F-35 - Past, Present ... Future?

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posted on Jul, 16 2011 @ 03:33 PM
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The F-35 was never meant to replace the F/A-18 Super Hornet. It was meant to be used in conjunction, providing stealth capabilities when needed.

In the future, a carrier air wing will consist of the Lightning II, the Super Hornet, and the EA-18G Growler. Each one has it's role to play.

Do they need a VTOL variant? Probably not. But without one, they would be limited to operating from the 12 current aircraft carriers in the fleet and not the 10 LHDs they could also be launched from. Given that the LHD is the flagship for every Amphibious Ready Group and is tasked with delivering the US Marine Corps to their destination, you would be effectively cutting the force capability in half.

Now do the cost overruns mean doom for the project? Only time will tell. More importantly, can this aircraft compete with the Sukhoi PAK FA or Chengdu J-20?




posted on Jul, 16 2011 @ 05:55 PM
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I'm not a big fan of the F-35, probably never will be, but the platform itself is not the problem, it's how its being managed and the rolls it's being assigned.


"Open Source" isn't really necessary - or all that big of an obstacle. It's a decade old technology that could be out-done by a distributed network of smart phones (I'm exaggerating slightly). The real challenges lay in the programming and the actual IR/radar/etc technologies. The data processing end of it is child's play in today's world of buku-flops and memory.


First, the technology is not a decade old, it was started a decade ago. You really like to simplify the difficulty of implementing hardware and software aviation packages in the world of government funding bureaucracy and military aircraft.

I have few details on the F-35s software, but if a product is open source, upgrades will go smoother. The current HMD and IRST are tailor made for the F-35. Yes, it could be transferred, but it takes time and money. I never said it isn't going to happen, but it isn't happening any time soon.



Take a look at today's aircraft - simply look at the different demands placed upon the F-16 and the F-18 - two aircraft bred from the same light-fighter competition. Look even further at the differences between the F-14 and the F-15 - two aircraft with similar roles but working in two completely different environments.

Sure - parts-commonality is good when you can actually make use of it - but to make the same airframe attempt to conform to so many different demands is stupid, to be blunt. You will be decades and trillions into developing a fighter to service the needs of a defense system that is 20 years in the past.


Parts commonality could save billions in the long run. A, B, and C are being developed side by side, I would say having made three highly technical and different aircraft to fill different rolls in a decade is a very big accomplishment. Plus, parts commonality was successfully implemented. All three variants are not the same aircraft or airframe, and have many distinct differences in their design to better fit their rolls.

Here's the bad side of this concept, the F-35 could be considered outdated before it even enters service. The F-35s airframe is not capable enough to handle today's threats. It was a BVR centric design based on what was learned in the first Gulf War and Kosovo. I will get to this at the end of this response.


I'm not sure I follow your statement - the problem, here, is that the U.S. has lost anything that resembles control over mission creep. We treat our aircraft like we treat a piece of legislation - "Oh, let's make this Advanced TACTICAL FIGHTER fill a light bomber role! It can replace the F-15E, too!" - That's part of what killed the raptor program, they couldn't help but attach all kinds of completely contradictory roles to the aircraft and felt they had to justify its existence in a world where the threat the ATF was meant to counter no longer existed.

The very same thing is happening with the JSF - except the program to create it sprang from the collapse of the raptor program. Rather than doom an aircraft to a perpetual identity crisis - they decided a program dedicated to developing an entire fleet of airframes out of that identity crisis was a better use of tax payer dollars.


To understand "evolution through revolution" and vise verse, you have to look at military development during the Cold War, when it was the most obvious.

If you chronologically line up different assets both the Soviets and the US fielded, you will notice a very clear and distinct difference in the evolution of the designs. The soviets made more cautious baby-steps, most obvious being the T-90s family. The US seems to erratically jump around with technology and layouts, but both seem to get to the same location at the same time, but in different ways. Sometimes it's good, for instance, with the M1A1 Abrams and the AH-1, sometimes its bad, like the F-35. Of course, this rule isn't 100%, i.e. Mi-24, but is generally the case in military design between to to largest competitors at the time.

