Monday, October 31, 2011

In one year, USAF cuts 2012 F-35 buys by one-third

I don't see how the United States Air Force--the alleged biggest buyer of the F-35--is going to recapitalize its fighter force.

USAF says they are committed to the F-35 but their own plans and programs office--who tell the boss what can actually be purchased with available money--see it different.

In one year of budget planning, the USAF F-35 program has been cut by one-third.

Have a look at how the fiscal year (FY) 2012 predictions went.

In FY 2011 USAF predicted a buy of 24 F-35s for FY 2012. In early FY 2012 budget documents F-35 predicted buys for FY 2012 stated 19 F-35s. Recently, they just pulled 3 F-35s from their FY2012 budget request resulting in 16 aircraft.

Also in FY 2011, USAF predicted buying 33 F-35s for FY 2013; 53 F-35s for FY 2014 and 70 F-35s for FY 2015.

It is doubtful those numbers mean anything.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Improving the fleet



The outlook for U.S. Navy firepower doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.

Some clever spending and management on the things that we need to project real power is possible. By dumping bad ideas like the LCS and DDX (scrap; do not follow through), there can be a bright future. Savings can also be had from down-sizing our second land army and cancelling the F-35 program.

Future wars may involve a reduced and/or interrupted supply of fossil fuels. We need a nuke escort for our nuke carriers. That way, you only bring fuel to the carrier battle group that supports air ops.

A nuke "frigate" (friendly funding language) on a destroyer hull (stripped not equipped), could be to our advantage. Something like this:

Nuke Frigate
Gun, Bow VLS, 6xASW torp, (light cal guns as needed) Helo hanger/deck
cost $1.5B

A requirement for 3 hulls per big carrier (we would probably get 2).

Next, the carrier air wing still has some possibilities even if the F-35C never sees service in the fleet.

Start out with something like this where the AT6II label is there only to represent a trainer-class turbo-prop made into a light attack aircraft. This requirement would most likely be a different airframe.

This would be handy in numerous operations; is cheap to operate; is networked and has great loiter and endurance. It is also a bit safer with danger/close strafing. It would be for day or night ops in permissive air environments.

Carrier Air Wing
12 F/A-18E, 12 F/18F, 24 AT6II, 8 Romeo/Sierra, 4 EA-18G, 4 E-2D.

As time goes on, it may be possible that that the UCAS-N will prove itself. The carrier air wing composition below (along with Tomahawk support as needed) would have taken care of the Libya op very well. I mention this because some are so in love with mentioning Libya as a pattern for future war even if it doesn't apply in a Syria, Iran or Kosovo scenario.

12 F/A-18E, 12 F/18F, 24 AT6II, 8 UCAS-N, 8 Romeo/Sierra, 4 EA-18G, 4 E-2D.

And finally, with time, the addition of FA-XX; which should be a Navy priority sooner rather than later.

12 F/A-XX, 12 F/18F, 24 AT6II, 8 UCAS-N, 8 Romeo/Sierra, 4 EA-18G, 4 E-2D.

There may be doom and gloom in the DOD budget climate. There will always be restructuring followed by more doom and gloom. We may loose some carriers to budget cuts.

With that, the Navy still can have a bright future; if only resources are not wasted on things we do not need.

DND force structure needs help and faulty subs are not useful

The Canadian military force structure needs a lot of help in all areas of interest.

There is some interesting items out there in reference to Canada and submarines including Canada and U.S. nuclear submarines.

Given all of the other communities in the DND that are in need of cash and actually provide value to Canadian security interests, I can only see the sub issue as a complete waste of money.

Canada has gone some years now without a sub force. I qualify a sub force as something that is reliable; and has real combat capability. The current collection of worthless submarines in Canada's possession have never qualified as a sub force.

Get rid of the program.

As Fredrick the Great once said, "He who defends everything, defends nothing".

Canada needs search and rescue aircraft. It needs transport aircraft. It needs patrol ships and small frigates. It needs a reasonable Army.

And these communities don't have to only exist. They have to be well trained and sustained to be a reliable resource.

Canada also needs fighter aircraft. However they have to be affordable and useful. Since Canada has not requested the F-22, any other solution it decides on will not be able to stand up to high-end threats.

OK. Fine.

The requirement for fighter aircraft should be something that is affordable; can meet home air patrol needs and can jointly take part in allied air campaigns that no matter what, will need the U.S. to clear the big threats with other resources Canada does not have.

The F-35 does not meet any of these requirements. Simply because there is no finished go-to-war example for an intelligent purchaser of military equipment to evaluate.

Canada would be better off by creating a DND leadership that can provide real security solutions for the civilian leaders. Without that, I am afraid the results can only be more muddle.

3 Australian troops killed in Afghanistan

Smith, Gillard and other chicken hawks are always fast off the draw to tell us fibs about progress made with the Afghan security forces.

Operation: USELESS DIRT continues with no strategic worth toward the defence of Australia.

The killings follow a similar incident in June when Lance-Corporal Andrew Jones was gunned down by a local soldier while on guard duty.

The murder follows the death of dozens of Coalition troops at the hands of Afghan soldiers during the 10-year conflict, including eight US troops killed in Kabul in April.

Some Afghanistan National Army troops remain fiercely loyal to their tribal leaders. They have questionable backgrounds and are answerable only to Afghan authorities.

Aussie troops have long-held concerns about rogue Afghan soldiers.

Their fears stem from numerous incidents where the Afghans have been high on opium.

Next up; I can hear the platitudes off in the distance from our cowards in political office.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

DOD operational test office--delay F-35 training due to safety concerns

The DOD operational test office has recommended that it is too soon to start pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base due to safety issues with the program. A delay of 10 months is recommended until the results of flight test are more mature.

Doing pilot training too soon can cause problems because the trainees are not rated test pilots. This can cause serious problems if the F-35 is indeed under-tested because of an attempt to rush things through the system so vendors can get their performance bonus.

The F-16 suffered a similar problem when it was rushed into service; including poor documentation of aircraft performance. This resulted in a test-pilot-by-any-other-name problem which ended up getting some people killed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Collins sub refrigerant gas leak, no one hurt

Another piece of bad news for the Collins class submarine program.

This from Defence.

The Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Farncomb is returning to Singapore after partial failure of its cooling system during the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) Exercise Bersama Lima 2011 (BL11).

The submarine crew followed standard emergency operating procedures to clear the refrigerant gas, Freon which had leaked as a result of the failure. No one was injured.

Farncomb will undertake repairs in Singapore over the coming days.



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Faulty Australian sub fleet costs $800M per year

Story surfaces of HMAS Farncomb dive and propulsion failure incident (Update-with Defence Response)

Great story about a Collins-class sub in an exercise that never happened

F-35 risk assessment work-sheet for Australia

Here is a useful F-35 risk assessment work-sheet that looks at the problems with this procurement proposal for Australia.

