Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The worth of the A-10

The A-10 has limits against high end threats. However, for everything else it is highly useful. Spent some time with an A-10 training unit many years ago and got a good look at the systems and capability.

Today, it is even more capable with E/O pods and modern precision guided munitions. Slow response for 911 CAS if it isn't nearby but then, nothing is perfect. You won't see the F-35 doing this anytime soon. If ever.

USAFs tail-spin

Bankrupt thinking from the United States Air Force seems to be here to stay.

The USAF is getting rid of 5 A-10 squadrons in favor of the F-35. This shows poor air power thinking. The USAF has been woefully short of real air power leaders for some years now. This also highlights how a service that consumes up to $160B per year has trouble making ends meet. Scary.

The general quoted in the article somehow thinks that the F-35 will be combat capable in a multi-role environment but has no proof to back up that idea. The F-35 program is in deep trouble.

This quote from a recent government report makes things very clear:

"Operational Assessment

The JSF Operational Test Team completed an operational assessment of the F-35 program and determined that it is not on track to meet operational effectiveness or operational suitability requirements. The JSF Operational Test Team assessed the program based on measured and predicted performance against requirements from the JSF Operational Requirements Document, which was re-validated in 2009."

Even in the unlikely event that the F-35 ever gets fielded, it only carries 150 rounds of gun ammo. Experience has shown that ground troops still need strafing.

Someone got a bee in their bonnet about multi-mission aircraft having the only true value. OK, well, you have to actually field something that works to replace existing capability. What the USAF is doing is hoping that the F-35 works out with no proof to back up their pet theory. That makes their version of air power thinking just as dangerous to the defense of the United States as any enemy.

Current USAF leadership are ruining the combat capability of the service. It is time for our Congress to realize this and stop it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

U.S. Senator--Export F-35, 'not going to be the most advanced version'

Besides the title of this post since the senator doesn't know much about the F-35, maybe he is wrong on that too?

Below is a PDF I created which challenges some of Senator Graham's theories about the F-35 program.

It is after all, an election year.

Rent-seekers should worry




Some are just now waking up to the problem.If your business revolves around the F-35 program doing well, you are in trouble.

It means that most of the 127,000 supplier and subcontractor jobs promised by Lockheed Martin haven't materialized yet in Texas, California, Florida, Illinois and other states that desperately need them in a slow economy.

Most of all, it means that the Pentagon may fall well short of its initial pledge to buy 2,443 of the F-35s; that a dozen Allied and other foreign countries eager to buy the JSF could end up owning more combined aircraft than the United States; that instead of an anticipated hundreds of the jet fighters being deployed in the air by now, it will likely be 2016 or beyond before they join military operations.


I will go with "beyond".

However it was not "unforeseen".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A bucket for the just so failed

A little history. The video below illustrates how the DOD and politicians treated the F-35 program up until  big problems could no longer be papered over. The program has been consuming billions for years.

But even today, some of the F-35 Garçons still treat the program as if it has value; that it should be waited on with deference and that it should be fed.


UPDATE- Marine questions value of STOVL Harrier and F-35B

A Marine has stated a different opinion compared to the party line.

The Harrier has surely been a large part of Marine aviation since 9/11, but its STOVL characteristics were rarely, if ever, critical to the conduct of operations. If anything, the capability was a liability when it came to the requirement for long on-station times, multiple ordnance options, and tedious scanning of compounds and cities with targeting pods in support of troops on the ground.

While Harriers have conducted some forward rearming and refueling at shorter strips, these were more driven by the Harrier's limitations and the desire to validate its expeditionary capability than a value added to the fight. That is, while a Harrier was rearming and refueling, a Hornet would be overhead, sensor still on target, refueling from a KC-130, more weapons still on the wing.

So, when the program hits a rough spot again, which I think it will, and when the budget adjusters come knocking, the Marine Corps needs to be honest about how much STOVL capability it really needs to maintain its close air support capability aboard amphibious shipping, how soon unmanned aerial systems can fill that gap, and what the best option is for the rest of our close air support needs.

H/T- Sky Talk

Here are some other thoughts I blogged last year about the limited value of STOVL jets at any price vs. how the U.S. fights air wars. And for the F-35B, consider 7 tons of gas per sortie from an "austere" base.

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”.

Of course that paper assumes a working F-35C.

---

Update:

On that day, after the fall of Kandahar, the Marines dispatched two Harriers to a partly destroyed airstrip there. Marine leaders touted this as evidence that the planes were operating where others could not.

But the two planes stayed only one night, flying four sorties and dropping no bombs, according to the Marines. Capt. Chris Raible, who piloted Harriers in Afghanistan, said the flights "were like photo ops."

When medals were awarded for Operation Anaconda, the major battle in eastern Afghanistan in March, the honors went to the Marine helicopter pilots who provided low-level fire for ground troops while the Harriers circled above.

Harriers have been operating alongside A-10s at a high-altitude air base at Bagram since October, where the Marines say they have provided "essential support to ground units." But the thin air and a torn-up runway have restricted vertical flight.

C-27J pushed out of U.S. DOD budget planning

The U.S. DOD's newly released budget plan has heavy words for the light C-27J.

