious capacity for many missions and we are seeing interest from Israel (already in the books with an order), Japan, etc. The more we know about the aircraft the more interest there seems to be.

          I do want to thank you for that link to the defense budget and if you notice there is this item for the forward afloat base. There is an Amphibious already doing this in the Persian Gulf; the USN Ponce. These ships provide the equivalent of a “floating island” from which to operate all kinds of different missions. Their design is based on an Alaska oil tanker. They are huge, very sturdy and affordable capacity.

        • picard578 said

          Reason all these countries are considering F-35 is because they need United States backing to face China, and F-35 seems like a small price to pay. Until open war breaks out, that is.

        • HGR said

          Picard, if they want to buy American they can also buy the F-18 or the F-15. Both are being marketed aggressively and are good aircrafts. South Korea was leaning towards the F-15 until Kim Jong-un started killing uncles and the Japanese where more or less happy with what they had until the Chinese started giving them head aches by flying military jets close to their islands.

          By the way, the Chinese are responsible for the Japanese interest on the Osprey as well as on the Japanese development on funny looking 20,000 ton destroyers that can operate V-22 and possibly F-35B… see link,

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hy%C5%ABga_class_helicopter_destroyer

          China is responsible for the militarization of the area just like Persia/Iran is responsible for their surrounding areas too.

        • picard578 said

          United States want to sell F-35 specifically.

    • Chris said

      @BMACK
      “Your problem is that you are all over the place with your arguments. You confuse current costs for test aircraft and low production aircraft with initial full up production costs and again with future development costs. Stick to one topic.”

      Let’s see what I’ve argued:
      1. That the real cost of the aircraft could be on the order of $300 million USD per plane based on the procurement and that the cost per flight hour is much higher than being disclosed. As a result of this cost, I’ve noted in my first paragraph that there has been an increased dependence on flight simulators.

      2. That this aircraft has experienced some serious technical difficulties, atypical of the difficulties experienced during normal testing.

      3. That testing is incomplete, and will not be complete for at least a few years.

      4. That if testing finds other problems, that it existing aircraft will have to be refitted, which will be very expensive.

      5. That given these problems, it’s unlikely that the cost of the aircraft will go down to the $75 million that LM claims it will. For that to happen, it would seem that the cost would have to go down 75%.

      6. That America’s foreign partners are beginning to have doubts about this aircraft, that they may look elsewhere or reduce their orders. This will inevitably drive up the unit costs.

      7. That the US Congress has considered the possibility of reducing the orders of this aircraft.

      8. Also, that given these factors, the learning curve if it exists will be much more modest. Also, I’ve argued that for the duration of the fighter, that the last model (let’s call it F-35Z) will be more expensive than the first model.

      I fail to see how I have contradicted myself.

      “First of all continuing to cite in year costs for test and low production aircraft as proof of costs for full scale production aircraft is just ludicrous and not based in reality. And no, the F 35 is NOT in full production, you are simply wrong on this point. Full production rates are 200 aircraft a year and this is not due to happen before 2106.”

      2106? Umm what? I’m totally confused about this one. I suspect that even with the delays it will not take 93 years for full scale production. I would hope that this airplane is in a museum, and not in service by 2106.

      That said, hmm … it’s possible that an aircraft could have a very long service life. The B-52 for example has been in service since the 1950s.

      “And now you are citing partners “walking away” or in other words production numbers going down as an indicator that that prices will rise (which BTW was not at all what you said before) but somehow you refuse to acknowledge that the opposite is true and that increased production numbers by way of both full scale production and new orders will drive prices down. In fact the main reason for the Typhoons ballooning costs was in fact reductions in orders. So you are arguing against yourself on this point and not making much sense.”

      In my nation, Canada, there has been fierce debate about the F-35. Other nations too are beginning to express doubts, or have considered reducing their orders (such as the Dutch).

      The Typhoons also had several other issues. There have been problems, particularly due to the collaboration and complexity.

      See this report for example from the UK audit office:
      http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1011755.pdf

      I’ll look for the German one when I have the time (not sure if it’s in English though).

      Anyways, I think that what is happening is a moderate version of Chuck Spinney’s “Defense Death Spiral”. R&D and unit costs are higher than expected due to complexity, so the number of orders are reduced. The number of orders are reduced so the cost per unit goes up even higher.

      “I also see that both you and your source fail to include any of the new F 35 customers in your estimates such as Japan, S Korea and Israel and others likely to come such as Singapore, India and the Saudis to name a few (there are at least 8 more I can name that are serious about the aircraft). Omitting facts to make a point does not make for a very credible argument. As well your source is dated because Turkey is back in:”

      That is partially correct. There are several nations that have expressed interest. That does not mean that there is a 100% that they will purchase. It’s likely that each nation will hold a competition. How the F-35 does will be heavily contingent on the criteria set out by each nation’s competition. So that means that it will be put against other fighters, like the Gripen, Rafale, Eurofighter, and maybe Su-27 variants. it will come down to each nation. I should also mention that often it’s not the most capable fighter than wins – politics and corruption often play a role in the procurement process.

      But for the sake of argument, let’s say that a couple of nations do choose the JSF. That will see some modest decreases in the unit cost. I emphasize the modest. Specifically how much will depend on how many planes each nation buys.

      I will emphasize however that it will not put the massive decreases in cost that you are describing.

      “Finally, no one is saying that when a technologically improved F 35 rolls of the production line in 2040 that it will not be more expensive than the initial production model made in 2017 but, as you point out, this is true of any aircraft so what exactly is your point here? Of course, the reasons for this are more to do with inflation than complexity but that also has a role in driving costs up. Again so what? How is the e 35 any different than any other plane in this regard? And so what is your answer, not to buy any plane or just to buy a technologically inferior one?”

      The point is that you are emphasizing the “learning curve”.

      You are saying that over time, the costs will decrease by a massive quantity. I am pointing out that since WWII and the era of jet fighters, there really hasn’t been a learning curve. Why? Because with each additional revision, the fighter has gotten heavier, more complex, and therefore more expensive, even after taking into account inflation.

      Mass production does work in the civilian world. It did happen during WWII. However, for there to be a learning curve that results in a fighter going from $300 million to $75 million – that would require much more than a few hundred foreign orders.

      Now earlier, you noted that the fighter had not entered “full production”. I disagreed, noting that the 30 or so being produced are the models that the USAF and USN intend to take into service. Are you saying that going from 30 to 200 per year (and whatever foreign sales are added in) is going to result in a 75% reduction in costs?

      “As for my experience, I have spent the past three decades in the area of military procurement and project management and in fact am still doing it today.”

      Thank you for telling me.

      I do want to say this much, although I strongly disagree with you, I do respect your right to have an opinion.

    • Chris said

      “You need to understand the magnitude of China’s threat; it is the equivalent of Italy wanting to rebuild the Roman Empire. They have claims of land and sea all around them including in India and a strategy of chipping away small bites of land that do not justify major warfare but that on the aggregate increase their territorial expanse and influence. North Korea’s instability and track record of provocations is a worry for both Japan and South Korea; they view the F-35 as a vital aircraft in the early stage of the conflict because of its ability to evade detection on its way to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear capacity.”

      Being of Chinese descent, I can comment on that. It is true that China has become significantly more nationalistic, and that they do view their return to power (China was a world power until around the Industrial Revolution) as their destiny. That is partly due to the propaganda of the quite corrupt government, but also a matter of national prestige.

      But I do have to ask, is the F-35 the right aircraft for Japan and South Korea (both of whom interestingly enough are rivals)? And is China really the threat that you say it is? I look back at history, at the “Bomber Gap” of the Cold War (which spy satellites later revealed to be false), and I ask myself, was this truly a weapon that was needed at the time? Or was it something to enrich the defense industry.

      “Chris, while the F-35′s cost is an issue. There is no hiding that. But there are more countries looking at the aircraft very seriously. The cost is an issue because many of them also have other mundane but vital needs such as maritime security and anti-piracy that also consume resources and are vital to their everyday commerce BUT their minds are increasingly being made up about their need for this aircraft by the hostility of their nearby neighbors.”

      No doubt the world has become more hostile.

      But the question remains, is this the best aircraft possible or is this an aircraft to make Lockheed rich?

      “The Osprey was mercilessly criticized too. Cost was one of many criticisms. Well, now that it is operational its 300 plus MPH speed, range and ceiling is viewed as a precious capacity for many missions and we are seeing interest from Israel (already in the books with an order), Japan, etc. The more we know about the aircraft the more interest there seems to be.”

      I would be one of those that criticized the V-22. I remain skeptical. It’s a very costly aircraft and there have been well, a lot of incidents that I do not feel have been adequately addressed. Also, I suspect that it will prove to be a very vulnerable aircraft in combat. Finally, most troubling of all, the specifications have been lowered as a result of the problems that this aircraft experienced.

      @Picard

      What do you think of the V-22? Do you, like me think it’s a very problematic airplane or do you share HGR’s opinion on this one?

      “I do want to thank you for that link to the defense budget and if you notice there is this item for the forward afloat base. There is an Amphibious already doing this in the Persian Gulf; the USN Ponce. These ships provide the equivalent of a “floating island” from which to operate all kinds of different missions. Their design is based on an Alaska oil tanker. They are huge, very sturdy and affordable capacity.”

      I actually agree that a floating base would be a good idea for flexibility. I have to admit I have not looked at all of the details though, but it seems at least on paper to be a good idea.

      • HGR said

        The Chinese represent a constant and persistent threat to maritime commerce of all countries in its vicinity and beyond in the direction of the Indian Ocean. They currently occupy Vietnamese and Philippine islands while threatening to do the same to Japan with whom the USA has an iron-clad defense treaty.

        China’s neighbors are looking at the past border conflicts that China has had with Russia, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines as well as to its rhetoric and capabilities and they are reacting to that. And let us not even start with Taiwan.

        Current USA strategy is to “pivot” to the Pacific and “calm” things there. The Chinese really do not want to be “calmed”. Keep in mind that numbers are misleading. While China has a fewer ships than the USA Navy that does not mean that they might not posses parity in the waters around their coasts and an advantage with their land based aircrafts.

        To the USA Navy the F-35 naval version is an improvement over the F-18 in range and that is an increasingly important feature given shore based aircrafts and missiles available to the Chinese. Stealth is also important. To the Japanese and the South Korean the F-35’s stealth makes it the best “first strike” weapon available at the present against North Korea. The South Koreans evaluated the F-15 strike eagle for this very mission and disqualified it in favor of the F-35.

        Singapore is also looking at F-35 very seriously. Same reason; stealth.

        So yea… China is a threat. They probably are doing it for a number of reasons including distracting the population from other problems, economic hegemony, fisheries as well as energy resources in the sea bed. List goes on-and-on. Weak link there is the Philippines who will require help to defend their sovereignty.

      • Chris said

        @HGR

        Is China really that aggressive?

        Certainly the Chinese government wishes to become the world’s largest economy (and in a few years, assuming the current rates of GDP growth are sustained, they likely will).

        There are certainly border disputes, and I agree that China’s ocean sovereignty claim is not fair, but the question remains, while a rising power, are does China really plan to wage aggressive war? I think that China does plan to play a dominant role in the world’s economy yes, but militarily? I do not believe that China is seeking aggressive war.

        • HGR said

          “does China really plan to wage aggressive war?” – They are already waging aggressive war. If you are one of their neighbors like India, Vietnam of the Philippines it would seem very aggressive. They are laying the foundation to making the South and East China Seas a Chinese lake with all the strategic ramifications that carries.

          They have had wars and skirmishes with Russia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines. They are bullies.

          I do not think that China can take economic growth for granted. It is based now on a very low cost of labor and no innovation. Everything significant is second rate copied from the West or Russia.

        • BMACK said

          I generally agree with your assessment on China. The only thing I can add is that China is an economic house of cards. Since embracing capitalism economically China has developed a small upper class (about 60M people) and a middle class of about the same size who are living an opulent life style in comparison to the hundreds of millions still living in abject poverty. For a population that has for generations been taught to hate the decadent Western life style this has caused a real problem for the govt. If they cannot deliver prosperity to the lower income masses, the govt could collapse internally under the pressure. The govt is well aware of this threat and like all communist regimes, when threatened they will do two things to quell the unrest. Close their doors to the rest of world and institute a purge and then look to manufacture an external threat so that they can expand and take the populations focus off of internal problems. This, coupled with their recent and rapid military expansion and modernization makes them a serious and imminent threat both economically and militarily.

          The Chinese respect strength and the will to use it. A strong and united West that sends the right message to them will quell the military threat. Not direct threats but just a peace through strength and resolve approach is best with them. As an example, this approach is what has kept them out of Taiwan and India since the end of WW2.

          The economic threat is two fold. First is that they have enough cash reserves to buy up the West’s collective debt and then call it in causing financial chaos in the world. This is unlikely though because it will also cause turmoil in their own country, further worsening their internal social and by extension, political problems. The more likely threat is internal economic collapse caused by the collapse of social order. The only real solution to this is the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy which of course, will bring other problems with it such as environmentalproblems, population expansion and greater demands from the population for more political and social freedoms.

