Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another F-22 grounding... guess why

From ABC.


In at least three incidents in the last two weeks, pilots of the $143 million-a-pop stealth F-22 Raptors at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson reported the "hypoxia-like" symptoms, leading the base to ground their F-22s for a day for "review," Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Regina Winchester told ABC News.

Another way

But there is another way to defeat the F-22 not mentioned in this article.










Let the U.S. government manage the program.

Eglin F-35As Cleared for Flight

Via DT.


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Officials at the Aeronautical Systems Center here issued a Military Flight Release today that will allow the F-35A Lightning II fighter to begin initial operations at Eglin AFB, Fla.

This decision was reached after an airworthiness board conducted an assessment that evaluated potential risks and the corresponding mitigation actions to conduct unmonitored flights. Flying the Air Force variant of the Joint Strike Fighter will increase pilot and maintainer familiarity with the aircraft, exercise the logistics infrastructure and continue to develop aircraft maturity. These initial F-35A flights will be limited, scripted, conducted within the restrictions and stipulations of the MFR and flown by qualified pilots, officials said.

“The Air Force, Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and other stakeholders have painstakingly followed established risk acceptance and mitigation processes to ensure the F-35A is ready.

This is an important step for the F-35A and we are confident the team has diligently balanced the scope of initial operations with system maturity,” said General Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, the parent organization of ASC.

The assessment was conducted with airworthiness engineering subject matter experts within ASC and was fully coordinated with the F-35 joint Strike Fighter Program Office, Air Education and Training Command, and other expert participants. The Air Force is confident the aircraft is ready to fly in a safe and efficient manner, Hoffman said.

Poor us

Our USAF generals are stupid.


"The F-22 does better air-to-groud than anybody than the F-35," Carlisle said, "and the F-35 does air-to-air better than anything in the world except the F-22."
---


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

USAFs F-35 procurement plan is not believable

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It isn't just a river in Egypt

Trying to pass off major problems.

“I’m accountable for the execution on this program. We’re going to do a better job,” he said, adding that issues common to most new aircraft programs sometimes overshadowed the steady progress being made on the F-35. “We’ve had some setbacks … and we’ve had some huge successes,” he said.

Which "common" problems with new aircraft?

No support from Italian maker if U.S. tries to sell C-27s bought for DOD

I agree with this. It is a business. Why should the DOD be allowed to under-cut Italian sales because of poor planning?

Original Collins project boss would rather be in off-the-shelf sub design

One of the team leaders that brought the Collins-class sub into this world has some different views compared to some the entrenched defence and industry bureaucracy. Hans Ohff says the Collins class is not survivable against modern threats from the 2020's onward. He also has a different view from the locals on how the Collins should be replaced.

"I am very proud of what we achieved [with Collins] but if one of those went up against a modern submarine such as a German HDW 209 or 214, I would rather be in them,'' he said. ''By 2035 you might just as well stay in port - you'd get blown out of the water [if you put to sea]."

Mr Ohff backs a "military-off-the-shelf solution" to be developed in partnership with a European submarine company. If the future submarines can't be built in Adelaide for less than $1.5 billion each they should be built overseas.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lobbying for mistake-jets

Defective innovation creates jobs for rent-seekers.

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OUD1 comic update

An amusing, and wasteful sideshow. Operation: USELESS DIRT 1 endures.

Cutting corners?

I hope these guys know what they are doing.

The declaration means the Air Force is satisfied that its version of the aircraft, the F-35A, is safe to fly. It also means that the Air Force understands and accepts the risks where there are gaps in the jet’s compliance with service airworthiness regulations, Ebersole said.

Canada's F-35s-- $17.5B over 30 years (cost per flying hour)

Interesting how puff pieces by copy/paste reporters come up with the occasional useful piece of information:

The Pentagon estimates it will cost about $30,000 per hour to operate the F-35, in large part due to the cost of fuel.

Although, given all the unreliable systems, if most of that is fuel, I expect the cost per flying hour to be much more. But let us explore their claim.

65 aircraft: 300 flight hours per year; $30,000 per flight hour; 30 years.

$17.5B

That is a lot more than what the DND stated for lifetime costs.

U.K. still short of some facts on the F-35 decision

Canada will host a meeting on F-35 woes.

It would be helpful though if some of the people show up with some facts. If this is what the UK JSF partner knows about F-35 cost increase, then they are not well informed.

Some facts to add to the article.

1. The F-35 is rising in cost because of senior program management incompetence (both the JPO and LM) and significant technical defects.
2. The U.K, has received an F-35 but it is the wrong kind; a mistake-jet B instead of a mistake-jet C.
3. 2016 is overly optimistic since it is unlikely a lot of the technical defects will be fixed by then. Add to that, they won't get Block 3f software. One would hope they have the TR-2 hardware working by that time because without it, Block 3f software will not function. Why would anyone want to order an incomplete and faulty aircraft that is this expensive?
4. At this time, the F-35C which is what the U.K., now wants, has a major defect in the hook placement on the airframe which may keep it from trapping. The U.K. should not go forward on any F-35 decision until this fix appears.
5. The U.K stating that they will be able to afford less F-35s is already known. This was assumed when their original projection dropped from 150 down to: a handful in the MOD budget massacre.
6. The pilot training program is still grounded. A wait and see on this, before ordering mistake-jets used for “training” would be prudent.

So, if none of that is considered by the U.K at the Canadian meeting, they might as well not show up at all.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Harvest Hawk PGM containers

Now this is cool. And will be very useful for persistent low intensity ops. I am a huge fan of the multi-functional KC-130J.

Keeping the F-35 PR machine flying

It is that time of year; where the DOD and the Hill argue over budgets.

The F-35 program needs public relations. Badly.

What to do? Perform some photo shoots for the A and B model showing dummy missiles, real racks and pylons.

Here is the latest including the missionized gun pod shape.





One could be forgiven for thinking these are warplanes and the program is making significant progress. They would be mistaken.

It is interesting to note that any LRIP aircraft done before batch 6 are junk. They do not have the hardware to drive the final Block 3 software.

Then there are those problems.

Which might not see a fix until LRIP-8.

And at what price and actual worth?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A non-solution, solution for arrogant USAF leadership

How can the United States Air Force field the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter before 2020?

It is a fair question since the one constant is program delay and cost growth.

I propose the following if the USAF is so intent on fielding a mediocrity.

1. Write up a requirement to have a HUD put in the aircraft. Not very joint, but we are talking about survival.

2. Write up a requirement that the first IOC squadron will be used for Air Sovereignty missions or ASA. Something the USAF recently renamed because they were continually embarrassed by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) on their inability to properly resources and manage home air defense.

This requirement would be for the HUD, the AIM-9X on the outside pylon and the gun. There you go. A squadron that can do home defense out of somewhere not too hot and not near very much water (where one risks dumping the aircraft when the unreliable IPP fails). Hill AFB, Utah will do.

3. Write up a requirement for another squadron (also at Hill). It will have the HUD and will only be able to drop JDAMs from the internal bays (in a F-117-like release profile).

4. Weight savings. Remove the DAS cameras and EOTs.

About all these 2 squadrons will be able to do is gather data in a permanent IOC like state for a follow-on design.

Real weight savings and any hope of reliability will not happen until USAF writes up a requirement for a D model. This aircraft will have a different motor which doesn´t suffer the 2000 pounds of dead weight from the STOVL design. The D will also need a more reliable power system to avoid IPP woes. Hint: the F-16 has some answers.

