Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Navy again states commitment to F-35

There have been a multitude of stories in the past claiming the US Navy is less than fully committed to the F-35.  Proof of that is usually offered by citing the service's orders of F/A-18 and EA-18G aircraft to fill the gap prior to full deployment of the F-35.  And it is again being claimed since the F/A-18 is scheduled to cease production in 2014 and the Navy is interested in seeing that production deadline extended into 2016 that they're less than committed to the F-35.

I won't bore you with the various reasons for that, you likely know them as well as anyone.  But it would be foolish to say that such an interest in an extension for the F/A-18 by the Navy is tantamount to less than full commitment to the F-35.  And Dep. Asst. Sec. of the Navy for air programs, Richard Gilpin, made that pretty clear when questioned at the Dubai Air Show:
"Let me be clear. The Navy is very committed to moving to JSF. I wouldn't want you to get the impression that the Navy is not committed to JSF, because we are," Gilpin said. 
However he does mention the possibility of "budget-driven pause in procurement" of the F-35.  Thus the interest in extending the F/A-18 production deadline.



  1. The Navy was also committed to beating Western Kentucky, Duke, Toledo and Notre Dame in football. But they didn't.

    It's not even 'game time' for the F-35C. It's unfit for carrier use any time soon, and its acceptable full combat-capable software is at least three years behind schedule, and probably longer according to the program manager.

    So will it be 'game time" -- IOC -- in five years as scheduled? Probably not. But Richard Gilpin doesn't care, he'll be long gone by then. Meanwhile his "commitment" to the procurement of as few CV's as possible, no more than half a dozen annually, hopefully with an externally-driven pause.

  2. Donald, stay over at snafu, where you blind hate is welcome

  3. @DS
    Actually I did stay away from posting here but that all changed after the host berated people who disagreed with him and his disregard of facts. I see a pattern.

    1. Don, what is it exactly that you wish to accomplish by going to every F-35 related blog and berating the program? Its not enough to criticize the F-35. If you really think it aught to be canceled, you have to provide a plausible alternative that can be feasibly built and meet our national security needs for the next 30-40 years. I agree there have been multiple problems with the F-35 program, particularly on the management side by the Pentagon, but the alternatives to the F-35 (e.g. F/A-18E/F) simply do not suffice and the F-22 is not coming back (its not a plausible alternative). Designing a new jet would take more than a decade and put us behind. So even though the F-35 program has certainly had some problems, the alternatives are certainly not any better.

    2. Disregard of facts?

      You mean like pretending SARs don't exist, and using your lack of knowledge to claim F-35 prices are increasing?

      You mean like making false statements about the F-35's performance?

      That kind of disregard for facts?

    3. @Matt
      In berating the F-35 program, I am in good company with the Pentagon types who have criticized the program. And as Senator McCain said, it is “one of the great national scandals.”

      This year, 2013, has included a litany of bad news about the JSF. The 2012 Test Report from DOT&E in January, the March GAO report, the DOT&E testimony in June, and the October DOD IG report, all bad, listing many problems.

      And what have we gotten from LM?
      --2013 11 11 - F-35C Carrier Variant Conducts First AMRAAM Weapons Separation Test
      --2013 10 30 - F-35A Lightning II Conducts First Live Fire Weapons Test with AIM-120 AMRAAM
      --2013 10 30 - F-35B Lightning II Completes First Guided Weapon Delivery Against Ground Target

      Wow. This amazing plane has had its performance specs reduced, has significant limitations on afterburner use, can't go near lightning, has structural problems, skin problems from heat, can't be tested for any combat capability, poor reliability, has operating and support costs (O&S) that are currently projected to be 60 percent higher than those of the existing aircraft, is continuing to incur substantial costs for rework to fix deficiencies discovered in testing, is still using training software because the ten million lines of combat capability are nowhere near ready, the necessary helmet doesn't work, but it can fire missiles! Amazing. And that doesn't even consider the CV tailhook and the many STOVL problems.

      While the CTOL IOC is three long years away, 2016, after twelve years of development, Block 3F software necessary for combat capability " remains the biggest risk of the F-35 program -- Gen Bogdan" who also says "“I see more risk to the delivery of Block 3F, our full warfighting capability, by 2017.”

      Meanwhile unit costs are in the $200 million area, which is one reason (besides the others mentioned) that foreign sales are pathetic.

      So any alternative is better than this great national scandal.

    4. 1) About performance specs: http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2012/03/david-axe-has-got-those-distortin-kpps.html#uds-search-results

      2) "This year has included a litany of bad news about the JSF."

      Unless you count the fact that it is ahead of its testing schedule. Of course, that factoid doesn't match your preconceived bias, so you ignore it.