The new strategic guidance emphasizes flexibility and adaptability. The C-­27J was developed and procured to provide a niche capability to directly support Army urgent needs in difficult environments such as Afghanistan where we thought the C‐130 might not be able to operate effectively. However, in practice, we did not experience the anticipated airfield constraints for C­‐130 operations in Afghanistan and expect these constraints to be marginal in future scenarios. Since we have ample inventory of C­‐130s and the current cost to own and operate them is lower, we no longer need nor can we afford a niche capability like the C-­27J aircraft. The Air Force and the Army will establish joint doctrine relating to direct support.

Hardcore.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Faith

The faith-based copy/paste Australian trade press. Some weirdness from this Feb 2003 article (PDF)

"But the whole point of the JSF program is to build an affordable aircraft - cost control is of
unprecedented importance compared with previous tactical fighter projects and the Pentagon, and Lockheed Martin in their turn, simply won’t be allowed by the US government to let the costs spiral out of control."

Because?

DOD boss statement on DOD budgets

The DOD boss has spoken:

It is a balanced package, the secretary said, because while some programs are eliminated or delayed, others are increased. The budget looks to re-shape the military to be more agile, quick and flexible that incorporates the lessons learned in 10 years of war, he added.

The big “lessons learned” from Operations: USELESS DIRT 1 and 2 is that we wasted a lot of time and resources that could have been spent to give the military enhanced defense capability to fight real threats to the nation.

The budget treats the reserve components very carefully, Panetta said. After a decade of being an integral part of America’s wars, the reserve components will not go back to being a strategic Cold War-era reserve. The reserves will be the nation’s hedge against the unexpected, the secretary said.

Only a decade? He must have missed all of the Reserve and Guard deployments from the end of the Cold War until 9/11. Go back to sleep Mr. Panetta. Since the end of the Cold War, Reserve and Guard resources have been doing work that should have been done by a properly manned active force. When you have repeat cycles of Reserve and Guard foreign deployments they are really no longer a Reserve or Guard.

The Navy will retire seven older cruisers and two amphibious ships early, and the Air Force will eliminate six tactical air squadrons.

Not a bad idea, but their capability will be replaced by the Littoral Combat Ship, a technologically risky new variant of the Burke and the fighters will be replaced by a poor idea known as the F-35. None of this is what you want in the Pacific Rim.

The F-35 joint strike fighter is key to maintaining domain superiority,

No it is not. And with its ill-health, it’s future is doubtful. It takes money away from other needy and valid defense communities.

The budget will maintain all legs of the nuclear triad -- bombers, ICBMs and submarines -- and will invest in significantly more capability in the cyber world, Panetta said.
We need new nuclear weapons to replace the old stock. As long as Microsoft is used on prime DOD communities, the idea that one wants to fight a cyber war means there will be some unnecessarily messy battles.

“My hope is that when members understand the sacrifice involved in reducing the defense budget by half a trillion dollars, it will convince Congress to avoid sequestration, a further round of cuts that would inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations,” Panetta said.
The reality is: this is an election year. And, there is a lot more dead-wood to be cut.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Sources" wishful thinking

From the Canberra Times today. Also note that the number of cuts will probably be higher than what that paper reports.

The "source" below is of course dreaming. For instance, why should Australia order jets that are under-tested and riddled with problems which will not be solved until many years? The Japan deal is based on there being a stable design. Korea has removed the stealth requirement from their next-generation fighter replacement. Israel is not a sale in the traditional sense as they get $3B per year in foreign military aid credits from the U.S. This is a form of creative money laundering.

Sources have told The Canberra Times the impact of the deferrals on the JSF program could be mitigated to a large degree by orders from Japan, which has just chosen the JSF over the Eurofighter and the Super Hornet, South Korea which is close to making a decision on its next fighter, and other nations such as Israel.

Any deferrals could also expedite the production of Australian planes by opening up spots on the Lockheed Martin production line.

Current production F-35s are grounded for pilot training until further notice at Eglin AFB due to numerous safety concerns.

Proposed F-35 cuts for FY2013~FY2017

Bloomberg is reporting that the proposed DOD cuts for the F-35 will see up to 179 aircraft removed from production between U.S. fiscal year (FY) 2013 to 2017 until the program sorts out technical defects.

The chart below gives you a snapshot of some of the proposed numbers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

USAF announces Luke AFB as preferred alternative for F-35 operational training

USAF has named Luke Air Force Base, Arizona as the preferred alternative for USAF F-35 operational training. This could involve up to 6 F-35 squadrons and up to 144 aircraft.

Assuming everything works out for Luke, after USAF pilots get their initial training at Eglin AFB, Florida, they would go on to Luke AFB to get their operational training. From there they would go on to a front-line F-35 squadron.

Currently, the pilot pipeline for the F-35 is suffering delays due to safety issues with current production aircraft for use as initial pilot trainers at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. This means the initial pilot training effort at Eglin is grounded until further notice.

Of interest, Arizona Senator McCain would naturally be interested in this Luke AFB announcement. McCain is also the lead Republican chair on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Operation Pharos Cocos Islands 1944 - 1945

(Oblique aerial photograph showing bombs exploding among transshipment sheds and jetties on Chatham Island, during a raid by Consolidated Liberators of No. 231 Group on Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.)


Nice photo essay with captions of allied air ops in the Cocos Islands.