Australia Launches F-35 Review--"So what?"

The Australian government has launched an audit of the F-35 program.

How it can be anything other than tainted fruit since it involves the "so what?" crew in the NACC would be an interesting question that needs to be answered.

Words from the F-35 program in 2003

From 2003....

“We are close to resolving these challenges and 2004 will be the year we instill real confidence with all stakeholders in our F-35 family of designs.”

LM F-35 Year in Review, 2003 (PDF) (Tom Burbage)–

2004 would reveal the weight growth mess (SWAT), which would produce redesign needs, delay and cost added to the program.

X-47B UAV makes first flight with gear up

Turn up the sound if you like 1950s gladiator movies...


H/T-The Dew Line

Thursday, October 27, 2011

F-35 program--paying for mistakes-- 4 less aircraft in LRIP 5

The mistake-jet method of building jets has a cost. At some point the procurement death spiral comes calling.

The Air Force deleted three aircraft and the Navy one from the pending contract to help fund the overruns and costs associated with retrofits to the initial aircraft intended to correct glitches that have been revealed in flight testing, he said. These are so-called “concurrency costs.”

No such thing as 'too big to fail'

The "T-word" has been mentioned by the vendor in relation to the F-35. T for "termination.

Glowing statements abound for LM's latest financial report but the truth is that there are serious money problems with the F-35 program.

Over $60 billion later (this includes JSF efforts from pre-2001) and no example of a tested and complete go to war aircraft.

For those looking at history, we could have won WWII twice; the F-16 would have already been in operational squadron service; and we would have had a few trips to the moon under our belt.

But this is the new world of groupthink and real engineers (or engineering leadership) no esta en la casa.

It is rather amusing to be told that flight testing for the F-35 is going well yet in reality it is still delayed when compared to this 2007 schedule.

A sign of poor leadership is not taking ownership of a project.

“It is distinctly argued that a discovery in the program is not a deficiency or a fault of the contractor … These discoveries are not defects. They are a part of a learning process that is a very well established facet of an engineering system like this.”

Not true. Poor risk management; poor engineering leadership; gross over optimism; and concurrency warnings ignored.

The misleading statements didn't help either.

Those investors that haven't woken up might want to consider doing so now.

New t-shirts for the program are available.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Looking at the three Japan contenders (maneuverability)

A look at three choices for Japan.

Update: LOL source of 3rd video removed. It showed an F-35 rolling (and falling) about like one would expect from an F-105. And another comparison:

DOD move could wipe out LM profits on F-35

Step right up folks! Place your bets.

One of my favorite and most reliable sources:

Shay Assad, the Pentagon's director of defense pricing, told Reuters in a recent interview that he was braced for resistance from industry to some reforms. "We're going to be breaking some glass here," he said.

Assad and a team of more than two dozen pricing experts are finishing a review of what the fifth batch of F-35 production jets should cost this month, which will pave the way for Lockheed and the Pentagon to begin formal contract talks.

But defense officials have already told Lockheed that they expect it to share in the costs of "concurrency" or changes that must be made to the new warplane, which has already entered production as developmental testing continues.

The extent of the "share line" would be determined during contract negotiations, said one source familiar with the issue.

A second source said the government wanted the company to shoulder all those costs.

The last F-35 production contract already included a switch to fixed price terms with an incentive fee, abandoning the cost-plus type contracts usually signed early in the life of a new weapons program and compelling the company to share the costs if the program exceeded its budget.

MOVE COULD WIPE OUT PROFITS, ANALYST SAYS

Thompson said most changes to the weapons program resulted from government decisions, not contractor error. Forcing Lockheed to pay for such changes could reduce the company's ability to make any profit on the program, and would likely result in strong opposition from shareholders.

"If the government succeeds in shifting the ultimate risk to Lockheed Martin, then it could easily wipe out any profit on the program and leave the company unprotected against future liability," Thompson said.

Emphasis mine; with a snort and guffaw.

F-35 industry missing out on orders

Governments--in this example; Canada--can spin how great home industry effort is for the F-35 program, yet there is the simple fact that there are a lot of missing orders for the SMEs (those critical jobs that are very fragile under this high risk program).

The subdued red field in the chart below shows what industry was promised is quite a bit different than what is happening. That is a lot of missing orders. Corporate carcasses indeed.

Harper government's confusion over F-35 acquisition

Canada still has some issues about their future air power depending on the F-35.

This article  from iPolitics takes a stab at the problem but misses a few things.

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In order for the Harper government to get their dream price on the F-35 there has to be some realism added to the discussion. Note to the DND: best to invest in real independent aero-engineers and not label Powerpoint from the seller of the aircraft as your own "analysis". Or in other words; don't go native to the vendor.

Harper's crew claimed $65m per aircraft (Lockheed Martin talking points that the U.S. DOD F-35 project office winces at because it is misleading), then fudged it with a slightly higher number for good measure, even if that slightly higher number is nowhere close to the truth.

Yet consider this. The largest alleged buyer of the F-35, the U.S. Air Force, have already stated in their budget documents, acquisition prices for the jet that are higher. This color of U.S. taxpayer money does not include research and development or engineering change costs.

There is no truth to the $65M price per jet simply because there is no proof that thousands of the aircraft will be made. The F-35 is under-tested with more discovery of problems in the future a certainty. There is no way the year 2016 can be named as a "peak production" era of the aircraft--as a benefit of the best time to buy to get a great price--in the way the Harper crew states. 2016 could possibly be "peak production", but it won't be the good kind of peak production.

Since the business plan that backs up the F-35 has failed (lots made=low price...forgetting that it is complex) what we have is the most incompetent defence procurement to hit Canada since the sub debacle or a conspiracy to defraud the taxpayer.

Finally, If I were a potential customer of this high-risk project, I would not go on record stating the sat-com problem will be fixed. There are still many systems in the aircraft that have not been certified by having a complete and tested go-to-war aircraft in-hand. Networking and coms are not trivial issues with stealth aircraft simply because you can't put a hole in the skin (aperture) for an antenna or sensor anywhere you want and call it stealthy. And, with over 3 times the software code of an F-22, there is still so very much work to do.

The Canadian taxpayer should worry about the ability of the government to manage the replacement of the CF-18 fighter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never trust communists

One of China's most popular newspapers warned on Tuesday that nations involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea should "mentally prepare for the sounds of cannons" if they remain at loggerheads with Beijing.

Source

Prop trainer design drops LGB

I think a 500lb PGM is a waste of time for this kind of aircraft but still an interesting picture.
For this type I would prefer Hellfires, laser-guided FFARs and guns.