      3) On afterburner use:

      The F-35 engine that experienced a cracked compressor blade did so after a stress test involving greater-than-normal operating temperatures over a period four times longer than an average flight. Even after this event, an investigation determined that no other test aircraft had a cracked compressor blade (or any other engine problem, for that matter), and thus there was no design fault -- the event was an anomaly. Of course, that doesn't prevent Giovanni de Brigante from exhibiting his usual degree of stupidity in order to overhype the issue.

      4) "Can't go near lightning"

      That, and most of the other flight restrictions listed in Gilmore's report, is due to the fact that the F-35 hasn't yet been cleared to test those flight characteristics. They are due to the aircraft's testing schedule, not its deficiencies. Of course, you don't have the cranial capacity to realize this, so I don't know why I'm bothering to explain it.

      5) "Can't be tested for any combat capability."

      In that same exact post, you mentioned three cases where the F-35 deployed air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons. Your lack of intelligence is both massive and frightening.

      6) "Has operating and support costs 60% higher"

      You misspelled 10-15%. You see, there tends to be a problem with using random numbers pulled out of your ass to prove a point. More specifically, the problem is that doing so makes you look like a complete moron, and only proves that you don't know what you're talking about.

      7) "ten million lines of combat capability are nowhere near ready"

      That's strange. Last I checked, over 80% of the software was finished. I guess this is just a case of you pulling "facts" out of your ass again...

      8) "helmet doesn't work" and "tailhook"

      I'll say it again. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Because apparently you just aren't getting it. The helmet works for the vast majority of the applications it was designed to complete. The only problem it faced was jitter/latency while displaying DAS imagery. Like I said, this is a relatively small part of its operational envelope, and it worked fine in every other respect.

      However, that was in Block 1. In case it hasn't sunk into your thick skull yet, when Gilmore mentioned jitter/latency problems, he was talking about the Block 1 version. We are currently on Block 2, and Block 3 is rapidly being developed.

      So, how much progress has been made in these upgrades? Enough that the JSF program office has decided to stop the development of the second helmet, because the primary helmet has improved and is functioning much better.

      And what about the tailhook? That was redesigned over a year ago. In case you've been living under a rock, the problem was dealt with.

      Of course, you're far too stupid to realize this. You'd rather just act as if absolutely no progress has been made -- it allows you to continue to hold onto your cherished delusion that none of the F-35's problems have been fixed.

      9) "Unit costs are in the $200 million area."

      I see you still haven't learned how to read a graph. Please, go to my previous comment, click on the link, and read it again. Perhaps you'll learn something this time.

      More likely, you'll just plug your ears, shut your eyes, and throw a temper tantrum in order to prevent yourself from observing any information that challenges your preconceived belief. That seems to be your usual selective reading defense mechanism.

    5. 1. performance specs
      Key aerial combat standards have been lowered, following initial tests. All F-35s will sit at 5.0g or less sustained turn performance – a figure that places them in a class with 1960s era planes like the F-5 or F-4 Phantom, instead of modern designs like the F-16. Acceleration is also poorer, compared to a reference F-16C Block 50 with AMRAAM missiles on its wingtips zooming from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2.

      2. ahead of test schedule -- not
      Dr. Gilmore, DOT&E, June testimony: As of the end of April, progress in test points required for 2B envelope fleet release is behind the plan for the year, having completed 473 of 614 points planned for completion through the end of April 2013, or 77 percent. Progress in weapons integration is also behind schedule, having completed only 7 of 19 total separation events versus the plan to have completed 14 events by the end of April. Accounting for test activity prior to calendar year 2013, the program has completed approximately three-fourths of the total number of test points needed to clear the Block 2B flight envelope for the F-35A.

      3. afterburner
      DOT&E Report: F-35A -- The test team could not execute 30 percent of planned 2012 baseline test points for the following reasons:
      -Aircraft operating limitations, which prevented the extended use of afterburner needed to complete
      high-altitude/high-airspeed test points.

      4, lightning
      NavyTimes: Another concern has been the plane’s ability to fly near lightning, which is currently restricted due to a flaw in the On-Board Inert Gas Generating System (OBIGGS), used to prevent a fuel-tank explosion in case of a lightning strike. A fix has gone through a critical design review and will be put into place for the LRIP-7 models, with a retrofit option also in development for the older production platforms.

      5. combat capability- not
      Jun 2013: "We haven't actually tested any combat capability," Gilmore told senators, adding there may not be enough time or cash for full testing of crucial capabilities.

      6. op costs 60% higher
      GAO report: F-35 operating and support costs (O&S) are currently projected to be 60 percent higher than those of the existing aircraft it will replace.