That will not fix all the woes with the USAF and the F-35 program, but it will give them what they want. An illusion of using your money for something useful; even if they are wasting it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rudderless

Let us look at Defence and their poor thinking.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith does not plan to proceed with a scheduled decision on the purchase of another 58 Joint Strike Fighters valued at almost $6 billion this calendar year.

Because there is no such thing as a go-to-war configured F-35 at that price. Maybe one will be available for evaluation in 2020? 2022? Never?

"The government is not delivering on its 2009 Defence White Paper commitments," Australian Strategic Policy Institute budgetary analyst Mark Thompson said.

Because the 2009 White Paper was a stupid joke.

He said savings under the strategic reform program had been exaggerated, capability planning was unrealistic, Defence's long-term plans were unaffordable and further budget cuts were to be expected in May as the government sought its ''holy grail'' of a 2013 budget surplus.

And we should not be surprised given the deskilled thinking available in quantity.

Mr Smith, who fears delays in the JSF program could leave Australia with an air-warfare capability gap, said he was more focused on what would happen with the first 14 planes - only two of which Australia is contractually obliged to take - than the second tranche right now.

Yet no one seems to have the balls to say that those two jets will be worthless junk.
He is due to receive a submission from the Defence Materiel Organisation on the next 58 JSFs, the so-called ''second tranche'', around September or October

Why? Any "analysis" by that crew will be faulty; by virtue of their performance.

Wasting more of your money

Experts said that was likely to translate into a decision to upgrade at least six of the new 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet to advanced electronic warfare variants.

The federal government had 12 Super Hornets hard-wired on the assembly line for possible conversion as EA-18G Growlers - a move that would give the air force a formidable new capability unmatched in the Asia-Pacific.

Not really.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Minister for Defence Materiel - Address to the Australian Defence Magazine Congress

A captive and friendly audience is what meets the DMO for the address to the Australian Defence Magazine (read-Defence cheerleaders) Congress.

The following quote from the full address below is stunning:

¨Take the Collins Class subs, it’s quite clear that there were problems, there were mistakes, and there are of course many challenges ahead, but no nation, no matter how advanced, expects to deliver complex projects without controversy. We simply should not forget that the Pentagon was once derided for thinking that computer systems actually had a place in the military hardware; that the Humvee, the M1 Abrams, the Black Hawk were all criticised in their time. And I can recall the Bushmaster here was heavily criticised in the early days and it may well have come to the point where it was closed down. But today would anyone argue that it has saved lives for Australians for many years?¨

Comparing the Collins disaster to the Humvee, the M1 and the Blackhawk. Good luck with that. Those platforms when fielded actually delivered value. The Collins has done no such thing. The Bushmaster? Great program. Great vehicle But here is the other part of the story. In the beginning, the entrenched Defence bureaucracy wrote such a poor performance contract, that when there were problems early on, Defence was near powerless to do much except sit, watch and hope it worked out. Pretty much their standard procedure with procurement management.

Then this:

¨Now, there’s a view in some quarters, and I read it in The Financial Review on a regular basis, that these are all decisions that simply come down to the bottom line in next year’s budget. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the message the Australian people pursue. I think the Australian people are tired of small mindedness. They are sick of hearing that other countries are better, are cheaper or are smarter. They want to believe that this is a country that can do great things for its troops and for the people they defend.´

No. The public is long tired of gross incompetence in places like the failed experiment known as the DMO along with other known associates promoted way beyond their skill level.

This kind of gathering is music for rent-seekers who lobby for more Defence waste. And what real value does Defence provide at $27B per year? Not much. The organisation needs a hair cut of about $10B for what little it provides.



Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for the opportunity to be with you today, it’s a great pleasure.

Some two months into the job I thought this would be an opportunity to share with you a few of my early reflections. I’m the 29th Minister to hold the Defence Procurement Portfolio since 1939. What I have discovered in these first two months is just how much attention the Defence community pays to this issue of legacy, and it is the case in my circumstance where I’ve taken on what might we describe as the legacy of 28 predecessors. And some, of course, have had more profound legacies than others. But I’m not really here today to talk to you about others’ legacies; I’m here today to talk about our legacy.

I believe that we have to face up to our responsibilities, to our legacy to future generations. This financial year the DMO will spend more than $10B and every day Australian Defence personnel stake their lives on the quality of the equipment that we provide. So our decisions shape the lives of real people but, however, it’s not just the lives of Defence personnel that we’re talking about and it’s not just the lives of the 27,000 people that work in the local Defence industries. More broadly, our decisions help determine what skills, what technologies, what industrial capabilities this country will take well into the next century.

So, all of this begs the question, “What are we trying to achieve?” Defence procurement is not simply about buying modern weapons; it’s very much part of developing a modern country. So I face this job on the basis of asking myself, “What sort of country will we be defending in years to come?”, “What are we as a people capable of achieving?”

Now, there’s a view in some quarters, and I read it in The Financial Review on a regular basis, that these are all decisions that simply come down to the bottom line in next year’s budget. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the message the Australian people pursue. I think the Australian people are tired of small mindedness. They are sick of hearing that other countries are better, are cheaper or are smarter. They want to believe that this is a country that can do great things for its troops and for the people they defend.

So I say we can. I say we should be ambitious. We want the best equipment we can afford and we want to be the best at supplying it. Now, those of you who know me well from another role know that I’m very much in favour of buying Australian. I wear this badge consciously. But it’s not a question of buying Australian at any price or on any terms, and this is a point I cannot stress enough. I’m not in the business of defending second best and, from all of my dealings with industry; I don’t believe that you are either. And that’s why we together must strive for excellence.

Now, we have no trouble arguing the case that we build world-class schools, that we will build world-class universities, we’re building the MBM, we’re modernising our tax system and we are shifting to clean technology. We have no trouble arguing that because we are a creative and a clever people. And so I say why shouldn’t we support our troops by investing in ourselves?

Take the Collins Class subs, it’s quite clear that there were problems, there were mistakes, and there are of course many challenges ahead, but no nation, no matter how advanced, expects to deliver complex projects without controversy. We simply should not forget that the Pentagon was once derided for thinking that computer systems actually had a place in the military hardware; that the Humvee, the M1 Abrams, the Black Hawk were all criticised in their time. And I can recall the Bushmaster here was heavily criticised in the early days and it may well have come to the point where it was closed down. But today would anyone argue that it has saved lives for Australians for many years?

So we shouldn’t judge our achievements on the basis of popular prejudice. Collins subs are, as I’m often told, for complexity on a par with the space shuttle. We forget how ambitious the goal was at the time, largely because we have lost sight of how far we’ve actually moved along the line to be able to produce equipment of this scale and this complexity.

As late as the 1980’s we were reliant on the Abram Class submarines built in the United Kingdom, yet we developed the capabilities at home to upgrade them and we developed the skills to use them. And that laid the foundations for the Collins build program.

Now, whatever your views on the program, it has delivered one of the largest conventional submarines in the world, and for Australia I believe that has developed a unique capability for our needs. So we should not even contemplate, that when it comes to the question of the Future Subs, that it will be a long journey. And that we should be ambitious for what this country can produce.

And I don’t want for a moment to forget how tough the conditions have been or they’re likely to remain. It’s important to remember a few basic facts. We are a small nation with the world’s third largest maritime territory to secure. We are a great trading nation. Our prosperity rests upon our capacity to keep our shipping lanes open. Ninety-nine percent of all our trade is by sea, and we simply cannot rely upon someone else to do all the jobs that we can’t do ourselves. We cannot leave our security to the whim of the market. We must be willing to achieve great things. And if we have the ambition this government is about building the conditions to realise that ambition.