        • HGR said

          Chinese also have severe ethnic tensions brought about by even more inequality between the Han majority and all the minorities that they pushed to the perimeter of the empire and the lack of responsive local government in the sense that we understand it.

          And it is an economic house of cards driven by exports with dwindling opportunities for profitable investments internally as well as increased opportunities for graft and cronyism as witnessed by the many ghost towns that exist.

          And a demographic time bomb, and an economy vulnerable to interruptions of natural resources, etc.

          I also hold the personal belief that centuries of economic and cultural dominance with in their sphere of action have left the Chinese national psychic unprepared for compromise and accommodations with neighbors that they see as inferiors. They will rather bully than reach a good enough solution through negotiation.

        • BMACK said

          Yes, agreed. Excellent assessment. I just hope that the US and EU can get their economic houses in order so that they can properly prepare for what is surely to come?

        • HGR said

          The USA will exit their economic bubble next year or 2015 at the latest. Will be lead by a spike in housing prices due to the fact that hardly any NEW middle-class class housing has been built since 2007 and there is huge pent-up demand. No one knows when the European Union will exit theirs since there competing and conflicting needs among its members but I will say that you can’t “save” enough money to dig themselves out of these economic debacles… you have to “grow” out of them. If you try to save your way out you just will make the recession last longer.

          No one knows how China will look like after it goes through their future crisis which will be heralded by higher costs of manufacture and lost markets to competitors. This could be already happening if India had its act together.

          The first problem with China is lack of innovation. This is typical of economies like Mexico and Brazil who’s business class typically buys mature technology from developed countries and transplant it to their homeland. The problem with mature technologies is that their growth and hey days of high prices are over. They can be cash cows at best but are always price/cost sensitive.

          The second problem is also one that they have in common with developing countries and that is a corrupt government system that fosters success through favoritism and cronyism. So you see huge fortunes based on monopolies, oligopolies, favoritism in access to capital and with regulatory processes as well as high hurdles for foreign products to enter their economy. No different than what you also see in Mexico, Brazil and I might add to this list India.

          So China is a very inefficient economy. It pollutes more than it should, consumes more energy than it should, wastes more capital than it needs to and it is wide open to economic competition because it does not make anything “new” or innovative that can carry a price premium.

          This system has lasted as long as it has because of repression but kinks are starting to show up such as reverse immigration to countryside, difficulty for new graduates finding work, etc. Foreign reserves they have are no asset since once they start using them their currency will strengthen damaging their trade balance.

          So China is a tight wire.

  5. BMACK said

    Let’s see what you’ve argued:
    1. “That the real cost of the aircraft could be on the order of $300 million USD per plane based on the procurement and that the cost per flight hour is much higher than being disclosed.”
    OK, you say that and you disagree with both US govt and LM estimates to the opposite but offer no data to support that assertion. And no, in yr, low production and R&D costs do not support that conclusion even though you continue to throw around the $300M a copy figure, it is meaningless and exagerated.

    As a result of this cost, I’ve noted in my first paragraph that there has been an increased dependence on flight simulators.
    No, not any more than any other fighter aircraft does. Again an opinion that is not supported by fact.

    2. That this aircraft has experienced some serious technical difficulties, atypical of the difficulties experienced during normal testing.
    No, not really given that it a revolutionary concept in both design and project management. It has just received more than the usual amount of media attention. No other aircraft has been regularly attacked by the media every time a minor problem occurs in the development phase. This is due largely to the lobbying efforts and political connections of its competitors, most notably Boeing. For instance when the F18 SH was being developed and there were serious problems with the engines there was not even a word in the media about it but when the F 35 has minor problems with the helmet it is a major news item.

    3. That testing is incomplete, and will not be complete for at least a few years.
    Yeah OK, what’s the point here again?

    4. That if testing finds other problems, that it existing aircraft will have to be refitted, which will be very expensive.
    Maybe, again this can be true of any new fighter (like for instance the Typhoon and Russian T 50 at the moment) so what is the specific point regarding the F 35 that you are trying to make?

    5. That given these problems, it’s unlikely that the cost of the aircraft will go down to the $75 million that LM claims it will. For that to happen, it would seem that the cost would have to go down 75%.
    So unlikely to go down if these problems you have identified, which are entirely speculation, come to pass. Well maybe but the development of any new product is a gamble. The option is not to develop one at all which of course is not an option at all.

    6. That America’s foreign partners are beginning to have doubts about this aircraft, that they may look elsewhere or reduce their orders. This will inevitably drive up the unit costs.
    No, you said that they are “walking away” in large numbers. This statement is not only untrue but new orders are being made in on a regular basis which far exceed any reductions.

    7. That the US Congress has considered the possibility of reducing the orders of this aircraft.
    Yes and rejected the option, preferring instead to cut other programs. Not to say that they will not do so in the future but again this is true of every defense procurement program in times of tight budgets. Here is an excellent article that appeared recently in “The Hill” by a very knowledgeable and unbiased defense expert.
    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/319711-when-it-comes-to-the-f-35-numbers-count

    8. Also, that given these factors, the learning curve if it exists will be much more modest. Also, I’ve argued that for the duration of the fighter, that the last model (let’s call it F-35Z) will be more expensive than the first model.
    OK, you say that but again, no data to back it up, just your opinion and of course how do you quantify “more expensive”?

    I fail to see how I have contradicted myself.
    I have already answered this question, please reread my previous post and go down a few paras on this post.

    “First of all continuing to cite in year costs for test and low production aircraft as proof of costs for full scale production aircraft is just ludicrous and not based in reality. And no, the F 35 is NOT in full production, you are simply wrong on this point. Full production rates are 200 aircraft a year and this is not due to happen before 2106.”
    2106? Umm what? I’m totally confused about this one. I suspect that even with the delays it will not take 93 years for full scale production. I would hope that this airplane is in a museum, and not in service by 2106.
    That said, hmm … it’s possible that an aircraft could have a very long service life. The B-52 for example has been in service since the 1950s.
    Sorry, just a typo (should read 2016) but I figured that you would have been able to determine that on your own without me having to state the obvious but I got that wrong too I guess. I’ll try not to make any more errors in future, or give you that much credit again. BTW, I would have pointed some of your spelling mistakes and poor grammar out but just thought that to do so would be petty, in bad taste and meaningless to the discussion.
    “And now you are citing partners “walking away” or in other words production numbers going down as an indicator that that prices will rise (which BTW was not at all what you said before) but somehow you refuse to acknowledge that the opposite is true and that increased production numbers by way of both full scale production and new orders will drive prices down. In fact the main reason for the Typhoons ballooning costs was in fact reductions in orders. So you are arguing against yourself on this point and not making much sense.”

    In my nation, Canada, there has been fierce debate about the F-35. Other nations too are beginning to express doubts, or have considered reducing their orders (such as the Dutch).
    Well, in my nation, Canada we, like other nations, including the US have not walked away from the project to date and there are a large number of new orders, far outweighing any reductions, that you and your source article neglected to mention. But this has nothing to do with your contradictory position that reduced production numbers will cause prices to rise but increased numbers will also make prices rise?

    The Typhoons also had several other issues. There have been problems, particularly due to the collaboration and complexity.
    So collaboration and complexity are not problems with the F 35? I would argue that they are more of an issue with the F 35 than the Typhoon because there are more partners and the aircraft is far more complex.

    Anyways, I think that what is happening is a moderate version of Chuck Spinney’s “Defense Death Spiral”. R&D and unit costs are higher than expected due to complexity, so the number of orders are reduced. The number of orders are reduced so the cost per unit goes up even higher.

    “I also see that both you and your source fail to include any of the new F 35 customers in your estimates such as Japan, S Korea and Israel and others likely to come such as Singapore, India and the Saudis to name a few (there are at least 8 more I can name that are serious about the aircraft). Omitting facts to make a point does not make for a very credible argument. As well your source is dated because Turkey is back in:”

    That is partially correct. There are several nations that have expressed interest. That does not mean that there is a 100% that they will purchase. It’s likely that each nation will hold a competition. How the F-35 does will be heavily contingent on the criteria set out by each nation’s competition. So that means that it will be put against other fighters, like the Gripen, Rafale, Eurofighter, and maybe Su-27 variants. it will come down to each nation. I should also mention that often it’s not the most capable fighter than wins – politics and corruption often play a role in the procurement process.
    Nope, the nations I pointed out and you left out have actually signed on to purchase the F 35. In some cases after beating the Typhoon, Gripen and Rafale in competition. Namely Japan, S Korea and Israel.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say that a couple of nations do choose the JSF. That will see some modest decreases in the unit cost. I emphasize the modest. Specifically how much will depend on how many planes each nation buys.
    So some minor reductions will result in huge price increases while new orders that more than outweigh the reductions will only result in “modest” decreases. Again, the logic of your argument is flawed but at least you now agree that they will actually result in decreases at all!!

    “Finally, no one is saying that when a technologically improved F 35 rolls of the production line in 2040 that it will not be more expensive than the initial production model made in 2017 but, as you point out, this is true of any aircraft so what exactly is your point here? Of course, the reasons for this are more to do with inflation than complexity but that also has a role in driving costs up. Again so what? How is the e 35 any different than any other plane in this regard? And so what is your answer, not to buy any plane or just to buy a technologically inferior one?”

    The point is that you are emphasizing the “learning curve”.
    The point I am emphasizing is that there is growth potential built into every modern fighter and yes there is a cost to it. Again, why is this such a big negative for the F 35 and not its competitors? Again, what is your point?

    You are saying that over time, the costs will decrease by a massive quantity. I am pointing out that since WWII and the era of jet fighters, there really hasn’t been a learning curve. Why? Because with each additional revision, the fighter has gotten heavier, more complex, and therefore more expensive, even after taking into account inflation.
    You are confusing the initial program where the plane reaches full production and prices per unit go down and that of follow on development of the plane. Apples and oranges.

    Now earlier, you noted that the fighter had not entered “full production”. I disagreed, noting that the 30 or so being produced are the models that the USAF and USN intend to take into service. Are you saying that going from 30 to 200 per year (and whatever foreign sales are added in) is going to result in a 75% reduction in costs?
    Just because the USN and USAF intend to take low production aircraft into service at some point does not mean that the plane is in full production now and BTW these planes will never see active service without an extensive upgrade at the end of the initial development phase to incorporate the improvements made in the development phase.

    I also respect your right to have an opinion and enjoy the discussion.

    • picard578 said

      There is nothing revolutionary about the F-35 except the fact that it is 3 different aircraft under one name.

      • BMACK said

        I cannot believe that you even said that. Your statement shows a level of ignorance about this plane that makes me wonder why you are commenting on it at all since you know nothing about it? When I hear people say silly things like the E 35 is only designed to for FGA I know that they don’t know what they are talking about and your statement invokes the same thought.
        The F 35 is the most advanced airborne platform any military has ever designed. Nothing else in the air or under development outside the US even comes close to it, even the F 22. Here, educate yourself and then we can talk more. I can provide more reading material if you wish?

        http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/02/kill-the-awacs-j-stars-fleets/

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/us-lockheed-fighter-idUSBRE9B401Y20131205

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9780450/Inside-the-F-35-the-futuristic-fighter-jet.html

        Note that the plane will render both AWACs and JSTARS aircraft obsolete by 2030 and that the USN major surface fleet requires a major upgrade just to be capable of handling all the data that one F 35 will send it.

        Nothing revolutionary indeed.

      • picard578 said

        “Your statement shows a level of ignorance about this plane that makes me wonder why you are commenting on it at all since you know nothing about it?”

        I know enough about it to make an educated statement. You on the other hand are just parroting Lockheed Martin propaganda.

        “Note that the plane will render both AWACs and JSTARS aircraft obsolete by 2030 and that the USN major surface fleet requires a major upgrade just to be capable of handling all the data that one F 35 will send it.”

        There were mini-AWACS’ before, and any modern fighter can send data to other platforms if it has uplinks. So yes, nothing revolutionary, except maybe “bright” idea of trying to combine dozen or so different platforms into just one platform.

        • BMACK said

          You are ignorant on this subject beyond belief. The sad thing is that you don’t even know how silly you sound. Oh well, sorry can’t waste anymore time talking to fools.

      • picard578 said

        Now onto articles:
        http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/02/kill-the-awacs-j-stars-fleets/

        “Fifth-generation fighters are not only more survivable against a sophisticated opponent, they also have better sensors than the US Air Force’s best dedicated air- and ground-warning systems.”

        So does Rafale. Big deal?

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/us-lockheed-fighter-idUSBRE9B401Y20131205

        “but was now making good progress.”

        “By some measure, including the F-35’s ability to maneuver tight turns, the F-35 is on par or even slightly below that of current fighter planes, Bogdan said.”

        Bullshit by the bucket. Regarding maneuvering, F-35 might at best match Super Hornet or F-16C Block 52 and up, but nothing more.

        “But the plane’s ability to combine data from a host of different sensors and share it with other aircraft”

        Ability that Rafale has, and existed before on other platforms.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9780450/Inside-the-F-35-the-futuristic-fighter-jet.html

        “Through it, I can see 360 degrees all around the airplane.”

