Wednesday, November 6, 2013

F-35: Ignorance is bliss among critics

My father, who was career military, said he was never able to watch war flicks because inevitably the ignorance of the writer and film producer about how the military works would shine through and ruin it for him.

I've come to that point when reading the word salad critics churn out in opposition to the F-35.

A prime example of that comes from the Financial Times, which it appears, should stick to things financial.  Here's an example of their "expertise".  First they take a shot at the F-35's stealth:
Energetic radar development in both Russia and China may see this advantage watered down by the 2020s, as ever more sophisticated radars enter the export market. 
Obviously, however, 'ever more sophisticated' jamming equipment will be left to molder, right?  And regardless, low observability coupled with "ever more sophisticated" radar jamming equipment will still be quite a plus over non-stealthy aircraft, won't it?

Strike two:
The internal weapons carriage of the F-35 is limited, meaning that for many of the missions flown by Nato jets over Libya or Afghanistan the aircraft would need to carry bombs and missiles on external pylons. 

The "internal weapons carriage" of the F-35 is not really that limited.  It can carry 18,000 pounds of weapons in the A and C variations and 16,000 in the B.  So no, it would not "need" to carry bombs and missiles on pylons to be effective, would it?  And that renders the rest of the argument moot, doesn't it?  But let's look at it anyway:
Because these weapons and their pylons protrude under the wing they eliminate the vastly expensive stealth aspect of the airframe, while the manoeuvrability penalties of stealth design remain to hamper the jet’s combat agility. 
Ah, but again, there's nothing that says the F-35 must show up in contested air with stuff hanging off its wings, given its internal combat load - so while this is true for every other 4th gen aircraft, it's not true for the F-35.

And finally:
As stealth means deleting any radar-reflecting outlines, the F-35 cockpit canopy is set low, almost flush with the fuselage. Pilots on test squadrons in the US have noted how this eliminates the fine view from raised cockpits on established fighter designs such as the F-16. Despite high-tech sensors in the F-35, clear vision is still highly valued by military air crew and is yet another sacrifice made to stealth. 
This, of course, is nonsense.  Name another jet which allows the pilot to see 360 degrees around his aircraft?  As always, while the sensors are noted, they are simply waved away as if they didn't exist to make an argument that is absurd. 

This is a perfect example of someone who really knows nothing about the fighter except what has been available from critics, takes no time to research the other side or learn about the jet's capabilities and simply regurgitates nonsense that makes them look foolish.

Much like my father viewed those who made war movies.



  1. "The "internal weapons carriage" of the F-35 is not really that limited. It can carry 18,000 pounds of weapons in the A and C variations and 16,000 in the B. "

    Wrong. 18,000 pounds is the TOTAL load in the A. Internal load is two 2,000 lb bombs and 2 A/A missiles. Same with B.

  2. Waving away the sensors is understandable when you figure in that the helmet doesn't work. Latency, jitter and resolution problems.

    1. To be fair though, that would only be a valid criticism if the plane was currently in active service and still suffered from those issues. One can only hope that they will be ironed out by the time IOC is declared.

    2. Ahhh, hope. One can only hope? No, one can do more than hope. That's what Lockheed did. But now there's a test and evaluation phase, when hope isn't sufficient but performance must be proven. The F-35 has been performing poorly, according to the chief tester, Dr. Gilmore.

    3. Relying on old news is just sad.

      Gilmore was talking about Block1 not the currently flying Block 2B.

      Also, he was dealing with the helmet before it had been fixed, hence the reason why the backup BAE helmet development was halted.

  3. In the Age of Precision, its not the quantity of bombs that matter, its the precision that matters. F-35 can carry 8 SDB II internally, all precision guided using 3 different sensors. With a mix of 2000, 1000 and 250 lb pounds carried in different numbers, the F-35 has plenty of carriage to do its day 1 mission with just its internal carriage.
    F-35 doesn't need the bomb load of a F-15 on day 1 but it does have that kind of load out when radar coverage has been degraded enough for F-15's to come in.