Thursday, May 9, 2013

Another reason why the F-35 is so critical to our future

One thing I've noticed over the years among critics of the F-35 who demand the program be scrapped is how incredibly short sighted they are.  What they don't seem to understand, or don't care to understand, is the development of this program isn't just about the F-35. 
"It is not too early to begin consideration of the next generation of capability that will someday complement and eventually replace the F-35,” Kendall says in the memo. “In addition, the F-35 has been the only high-performance vehicle in development in the U.S. for approximately a decade … and I am concerned that our ability to design cutting-edge platforms of this type is already atrophying.”
How does one stay ahead of the power curve of advanced, cutting-edge design of future fighters if it isn't working on one now?  How does one apply these developments in an environment similar to that which they'll be working in at this future date?

To put it succinctly, you don't.  While you can run all the simulations you wish, putting such systems in to an advanced aircraft and testing, tweaking and integrating it is how you are going to eventually develop the 6th generation of aircraft, be they piloted or pilotless.   If you can't do that, then, as Kendall says, you're ability to design, etc. "atrophy's".

That's another very good reason the F-35 is so critical to the US:
Spinning technologies off to the F-35 while continuing toward development of an energy-efficient, sixth-generation fighter with high-power capacity and no thermal constraints will be key to sustaining industry’s capabilities over the next decade. Without a “meaningful opportunity for leading-edge design, build and test,” says Kendall in his memo, the U.S. capability to design high-performance aircraft “will not be preserved, and our technological advantage in [air dominance] will not endure.”
Indeed.  It benefits us in the way Kendall describes as well as providing the opportunity to continually upgrade our other 5th generation fighter, the F-22, with better systems and capabilities proven by the F-35.


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