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Posts Tagged ‘F-35’

Opposing Views: Debating The F-35’s Strengths And Weaknesses

Posted by Picard578 on August 17, 2017

Aug 8, 2017Aviation Week & Space Technology

F-35, in Black and White

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Podcast: F-35 in the Crossfire, Part 1

It is hard to find a more divisive topic in the aerospace world than the Lockheed Martin F-35. Aviation Week Pentagon Editor Lara Seligman sat down with two industry veterans who hold opposite views on the fighter: Marine Corps Lt. Col. (ret.) Dave Berke, a former Top Gun instructor, has flown the F-35, F-22F-16 and F-18; and Pierre Sprey, of “Fighter Mafia” fame, helped conceptualize designs for the A-10 and F-16. Excerpts follow. Listen to their debate in full at AviationWeek.com/check6

Seligman: Lockheed Martin and U.S. Air Force pilots contend that the maneuvers we saw at the Paris Air Show laid to rest the rumors that the F-35 can’t dogfight. Pierre, do you think that’s true?

Sprey: That was nonsense, just marketing hype. The demo was as phony as all the other [air show] demos are. They had a super-light F-35, and the performance wasn’t all that impressive. I talked to a guy who prepped an A-10 for the air show, and they did the same thing—they [made] it so light it actually looked super maneuverable, which it’s not, except at low speed. The F-35’s turn rate was not impressive. It was [much] slower than a 30-year-old F-16. An engineer friend of mine clocked it at 17 deg. per second. Any old F-16 can do 22 [deg. per second].

KEY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER
Can the F-35 dogfight?

How does the F-35’s ability to communicate in flight change warfare

What are the difficulties of producing F-35—a program that remains in development?

What are the impacts of the F-35’s $406 billion price tag?

Berke: I would not disagree. Air show demos are exactly that, a demonstration. I think part of the reason this demo got so much publicity is there has been a long-held misunderstanding of what the airplane can do in the visual arena. People have made claims that it’s incapable of dogfighting and things like that. It is a highly capable, highly maneuverable airplane, like everybody who has ever flown it understands.

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Pierre Sprey helped to conceive the design of the F-16 and A-10 fighters. Credit: James Stevenson

Sprey: The airplane that flew at Paris was totally incapable of combat. And that’s not just me talking; that’s the operational testers of the Air Force, Navy and the Marines. In their assessment, the configuration that was flying in Paris, to go to war, would need an escort to protect it against enemy fighters. It would need extra help to find targets, particularly air-to-ground threats.

How does the F-35’s networking capability change the game for warfare?

Berke: I can’t think of any airplane that we’re flying today that would want to get into a dogfight. I would avoid that in any platform. F-22 pilots don’t fly around looking for dogfights. Part of the reason why the F-35 and the F-22 have such a massive advantage over legacy platforms is their ability to make really intelligent decisions. You’re getting information presented to you on a much larger scale, and it’s fused more intelligently.

All my career, I’ve flown fighters, and flown them in combat, and I was a forward air controller. It’s all about making an intelligent decision as soon as you can. It is really difficult for me to overstate what a massive advantage you have in decision-making in the F-35. I don’t know a single pilot—and I know a lot of F-35 pilots—that would even consider taking a legacy platform into combat. The F-35 advantage over these platforms is infinitely greater.

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When he was an active duty Marine, Lt. Col. (ret.) David Berke flew the F-35B, F-22, F-18 and F-16. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Sprey: The original marketing hype, both out of the services and Lockheed Martin, was always “It’s a great dogfighter; it’s a great close-support platform.” In truth it can’t do any of those missions very well because, like all multimission airplanes it’s highly flawed, and the technical execution of this airplane is unusually bad by historical standards. I agree with [Lt.] Col. Berke that no airplane looks for a dogfight. On the other hand, in serious wars sometimes you can’t avoid it. The F-35 is a horrible target if it has to get into a dogfight. It’s got an enormously high wing load. It’s almost as unmaneuverable as the infamous F-104. 