Now, as I read it, this is very much what DMO’s mission’s all about. They are here to support people who support our troops and I want to assure you they want to work with industry to get the right equipment and the right capabilities together. And that’s, for instance, if we take the example that’s been developed with a priority industry capability health checks. This is a government and industry working together to monitor and build our strength strategically. And today I’m releasing two further health checks covering the Signature Management and the Mission Critical Software Systems and they’ll be available on the DMO website.

Our second example is our reforms to the ship maintenance arrangements, and over the service life of our fleets the total investment in the sustainment can be double or triple the original purchase price of any particular unit. And a lot of that work has to be done in Australia. And it’s a long term need requiring long term investments in capabilities. For that reason, the old sustainable model, I think the sustainment model cannot meet that need and so it’s been changed. The burden of industry suppliers to our larger ships is to bid in the past on the basis of each and every maintenance activity will be a thing of the past. Longer term contracts are the way of the future, to provide the incentives for the investment’s company need in their own capabilities.

And we’ll bring down the administrative costs and we’ll help raise the incentive for our suppliers, as I say, to invest in their own future.

The new arrangements are being rolled out for the ANZAC frigates first, with the FFG fleet to follow, and the next five year contract for the ANZAC fleet is expected to deliver cost savings in that way of between 10% and 15% over the current arrangement.

The government hopes to be able to make an announcement on this contract in the very near future. This is also the contract model for, that Defence may use for the landing helicopter docking ships and the air warfare destroyers.

It’s a new approach, an approach that’s good for industry, it’s good for our navy and it’s good for the Australian taxpayers.

Now, that’s the sort of legacy I think we can all be proud of to build if we simply have the courage to pay our part. Thank you very much.

More delay for Australia's F-35 fantasy

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A new day, and Smith is still poorly advised about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:

Mr Smith says the US has devoted so much to this project that in the end it will be successful.

"The first risk from our perspective in my view has always been capability gap, by the scheduling. Secondly, of course there is a unit cost risk as well," he said.

Mr Smith says Australia has been sensible from the outset in opting only for the conventional landing and takeoff JSF variant.

1. He has no proof that it will be successful. The program is riddled with problems; is not affordable; and is light years away from showing a go-to-war configuration; if ever.

2. And, who told him that; implying that things are so much better because Australia opted for the conventional landing and take off variant?

I smell a rat.


“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office brief to Australian journalists, 2002-

". . . US$40 million dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Media Air Commodore John Harvey, AM Angus Houston, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003-

" . . US$45 million in 2002 dollars . ."
-JSCFADT/Senate Estimates, Air Commodore John Harvey, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003/2004-

". . average unit recurring flyaway cost of the JSF will be around US$48 million, in 2002 dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Press Club Briefing, Air Commodore John Harvey, 2006

". . the JSF Price (for Australia) - US$55 million average for our aircraft . . in 2006 dollars . ."
-Senate Estimates/Media AVM John Harvey ACM Angus Houston, Nov. 2006-

“…DMO is budgeting around A$131 million in 2005 dollars as the unit procurement cost for the JSF. .”
-AVM John Harvey Briefing, Office of the Minister for Defence, May 2007-

“There are 108 different cost figures for the JSF that I am working with and each of them is correct”
-Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep./Oct. 2007-

“…I would be surprised if the JSF cost us anymore than A$75 million … in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92”
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO DMO, July 2008-

". . Dr Gumley's evidence on the cost of the JSF was for the average unit recurring flyaway cost for the Australian buy of 100 aircraft . ."
-JSCFADT/Media AVM John Harvey, Aug. 2008-

Confirmed previous advice i.e. A$75 million in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92,
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep. 2009-

" ...about $77 million per copy."
-Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Feb. 2008.

Captive carry tests

The F-35 testers performed a flight with some external racks and AIM-9 shapes.

A few points. This is just a normal phase of the test program to get good data on captive carry flight performance. Not a big deal.

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Or is it?

At this time there is no way to weaponeer stores. The avionics along with the helmet system are faulty. Once they figure that out ( I am voting for a HUD ), then we may have a less galactically stupid way forward with this failed program.

When they get to stores release it should be fun and full of discovery.

I love the temporary fix for not cooking the horizontal stabs when using sustained after-burner.

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Stealthy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

CF-18 refurb a poor idea

The idea that CF-18s would run out of life by 2020 wasn't much news to us that actually take the time to study the issue.

Funny how the issue is just now appearing in the media.

Slow.

As I have mentioned before, the F-35 is disqualified as a CF-18 replacement for any number of reasons but also, time.

It will be the 2020s before any intelligent purchaser of military equipment can evaluate the F-35 for their air arm. That is, if the program lasts that long.

There is also significant confusion on refurbishment (or what defines refurbishment) for a CF-18.

The CF-18 and the F-16 were designed as part of a light-weight fighter design. The goal was to build up affordable fighter aircraft in-number to face the Soviet threat.

The CF-18 and F-16 are not "depot-jets" like the F-15. In other words, the F-15 was designed to fly x amount of hours and then go into deep maintenance every 5-7 years, then put back into the field. I have seen the F-15 depot process first hand.

The CF-18 and F-16 were meant to be flown x amount of hours and then thrown into the trash. Of the two, the F-16 is easier to extend life on. Wing flex, forward bulkhead corrosion and various fittings have to be replaced.

The CF-18 (or all classic Hornets) require many things in refurbishment. There is the center-barrel replacement. This is the area of the fuselage where the wings and landing-gear are located. This part of the jet is disassembled and then you look to see how bad things are. Each barrel replacement is a custom job as each jet has different levels of corrosion and wear.

Barrel replacement started out as a one-off fluke. Years ago a new F-18C was wrecked. Someone decided if they changed the barrel and some other things, they could put the aircraft back into action.

Today that process has turned into a small production line. Depending on who does it (places like Jacksonville, Florida) or up in Canada, it can take up to a year to perform.

And this doesn't count for all the other areas that need to be refurbished that don't include the barrel; wing corrosion fixes being one.

And as one can see in this 2007 Australian example: ministers and politicians can get a might confused over the process.

"Dr Nelson said modified aircraft would regain 100 per cent of their fatigue life, giving up to nine years' additional service life."

Well, there you go.

Refurbishing CF-18s (again) to make them last past 2020 is a fool's errand. But try telling these people such a thing.

"Defence experts have been pushing the government since last fall to consider a further upgrade to the CF-18s.

Retired air force lieutenant-colonel Dean Black has said it's something that should be considered rather than going down the road of Australia buying new Super Hornets, the beefed up version of the F-18."

Sorry, I am not seeing him as a "defence expert" on this topic. Think flight envelope restriction (by airframe) and an operational scheduling mess (only airframes xs to xy can carry this amount of weight or push x amount of g's).

End the stupidity.

The only solution is for Canada to stop and begin a tender process for the CF-18 replacement.

Any other solution is irresponsible.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

DND boss expressed worries to U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee chair

It is tough to be DND minister Mackay. Some people are so arrogant they will do anything not to be proven wrong.

See this Canadian article (Google translate: French-to-English).

MacKay has openly pleaded with U.S. Senator McCain claiming that the F-35 is the only solution for Canada. It is unfortunate that all this time, MacKay has been so poorly advised by his staff.

Ottawa- Fearing political fallout from the release of Republican Senator John McCain against cost overruns associated with construction of the F-35, Defence Minister Peter MacKay called the American politician, last June, to sing the praises of this device that wish to buy Canada, the United States and other allies.

The call from the Minister MacKay occurred about two weeks after striking the statements of Senator McCain before the committee of the Senate Armed Services to study the viability of the purchase of these stealth aircraft to be built by U.S. firm Lockheed Martin.