A little known aspect of the history of Australia's Cocos (Keeling) Islands offshore territory in the Indian Ocean was the prominent role intended for it during the planned Operation Zipper, the joint invasion of South East Asia planned to retake Malaya, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies.

Panetta's false hope

Don't get too close Mr. Panetta least you get entangled in the puppet strings. His speech today out at Pax gives the public false hope on the serious nature of the F-35 program.

"As a result of your hard work and the hard work of JSF's government and industry team -- and it's a tremendous team; I've had the opportunity to meet many of its members today -- the STOVL variant has made, I believe and all of us believe, sufficient progress so that as of today, I am lifting the STOVL probation."

What "sufficient progress"?

"It's not to say we don't have a long way to go; we do. We've got a long way to go with the JSF testing, and it's obviously not out of the woods yet. But I am confident that if we continue to do the hard work necessary, if we continue to do the dedicated work that all of you have been doing, that both the carrier and the STOVL variants are going to be ready for operations and are going to be ready for doing the work that they have to do, which is to help protect this country."

If something is "not out of the woods yet", what justification is there for lifting the probation? Who is advising this guy? This report shows that the whole of the F-35 program is far enough in the woods not to see sunshine.

"Secondly, we can't hollow out this force. We've made that mistake in the past. Every one of those draw downs I talked about, there were cuts across the board. They took big numbers, cut everything across the board, weakened everything across the board. That's hollowing out the force.

We are not going to do that."

By spending money we do not have on over-priced and under-performing weapon's systems we will do exactly that. Money wasted on the F-35 is money that can be better used for any other operationally relevant community.

"We know we're going to be dealing with a smaller force. It was going to happen regardless of the budget constraints as we were beginning to draw down. So we're going to be a smaller force. It's going to be leaner."
And with that, you can forget any peace keeping operations because those are inherently manpower intensive. We already experienced this from the end of the Cold War up to 9/11. This includes the fact that Operations: USELESS DIRT 1 and 2 have taken resources away from nuclear deterrence and numerous conventional deterrence capabilities.

As a review: 9/11 happened because of poor airport and airline security; poor visa control and agencies like the NSA having a raft of clues something was up but not communicating that correctly to national security decision-makers. The nation-building nonsense of OUD 1 and 2 ate up a lot of resources best used elsewhere.

On a side note, (get this) we need the F-35 STOVL because the Harrier is crucial to fighting terrorism. Can it get more silly?

Many news sources have given Panetta a free pass with the F-35B probation story. The lifting of F-35B probation isn't unlike giving false hope to a terminally ill patient.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New sub report ignores conflict of interest

James Brown makes some great points about conflict of interest and a new sub report.
Before it was released, questions had been raised about the objectivity of this report. Its lead author, Brice Pacey, was formerly a strategic analyst for the Australian Submarine Corporation, the company most likely to benefit financially from a decision to build the future submarine in Australia. But this detail is missing from the report's author biography.

The report was sponsored by a coalition of ten defence industry entities, all of which have an interest in a future submarine being built in Australia. But nowhere is it mentioned that their sponsorship on this occasion was linked to this particular report, rather than to the Kokoda Foundation generally.

One of those ten entities is Defence SA, and it may be entirely coincidental that this report finds that the federal government should fund home-grown future submarines and a land-based propulsion test facility in South Australia. It may also be coincidental that the report was launched on the very same day the South Australian Treasurer is in Canberra to lobby Defence on those exact same issues.

It may be yet another coincidence that this 90-page report can spare only one paragraph for a cost analysis of nuclear propulsion, yet devotes 20 pages to advocating a greater role for private sector program management and recommends Defence 'engage private sector engineering and project management specialists', a service offered by one of the sponsors.

F-35 positive news scramble

One of the F-35 friendly news sources is reporting that the probation on the F-35B STOVL imposed by Gates may be lifted. Pretty hard to believe.

The F-35 made a night flight; sort of. A big deal seeing as there were so many issues to work through. Burbage is trying to convince the less investigative sectors of the media that the tail hook issue is fixable and that performance on the F-35 isn't all that bad.

Then there is the usual from the delusional.

DAB is coming up and the F-35 true-believers need an appearance of progress in the news with a scramble of allegedly positive events . U.S. DOD boss Panetta will be visiting Pax. Jesus is coming. Everyone look busy.

Then there is the DOD discussions about the FY2013 DOD budget. Not long after, Congress will start hearings on the FY2013 budget, which will include a pre-release summary of the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) report on the F-35.

All with no milestone-B present.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2008 Navy League Briefing on the F-35

Just a bit of history to review. The 2008 Navy League briefing on the F-35. Amazing claims.

LM admits to the laws of phyics

Lots of loaded statements in this one.

I wonder if they will develop quick change horizontal stabs when they get burned up?

Even fully loaded, the F-35’s performance doesn’t change from its unencumbered configuration, he said.

Sounds great, but the fuzzy weight margins in all variants (operational empty weight anyone???) are paper thin.

But hey, we need a jet certified as safe for training pilots before that happens.

Different opinions on Australian sub roadmap

Expert slams flawed submarines report

"Holland operates their European-designed submarines in both the Antilles and near Somalia," he said. "South Korea regularly deploys its submarines to Hawaii, something we seemed unable to do with our Collins class in 2010, not sending a submarine to RIMPAC [maritime exercise] for the first time in decades." He names eight different submarines, ranging in size from 1390 tonnes to more than 3000 tonnes, that come close to - or can better - the range of the existing 3350 tonne Collins Class boats.