During two weeks of testing in late September and earlier this month at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona, company pilots dropped four 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II and four 250-pound GBU-58 Paveway II laser-guided bombs as well as practice munitions. All eight weapons scored hits on their intended targets, Hawker Beechcraft said. The AT-6 also performed .50-caliber machine gun testing against a towed target.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Maker of the F-35 insults Korea's intelligence

LM must think they can go to Korea and mislead potential customers; that the local news won't print it in English and that the Koreans are gullible or stupid.

In any event, take a read of this and look for the typical spin.

Original vendor for Australian $300M upgrade of ASLAVs dropped


Looks like Defence dropped the original vendor (thanks Bonza for the clarification, I wrote the original in haste) $300M upgrade to make ASLAVs (wheeled AFV) more resistant to roadside bombs.

See from today's Australian Financial Review (AFR) below.

Reasons given were that the Canadian vendor oversold the upgrade process. Defence will now look at a fix inspired by the USMC.


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Comms gear on Canadian F-35 a question mark

Obviously Canada still has many things to think over regarding their CF-18 replacement.

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Dopey F-35 statement from a bought and paid for cheerleader

Just the title is funny enough.


Failure To Execute The F-35 Program As Planned Will Doom America's Global Military Posture


When in fact, the opposite is true. The faulty F-35 program is consuming limited resources best used for other things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still a shortage of crew for our subs

An interesting set of problems. We can barely crew 4 subs (we have 6). Oh wait; one of them is in such a mess it will probably never go to sea again. And some want us to buy 12 subs;  large ones that need big crews.

Yet there are subs out there that only take 27 crew and can defend and attack in the littorals to the North.

But I digress. The most important goal of the Collins-class replacement program is that it becomes a jobs program via an iron-lung government run (or run into the ground) project.

Any attempt to defend the country (as a goal) is secondary.

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History of F-35 Production Cuts

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The shrinking F-35 production plan

This is a companion to yesterdays post about F-35 production.

I created the simplistic graphic below which takes a look at the F-35 production plan up until 2016. The year 2016 is important because this is the time-frame that some in Australian and Canadian defence claim that the F-35 will be "affordable" because buys will happen during "peak production". A claim that doesn't seem to have much proof to back it up.

This graphic starts with 2001. This is important because all the great hype on F-35 affordability was based on this plan. It would deliver an effective combat jet to the war-fighter and give a much needed boost to industry. It would be affordable because of the number built and production techniques.


F-35 assumptions on aircraft per-year production over the years
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Understanding the failed F-35 program

This 2010 LM chart modified by Peter Goon over at APA shows a startling reality snapshot of the F-35s likely future of low production.

(click on image to make it larger)


What is shown in red field toward the bottom is the actual F-35 production along with latest production estimates from the U.S. government. In addition, Peter has added some additional items of interest.

Again for the history buffs, in order for the F-35 plan to be affordable, thousands had to be made to a certain schedule. And, where is this alleged 2016 peak production = lower cost that we hear so much about from the Canadian defence officials and others?

Answer: There is no such advantage to be had.

Because of engineering faults and poor program management, it is unlikely that this program will succeed.

It is time for the potential customers to take these facts on board.

UPDATE: F-22s at Langley grounded after in-flight oxygen event

Story here.

I remember a time when the USAF had a solid base of science and engineering experts.

No more.

UPDATE: Air Force Times has more information on this story.

One precaution the service took when returning the jets to service was to add carbon filters to the pilot’s oxygen supply, one source said. Additionally, pilots were required to give blood samples to use as a baseline to measure against in case of future incidents and are now required to wear a device called a pulse oximeter. The device is supposed to alert the pilot if there is a physiological problem.

However, numerous sources had voiced their misgivings about the return to flight arrangements.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Delivery of Super Hornets for RAAF complete

Australia has received all of its Block II Super Hornets. See the story over on Australian Aviation.

A warning to other aircraft programs: it was on time and on budget. In any event, this is the aircraft you want your son or daughter to fly (in peacetime) because it is extremely safe (or as about as safe as aviation can be).

I would have rather seen the money spent on wiring 12 of the aircraft to take G-model ECM gear and instead have that go to SHARP recon pods.

Next year will decide if Australia buys more Super Hornets.

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What hasn't been in the news this week about the F-35

Here is another view on the USMC marketing effort earlier in the week.

Interesting view of the USAF with the F-35A and the ejection system. As for the F-35A landing roll-out with wet runways... F-105 indeed.

And...

Finally, I am told the cost to modify jets in lots 2-5 is about $30 million each. Lockheed has said these costs are already accounted for in the program. Specifically how this will be paid for, the impact on deliveries, and the size of the fleet that is funded are all questions that are unclear to me.


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

What motivates an all F-35B force?

Being a Bloom County fan from its early days, I liked the cartoons from the 1980s. I have all the books that were published from that era.

I am reminded of one of the characters in the series, Steve Dallas; a shady lawyer when he had to defend a crazy old lady that chopped up her husband with a hatchet.

Since the analogy is now kind of set, as Steve Dallas would say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let me try this one on you."

Marketing seems to be the latest USMC skill-set for fielding weapon's systems. They learned from the bad days of V-22 (now MV-22) development history. So now, whenever their pet program is under threat, be that the now canceled EFV or the F-35B short-take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, they invite press in to give them a whiz bang show.

Just like a day or so ago with the gathering of press on the USS Wasp to see the F-35B do short take-offs and vertical landings. USMC needed the press in an attempt to pull the rug out from decision makers on the Hill and DOD.

The U.S. Department of Defence better hope this kind of marketing effort doesn't go too far or the U.S. Navy big carrier community and USAF will face difficulty. Interesting as only the USMC has been pushing in a heavy way for the F-35, the USN and USAF just use their boiler-plate statements when it comes up to needs of their services.

The USMC got there first with gathering the press. They may win.

With the U.S. extremely short of budget money for the foreseeable future, the U.S. DOD risks looking like the size of the U.K. MOD of the 1980's.

There are those that think big carriers could never come under threat. It is big for taxpayer enabled jobs and the big carrier mafia is assumed to be a major part of our defense.

Big carriers are fearfully expensive to buy but even more fearfully expensive to operate every year. And, look at all the manpower which itself is no longer cheap.

Many would think that building and sustaining big carriers will never go away. To that I say; best to look at the fall of the Soviet Union and what happened to its defense structure and state run defense industry. We are beyond broke assuming "the people" don't all vote to close down several over-stuffed non-defense federal government agencies.

So many love their government entitlements. For some, the idea that you have a right to pursue happiness is no longer valid. You must have happiness provided to you by a government program. Touche to anyone stating that some in the DOD think the same way. I doubt we will see needed wholesale shut down of dead-wood departments in the federal government; at least until crushing reality sets in.

So it is back to Defense.