Mr. McCain has specifically stated that the Pentagon should abandon the acquisition program of approximately 2400 units given the explosion of construction costs and failures in the development of these devices.
Another problem is Canada has to stick to a rigid budget based on erroneous assumptions like this:

In Canada, the Harper government maintains that it will pay on average $ 75 million per aircraft. It then plans to spend $ 7 billion for aircraft maintenance for two decades. But many believe that the unit cost will be much higher - from 110 to 135 million.
Based on current USAF costing issues, Canada will be luck to afford 20 jets. And what they buy will be riddled with mistakes.

Or, they can come up with a credible plan-B. I wonder if MacKay has read this letter?

Solutions

MOD's £38b 'black hole' almost balanced

Now that there is little left. In order to save the village, we had to destroy it?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

USAFs F-35 procurement plan is not believable

United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft FY2013 procurement numbers (PDF) for the F-35 have taken an alarming cost rise since the FY2009 budget.

To be fair, much of that is due to leadership and management incompetence on the part of the DOD F-35 program office and the prime vendor, Lockheed Martin. Because there are so many significant engineering defects, real costs in the program are unknown.

The USAF is an important measure of F-35 procurement health. It is on record as the biggest potential buyer at 1763 aircraft. The USAF F-35A variant is also similar to what most foreign partner nations hoped to buy.

If the USAF large volume buy is in trouble, so is everyone else.

For the  FY2009 budget, USAF predicted that each aircraft purchased that year (we will use weapons system cost) would be $226M. Then, USAF predicted it would pay $100M for each F-35 in FY2013.

The recently released USAF budget prediction shows that for FY2013, the service expects to pay $181M for each F-35. A cost rise of $81M each from the FY2009 prediction.

In FY2009, the USAF expected to pay $172 billion for 1763 F-35s. For FY2013, the USAF predicts that 1763 F-35s will cost $212B; $40B over the FY2009 prediction.

In FY2009, USAF predicted the average cost of each aircraft would be $90M over the span of the total buy of 1763 aircraft. For FY2013, the USAF expects to pay $120M as an average cost of each F-35 for the programs buy of 1763 aircraft. This rise of 33% in just 4 years spells trouble.

If the USAF wants to stay on budget in relation to its FY2009 prediction, it would have to cut 529 aircraft; leaving 1234 F-35s for the USAFs total program buy.

Where will we be in another 4 years? What will future USAF leaders think of their predecessors when having to budget for a significant tac-air short-fall?

“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office, 2002-

Award winner

And the rent-seeker award of the week goes to...

Friday, February 17, 2012

NACC continues the cover-up

Israel is worried about their F-35 decision. Unlike Canada or the U.S., they cannot spare any dead-weight in their force structure.

Australia on the other hand is clueless. They may still go forward with buying two mistake-jets. They don't know what it will cost.

All this time, Australia's New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office have been doing a job on ministers; covering up the failings of the program. Hint: It isn't "fifth-generation" unless one considers ushering in a new era of defence procurement failure as progress.

Today, the government is in serious debt. Defence procurement incompetence can no longer be tolerated. Even our neighbor--who no longer has fighter jets--knows what is going on.

I wonder when the NACC office will join the team and do what is right for Australia?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Canada's F-35 debacle (procurement and sustainment)

The current Canadian leadership claims of F-35 program viability are  easy to shoot down. One of the big reasons being that there are so many significant engineering faults with the design making it near-impossible to compare with a jet that actually works.

Also the government is hinting that the acquisition of a CF-18 replacement has to fall within the budget of $16B; including 30 years of support.

A chart below is more close to the real picture of things if the DND has to have their 65 mistake-jets.

(Red figure for O&S is $30k per hour per airframe for 300 hours per year)



And how many defective F-35s can be fielded (properly) for $16B? With the cost trends rising; 20? 25? And it is doubtful they will have any more value than the current submarine debacle.

Another portrait of DND procurement management impotence.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

F-15 Boeing strike eagle / silent eagle specs from Singapore air show

Here is some interesting reading for the F-15 strike eagle / silent eagle path.

New AIM-120D motor production slow down--JDRADM cancelled

As mentioned here, the AIM-120 price in the DOD's proposed FY2013 budget has gone into the stratosphere.

More on the story here.

Also, JDRADM, which was supposed to be a dual-role missile is gone.
Van Buren said the quality of the missiles that have been delivered is “fine,” but the weapons can’t be produced in quantity due to a high rejection rate for the rocket motors being built.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a defect, I would characterize it as a through-put issue,” he said. “The through-put of acceptable motors is not meeting production schedules.”

But the Pentagon must have the new AMRAAM variant.

“The AMRAAM is a critical part of the air-to-air mission,” Van Buren said.

The next-generation Joint Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile, which would have replaced both the AMRAAM and the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation missile, which is used to suppress enemy air defenses, has been terminated because it was unaffordable.

Italy reduces F-35 order by 40

Italy has reduced their order of F-35s by 40.

Cost is the main reason cited however why did that cost go up?

It went up because of significant incompetence in the area of F-35 program leadership and management which has produced a raft of defects yet to be fixed.

U.S. Navy not serious about cutting budget or improving capability

The power of lobbying. It is one of the reasons the faulty Littoral Combat Ship is still allowed to breath air in the recent DOD FY2013 budget submission. The other reason is that there are 4 stars promoted way above their ability who don't want to be proven wrong. These things will be the weights that drag Navy combat capability down.

4 LCS will be funded.

Meanwhile the Navy will dramatically cut the Joint High Speed Vessel; ordering only 1 in this budget.



At $189M each, the JHSV makes more sense for the Pacific strategy backed by Washington. This vessel would be a huge benefit in low-intensity scenarios throughout the South-Pacific, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Killing the LCS and F-35C requirement gives the U.S. Navy money to spend on platforms that can actually contribute to U.S. power projection.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Uninspired garbage, comes at a price

From DOD´s proposed FY2013 budget.


(click image to make larger)

Not believable

True lies; true nonsense.

According to Bolton, funding also remains in place for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter -- the centerpiece for future modernization to be able to prevail in contested environments.

Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) price blow-out in FY2013 DOD budget

This is a follow up to the post the other day on the high cost of things.

I just saw the numbers for the proposed FY2013 defense budget from DOD on the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and was shocked. Granted they are also working on an SDBII which is more complex, but if we keep going at this rate, we won't be able to afford a war because:

1. We are already in grave debt.
2. Munitions are so expensive that we can only afford less of them.
3. While precision guided munitions are efficient; that works only to a point.

The Small Diameter Bomb was going to cost around 50K each. Pricey, but over time we would hope the price goes down. It was to do a few things:

1. Be low collateral.
2. Penetrate like a 2000lb BLU-109 forged steel pointy tip.
2. But just as important, allow an aircraft to carry more weapons per sortie because it was light and small and there are a wide range of target-sets that can die by a precisely placed small warhead.
3. Be a stand-off weapon to put the launching platform at less risk.

For low threat wars it is a non-starter. The U.S. Navy solved the low collateral problem by taking a 500 pound class dumb bomb (BLU-111), and removing some of the explosive filler and replacing it with ballast so that when mated to a Paveway laser-guided kit, it flew well with little explosive power. There have been other low collateral options like flying a Paveway with a training bomb (no explosive just cement ballast) into a vehicle or piece of equipment to wreck it.

USAF came up with a requirement for a special low-collateral warhead above and beyond the stock SDB, but at what price are we to follow this?

If you look at the proposed FY2013 budget, we are buying 144 SDBs this year.