All that networking stuff, if it worked, would make the pilot smarter and more situationally aware. But right now it is an impediment, and it might be a permanent impediment given the cyber [threat], which is horrible for this airplane. All that reliance on networking is giving inferior, less well-funded, less equipped enemies a tremendous opportunity, because the airplane is so vulnerable to all kinds of cybermeddling. The people we might face—Chinese, Russians, Yugoslavs, whomever—are all pretty clever with computers. We’ve given them a tremendous opportunity to wreck our airpower for almost no money.

Berke: I would disagree with virtually all of that. The idea that there are things wrong with the airplane is 100% true, but the idea [that] does not work is 100% not true. To fuse broadband multispectral information, [radio frequency], electro-optical infrared, laser infrared and laser energies among several cockpits, ground users and sea-based platforms is really complicated stuff. And so there are things wrong with the airplane. I don’t know a single [F-35] pilot that would deny that. But the idea that you would read some sort of report on the airplane’s performance and then draw the conclusion that it is broken forever is a leap. We inside the community haven’t done a good job of explaining how amazing the airplane is.

You could bring 100 people into this room and ask what warfare is going to look like in 30 years, and you’re going to get 100 different answers. If I hear somebody talking about dogfighting, that person is not thinking about the future. And if I hear somebody say “wing loading,” that’s a red flag that you are thinking about the wrong things. Among every Marine, Air Force and Navy [F-35] pilot I know who came from a legacy aircraft—Hornets, F-15s, F-16s—there is no debate about what is the most capable aircraft they’ve ever flown and what they would take into combat tomorrow.

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“If you bought F-16s at the same budget, you’d be able to buy five times more airplanes.” —Pierre Sprey. Credit: Lockheed Martin Photos

What are the difficulties posed by what is known as concurrency—the process of producing F-35s and testing them before system development is complete?

Sprey: The testing that has taken place so far is very benign. It’s engineering testing—there has not been any rough testing yet—and the airplane has performed very badly on a whole score of issuesThey’re not flying against any stressful scenarios for the simple reason that the Joint Program Office is sabotaging the operational tests, and this is very deliberate. Because if you fail, the [program] might be canceled. 

I have mixed feelings about pilots being so enthusiastic about their airplanes. It is very common now, because the services are so wound up with procurement, and people critical of their equipment tend to have shorter careers. I think you want to be skeptical about everything you work with. You don’t want to be a true believer going into combat and wind up hanging from a parachute, or dead.

Berke: The idea that any professional uniformed officer, let alone a fighter pilot, would somehow find themselves unprepared for the horrors of combat because they were illusively in love with their equipment is preposterous. I’ve [been] a Top Gun instructor, and we would spend 8 hr. debriefing a flight. All you do is talk about things you did wrong, your strengths, your weaknesses, how to mitigate one and play to the others. If you are going to ask a fighter pilot who has done operational testing what their opinion is, the idea that even one shred of what they say is a party-line answer would be offensive. I’ve spent 23 years as a U.S. Marine, and never once did I get the implication that I shouldn’t be completely honest with my evaluation.

The F-35 has good and bad things about it. In the operational test world, we are focused on making the airplanes better. We spend our time on a laundry list of things that need to be improved. When every single pilot that has taken the airplanes into highly complex [exercises] at Red Flag and at places like Nellis [AFB, Nevada,] comes back with overwhelming dominance, it’s difficult not to be really supportive. So if you hear pilots saying the F-35 is awesome, it’s not a sales pitch. It’s steeped in a long history of flying several different airplanes in different environments.

F-35 procurement costs have come down in the last couple of years, but this year they ticked up slightly to $406 billion from about $380 billion.

Sprey: Cost is part of what force you can bring to bear. To create airpower, you have to be able to put a bunch of airplanes in the sky over the enemy. You can’t do it with a tiny handful, even if they are unbelievably good. You send six airplanes to China, they could care less about what they are. F-22 deployments are now six airplanes, and that’s because of the cost. Force is a function of cost and how reliable the airplane is, how often it flies per day.

If you bought F-16s at the same budget, $400 billion, instead of F-35s, you’d be able to buy five times more airplanes. It is five times as expensive and flies at best half as often. My feeling is it will fly less often than an F-22—it is a good deal more complicated than an F-22, and it’s showing that right now. If that’s the case, it may fly once every five days, in which case if will fly one-fifth as often as the F-16.

