ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2020 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Solving the F35 problem

Will no longer be answered by the F35:

The U.S. Air Force’s top officer wants the service to develop an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

The result would be a high-low mix of expensive “fifth-generation” F-22s and F-35s and inexpensive “fifth-generation-minus” jets, explained Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.

If that plan sounds familiar, it’s because the Air Force a generation ago launched development of an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small future fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

But over 20 years of R&D, that lightweight replacement fighter got heavier and more expensive as the Air Force and lead contractor Lockheed Martin packed it with more and more new technology.

Yes, we’re talking about the F-35. The 25-ton stealth warplane has become the very problem it was supposed to solve. And now America needs a new fighter to solve that F-35 problem, officials said.

Yes, Virginia, the USA is most certainly losing this unrestricted and undeclared war. To be honest, they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine.

Labels: , ,

111 Comments:

Blogger Guttersnipe February 24, 2021 3:06 PM  

Didn't we go down this road with the F5/F20?

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 24, 2021 3:10 PM  

"Affordable, lightweight" I'm sure the Air Force vets will be along soon enough once they pick themselves off the floor to tell us all about that unicorn. I'll go with Mr. Lind since they have garbage strategy this is to no avail.

If the USA can be saved going forward about the only thing to do with the F-35 is to scrap the As and the Cs and put the cash into fixing the F-35B.

Blogger Unknownsailor February 24, 2021 3:15 PM  

"To be honest, they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine."

I think it's too soon. There will probably be an intermediate step first, optionally manned fighters. I believe the B-21 is headed that route, optional manning.

USAF just took delivery of a version of the T-6 that has more options for hardpoints on the wings, USAF's SOCOM squadron is going to use it.

Honestly, if the AF wants to replace the F-16, they should just go with Block 70 plus F-16s that Lockheed currently makes for overseas buyers. Use the already existing logistics support pipeline and save a bunch of money.

Blogger Cappuccinobear February 24, 2021 3:16 PM  

Sounds a lot like the iPhone and galaxy phone line ups.

Fighter jets for those on a budget but who still want to be able to play the latest candy crush saga.

Blogger Iceeater February 24, 2021 3:16 PM  

The book Unrestricted Warfare is worth 3 reads.

Democrat leaders (executing) verses Republican leaders (being moral targets ).

Though Trump hasnt got a plan , i hope he will get us out of the military industrial cycle.



Blogger Silly but True February 24, 2021 3:19 PM  

Facepalm emoji / Nutkick.gif

At this point, it must just be a matter of Randolph & Mortimer making $1 bets about ever-increasingly-insane acts that society will just bend over and take.

Blogger SemiSpook37 February 24, 2021 3:19 PM  

Also didn't help that they developed the whole damned thing by committee and insisted that they include variants required for different mission sets on the same damned frame.

Blogger VFM Bear February 24, 2021 3:22 PM  

So the Air Force CHief of Staff is literally Charlie Brown.

And Lucy Lockheed promises that this time she won't pull away the football.

Blogger Crunchy Cachalot February 24, 2021 3:25 PM  

Even a drone-based doctrine will be rendered useless by the virulent and relentless diversity and inclusiveness virus. LaQuisha ain't gonna risk her nails playing some dumbass wypipo vitchoo game!

Blogger CF Neal February 24, 2021 3:26 PM  

Trump triumphant will exalt Space Force with its "alien technology", at which time Air Force will then operate drones.

Blogger Allen February 24, 2021 3:26 PM  

The program has only ever been about pork.
They have no incentive to go to drones.

Blogger Unknown February 24, 2021 3:26 PM  

The Marine Corps, and Japan, did get a replacement for the Harrier out of the deal. So at least they will have a few planes during the island fight.

Too bad the commandant got rid of all the tanks, and is trashing half the helos, so China will be able to capture the islands. But what can you do? That tea money is not going to pay itself to the senior officers.

Blogger Salt February 24, 2021 3:26 PM  

And the B-52 looks to keep chugging along for the next 50 years.

Blogger Paulito February 24, 2021 3:26 PM  

You mean the Swiss Army plane wasn't the panacea it was promised to be? Shocking.

Blogger DeepThought February 24, 2021 3:27 PM  

If it can work for the Turks and Azeri's, drones can work for the US.