And, off the shelf subs allow for more stability of crew training, scheduling and submarine maintenance time-lines. Off-the shelf subs can be an all-in-one solution or a bridge to a later effort once (if) home industry ever gets their act together with building subs at home.

On this issue, the rent-seekers need to be taken to task.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lobbyists hired to help Cherry Point get their junk jet

Sad but true. The rent-seekers want the F-35B, faulty or not. And they are bringing out hired guns.


(click images above to make larger)

Damage control mode

Took awhile for the message to get out, but those that spin are now on the story. Even if they are not very convincing.

Aboulafia--who is about as accurate as a Vietnam era Sparrow when talking about mil-aerospace issues--thinks the YF-17 is the same issue.

Get out the popcorn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bad White Paper authors, Bad DMO, Bad sub ideas

The last Defence White Paper was near worthless. Yet some still entertain the authors of that mess when they come up with nonsense like this.

There are good reasons to buy off-the-shelf subs to help in securing our Northern approaches.

1. Subs by themselves are not the answer. Air power is needed to protect anti-submarine aircraft. Surface ships have their use once air power is established. Off the shelf subs will be part of a useful effort to block sea lanes.

2. Real deterrence and long range strike comes from long-range air power. Defence threw that away on a lie.

3. Off the shelf subs allow us to have a stable training program for crews. We do not have that. No other plan offers that at a faster rate.

4. Any other specialty subs should be considered only after the sub community is healthy. It is not because of the Collins fiasco. It will never be healthy with the poor thinking that goes for a "son of Collins" as the way forward.

5. For all the money we spend on Defence we don't get much. Off the shelf subs offer the least management hassle until we kill off the experiment known as the DMO and/or reshape the logistics support tail to make sense instead of being a money pit of dead weight.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If only they did their homework

Rent-seekers crafting a story that will never happen.

Fun reading of old air power studies

Below are two studies that make great reading. One from 1999 and another from 1994.

They miss some things and hit some things perfectly. Compare to where we are today.



----

Way too much leadership bloat

Unbelievable. We do not need this much bureaucracy to lead such a small Defence force. Too many civilians. Too many flag ranks.

The military has grown by 7000 troops - 13 per cent - and the defence senior leadership team has increased by 26 star-ranked officers, or just 17 per cent.

In 2007 there were just 82 top civilian executives and 152 star-ranked officers.

Last year the numbers had expanded to 134 civilian executives and 178 star-ranked officers.

While the number of one and two-star generals had jumped from 147 to 170 (15 per cent) in the five years, the number of band 2 and 3 civilian executives had expanded from 27 to 46 (70 per cent).

Former army officer Mr Robert slammed the bureaucratic expansion and described the 14 deputy secretaries within the department as "laughable"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cuckoo in the nest--U.S. DOD DOT&E F-35 report is out

"Excellence is the enemy of 'good enough'", or so says an old F-35-JSF briefing. Another old briefing uses the term, “model acquisition program” and “affordable” in red. In looking at the report released today by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Director, Operational Test & Evaluation office, we can see that that the leaders and proponents of the F-35 program shot for mediocrity and fell short of the mark.

For your convenience, the report is presented below.

It is damning on a large scale. The report uses pithy language. Just putting that out there for some of the normalisation of deviance fans who may think, “well the truth may lie somewhere in between.” Where "in between" is a distance between reports like this and a Lockheed Martin press release. There are many less grey areas in the world of engineering. Poor management has made the F-35 program an outlier in every sense of the word.

It is hard to highlight the report because there are so many negative statements against the F-35 program. I will try a few.

Because of extreme difficulties, software block definitions are being lowered. Yet again. Some items that were supposed to be in one block are kicked down the road into the next one. The program has a history of this. Now, they are against a wall.

If you were not sure if Gates was right about putting the F-35B STOVL on “probation”, this report will tell you why. No amount of idiotic marketing by the USMC's General Amos can can paper over all of the engineering problems.

With most other designs, they put the engine in a position where its exhaust will not damage the aircraft. Because of center-of-gravity needs to meet the STOVL requirement the engine is located farther forward. The F-35 has its exhaust in a place that puts limits on what you can do with the aircraft (speed and sustained power) or you will burn off pieces of the horizontal stabs.

Brilliant.

Want some quotes? Hard to pick. Try this:

Operational Assessment

The JSF Operational Test Team completed an operational assessment of the F-35 program and determined that it is not on track to meet operational effectiveness or operational suitability requirements. The JSF Operational Test Team assessed the program based on measured and predicted performance against requirements from the JSF Operational Requirements Document, which was re-validated in 2009.

The program—as a reason to exist--is finished. Some of us are just waiting for those who are a little slow, to get a clue or two.

Hopefully an outcome from the failure of the F-35 will make various program leaders and politicians realise we have a lot of talent engaged in building the wrong aircraft. The fix is to reorganise that talent to build the right aircraft. It would be good if some decision-makers that are able to take this fact on board and lead a transition toward a recovery, stand up and make themselves heard.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Dutch Defense Minister now doing LM sales work

Too funny. "Please let us all together buy this POS".