      7. software
      The JSF is now being operated with training software. Then comes Blocks 2B/3I, then Block 3F which is at least three years behind schedule. Block 3F adds capabilities that are key to the F-35’s core mission‚ such as multi-ship suppression, destruction of enemy air defenses and new air-to-air and air-to-ground modes. This package also will include the full complement of weapons carried internally and externally on the aircraft. Gen Bogdan: Software remains the biggest risk of the F-35 program ... “less than confident” that the final 2017 capability will be met on time due to delays.

      8. helmet and tailhook
      DOT&E Report: The helmet-mounted display and the F-35 system does not present an enhanced, clearer view of the outside world, targets and threats to the pilot; instead, they present a distorted and/or obstructed view. This is one of the most serious backward steps that the entire F-35 system takes, . . .2011 Quick Look Review (QLR) of November 2011 says that all eight run-in/rolling tests undertaken at NAS Lakehurst in August 2011 to see if the F-35C could catch a wire with the tail hook have failed. . .still not corrected . .design problem -- hook too close to wheels ..CV won't go to carrier before Aug 2014, three yrs after problem discovered.

      9. unit cost $200 million
      FY2014 Procurement Program Budget Request
      F-35A $176m
      F-35B $237m
      F-35C $236m

  4. Here are a few of Don's greatest hits, all from a single article comment section.

    "Carriers are obsolete."

    "They are status symbols only."

    "why gamble 5,000 lives on an obsolete relic?"

    "Manned strike force aircraft are also obsolete."

    "And I won't go into the f-35 here, except to say I am absolutely committed to help kill it."


    Don goes on and on about corruption, while moaning about defense contracts, and his desire to see the defense budget slashed. In his eyes, the US should maintain no forward deployed presence in nations around the world, and instead become isolationist. Shades of Winslow Wheeler and his band of POGO 'reformers'.

    1. "Carriers are obsolete. "They are status symbols only. why gamble 5,000 lives on an obsolete relic?"

      USNI: Carriers started off as fleet auxiliaries a century ago, scouting and screening for the battle line, before taking their place as the chief repository of U.S. Navy striking power during World War II. The CVN could trace the same trajectory followed by the battleships—from capital ship, to expensive fleet auxiliary, and into eventual obsolescence and retirement. It’s straightforward to sell taxpayers on capital ships built to do battle with peer navies. People get that. It will take skillful salesmanship to convince the man on the street to fund behemoths that have to sit out the battle before doing their work.

      The Chinese military has developed a ballistic missile, Dong Feng 21, specifically designed to kill US aircraft carriers: “Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.”

      "Manned strike force aircraft are also obsolete."

      USNI: As part of an advanced surveillance-and-strike system that the Navy is developing, drones will soon be able to conduct long-range, ’round-the-clock intelligence-gathering missions and aerial attacks that will make carriers cheaper to build, less costly to operate, and far more effective, and will spawn radical changes in the way the Navy uses them.

      "And I won't go into the f-35 here, except to say I am absolutely committed to help kill it."

      Roger that. See above.

  5. F-35 is showing all the traits of past procurements. Handwringing, focus on one or two ridiculous failures and indict, cost ballooning, can't do the job. I've seen it for decades. Yet the US military has come to dominate the globe like none before it using stuff like F-15, F-16, B-1, B-2. C-17, Bradley FV, M1-Abrahms, M-4, GPS, nearly all ISR space craft, etc. All the above were criticized in much the same way as the F-35 today.
    When and if the F-35 is deployed in quantity it will force other countries to defend huge airspace, at great cost, against pervasive stealthy attack planes. Not against 5 or so B-2's or a few dozen F-22, but hundreds of F-35's. That's good for the US.

    1. One or two ridiculous failures?
      Have you read this year's JSF reports?

      DOT&E Report

      GAO Report

      DOT&E testimony

      DOD IG Report

  6. I said "one or two ridiculous failures and indict". Did you not see the conjunction "and"? The statement means critics like yourself pick one or two big failures and use that to indict the entire program. The statement has written isn't equivalent to something like the JSF has only had one or two ridiculous failures. Its had many failures, some huge, some minor, just like those in the long list of very successful platforms the US developed over the last 50 years.

    If you want a program that is a failure, check out LCS. The JSF has all the attributes of a plane built to win in air to air or ground attack modes against any 4th gen and will win far more than it loses with 5th gen. The LCS doesn't seem able to win in any conceivable mode in which it will operate.

  7. 'Don Bacon' am I reading this correctly as your intention/quote above?

    "..."And I won't go into the f-35 here, except to say I am absolutely committed to help kill it.""