It is important for some to consider that an F-35B demo performing short-take-offs and vertical landings on the USS Wasp does not equal a complete go-to-war weapon system; not even close. And it will never be able to survive modern advanced threats. The only thing the F-35 program brings to the defense of the nation is STOVL capability. But only if you believe in STOVL as a needed combat capability to go to war.

I do not believe we need STOVL for fast jets. Many do.

Appearances not substance is what is at the bottom of the USMC PR effort. The PR effort is important to those who think they know what they know but can't be bothered to justify it for a valid strategic defense need.

If budget doom and gloom is strong, I can see enough push so that a leap from the STOVL-is-important crowd to those on the Hill who know budget is policy (more than ever) conspire to hatch a plan that makes the F-35B the only variant that should be built.

Here is some of the thinking that would enable that dangerous theory.

The original F-35 business plan is now dead. Get over it. The F-35 will always be expensive. We know that now. We will never see the numbers promised early in the program (defense procurement tradition). Having all services have the F-35B as the only F-35 makes for a true joint force for tac-air in the dark budget climate. Other non-U.S. JSF partner nations were always shaky anyway. If they want an F-35, they can have an F-35B STOVL.

To continue with their line of thought and an all F-35B force, Navy ship building won't need all the expensive gear associated with today's big carriers. More airfields can be flown from and military construction crews will have less work to do when they get there.

Here is where all that thinking gets really dangerous for military communities depending on their institution to never change.

Force structure with tac-air will get significantly smaller. We can retire big expensive carriers because PR people have told us many wars will be like Libya (no big carriers). An F-35B force structure for all services could easily look like the following when the realities of small amounts of money sink in.

F-35B combat-coded force structure DOD:

U.S. Navy-

-Build small $3B ski-jump non-nuclear carriers. The number ships for the program will be 10. The "air-wing" if you want to call it that, will be one squadron of F-35Bs (12 jets) and some helicopters. AWACs will be done by land-based aircraft. These ships can be paid for in-part by the money farmed back by retiring big carriers and useless cruisers. You can get 5 of these for every super carrier. The capability is not comparable, but that is not the goal with the budget-is-policy people. This will be a huge savings in sustainment and manpower costs per year.

USMC-

Someone brought an important thought to my attention. Most of the big USMC amphib flat-tops have old style propulsion and will face retirement. In these budget times, the USMC will not see a large number of big flat-top amphibs.

-Build to a total of 4 big amphibs. There won't be any more Tarawas simply because there are too many modern weapons to make it a disaster. And, while we need a USMC for small littoral ops, we do not need a second land army. 4 F-35B USMC squadrons of 12 aircraft each.

USAF-

20 Fighter Groups at 20 locations to justify current ASA (Air Sovereignty Alert) requirements. This could be as low as 18 locations. Each Group will have 24 F-35B.

Total DOD combat-coded F-35s

USN-- 120
USMC- 48
USAF- 432-480

While those jets may be “expensive”. The over-all logistics back-end for everything (over-all less force structure) is cheap money .

When capital hill goes nuts with ideas like this, you can thank the good-ol' folks over at USMC-PR and their friends. It is a plan that may work if threats were no greater than ALLIED FORCE 1999. Simply because, 8 SDBs per aircraft (along with other things like Tomahawk from ships and JASSM from multiple platforms) will yield a lot of dead legacy IADS targets in the first nights of a war.

However, not much of this should be confused with provided a true defense of the nation when comparing emerging reference threats. We may get an F-35 in operational service. What good it will do is another story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Defence wants to buy obsolete jamming gear for Super Hornet

It is ever so sad to see Defence make yet more silly statements about air power; proving again that they don't know what they don't know.

Defence want to waste more of your money on the Super Hornet. Going ahead and making 12 of the Super's into the Growler/Grizzly jammer configuration comes with a big problem; the jamming kit is obsolete and the U.S. Navy knew it when they fielded the aircraft. This is what I wrote about the Growler/Grizzly back in 2008.

Years ago, the U.S. Navy stated the reason the next generation jammer (NGJ) was needed is that the legacy ALG-99 pods they had on their current dedicated jamming aircraft were not able to stand up against advanced threats, were too expensive to maintain and that the NGJ would do the trick. NGJ got cancelled. Guess what pods ended up on the jammer variant of their new Super Hornets just a few years ago?

The next generation jammer project has be relaunched again but it is still in development and given the funding problems of the U.S. and the U.S. Navy's prime goal of funding big expensive grey floaty things uber alles, there is no solid time when we will ever see this kit.

Defence also makes some rather silly statements about the justification for this waste.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, said the Super Hornet would ensure Australia's air combat dominance in the region until the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter after 2018.

Gee, I wonder who told them that? Smith and Clare would do better if they understood the gear they were getting was useless junk. But yeah, we need to spend money on this simply because so many project of concern list items that are faulty are holding up justifications for Defence spending.

Way to go guys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

F-35, the low price that never was

Is there any justification left to have the F-35? It will not be able to take on emerging threats. Whatever expectations of its alleged combat capability are already being diminished.

All this eliminates the purpose for the F-35.

To add to that misery, it will not be affordable. Even the U.S. DOD thinks so. There will not be enough aircraft made to meet the dreams of the business plan. Current predictions see over 1000 F-35 potential orders missing.

Small businesses are in grave danger.

With that, we have a simple graph composed by Air Power Australia. It shows a history of the low price that never was.

How will SMEs survive?

This is a good read on some of the problems facing Australian home defence industry.

Unfortunately it is not aggressive enough in pointing out the flaws in the Defence bureaucracy. This is a war. Thy enemy has a name.

I believe it was Da Vinci who said,"Many have made a trade of delusions and false miracles, deceiving the stupid multitudes".

If SMEs seeking defence business are to survive, they will have to make their case that they cannot perform work in a hostile environment. This is an era where senior Defence and DMO--those that collect a fat government paycheck--have only one interest. That interest is to continue to collect a fat government paycheck.

I don't see any of this improving until there is sound strategy that has the defence of the country as its main goal. Once Australia decides to participate in that effort, then we move on to simple things.

A simple thing would be to demand that Defence and Defence advisers tell the truth in hearings before our elected officials. When they do not, they get charged and punished.

After that, things like breaking up the DMO should be easy to do. Simply because the DMO is a major roadblock to progress.

I would like to see a university study suggest that in a very strong way.

Until then, the Royal DMO and the Defence bureaucracy can continue to do what they want.

Pointing out that SMEs are in trouble is a good effort. However, what is needed is to name the traitors and wastrels that continue to hurt this country's defence posture so that they can be removed. Every piece of dead wood removed means money can be redirected to things that provide value.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good-bye, Navy's fantasy of "day-one" stealth from the carrier

The truth is slowly coming to the surface.

During the 15 years of JSF development, the high-end threats needed to prevent deep penetration of enemy air space also have “continued to evolve and become harder and harder” to avoid, says a senior aerospace industry official who was in Washington to hear Air Force leaders discuss the fast-approaching fiscal contraction.