Korea drops stealth requirement for fighter buy

Korea has dropped the stealth requirement for a fighter buy of up to 60 advanced aircraft.

I suspect they have seen through the "fifth-generation" fighter swindle.

Collins sham points to enemy within

More of the usual. This article notes that there is little justification to believe what Defence and politicians say when they want to build 12 home-grown boondoggles with no credible skills to back up the effort.

ON August 28, 1993, Paul Keating launched the first Collins-class submarine. The fanfare was impressive. Led by the ABC, the media hailed the event as a triumph. But it was a hoax.

Steel plates were timber painted black. The engine had never been tested in salt water. The pipe fabrication was not finished. Nor was the design of the vessel itself. And the combat system didn't work. As the champagne bottle cracked, the gleaming submarine posed a greater threat to Australia's taxpayers than to its enemies.

Had Keating been the director of a listed company, the stunt would have landed him in hot water. Instead, the experience left a legacy of distrust about defence programs. Now a series of reports, all issued late last year, suggest that distrust is still merited.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SU-33 carrier ops near Syria

Good video of Russian big SU-33 carrier ops off of Syria.



H/T- NOSINT

The rumour mill

I wonder who is telling the Dutch Defense Minister that F-35 technical problems--as highlighted in the November 2011 DOD quick look report and elsewhere--are "rumours"?

Minister Hillen said he informed his hosts of the thorny issues regarding the purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter that are causing political headaches in The Hague: “The price, the rumours about technical shortcomings. Are they true, and if they are not: why is it that they keep doing the rounds?”

Eglin AFB parking lot gets first F-35B STOVL jets

Read the press release. Funny as the pilot training program is grounded until they can conjure up a safe flying effort.

AM Harvey exits

I don't know what all this means other than what is reported. Up until October 2010 Harvey was the boss of the NACC; along with its gross over-optimism on F-35 program health.

The 57-year-old, who joined the RAAF in 1977 and went on to serve as a navigator aboard Canberra bombers and F-111s, was apparently given ''five minutes' notice'' in August his position was being made answerable to one of the associate secretaries.

''He just wouldn't wear it,'' a colleague said.

U.S. Defense officials to meet for F-35 restructure

A Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) effort will start next week to get a new restructure plan going for the F-35 program.

From this, we should have some new numbers on jet order predictions, cost and schedule. Timing of this is important because talks about the composition of the U.S. 2013 defense budget will start soon after.

A realistic meeting of the DAB has been delayed since the program's second Nunn McCurdy breach in 2010.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just making shit up---defined

Too silly to believe.

One idea is to attack an outer ring of enemy air defenses with F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, opening an alley for an F-22 stealth jet carrying sensitive surveillance pods to fly deeper into contested territory, where it could, for example, guide a powerful sea-launched cruise missile to a mobile or hidden target.

LM December 2011 Canada / Australia brief

Below is a recent Lockheed Martin briefing that is dated in the middle of December 2011. (H/T-Spudman on F-16.net)

It is, as usual, overly optimistic. So much so as to be yet another deception from the sales force.

Also we have been blessed with 2 more Low Rate Initial Production Batches; up to 11. It was 9 and at the start of the program 6. All this due to defective management. Interesting because there is no recent Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed off on by Joint Strike Fighter Partner Nations. The most recent is 2010 (PDF). Many troubles have appeared since then.

Back in 2010 the F-35 program Milestone-B (a basic certification that allows it to exist as a normal DOD procurement program) was removed due to its second Nunn-McCurdy breach. DOD officials--as a practice of good management oversight--have not figured out how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. There is no solid long-range plan.




A few highlights:

Slide 3-- LOL's for "Lower life-cycle costs", "Economies of scale" and "Counters Current and Future Threats". Interesting as the later needs definition. The job of handling high-end threats was for the F-22. That was always an assumption in the F-35/JSF requirement. Economies of scale are a dream at best. Life-cycle costs are also an interesting piece of creative writing.

Slide 4-- There are your 11 LRIPs and even a missing flag for the Netherlands. Most likely a typo with this crew.

Slide 5-- Doesn't mention that there are a lot of parked aircraft for any number of reasons relating to poor project management. This includes an already delayed pilot training program at Eglin AFB, that is effectively grounded until further notice due to safety concerns.

Slide 6-- Nice photo of a lot of people not working.

Slide 7-- On schedule but not compared to many previous schedules long busted.

Slide 9-- Serious over-optimism on most of those numbers. Big time.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fiction

Here:

Acting Defence Minister Warren Snowdon said Defence was closely monitoring all aspects of JSF development.

Any delay in production numbers should not affect Australia's aircraft, he said.

Australia had approved funding for the first 14 JSFs, and the first two were still expected to be delivered in 2014.

Air combat capability was a vital part of Australia's national security, Mr Snowdon said. "The government will not allow a gap in our air combat capability."

Lead up to the JORD

Just a slide from one of my all-time favorite JSF briefs (PDF). Note they keep putting the word "affordable" in there. Imagine that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

USAF--F-35 pilot training decision 2013 at the earliest?

The reason for the question mark is that this is the only newspaper with the story. Do the words below mean that a decision on when F-35 flight training will begin will not happen until 2013; at the earliest? The USAF was after all the decision maker on this. The reason F-35 pilot training has not started thus far are technical problems with the jet such as unsafe fuel dumping, lightning issues and some other things.

