posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:32 AM
Other times, even though the winds were too high to safely fly, and they informed commanders of this, they were ordered to take off, because as one
operator put it, they "have great cameras the guys on the ground need". High winds or not, Safety of Flight issue or not, they were ordered to take
Depending on the situation with the boots on the ground, I wouldn't blame anyone for putting up a potentially game-breaking asset in dicey
conditions. It's not like manned aircraft haven't sortied in extremely adverse conditions, and here you're only going to prang a shiny toy. And
we'll always have occasional problems like the fuel contamination until they figure out how to vaccinate against stupid.
I'm going to rock the boat and say they made the right decision on UCLASS. The risks involved in the UCLASS program stood to make the F-35 program
look conservative. They wanted the complexity/multirole abilities of the F-35 in a carrier capable UCAV. It was too ambitious. The program would have
been delayed and over budget. Even the (relatively) simpler F-35 has taken twenty years to field, and we're not really that close to anything more
than notional operational capability with it. They'd need to make a comparable UCAV and develop a completely autonomous carrier landing system for
it... It's begging for trouble.
Instead they get their feet wet with something like the Sea Avenger. Let the technology mature, and let your people become familiar with operations
and then double-down on the ambitious X-47C style UCAV.
The demand right now is for persistent ISR. Everyone, everywhere wants it, and they want it yesterday. There aren't enough airframes to go around.
The big UCAV envisioned by the original requirements doesn't add anything to the fleet the F-35 won't, and the F-35 is much closer to operations. In
the meantime, nothing is fulfilling the ISR role off a carrier deck bar the E-2, which is providing a different specific mission than something in the
class of BAMS or Sea Avenger.
Get it out there, put it to sea, and let your people get in the swing of things with it. Get the valuable experience, work out the kinks with JPALS or
whatever similar system is getting used, and fulfill a real operational need at the same time. THEN go after the deep-strike, big-money program to
supplement the F-35.