        Pity it doesn’t work yet. And similar helmet is planned for Typhoon, so, again, hardly revolutionary.

        “They talk so fervently about the Star Wars aspects of the F-35 partly because it is the easiest aircraft any of them has ever flown: pilots are free to manage the weaponry while the F-35, more or less, flies itself. ”

        Easy to fly, yes, but it simply doesn’t have maneuvering performance.

        ” its hidden engine and low heat emission ”

        F-35s engine may be hidden but low heat emissions? You don’t need much to realize it is BS.

        “The F-35 emerged from the US Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter Project,”

        Which has become Uncommon Unaffordable Mediumweight Pseudo-Fighter Project in the meantime.

        “‘The F-35 is by far and away the easiest. I’ve flown the aircraft up to Mach 1.6 and pulled up to 7g. ”

        Clearly shows that “easiest to fly” = “best performing”. Mach 1,6 maximum speed and 7 g load is not a high performance.

        • BMACK said

          More nonsense from the ignorant. Only a simpleton could arrive at these conclusions.

        • picard578 said

          Keep up with such non-replies and I will start deleting your posts.

        • BMACK said

          “Fifth-generation fighters are not only more survivable against a sophisticated opponent, they also have better sensors than the US Air Force’s best dedicated air- and ground-warning systems.” “So does Rafale. Big deal?”

          Please do. As soon as I read this idiotic nonsense I deleted yours without reading any further because it shows that do not have even the most rudimentary understanding of this subject.

        • picard578 said

          I have better understanding than you, obviosuly. How much do you know about Rafale’s sensors? Obviously not much. F-22 has longer-ranged radar, but that is it. Rafale has IRST, which F-22 doesn’t have. Both can use opponent’s radar emissions to attack him. Both have completely passive missile warners. So in what way are F-22s sensors superior?

        • BMACK said

          First of all I can now clearly see your main problem. You “obviosuly”, in addition to a spelling and grammar problems, also have a severe reading comprehension problem. Where have I ever said that the F 22s sensor suite was better than the Rafale? Answer: Nowhere, I said the F 35s sensor suite was far superior, and it is.

          But since you bring it up the point, the F22 is far superior in every way, including sensors. It will kill a Rafale before it even knows the F 22 is there 10 out 10 times, precisely because it has better weapons, a longer range radar, a superior sensor suite and far superior stealth. These facts alone make everything else in your argument meaningless but since you bring up IRST as such a great leap in technology I will address the point. IRST was not intially included in the F 22 electronic suite because it is relatively old technology dating back to the F 101 Voodoo in the mid 50s. The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22. That said, the F 22 will benefit from F-35 development in many ways and this area is one of them. Specifically the II AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) with a 3 D, 360 degree IRST, missile detection/warning, and day/night vision capabilities (Rafale’s IRST is 2D, 180 degree with an extreme range of 50 kms derived from slightly improved 1980s technology). This is the next generation IRST with both longer range (1o0 km +) and greater sensitivity making it much more difficult to defeat. It will be installed in the F 22 in the 3.3 upgrade package planned for the 2014/15 period.

          In closing, every aviation expert in the world of any note, ranks the F 22 as the best in service fighter in the world while the Rafale is ranked about 4th or 5th. Expect the Rafale to drop to about # 9 as the F 35, Cheng Du J 20, SU T 50 and Mig 35 come into service after 2015 while the F 22 stays at #1. But hey, I guess you are smarter than all of those other experts?

      • Chris said

        “But since you bring it up the point, the F22 is far superior in every way, including sensors. It will kill a Rafale before it even knows the F 22 is there 10 out 10 times, precisely because it has better weapons, a longer range radar, a superior sensor suite and far superior stealth.”

        Will it though?

        But this is pointless in my opinion to compare 1 on 1. Why? Assuming 2 equal cost forces, it means that:
        1. The Rafale will badly outnumber the Raptor because it costs much less. It means that it will be outnumbered, by perhaps as much as 3.5 – 4 to 1.

        2. The Rafale has a much better flight to maintenance ratio (8 to 1) versus Raptor, which is currently 30 to 1 (so 3.75 to 1).

        These 2 alone are a huge problem because that means that for a given x billion in cost, the Rafale will fly perhaps 12-15 as many sorties. Lancaster square is against the F-22 in this case, which works out to a 144 to 225 times better advantage on the plane alone.

        Compounding the problem, based on the flight to maintenance ratios, which means that the Rafale pilots are likely to be better trained. The F-22 pilots will have to rely more on simulators. That Lancaster square just got a lot bigger because pilots are the deciding factor.

        Given that the plane has a 30 to 1 flight to maintenance ratio, there’s a greater risk that it will be destroyed on the ground.

        “IRST was not intially included in the F 22 electronic suite because it is relatively old technology dating back to the F 101 Voodoo in the mid 50s. The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

        Uhh … what? Today’s QWIP IRSTs are a pretty far cry from the older IRSTs that existed in the 1950s.

        “Specifically the II AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) with a 3 D, 360 degree IRST, missile detection/warning, and day/night vision capabilities (Rafale’s IRST is 2D, 180 degree with an extreme range of 50 kms derived from slightly improved 1980s technology). This is the next generation IRST with both longer range (1o0 km +) and greater sensitivity making it much more difficult to defeat.”

        But on paper, the frontal F-35 IRST is for air to ground, and the 360 degree DAS isn’t as good as what the competition has. Pirate on the Eurofighter for example outclasses it.

        • BMACK said

          Chris,

          Will it though? YES, but since they are highly unlikely to ever face each other it is a moot point.

          But this is pointless in my opinion to compare 1 on 1. Why? Assuming 2 equal cost forces, it means that:
          1. The Rafale will badly outnumber the Raptor because it costs much less. It means that it will be outnumbered, by perhaps as much as 3.5 – 4 to 1.
          This is too simplistic a conclusion to make and not based in reality. Are you saying that there will be more Rafales produced than F 35s? At the moment the confirmed orders for the F 35 outnumber the Rafale by about 15:1
          2. The Rafale has a much better flight to maintenance ratio (8 to 1) versus Raptor, which is currently 30 to 1 (so 3.75 to 1).

          You don’t know this yet as the F 35 is still in development. Using maintenance data from test aircraft is just not realistic.

          These 2 alone are a huge problem because that means that for a given x billion in cost, the Rafale will fly perhaps 12-15 as many sorties. Lancaster square is against the F-22 in this case, which works out to a 144 to 225 times better advantage on the plane alone.

          I guess you forget that the US is buying this plane and will fly this plane regardless of cost. The French on the other hand….

          Compounding the problem, based on the flight to maintenance ratios, which means that the Rafale pilots are likely to be better trained. The F-22 pilots will have to rely more on simulators. That Lancaster square just got a lot bigger because pilots are the deciding factor.
          Yeah OK, another flawed assumption. US pilots will continue to be the best trained in the world. Theres my assumption based on past and current history.

          Given that the plane has a 30 to 1 flight to maintenance ratio, there’s a greater risk that it will be destroyed on the ground.

          Really? I’m not even going to respond this point. The statement is silly and the basis for it based on flawed assumptions.

          “IRST was not intially included in the F 22 electronic suite because it is relatively old technology dating back to the F 101 Voodoo in the mid 50s. The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

          Uhh … what? Today’s QWIP IRSTs are a pretty far cry from the older IRSTs that existed in the 1950s.
          Please re-read my comments. Like this statement which is true “The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

          “Specifically the II AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) with a 3 D, 360 degree IRST, missile detection/warning, and day/night vision capabilities (Rafale’s IRST is 2D, 180 degree with an extreme range of 50 kms derived from slightly improved 1980s technology). This is the next generation IRST with both longer range (1o0 km +) and greater sensitivity making it much more difficult to defeat.”

          But on paper, the frontal F-35 IRST is for air to ground, and the 360 degree DAS isn’t as good as what the competition has. Pirate on the Eurofighter for example outclasses it.

          Proof please?

      • picard578 said

        @BMACK F-35 is not even a fifth generation fighter, it is a ground attack aircraft, so if you specify a fifth generation fighter without specifying which one exactly I assume F-22, especially since nobody in their right mind would argue that F-35 (a bomber) is superior to Rafale in air superiority. As for your “reply”…

        “It will kill a Rafale before it even knows the F 22 is there 10 out 10 times, precisely because it has better weapons, a longer range radar, a superior sensor suite and far superior stealth.”

        F-22 has no IRST, can carry a limited amount of missiles if it wants to preserve what limited amount of stealth it has, and if it doesn’t want to get detected and targeted by SPECTRA, it will keep its radar shut down, thus completely reversing theoretical detection advantage of longer-ranged radar.

        “IRST was not intially included in the F 22 electronic suite because it is relatively old technology dating back to the F 101 Voodoo in the mid 50s.”

        Radar is also old technology dating back to the 1930s, and was first deployed on fighters in 1940s. So by that “logic” it is an obsolete technology.

        “The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

        PIRATE and OSF are both developed in 1990s, and F-22s IR signature is larger than that of Rafale or Gripen E (or Gripen C, if only subsonic flight is counted).

        “Specifically the II AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) with a 3 D, 360 degree IRST, missile detection/warning, and day/night vision capabilities”

        DAS is a missile warner just like DDM – F-35s IRST is EOTS.

        “This is the next generation IRST with both longer range (1o0 km +) and greater sensitivity making it much more difficult to defeat.”

        OSF has range of up to 130 km.

        “In closing, every aviation expert in the world of any note, ranks the F 22 as the best in service fighter in the world while the Rafale is ranked about 4th or 5th.”

        Actually, it is more like 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. F-22, 4. Gripen C, 5. Su-27, 6. F-16; with upcoming fighters, it becomes 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. Gripen E, 4. PAK FA, 5. F-22, 6. MiG-35, 7. Gripen C, 8. F-16C, 9. J-20. F-35 is behind all these, and some I didn’t bother to list – it would have made for an impractically long list.

        And it would be even more impractically wrong to list all times experts have been wrong. In fact, you can find an expert to support any opinion at all, and people who have actually designed or helped design fighter aircraft (Harry Hillaker, Pierre Sprey, Petr Ufimtsev) do/did not have nearly as high opinion of stealth aircraft and their design philosophy.

        • BMACK said

          Yes it is a 5th generation fighter and yes it is superior in air combat to the Rafale or at least will be once fully developed. Every aviation expert of any note in the world says so. Only you and your goofy friends say otherwise. Did you ever wonder why the F 35 has so many foreign customers and the Rafale so few even though it has been on the market for almost two decades? I guess the combined knowledge of every Air Force in the Free world and every reputable aviation expert in the world just don’t have the smarts that you do. You should call them all right away and tell them what a huge mistake they are making!

          “F-22 has no IRST, can carry a limited amount of missiles if it wants to preserve what limited amount of stealth it has, and if it doesn’t want to get detected and targeted by SPECTRA, it will keep its radar shut down, thus completely reversing theoretical detection advantage of longer-ranged radar.”

          “preserve what limited amount of stealth it has” What an idiotic statement. Thanks for the laugh. BTW your cherished Rafale will never have a chance to detect an F 22 on SPECTRA unless it is after it gets a missile up its ass and in a death spiral. Perhaps the pilot will get a blip as he is punching out?

          “IRST was not initially included in the F 22 electronic suite because it is relatively old technology dating back to the F 101 Voodoo in the mid 50s.”

          Note the next sentence where I said that the current systems in use are just updated versions of 1980 IRST technology and both Pirate and OST are no exception and even then they are still two decades old technology.

          “ F-22s IR signature is larger than that of Rafale or Gripen E (or Gripen C, if only subsonic flight is counted).”

          Yeah sure, you just made that up. Proof please?

          DAS is not much better than OSF in coverage, and it is missile warner just like DDM – F-35s IRST is EOTS.

          Yeah OK just one problem there genius. EOTS is not even an IRST system. It is a targeting system and the “EO” stands for ELECTRO OPTICAL, not Infrared red dufus. DAS is the only IRST system on the F 35.

          Actually, it is more like 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. F-22, 4. Gripen C, 5. Su-27, 6. F-16; with upcoming fighters, it becomes 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. Gripen E, 4. PAK FA, 5. F-22, 6. MiG-35, 7. Gripen C, 8. F-16C, 9. J-20. F-35 is behind all these, and some I didn’t bother to list – it would have made for an impractically long list.

          This is your goofy list but you are alone in world. Remember I said REPUTABLE sources, which you clearly do not qualify as. Most of the aircraft on your list are not even in service yet and you have already declared the Rafale better that they are.

          OK I am done with you now. I am no longer going to waste anymore time trying to talk the stupid out of you because you are just a lost cause.

          Go eat some turkey (oh yeah they are buying the F 35 and rejected the Rafale) and dream of Rafales shooting down F 22s because that is as close to reality as you will ever get to seeing that.

        • picard578 said

          “Every aviation expert of any note in the world says so.”

          Can you name a few?

          “Did you ever wonder why the F 35 has so many foreign customers and the Rafale so few even though it has been on the market for almost two decades?”