EGLIN AFB — The limbo in which Eglin Air Force Base’s Joint Strike Fighter training school has been operating since it opened its doors has been extended.

The Air Force plans to reassess the impact of F-35 flight training and has postponed until 2013 at the earliest any decision on where the flight training will take place and which runways will be used.

F-35C Hook Location

Deep thoughts.

Beazley blunder

Nothing of what Beazley stated has much credibility.

The impact on the US's troubled Joint Strike Fighter program is still to be known but Mr Beazley said Australia was sticking to its consignment of 14 aircraft.

He said the Australian government will keep a close eye on the program and will take action should any risks develop.

"The Australian government will not permit an air capability gap to grow."


No risks there. None at all:

-Paper-thin weight margins in all three variants
-Unknown fatigue (they don't know what they don't know)
-Buffet which affects…
-The faulty helmet which cannot use…
-DAS (including replacement helmet does not offer full ORD functionality with DAS)
-Because of the helmet system failure (partly influenced by buffet in the heart of the combat envelop), weapons cannot be cued with the helmet including the gun.
-Airframe stress at Mach
-Flight limitations (dive limits) because fuel inerting can’t catch up.
-Associated lightning hazard
-Heat problems with the flight displays
-Cannot be flown at night.
-F-35C tailhook requires airframe redesign
-Wing rib replacement for A and B model
-Bulkhead problem with B model
-Various power-train issues with STOVL B model
-Fuel dumping unacceptable and requires a redesign
-Post flight logistics/maintenance data-link takes 30 minutes to download 1G of data. (1 sortie?)
-Severe limits in automated logistics management, (doesn’t fit into USAF skills training scheme), various components in the system (deployable server kits and other connectivity) do not work reliably.
-Production immature because of so many issues that are not figured out yet.
-Thermal issues affecting avionics and other systems.
-IPP (core system) has significant reliability flaws
-Many problems not expected to see proper resolution until 2016 at the very earliest.
-Leading to loss of defence deterrent for U.S. and allies
-Significant damage to worldwide industries

DOD future strategy

A few points on DODs strategy statement.

Pretty thin on details. What would I do; considering the dire budget problems?

I think for the Army, the Regiment in the Active/Guard/Reserve has to be the core unit. It is smallish, and can be scaled as needed. Brigades? Divisions? Sure, when there is a need to form up several Regiments as needed for exercises and contingencies. Other than that, Brigades and Divisions (their footprint) becomes a small number of headquarters that are themselves small.  Stressing the Regiment as the key player is important also be cause it is commanded by a Colonel. This means there is no general left behind act. We have too many flag officers.

The Guard Regiments would be very light and do the basics; provide homeland security and provide manpower for expeditionary Brigades and Divisions. Given that we have some small as well as large manpower states, I figure you could raise/reorg 30~40 Guard Regiments not counting aviation.

The Navy, like the USAF has to shed useless weapons systems. For starters, get rid of two systems that provide no real worth yet consume resources we can ill afford. That is: cruisers and the Littoral Combat Ship.  Like it or not, carriers will have to be cut. We don't have the money to do everything. With that, the Navy should start on some new initiatives.

-New nuclear weapons to replace the old ones
-A new affordable no-frills Frigate
-A small armed transport. It will look like a small cargo ship, yet have a helipad and a hanger, small hold with crane.
-Keep building attack submarines
-Fund a new light carrier design which is nuclear powered
-Stop large carriers. The Ford will be the last one.
-Fund a new nuclear destroyer for the nuclear light carrier
-Continue to fund land-based ISR
-Cancel the F-35C, continue to by Super Hornets, fund FA-XX

Disband the USMC--we can no longer afford a second land Army.

Dramatically cut the USAF
-The Air National Guard will provide home air defense.
-Replace old nuclear weapons with new ones
-Continue upgrades of the C-5,  F-22, and A-10.
-Cull the F-15E fleet and upgrade a smaller number of aircraft.
-Remove the F-15C-D
-Keep only F-16 Block 5X
-Fund Wedgetail as an AWACs replacement
-Fund other 737 types as manned ISR including a JSTARs replacement
-Join with the Navy on UCAS-N
-Continue to test Avenger
-Low rate buys of F-16s and F-15E
-Upgrade a smaller number of B-1s
-Remove nuke capability from the B-52
-Fund long range hyper-sonic strike from the B-52
-Fund a new ICBM
-Fund a small number of 777-200LR transports. Light transport to keep the aircraft's range. Will not have refueling capability.
-Fighters, Bombers and Tanker/Transport will be reorganized into single and dual squadron GROUPS. Like the Army's Regiment, this kills star growth yet is still doable.
-Cancel the F-35A

DOD wide--
Remove all air assets from Europe. Remove all land forces. We deploy and exercise there. Not garrison there.
Fund facilities and agreements with Australia for additional exercising of tanker, transport, F-22, F-15E and large bombers.
Change the retirement system into a 401k setup. Scaleable with years served. This also keeps people from chasing high-year tenure.

There is more but that is a start.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Third restructure for F-35 program in 3 years

Although we will find out more tomorrow, there is news out there that the F-35 program will go through its third restructure in three years

This could see the loss of another 120 jets from the immediate production time line. This is supposed to save $15B of US taxpayer cash from FY 2013~2017. 