As a result, the F-35 is having its mission tailored to operate outside the range of the most advanced, electronically scanned radars used for next-generation, surface-to-air weapon systems. These include the Russian-developed family of long-range, high-altitude interceptor missiles such as the S-300 PMU2 (SA-20), S-400 (SA-21) and S-500 (Triumfator).

Even if some of us knew this already.

DMO and "The Little Guys"

Maybe someone out there can help me get a grasp on all of this. From page 10 of the report below. A quote from DMO Commercial Manager, Harry Dunstall.

Mr Dunstall: The little guys. There is the big Commonwealth and 'if you want to do deals with the Commonwealth you basically accept our terms and conditions or you do not do business'

(click on image to make it larger)


It seems there are lots of law firms to help out the big guys but I don't know if that ends in doing the right thing. How hard is all this if you are an SME? Is the government being fair to home defence industry?

Another happy Collins sub update

Oh yeah. And I wanted to say thank you to the DMO for all of their great work helping to defend our nation.

Our enemies may give you all a medal.

Apology to home defence industry and, where are we going?

I want to apologize. My comments on home defence industry in yesterday's post were too harsh.

Again, I am usually the optimistic guy on the team; yet for the current Defence situation there really are a lot of problems.

First, how do we keep and bring new engineers to Defence industry? They can find stable and predictable work almost anywhere else.

Like it or not, the current Defence/DMO situation is still hostile to the Defence industry. The Defence bureaucracy has over the years signed a deal with the devil. It has allowed foreign industry to heavily influence too much workshare that would normally be done by Australians. The end goal seems to be that large portions of our industry are to shut-up while Defence/DMO sign up for an off-the-shelf item and we end up doing warehousing and screw-driver turning labelled as "sustainment".

While there could be many inquiries, we need real ones of why Defence Ministers are so poorly advised and why are there so many civilians in Defence?

Also needed: real punishment for lying to elected officials in hearings dealing with Defence issues.

I like off-the-shelf purchases when they make sense. Yet, I don't see much of anything in the current Defence/DMO management trends that make sense.

Consider what we get in return with the following platform decisions.

-There is no direct replacement for the Caribou. Defence is in absolute fear of refurbishment and upgrades of old platforms.
-The F-111 which offered great capability to be upgraded (JDAM, JSOW, JASSM, SDB and a future super-sonic stand-off cruise missile) is now gone. The range capability was a great loss.
-Defence buying a more expensive U.S. made combat system for the Collins-class when a cheaper and better alternative made here in Australia was minimised.
-The F-35 and the Super Hornet can in no way achieve air superiority in the region over the time span of their service. Money spent in this area is all wasted.
-If we need to keep our warship-building industry healthy with stable contracts over time there is plenty to do. That is: move up the Frigate replacement and build other small warships that are more scalable to our defence needs.
-Prove that we can effectively repair what we have. For example the recent amphibious ship maintenance disaster and the Collins class submarine situation.

I do not know where all this will lead. I do know that things are getting worse. We continue to pay more for less... real defensive capability.

What, if anything, will change that negative trend? I do know that keeping our home industry in bondage will not help.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Defence has no horses to pull the cart

Some in Australian home industry are making outrageous unqualified statements that off-the-shelf equipment is bad. Yet there are some other things to think about with this article from the Canberra Times.

The real problem is the entrenched Defence bureaucracy including the failed experiment known as the DMO.

How can any home industry survive in such a hostile environment? The answer is: it is not.

And, even when Australian home industry does get some important work, there aren't enough skills to manage it and see the project through. For instance, there was a time when the troubled Air Warfare Destroyer project was quoted to come in at $6B. Later it was marketed as an $8B dollar project. Now it is in trouble and will cost more. All the while when we could have had 3 off-the-ships for much less. Oh wait; there is no capability need for such ships. They will consume too much manpower and get sunk in any real shooting war. Kind of like this.

All that, and Australia does not have the skill at home to bring in a much more complex 12 sub project at an unthinkable figure beyond $36B.

Some ignore the fact that the goal of Defence is for defence of the country and not an exercise in burning up taxpayer cash on poorly thought out project management disasters.

The home industry goals of the rent-seekers are beyond unrealistic.

When someone quotes the joke of the 2009 Defence White Paper as if it has worth, then you know they are from an alternate reality; are mentally affected or suffer from recreational substance abuse.

It is time to understand that Australia does not have realistic defence project management skills; has no credible long-range strategic thinking in government; and can only fall back on the tried and true destructive methods of institutional group-think.

Today, trying to decide what weapon system needs to be procured is all cart-before-the-horse until there is real change in the Defence bureaucracy. In addition, that change has to address sound strategic thinking of our defence needs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Operation: USELESS DIRT 4

So the U.S. wants to deploy a force to Uganda to get the Lords Resistance Army.

It should be an interesting trick since 4th generation warriors don't understand borders. They can just melt into the woodwork. Better to use Executive Outcomes. Oh, that's right; can't have someone doing a job way better than the morons in the U.N.

There are countless hell-holes around the world to send the Army.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, why does the Federal Government hate America? Certainly the funds wasted on a Uganda op could be put into our polices forces, border protection or any number of real nation-building-at-home efforts.

It would be nice if we had people elected as the President of the United States instead of the President of Team America: WORLD POLICE.

Operation: USELESS DIRT 4 is calling.

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The Navy can't complain about getting smaller since they continue to field faulty ships

So the Navy will get smaller. 

The cruisers won't be missed. They don't bring enough to the fight in today's terms that can't be done with a Burke.

The Amphibious ship plan was always shaky way beyond what the USMC is hoping for. Most of the big Amphibs are old and don't have a modern power-plant. That, and any Tarawa like scenario is easy to repulse given the wide variety of weapons that would face an amphibious landing.

The Navy is getting smaller, yet they insist on fielding weapons systems and ships that have no value to controlling the Pacific. The carrier air wing is obsolete against emerging threats. The DDX will get sunk. The Littoral Combat Ship is a joke. Lots of savings to be had there by scrapping them.

Collins sub replacement rent-seekers are banging the pots and pans again

The mafia/city hall kind of corruption with rent-seeking is in full-swing with one of Australia's latest boondoggles; the Collins sub replacement.

"Labor has a long history of spinning the numbers on its defence projects in South Australia, and it seems as though expectations for the future submarine project have been greatly inflated for political purposes," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.

"With $1.5 billion worth of Defence cuts, slippages and delays in projects in the recent federal Labor budget, there is an increasing pressure on the defence industry."

Defence, the Defence bureaucracy, the defence industry and their cheerleaders need to be deprived of an air supply until a sane strategic roadmap is put in place. This includes an assessment of what home industry can realistically do.