          Because United States have more diplomatic pull than France (and Sweden), because F-35 is falsely marketed as an F-16 replacement, and because Rafale is still expensive, even though not as expensive as F-35.

          “I guess the combined knowledge of every Air Force in the Free world”

          Sweden opted for developing Gripen NG instead of buying F-35, France still produces Rafale, Germany uses Typhoon instead of buying F-35, United Kingdom bought F-35 because navalizing Typhoon would be too expensive (redesigning the aircraft, plus redesigning the carriers), Norway and Netherlands only opted for F-35 after very heavy diplomatic pressure (threats and bribes), Israel bought F-35 because it needs US help against Arabs, Japan and Korea for same reason only problem in their case is China… your argument falls apart on a closer look.

          “and every reputable aviation expert in the world”

          So far I didn’t see any actual expert saying that F-35 is best, excellent or even good.

          “What an idiotic statement.”

          Only because you just mindlessly absorb Lockheed Martin rpopaganda according to which being stealthy to X-band active radar automatically makes you stealthy to everything.

          “BTW your cherished Rafale will never have a chance to detect an F 22 on SPECTRA unless it is after it gets a missile up its ass and in a death spiral.”

          Only if Rafale turns on its radar, thus allowing F-22 to target it passively. If it doesn’t, F-22 will have to use its own radar or uplink, both of which can be detected. And if F-22 shoots, missile will get detected by DDM, so position can be calculated from it.

          “Note the next sentence where I said that the current systems in use are just updated versions of 1980 IRST technology and both Pirate and OST are no exception and even then they are still two decades old technology.”

          Except both were developed in 1990s, and replacement OSF has been developed.
          http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/radar-and-optronics-will-define-future-rafale-214754/
          http://wayback.archive.org/web/20121007075747/http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/picture-france-accepts-first-aesa-equipped-rafale-377216/
          >>The new F3-04T-standard fighter also has improved front sector optronics equipment from Thales and the DDM-NG passive missile approach warning system, produced by MBDA.<

          Regarding EOTS:
          http://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/mfc/pc/f-35-lightning-ii-electro-optical-targeting-system-etos/mfc-f-35-eots-pc.pdf
          >>The Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) is the world’s first and only sensor that combines forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and infrared search and track (IRST) functionality<<

          There is only one problem, LockMart is lying through its teeth (as usual), since PIRATE also combines FLIR and IRST:
          http://www.selex-es.com/documents/737448/5440013/body_mm07797_IRST_LQ.pdf
          as does Rafale.

          "Remember I said REPUTABLE sources, which you clearly do not qualify as."

          And what does? Lockheed Martin certainly doesn't, USAF is rather questionable…

          "Most of the aircraft on your list are not even in service yet and you have already declared the Rafale better that they are."

          Read the list again. I am aware that these fighters are not in service (why I called them "upcoming") but much of data is already known…

          "I am no longer going to waste anymore time trying to talk the stupid out of you because you are just a lost cause."

          A person with your level of ignorance cannot "talk the stupid" out of anyone… before trying to remove thorn from my eye you have to remove rain forest from your own.

          "Go eat some turkey"

          I don't eat meat.

        • BMACK said

          “Every aviation expert of any note in the world says so.”

          Can you name a few? I can name plenty but let’s start with the leadership of every Air Force in the world. You can find them easily by just Googling them. As far as I know only you claim that the F 35 is not a fifth generation fighter. Can you name one REPUTABLE expert that agrees with you?

          Did you ever wonder why the F 35 has so many foreign customers and the Rafale so few even though it has been on the market for almost two decades?

          “Because United States have more diplomatic pull than France (and Sweden), because F-35 is falsely marketed as an F-16 replacement, and because Rafale is still expensive, even though not as expensive as F-35.”

          Thanks for the conspiracy theory nonsense. Do you have any proof? Otherwise I am not really interested in any more of your goofy theories. And again, I guess the combined knowledge of every Air Force in the Free world is just not as smart as you are. BTW did you call them and tell them what a huge mistake they are making. I am sure they will listen to such a world renowned aviation expert like you.

          “Sweden opted for developing Gripen NG instead of buying F-35, France still produces Rafale, Germany uses Typhoon instead of buying F-35, United Kingdom bought F-35 because navalizing Typhoon would be too expensive (redesigning the aircraft, plus redesigning the carriers), Norway and Netherlands only opted for F-35 after very heavy diplomatic pressure (threats and bribes), Israel bought F-35 because it needs US help against Arabs, Japan and Korea for same reason only problem in their case is China… what?”
          More kooky conspiracy theory junk. And yes – what an idiotic statement.

          “Only because you just mindlessly absorb Lockheed Martin rpopaganda according to which being stealthy to X-band active radar automatically makes you stealthy to everything.”

          No, I am able to objectively look at facts. Unlike you who are so in love with the Rafale that you eat up all the Dassault propaganda they can dish out. Well they say love is blind. But good thing that foreign customers are not blinded by love which is why they have rejected it except for the Indians who are about to dump it any day now.

          “Only if Rafale turns on its radar, thus allowing F-22 to target it passively. If it doesn’t, F-22 will have to use its own radar or uplink, both of which can be detected. And if F-22 shoots, missile will get detected by DDM, so position can be calculated from it.”

          Spoken like someone who truly doesn’t understand the technology he is blathering on about.

          Note the next sentence where I said that the current systems in use are just updated versions of 1980 IRST technology and both Pirate and OST are no exception and even then they are still two decades old technology.

          “Except both were developed in 1990s, and replacement OSF has been developed.”

          Duh yup, that’s what I said dufus. Two decade old (or 1990s) technology and are just updated versions of 1980 IRST technology. I guess I had to do the math for you. I should have known how bad you are at simple math by now.

          “In another brochure says this:”

          Brochures! You get your info from company brochures! That sure explains a lot.

          “There is only one problem, LockMart is lying through its teeth (as usual), since PIRATE also combines FLIR and IRST:”

          Combines FLIR and IRST? IRST is a form of FLIR genius.

          “before trying to remove thorn from my eye you have to remove rain forest from your own.”

          A good attempt at being deep and prophetic, bad grammar and all, but I think you are mixing up your metaphors.

          “Go eat some Tofu turkey”

      • Chris said

        “Will it though? YES, but since they are highly unlikely to ever face each other it is a moot point.”

        Indeed. But the point remains – it’s worth looking at the different decisions made, why they were made and so on.

        “You don’t know this yet as the F 35 is still in development. Using maintenance data from test aircraft is just not realistic.”

        We were comparing the F-22 to the Rafale, but if you want to compare the F-35, we can. The F-22 is in service, so we can compare.

        “I guess you forget that the US is buying this plane and will fly this plane regardless of cost. The French on the other hand….”

        That’s a serious problem. You are buying regardless of cost. Regardless of cost. So that means, you’re buying no matter what the opportunity costs are.

        That’s why I say equal cost fleets. If I have $x billion dollars for fighters, that x billion dollars buys me say:

        Fighter 1 costs $100 million
        Fighter 2 costs $300 million

        In order for Fighter 2 to justify it’s cost, it must be able to defeat 3 of fighter 1.

        “Yeah OK, another flawed assumption. US pilots will continue to be the best trained in the world. Theres my assumption based on past and current history.”

        The US will win in a conflict due to numbers. Quality is another matter, as recent exercises have shown, it’s more like parity, not total domination.

        “Given that the plane has a 30 to 1 flight to maintenance ratio, there’s a greater risk that it will be destroyed on the ground.

        Really? I’m not even going to respond this point. The statement is silly and the basis for it based on flawed assumptions.”

        Then what is the maintenance to flight ratio? That’s critical in a war.

        You do realize that even if the F-22 is superior, there’s still the issue in our hypothetical scenario that it is totally dependent on runways (Gripen is not for example). For every hour of flight, it needs x hours of maintenance. That “x” goes up the more complexity is added to a fighter.

        “Please re-read my comments. Like this statement which is true “The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

        That would be Pirate and OLS-35, along with the Rafale’s system. Most were made in the 1990s and there are newer sensors on their way (like the OLS-50).

        The Europeans have some pretty good IR sensors (and I’d argue are the leaders in this field). The Russians too have been developing this technology aggressively.

        “Proof please?”

        Picard has already addressed this one.

        • HGR said

          Chris, some of the orders for F-35 that we are seeing including those potentially from Taiwan that I forgot to mention earlier are predicated in the F-35’s deterrence capacity. The Taiwanese are conversing about the Marine variant that they would deploy in roads and short strips that can survive a Chinese surprise attack and the South Koreans and Japanese clearly feel that it could be used to knock out North Korea’s ballistic missile as well as a counter against mischief from China.

          But in addition to those roles planned for the aircraft if the plane’s cost drops and becomes predictable them additional orders would come for other roles. I feel that if cost drop as it is advertised then there will be more orders.

        • BMACK said

          Chris,

          If you are to come to your buddy’s defence it may be useful to read into the conversation first so you know what you are responding to.

          “Indeed. But the point remains – it’s worth looking at the different decisions made, why they were made and so on.”

          OK but this was not in response to that question. It was in response to the assertion that the Rafale was better in the air to air role than the F 35.

          “We were comparing the F-22 to the Rafale, but if you want to compare the F-35, we can. The F-22 is in service, so we can compare.”

          No, Picard was comparing the F 35 to the Rafale.

          “That’s a serious problem. You are buying regardless of cost. Regardless of cost. So that means, you’re buying no matter what the opportunity costs are. That’s why I say equal cost fleets. If I have $x billion dollars for fighters, that x billion dollars buys me say:”
          “Fighter 1 costs $100 million
          Fighter 2 costs $300 million”

          Again, please read the discussion before offering a comment. This response was in regards to the cost per hour to fly, not the purchase price.

          “In order for Fighter 2 to justify its cost, it must be able to defeat 3 of fighter 1.”

          A very simplistic set of purchasing criteria, your own I presume? Well you will be glad to hear then that fighter 2 can defeat fighter 1 about 10:1 since it will shoot it down before the Rafale even knows it is being targeted. Again though, you are confusing the discussion regarding the cost per flying hour, not the cost of the plane.

          “The US will win in a conflict due to numbers. Quality is another matter, as recent exercises have shown, it’s more like parity, not total domination.

          Yeah, OK. Your opinion.

          “Given that the plane has a 30 to 1 flight to maintenance ratio, there’s a greater risk that it will be destroyed on the ground.”

          “Then what is the maintenance to flight ratio? That’s critical in a war.”

          Since the plane is still under development we just don’t know yet unless you do? But where did the number 30 come from? Just arbitrarily making a number up in an effort to make a point only serves to erode ones credibility.

          “You do realize that even if the F-22 is superior, there’s still the issue in our hypothetical scenario that it is totally dependent on runways (Gripen is not for example). For every hour of flight, it needs x hours of maintenance. That “x” goes up the more complexity is added to a fighter.“

          “Even if the F 22 is superior”, Really? Sure OK, but you do realize that it is quite likely after day three of a conflict there won’t be any more Gripens to land on non-runways. You also realize that the Gripen needs a runway, it cannot land in open fields. It can land on short runways and highways but still needs a paved surface, free of FOD.

          “Please re-read my comments. Like this statement which is true “The most modern versions in use today date from the 1980s and are easily defeated by the F 22.”

          “That would be Pirate and OLS-35, along with the Rafale’s system. Most were made in the 1990s and there are newer sensors on their way (like the OLS-50).”

          OK. Again, please actually read my comments. I know they were made in the 90s. Like I said 80’s technology with minor improvements but still 20 yr old technology. What is your point here? BTW Glad to hear some new stuff is on the way. How much does it cost?Is it as good as DAS?

          “The Europeans have some pretty good IR sensors (and I’d argue are the leaders in this field). The Russians too have been developing this technology aggressively.”

          OK, point please?

          “Proof please?”

          “Picard has already addressed this one.”

          No, he simply made the statement so I guess this is just his and your opinion? Then you both should not present it as fact if it cannot be backed up proof because that is just dishonest and frankly, just a little desperate.

        • HGR said

          Couple of issues,

          An aircraft availability is not entirely the result of the aircraft’s complexity but it is very often the result of the ground crew training as well as the logistic for parts, etc. I have seen availability improve dramatically simply by improving these two variables. So availability is a variable and not a fixed ration.

          I also want to add that the exercise between the Rafale and the F-22 that apparently was a draw was mostly with in the visual range dog-fighting and as I have mentioned earlier seldom are these exercise truly representative of reality. Most of the time they have limits that are intended to stress and test certain things and in this instance it seems to have been with-in visual range fighting that was the focus. If you want to get technical and F-16 could probably have won against both in that scenario.

          As far as Picard he stresses three things,

          (1) That beyond visual range weapons do not perform as well as advertised.
          (2) That because of (1) all fighters should be prepared to eventually fight with in visual range and use guns.
          (3) That with in visual range a more numerous, agile and basic fighter might predominated over fewer high technology fighters.

          I do not believe the points that Picard make can be dismissed by simply citing small bits of information from here and there. There are a lot of “IF” in his postulate because both enemies are presumed to fight strictly with aircrafts when reality one might use cruise missiles and land forces to neutralize airports, etc.