At the cost of $291,666 each not counting R&D.

Unreal.

USAF moves 98 F-35s out of 5 year procurement plan

Via Inside-Defense (subscription)-


Air Force Request Moves 98 JSFs Out of FYDP, Buys Fewer Reapers

The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 budget request recommends moving the procurement of 98 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft out of the current five-year defense plan, buying half as many MQ-9 Reapers as in FY-12, cutting two acquisition programs designed to build partnership capacity and continuing early research on a next-generation bomber, two senior service budget officials said this morning.

So much for "commitment". But they were not getting anything near "plan" anyway.

F-35 in the proposed FY2013 WH budget

F-35 mistake-jets in the proposed WH budget for FY2013:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Victory for a second-tier strike fighter solution

RAAF Super Hornets (good AESA radar foot-prints) and the Wedgetail (at whatever capability delivered) on deployment.

via Defence:


Super Hornets and Wedgetail arrive in Guam for
Exercise COPE NORTH

The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) newest capabilities have soared over the coastline of Guam on their first overseas mission together for 2012 during Exercise COPE NORTH.

This is the first time the RAAF has participated in Exercise COPE NORTH, a bi‑annual exercise historically for the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) that started in 1978.

The Super Hornets and Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail aircraft, along with 300 Air Force personnel, have commenced the tri-lateral air defence exercise that allows the aircrew to enhance their tactical skills and joint operational capability alongside military aircraft from the USAF and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

Six of the ‘Rhinos’ from Amberley’s Number 1 Squadron and a Wedgetail from Williamtown’s Number 2 Squadron have touched down at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, to participate in their first overseas deployment with the JASDF. It is the second overseas deployment for both the Super Hornet and Wedgetail since they were delivered to the Air Force.

Commander of the Australian contingent for the exercise, Group Captain Geoffrey Harland, said the exercise will provide excellent opportunities for RAAF personnel to integrate with a joint task force to learn how other countries operate.

“The training will be invaluable and there will be many important lessons learnt from our participation in this exercise,” Group Captain Harland said.

“Exercise COPE NORTH will allow the aircrew to develop an appreciation of the capabilities and strengths of the different aircraft types which is valuable training for air combat and Surveillance and Response Group personnel who may be required to operate in a coalition environment in the future.”

The international aircraft comprises the USAF’s F-16s, B-52s, F-15Cs, F-16CJs and KC-135, and JASDF’s F-15Js, F2s and E2Cs. More than 1,000 military personnel from around the world are expected to participate.

During Exercise COPE NORTH, Number 37 Squadron’s C-130 will also participate in a separate exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The exercise will run from the 13 to 24 February.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Expensive tac-air stuff in the FY2013 budget proposal

Take a look at the U.S. DOD FY2013 budget proposal. Some of these weapons systems used to be “affordable”.

The sample below represents the total acquisition cost for each item in the FY2013 budget proposal.


Back in the 1990's the JASSM was supposed to be an affordable cruise missile at around 400k each. Remember Powell complaining about bouncing rubble with million dollar cruise missiles in Desert Storm? Well, that "affordable' post Desert Storm JASSM is now shockingly high. At $1.57 mil each, it better be one heck of a target to be worth that money. And; the JASSM has had some significant troubles over the years performing up to any reasonable level....in highly scripted range events. Some recent tests have been good, but I wonder what will happen if a USAF general points to a bomber unit and has them do no-notice live-fire tests on different production lots gathering dust in the igloos.

The other part of that is that the accuracy of cruise missiles is always a tightly guarded secret. Hint; they didn't do all that well in Desert Storm, yes that was a long time ago, but I'm not so convinced on the bang for the buck. Granted it beats sending a pilot to a fixed target, but in the case of Libya, the air defense was so weak that it didn't require cruise missiles. It was more for show. A JDAM party would have been fine.

The JSOW now costs what a JASSM was supposed to cost. JSOW was supposed to be around the 200k region depending on variant.

JDAM was supposed to be around 18k per kit. Today those kits are 33k each.

The AIM-120 has taken a giant leap for defense contractor kind; well beyond the cost of the JA$$M.

I don't think I am getting that old. I am just a bit concerned about what we are buying.

Dumb naming of dumb ships

Today, you can get shot, and get your name on the worst ship design for the U.S. Navy.

Progress.

USAF does not know a date for F-35 IOC; slows rate of procurement

USAF will slow down its rate of F-35 orders. The service doesn't even know when they can declare IOC. Don't act shocked, the service is not displaying a bold leadership decision on par with Curtis LeMay.

Take it for what it is. This is a safe, bureaucratic move that goes with the flow. The F-35 program is starting to collapse under its own weight, so the timid can state that they will slow down procurement while pretending leadership.

History:

USAF was to order 110 F-35s per year when full-rate kicked in. As a result of the 2004 SWAT, this went to 80 per year for full-rate in 2006 and extending out the years. In 2008, USAF plans and programs declared they couldn't see a way to pay for more than 48 each year.


The take-away from this article is the following:

“That call is well into the future,” Schwartz said.

Of course. He will be retired by then. Let us not make any strong leadership decisions at the service level. Just continue to rake in that 4-star pay and benefits.

"With rank comes responsibility" is only uttered as a platitude in USAF HQ. It should read, "With rank comes responsibility to protect my job and any post-retirement employment opportunities."


A meeting of the deceived

There will be a meeting of those that have been deceived.

This article has enough holes in it and errors in fact to drive a truck through it. However this is of interest:

But Canada has tentatively scheduled a meeting of the partners at its embassy in Washington before the Australian meeting to get an update on the program and better coordinate their approach.

Moronic statements like this don't help:

"They see progress in the test program and are scratching their heads why Washington is slowing down its orders," said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak publicly. "If they're short of money, they should just say so."

Maybe if they re-read (or read if they have been asleep at the wheel) this letter one more time, the real status of the program might start to sink in.

For an alternate solution; the U.S. State Department is only a phone call away.

The JSF partner nations also have to take on-board the prime reason for rising costs and delay. That reason is defective engineering management and leadership

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.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Australian Defence pushes more misinformation on the F-35 to the press

Defence is misleading the press.

Again.

The F-35 cheerleaders are afraid that Smith will sign up for another order of Super Hornets. They think a preemptive strike in the media--which proclaims that the F-35 debacle is manageable--can't hurt.

Today's Canberra Times has a read that has the usual Defence talking points which are wrong. They are yet to figure out the following:

1. The F-35 is not a fifth-generation fighter (except in the dreams of marketing people)
2. The 2009 Defence White Paper is a joke.
3. The F-35 will not be able to take on modern anti-access threats.
4. The F-35 program has significant problems.
5. Some major U.S. political leaders are not happy about those problems.

A CF-18 replacement scenario for Canada

My last off the cuff figure of what it would take for Canada to do a Super Hornet deal was stripped and not equipped. As someone suggested, it would be in the end, too low.

What would a real deal look like? Probably something like below. Interesting. Because it isn't too far off from the non-DND studies thrown about for an F-35 procurement (much higher than the Lockheed Martin talking point crowd). My scenario has support for 20 years and not 30 years. More; note the language that I used in the fake DSCA release below. It hints at an open competition for replacement of Canada's aging CF-18s.


Canada – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2013 – Today the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of 28 F/A-18E Super Hornet Aircraft, eight F/A-18F Super Hornet Aircraft, 72 F414-GE-400 installed engines, a host of spare parts and munitions at an estimated value of $6.5 billion; with an option to purchase at a later date an additional 36 aircraft.