Meanwhile, not to pick on Indonesia, but they have got it made. They can deprive the littorals to the north easily over the long haul with inexpensive submarines, fighter aircraft (that work), naval mines, and if they are really smart, things like S-300/S-400, BrahMos (and other super-sonic cruise missiles;) including a CLUB-K arrangement. And, they already have one kind of super-sonic cruise missile in service with their navy.

our government defence planners at home, insist we buy really dumb things that won't for example; achieve air domination over our northern approaches.

The Australian military already gave up a strong strategic strike platform that could take long range cruise missiles really far; all on a lie. That was the F-111. It also had superior value in non-high-end war than it's "replacement".

There is no proof of strong strategic thinking in this government. Until there is; we shouldn't hand over tax dollars on stupid projects. The current Defence arrangement is draining our budget for very little return. It has long been time to change that.

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F-35 program's "business plan" vs. the real world

How is that F-35 business plan in Australia?

Chinese communists want war, Australian leadership wants to dream

Under-skilled bureaucrats bag big bounty

Australia's naval "strategy" and ship-building industry explained

The meme that won't die; the F-35 as a "fifth-generation fighter"

Who are the Australian JSF Industry Group (AJIG) ?

Australian government complicit in ruining 65 year old company

Dilettantes compare defence plans



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Friday, October 14, 2011

JCS can see having less F-35s because the program is unaffordable

Here is an amusing read over on DOD Buzz. The Joint Chief of Staff (an Army guy) can see a world with less F-35s.

>>>shock!!<<<

Or maybe not, since the program isn't healthy and is on the road to delivering an obsolete combat capability. "On-track" as they say.

And the DOD boss Mr. Panetta proves he is poorly advised and out of the loop. No clue-train for him.

“This is a remarkable airplane,” he said. “It really does the job well.”

Unproven and unrealistic assessment on his part.

"DoD officials today are trying to understand all the “issues involved” with reducing its costs and getting the advertised performance."

Does the current production plan look like this? No? Then all the gross assumptions about "affordability" and capability are long off the table.

Great timing on the week of the official announcement of the replacement helmet which offers less capability including no DAS.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

47 states have jobs tied to F-35 Fighter

Yeah well; for anyone concerned, they can also look up RICO statute.

47 states have jobs tied to F-35 Fighter

Every state except Wyoming, North Dakota and Hawaii has jobs tied directly or indirectly to production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the next generation, supersonic aircraft for the Air Force, Marines and Navy. A breakdown of the number of jobs related to the aircraft in each state:

State Direct + Indirect Jobs
Alabama 90
Alaska 88
Arizona 1151
Arkansas 35
California 24932
Colorado 461
Connecticut 8195
Delaware 39
Florida 8795
Georgia 1993
Idaho 32
Illinois 5665
Indiana 2521
Iowa 229
Kansas 236
Kentucky 4
Louisiana 4
Maine 350
Maryland 1720
Massachusetts 2058
Michigan 2572
Minnesota 614
Mississippi 852
Missouri 525
Montana 101
Nebraska 16
Nevada 131
New Hampshire 4824
New Jersey 997
New Mexico 35
New York 4393
North Carolina 371
Ohio 4350
Oklahoma 401
Oregon 241
Pennsylvania 1013
Puerto Rico 76
Rhode Island 31
South Carolina 134
South Dakota 4
Tennessee 43
Texas 41413
Utah 1729
Vermont 1286
Virginia 580
Washington 1590
West Virginia 95
Wisconsin 20
Total: 127035

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Money to be made from cancelled defense programs

Programs get cancelled yet the taxpayer keeps handing over money; just a different color of money from a different budget....

The research is funded as part of a $380,227 supplemental grant awarded to The Town of East Hartford, with CCAT, from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The additional funding also supports further study of the diversification among F-22 and F-35 supply chain companies and the potential vulnerability they may have to increased defense cutbacks.

What cyber-security?

From DR.

Officials at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada knew for two weeks about a virus infecting the drone “cockpits” there. But they kept the information about the infection to themselves — leaving the unit that’s supposed to serve as the Air Force’s cybersecurity specialists in the dark. The network defenders at the 24th Air Force learned of the virus by reading about it in Danger Room.

The F-35's new non-joint helmet

So the F-35 program has the goal of being "Joint".

Yet when the chips are down and the development team has to set up a legacy system to replace the original helmet system, they go non-joint.

Here is a look at the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System. It is already in service with many of our existing fighter aircraft.

JHMCS is employed in the F/A-18C/D/E/F, F-15C/D/E, and F-16 Block 40/50 with a design that is 95% common to all platforms.This may also be integrated into the system of the F-22.


A more detailed look at JHMCS is here.

The F-35 program continues to absorb more of the DOD budget for no real worth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The F-35 gets a new, less capable helmet

"Anything is possible if you are willing to lower your expectations." It says that right on the CAIV badge.

Sooner or later, spin (or sin) has to be paid for. From 2007.

The aircraft has been flying with its innovative new helmet-mounted display system since April 4, and Beesley was very impressed by the helmet, which exhibited no latency or stability problems, and that worked so well that he “forgot he was wearing it”.

The F-35 gets a new helmet. Simply because the original one would not work. They play it off like it is a temporary solution, but going back to the original Buck Rogers fantasy will need real, proven performance.

(click image to make larger)

Gee... that doesn't look like this...



Another PowerPoint sales effort fraud is illuminated like a volley of parachute flares.

CAIV will continue with more erosion of program hopes and dreams. That is if the F-35 doesn't get cancelled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Purchasing a pig with lipstick still gets you a pig

Non sequitur, by definition.

"Expert analyses call for more investment in fighter aircraft — from multi-purpose F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the lower cost F-15s and F-18s — if we want to maintain U.S. dominance in the skies."

Emphasis added.

History shows poor thinking behind today's F-35 program

It is funny how some are blaming Congress for not doing a "buy..buy...buy" strategy with the F-35. The Hill certainly has some faults like being gullible and stupid with defence acquisition strategy. The F-35 cheerleaders continue with the lie that the F-35 has no technical show-stopping issues. Yet we were warned over 10 years ago about the consequences of sin.

"The Joint Strike Fighter acquisition strategy is designed to meet affordability goals by reducing program risk before proceeding into the engineering and manufacturing development phase. (never happened EP) To that end, the acquisition strategy is designed to ensure a better match between the maturity of key technologies and the aircraft's requirements. Matching the requirements and the maturity of technology when a program enters engineering and manufacturing development (development phase) is a critical determinant of a program's success. Once the development phase begins, a large, fixed investment in the form of human capital, facilities, and materials is sunk into the program and any significant changes will have a large, rippling effect on schedule and cost. Beginning the development phase when critical technologies are at a low level of maturity serves to significantly increase program risk and the likelihood of schedule delays, which in turn result in increased program costs."