          Operating from roads is not the panacea that their boosters make you believe. Eventually the aircraft will need to be overhauled and require a facility to do it. An airport has to be close by to do that.

          I just wanted to make those comments.

        • BMACK said

          Couple of issues,

          “An aircraft availability is not entirely the result of the aircraft’s complexity but it is very often the result of the ground crew training as well as the logistic for parts, etc. I have seen availability improve dramatically simply by improving these two variables. So availability is a variable and not a fixed ration.”

          Two areas where the US is the best in the world in so not an issue for them.

          “I also want to add that the exercise between the Rafale and the F-22 that apparently was a draw was mostly with in the visual range dog-fighting and as I have mentioned earlier seldom are these exercise truly representative of reality. Most of the time they have limits that are intended to stress and test certain things and in this instance it seems to have been with-in visual range fighting that was the focus. If you want to get technical and F-16 could probably have won against both in that scenario.”

          Agreed to a point but getting there is the hard part and remember the F 22 and /or F 35 will not be alone.

          “As far as Picard he stresses three things,”

          First of all I do not recall anywhere in our discussions where picard was making any of these points. If he was then he did very good job hiding them. Instead he made ridiculous statements like the Rafale is the best fighter aircraft in the world, complete with his ridiculous top 10 list, and said his beloved Rafale was just as stealthy as an F 35 and that “the F 35 is not even a fifth generation fighter” or my personal favorite:

          “There is nothing revolutionary about the F-35 except the fact that it is 3 different aircraft under one name.”

          Because of these sorts of statements I take nothing he says seriously.

          (1) “That beyond visual range weapons do not perform as well as advertised.”

          picard NEVER said this and there is absolutely no data to back that statement up. If you have some please produce it? What weapons in particular are you referring to?

          (2) That because of (1) all fighters should be prepared to eventually fight with in visual range and use guns.
          picard NEVER said this and since (1) is not a factual statement this is less of a factor but we have already established that the F 22 can hold its own in a dog fight. Again though, it will not be alone.

          (3) “That with in visual range a more numerous, agile and basic fighter might predominated over fewer high technology fighters.”

          picard NEVER said this. What he said was:

          “The Rafale will badly outnumber the Raptor because it costs much less. It means that it will be outnumbered, by perhaps as much as 3.5 – 4 to 1.”

          Since the current orders alone for both planes give about a 20:1 advantage to the F 35 this is just another idiotic statement. Then there is also the fact that while the Rafale just lost three major competitions (Singapore, Saudi and Brazil) and it only international order to date, (India) is in danger of cancellation while the F35 has won three (Japan, Singapore, Israel) with at least two more on the immediate horizon (S Korea, Taiwan) I doubt the Rafale will ever outnumber the F 35.

          “I do not believe the points that Picard make can be dismissed by simply citing small bits of information from here and there. There are a lot of “IF” in his postulate because both enemies are presumed to fight strictly with aircrafts when reality one might use cruise missiles and land forces to neutralize airports, etc.”

          OK, this statement really pisses me off. Small bits of info my ass. First of all most of what your little buddy writes in nonsense and the rest is unintelligible gibberish. Secondly If I give an opinion I tell you it is an opinion and unlike your friend, I don’t try and pass it off as fact and if it is fact I can back it up. So far all I get from both of you are bits of nonsense, none of which you can provide any data or proof of so please spare me the condescending BS.

          “Operating from roads is not the panacea that their boosters make you believe. Eventually the aircraft will need to be overhauled and require a facility to do it. An airport has to be close by to do that.”

          Yup, not my point. Yours remember. In your last post this was major plus for the Gripen and a major downside for the F 22. Now it is not such a big deal. Amazing how much can change in just one post!

          I just wanted to make this comment:

          I know picard is your friend but please do not attribute statements to him that he did not make in an attempt to defend him. It demeans you and makes me think that you believe me to be stupid enough not to notice what you are trying to do. I really can’t even understand why you would tie yourself to this ignorant buffoon?

        • picard578 said

          We were having a discussion about how Rafale and F-35 compare as platforms not as weapon systems, because in that case comparision would be even worse for the F-35.

        • BMACK said

          I did not write this dufus. Your buddy Chris did.

        • picard578 said

          Regarding numbers issue, it is about how many aircraft can be produced for equal cost. US would be better served by lincense-producing Rafales than by lincense-producing F-35s. Even if 160 million USD official flyaway cost for F-35 is used, Rafale gives almost 2:1 numerical advantage, plus being superior platform-for-platform.

          And you should seriously look at other articles on blog.

      • picard578 said

        “I did not write this dufus. Your buddy Chris did.”

        My reply was to him…

      • picard578 said

        “I can name plenty but let’s start with the leadership of every Air Force in the world.”

        Generals and politicians are far from being experts on aircraft usefulness… even those that have actually flown aircraft in combat have typically being out of touch with reality (due to being part of bureocracy) for too long.

        “As far as I know only you claim that the F 35 is not a fifth generation fighter.”

        So do Pierre Sprey and Peter Goon.
        http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-081109-1.html
        http://www.ausairpower.net/CV-PAG-2007.html
        http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/feature/135080/f_35-reality-check-10-years-on-(part-1).html

        Fact is, entire “fifth generation” label caught traction simply by mindless repetition ad nauseum. It has no actual support. This is what Italian Air Force colonel Vito Cracas says about F-35s air to air performance:
        “The JSF does not have a high-end air-to-air capability…We need to have both aircraft (i.e. F-35 & Eurofighter).”

        “Did you ever wonder why the F 35 has so many foreign customers and the Rafale so few even though it has been on the market for almost two decades?”

        I have already explained that. Neither French Government or Dassault have political pull of their US equivalents (US Government and Lockheed Martin). Many potential Rafale customers have also gone for cheaper Gripen.

        “Thanks for the conspiracy theory nonsense. Do you have any proof?”

        Read this:
        http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/f35-lightning-ii-faces-continued-dogfights-in-norway-03034/
        http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2013/10/15/In-Israel-lingering-bitterness-over-a-failed-fighter-project/UPI-78961381856103/
        http://www.therecord.com/news-story/2571713-washington-used-aggressive-sales-pitch-to-sell-f-35-fighter-memos-rev/
        http://www.thelocal.se/20101203/30584
        http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_09_24_2013_p0-620093.xml&p=2

        You really should learn about how world really works.

        “More kooky conspiracy theory junk.”

        Typical fanboy, anything you don’t like is “conspiracy theory”.

        “Well they say love is blind.”

        And you’re best example of it I’ve seen to date.

        “Duh yup, that’s what I said dufus.”

        You said it’s 1980s technology. I guess that 10 years of difference means nothing to you.

        “Combines FLIR and IRST? IRST is a form of FLIR genius.”

        Difference between FLIR and IRST is in functionality, maybe you should call Lockheed Martin since they also believe that FLIR and IRST are different things. But uninformed fanboy like you…

    • Chris said

      ” OK, you say that and you disagree with both US govt and LM estimates to the opposite but offer no data to support that assertion. And no, in yr, low production and R&D costs do not support that conclusion even though you continue to throw around the $300M a copy figure, it is meaningless and exagerated. ”

      How is it meaningless? It is the current procurement price, at least according to the SAR’s own figures.

      “As a result of this cost, I’ve noted in my first paragraph that there has been an increased dependence on flight simulators.
      No, not any more than any other fighter aircraft does. Again an opinion that is not supported by fact.”

      52% of the training will be based on simulators.


      No, not really given that it a revolutionary concept in both design and project management. It has just received more than the usual amount of media attention. No other aircraft has been regularly attacked by the media every time a minor problem occurs in the development phase. This is due largely to the lobbying efforts and political connections of its competitors, most notably Boeing. For instance when the F18 SH was being developed and there were serious problems with the engines there was not even a word in the media about it but when the F 35 has minor problems with the helmet it is a major news item.”

      The problem is that these are not minor problems.

      Let me give an example. The F-35C tailhook was found deficient in 2012. It cannot land on an aircraft carrier. That is not a minor problem. That is a fatal design flaw for the carrier variant. The F-35C variant cannot enter service with the US Navy unless that is fixed.

      Another source of issues are the software.

      Yet another (and somewhat related to the above) is that the helmet mounted sight has been giving serious problems.

      “3. That testing is incomplete, and will not be complete for at least a few years.
      Yeah OK, what’s the point here again?”

      The point is that the aircraft is undergoing production before testing is complete. Testing has not been as extensive as on prior aircraft. If there are problems found during testing, that could have very serious and expensive implications.

      ” So some minor reductions will result in huge price increases while new orders that more than outweigh the reductions will only result in “modest” decreases. Again, the logic of your argument is flawed but at least you now agree that they will actually result in decreases at all!!”

      I did not say that. I said huge problems in the aircraft if found during testing will result in huge cost increases. Also, if the US Congress decides as a result of budgetary constraints to cut back the purchase we could see huge cost increases.

      The foreign nations will only buy a few dozen aircraft each, tops (especially for the smaller nations). Their cancelling or choosing to buy a plane will only affect the cost per unit by a few single digits. But if large numbers of foreign customers drop, then there’s the possibility of a large increase in cost. Why do you think there’s been a huge pressure through diplomatic channels from the US to get foreign nations to buy?

      There’s a high risk of that the foreign sales may not meet expectations. That’s because several nations are facing defense cutbacks and because well, as indicated, testing is not complete, so if there are problems, there could be nations that walk away from this.

      “Sorry, just a typo (should read 2016) but I figured that you would have been able to determine that on your own without me having to state the obvious but I got that wrong too I guess. I’ll try not to make any more errors in future, or give you that much credit again. BTW, I would have pointed some of your spelling mistakes and poor grammar out but just thought that to do so would be petty, in bad taste and meaningless to the discussion.”

      I don’t have perfect grammar, and I’ve made my share of typos, but at the same time, I expect that people will respond based on what I write. If I write $1 billion when I mean $1 million, I expect people to respond as if I wrote $1 billion rather than $1 million.

      ” Well, in my nation, Canada we, like other nations, including the US have not walked away from the project to date and there are a large number of new orders, far outweighing any reductions, that you and your source article neglected to mention. But this has nothing to do with your contradictory position that reduced production numbers will cause prices to rise but increased numbers will also make prices rise?”

      Have you been following the news here in Canada then? I presume that you live in Canada based on your response?
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-officially-scraps-f-35-purchase-as-audit-pegs-costs-at-45-billion/article6260601/

      While it’s not certain that the plane will not be bought for 100% (especially considering the level of corruption in the current government), there’s a pretty big chance of a reduction in purchase or that a competition could be opened.

      The Harper government has fallen under some pretty big criticism for the way it’s handed the procurement plan.
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-feel-the-heat-over-f-35-fiasco/article6292008/

      Considering the plane was originally promised at $16 billion for the entire lifecycle of 65 jets (will find link later, but check these out):
      http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/12/long-awaited-f-35-report-officially-puts-cost-of-jets-at-44-8-billion/
      http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/08/30/321301/canada-f35-purchase-to-cost-71-bn/

      Lockheed for it’s part has been “warning” (or should we say threatening) that Canada may “lose” $10.5 billion in contracts for walking away:
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/us-company-says-backing-out-of-f-35-deal-will-cost-canada/article14324026/

      ” Just because the USN and USAF intend to take low production aircraft into service at some point does not mean that the plane is in full production now and BTW these planes will never see active service without an extensive upgrade at the end of the initial development phase to incorporate the improvements made in the development phase.”

      That was not the original schedule.

      This plane is way behind schedule and should have (according to schedule) entered or been at the point of entering service by now. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons why it’s over-budget. Any modifications at this point are modifications were not originally budgeted for. They are unanticipated problems.

      The questions I have for you are
      – If my $300 million is “garbage” then what does an F-35 cost today?
      – What will they do to get the plane down to the $75 million (or whatever it costs) other than your “scaling up of production”?
      – What contingencies are there in case this plane goes wrong?

      Finally, what “revolutionary” capabilities (your words not mine) does this airplane bring? So far, it’s unremarkable, and for Canada, hardly the best choice (short range, currently has issues in cold weather, and the other issues listed earlier).

      • HGR said

        “Let me give an example. The F-35C tailhook was found deficient in 2012. It cannot land on an aircraft carrier. That is not a minor problem. That is a fatal design flaw for the carrier variant. The F-35C variant cannot enter service with the US Navy unless that is fixed.”

        The NAVY version’s tail-hook works all right when it comes to actually landing the plane. That it is not the problem. It is that the tail hook has a very large radar signature. They need to redesign it so that it conforms to the plane better.

        Marine version has another problem. The heat from the downward exhaust is too high for either the carrier’s or the amphibious ship’s deck. This is being worked on by either making the deck more resistant to heat or adding heat pads where re-coating the entire deck is not justified. This is something that affect export orders.

        Chris, the reality is that more countries are looking at fielding F-35. Not fewer countries but more and this is despite the fact that cost can’t be considered stable at the moment. Once the aircraft has a predictable cost history you might see more people signing on.