Blogger Steve Canyon February 24, 2021 3:27 PM  

For all their love for John Boyd, few understand his teachings, and fewer still understood his rationale behind saying the very same thing some 45 years prior.

Of course, Boyd wasn't gunning for a high-level defense contractor position post-retirement either, which certainly factors into the equation.

Blogger Newscaper312 February 24, 2021 3:29 PM  

Hmmm.
I thought something already being considered as a much cheaper adjunct was a much upgraded F-15EX, that already exists.

Re drones, there is a lot experimental work being done using networked F35s, etc for swarms.

Repeating the whole bloated process is insane, at least not without someone named Boyd to drive it.

Blogger Hammerli 280 February 24, 2021 3:31 PM  

It's more like, "F-35s are expensive, and the 4th generation fighters got upgraded."

The "F"-35 isn't. A fighter, that it. It's an attack aircraft, a bomb-dropper with a useful secondary air-to-air capability. It really should have been designated "A-14." But it's developed into a very capable bomb-dropper, even if it was hobbled by the political obsession with a one-plane-for-everybody concept. The big headache has been the cost, particularly of the sensors and the software to drive them.

At the same time, the aerospace firms have kept developing F-16s and F-18s. They'll sell you an F-16 that is much more capable than those delivered to the USAF 20 years ago. And it's tempting to buy some...or at least threaten to do so in order to drive F-35 costs down.

The F-15EX is a special case...there are hypersonic weapons under development, but they need a large airplane to carry them. Meaning heavy bombers, or a Strike Eagle.

As for unmanned aviation...you do NOT want to go down that path. Software complex enough for the mission and reliable enough for combat is extremely expensive. I've been in the unmanned aviation business since the mid-90s - it's a niche technology, not a panacea.

Blogger basementhomebrewer February 24, 2021 3:31 PM  

To be honest, they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine

Make them as cheap as possible to be able to deliver an A to A missile with an acceptable chance of hitting a target. If you kept the costs down properly you can crank out thousands of them while people making 5th gen fighters can only afford a couple hundred.

This is something I do not anticipate the US empire is capable of accomplishing at this stage.

Blogger Unknown February 24, 2021 3:32 PM  

The primary point of these fighter planes isn't national defense. Instead, they are primarily intended as a vehicle to transport funds from the public treasury to military industrial contractors.

Separate question, but does anyone know why we can't download mp3s from Unauthorized.tv since the update? Is there some other way to do it? I appreciate any help.

Blogger rumpole5 February 24, 2021 3:34 PM  

I like the idea of drones. The Chinese at present have almost an unlimited supply of young men who can become pilots, and therefore a kamikaze type loss would not halt them. We, on the other hand, have only a limited supply. Planes are great, but someone has to fly them.

Blogger OnInfantry February 24, 2021 3:35 PM  

(With apologies to Sir Henry Newbolt ...)

The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a rainbow force;
The wi-fi’s jammed and the Colonel dead.
(Xir aced the white fragility course.)
Our once carbon-neutral, now smoldering, tanks
Buckle and bend in ways so strange.
While the voice of a tranny reminds the ranks,
“Our greatest foe is climate change."

Blogger Ivaneus February 24, 2021 3:35 PM  

Interesting to note that this announcement comes right on the heels of the conclusion of exercise Cope North in the Pacific, where they field tested the F-35 in conjunction with allied forces and all available American fighters over the last several weeks. I doubt anything we didn't already know was found out but I'd still like to see the reports on the F-35's effectiveness in this joint exercise.

Blogger SCBen February 24, 2021 3:40 PM  

I don't know if Churchill really said this "leave it up to the Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else", but it surely rings true within the War Machine! President Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex. I think he was spot on. There's no telling how many LIVES and how much money has been lost due to the MIC. Common sense and HONESTY surely have no place within the MIC!!

Blogger RobertDWood February 24, 2021 3:44 PM  

How does the cult of the pilot still persist for these people??

Blogger The Whisky Priest February 24, 2021 3:46 PM  

Drones are probably the answer simply on a cost basis but frankly I'd prefer that the US government not have hundreds of heavily armed drones based domestically given certain members of the US media and government's propensity for bombing the US populace.