Berke: I don’t care how cheap the airplane is; if you can’t fly it in combat, it is useless. We are inventing technology that didn’t exist before, and it’s all driven toward the idea of being relevant in a highly complex, 3D battlespace that we have a hard time predicting even for the next 15 years. I don’t want to buy a car that’s cheaper and then have that car not be drivable in three years. The fact is the Chinese [are developing] fifth-generation airplanes. They are building and buying [them] right now, and that’s going to make air warfare complicated. [The F-35 is] too expensive? That’s easy to say. Compared to what? Losing a war in 15 years? Or compared to an F-16 in 1977? Make sure you get that frame of reference right, because it is really important.


NOTES: F-35 is unmaneuverable POS, and it is true that often, you simply cannot avoid a dogfight. It is also true that air show demos are done with only light fuel load. As for F-35s vaunted networking abilities, it is a complex system, and complex systems in a war are prone to failure. You simply have to have a backup, which means dogfighting capability. Even F-22 was designed to be able to dogfight. F-35 was not designed for dogfight because it is a ground attack platform, it was only pushed into air-to-air role after F-22 couldn’t be procured in large enough numbers. And networking is a danger as much as an opportunity.

Berke is talking about the future, but how can you know the future if you don’t know the past? That future they are talking about is based on the performance of BVR missiles against Iraqis and Yugoslavs, first of whom were incompetent fools all across the board, and latter who were also undertrained and flying literal flying bricks (aircraft had no radar, no MAWS, no RWR, no ECM… real representative of peer threats). Sensor fusion is important, but wing loading is also important… even in BVR combat, you need to be able to maneuver. Wing loading matters for turn rate, for climb rate, and both are still quite important. And F-35 may be more capable than “teens”, but those are not its competitors.

Equipment is important, and equipment that doesn’t work is useless. And in war, you have to have reliable equipment. What is more important is that complex equipment often leaves more avenues open for it to be countered. Berke talks about F-35s performance in air combat, but does not mention its survivability on the ground. And that is possibly F-35s biggest Achilles heel.

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Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The 2016 DOT&E Report on the F-35 – David Archibald

Posted by Picard578 on January 14, 2017

The role of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation at the Pentagon is to ensure that US weapons programs continue on track and that the weapons do what they are supposed to. His report for the 2016 year can be found here. The interesting observations in the report, with respect to the F-35, are listed following: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , | 46 Comments »

John McCain’s letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter on F-35s delays

Posted by Picard578 on November 5, 2016

http://static.politico.com/51/a7/a5bd3d20406e8a7eb297db643733/mccain-letter-to-defense-secretary-ash-carter-on-f-35-delays.pdf

Discuss!

Posted in news, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

F-35 contracts by Picdelamirand-oil

Posted by Picard578 on November 5, 2016

http://indiandefence.com/threads/f-35-lightning-ii-news-discussions.21525/page-304#post-503188

It is completly flaw. That is the normal wrong way to compute F-35 price. People takes the last contract price to L.M. and divide by the number of planes. In this case it is $6,370,955,495 divided by 57 that is to say $ 111.77 Millions but the real price have to takes into acount all contracts related to LRIP 9 like long lead items and so on. Here is the list Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in spending | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

A fighter for Canada

Posted by Picard578 on December 21, 2015

Introduction

Canada is a Western country that at the first look has most at common with Russia. It is huge, but vast majority of its population is concentrated in a narrow swath of land to the south, near the US-Canadian border. It borders United States to the south and west, while to the east is rest of the NATO and to the north is inhospitable Arctic, with its vast natural riches and strategic importance.

Defense of northern Canada depends mostly on three or four forward operating locations – fourth one is the only with permanently assigned squadron, and that one consists of transport aircraft. Only the far east and south of Canada have proper air bases. CF-18s are based in Bagotville to the extreme south-east and Cold Lake to the south-west. Extreme north is patrolled by long-range patrol squadrons using CP-140 Aurora aircraft; no fighter aircraft are present there on a continuous basis, despite primary mission of Canadian fighter jets being to patrol Canadian airspace. Main warning system is a chain of radar stations making up the North Warning System (DEW Line). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

What is the F-35 Good For? Answer: Nothing. It’s Totally Useless.