        The real problem are dwindling defense budgets and other needs. Countries like South Korea and Singapore have many security needs to satisfy and if this plane’s costs gets out of hand they will have to curtail mundane but essential tasks like anti-piracy or maritime surveillance and coastal patrols. They have neighbors that no other country want and they need to watch them. So everyone is a little hesitant for now but as soon as costs become more predictable more orders might follow.

      • Chris said

        @HGR

        “The NAVY version’s tail-hook works all right when it comes to actually landing the plane. That it is not the problem. It is that the tail hook has a very large radar signature. They need to redesign it so that it conforms to the plane better. ”

        No it doesn’t.

        It was unable to land on a carrier:

        http://aviationintel.com/f-35c-cannot-land-on-a-carrier/
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9016442/Navys-5bn-Harrier-jet-replacement-unable-to-land-on-aircraft-carriers.html

        They are “working on it” so to speak.
        http://www.dodbuzz.com/2013/04/10/lockheed-promises-tailhook-fix-to-navys-f-35c/

        More recently:
        http://news.usni.org/2013/12/23/navys-f-35-starts-new-tailhook-tests

        Either way it’s a long way to go from landing on the test strips to landing on an actual carrier. That could take perhaps a couple of years, and that assumes that there are no other problems.

        • BMACK said

          The plane will be conducting carrier landings at sea in 2014.

          http://breakingdefense.com/2013/06/navys-f-35-is-top-priority-for-new-lockheed-aeronautics-chief-carrier-landings-key-to-confidence/

        • HGR said

          That looks promising… the carrier landings. The aircraft is an up-grade from the F/A-18 in range and from what you hear from our friends with tough neighbors like the S.Koreans, Japanese and Taiwan even in small numbers the F-35 represents a strategic deterrence. I do not pay a lot of attention to Israel but I suspect a similar logic there.

          I do not agree with all of Picards’ arguments but I do appreciate the web-site. It is a good vehicle to learn.

          I know it caught you by surprise when I mentioned Picard’s arguments towards with in visual range fighting but if you look at all of his post on the aggregate you will notice they are critical of long range air-to-air missiles and promote the inevitability of close in fighting with guns or short range missiles. He also promotes a less technological advance but more numerous airforce. The posts are there for you to read if you care including one about how to defeat missiles fired at aircrafts.

          A couple of explanations…

          If one is sensitive to them you will notice that on news and other publicly available media they report that every so many flying hours the jets need more maintenance than can be provided by the side of the road PLUS in the past I have mentioned to Picard about battle damage repairs as well as medical facilities to treat wounded pilots, base security since the aircraft can be lost to ground forces too and not just in a dog fight, ability to land damage aircrafts, etc. All these things would be hard to do if you operate in strips of roads. So that is just to make the argument that operating from a road like the Gripen can do is a good thing to have but not as big an advantage as it seems to be.

          The comment about availability is that in the USA a certain aircraft type that might have had an availability of say 60% have been improved to say 80% with out changing the aircraft at all but dealing exclusively with the ground crews effectiveness and parts. I have seen this happen and reported on a year-to-year basis. The jest here is that comments about the F-35 availability are academic at this point in time because we can’t judge that until the ground crews and logistic tail have been worked on for a while and optimized.

        • HGR said

          Let us say that as of now the challenge is to tuck this hook into the aircraft so it will not show on radar.

          I read the articles and one other thing you need to consider is that often the journalists are not in the Navy “beat”. They are generalist that just regurgitate what ever they told. There is a note there about the F-35 not being able to fire a certain British missile. Well, the LCS can’t fire a Griffin either which is a Scandinavian Missile but they will eventually.

          When you navalize a weapon not only do you deal with the obvious like corrosion, mist, fog and waves that can screw up the missile either on deck or on transit but you forget that the computers that control the missile have to be programmed to handle that too. That programing is sometimes the biggest head ache about navalizing a weapon. So the same thing with that British missile they want to put in the F-35… they will have to program the aircraft to handle it… it has been done before and I do not want to say it is easy but it is not a huge hurdle. Same for the heap pads.

          The noise… that was funny that the aircraft is so noisy. They might not need radar to see it coming… they will hear it. This is a joke but you know what is the big deal about that?

  6. Chris said

    Also worth noting, the newer Ford class carriers have been experiencing issues:
    http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657412.pdf

    If you have the time to, I encourage you to read the report over. Some highlights:

    Page 28:
    “Since CVN 78 construction was authorized with the contract award in
    fiscal year 2008, the Navy has consistently increased its procurement
    budget for the ship to account for cost growth as construction has
    progressed. Budgeted costs have grown to $12.8 billion, compared to the
    Navy’s initial $10.5 billion procurement budget request.”

    Page 32:

    Further, the Navy’s current budget estimate of $12.8 billion for completing
    CVN 78 is optimistic because it assumes the shipbuilder will maintain its
    current level of performance throughout the remainder of construction.
    This assumption is inconsistent with historical Navy shipbuilding
    experiences for recent lead ships, which have suffered from performance
    degradation late in construction. Our previous work has shown that the
    full extent of cost growth does not usually manifest itself until after the
    ship is more than 60 percent complete, when key systems are being
    installed and integrated.
    Our analysis shows that, as of December 2012, the contractor was forecasting
    an overrun at contract completion of over $913 million. This cost growth is
    attributable to the shipbuilder not accomplishing work as planned. The
    Navy has largely, but not fully, funded this cost growth within CVN 78’s
    $12.8 billion procurement budget.

    complete. The Director of DOD’s Cost Assessment and Program
    Evaluation office and the Congressional Budget Office—as well as Navy
    cost analysts and a Navy-commissioned expert panel—have also
    projected higher than budgeted procurement costs for CVN 78, with cost
    estimates ranging from $13.0 to $14.2 billion.”

    And what I wanted to discuss – integration with the F-35C:
    Page 37:
    “Previously, F-35C initial capability was scheduled to occur prior to the
    shipbuilder’s delivery of CVN 78 to the Navy in 2016. However, as a
    result of F-35C developmental delays, the Navy will not field the aircraft
    until at least 2017—one year after CVN 78 delivery. As a result, the Navy
    has deferred critical F-35C integration activities, which introduces risk of
    system incompatibilities and costly retrofits to the ship after it is delivered
    to the Navy.”

    All of this means:
    Page 43:
    “Because of the development and testing delays and reliability deficiencies
    affecting key systems, CVN 78 will likely face operational limitations that
    extend past commissioning and into initial deployments. Thus, the ship
    will likely deploy without meeting its key sortie generation rate and
    reduced manning requirements.”

    Page 50:
    “The Navy awarded a multibillion dollar contract for detail design and
    construction of CVN 78 in 2008, even in light of substantial technology
    development risks and an overly optimistic budget. Now, nearly 5 years
    later, the cost of the lead ship has increased by more than $2.3 billion and
    many risks still remain which are likely to lead to further cost increases
    before the ship is completed.”

    Apparently the DOD is at odds:
    Page 54
    “DOD did not agree with our recommendation to defer the CVN 79 detail
    design and construction contract award until land-based testing for
    critical, developmental ship systems is completed.”

    Also:
    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130905/DEFREG02/309050013/US-Navy-GAO-Odds-Over-Carrier-Issues

  7. Chris said

    Ok new thread.

    @BMACK:

    1. Regardless of the reasons, the F-35C is behind schedule. It has “begun tests”. As indicated earlier, it’s still a while before it can land on a carrier regularly.

    2. By regularly, I mean by regular navy pilots. At the moment for example, the F-35B does have a working VTOL ability, but only test pilots are supposed to be using that feature regularly.

    3. I don’t know what any of this will mean for the software, but that is already seriously behind schedule.

    Time being money, all of this will have to be amortized in the unit costs.

    @Picard:
    “We were having a discussion about how Rafale and F-35 compare as platforms not as weapon systems, because in that case comparision would be even worse for the F-35.”

    He/she looks at things the way the DoD does – in pure 1v1 terms. This is why we get planes like the F-22 that cost so much. At last count, it cost $64,000 USD/hour to fly (2010 dollars). (That said, it recently soared up due to the groundings).

    “Regarding numbers issue, it is about how many aircraft can be produced for equal cost. US would be better served by lincense-producing Rafales than by lincense-producing F-35s. Even if 160 million USD official flyaway cost for F-35 is used, Rafale gives almost 2:1 numerical advantage, plus being superior platform-for-platform.”

    The Americans are too proud to license produce their main fighter. This isn’t like the Harrier or the M1’s gun (Rheinmetall) Plus how would the MICC make money? This is a corporate welfare project.

    A few issues:
    The munitions on the Rafale are for French munitions, it would take a bit of cash to get them compatible (probably no more than a couple of billion mind you).

    The USMC insists on having VTOL capability, which probably caused many of the problems on the F-35 to begin with. Rafale obviously cannot VTOL. Granted, this is a horribly misguided attempt that’s led to things like the V-22, but it was a requirement.

    • HGR said

      The Marines are not a big enough service to develop their own aircraft. That is why they chose the Harrier instead of caving in to special interest and try it on their own with a domestic manufacturer.

      The Marines recognize that in the small carriers/assault ships might be their only source of fire-power when operating in certain theaters and plan to equip them with a successor to the Harrier for that very purpose. They can’t develop their own special aircraft to succeed the Harrier because they will not buy enough of them to make it worthwhile. So they need the F-35 project badly.

      The gun on our main battle tank has to be able to use the same rounds as the guns of the other NATO tanks so they bought a German barrel rather than developing their own. Well… there is a long list of things that we buy from our European friends. If you want a better example the 5″ deck gun in use in all USA large ships except the Zumwalt is an Oto Melara 76 mm and the LCS uses a Bofor 57 mm. So what is the big deal here? Do you think we should stop buying foreign guns now?

      The point I am making is that the USA will buy foreign weapons. We do not believe in autarky because we recognize that it carries a very high cost.

    • picard578 said

      “At last count, it cost $64,000 USD/hour to fly (2010 dollars).”

      AFAIK, it was 61.000 in 2012.

      “The Americans are too proud to license produce their main fighter.”

      And too proud to admit mistakes. “The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance.”

      “This is a corporate welfare project.”

      I know… and Europe is falling down the same craphole. Industry and politics must get divorced.

      “The USMC insists on having VTOL capability, which probably caused many of the problems on the F-35 to begin with.”

      Not “probably”, it did cause many problems. Namely, it led to the aircraft having a single hugely powerful (and hot) engine, very fat, draggy fuselage (well, that and all-aspect LO requirement), no rearward visibility, very small wings, and three versions being hugely incompatible. Just putting F-35C’s wings on A version would solve quite few of F-35s problems.

      • Chris said

        “AFAIK, it was 61.000 in 2012.”

        I presume that is not counting the additional work done during the 2012 groundings? With the groundings, apparently it went up to over $100k.

        “And too proud to admit mistakes. “The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance.” ”

        If you think about it, the issue is fundamentally that they learned the wrong lessons from WWII.

        – The JSF is itself a refutation of everything learned in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam
        – The use of strategic bombers (and newer ones like the B1, B2, and now the “next generation bomber”)
        – Large “fleet” carriers versus smaller “escort” carriers
        – The concept that of “wonder waffen” versus mass produced simpler weapons (KISS)
        – The importance of protecting convoys (imagine if the US were to go to war with an enemy with a competent Navy and Air Force – we would see that enemy get a modern equal to the U-Boats “Happy Time”)
        – Mine warfare and ASW (neglected since the end of the Cold War)
        – The idea of “main battle tank” – heavy tanks that are good for everything
        – Early M16s were prone to jamming; under certain situations, it’s still an inferior weapon today to the AK-47

        I could go on but, you get the idea. Their strategy is to “keep the money flowing”. It could be argued that this is the modern equal of the F-111 TFX program. An overweight, multirole aircraft, that is intended for several services.

        “I know… and Europe is falling down the same craphole. Industry and politics must get divorced.”

        With economic realities in both sides of the Atlantic being what they are, this must happen. That and there needs to be an emphasis on avoiding unneeded wars (like Iraq).

        “Not “probably”, it did cause many problems. Namely, it led to the aircraft having a single hugely powerful (and hot) engine, very fat, draggy fuselage (well, that and all-aspect LO requirement), no rearward visibility, very small wings, and three versions being hugely incompatible.”

        Fair enough.

        The Harrier proved to be quite unreliable (known as the “Widowmaker” apparently) and very vulnerable to ground fire. The issue I have with VTOL has always been that in order to get VTOL, there have to be some unacceptable compromises made.

        “Just putting F-35C’s wings on A version would solve quite few of F-35s problems.””

        Hmm.

        On one hand, the fuel capacity could be increased, especially without the need to fold like the carrier. That would somewhat address the problems, but it’s still a fairly short legged fighter.

        Wing loading would go down somewhat, but it’s still a pretty heavy wing loading for a good fighter.

        On the downside, cruising speed might go down.

        I think it might address things somewhat, but on the whole, I’d advocate for scrapping the program altogether and starting from a fresh plane.

        • HGR said

          “- Early M16s were prone to jamming; under certain situations, it’s still an inferior weapon today to the AK-47” – this is not true.