Bold emphasis mine.

DOD Acquisition Lessons from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

DOD Acquisition Lessons from a Galaxy Far, Far Away (PDF)

This is a great read, fun and practical.

"Consider the implications of pop culture’s most notorious schedule overrun. In the Star Wars universe, robots are selfaware, every ship has its own gravity, Jedi Knights use the Force, tiny green Muppets are formidable warriors and a piece of junk like the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But even the florid imagination of George Lucas could not envision a project like the Death Star coming in on time, on budget. He knew it would take a Jedi mind trick beyond the skill of Master Yoda to make an audience suspend that much disbelief."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

DOD F-35 program office 2009--Baffle the U.S. Navy with bullshit

Here is some odd F-35 history for the day. It is odd because the office giving the briefing should know better. It is a summary brief from the Office of Naval Research.

On the one slide addressing the F-35 it has some wild assumptions of F-35 progress with nothing to back it up.

Some could say that the program is restructured now and that this should be fixed. Yet, if you look around today, there still the blue-sky briefings wondering various locations within the DOD.

(click on images to make them larger)


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Poor computer security with U.S. drones

If this article is correct it is disturbing in that they seem to have no solid and tested disaster recovery process (DR).

They don't appear to know about how to reimage computers quickly to put them back in action (also part of a tested and documented DR process).

They don't seem to know process of how to deal with these kinds of threats properly. And still let the virus reside on the system even though they do not know what it does and including the fact that the feed that they use is not always encrypted?

I will save the best for last; it makes no sense to use Windows systems (no matter what a contractor says )for this kind of work when there are very good Unix and Linux systems that can be built from scratch including of course good security behaviour you want built into the kernel.

Unreal. I hope the article is an exaggeration.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gettysburg

It has been a year since I have seen my old friends who I have never met. Just a short pause to reminisce.


DOD budget decay increasing

The decay is starting to increase. As the DOD budget fear becomes more real, traditional must-haves are going away.

"Under heavy pressure to find real cuts, U.S. Navy officials are considering decommissioning a nuclear aircraft carrier halfway through its planned lifespan, two Pentagon sources said.


The USS George Washington's three-year-long refueling overhaul, scheduled to begin in 2016, would be canceled under the scheme, and the ship would be decommissioned as its reactor fuel ran out."

As things become worse, expect to see more. So if we don't have money to refurb a ship that is expected to have a 50 year service life, why in the hell are we wasting $15B on a new Ford class nuke carrier?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

F-35 program's "business plan" vs. the real world

So what kind of language is used in the real world with companies that have to depend on customers instead of taxpayers to make them float?

Much more harsh. I pulled the quote below from an unnamed company profile to current and potential stockholders. It is a company that does about $3B in revenue per year.

"Any business not achieving clear steps towards these targets will be restructured or exited."

Will more SME's fall in the F-35 worldwide supply chain? If so, how many of them will be in Australia?

Minimum F-22 needs for the U.S. and its allies

So how many F-22s are needed?

For security of the U.S. and our allies, we need more of this aircraft.

Japan could use about 150 or more. Israel--given the lessening security situation over the long haul--about the same number. Australia, now with the F-111 gone, certainly could use about 72.

The U.S. Air Force--based on an actual study--needs as a minimum 380+ to support 10 deployment contingency tours known as AEF's.

All of this would give the program health to fund other variants and the FB-22.

However, now that the U.S. has no air power leadership of worth, this is all lost.

Future conventional wars will now be more costly. The loss of credible deterrent puts the U.S. and its allies at more risk.

Advert banners to help Canadian opinion?

Too funny. I did notice this the other day.

Steve Jobs passes

Vaya con Dios buddy.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs said. “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

via Wired.

Some are easily taken in by appearances

Huh?

"Given Congress' unwillingness to pursue additional revenue, the current Defense Department budget cannot be sustained. Cuts will be necessary, but the F-35B is the wrong place to look. The F-35B provides a virtually unique capability for transforming amphibious assault ships into light strike/air superiority aircraft carriers. In export and international production, the F-35B can similarly transform warships such as the Japanese Hyuga-class Helicopter-Carrying Destroyer into light carriers capable of strike and air superiority missions. The F-35B is a force multiplier in the literal sense: It turns amphibious warships with limited strike capabilities into aircraft carriers roughly as capable as their most formidable foreign counterparts. ..."


Not quite. Some are easily taken in by appearances. The F-35 cannot maintain "air superiority" vs. emerging threats. So that is out. Since it is an other-than-high-threat jet even if it works (whenever the mission systems show up as working) ... well, Marines (or anyone else) can get fire support any other way better/cheaper.

Hype, won't give America true combat capability.

OK, well how about that austre basing thing? 7 tons of gas per sortie? And look at real operational history of how we fight.

In every major conflict involving US ground troops since Operation DESERT STORM, the USMC Harriers have not been unique in their ability to “move forward” and operate “close to the fight”. For example, during DESERT STORM “Hornets based at Shaik Isa utilized the airfield at Jabayl as a FARP [Forward Arming Refueling Point], just as the Harriers did at Tanajib, thus reducing transit time to and from the target area”.
Furthermore, USAF “F16s…generated a tremendous number of sorties while operating from a forward operating location (FOL) at King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in Saudi Arabia, located just 60 miles from the Iraqi border”.

“F-16s operating there were able to exchange their drop-tanks for extra ordnance: KKMC-based missions carried four Mk-84 2,000-pound bombs (double the normal load of two). FOL operations allowed the wing to fly more sorties per day; KKMC missions launched from the…main base in Abu Dhabi to bomb the KTO [Kuwait theater of operations]; landed and rearmed at KKMC for a second sortie to the KTO (which did not require refueling); landed and rearmed at KKMC for a third mission and after attacking the KTO, air refueled to return to Abu Dhabi.”

Like the USMC Harrier, the USAF F-16’s took advantage of a FOL, but the “F-16 carried a larger payload than either the Harrier or the Hornet, and delivered tons of ordnance…with a very small transit and turnaround time”.

Again, nearly ten-years later, during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF), the USMC Harriers were not alone in their ability to move forward and operate “close to the fight”. In October 2002, a six-airplane detachment of Harriers from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA)-513 set up shop at Bagram, near Kabul, where A-10s had been operating since March of that year.

Later during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), Harriers took advantage of a FARP “at An Numaniyah, 60 miles south of Baghdad” but USAF A-10’s also “deployed forward” and operated out of “Tallil Air Base in Iraq”. However, logistics hampered Harrier operations. According to a “Harrier squadron commander…it was a major task keeping such aircraft supplied with jet fuel at that site”. This squadron commander went on to say, “It takes a lot of support and logistics…so we chose to use other platforms”.

