F-35 – “A National Disaster”


Who needs infrastructure, arts and culture, or medical care – when you can have an F-35!? It’s stealthy!

Kinda.

It’s a great fighter!!

Not really.

It does VTOL off the deck of support ships!

Sorry.

Who needs bridges?

Who needs bridges?

There’s a scathing new report out on the Project On Government Oversight [pogo] It’s getting to the point where comedians are going to start doing F-35 routines.

“the operational suitability of all variants continues to be less than desired by the Services.”

If you buy a computer to surf the web on, to write documents with, and to play games – then find out that it can’t get on the network, the word processing suite for the platform isn’t available yet, and Microsoft is still working on an operating system – but Solitaire works! You might say: “the operational suitability of all variants continues to be less than desired by the Services.”

Usually when someone shines a great big fail-light on the F-35, they are immediately bombarded with commenters saying how it’s not bad, that the report was written by haters, and how great the plane is (or is going to be real soon!) – after all, there’s about a trillion dollars at stake through the course of the entire program. Some people would kill and eat their own children for that kind of money. They’re ready to see yours die, anyhow.

F-35 boosters say it’s the network that matters; what actually matters is that the network isn’t working.

benjaminsThat’s harsh. And true. The vision of the future of the F-35 is “sensor fusion” across its private network, which will include satellite data, drone data, and outbound munitions command/control. The idea, in other words, is that the F-35 will be able to take advantage of stealth to shoot down other countries’ stealth aircraft by merging all this data into a seamless battlefield picture that… uh… See what’s wrong with that picture? The exact same argument can be used to explain how another country’s sensor grid can be used to ‘fuse’ infrared-tracking drone data to defeat the F-35’s stealth (its engine runs ridiculously hot!) and its stream of distinctly non-stealthy refuelling ships (it has a pathetic 750nm range) This is a fairly typical paradigm in DoD-ese: our stuff is great, their stuff sucks, therefore we will win! Give us money!

Never mind that the F-35, if it gets used at all, will mostly be dropping munitions on insurgents and the occasional Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital that blunders into the line of fire. Like the F-22 before it, it’s a plane without a mission – unless that mission is to transfer money from the treasury to the defense/industrial complex. For crying out loud, if that’s all you wanted to do, why doesn’t the US have a massively-funded fusion research program or a Manhattan-style program to build inexpensive, clean, reliable energy storage systems? Northrup Grumman could build those! They’d be ridiculously overpriced, but the Chinese-made knockoffs’d be great and affordable.

The ability to penetrate heavily defended airspace to destroy fixed targets deep in enemy territory is an often-cited justification for the F-35.

So it’s like a cruise missile except it’s got a human in it? Christfuck but the Air Force is stupid. They just want to fly airplanes. Couldn’t the government set up a program where the Air Force can fly dangerous cheap planes so they can get their Top Gun on?

You will not be dogfighting against aircraft with remotely similar capabilities. Mostly you will be flying bomb-loads over countries we are not at war with, dropping bombs on towns and cities mostly full of civilians that want very desperately to be somewhere else. A few of those civilians will be pissed off and will have MANPADs – man portable air defenses – infrared/radar homing weapons that love the big plume of heat an F-35 kicks out. So the F-35s will stay home until the cruise missiles and drones do the dirty work: the F-35s will be truck drivers hauling ordnance. Oh, wait, sorry, that’ll be the B-52s.

Due to its small, overloaded wings, the F-35 cannot maneuver adequately at the slow speeds that searching for concealed and camouflaged targets requires—and being completely unarmored and highly flammable, it would suffer catastrophic losses from just the small rifle and light machinegun hits inevitable at the low altitudes and slow speeds required.

Not just crash! Burn, then crash!

The F-22 was used very very sparingly in some strikes in Syria, so that it could be said that it had flown successful combat missions. That’s the F-35’s future as well: it’s going to be trotted out someplace where it can be exposed only very carefully. Strategically it’s a new role: “hangar queen.”

Read it all here: pogo.org

Comments

  1. says

    Wow. A 750 nm range? Now that’s SHORT!

    (Sorry, but in my line of work, “nm” always means nanometers)

  2. cvoinescu says

    These are nautical nanometers — slightly longer than the ones you’re used to.

  3. says

    I think the trouble is that they already built the best possible fighters. The F-15 is the black telephone of fighter jets. It’s perfect. I am pretty sure that nobody has ever shot one down.

    So they’re trying to (to stretch the analogy far into the zone of ridiculous) invent VoIP, or cell phones, or something. Which are terrible as telephones compared to the basic POTS black phone from ATT, circa 1980. It should come as no surprise that the new things are terrible fighter jets.

  4. Brian English says

    the occasional Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital that blunders into the line of fire

    It does appear to be a design fault with MSF and other hospitals. They seem to jump in the way when you least expect it, and so, unfortunate accidents happen, for periods of half an hour or more.

  5. cartomancer says

    You could always paint them gold, re-brand them as the Trumpfighter 35 and then line them up along the Mexican border. It wouldn’t save money or help anyone in the slightest, but it would show the rest of the world that America has finally discovered a sense of self-awareness.

  6. komarov says

    Actually “Donald” might be an appropriate by-name for the plane. The F-35 Donald: Lots of promises, very little common sense. A proper “Trumpfighter” would have to have everything bigger: Bigger engine, bigger guns, bigger interior and, of course, a bigger number, too.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    The idea, in other words, is that the F-35 will be able to take advantage of stealth to shoot down other countries’ stealth aircraft by merging all this data into a seamless battlefield picture that… uh… See what’s wrong with that picture?

    The (well, one) other wrongness in that picture: shouldn’t all that data processing get offloaded to servers safe in The Homeland® and sent to the plane in encrypted packets, maybe with an overlay of the milliseconds-matter radar from the plane itself superimposed? Putting data integration in the mainframe and I/O processing in the terminal is a Traditional Value™!

  8. says

    Well, 0 in air-to-air combat, and 3 from the ground. Officially, I guess.

    That’s still a fairly nice record. And anyways, there’s more to it than that, my point is that the previous gen aircraft suitably upgraded seem to be doing quite well, and arguably represent a sort of local maximum.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Andrew Molitor @ # 9: … the previous gen aircraft suitably upgraded seem to be doing quite well…

    Indeed, and as I understand it the general rule has it that whichever side brings more planes to the dogfight, wins.

    How many F-15s could ya get for the price of one F-35? (Uh, just asking for a friend…)

  10. says

    jimf@#1:
    (Sorry, but in my line of work, “nm” always means nanometers)

    There is no prize for making your bloghost snort tea up their nose. But if there were, you’d have won it!!

    I gotta say, that would be a pretty short strike-range, indeed. You’d need specialized gear just to tell you hadn’t dropped your ordnance right where you were!

  11. says

    cartomancer@#5:
    You could always paint them gold, re-brand them as the Trumpfighter 35 and then line them up along the Mexican border.

    I hear they’re going to march a legion out into the desert and stomp the dirt and whip the rocks and then have a triumph! So maybe Trump could be towed in a gold Trump-35. Emphasis on “towed”..

  12. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#8:
    shouldn’t all that data processing get offloaded to servers safe in The Homeland® and sent to the plane in encrypted packets, maybe with an overlay of the milliseconds-matter radar from the plane itself superimposed?

    I believe they are trying to do self-organizing mesh networks, and the computation will all happen locally. In a reasonable architecture, they’d basically be reinventing UUCP + ‘B’ news flood-fill algorithm. I’m sure somewhere there are some very impressive powerpoints and somewhere they don’t realize that World of Warcraft’s servers prevent cheats by resolving the combat at the server, not the edges. There are so many things that can do wrong with the sensor fusion stuff I don’t even know where to start. Especially when you consider that a lot of existing battlefield tech leaves crypto and replay/tapping out of the picture because of the problem of inter-coalition communication. I.e.: how do you let that British SBS team talk to the F-15 overhead and call in an air strike?

  13. DonDueed says

    Maybe we could elect an F-35 to the Senate. Couldn’t do much worse than what we’ve got there now.

    I’ve recently been reading some military history of the Pacific campaigns in WWII. One thing that struck me is the difference in the way military aircraft were perceived in that era. They were commodity items, built and expended in massive quantities. The US won that conflict, in large part, because they could build far more of them than anybody else — more than 300,000 aircraft of all types.

    At the start of the war, the axis powers (Germany and Japan) had better airplanes in most important categories, and that produced heavy losses early on. Even so, the US began winning major battles (Midway etc.) even with inferior warplanes. American planes got better, but they also began to appear at the point of contact in overwhelming quantities.

    It makes me wonder where and why military theory got so radically changed to favor “quality” over quantity. I don’t think the industrial complex can be entirely to blame — after all, you can make the same money building a lot of cheaper planes rather than a few outrageously expensive ones.

  14. komarov says

    But the outrageously expensive plane is brand new with phantasphenomenal new features no other plane can match. The military has to have it otherwise they won’t have the bestest toys anymore. It’s also a lot easier to squander billions while “developing new technologies” for the new fighter craft. And going by what Marcus has previously written about DOD accounting another bonus is that with big sums it’s easier to lose money without being asked pointed questions about it afterwards.

    This wouldn’t work nearly as well if you just went and tried to sell 10,000 new F16s (Mark II) with slightly larger wings. People would ask why the R&D is so ridiculously overpriced when all you’re doing is making the wings bigger. They’d also ask why anybody needs 10,000 slightly larger planes when the old ones would do just as well. The F-35 doesn’t have this problem because everthing is new and none of it works. So there you have both “need” and budget justification (though neither could stand up to scrutiny, I suspect).

    It really is about money. If it wasn’t the US wouldn’t have such a bloated military budget and try to increase it further. The US could have as much ‘quantity’ as it wants for the money it spends, the ‘quality’ is just and excuse to stoke the fires with more dollar bills.

  15. Dunc says

    It makes me wonder where and why military theory got so radically changed to favor “quality” over quantity.

    I would guess it’s something to do with the fact that we no longer fight actual wars against equivalent opponents. The military is basically a combination of money funnel and Viagra for politicians and generals.

    you can make the same money building a lot of cheaper planes rather than a few outrageously expensive ones.

    You only need a lot of cheaper planes if you’re actually using them. Also, I suspect it’s less profitable – if you look at the WWII efforts, there were huge numbers of blue-collar guys building stuff, and getting paid well to do it. High-tech procurement involves much less labour.

  16. lanir says

    For crying out loud, if that’s all you wanted to do, why doesn’t the US have… (insert random possibly useful money sink here)

    I suspect it’s because they just haven’t thought of putting up a gofundme.gov site for all of this.

  17. keithb says

    @cartomancer:

    “You could always paint them gold, re-brand them as the Trumpfighter 35 and then line them up along the Mexican border. ”

    You mean like Cadillac Ranch?

  18. Holms says

    I enjoyed / groaned at the fact that the fancypants computer support system uses… Internet Explorer.

  19. Nomad says

    This is the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve seen from you yet. And I saw “the Osprey has engines on each side of the wing, if one dies it must tip over comically and it’s developers must be so stupid that they didn’t think of this” when the reality was that it had a shaft running between the pods to share power in the event of a single engine failure.

    So let’s talk. 750 nautical miles is actually quite a significant range for a small strike aircraft. It beats a Super Hornet with external tanks while using internal fuel alone. A quick search gives the combat radius for an F16 of just under 300 nautical miles. Of course the details vary significantly with the load so the comparisons aren’t that easy, but no matter what you do, 750 nautical miles on internal fuel alone for a single engine multirole fighter is pretty good. So really, what single engine multi role fighter are you boosting that beats that performance? You don’t offer any, but I assume you must have one for you to heap scorn on 750nm, right?

    As to “her der, its engine runs hot so it’s a sitting duck to manpads”. News flash. Perhaps you missed it, but EVERYTHING uses cooled seeker heads that can track aerodynamic heating on the wings and fuselage now. Being forced to home on engine heat is so 50 years ago.

    But especially, what does “MANPADs – man portable air defenses – infrared/radar homing weapons that love the big plume of heat” even mean? Can you name a single manpad that homes on radar? I mean, are you just pulling this stuff out of your ass here? There’s such a thing as dual band seekers that use infra red and ultra violet (American Stingers), or some Russian stuff that uses IR and visual seekers (not necessarily man portable, but still fairly small), but IR plus radar on a man portable missile? Do you have a citation for that, or is that as imaginary as your Osprey tipping over because a single engine failed? Of course even if it existed, then you’d have to explain how a radar seeker loves heat plumes. Fail.

    The thing is, I’m actually fairly critical of the f-35. I have a lot of problems with the program. But unlike you, I prefer to restrict my criticisms to actual problems. Such as the potential for its stealth shaping to be inadequate to the Russian use of radar bands beyond X, or for the shaping at the rear especially to be inadequate. There’s a lot of worrying talk about its computer systems not being hardened against hacking attempts with is problematic given it’s frequently touted IT capabilities. The truth is its maneuver envelope isn’t as bad as I was expecting, but it’s still not great, the Russians definitely have it beat, and for less money. But all you F15 fans out there should take note, it beats the F15 at some speed and altitude combinations. And no, the F15 isn’t unbeaten. The f22 eats it for breakfast, the F22 5g maneuver envelope positively consumes the poor F15. With the combination of improved engine performance and thrust vectoring it really couldn’t be any other way.

    Funny that Marcus doesn’t acknowledge that, isn’t it?

    But seriously. You complain about it being unarmored? What fighter carries armor? Does the F16? How about even a dual engine multirole fighter like the Super Hornet? What about even the much vaunted F15? A dedicated ground strike aircraft such as the A-10 carries a significant amount of armor, but mostly to protect the pilot. And this is unusual, you won’t see that much dedication of weight in a multirole fighter for a reason. And if they had done it, you’d just be complaining that it was too heavy instead. It’s the kind of game you play. As to “highly flammable”… compared to what? What do competing aircraft use for fuel in the fantasy world you live in? Something that isn’t flammable? Do they not fill their wings with the stuff? Maybe the run on inert unicorn farts?

    You really don’t know how ironic it is that you’ve lead me to defend the F-35. But your attacks are just bizarre. You complain about a strike range that’s largely unprecedented for its size and beaten by nothing that I can find in its class. You criticize it for having a hot engine that’s MANPAD fodder, when manpads have been able to home on lesser heat for decades (besides which, the only things that have ever attempted to cool their exhaust to hide from IR sensors have been helicopters, and to a possibly lesser extent B-2s and F-117s). And you seriously think MANPADs home on radar, apparently.

    The software for the F-35 is incomplete. The radar had to be restarted every so often as of the last I read about it because of unresolved bugs. It relies upon the fuel for radar cooling, and the smaller fuel reservoir of the F-35 compared to the F-22 means that it could potentially run out of radar time in the middle of a mission. This too is a genuine concern.

    So why complain about a remarkably high mission range, or “hot exhaust”, when fighter engine exhausts are always hot? And again, seriously, it’s “flammable”? Compared to what? The cruise missiles that you apparently love so much that you prefer them to anything else on offer?

    Something tells me that as soon as the military switched to favoring them, you’d complain about them being too expensive. Again, that’s the kind of game you appear to play.

  20. Brian English says

    750 nautical miles is actually quite a significant range for a small strike aircraft. It beats a Super Hornet with external tanks while using internal fuel alone.

    The US Navy says the Super Hornet:

    Range: Combat: 1,089 nautical miles (1252.4 miles/2,003 km), clean plus two AIM-9s
    Ferry: 1,546 nautical miles (1777.9 miles/2,844 km), two AIM-9s plus three 330 gallon tanks.

    I’m not good at arithmetic and/or that Navy is lying, but it appears the Super Hornet has more ‘legs’ than the F35.

    Salsa

  21. says

    Brian English@#21:
    ‘legs’ are complicated, FWIW. There’s lots of things you can factor in (or out) to make one aircraft or another appear to have a greater or lesser range. Some estimates of an F-35 in a strike loadout from an aircraft carrier put it down in the 500nm range, and there is the usual propaganda storm around both sides of the discussion. In 2010 the brits decided to not buy the -B variant, but instead go with the -C variant, because of the range (and probably reliability and the -B variant’s tendency to damage ship decks) – right now it looks like the only people thinking about flying the VTOL F-35 are the Marines. So, usually when people talk about F-35 strike range, they’re talking about the -C variant launching horizontally off a deck, etc. There’s an incipient clusterfuck coming because the Marines are aware that the shorter-range F-35 would be VTOLing off the deck while potentially within missile range of the shore; you can bet they are aware of that and are looking at the angles and not liking them very much.

    I’m not sure why but the -B variant is also 25% more expensive to operate than the -C, so that’s a factor as well. Bizzarely, Lockheed Martin apparently thinks they can sell -Bs to Spain and India to make up for the sales loss of the Brits.

  22. says

    Nomad@#20:
    Funny that Marcus doesn’t acknowledge that, isn’t it?

    Let me start by responding to this, then I’ll get into the specifics of your comments.
    You appear to be trying to imply that I am misrepresenting things. If that’s what you think, I’m sorry you’ve got that impression, but you’re wrong. I am trying to understand and discuss a very complicated issue, about which there is considerable difference of opinion and a great deal of difference of fact. So, if you see someplace where my facts are wrong, please feel free to argue with your own – you’ll find that if I am wrong I will acknowledge it and adjust how I perceive an issue. I misspoke regarding the engine systems of the Osprey in an earlier post and – as you presumably noticed – I acknowledged the correction (though since you want to bring that issue up again, I will comment further on it below) – don’t you dare try to accuse me of dishonesty! You can accuse me of being clueless (that’s fine) just please clue me in, and I’ll thank you for it. I don’t have an agenda in this matter, I am sincerely trying to understand what is going on with the F-35 and am offering my assessment of some aspects of the program. I try hard to separate my impressions and opinions from facts, and I also acknowledge that there’s a lot of fudging of facts going on. When given a choice between contradictory “facts” I try to do more research, and when I can’t sort it out I try to be clear about that.

    On with the show…

    750 nautical miles is actually quite a significant range for a small strike aircraft. It beats a Super Hornet with external tanks while using internal fuel alone. A quick search gives the combat radius for an F16 of just under 300 nautical miles.

    Sure. The 750 is the interdiction mission range, which basically “the maximum range it can be scary at” which means the aircraft’s plausible maximum range from which it could fly out and fire a beyond visual range shot. That’s pretty much none of the mission profiles the F-35 is being sold as good for. I’m OK with it being slightly better than an F-16 in certain conditions – after all, it’s super plane. But otherwise you get into bizzaro world scenarios like whether it’s OK that the F-35 can “loiter” for 20-30 minutes if it’s doing close air support, compared to an A-10’s 60-70 minutes and whether it’s OK to say an F-35 can loiter for the same time as an A-10 if it has a tanker nearby, etc. The range issue both does and doesn’t matter, depending on whether you’re assuming a contested airspace or not. I think the confusion comes in because the F-35 is being pitched for both deep-strike off carriers, and combat air support (presumably launched from bases near the forward battle area, or tanking up in an uncontested airspace) In terms of deep strike off carriers, it’s not super plane. In terms of close air support, it’s not super plane. If it was super plane we’d probably not be having this discussion because super plane’d be worth the money – any amount of money – but instead it’s super expensive and it can be configured to (in most situations, with some care) perform as well as existing systems. I see that as an issue, don’t you?

    Range is definitely going to be an issue in any scenario involving carrier operations in a contested airspace, because the refuellers will be within the enemy’s missile envelope. That’s a general problem with carrier operations in contested airspace, and the shortening of strike ranges has serious implications. My understanding of this topic is heavily influenced by this:
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.cnas.org/documents/CNASReport-CarrierAirWing-151016.pdf
    I believe it presents a compelling argument that carrier strike ranges getting shorter is a problem, and why. From that, I conclude that the F-35’s not helping much and that the F-35, for carrier strike, will probably be relegated to going in after the FA-18s. Uh.

    The “disaster” part of the F-35 is that it’s not super plane, but it’s super priced. So saying that the F-35 can be highly adequate for some of the same tasks that other aircraft are adequate for… so what?

    So really, what single engine multi role fighter are you boosting that beats that performance? You don’t offer any, but I assume you must have one for you to heap scorn on 750nm, right?

    OK, so this is where I think our views diverge. Why on earth do you expect me to be boosting something that beats the F-35’s performance, just because I am pointing out that the F-35, which has failed to be the super plane it was sold to be, at the super price it’s sold for – isn’t so super. I’m not saying that the F-16 is better, or the A-10 is better, or whatever. I’m questioning the cost / performance of the F-35.

    If I’m driving to work in a normal sedan and it gets the job done pretty well, and someone comes along and offers me an amazing deal on an SUV that can tow a trailer, 4×4, and out corner a lamborghini – at only 10x the cost of my sedan – and it does none of those things better than my sedan – I think it’s pretty reasonable for me to ask “why are you trying to rip me off?” I’m not saying my sedan is a better 4×4. I’m not saying my sedan is better than a lamborghini.

    Does that help you understand?

    On to MANPADS
    News flash. Perhaps you missed it, but EVERYTHING uses cooled seeker heads that can track aerodynamic heating on the wings and fuselage now. Being forced to home on engine heat is so 50 years ago.

    I know that. The state of the art Chinese stuff and Russian stuff also use facial recognition … Sorry, trying to be funny. They also use optical recognition. But that’s not the point: the point is that a great big heat plume is still going to be candy to a vintage SAM. Of which there are plenty still out there in the world.

    So is your point that it sucks either way? I agree: the lifespan of stealth exclusivity is going to be short. Sure. Is your argument that it’s not super plane so therefore it’s ridiculously overpriced? Because if it is, we’re in agreement.

    It seems to me that you’re disagreeing with part of how I interpret some of the facts, which is fine, but you’re disagreeing in ways that actually support my over all conclusion. That confuses me a bit.

    IR plus radar on a man portable missile

    What are you going on about? I’m talking about that an aircraft is more likely to encounter an old IGLA or Strela and that having a big heat signature is not an advantage in that situation. That’s it. And that’s true. I’m not hypothesizing super MANPADS, I’m pointing out that super plane isn’t any better than existing planes at surviving in a contested airspace, and it’s not any better at a much higher cost.

    I doubt that they’ll ever fly an F-35 into an airspace where there are state of the art SAMs because, with what the F-35s cost, attrition would be unsustainable. But if you want to talk about that, yeah: that’s a problem, too. If the damn thing is not going to be dramatically better against state of the art SAMs, that ought to make you question the cost, on that front, as well.

    Of course even if it existed, then you’d have to explain how a radar seeker loves heat plumes. Fail.

    You’re pretty quick to declare failure on my part, when you appear to be completely missing the point of what I’m saying. If it’s deliberate, then I can’t do anything about that, but if it’s accidental would you mind trying to think a little harder?

    But unlike you, I prefer to restrict my criticisms to actual problems. Such as the potential for its stealth shaping to be inadequate to the Russian use of radar bands beyond X, or for the shaping at the rear especially to be inadequate.

    What about “not a better plane, at a much much higher price” is not an actual problem worth criticizing?

    The stuff about the stealth inevitably getting defeated – I don’t actually think that’s that big a deal because I don’t think the plane is going to work well enough/long enough for that to matter much. But, yes, that’s an issue. It is the issue I was referring to (speaking of criticisms of actual problems) as sensor fusion. Yes, the Russians and the Chinese are looking at defeating stealth using sensor fusion from multiple types of detectors including ones that can get varying qualities of echoes back even from stealthy planes. That’s interesting stuff but what’s more likely to be a problem is the sensor fusion stuff! The premise there is to be able to fire an optical recognition missile into an area where your sensors are pretty sure there’s a stealth plane. That scenario gets worse if you flew by an infrared sensor, too. Yes, that’s a problem. Again, the F-35 is not super plane, but it’s super plane priced and it’s late, which means by the time it is fielded it will be even less super plane than it was supposed to be, if it actually was super plane.

    And no, the F15 isn’t unbeaten. The f22 eats it for breakfast, the F22 5g maneuver envelope positively consumes the poor F15. With the combination of improved engine performance and thrust vectoring it really couldn’t be any other way.
    Funny that Marcus doesn’t acknowledge that, isn’t it?

    F-35 is not super plane
    F-35 is over priced for the plane that it is
    I am not saying F-15 is a better plane
    I am not saying F-22 is a bad plane
    I do point out that F-15 has been a good enough plane and is pretty cheap
    I do point out that the F-35 is not super plane and is nothing like cheap

    Try not to confuse all these threads in your mind, OK? You seem to be getting mad at me for arguing positions I have not taken. If you’re doing that deliberately, you can fuck yourself, but if you honestly don’t understand I will keep trying to help you understand.

    Here’s another way of thinking of it: F-35 can still (at a huge $$ cost) do some super plane stuff, eventually, if we use it carefully and correctly and new battlefield doctrines like sensor fusion work. Ask yourself: don’t new battlefield doctrines like sensor fusion probably mean you could do almost the same stuff as the F-35 for a fraction of the cost using less expensive planes that exist combined with drones combined with cruise missiles? Especially given that the sensor fusion stuff that is being called upon to salvage the F-35’s battleworthiness also depends on drones and cruise missiles.

    But seriously. You complain about it being unarmored? What fighter carries armor? Does the F16? How about even a dual engine multirole fighter like the Super Hornet? What about even the much vaunted F15?

    Did you catch the part about how some proponents of the F-35 are now saying it should replace the A-10 for CAS? Because if you didn’t catch that, then maybe none of what I said will make any sense. But if you did catch that, then it’s relevant that the F-35, with one engine and no armor, is going to have to stay so high and fast that it’s not susceptible to ground-fire, which makes it not so great for CAS.

    Again, you appear to not be understanding the main point, which is that F-35 is not super plane but is super plane expensive. I’d even be willing to imagine (for fun!) that the F-35 is better at CAS than an A-10 (hahahahah, hee, hee, *gasp*) and let’s even imagine it’s tougher and more damage-resistant.

    So what, it’s way more expensive. Which would you rather get your CAS from, one F-35 or the fleet of A-10s you could put up for the same cost? (A-10s also have the huge advantage of: they actually work and they actually work now)

    And if they had done it, you’d just be complaining that it was too heavy instead. It’s the kind of game you play.

    I’m not playing any games and I don’t appreciate your trying to characterize me as doing so. I am not being dishonest and I don’t appreciate that implication.

    I’m not saying that they should have armored the F-35. I’m saying it’s not super plane, but it costs super plane costs. That’s a problem when plane that gets the job done exists and costs way less.

    I am not saying lamborghinis diablos don’t go really fast, I’m saying that they’re a bit overpriced if what you need is to get to the grocery store and be able to buy groceries afterward. That’s the problem. And it’s not a minor problem – it’s actually a major strategic issue because it boils down to the question of whether or not the DoD has any clue what the mission profile of its aircraft is going to be. I am concerned and you should be too, when they are saying it’s going to be great at everything. When it has consistently missed even its scaled-back projections and the costs have ballooned off the chart.

    Something tells me that as soon as the military switched to favoring them, you’d complain about them being too expensive. Again, that’s the kind of game you appear to play.

    I am not playing games. You keep trying to imply that and I don’t like it.

    So, to your point: that may be true. I don’t think the US military needs the kind of capabilities it would supposedly be getting from a 5th generation aircraft. Or a 7th generation. Whatever generation. I think the US needs good aircraft that are well-suited for their role, with the understanding that the idea of a general-purpose super plane is ridiculous. And, yes, I’d complain about anything that was too expensive being too expensive: because next-generation technological dominance, in a situation where there’s no threat that demands next-generation technology to dominate – that’s the very definition of “too expensive” isn’t it? “Too expensive” is buying something that you don’t need. “Too expensive” is buying something that you don’t need and which turns out not to be as good as what you paid for.

    What’s not to complain about that?

    I wouldn’t be complaining at all if the F-35 was super plane. But it’s not. I wouldn’t be complaining at all if the F-35 was super plane and was on schedule. But it’s not. I wouldn’t be complaining if the F-35 was super plane and on schedule and hadn’t blown the program costs by a ridiculous amount. But they did.

    What’s not to complain about that?

  23. says

    Nomad@#20:
    Also, with respect to the Osprey engine issue: you corrected me and I acknowledged it about the engine power issue. What was really going on there was that I misspoke and I didn’t want to argue down into the weeds about it. But since you want to bring that back up:

    The issue of the Osprey crashing particularly horribly – if anything makes one rotor lose power, the plane is fucked. When I wrote about it, I characterized that as an engine failure but if you look at it in the context of the discussion I was engaged in – failure mode versus helicopter because autorotation is not an option – only a debater would try to score points by trying to say that it was just about engine failure. If I had spoken better/more precisely, and said “rotation or power” then my point stands: Ospreys behave really badly if they are in VTOL mode and a rotor fails, there’s a power stall, or something otherwise makes it lose lift on one side. That is a catastrophic situation that doesn’t apply to a helicopter, which has a chance of surviving by autorotating, or to a regular propeller plane which can glide.

    In fact if you look at the list of Osprey crashes, the worst of them have all involved exactly what I said: loss or power or lift on one side or another. [wikipedia]
    – On 20 July 1992, pre-production V-22 #4’s right engine failed and caused the aircraft to drop into the Potomac River by Marine Corps Base Quantico with an audience of congressmen and other government officials. Flammable liquids collected in the right nacelle and led to an engine fire and subsequent failure. All seven on board were killed and the V-22 fleet was grounded for 11 months following the accident. A titanium firewall now protects the composite propshaft.
    – A V-22 loaded with Marines, to simulate a rescue, attempted to land at Marana Northwest Regional Airport in Arizona on 8 April 2000. It descended faster than normal (over 2,000 ft/min or 10 m/s) from an unusually high altitude with a forward speed of under 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) when it suddenly stalled its right rotor at 245 feet (75 m), rolled over, crashed, and exploded, killing all 19 on board.
    – On 11 December 2000, a V-22 had a flight control error and crashed near Jacksonville, North Carolina, killing all four aboard. A vibration-induced chafing from an adjacent wiring bundle caused a leak in the hydraulic line which fed the primary side of the swashplate actuators to the right side rotor blade controls. The leak caused a Primary Flight Control System (PFCS) alert. A previously undiscovered error in the aircraft’s control software caused it to decelerate in response to each of the pilot’s eight attempts to reset the software as a result of the PFCS alert. The uncontrollable aircraft fell 1,600 feet (490 m) and crashed in a forest. The wiring harnesses and hydraulic line routing in the nacelles were subsequently modified.
    – On 8 April 2010, a USAF CV-22 crashed in southern Afghanistan. Three US service members and one civilian were killed and 16 injured in the crash. Initially it was unclear if the accident was caused by enemy fire. The loaded CV-22B was at its hovering capability limit, landing at night near Qalat (altitude approx. 5,000 feet) in brownout conditions, in turbulence due to the location in a gully. The USAF investigation ruled out brownout conditions, enemy fire, and vortex ring state as causes. The investigation found several factors that significantly contributed to the crash; these include low visibility, a poorly executed approach, loss of situational awareness, and a high descent rate.
    Brig. Gen. Donald Harvel, board president of the first investigation into the crash, fingered the “unidentified contrails” during the last 17 seconds of flight as indications of engine troubles.
    – One of three Osprey aircraft participating in a training exercise at Bellows Air Force Station (Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii) suffered from dust intake to the right engine, sustained a hard landing with fuselage damage and caught fire. The accident lead to the death of two U.S. Marines, and injuries to 20 others.
    – On 13 December 2016, at 10 pm, an MV-22 crashed while landing onto a reef in shallow water 0.6 miles (0.97 km) off the Okinawa coastline of Camp Schwab where the aircraft broke apart. All five crew members aboard with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing were rescued. Two crew members were injured and all were transported for treatment. Ospreys in Japan were grounded the following day. An investigation into the mishap was launched. Preliminary reports indicate that during in-flight refueling with a KC-130, the refueling hose was struck by the Osprey’s rotor blades.

    There are other Osprey crashes that appear to be prop wash – difference in lift when one side of the plane flew under another, and other pilot error. But there is a consistent failure pattern involving the Osprey does not behave well when one of the spinny things doesn’t spin right and the other is still spinning That is what I was talking about, in the context when I was talking about it.

    I let you get away with tweaking me about my choice of words, but if you’re going to accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, maybe you should look at the failure modes of the aircraft and maybe you can acknowledge that what I said was true – maybe I didn’t say it exactly right – but Ospreys have problems with the spinny things.

    Yes, helicopters have problems too (you pointed that out before) but saying “helicopters can suck, too” doesn’t make Ospreys suck less.

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