          With professional soldiers the M16 is superior to the AK-47 in most respects including range and accuracy. It is not always possible to fight in close range as witnessed in Afghanistan where the Taliban would need two rifles (an AK-47 and a bolt action rifle) to do the job that USA soldiers did with one M16. But if you have a rag-tag military the AK-47’s looser fitting fabrication is more forgiving to careless handling.

        • picard578 said

          “With professional soldiers the M16 is superior to the AK-47 in most respects including range and accuracy.”

          That is true, but M16 is still inferior to original AR-15. It is heavier and more complex, thus more unreliable.

        • picard578 said

          “If you think about it, the issue is fundamentally that they learned the wrong lessons from WWII.”

          More like they forgot lessons as soon as war was over. Remember that during WWII US had extensive CAS service, and I don’t mean just aircraft, but entire system worked out to make close coordination between ground troops and tactical air possible.

          “- The concept that of “wonder waffen” versus mass produced simpler weapons (KISS)”

          As a note, during WWII US did not use Pershing until 1945 because it would create logistical problems, not because it wasn’t avaliable earlier.

          “- The idea of “main battle tank” – heavy tanks that are good for everything”

          Indeed, that is why I proposed a mix of heavy and light tanks – heavy tanks to hold the enemy for the nose, then light tanks to kick him in the ass, metaphorically speaking.

          “The issue I have with VTOL has always been that in order to get VTOL, there have to be some unacceptable compromises made.”

          And its main alleged benefit – ability to operate even if air bases are bombed to rubble – goes out of window once you realize how hard VTOL / STOVL aircraft are to maintain.

          “I think it might address things somewhat, but on the whole, I’d advocate for scrapping the program altogether and starting from a fresh plane.”

          That is the most logical course of action. And one, of course, USAF will never take unless forced to by Government.

  8. HGR said

    Reader’s comments on the articles are better than the articles. I want to add a comment of my own. LM is involved in the T-50 project and probably in its marketing too. That project is very important to the future of South Korea’s aerospace business and it means that LM has ties to the local aerospace industry that Boeing did not have. So there is a factor there.

    The T-50 is quite a capable aircraft for the buck and would make Picard proud.

    • picard578 said

      If you mean this:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAI_T-50_Golden_Eagle

      It sems to be good, but rearward visbility, supercruise capability, and has too low g limit.

      • Chris said

        Kind of sad that trainers can outperform the frontline aircraft. Then again, it happened with the F-5 vs the F-14 and F-15.

        • HGR said

          I think what you are referring to are certain exercises where National Guard pilots flying hand-me-down aircrafts from the Air Force beat the latter. That success was related to pilot quality and not the aircraft.

          But having said that this Korean plane is quite a little aircraft and it can and does perform front line duty in smaller sized military forces like the Philippines and the Afghan.

        • picard578 said

          “That success was related to pilot quality and not the aircraft.”

          That is the point. Keep in mind that F-5 is far cheaper and easier to maintain than either F-15 or F-16… or indeed any modern fighter, except maybe Gripen.

        • picard578 said

          Good trainer beats bad combat aircraft, eh?

  9. HGR said

    ““The USMC insists on having VTOL capability, which probably caused many of the problems on the F-35 to begin with.”” – Major delays and anxiety. Marines purchased ALL of the UK Harrier’s aircraft inventory when they where decommissioned and their entire stock of spare parts so they could assure themselves that resource through out the delays, etc.

    “Just putting F-35C’s wings on A version would solve quite few of F-35s problems.” – It also has a larger tail and pulls 7.5g instead of 9g and has no internal gun. But it would have longer range. For the Navy this is a very decent attack aircraft.

    • picard578 said

      “It also has a larger tail and pulls 7.5g instead of 9g”

      I know, but point is that F-35As wings are too small for acceptable maneuvering performance.

      • HGR said

        I understand.

        There was a comment made that the F-35 is three different planes and that is somewhat true. There are two airframes (one for the Marines and another for the others), there are two wings, two tails, It is like a Lego.

  10. HGR said

    Picard, is this you in this video?

  11. Chris said

    @HGR
    “With professional soldiers the M16 is superior to the AK-47 in most respects including range and accuracy. It is not always possible to fight in close range as witnessed in Afghanistan where the Taliban would need two rifles (an AK-47 and a bolt action rifle) to do the job that USA soldiers did with one M16.”

    In most cases, yes.

    In certain situations though, the difficulty of maintaining an M16 can be an issue. Truth be told, I am not sure either is the right compromise. AK47 is on the side of too little complexity and M16 on side of too much. Some middle ground is probably the ideal.

    @Picard
    “More like they forgot lessons as soon as war was over. Remember that during WWII US had extensive CAS service, and I don’t mean just aircraft, but entire system worked out to make close coordination between ground troops and tactical air possible.”

    I think it’s a matter of not wanting to learn. If they did, weapons unit costs would be a fraction of what they are today. That’s simply not profitable for the MICC.

    In the case of CAS, the efforts to retire the A-10 by the USAF no matter how well (or because of how well) it performs is a telling story. It’s one of the most cost-effective warplanes in the post WWII era, and yet, it’s first on the chopping block.

    “As a note, during WWII US did not use Pershing until 1945 because it would create logistical problems, not because it wasn’t avaliable earlier.”

    I would argue that the Sherman was a solid idea, but the Sherman itself was a bad tank for the job. It was high profile (easy to see), and had a low velocity cannon. Had all Shermans been Sherman Fireflies, perhaps the myth of it being outmatched by Tigers would not have existed.

    Of course the US was to proud to admit at the time that the Firefly modification was a better choice than the default weapon.

    “Indeed, that is why I proposed a mix of heavy and light tanks – heavy tanks to hold the enemy for the nose, then light tanks to kick him in the ass, metaphorically speaking.”

    Instead it seems that the armies of the world prefer to by LAVs. That despite their limited mobility and vulnerability.

    I’ve noticed that ever since Afghanistan and Chechnya, the Russians seem to be moving away from the wheeled BTR vehicles. There’s probably a good reason for that.

    “And its main alleged benefit – ability to operate even if air bases are bombed to rubble – goes out of window once you realize how hard VTOL / STOVL aircraft are to maintain.”

    Yet despite the troubled past, the Marine Corps insists on using them.

    “That is the point. Keep in mind that F-5 is far cheaper and easier to maintain than either F-15 or F-16… or indeed any modern fighter, except maybe Gripen.”

    Yeah it seems that most fighters don’t have the wide tires that fighters used to have (that and the weight creep) for roads/dirt strips/grass. Another option is double tires per landing gear. Essentially 2 tires or even 4 (2×2 configuration per leg) for a total of 12 tires to minimize ground pressure.

    They also don’t seem to emphasize rugged reliability (okay the Gripen and the Russians do a better job of this, probably because of the Arctic climate).

    • picard578 said

      “I think it’s a matter of not wanting to learn. If they did, weapons unit costs would be a fraction of what they are today. That’s simply not profitable for the MICC.”

      Most likely.

      “It’s one of the most cost-effective warplanes in the post WWII era, and yet, it’s first on the chopping block.”

      USAF is on holy crusade to get rid of all effective weapons it has in the inventory.

      “I would argue that the Sherman was a solid idea, but the Sherman itself was a bad tank for the job. ”

      It was, but that is because it was designed to support infantry. Purpose-built self-propelled tank destroyers (MGC-36, for example) performed far better, and some types in fact (M18 and M36) had positive exchange ratio against German heavy tanks.

      “I’ve noticed that ever since Afghanistan and Chechnya, the Russians seem to be moving away from the wheeled BTR vehicles. There’s probably a good reason for that.”

      Not probably, but definetly. Wheeled APCs lack mobility, and can be immobilized by Molotov Cocktail.

      “Yeah it seems that most fighters don’t have the wide tires that fighters used to have”

      I even thought about using tracks on my design.

      “They also don’t seem to emphasize rugged reliability”

      Indeed.

      • Chris said

        “USAF is on holy crusade to get rid of all effective weapons it has in the inventory.”

        It’s more about keeping the money flowing. That and there isn’t really the end of the world as the military keeps saying. The cuts proposed in the US are relatively modest.

        I mean, there seems to be money to keep the F-35 going no matter what. There also seems to be a lot of money to build a new generation of stealth bombers (apparently the B2 frames are considered aging).

        “It was, but that is because it was designed to support infantry. Purpose-built self-propelled tank destroyers (MGC-36, for example) performed far better, and some types in fact (M18 and M36) had positive exchange ratio against German heavy tanks.”

        I wonder if it would be possible for the 88 mm L/71 gun to have been mounted on the Panzer IV chassis? That would have been very impressive had it been produced. That said, the Stug III and Stug IV both did very well for their intended roles.

        There was the Jagdpanther, but it never got made in large enough numbers and the profile was higher than I would have liked (~2.7m tall).

        “Not probably, but definetly. Wheeled APCs lack mobility, and can be immobilized by Molotov Cocktail.”

        From the NATO experiences in Afghanistan:

        – They are top heavy and tend to flip over at times
        – Can be very vulnerable to RPGs and special RPG nets have to be put, worsening the top heavy part
        – Tires are very vulnerable to being hit (much more so than tracks)
        – Road pressure is high so they’re restricted to roads and hard soil (they get stuck in soft soil a lot)
        – Armor means that it cannot be used like a tank
        – Very high profile, which means easy to see
        – Surprisingly vulnerable too to IEDs for a vehicle of its mass

        Oh and they tend to be quite expensive. I don’t see how this is an upgrade over the M113 except in one way – road speed is somewhat faster but that is about it and with band tracks, M113 can keep up.

        “I even thought about using tracks on my design.”

        That could complicate things, but it might work. Hmm, you would need a relatively low approach velocity, it may work out.

        • picard578 said

          “It’s more about keeping the money flowing.”

          Problem is that after a certain point, wepon’s effectiveness typically becomes inversely proportional to its cost.

          “I wonder if it would be possible for the 88 mm L/71 gun to have been mounted on the Panzer IV chassis?”

          They mounted them on Panther’s chassis… and BTW, my favorite German tank destroyers of World War II are Marder series. They weren’t large, heavy, expensive, and they had open top, allowing excellent visibility, which is a key for finding and destroying tanks.

          “From the NATO experiences in Afghanistan:”

          You forgot to add “can be immobilized by a sudden encounter with open canalization shaft”.

    • HGR said

      The Marine Corps do not have any other choice as far as flying those Harriers and F-35B because they operate from amphibious ships that are a little over 800 feet long with no steam catapults. They as well as most Europeans that have gone with these type of ships have no choice but to use these types of aircraft.

      WW2 tank choices on the USA sides where driven by merciless logic. It was assumed that they would be fast moving on the offensive and that the tank had to be very mobile in the sense of being able to use roads and bridges available then. So the choice was made to use a medium tank that would have a negative exchange ration with the German tanks but because of its fuel economy, mobility and most important large numbers they would be able to eventually swarm around and hit the German tanks from up-close, the side and behind. This implied large looses but the society we had in WW2 was OK with that. Our society would never put up with that carnage. I might add that WW2 was a logistic war designed to be won by outproducing the Germans; an industrial war.

      A similar story with the USA Army trucks. There was one one and that simplified logistics and maintenance.

      We made a science of battling the Soviet Union in Europe and that drove many decisions such as the Apache Helicopter, the A-10 and the M1. The fighting vehicles where invented by the Russians as a way of bring infantry along side the tanks on a fast break so we had to come up with the Bradley (a concept that is poorly understood is how important infantry is in tank warfare). So a lot of what we used in Iraq and Afghanistan where weapons designed for an European theater fighting an overwhelming adversary.

      Right now we are looking at a different world.

      • picard578 said

        “The Marine Corps do not have any other choice as far as flying those Harriers and F-35B because they operate from amphibious ships that are a little over 800 feet long with no steam catapults. They as well as most Europeans that have gone with these type of ships have no choice but to use these types of aircraft.”

        Take a look at my FLX design… 200 meters (615 feet) takeoff.

        “WW2 tank choices on the USA sides where driven by merciless logic.”

        As far as I’m concerned, Sherman was a better tank than German heavy tanks. But tanks are not for killing other tanks, that job is best left to specialized vehicles.

        “We made a science of battling the Soviet Union in Europe and that drove many decisions such as the Apache Helicopter, the A-10 and the M1.”

        And only A-10 turned out to be a good vehicle. In fact, M1 isn’t good for fighting in Europe, for that you don’t need hight top speed but you do need excelelnt acceleration, a.k.a. Challenger II or Leopard II, to run from cover to cover. M1 is for open plains (like Ukraine or Russia) when it has all day to accelerate to top speed. IF it really is design for fighting in Europe, then it is a rather incompetent design.

        • HGR said

          The M1. It uses a turbine as a power plant and that makes it a very hot tank so new defensive weapons can target it easier than a “cooler” vehicle it you will and it is interesting that production of the M1 continues over the objections of the Army who do not any more of them.

          I know you made a proposal for an aircraft but it is not built. What is built is the Harrier and it is out of production and soon the F-35.

          So many countries with 800′ long aircraft carriers that have no catapults need the F-35 including ourselves.

