Originally posted by Darkpr0
I was looking through pictures of the F-35 and comparing it to the early visions of the prototype and stumbled upon an image of a JSF using VTOL. I
then compared this to the earlier VTOL capabilities of the AV-8 Harrier. Some further reading revealed 3 variants, F-35s A, B, and C. The
VSTOL-capable one is the F-35B. I was really wondering if anyone else had some facts and comparisons between the F-35B and current VTOL and STOL
capablle aircraft. Opinions are cool too.
Depends on what context you mean by 'effective'. The USN has a long history of accepting aircraft which were /drastically/ under spec so long as
they carried a 'navair spoken here' label. That said, IMO, the type is neither operationally suitable nor operationally effective.
Because if the Marines get their way, they will lose their entire CVTOL force of Hornets AND Harriers to pay for a _much_ smaller (appr. 200-250)
STOVL JSF. This will effectively mean that they are no longer the USN's RAG or Reserve Air Group as STOVL airframes cannot be integrated with big
deck carriers on either the shooting or catching end without royally farking up the rest of the airwing cycle.
Here too, the question is less 'how well?' than 'was it ever intended?' because, on a comparitive basis, the STOVL aircraft has always been a
450nm radius airframe while From The Sea, Forward takes the litoral bounds as /beginning/ some 400nm inland. And indeed both the F-35A and certainly
the F-35C are 650-700nm airframes. Ignoring the farce of 'jeep carrier' airpower as a standalone asset (with all of 8-10 aircraft onboard and
definite limits to how fast you cycle them with assault helos on-spot), if you cannot contribute to the new paradigm of Day 1, Raid 1, airpower, you
That said, Aviation Week published a list of the weight savings which were being done to make the STOVL viable after the admission of it's being some
3,400-3,750lbs overweight. Among these was the removal of 'commonality' inherent to weapons bay sized for 2,000lbX12ft munitions. Which basically
means all your standoff (JSOW) and building killer (GBU-31) munitions sets. Replacing them with 'lightweight CAS munitions'. Unfortunately, this
is deceptive. Because an ITER-9 is around around 100lbs and a BRU-57 and 61 are about 200-250. While a typical weapons pylon is probably along the
lines of another 200lbs. So, /before/ the paired GBU-38 or quaded GBU-39, you are looking at a good 500-750lbs. Add in the munitions, and you are
back to 2,000+, easy. FOUR such pylon sets of external (faster to combat turn) munitions then comes up to about 8,000lb warload. And this won't fly
or at least land, with any kind of margin.
Of course there are other indicators. Such as redesigning the wing lap-joints THREE TIMES. And then 'thinning the skins'. Before shifting more
gas inboard to the spine. While deferring external loads qualification beyond basic fuel and AAM loads. Which sounds like they are trying to avoid
loading the wings at all, something those nations which are going to use the jet as a conventional fighter will not be happy about and which in
particular caused no end of problems with the early F-16 and 18 as structurally contributive wing stringers cracked along fastener lines and either
had to be coldworked or replaced.
Add to this a 12-15 percent reduction in 'carrier margins around the boat' and you start to see a trend towards using the machine in the 'same ol'
way' as the Harrier itself was. With nominally 70-80% internal fuel and a large number of ROCKETS (which can be parent stationed and which multiple
the number of passes by salvo count) as a baseline beachead softener. Of course this is INSANE because the value of the platform (113 million and
climbing) as well as the reality that STOM or Ship To Objective Maneuver operations should be taking the LHA/LHD _well_ over the horizon, even before
troops 'ignore the surfzone!' to go deep inland. i.e. Speed of transit, depth of radius and safety while in a sophisticated IADS environment
factors all must be increased exponentially in order for an F-35B as a _stealth_ followon to the Harrier to have any real meaning.
Mechanically, the powered lift system has a lot going for it. Because, unlike the F404 on the the Harrier, you are not stuck with a limited number of
compressor stages and a tiny gerbil-core set of turbines turning a MONSTER fan. Whose coldflow thrust is lost during STOVL (requiring a large
quantity of cooling water) and whose inefficiency during cruise eats up radius. By literally 'decoupling' the vertical lift component from the up
and away segment of flight, all that weighted inertia on the front end (compression) is lost. While, assuming the softclutch and spinup system
continues to be reliable, the SDLF itself is larger and thus more powerful (with less hot velocity) than say the lift-only engine pairing on the
My principle questions then being:
1. Can one man do it all?
Ans: It depends. Rowing the boat is now more or less an autopilot procedure. Shooting the ducks is simple ONCE ACQUIRED. But unless you have a
raft of UAVs to do the volume sanitization with a lot more loiter than the JSF can bring to the pointy end of the radius, you cannot ignore the
effects of searching and sorting on the single-crew as a defacto self-FAC'ing asset. The Marines have limited UAV access and none with the
operational depth and station time of even an MQ-1. So the Row+Shoot+_Spot_ factor is being ignored 'for the convenience of the Corps flying club'.
The JSF is not likely to gain a second seat, due to the way the airframe structural box is already so badly compromised with cutouts for bay doors
and the like and the STOVL version is even less so because of the weight issue.
Mod Edit: BB Code.
[edit on 6/6/2006 by Mirthful Me]