Thursday, April 4, 2013

F-35: The metrics have changed? Sorry, but that's not a bad thing

Over the past few weeks, you've seen various critics get the vapors as they attempt to claim that the changes made in the metrics for the F-35 point to a failing aircraft and a failing program.

Not really.  In fact, not really at all.  But you have to know something about how aircraft (or any other program for that matter) are developed to understand that.   Someone who does, SMSgt Mac over at "Elements of Power", shines some welcome light on the subject.  It is a very technical discussion, however, he sets it up with this perspective:
1. Performance metrics are used as PROXIES for what is important in a Weapon System under acquisition or already fielded. The metrics are NOT important in and of themselves. They are only as important as the degree to which they inform developers and operators on the system’s true versus desired capabilities.


2. Weapon system specifications are initially established based upon what is believed to be needed and what is believed to be feasible within the projected budget and schedule before the development is given the ‘go-ahead’. There are only varying degrees of assumed confidence in the ability to achieve what is seen as feasible, and this depends much on perceived technology maturity. Only after the project is underway will the need and/or feasibility, given the actual maturity and budget, begin to be revealed, and it may be only truly knowable towards the end of development. Adjusting the specifications as new information is acquired, while still meeting Warfighter needs is sound engineering and management. It is NOT (as someone in the POGO crowd or ‘low information media’ might claim) “cheating” or a sign of “failure”. 
With that in mind, go read the whole thing.  It does a great job of explaining why what SMSgt Mac calls the low information media, are in a low hover over the information.  They don't know any better and make no attempt to find out.  And, they're gassed up by the usual suspects among the critics who know about as much as the media they feed.

Of course, in terms of perspective or accuracy and this program, the critics and media have never tried very hard to provide it.


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