Given all the defects in the jet, building more was probably a bridge to far. Language in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees over the last several months seemed to indicate this was coming.

Of interest, Milestone B is still pulled since the programs second Nunn-McCurdy failure in 2010 and there has been no real DAB to recertify this mess to resemble a DOD defense program.

A DOD quick-look report from November 2011 showed significant technical problems still to be solved. For many of those problems, they will not see a fix as early as 2016.

An August 2011 LM brief showed that the current leadership of the DOD F-35 program have little confidence in how engineers were being lead and managed all these years. There will be a global engineer reorg finished sometime in 2012.

Some of the news sources have the usual boilerplate quotes about the US still committed to 2400 some F-35s. I guess at this rate, that fantasy program of record will complete sometime in 2070. Until then, Congress still hands out the cash as it sees fit.

Fabrication

Given the raft of show-stopping problems with the F-35, how realistic is this June 2011 slide from the NACC? Interesting as so many problems with the F-35 don't have a hope of resolution until 2016 at the earliest.

F-35 Production Cut Update

Assuming the F-35 program doesn't take more hits. The fantasy by some of great F-35 production just doesn't mean much.

Note the great "analysis" from Australia's New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office (read copy-paste from Lockmart). Still trying to figure out what--if any--value the NACC brings to the taxpayer other than mindless cheerleading for the seller of the aircraft.

(click image to make bigger)

Update: U.S. DOD announcement January 2012. The graphic below, representing yearly orders only going to 2016 as this is the year some--like Canada--state great advantage in F-35 price because of that year representing "peak production".

More alternate reality from the alternate universe

The retirement of the F-16s, F-15s and A10s were accompanied by a slow roll-out of the F-35 program. Allied defections from the F-35 program, accompanied by a 40% cut in US numbers have slowed the program significantly with significant cost increases.


The F-35 program is not doing bad because people are not ordering it in numbers. It is doing bad because it is significantly defective.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

F-35 program engineering reshuffle

It appears that the F-35 program is engaging in a reshuffle of engineers and how they will be managed. A better explanation of this is here.

The grand assumption of the F-35 program had this as a goal:

Initial Operating Capability (IOC) dates

2010- USMC
2011- USAF
2012- US Navy, RAF, Royal Navy, RAAF

Happy 2012 everyone.

With that as a goal, the F-35 program figured they could reduce overhead by getting rid of a lot of design engineers. Unfortunately, the work needed by those engineers is far from done.

The graphic below is the latest from August 2011. We have been here before. It will probably slip. That is the consistent performance metric of the F-35 program.

(click image to make larger)

Here is the short-list of things (not all-inclusive) that have to be fixed before that chart has any hope of life:

-Paper-thin weight margins in all three variants
-Unknown fatigue (they don't know what they don't know)
-Buffet which affects…
-The faulty helmet which cannot use…
-DAS (including replacement helmet does not offer full ORD functionality with DAS)
-Because of the helmet system failure (partly influenced by buffet in the heart of the combat envelop), weapons cannot be cued with the helmet including the gun.
-Airframe stress at Mach
-Flight limitations (dive limits) because fuel inerting can’t catch up.
-Associated lightning hazard
-Heat problems with the flight displays
-Cannot be flown at night.
-F-35C tailhook requires airframe redesign
-Wing rib replacement for A and B model
-Bulkhead problem with B model
-Various power-train issues with STOVL B model
-Fuel dumping unacceptable and requires a redesign
-Post flight logistics/maintenance data-link takes 30 minutes to download 1G of data. (1 sortie?)
-Severe limits in automated logistics management, (doesn’t fit into USAF skills training scheme), various components in the system (deployable server kits and other connectivity) do not work reliably.
-Production immature because of so many issues that are not figured out yet.
-Thermal issues affecting avionics and other systems.
-IPP (core system) has significant reliability flaws
-Many problems not expected to see proper resolution until 2016 at the very earliest.
-Leading to loss of defence deterrent for U.S. and allies
-Significant damage to worldwide industries

Letters...we have letters

December 2004 letter from LM's Mr. Burbage to the Dutch.

519 LRIP and 5500 full rate F-35s. That by the way seems in my opinion overly optimistic. When that is communicated to a layperson; it is potentially misleading.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cut out the middle-man

Second Line of Defense is still over-hyping the F-35 even thought it has numerous problems to get over before it can be fielded. The F-35 is years away from having much use.

Since the F-35 is so faulty, we can take the SLD fantasy farther with the low threat in places like Libya. We could use small corporate jets for networked manned ISR.

For instance, the Bach doesn't suffer the same thermal issues, and apparently doesn't suffer all the stuff-ups with the man-machine interface. The Bach probably has better mission reliability, not having problems with a faulty IPP or poor fuel-inerting system. And with a crew of flight-test engineers to run everything (including rebooting faulty mission software) we can have this new kind of "warfighter" trouble shoot design screw ups as they happen.

Uninspired, poorly project-managed and over-priced crapware can get to the "warfighter" sooner.

Sorry SLD, a flying lab does not indicate a heck of a lot of what the F-35 will be able to because the F-35 airframe has so many problems.

Keep up the gross disinformation though.