        • picard578 said

          I know it isn’t built, I’m just pointing out that STOVL isn’t the only option.

    • HGR said

      Both the USA and the Russians do not design weapons for the frequent wars they fight every few years but for the wars of national survival. A lot of people in the military do not agree with this and many readers of this material neither including myself because I understand that capabilities are lost when you loose some of those low tech weapons that are so effective.

      With the above in mind I want to comment further: There have been a number of posts here about wheeled fighting vehicles and you need to remember that they are mostly designed for the European theater and MUST handle poison gas and radiation contamination as well as be able to operate in the Northern European Plain which is where most tank battles will take place. If you design a wheeled vehicle for third world conditions they would be different. They can be smaller and be open to the environment. Or for other European countries where the landscape is not as wide open such as Switzerland the wheeled vehicle will a better choice than a lumbering tank and help by bringing direct fire where nothing else will.

      The Marines are a very good discussion platform for something like this. If they land from a helicopter and they have nothing with them but their rifles and the other side has a few wheeled vehicles with cannon who wins? I know it is not this simple since the Marines would have aviation but you start the argument with this postulate and built it from there. If the Marines land artillery how are they going to move it? They can’t bring a tank with a helicopter but they might be able to land a wheeled vehicle.

      What the Soviet did or did not do falls into a similar pattern. They are a large land power fighting Central Asia insurrections or bush wars with the weapons they designed to fight the west in the Northern European Plain.

      Just to throw a little more gasoline to the fire… the new Amphibious ships from the Navy are designed with no well. They will only do aircrafts. The reason was that they needed to more space below deck for maintenance of the what you think? The F-35. So the ships that house F-35 will not deploy landing crafts now.

      • picard578 said

        Tracked vehicles are smaller, more mobile and more armored than wheeled vehicles for the same mass.

        As for that change to landing ships… might just rename them to “useless aircraft carriers”.

        • HGR said

          “Tracked vehicles are smaller, more mobile and more armored than wheeled vehicles for the same mass.” – I do not know about that…

          There are a huge amount of wheeled vehicles made. They vary in configurations and use. Maybe because they are simpler to make and useful for mundane military tasks is the reason there so many.

          Picard, right now the predominance of power in an amphibious operation is tilted toward defense. A well defended beach or shore can’t be breached through just amphibious operations. In the future we might only see amphibious operation carried out in a third world environment and then in mostly constabulary duties. A wheeled vehicle with decent protection and a gun that will out-range what the locals have will be good enough. Same for aircrafts.

      • Chris said

        @HGR
        “The Marine Corps do not have any other choice as far as flying those Harriers and F-35B because they operate from amphibious ships that are a little over 800 feet long with no steam catapults. They as well as most Europeans that have gone with these type of ships have no choice but to use these types of aircraft.”

        There is a solution.

        Abandon the unsafe obsession the USMC has with VTOL aircraft. Get aircraft that have low approach velocities. Also, I have suggested this in the past but use sea planes.

        “WW2 tank choices on the USA sides where driven by merciless logic. It was assumed that they would be fast moving on the offensive and that the tank had to be very mobile in the sense of being able to use roads and bridges available then. So the choice was made to use a medium tank that would have a negative exchange ration with the German tanks but because of its fuel economy, mobility and most important large numbers they would be able to eventually swarm around and hit the German tanks from up-close, the side and behind. This implied large looses but the society we had in WW2 was OK with that. Our society would never put up with that carnage. I might add that WW2 was a logistic war designed to be won by outproducing the Germans; an industrial war.”

        All Shermans should have been Fireflies. That would not have increased the weight by much.

        It’s possible to produce acceptable tanks that can fight other tanks in large quantities. The T-34 is a good example.

        “There have been a number of posts here about wheeled fighting vehicles and you need to remember that they are mostly designed for the European theater and MUST handle poison gas and radiation contamination as well as be able to operate in the Northern European Plain which is where most tank battles will take place.”

        You do realize that pound for pound, wheeled vehicles will be higher and less well armored pretty much no matter what. It doesn’t matter what terrain you design it for.

        For a good all terrain accessibility, what you want is a tracked vehicle with very wide tracks (for low ground pressure).

        Picard has already addressed the other points and I largely agree. M1 is not a great weapon for Europe (and it uses way too much fuel). Worse, the heat signature is a dead giveaway compared to a more fuel efficient diesel. Apache is quite vulnerable to heavy machine gun fire and MANPADs, much more so than any fixed wing aircraft would be.

        “Just to throw a little more gasoline to the fire… the new Amphibious ships from the Navy are designed with no well. They will only do aircrafts. The reason was that they needed to more space below deck for maintenance of the what you think? The F-35. So the ships that house F-35 will not deploy landing crafts now.”

        Yeah that’s a huge issue. An “amphibious ship” that cannot land.

        You do realize what this means don’t you? It doesn’t have much redeeming qualities – only thing it can carry for air superiority and support are Harriers, F-35Bs, helicopters, and maybe in the future, drones.

  12. Chris said

    “Problem is that after a certain point, wepon’s effectiveness typically becomes inversely proportional to its cost.”

    Yes but that keeps the money flowing.

    Imagine if I fire a Tomahawk missile. The first one misses. The second one hits. Double profits for defense contractor. Triple if it takes 3 missiles to hit. Quadruple it if takes four. And so on. You cannot make consistent duds but making weapons effective is counter to the goals of the contractor.

    I mean look at many defense contractors – they front load a ton of stuff. Costs are underestimated, often by as much as a factor of 5, while capabilities are vastly overstated.

    “They mounted them on Panther’s chassis… and BTW, my favorite German tank destroyers of World War II are Marder series. They weren’t large, heavy, expensive, and they had open top, allowing excellent visibility, which is a key for finding and destroying tanks.”

    As indicated above, the Jagdpanther was procured, but never in adequate numbers.

    Out of curiosity though, is an open top a good idea versus the Stug/Jagdpanther type designs? My big concern is that the profile is somewhat more vulnerable compared to a completely enclosed tank, and it also exposes crew to the elements (could be an issue in cold climates or very hot ones).

    I’ve always been an advocate of a modern stug. Try to keep it no more than 2.2m tall (ie: not much more than a man), with a high velocity gun (doesn’t have to be super high calibre), a “stoner”. By eliminating the complexity of the turret, you could make a vehicle shorter, easier to conceal, and as a shorter vehicle, protection could be better.

    • picard578 said

      “Yes but that keeps the money flowing.”

      I know, that’s the whole point.

      “My big concern is that the profile is somewhat more vulnerable compared to a completely enclosed tank, and it also exposes crew to the elements (could be an issue in cold climates or very hot ones).”

      It does leave crew vulnerable to mortar fire and grenades, but good visibility is a must for tank destroyer. Otherwise you’ve simply got a light tank or a self-propelled artillery, not a tank destroyer.

      “I’ve always been an advocate of a modern stug. Try to keep it no more than 2.2m tall (ie: not much more than a man), with a high velocity gun (doesn’t have to be super high calibre), a “stoner”. By eliminating the complexity of the turret, you could make a vehicle shorter, easier to conceal, and as a shorter vehicle, protection could be better.”

      I believe vehicle like this exists, Swedish or Finnish I think.

      • Chris said

        “It does leave crew vulnerable to mortar fire and grenades, but good visibility is a must for tank destroyer. Otherwise you’ve simply got a light tank or a self-propelled artillery, not a tank destroyer.”

        Perhaps. I had been thinking that normally a tank destroyer would have the commander looking out and then buttoning down if they came under fire. It is essentially a lower calibre, higher velocity assault gun with better armor and a much lower profile.

        The benefits are:
        – Lower weight
        – Less complexity without turret
        – Shorter than a turreted tank would be (easier to hide)
        – Shorter so the front could be better protected (thicker armor)
        – These tradeoffs could be traded off for a higher calibre gun than a turreted tank, like Panther vs Jagdpanther for comparison.
        – Should be cheaper and easier to maintain with this

        “I believe vehicle like this exists, Swedish or Finnish I think.”

        Yes it once did. The Swedish Strv 103 or S-Tank. Retired in favor of the Leopard 2 though.

        It was inexpensive, performed well in military exercises, and small.

        Take a look:

        Put a shovel in front so that it can dig itself it’s own bulldozer shovel and it should be able to dig itself in and set up for a perfect ambush.

        • picard578 said

          Pity they retired it. Leopard II is a good tank but bigger and meaner is not necessarily better.

        • HGR said

          Gas and radiation… the Syrians just used gas on their Civil War. You can’t have these open personnel carriers and fighting vehicles running around in certain environments.

          It is missiles and not guns what is the future in anti-tank weapons. Things like the Brimstone and the Javelin. The Brimstone can be used from ground, air and soon from the sea (named Sea Spear). And there are others… many others. The missiles are more accurate and produce less collateral damage than anti-tank-guns. We are seeing new generations of them coming to age that are very good.

          These missiles are very important for hitting ANY moving target and the newer ones are being tested for use at sea which will bring more good thing because in general that development will result in longer range than they have now.

      • Chris said

        Put a shovel in front so that it can dig itself it’s own bulldozer shovel and it should be able to dig itself in and set up for a perfect ambush.

        Oops typo:

        Should be:
        Put a bulldozer shovel in front and it should be able to dig itself in and set up for a perfect ambush. The shovel could also be used for anti-mine although mine flails have been historically better for this job.

  13. Chris said

    “Pity they retired it. Leopard II is a good tank but bigger and meaner is not necessarily better.”

    There was originally a follow on tank (this time a tank not an assault gun) planned. It was the Strv 2000. It was a complex design with an elevating turret “elevating” and a 140mm gun. But they opted to buy the Leopard instead. Probably wise, although I think it would have been worth it to have built a new stug-like vehicle with the 120mm gun.

    Also regarding the US, even their tankers are having issues:
    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-366?source=ra

    Background about this – both the USAF and Boeing apparently wanted a lot of new “features” for their new tanker. It is overweight and has some other issues.

    Anyways, the US is not the only one. Apparently the Airbus A330s have been losing booms a lot.

    It happened once in 2011:
    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-a330-tanker-damaged-in-refuelling-mishap-352119/

    Then again in 2012:
    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-military-explains-cause-of-a330-boom-detachment-377845/

    I’m at a loss as to why a refueling tanker needs so many new sophisticated features. Apparently they wanted to add a “3D refueling terminal” to the tanker.

    • picard578 said

      “I’m at a loss as to why a refueling tanker needs so many new sophisticated features.”

      Apparently because US military wants high-tech toys, consequences be damned. This does explain their hatred of the A-10.

  14. Darlene said

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  15. bit.ly said

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a
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  16. Y said

    HI Picard,
    “..Israel, which unlike other countries can not use US help to buy aircraft (which has effect bringing the cost way below actual production cost) was offered 75 F-35As for a price of 202,6 million USD per aircraft.” Link has been Lost

    Have you got news in F-35 cost? I’ve found this:
    http://nation.time.com/2013/06/05/the-deadly-empirical-data/print/

    simple and empyrical without R&D about 2014 cost. I was looking for sthing about 2015 cost.

    “Conclusion: F-35 unit flyaway cost is between 180 and 300 million USD depending on variant.” Did you really mean *300*?

    • picard578 said

      Yep, back when I wrote it, F-35B or C (forgot which) cost around 290 million USD. Granted, that was mostly due to playing with the books – F-35A price was brought down by transferring some expenses to B and C variants.

  17. Y said

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35a-cost-and-readiness-data-improves-in-2015-as-fl-421499/

    • picard578 said

      They’re cooking the books, simple as that, as far as the flyaway cost is concerned.

      What is interesting is that F-35s “improved” cost per hour is almost identical to my estimate.

      • Y said

        Hi Picard,
        – I have found the source to F-16 C/D block 60 last cost we were searching: UAE contract, 80 planes, 5Gigausd. Weapons, training, logistics 7Gusd. 1Gusd for R&D paid by UAE, I think it is inside the 5, but the article doesn’t explain.
        Then there is VAT tax issue; I’ve red something in your “library” but I dont’have a remember the location. Could you help me about vat?
        – I’m writing few articles for a blogger about F-35. It should have a point of view focused on the big picture with details on Italian point of view. You are going to be cited if I can.
        – Cost: new us budget is out I think. I’ll watch last F-35 price reduction. Have you already red?
        Thanks

        • picard578 said

          “Then there is VAT tax issue; I’ve red something in your “library” but I dont’have a remember the location. Could you help me about vat?”

          I’m not sure wether US have VAT (since White House and Capitol are owned by corporations, I doubt it) but VAT is a tax paid to the government for any combat aircraft sold. In France and Sweden (?) it is 19,6%, meaning that Rafale’s flyaway price of 90 million USD comes out to actual price of 72 million USD.

          “– I’m writing few articles for a blogger about F-35. It should have a point of view focused on the big picture with details on Italian point of view. You are going to be cited if I can.”

          No problem.

          “– Cost: new us budget is out I think. I’ll watch last F-35 price reduction. Have you already red?”

          Unfortunately, I didn’t really have time to follow news for some time.

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