Let me reiterate this point, I do not like the F-35s identity crisis, I want 500-1000+ F-22s with F-35 electronics. The two good things that came from the project are the HMD, and the parts sharing. The Pentagon failed, but it is not a perfect world.

Back to the F-35s inadequacies in performance with respect to the airframe. The US managed to beat soviet hand me down aircraft in the BVR environment, and for some reason, they assumed their enemy wouldn't adapt. In terms of capability, the major players like China, India, and Russia are all balancing out slowly with the US. Advancements from China and Russia have shown twin engine high performance aircraft are not dead, and the bar needs to be raised in the US. Future aircraft will require high performance engines to evade long range air-to-air missiles, engines the F-35 does not have, and the PAK FA, F-22, and maybe J-20 do.

On a second note, I just read Israel wants to add TROPHY APS on some helicopters, this is a groundbreaking advancement in aviation survivability. APS was never really was valued because a $3-12 million piece of equipment was not worth the extra $300k to protect it (hard pill to swallow, but it's true in the eyes of the higher-ups). However $35+ million attack helicopter is, and inevitably a $100+ million aircraft will definitely be worth protecting. Hard-kill missile systems will be the future, and they're only a few years away. This might make BVR-only a dangerous game to play if you rely on your AIM 120 getting the shoot down. Currently speculation, but the next few decades might be balls to the wall, gun and WVR only combat if APS finds it way onto aircraft to complement stealth.

I generally do not disagree with what you're saying, In fact I share your opinion on most of these issues regarding the Lighting II, if my responses come of as a little harsh, I apologize upfront.
edit on 16/7/11 by ZIVONIC because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 08:44 AM
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Time for an update...

Well, the F-35 is grounded due to an issue with its Integrated Power Pack system which caused serious issues on a test flight. This means currently both the USAFs fifth generation aircraft are grounded due to technical issues - with neither having a resolution in current sight.

Also, a very nice pull out in this months Airforces Monthly magazine on the F-35 drew something interesting to light - the standard load out for the F-35 on internal stores only does not include the AIM-9 Sidewinder...

Why? Because the AIM-9 does not have the ability to be targeted while in the bay - it has to be exposed to be targeted. Which raises an interesting question regarding the AIM-9 and the F-22... Does it have to drop its stealth advantage to target the Sidewinder? If not, then why didn't Lockheed carry that ability over to the F-35?



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 06:22 PM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 

If you are using Sidewinders, you are not really worried about the 'stealth' aspect anymore.

Russia claims to pick up F-22 outside of 20km. Outside of Sidewinder 9x range (approx 18km).



posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 06:46 PM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 



Why? Because the AIM-9 does not have the ability to be targeted while in the bay - it has to be exposed to be targeted. Which raises an interesting question regarding the AIM-9 and the F-22... Does it have to drop its stealth advantage to target the Sidewinder? If not, then why didn't Lockheed carry that ability over to the F-35?


It was my understanding that the Aim-9X is capable target acquisition after launch due to datalink technologies (which were also present, to some degree, on the Aim-9M - if my understanding is correct on that issue, as well). The idea is that the missile is told "your target is here, and expected to be there by time you will be able to see it if you fly in this direction." However, I'm not sure how ROE comes into play, as people are inherently not very trusting of technology - and the idea of a missile flying around without a target gets politicians jumpy.

In either case - the F-22 carries a range of Aim-9 models in specially designed bays that extend the missile out so that it can acquire the target and then be launched. However, as it's already been said, once you're in Sidewinder range, stealth is not really an issue. Neither the F-22 or F-35 have radar cross sections low enough to really make a difference at ranges shorter than 35-40 kilometers. Further, the F-22 is designed to have a minimal frontal RCS while being rather unconcerned with the RCS from other angles - the F-35 is designed with better all-aspect RCS concerns, but doesn't achieve anything approaching the low RCS values of the F-22.

The F-35 likely won't be carrying the M-9 because it has no chance of surviving an encounter with an air superiority fighter or light tactical fighter. It's only chance at survival is keeping its distance, Aim-120s and a prayer, or an F-15 escort.



posted on Aug, 27 2011 @ 05:28 PM
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Originally posted by RichardPrice
Why? Because the AIM-9 does not have the ability to be targeted while in the bay - it has to be exposed to be targeted. Which raises an interesting question regarding the AIM-9 and the F-22... Does it have to drop its stealth advantage to target the Sidewinder? If not, then why didn't Lockheed carry that ability over to the F-35?