Posted by Picard578 on November 16, 2015

Note: F-35 might be capable of SEAD/DEAD operations, but even there its low sortie rate / high maintenance downtime and limited payload / endurance will limit its effectiveness.

Défense et Géopolitique

The RealClearDefense website has published an interesting article on the Israeli Air Force – arguably the best in the world. It worries that the IAF, its pilots’ skills notwithstanding, may lose its technological edge, because the F-35 cannot defeat modern Russian fighters, especially those equipped with infrared search and tracking systems:

“If the F-35 cannot hold its own against fourth-generation fighters, which are increasingly equipped with infrared sensors that can detect stealth aircraft, it will be limited to ground-attack missions and require escorts to carry-out operations in contested airspace. The former head of the USAF’s Air Combat Command admitted last year that the F-35 was not built as an air-superiority fighter and needs the USAF’s existing stealth fighter, the F-22, to protect against enemy aircraft.

This shortfall represents a major problem for Israel, which cannot acquire the F-22. Congress banned its export and production ended in 2011. Israel will…

View original post 202 more words

Posted in reblogs | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

F-16 vs F-35

Posted by Picard578 on October 21, 2015

Introduction

F-35 is intended to replace the F-16 and is promoted as F-16s successor. However, closer look reveals that this is not true. While the F-16 was designed as daytime visual-range dogfighter, F-35 was always intended to be a multirole aircraft with primary focus on air-to-ground missions and limited air-to-air performance. This did not stop Lockheed Martin from advertising the F-35 as a dogfighter, before its obvious inability to actually achieve high maneuverability forced them to change rhetorics.

This comparison will use both F-16A and F-16C for comparison, where applicable. When not noted otherwise, data will be assumed to apply to either both versions or only F-16C. F-35 used for comparison will be F-35A, since it is a standard model and is intended to replace the F-16 (F-35B being a replacement for AV-8 and F-35C being a replacement for F-18).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 73 Comments »

Dassault Rafale vs F-35

Posted by Picard578 on September 11, 2015

Introduction

This article will compare Rafale C and F-35A. Both aircraft have similar, almost identical purposes: they are to replace most other fixed wing aircraft types in use by their respective air forces. Both have land-based and carrier versions. But there are major differences in actual approach, and in the final product. While Rafale’s maneuverability is undisputed, it is often-ignored fact is that F-35 was advertised as a highly-maneuverable dogfighter, before its obvious inability to actually achieve high maneuverability forced Lockheed Martin to change rhetorics. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 101 Comments »

FLX vs F-35

Posted by Picard578 on September 1, 2015

Introduction

This article will compare a theoretical FLX concept with the F-35 JSF. Hence, it is more than just a comparison of different aircraft. Rather, it is a comparison of results of two different approaches. FLX is a thoroughbred air-superiority fighter, while the F-35 is a jack-of-all-trades (supposed to be; its design imperatives were in-theatre strike and battlefield interdiction). FLX uses an integrated design approach where each piece of technology used has very clear purpose within FLXs operational concept, while the F-35 is an exercise in cramming every possible piece of “high technology” into one airframe. Read the rest of this entry »

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F-35 reality check

Posted by Picard578 on July 16, 2015

CLAIM: F-35 can supercruise

Incorrect. F-35 can achieve and maintain speeds just above M 1 though usage of minimum afterburner. “Supercruise” claim can be discounted by comparing the F-35A with F-16A.

F-16A has a 40* wing sweep with a laminary wing profile designed for supersonic flight. Its engine has a frontal area of 6.082 cm2 while providing 64,9 kN dry (uninstalled) thrust, giving 10,67 N/cm2. F-16A also has wing loading of 338,5 kg/m2 at combat weight, span loading of 947,2 kg/m and TWR of 0,7 at combat weight and dry thrust.

F-35A has a 33* wing sweep with a supercritical wing profile designed for transonic flight. It also has frontal area about as large as the F-18s. Its engine has a frontal area of 10.715 cm2 while providing 124,5 kN dry thrust, giving 11,62 N/cm2. F-35A has wing loading of 427,9 kg/m2 at combat weight, span loading of 1.698 kg/m and TWR of 0,7 at combat weight and dry thrust. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »