Thursday, August 23, 2012

What the critics always seem to miss about the F-35

If you read any critical piece about the F-35 JSF you are likely to be subjected too what most would consider to be “old news”.  You will hear about cost overruns, reliability issues, behind schedule and the usual claims of performance problems. 


Most of those issues are now non-issues, lack context or ignore improvements.

However, what you’re likely never to see anyone critical of the aircraft mention is what was referred too recently as the “z-axis”.  Those are the advanced, never-before-seen capabilities packed into this fighter.  Here’s someone who did indeed make a note of them:

Climbing a ladder to get a look at an F-35 cockpit, I was amazed at the design and functionality of the displays and net-enabled operations. My mind quickly wandered back to the control knobs, switches and displays of the AV-8B Harrier and instantly realized that this cockpit is well beyond what we currently have in operations today. This new aircraft's integrated operating systems will allow the pilot to navigate, perform reconnaissance, seek out and destroy enemies in the air, on land and sea that combines the abilities of the Marine Corps' current fixed wing aircraft — the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B Prowler.

Functionality, “net-enabled”, integrated, a multi-mission day-one fighter, etc., etc.  Those are incredibly important things to note, one would think.  The Marine Corps Public Affairs Officer who wrote this has a very good idea of what they mean to her service and what advantages these capabilities will bring.

She gets it.

Why is it the critics can’t seem to figure that out?

Instead we get the same old arguments each and every time one of them decides to trot out a hit piece.  It’s almost as if they’re uncomfortable with discussing those advanced capabilities and their effect.  In fact, it could cause one to wonder, given the lack of such discussion, if they even understand what those capabilities actually mean to future planning, pilot culture, strategy and/or tactics.

If one had to guess, given the dearth of such discussion, the answer is “no”.



  1. Another example of them completely missing the boat...

    Two significant pieces of good news:

    1. The program is progressing well enough that the USMC Commandant feels that he no longer needs monthly Face-to-Face meetings with the JPO. He instead decided to go with a quarterly update. This does not mean that he is not getting daily/weekly/etc internal updates, just that Face-to-Face JPO meetings are being reduced.

    2. The weight margin for the F-35B has been increased from 140lb to over 300lb.

    Notice that the critics that posted on that site (especially ELP) completely missed the boat and kept bringing up old news.

  2. Thanks for the link, SpudmanWP. And yes, the same old song and dance, same pejorative but unsupported rhetoric and dated arguments.

    Anyway, used the link plus a couple more in the next post.