The Government of Canada has requested proposals from several foreign suppliers, including the United States, to provide the next generation fighter for the Canadian Defence Force. In this competition, the Government of Canada has yet to select the United States Navy-Boeing proposal.

This notification is being made in advance of receipt of a letter of request so that, in the event that the US Navy-Boeing proposal is selected, the United States might move as quickly as possible to implement the sale. If the Government of Canada selects the U.S. Navy-Boeing proposal, the Government of Canada will request a possible sale of 28 F/A-18E Super Hornet Aircraft, eight F/A-18F Super Hornet Aircraft, 72 F414-GE-400 installed engines, four F414-GE-400 spare engines, 36 AN/APG-79 Radar Systems, 36 M61A2 20mm Gun Systems, 36 AN/ALR-67(V) three Radar Warning Receivers, 144 LAU-127 Launchers, 44 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), 144 AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 144 AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Missiles, and 36 AN/ASQ-228 (V2) Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) Pods. Also included are 36 AN/ALQ-214 Radio Frequency Countermeasures. 40 AN/ALE-47 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Systems, 112 AN/ALE-55 Towed Decoys, 12 air-to-air refueling kits, Joint Mission Planning System, support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, ferry and tanker support, flight test, software support, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.


I propose that the second order of Super Hornets would be for 36 single-seat E models. A package very similar to above in content for $6.3B. Grand-total: 72 aircraft.

Operating and sustainment figures for 20 years will be for cost of flight hour only. I am averaging this out to $22k per flight hour; 300 flight hours per airframe, per year.

Grand total (not counting facilities upgrades) is around $22.3B to replace Canada's CF-18s with 72 Super Hornets including 20 years of basic operations and sustainment costs.

(ATFLIR on BlockII F-18F)

Friday, February 10, 2012

How will it end?

Manage the failure now, or pay big later.

Moribund and dysfunctional.

`"The criticisms are inconsistent with years of detailed analysis undertaken by Defence, the JSF program office, Lockheed Martin and eight other F-35 partner nations," a Defence spokesman said.

More like years of detailed regurgitating Lockheed Martin talking points. Defence is so confident of their position that it is an unnamed "spokesman".

I like this:

Defence and industry sources have told The Canberra Times these concerns have been overstated and there is no reason to believe the 100 JSFs detailed in Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper can’t be delivered on time, on budget and able to do the job they were commissioned to do.

I think things are speeding up. The rate of doom that is. I figure the end will be something like below: It won't be pretty and the program will take some with it. All because of pig-headed pride.

WVR

Friday.

Been a busy week so I haven't posted as much. One of Lexs' viewers found this interesting bit of history from the days of the old "Joint Strike Fighter": the F-4 Phantom.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canada has to identify the root cause of their DND air power problem

I applaud some in Canada who, more and more, are discussing alternatives to the failed project known as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. With that, the discussion seems to be in error when specifics of aircraft performance are mentioned; for instance, suggesting that drones can do air policing duty.

When looking at a plan-B to the F-35 one has to first identify all the problems before suggesting a solution. Paramount in the discovery process is noting that DND leadership either has no available skill-sets in the profession of air power or, senior leadership is ignoring the in-house experts (if there are any). This is the very first thing that has to be sorted out.

Next everyone has to come to grips with the fact that there isn’t a lot of money to spend on a replacement for the CF-18. Note that when the CF-18 was being considered years ago, aircraft like the F-14 and F-15 were ruled out because they were too expensive. Today is no different. Canada is a price-only buyer.

Another error I have seen mentioned recently are those crowing that the CF-18s had a recent refurb and are good out to 2020. This is a grave error. If the Canadian government does not start a solid replacement action for the CF-18s by 2013, there will be significant operational problems retiring these old jets by 2020. While the jets may have had some refurbishment, it is not a zeroing out of their airframe life hours. Time is short.

There is talk of the Super Hornet. No matter what; this will always be a second-tier fighter solution that will be unable to take on serious anti-access threats in the coming years. Yet, in every area of practical proven performance, it will beat the F-35 (even if the Just so Failed gets fixed). And, the F-35 will never be able to take on serious anti-access threats by the very nature of the requirement that was its blueprint.

I have thrown around very rough calculations (nothing serious) and figure that in order for Canada to go with the Super Hornet option, it would look something like this:

12x F-18F two-seaters

60x F-18E single-seaters

20 years operations and sustainment costs (300 hours per year per airframe)

Upgrade of facilities at 3 major bases and up to 8 deployable locations with in Canada

Weapons and spares

For around $13 billion dollars; not counting industrial off-sets.

I will defer to someone that has hard access to figures.

And while one can point fingers at this idea and state it makes no sense. It makes significantly more sense than committing to a disaster of project management (the F-35) based entirely on Lockheed Martin talking points.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A letter to Panetta

Text of letter from Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chairs Levin and McCain, to DOD boss Panetta, 6 Feb 2012 (original PDF at bottom of post).


Dear Mr. Secretary;

On Friday, January 20, 2012, without prior notice to or consultation with Congress, you lifted the two-year "probation" on the F-35B. the Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) originally imposed by then-Secretary Gates about one year ago. We are seriously concerned about the lack of notice and consultation.

When Secretary Gates originally decided to put the F-35B on probation, he intended his decision to invoke specific courses of action by Lockheed Martin and the program management office to help ensure that the F-35B program established technical maturity and design stability in several key areas. Have these actions been taken? If not, your decision may have foregone a valuable opportunity to continue driving desired improvements through the still-nascent, enormously challenging program to develop the F-35B. We believe that every opportunity to focus Lockheed Martin's attention and disrupt "business as usual" in this mullibillion-dollar effort, as Secretary Gates' probation decision had done, should be maximized.

For months, this Committee has insisted—most recently in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, under section 148, "Report on Probationary Period in Development of Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing Variant of the Joint Strike Fighter"—that the Deparlment define specific criteria that would determine how the F-35B would exit probation. It is unclear to us that the Department has done so.

Nonetheless, the Department's "F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Concurrency Quick Look," released on November 29, 2011, called for "serious reconsideration of procurement and production planning". And, just days ago, Department's chief operational tester reported that the JSF Operational Test Team (consisting of the Services' operational test agencies) assessed the F- 35 program as not on being track to meet operational effectiveness or operational suitability requirements.

We appreciate that the development of F-35B has enjoyed some success over the last few months, after several years of having fallen short. We similarly understand that engineering solutions to known problems with the F-35B's structure and propulsion have been identified.

However, in the intervening time since probation was imposed, more problems with the F-35B's structure and propulsion, potentially as serious as those that were originally identified a year ago, have been found. This is salient where the F-35B has completed only 20% of its developmental test plan to date. Your decision, therefore, appears at least premature.

The Department's hastily-prepared report on the F-35B, intended to fulfill the statutory requirement of section 148, was provided to the Committee only after you announced your decision. It purports to justify your decision by explaining that based on a "holistic view" of this weapon system "sufficient progress in F-35B development, test and production [has been made] such that no uniquely distinguishing issues require more scrutiny than the other variants of the F-35". Notably, this standard was never originally defined or articulated as the exit criteria determining the F-35B's removal from probation. It is. rather, now being offered as an after-the- fact rationalization of a decision already made.

For the foregoing reasons, we pose a series of question on the appropriateness of your decision, as itemized in the attachment. We would appreciate receiving answers to these questions as soon as possible.

Beyond the substantive concerns raised in that attachment, we are also troubled that we had to learn of your intention to remove the F-35B from probation from the press just hours before your announcement. This is unacceptable.