I thought it could be


Though not part of the original requirement, AIM-9X demonstrated potential for a Lock-on After Launch capability, allowing for possible internal use for the F-35, F-22 Raptor en.wikipedia.org...-9X


I dont have a reference but I recall reading somewhere that they can open the bay up and the missile is canted slightly to give it a peek at the target miliseconds before launch. I have seen the Raptor at airshows several time and they cycle their weapons bays as part of their demo and its seems pretty quick.
edit on 8/27/11 by FredT because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 5 2011 @ 08:15 AM
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Another update....

Well, the F-35 is back flying, but its still looking like uncertain waters ahead.

The Undersecretary of the Navy has asked both the US Navy and the US Marine Corps to provide lower cost alternatives to their currently operational tactical aviation plan, and include options for the elimination of either the F-35B or the F-35C, for the 2013 round of budgeting.

This has resulted in a comment from the British Government that if the F-35C is to be cancelled or reduced significantly in numbers, the UK would seek "an European solution" instead.

Why seek an alternative if the F-35C is only reduced in numbers? Because Lockheed is legally obliged to sell solutions to foreign buyers at a cost comparable to the US governments contracted purchase costs - and if the F-35C was to be dramatically reduced in purchase amounts for the US Navy and Marine Corps, this means that per unit costs would increase in line as Lockheed could not spread R&D and programme costs over a greater number of airframes.

Australia is also almost on the cusp of pulling out of hte F-35 completely, with a switch to the F/A-18 being heavily mulled.



posted on Sep, 5 2011 @ 08:20 AM
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Originally posted by FredT

Originally posted by RichardPrice

And it all adds up, cost wise



I know but almost 40 million worth?????


Also add the cost of heavier anti-corrosion treatments to the airframes, a more complex fuel management system (more tanks in the wings), the wing folding mechanism, an auto-land capability and (apparently) improvements to the look-down-shoot-down radar for operation over water.

The engine has more anti-corrosion treatments done as well, allowing it to operate for longer in a salt water climate.

It all adds up



posted on Jan, 15 2012 @ 02:14 PM
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So, as it turns out, the F-35C has a little problem with trapping.

As in, it can't.

www.defense-aerospace.com...



posted on Jan, 15 2012 @ 02:51 PM
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It looks like it might only be the F-35a that makes it to production...


Daily Mail Link

If the c version goes under, is there any way that the rest of the project could survive?

Jensy



posted on Jan, 15 2012 @ 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by jensy
It looks like it might only be the F-35a that makes it to production...


Daily Mail Link

If the c version goes under, is there any way that the rest of the project could survive?

Jensy


If the A is the only version to make it to production, the US government and Lockheed would have to bear the massive cost increase, because there is no way the UK, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australa et al would consider paying $350million per airframe, engine excluded. The laughing would be heard in the Andromeda galaxy.

Italy would simply drop their carriers (already under massive pressure from the public), Australia and Canada would go for the superhornet, while the UK would probably go for either the SH or the French Rafale.



posted on Jan, 15 2012 @ 03:41 PM
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This problem could be easily solved.
Let the Chinese build the plane, this would cut the costs by 5.

Just kidding. But what a waste of money... for some military games.



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 01:48 AM
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reply to post by jensy
 


The program will likely fall through. The reality is that the C should have higher volume sales than the A, shouldering more of the cost burden (as a model).

For somewhat obvious reasons... politicians actually seem to be under the impression that the Air Force leads the military in fighter/strike aircraft deployment.

Fact is... the Navy has far more aircraft deployed and accrues more flight hours on each airframe than the Air Force does. The key sale for the F-35 was the Navy. Without it, the entire program goes under.

I'm only sad it took this long to drive the final nail in this forsaken bird's coffin.



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 03:47 AM
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Originally posted by Aim64C
reply to post by jensy
 


The program will likely fall through. The reality is that the C should have higher volume sales than the A, shouldering more of the cost burden (as a model).

For somewhat obvious reasons... politicians actually seem to be under the impression that the Air Force leads the military in fighter/strike aircraft deployment.