Of course the result of development would probably be a heavy, short range, unmaneuverable drone with Boeing engines prone to failure that cost $200 million per unit and be obsolete on delivery.

Blogger Azimus February 24, 2021 3:46 PM  

I wonder if there were any cut scenes about the military in Idiocracy...

Blogger Arthur Isaac February 24, 2021 3:47 PM  

Why worry about capabilities when we can strip-mine Western capitalism and swamp the government in Washington DC's hyper-fragile war trash?

Blogger I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe February 24, 2021 3:48 PM  

1,000 F-16's...250 F-35's.

I'm sure we'll be able to maintain global air superiority with 50 of the next-gen F-3X?

Blogger Doctor Mayhem February 24, 2021 3:53 PM  

While the US military is twerking, making "Marvel" recruitment ads, spending billions on yet another boondoggle, and promising new and improved transgender surgeries for service members, the Chinese are developing super soldiers.

The chinks honestly deserve to be the world's superpower at this point.

Blogger Barbarossa February 24, 2021 3:55 PM  

Oh, this is simply beautiful. Replace F-22s and F-35s with carriers and Aegis CGs. Substitute ships for jets and you've got the Navy's LCS (Littoral Combat Ship AKA Least Capable Ship) program in the sky. And what did the Navy get for its inexpensive littoral combat program? Pieces of garbage that cost over $600 million per hull to build. So bad that the Navy cancelled the program and is already decommissioning hulls with less than 10 years of service (and some of them have very little sea time at all).

Of course, the real joke was that the Navy already had an inexpensive hull with the Perry-class frigates, built at 1/6th the cost of an LCS. Yes, the existing ones had gotten long in the tooth, but they could have always dusted off the plans. But no. The Perry class couldn't go toe-to-toe with a Kirov-class battle cruiser, so it was worthless in the eyes of some. The desire to gold-plate everything is strong.

Blogger Canadian Warlord February 24, 2021 3:58 PM  

"5th gen" is a buzzword like automatic transmission with more than 7 gears. Marketing.

All the stealth tech in the world is instantly wasted the second they turn the radar on. Passive IR Soviet 1970s tech is actually better in many situations, like a guessing game dogfight.

100 years of pilots - were we'll past that. They had a good run.

Whatever happened to the Rockwell HiMat?

Blogger Fernando Covett February 24, 2021 4:02 PM  

“ The 17-ton, non-stealthy F-16 is too difficult to upgrade with the latest software”. As both a mechanical and software engineer with some experience in developing a flight simulator and actual aeronautics, I’m calling bullshit on that.

Blogger Emmanuel February 24, 2021 4:09 PM  

Pork barrels eventually have a cost.

Blogger Brian D. Kennedy February 24, 2021 4:21 PM  

According to the linked article, the US Air Force intended for the F-35 to replace both the F-16 and the A-10. Isn't this equivalent to designing a single automobile to replace a sports car and a pick-up truck? Or producing a family-friendly film with full-frontal nudity?

Blogger The Abe February 24, 2021 4:23 PM  

Reading that somehow really drives home this exchange from "Yes, Minister"


Sir Humphrey Appleby : Minister, it takes time to do things 'now'.

James Hacker : The three articles of civil service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly; it's more expensive to do them cheaply; it's more democratic to do them in secret.

Blogger Blaidd February 24, 2021 4:25 PM  

But if we switch to drones, the guys who spent 4 years at the Air Force Academy learning to fly jets won't get the prestige of being fighter jocks. What's more important, effective warfighting or the egos of a couple thousand officers?

Blogger Red February 24, 2021 4:34 PM  

There is nothing new under the sun. The Air Force had this problem, i.e. institutional stupidity, back in the 1960's, and the bigger, better, more crowd won then too.

If some of you are interested, read a book called Boyd by Robert Coram.
It is about when one man could sometimes make a difference,or at least try.
It was a good read, and shows the same thinking, then and now.

Blogger English Tom February 24, 2021 4:36 PM  

You may be right Vox about the usefulness of drones. The recent Nagorno Karabakh war showed their efficacy against ground targets.

Let us consider that the enemy within, wanting US to lose a war with their new host China, deliberately imposed the F35 on the air force, thereby wasting lots of time and money on its development, all the while knowing it is an inferior product.

