posted on Jan, 9 2007 @ 09:29 AM
Actually, I would disagree.
As they work on true envelope expansion, videos showing relative alphas, where the G-vortices are streaming and how hard/well the various control
surfaces work together will tell an expert an awful lot about how truly 'fighter like' this flying tank is apt to be. Others will use that as
comparison with the Canard Clones and Super-Sooks as marketable propoganda as well.
FAILING TO SHOW THIS will indeed be seen as evidence of a problem because nobody sells a strike airframe. They sell fighters.
Of course there will be areas where total ordnance qualification and clearance rates will be important, the notion that Lot 1 jets are expected to be
delivered only with internal carriage capability and the Lot 2 only getting tanks and AAM, receiving _major_ criticism from the export customers.
Which means that weapons clearance work will equally 'interesting' as the B/rit and US-A-F intial qualification loads will say a lot about how this
jet is really expected to perform.
Both for type and combinations.
Officially, the F-35 is well down the list of GBU-39 qualifiers for instance (After the F-15E, F-22, B-2 and one model of CCIP F-16 IIRR). But
without that capability, you are left with only the GBU-38 either single parented or on dual BRU-57 racks. Which are ALSO not as yet widely
qualified. 2,000lb JDAMs frankly are not all that much for a primary mudfighter, they are expensive and they are overkill for nations looking to
multiple a SMALL force purchase with lots of cheap midget-IAMs.
There will be some interesting spray testing behind a KC-135 and the work inside the climate chambers at Arnold I think it is which were all also
'highlights' on the F-22 program.
At somepoint I expect them to announce that the jet is capable of low-end supercruise and to provide some basics of combat ceiling and range
performance to go with. That too will be covered.
And then the avionics workups will begin as a massive push towards full mission testing in support of DIOT&E/IOT&E as the sponsoring Service (probably
USAF) says "Hooray another success story, we'll take 3,000!" or BS to that effect.
It's one thing for Beesley to say "This is the most ready-to-go, production quality, airframe I have ever seen."
It's another to see how fast and well it DOES in fact agressively expand the envelope as the precursor to tactical trials.
Particularly given as this _non spec_ airframe is the one which will effectively decide SDDs transition to production in less than two years and
unlike the Raptor which they couldn't clam tight enough on, the worthless Sky Knights will want to tout all it's bells in such a manner as to be
timed with the 'best moment' of the Iraq War resolution and quite possibly the Presidential campaigns.
Which moments are also comparitively shortterm.
Of course the fix is in. Whoever the 'real' polls pick for POTUS in '08 will have a solid Lockheed Plank on his platform. But it is quite
possible that a Democratic Congress, in a fit of pique and full of themselves, will choose to compromise the program with lowered purchases as
blackmail on a 1,001 pork projects in an inconvenient rampup year. And so it's necessary not only to make the Just So Bleeped work but to keep
things tight and high visibility so that there is 'good spin and a deciding vote' inherent to a seated Republican rather than a devil's pairing of
Democrats to slow things down.
From Lunchmeats perspective, the better the JSF performs, even if it is nothing more than as a clone of F-16 performance envelope, the happier they
should be to share it all with us. They've talked about production facilities and subsystem components long enough. Now is the time to get as much
hype on the next DOTC candidate _itself_ as possible.
One possible route, given how 'superbly' it is meeting expectations as an all-together airframe with automated mission functions up the wazzoo is to
have a Brit or at least Navy/Marine TP standup as the alternate mission pilot representative of 'all the thousands of test flights in the program
schedule we expect to keep'.
It may suck. They certainly do. But that doesn't mean this isn't a fully orchestrated production and given the stakes, I hardly expect them to