Fact is... the Navy has far more aircraft deployed and accrues more flight hours on each airframe than the Air Force does. The key sale for the F-35 was the Navy. Without it, the entire program goes under.

I'm only sad it took this long to drive the final nail in this forsaken bird's coffin.


In 2009 the F-35 desired orders breakdown stood as follows:

USAF (F-35A) - 1736 (including 480 for ANG duty)
USMC (F-35B) - 398
USN (F-35C) - 282

The USN buy doesn't look impressive enough to be the "key".



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 04:24 AM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Thanks for that link, I had just caught the news here in the UK via:

The Sun: £5bn Navy jets can’t use our new aircraft carriers
Leaked report reveals latest MoD fiasco By VIRGINIA WHEELER, Defence Editor


By the way, for those of us in the UK wondering why our governement either signed up or remain so committed to the F35/C, I thought these words in the article you posted (link to article in Defence Aerospace.com)were amongst the most damning, given our position as a buyer, and our long experience with carriers:


An industry expert who is a graduate Flight Test Engineer (FTE) of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS), Peter Goon, stated that, "Given the limited amount of suitable structure at the back end of the JSF variants, due primarily to the commonality that was being sought between the three variant designs and the fact that the STOVL F-35B JSF is the baseline design, there was always going to be high risk associated with meeting the carrier suitability requirements."

He also points to well-known and well understood military specifications that address tail hook design requirements, such as MIL-A-81717C and MIL-D-8708C.

(update: the first one should read MIL-A-18717C not MIL-A-81717C as first reported)

When asked how such things could have been missed, Peter suggested they likely weren’t, at least by the engineers, but their concerns would have just as likely been ignored.


OK, so what were the UK engineers doing when they evaluated the design? Are we saying our engineers weren't allowed close enough to spot this in the deal? Or were their views/concerns steam-rollered too?

What happened there?
edit on 16-1-2012 by curioustype because: edited 'they' for emphasis



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 05:15 AM
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Originally posted by curioustype

OK, so what were the UK engineers doing when they evaluated the design? Are we saying our engineers weren't allowed close enough to spot this in the deal? Or were their views/concerns steam-rollered too?

What happened there?


Quite simply, when buying airframes from other countries, we do not ever do a detailed definition evaluation of the nuts and bolts of the design, just a fairly high level evaluation.

Also, we are not experts in CATOBAR ops these days, so even in a detailed evaluation we would still have to defer to third parties.



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by RichardPrice

Originally posted by Aim64C
reply to post by jensy
 


The program will likely fall through. The reality is that the C should have higher volume sales than the A, shouldering more of the cost burden (as a model).

For somewhat obvious reasons... politicians actually seem to be under the impression that the Air Force leads the military in fighter/strike aircraft deployment.

Fact is... the Navy has far more aircraft deployed and accrues more flight hours on each airframe than the Air Force does. The key sale for the F-35 was the Navy. Without it, the entire program goes under.

I'm only sad it took this long to drive the final nail in this forsaken bird's coffin.


In 2009 the F-35 desired orders breakdown stood as follows:

USAF (F-35A) - 1736 (including 480 for ANG duty)
USMC (F-35B) - 398
USN (F-35C) - 282

The USN buy doesn't look impressive enough to be the "key".


I suppose you could argue that the air-force has a number of different options open to it for future aircraft, whereas the USN is a little more constrained when it comes to what airframes they can select. Making the F-35c 'key' to US defense procurement.

Fundamentally though what we are seeing is the pure stupidity of trying to build an entire airforce out of one aircraft, it never worked in the past (F-111) and is unlikely to do so until we see truly adaptable modular airframes.

The Americans are free to do whatever they like on this project, but from a cash-strapped British perspective we should be looking elsewhere, for both Tornado replacements and for carrier borne aircraft.

Jensy



posted on Jan, 16 2012 @ 01:28 PM
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Originally posted by jensy

I suppose you could argue that the air-force has a number of different options open to it for future aircraft, whereas the USN is a little more constrained when it comes to what airframes they can select. Making the F-35c 'key' to US defense procurement.