Fuel inerting and the F-35

So the F-35 Lighting cannot go near lighting. Why?

Fuel interting is ineffective in the aircraft. This device (OBIGGS) is not doing its job.

Here is a good video explaining OBIGGS.

It is unknown how the fix will be performed. It could be one of the things that require a complete redesign.

Interesting words from various studies. There are different amounts of fuel tank inerting needs for various risk situations. Obviously, the one for combat jets is a more demanding requirement:

The U.S. military conducted fuel tank inerting tests and determined the nitrogen inerting
concentration limit was 9% oxygen (91% nitrogen). This limit was based on the threat of small arms fire up to 23-mm high energy incendiary (HEI) rounds. Studies of fuel tank inerting suggest that 86 to 90% nitrogen concentrations are required to prevent arcing ignition.One study indicated 84% nitrogen concentration is required to prevent hot-surface ignition. Another study provides data that suggests 82% nitrogen is sufficient to limit the flammability of methane and air mixtures. The FAA conducted tests to evaluate fuel tank inerting requirements for ground-based fires and found a range of fire protection from 9% oxygen concentrations up to 18% oxygen concentrations.

So, the F-35 can't meet the lower civil requirement for fuel-inerting.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What will 2012 bring for the Australian fighter aircraft roadmap?

2012 is the year that the government is supposed to hand over real money for F-35s or some other idea. Defence Minister Smith—who is not happy with the F-35 program--has indicated as much. Part of the original Australian plan was that the RAAF would start getting F-35s this year. Now with all of the program trouble, they will be lucky to see them this decade.

Back in 2004, the new air combat capability office (NACC), stated that if the F-35 didn't pan out that we would start over.

So much for that idea because the word on the street is that there could be a commitment to purchase more Super Hornets. Sad because intellectual laziness can't replace logical considerations based in a tender process. 

Time is short. It takes years to field a fighter aircraft into real squadrons. Fighters arriving in 2012 would have allowed the old legacy F-18s to retire with some kind of dignity.

The F-35 program will probably fail. If it does not, it is doubtful that an intelligent purchaser of military hardware can evaluate the design until 2020 at the earliest. This assumes initial operating capability for the F-35 in United States Air Force (USAF) does not slip further. IOC for the USAF is supposed to happen in 2018. Given another 2 years or so for tribal knowledge of real operators to grow and that is the time when you can really consider the worth of the F-35. Anything else is gross stupidity with the taxpayers money.

Australia no longer has a budget surplus like it did from the previous administration. There are also large budget commitments for Navy ships and subs. Any refresh of fighter technology will now have to be done over a longer time period. That is, unless someone can come up with an extra 200-plus billion to assuage the federal budget.

Below is a graphic I made up of one possible fighter replacement scenario. It does not fix the true problem of regional air domination. It only allows for Australia to have some serviceable second-tier strike fighter aircraft to use in conjunction with the US and other allies. It assumes short thinking on the part of Defence leadership with the fall-back being the Super Hornet.

It is possible that after an evaluation of the F-35, Australia may go in that direction. Because of all the problems, I doubt it.

So, about 2020 or so we do an evaluation of the F-35 program and either commit to it if it is mature and shows value, or move on to something else. What ever that is, I do not know.

Australia needs to start replacing legacy Hornets now. Australia can pay for the first batch of  new single-seat Super Hornets and needed infrastructure by pulling the money from Faulkner's Folly.

Someone will probably trot out the comment that, "we have $16B committed to the New Air Combat Capability".  Good luck with that idea in this budget climate.

It is sad that we have gotten to this point. It could have all been avoided; if only we had real air power leaders instead of useless bureaucrats. Until then, expect more misleading statements from Defence for 2012 about what a great job they are doing.

(click on image to make it larger)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Canada's National Post F-35 cartoon

Just trying to help out the mentally challenged with the F-35. My corrected graphic below. There is no excuse for this kind of sloppiness with a news organization. The HARM was long gone from F-35 hopes and dreams. The same contract that added the SDB in 2006 removed drop tanks because it was too risky with stores clearance. And the redesigned tanks don't even look like that.

You can forget any air-to-air weapons for now (or straffing) because not only are there problems with helmet display quality, because of significant buffet in the heart of the combat envelop you can't use the helmet to cue weapons including the gun. Especially the gun.

So far I have been kind. Even overly optimistic given the state of the poor engineering management with this program. There are some more significant errors with the Post's graphic but that will do for now.

A-29 Super Tucano selected by USAF




The A-29 Super Tucano has been selected for the USAF light air support mission. It outpaced the competition because it already existed with proven, mission relevant configurations.

More here.

* Advanced avionics
* Exceptionally accurate non-precision and precision weapons employment
* All-glass, 4th-generation cockpit
* Certified to withstand bird strikes
* Cockpit design & technology similar to fourth-generation fighters
* Fully NVG compatible
* HOTAS: Hands On Throttle And Stick
* Main equipment redundancy
* Precise Navigation System, with integrated auto-pilot, INS/GPS and radio navigation
* V/UHF radios with crypto and Datalink
* ROVER- and Link 16-capable
o Have integrated seven different datalinks
* Digital Video Recorder for fast and precise debriefing
* Long, wide wheelbase to enable routine rough and austere field operation
* Sensor ball placed to eliminate wing masking