Blogger Ingemar February 24, 2021 4:40 PM  

Just had a brainwave.

Drone warfare would democratize any future kinetic action because they're fairly easy to build as would it's deadly payload.

A rocket is basically a firework pointed at the ground, after all...

Blogger Grey Man February 24, 2021 4:47 PM  

"...they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine."

Will not happen until a manned fighter force is overwhelmed and wiped out by a drone force. Fighter pilots make General, drone jockeys do not.

Blogger Jack Ward February 24, 2021 4:58 PM  

I could visualize drones, with higher payload caps, the ability, possibly with first gen AI adjuncts, for those times when the satelite links are too slow or knocked out, and, the capcity to use a tactical neutron explosive, if they can be made light enough. This all for air to air particularly [using the mostly non radiation neutron load out] for maximum air clearing ability, and, oh yes, same loadout, plus hyper volicity machine guns, for ground support and ground area denial to enemy troops. Plus, gives all those game playing prodigies something useful to do. Win-win.

Blogger One Deplorable DT February 24, 2021 5:00 PM  

This presses so many red buttons for me...

First off: Forbes has become clickbait. 'One official's opinion' != 'entire Air Force admits' != 'a review of hard evidence indicates.'

Second: the good general's opinion on quality vs quantity is nothing new. At any given point in my living memory a journalist could ask two different officials about program X and get a quality argument from one and a quantity argument from the other. It's ironic that the F-16 is held up as an example of quantity in this example. In the late 70s / early 80's it was bashed for being too sophisticated, too unreliable, and too costly to build.

Which brings me to point three: for all of its issues...and it has issues...in air exercises the F-35 is hitting 20:1 kill ratios against F-16s and F-15s with veteran pilots. For the price of the F-35 we could arguably field about 4x the number of F-16s. How does the good general imagine that an entirely new airframe, with all the required research and development, is going to perform to F-16 standards, yet also be so cheap we can field them at a 20:1 ratio?

Kill ratios aside it's not necessarily a bad idea to have a mix of highly capable stealth aircraft and cheaper regular aircraft guided by the sensors on the stealth planes. The USAF learned this early on with F-22s in Red Flag games, and it's the strategy guiding F-15X development. If that's the chosen strategy then you can have cheap with improved F-15s and F-16s, or you can have a new airframe. You cannot have both.

Finally number four, which is the most important point of all: this ultimately isn't about F-35 bugs or Red Flag kill ratios or hot wars with Chyna. America is bleeding red ink. We're not being defeated by hordes of cheap enemy aircraft. We're being defeated by hordes of foreigners invited by the lawless left and the greedy right. China is not going to defeat us with tanks and aircraft. They've basically already defeated us with spying, bribes, offshoring, H1Bs, lab grown viruses, fake videos of people falling over dead from said viruses, and stolen elections. We cannot afford to build all the F-35s we wanted. But we also cannot afford to replace 1,000 F-16s. And as our esteemed host has pointed out many times, if we continue down this path of mass third world immigration mixed with lawless political dysfunction, pretty soon we won't be able to afford indoor plumbing.

I guess I should add one more point: To be honest, they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine. Cheap drones guided by the sensors and avionics on forward, manned stealth aircraft is not a bad idea at all.

Blogger Kevin February 24, 2021 5:03 PM  

I like how we snookered Canada into buying an unreliable, single-engine fighter to operate in northern latitudes.

Blogger budbrewer February 24, 2021 5:06 PM  

U.S. Air Farce, a.k.a, The Flying None. Sad state of affairs.

Blogger bw February 24, 2021 5:15 PM  

the USA is most certainly losing this unrestricted and undeclared war

Is that not the point?

Blogger Doc February 24, 2021 5:18 PM  

Sounds like the Comanche helo program....

Blogger Fishslinger_Bear February 24, 2021 5:29 PM  

At this point, while interesting, I really no longer care.

Blogger Unknown February 24, 2021 5:31 PM  

The Bush era air force did a study to calculate how many F-35's would need to be produced to keep America's air power at the same strength into the next generation. All costs of the F35 were estimated on that number, and that number were ordered. The Obama administration cut that order by a lot, which made the per unit cost skyrocket.