We strongly conveyed to you and your staff our concerns about learning first from the press of the Department of Defense's decision to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding on how it would procure the fifth block of low-rate initial production (LRIP-5) JSF aircraft while this Committee was conferencing with the House Armed Services Committee in connection with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 on the very same issue. In a similar way, we had hoped that section 148 of the Act would have made abundantly clear this Committee's special interest in the criteria for lifting the probation on the F-35B. We continue to be frustrated that the Department is failing to communicate with this Committee on key developments relating to this program and ask that you rectify this problem as soon as possible.

Thank you for your assistance with this Committee's oversight of this important program.

Sincerely,

John McCain
Ranking Member

Carl Levin
Chairman


-----


Questions on F-35B Probation

1. Did the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E); the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Developmental Testing; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering; the Director, Program Assessment and Root Cause Analysis; and the Director, Cost Assessment Program Evaluation (DCAPE) specifically participate in informing the "holistic view" that led to your conclusion? If not, why not?

2. Do each of these senior advisors, who have relevant and vital expertise needed to help you make important procurement decisions on a fully informed basis, agree with your decision to take the aircraft off "probation"? If not, why not? If there were dissenting opinions on lifting probation at this time, please provide the substance of those concerns to the Committee.

3. How have improvements to the design of the F-35B's auxiliary air-inlet doors, which Secretary Gates identified in connection with his original probation decision, demonstrated maturity in this variant's short take-off and vertical landing capability so as to warrant its early removal from probation—when the redesign is only now being installed on BF-1 and related flight testing only recently began in mid-December 2011?

4. How have improvements to the design of the F-35B's upper lift fan inlet door actuators, which Secretary Gates identified in connection with his original probation decision, demonstrated maturity in this variant's short take-off and vertical landing capability so as to warrant its early removal from probation—when a new actuator is only now in development and an interim design will not be tested until late 2012?

5.How have improvements to the design of the F-35B's FS 496 bulkhead, cracks in which Secretary Gates identified in connection with his original probation decision, demonstrated maturity in this variant's short take-off and vertical landing capability so as to warrant its early removal from probation?

6.How have improvements to the design of the F-35B's lift-fan clutch, which Secretary Gates identified in connection with his original probation decision, demonstrated maturity in this variant's short take-off and vertical landing capability so as to warrant its early removal from probation—when the risk associated with, and a path forward on, this propulsion problem has not yet been determined and a production cut-in for any redesign is not planned for any earlier than the seventh block of low-rate initial production aircraf (LRIP-7)? Do you agree that altering flight procedures for the F-35B and installing a warning indicator are inadequate as a permanent solution to this problem?

7. How have improvements to the design of the F-35B's lift-fan drive shaft, which Secretary Gates identified in connection with his original probation decision and which has undergone redesign twice already, demonstrated maturity in this variant's short take-off and vertical landing capability so as to warrant its early removal from probation—when the failure of the second redesign is only now being analyzed and corrective action is going on now?

8. Why is early removal warranted in the face of other, recently-discovered problems with the F-35B, including, the lift-fan door actuator support beam, roll-post nozzle doors and actuators, the three-bearing swivel nozzle door, the main landing-gear doors and the fuel dump subsystem—where design fixes are still being developed and, therefore, have not yet been integrated and tested to ensure stability?

9. In testimony before the Committee, the JSF Program Executive Officer Vice Admiral Venlet allowed for the possibility that the F-35B could establish technical maturity and design stability in less than the two years of the probation period, if it performed well in terms of unmonitored flight, ship trials, and in the incorporation of design improvements for STOVL capability.

a. How does the F-35B's limited performance with regard to unmonitored flight warrant its early removal from probation?

b. How does the F-35B's limited performance with respect to a single, limited- duration ship trial (conducted just this past October) warrant its early removal from probation?

c. How do the significant work and flight tests that are needed to verify and incorporate modifications to the F-35B and correct known STOVL deficiencies to prepare the jet for operational use aboard large-deck amphibious ships, which have yet to be done, warrant the F-35B's early removal from probation?

10. According to the most recent annual report issued by the Department's operational testing directorate, the F-35B's current and projected weight growth, which Secretary Gates cited when he originally imposed the probation, still threatens the ability of the F-35B to meet its vertical-lift bring-back requirement—a primary STOVL-mode attribute and a key performance parameter. As of November 2011, only 230 pounds of margin existed between the plane's current weight and its not-to-exceed weight. Why does this concern—unique to the F-35B—not warrant, at a minimum, keeping this variant on probation until more of the flight testing plan is completed?

11. How is your decision warranted while the development, integration and flight testing of the most complex elements of the F-35B's mission systems still lie ahead?

12. Given that a solution to negative flight performance characteristics that impact all F-35 variants, such as wing roll-off at high angles of attack and high-speed flight regimes, has not been developed and tested and that it is, therefore, impossible to know how such solutions will be integrated with the unique F-35B configuration, how has the F-35B demonstrated the technical maturity and design stability needed to remove the F-35B from probation early?

13. Given the uniqueness of the F-35B configuration, which has already introduced numerous technological and design challenges that impact its key performance characteristics, how can one assume that solutions to the recently identified flight characteristic problems will be seamlessly integrated from one variant to another?

14. Under LRIP-4, Lockheed Martin is expected to deliver 16 STOVL jets to the program—half of the total purchase of 32 jets under that block. But, we understand that, with only about 50% of the work under LRIP-4 completed to date, work under this production contract is expected to overrun substantially, particularly, when the cost of making changes driven by discoveries made late in development are included. At this point, the program office estimates that building jets under this contract will exceed the contract's target cost ($3.46 billion) by $245 million, and that "must pay" concurrency changes will require $237 million more—for a total of $482 million. How does this expected growth in the total cost of producing aircraft under LRIP-4, about half of which is comprised of F-35B aircraft, favor removing this variant from probation early?


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lifting "probation" on F-35B STOVL was a PR move-- SASC not happy

Oh dear...I am truly shocked....

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Monday blasted the Pentagon's decision to lift a 'probation' imposed on the Marine Corps variant of the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter a year earlier than planned, saying the decision appeared premature and was not vetted with Congress.

DOD official--F-35 program "acquisition malpractice"

Late last year, the top boss of the DOD F-35 office Admiral Venlet stated that the business plan for the program--based on concurrency--was a "miscalculation".

Not long after, a quick look report by top DOD officials found numerous problems with the program that would take years to fix.

Also, the top DOD test office released a damning report finding:

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.

Today, Frank Kendall, head of weapons acquisition and development for the Department of Defense has said that, putting the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter into production before flight testing had started was "acquisition malpractice".

He covers himself with the boiler plate nonsense about:

Reaffirming the Pentagon's commitment to the program as "the future of tactical air" and echoing the conclusion of the Quick Look Review report, that "we don't at this point see anything that would preclude continuing production at a reasonable rate"

He goes on:

The program, Kendall said, had started with "the optimistic prediction that we were good enough at modeling and simulation that we would not find problems in flight test."

"That was wrong, and now we are paying for that," Kendall added.

The program is officially at the stage where massive problems can no longer be papered over. Senior DOD officials are now publicly saying things some of us already knew. The F-35 program is in trouble.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Canada's DND ignores some stark facts about the F-35

More unproven nonsense from Canada's DND.

"The reliability of the F-35 systems, the decreased time spent on maintenance and the increased use of simulator training that is anticipated for this fifth-generation fighter will result in greater aircraft availability. Given this greater availability of aircraft, the Air Force will get as many operational flight hours with 65 F-35s as it does with the CF-18s."

Which is opposite from the reality.

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.