Like the Harrier, the F-35B will be a logistics challenge. A number of logistics risks exist with the STOVL variant that do not exist for the other JSF variants, the primary being the vertical lift fan. Although a revolutionary design concept, the reliability and maintainability of the lift fan is still unproven. The lift fan operates on a single shaft that connects to the main engine and spins at a high-rate of speed. According to one study, this lift fan design causes “ added complexity” due to “the need for the clutch to engage and disengage the lift fan”.

Repair of the vertical lift components would very likely call for removing the engine, a traditionally “high repair time task”. Further, the lift fan and swivel nozzle adds to the logistics footprint especially when forward deployed.

According to one study, “While the JSF designers strive to reduce the complexity of the aircraft systems, the fact remains that the STOVL…will by nature be more difficult to maintain than either corresponding CTOL or [Navy] version”. This conclusion centered on “Naval Post Graduate School [studies] which compare projected component designs for the STOVL JSF to current Harrier design and projected [F-35C] design”

Appearances and all that -- F-35B STOVL take-offs and landings on the Wasp

Going forward (in honor of corporate group-speak). In dire budget times, appearances like this could put the big carrier in big trouble.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

F-35 spin from 2007

The history of the F-35 program offers so much spin and misleading statements; almost everywhere you look.

New day; different fibs.

Take this Paris Airshow blurb from 2007. Even the test pilot gets in on the con.

"The aircraft has flown nineteen times since its maiden flight on December 15 last year, and chief test pilot Jon Beesley has praised “the maturity of this highly integrated aircraft”, adding:“When it’s time to fly it is always ready and takes minimal time to get off the chocks. The Lightning II flies just as our engineers predicted, and I continue to be impressed by this marvellous airplane’s performance and handling characteristics.”


The aircraft has been flying with its innovative new helmet-mounted display system since April 4, and Beesley was very impressed by the helmet, which exhibited no latency or stability problems, and that worked so well that he “forgot he was wearing it”.

The author of the article makes the important points about the holes in the story. For instance, that there are no mission systems on the aircraft at the time and it (AA-1) was not production representative.

Interesting about the handling and performance of the aircraft when the flight envelop had not been fully explored.

"But there is another side to this particular coin. The only flying F-35A (AA-1) is unrepresentative of the planned production configuration. It lacks sensors, and is currently limited to just 3.8g, with an absolute limit of 4.5g."

A few years later the helmet would be mentioned as a major issue with the program. It did not work to expectations and LM had to look for a new vendor. I guess that can actually happen when you put mission systems on a production representative aircraft.

U.S.S. Paper Tiger

U.S. leadership is full-on in the budget is strategy mode. Many are making big about the F-35B STOVL landing on a ship; even if things like weapons clearance, qualified mission systems and tribal knowledge from a real operational squadron are long in the future.

Oh yeah, and, if budget is strategy, why are we paying for this thing?

Is it possible for the Hill and the Department of Defense to get the wrong message about the F-35B STOVL?

Sources like Second Line of Defense are happy to carry water for the U.S. Marine Corps' wrong idea that amphib flat-tops are like carriers. They are not, but the visuals and misinformation are there in enough quantity to make our political leaders think so.

And read this bit by G of how the amphibs are getting less in number. Cheerleaders of the above theory have to bang their drum about this too.

Things are lining up to make the USMC the premier expeditionary strategy: no large carriers needed. And nothing else needed if you believe the hype. It wouldn't be such a terrible idea if all we were to face in the future were 3rd-rate threats. That is not the reality.

But who do you go to when the Army is all but gone? When the amphibs and Marines on them get sunk, I guess no one.

White elephant hunters are on the march

If they are so good, why can't they fix all the Collins class subs?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

F-22 radius figures

F-22 radius figures.

Click images to make larger.


At least 1034 F-35 orders missing

The F-35 cheerleaders (and those desperate to avoid total disaster because their job depends on it) are stating that F-35 orders have just been deferred some; moved to the right, whatever.

Take a look how the predicted F-35 production numbers (per year) have evaporated over time as reality set in. The vertical column is the year of a stated "plan" at the time from the PowerPoint warriors. And even the January 2011 "plan" has shrunk a bit over the months.



It makes you wonder how a quote like this can be taken seriously.

“It will affordable because already there are 3,000 aircraft on the order books.”
—27 June 2002, Air Marshal Houston, Defence press announcement, Australia joins the F-35 program—


It makes you wonder how a quote like this can be taken seriously.

As strange as it may seem, that is what Lockheed Martin vice president Stephen O'Bryan told CBC News in an interview at the company's vast F-35 manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas last week. Sure, the early prototypes are hideously costly — more than $150 million a copy, but Canada won't be buying until 2016, when production is at full speed, says O'Bryan, so the cost of each jet will fall.

By then, he says, "average unit price of the airplane would be $65 million." Is that with an engine? "Yes, sir."

It makes you wonder how a quote like this can be taken seriously.

The F-35s in low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 are expected to exceed their contracted cost target, but fall below the negotiated ceiling price, says Tom Burbage, vice president of F-35 program integration for Lockheed Martin.

Especially since many of these aircraft will have to have their wing fixed after the fact in a process LM described as complex and time consuming.

It makes you wonder how a quote like this can be taken seriously.

The Defence spokesman said as a result of significant restructuring of the project, publicly announced in early 2010 and early 2011, about 240 planes had been ''moved to the right'' (deferred).

Why 2016 on the chart? That is the year that people like Canadian Defence Minister Mackay and LM state that we shouldn't worry. Canada will be getting their F-35s during "peak production" and thus comes a low price.

The evidence disproves their theory.

How is that F-35 business plan in Australia?

"It is unlikely we would be in the aerospace export business if it wasn't for the JSF."

F-35 industry status in Australia is in good heath or under denial, depending on your point of view.

If your are Production Parts--a company that went under--your opinion is probably firm by now.

The quote above though is crucial. It was from a company that thinks things with the F-35 industry are manageable. Or so they say in public.

Those saying that the problem is only orders "deferred" are whistling past the graveyard.

There will not be thousands of F-35s made. This is the quantity needed to make the business plan work.

How many F-35s are missing? More than a few.

"Total orders, taking into account sales to international partners and foreign military sales, were down from 1535 (2007 prediction) to 622."

I don't know how a business owner that is depending on the F-35 could be anything other than seriously concerned.

Video--First F-35B landing on USS Wasp

F-35B completes first marketing gimmick

No photos yet, but it seems that a test configured F-35B has made a vertical landing on the U.S.S. Wasp.

Appearances are important for the U.S. Marine Corps mission as it tries to make its way through the budget battles.

Still, not one weapon has be cleared and there is no go-to-war aircraft capability to speak of.

Then there is the whole obsolete-to-the-threat issue to deal with.

"From The Halls of Montezuma to Capital Hill, we will fight our bud-get bat-tles..."

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