The USN could be stated to be in a better position than the USAF, as the Superhornet is still in active production and development, while Boeing has reduced the F-15 production line to twin seat Strike Eagle configurations only (it would be a significant effort to start producing the single seat airframe on the same production line now - the baseline F-15 produced now has diverged somewhat from what it was when the air dominance variant was in production).

The F-16 production line is about to close, with Lockheed scrabbling for orders to keep it open, and the F-22 line is basically dead right now.

Boeing have a lot of Superhornets to deliver, and are actively developing the aircraft for the USN - even the USMC are heavily considering a SH buy in the near future (and have already switched some of their F-35Bs to Cs since my 2009 figures).

Australia just placed a new order for Superhornets, and its looking likely to achieve several more customers over the next 18 months...



Fundamentally though what we are seeing is the pure stupidity of trying to build an entire airforce out of one aircraft, it never worked in the past (F-111) and is unlikely to do so until we see truly adaptable modular airframes.


But the F-35 wont be the only aircraft - it will sit along side the F-22, the F-15 and F-16 and F-18SH. And when the F-15 and F-16s are retired, there is already planned to be another type entering service.

The F-111 program was an unmitigated disaster, but that doesn't mean every such development approach is doomed - the F-4 achieved great success in all three flying branches of the US military.

We don't even have the issue here of Lockheed trying to build the easiest, and then converting it to the hardest type - the F-35 was always conceived as the STOVL F-35B variant, with the A and C coming later. Its far easier to build out from such a platform than it is to build in from it - you can't take an F-18 and make it into a vertical take off capable aircraft, but you can remove the extraneous STOVL parts to gain internal capacity and make the F-35B into a straight covnentional aircraft (F-35A) or a CATOBAR aircraft (F-35C).

We have only really seen one issue to do with the design being limited by the three goals, and that is the new arrestor hook issue - all the other issues we could easily have seen if the F-35A, B and C had been developed as three completely separate aircraft...



The Americans are free to do whatever they like on this project, but from a cash-strapped British perspective we should be looking elsewhere, for both Tornado replacements and for carrier borne aircraft.

Jensy


We should have bought Superhornets in the 2010 SDSR - we could be flying them today for training and familiarisation purposes, and be fully competent in carrier activities before our carriers were even available.

The Rafale is a good alternative, but it has a high cost associated with it, and isn't integrated with a lot of the weapons we would be using in the next 20 years, while the F-18 already is.



posted on Jan, 18 2012 @ 12:01 AM
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Originally posted by Aim64C

The F-35 has all the hallmarks of the same type of thinking.

The contractors, in effect, are handed something like this: "Build us a car that gets 60 miles to the gallon, has 500 horsepower, a light body, all-wheel drive, crash tolerance with few crumple zones, a truck-bed, 3 kilowatt electrical distribution system, a hatch-back design, GPS navigational systems, an insulated trunk, 800-mile range, a 2-gallon gas tank, total seating for 13.2, a 1 kw audio system, and a design that limits driver distractions."

Then, the public accuses them of 'misuse of public funding.'


If the contractors take a hundred billion dollars, then they are misusing public funding like crazy.

The correct answer is "No, we cannot bid and we will show you why anybody else who pretends to bid is ripping you off."


At the end of the day - the contractors don't really make money until they are awarded a production contract. They have as much of their own money tied up in developing these M.C. Escher contracts as anyone else, most of the time.

Though I suppose one could question the ethics of attempting to build something that is known to be literally impossible....


ding.

In China, they'd get a bullet as a severance package.

To me it seems like the more sensible solution to maximize capability for the buyer (and not potential export profitability for private companies) at probably no greater cost would have been to
a) make more F-22's for the AF
b) develop a F-22 carrier version, Tomcat II
c) make a STOVL-centric plane.

In the end, the "grunt force" of delivering lots of jdams etc (F-35 AF mission) seems like it coudl be covered by F-22 and lots and lots of UCAVs. With supercruise on the -22 and not the -35 you can just do so many more round trips per unit time.

Navy still wants a Tomcat with modern electronics.


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posted on Jan, 18 2012 @ 01:00 PM
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It looks like F-35 engine prices just went through the roof, with the USMC footing a $130Million per engine bill for three engines as part of the LRIP-5 production run.

timemilitary.files.wordpress.com...





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