Part of the story

Despite smaller economy and population, Australia spends considerably more on its military than Canada does
Interesting. Now the rest of the story.

Australians pay a lot for defence. But because of gross incompetence at the Defence management level, they don't get a lot of value in return. Given Canada's sub debacle and the nonsense over the F-35, yes the two are similar.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

AV Week--F-35 compromised to cyber attacks

Various sources in an Aviation Week article indicate that the F-35 and some other programs have been a victim of cyber-espionage.

Before the intrusions were discovered nearly three years ago, Chinese hackers actually sat in on what were supposed to have been secure, online program-progress conferences, the officials say.

...and...

“You are on to something,” says a veteran combat pilot with insight into both the F-35 and the intelligence communities “There are both operational and schedule problems with the program related to the cyber data thefts. In addition, there are the costs of redressing weaknesses in the original system design and lots of software fixes.”

It is doubtful that there is that much that isn't known about the F-35 when certain forces of interest do threat planning.

The F-35 program may have been vulnerable because of its lengthy development. Defense analysts note that the JSF’s information system was not designed with cyberespionage, now called advanced persistent threat, in mind. Lockheed Martin officials now admit that subcontractors (6-8 in 2009 alone, according to company officials) were hacked and “totally compromised.” In fact, the stealth fighter program probably has the biggest “attack surface” or points that can be attacked owing to the vast number of international subcontractors.

There also is the issue of unintended consequences. The 2009 hacking was apparently not aimed at the F-35 but rather at a classified program. However, those accidental results were spectacular. Not only could intruders extract data, but they became invisible witnesses to online meetings and technical discussions, say veteran U.S. aerospace industry analysts. After the break-in was discovered, the classified program was halted and not restarted until a completely new, costly and cumbersome security system was in place.

As an aside, too bad that senate staffers don't have much of a clue how air power works:

“I think the biggest issue facing the JSF is that there has been a profound shift in the military’s perception of the value of manned aircraft compared to unmanned aircraft,” he says. “I’ve had long conversations with a Marine Corps forward air controller who has just returned from Afghanistan. He pointed out that an F/A-18 can be kept on call for 15 minutes, but an unmanned Reaper is there for eight hours. The day of the fighter pilot is over. There has been a seismic shift in the military’s value judgment of manned and unmanned aircraft.”

Now try that magic trick in a non-permissive air environment. It seems others are confused too:

The JSF and its mission of penetrating integrated air defense systems will not be threatened by unmanned aircraft despite cost issues, says a retired aerospace official who has been involved with the F-35 throughout its life.

Since the F-35 won't cut it against modern anti-access threats, the statement above doesn't mean much.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

USAF's air power leadership deficit

I love the USAF.

However, its senior leadership is way off the reservation on the definition of air power.

Despite production delays for the F-35, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley insisted the government remained fully committed to the program and to purchasing a total of 2,443 of the aircraft as planned.

'This is a must-do for our armed forces. It's the future of the fighter force, not only for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, but also about 12 other international partners as well,' he said.
We may be in trouble for the long term if this is not turned around.

GAO- F-35 cost per flying hour higher than rosy estimates

One of the deceptions used to sell the F-35 program to Congress was that it would be cheaper to own and operate compared to legacy aircraft.

A newly released GAO report shows that the DOD's ability to report operations and sustainment (O&S) costs of major weapons systems is faulty.

Here is part of what the report had to say about the F-35:

"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office underreported the average cost per flying hour for the aircraft in the 2010 SAR. The average, steady-state O&S cost per flying hour was reported as $16,425 (fiscal year 2002 dollars). Program officials told us that the number of aircraft used in the estimate for the Air Force’s inventory was not accurate and the estimate also did not project for future cost growth above inflation. The estimate included approximately 528 extra aircraft that when calculating the average cost per flying hour, resulted in higher flight hours and lower average costs per hour. Further, according to the SAR, some of the F-35’s O&S costs were intentionally excluded from the estimate to enable comparison with the antecedent system, the F-16 C/D. Costs for support equipment replacement, modifications, and indirect costs were removed from the F-35’s cost per flying hour since they were not available for the F-16 C/D. Officials calculated that the revised cost per flying hour for the F-35 was $23,557 (fiscal year 2002 dollars), or 43 percent higher, after including the excluded costs, projecting for future cost growth above inflation, and correcting the number of aircraft. However, they noted that the total O&S life-cycle cost reported in the SAR for the F-35 was accurate because it was calculated separately from the average cost per flying hour."

By today's money, that is around $28786 per flying hour. Yet, we still do not have an operational go to war aircraft.

Back in 2010, NAVAIR had similar concerns over F-35 O&S costs.

Venlet (todays DOD F-35 program manager) was the boss of NAVAIR at the time.

Italy may cut 20-30 F-35s

Like a cruise liner lead by an incompetent captain, Italy's F-35 program has run aground. Just that some refuse to acknowledge it. Best to call abandon-ship now while there is time.

Because when the program gets even worse it may be too late for those that were foolish enough to stick around to get out safely.

If only the program was building the right aircraft.

Italy will likely see 20-30 less F-35s due to program problems and the fact that the country is in financial trouble.

I figure they will probably lose more orders. Just a hunch.

The following quote from Flight Global about Italy's final assembly and checkout facility is interesting.

The site is earmarked to assemble and deliver around 80 F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force in addition to those for Rome. It will also have the capacity to develop a maintenance, repair and overhaul and upgrade capability at a later stage.

A make-work jobs project of little benefit. The Netherlands will never see 80-some jets.

That is a lot of standing around and doing nothing for the final assembly and later refurb work.

But for now, the deluded faithful will follow the church in Cowtown.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A review of F-35 problems

The F-35 program will be discussed for decades to come on how not to develop and field a combat aircraft.

Also, it seems that the concept of low-rate initial production is being abused by program leadership:

As a result of lessons learned from disasters with concurrency, in the 1960s and 1970s, procurement law was changed to prohibit full-rate production until testing was complete. Low-rate initial production (LRIP) was permitted during development. U.S. law stipulated that the LRIP total should cover no more than one unit of production-configured aircraft and be no more than 10% of the total.

A January briefing by Lockheed Martin shows how the rule-makers’ intent was set aside in JSF planning, with no fewer than 11 LRIP batches totaling 882 aircraft. Long-lead procurement was expected to start this year for an LRIP-7 package of 70 aircraft—which would have been the world’s largest fighter production program—in advance of full envelope exploration or the completion of fatigue testing. JSF leaders argued through 2009 that the concurrency risk was acceptable because improved modeling and simulation (M&S) would reduce the number of problems discovered in physical testing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Procurement comparison

So, India can run a fighter competition; pick a winner, and get 126 jets (with home industry agreements) for $10.4B.

At the opposite end of the scale you have Australia, who decides on graft and hope, and wonders why the POS selected by morons is in dire trouble.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You! Yes you, you...you....Naysayer!!!

Too funny. The desperation of a Just So Failed cheerleader blames the internet naysayers.

Mark, the GAO, DOT&E, NAVAIR, those nasty, bad people that put out SAR reports as naysayers too.

I like the following. There is more here than what the writer may have intended:

When I grew up in the 1950s, America was in a period of greatness, dreaming great dreams and driving towards impossible goals.  If we had the internet at that time we would have heard about the constant problems with Air Force, Navy and Army programs and the fundamental failures of the Space programs.  Tests constantly failed, pilots died and companies failed in the quest for greatness.  In the internet naysayer world, I am not sure this would have been possible.

The difference is today, a Kelly Johnson or Ed Heinemann would have been pushed out of the F-35 program for being:

Naysayers.