Design and maintenance issues of jets have always made propeller aircraft a far more economical option. There will always be a need for a fast interceptor, which will certainly be jet propelled, but there's no reason why air superiority can't be taken over by prop aircraft, particularly when armed with air to air missiles.

Blogger Brett baker February 24, 2021 5:32 PM  

As long as "no casualties" is a goal, we won't be able to build affordable, effective aircraft.

Blogger Geir Balderson February 24, 2021 5:34 PM  

Hey! Contractors have to make a buck!
In the next war, i am sure America will lose as most of their over-priced hardware will be sitting on the ground having further modifications.

Blogger OneWingedShark February 24, 2021 5:36 PM  

Ah, the F–35!
The high-level idea as excerpted —a lightweight fighter to replace the F–16— is perfectly fine… the problems of the F–35 though are: (a) no real idea of what is specifically wanted, (b) no concrete requirements [because (a) is fluid], (c) the fact that the company doesn't lose money for not meeting requirements [however ill-defined and mercurial those are], and (d) that (((allies))) have access to the platform, likely through backdoor means.

(a) and (b) are easy enough to fix: Have an idea of what you want and stick to it.
(c) is absurdly easy: have (a) and (b) in the contract, no "cost-plus" bullshit, and have fines for missed deadlines or not meeting requirements.
(d) is going to be the hardest to address: there are a lot of people subverted by foreign powers in high-office.

Blogger John Williams February 24, 2021 5:55 PM  

Drones are already here. I know the guy who fired the first hellfire missile off a predator at a research facility in CA. They are here to stay.

Blogger Unknown February 24, 2021 6:00 PM  

On the drone point: I read a Saker article a while back where he said the Su-57 can have its pilot replaced by an AI.

Blogger Doktor Jeep February 24, 2021 6:03 PM  

Drone based systems have two faults.
The first is communication. Lose that satellite link you lose the drone. Drones would have to be autonomous. And we see how the wokeists are trying to drive normal humans out of the AI field already. Either the AI will absolutely suck or we wnd up with drones that only target white men who don't look gay enough.

The other issue is chain of control. You would be hard pressed to get a pilot who has taken an oath and gone through the training... a generally higher quality person... to attack his countrymen. Even if you could find such a person, he's a loose end. Right now the current strategy is to fool the good men into attacking who they say are the bad men. Looking at how batshit and ridiculous the left is, and how much credibility government is losing, you would have an even harder time sending say an F15E into say Idaho to "kill those nazis".

But with drones? Well. You maintain the drones closer to the industrial base and use experienced commercial pilots to fly them in and out from maintenance hangars unarmed. Then you use military drone pilots to take over control to fly them into military bases to have weapons and bombs installed. Once it's in the air again, control gets handed over to some CIA/FBI/Cheka/globohomo fanatic with Strozok crazy eyes to kill Americans with glee. Heck they could use the Blue Cheka on Twitter for that and they would gladly do it. Then once the deed is done it gets flown away from the evidence and handed over to the "innocent" pilots back down the chain and all the way back to the hangars. The maintenance depots where civilians get used may never even see a weapons pylon.
Nobody would know anything and anybody asking questions gets fired or assigned to Iraq.

So while fighter jets are expensive boondoggles, I don't look forward to the drone age.

Blogger WeArePerseus February 24, 2021 6:04 PM  

"...American's, are slaves to technology in their thinking. The American's invariably halt their thinking at the boundary where technology has not yet reached. It cannot be denied that man-made earthquakes, tsunamis, weather disasters, or subsonic wave and new biological and chemical weapons all constitute new concept weapons... they are nothing more than non-traditional methods whose mechanisms have been altered and whose lethal power and destructive capabilities have been magnified several times over." - Unrestricted Warfare

Blogger Crew February 24, 2021 6:07 PM  

"...they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine."

Will not happen until a manned fighter force is overwhelmed and wiped out by a drone force. Fighter pilots make General, drone jockeys do not.


Until someone suggests that you might be able to use women as drone pilots ... since they will no longer be hampered by some aspects of physiology.

Blogger van helsing February 24, 2021 6:12 PM  

hey we can always buy new exciting effective technologies. just keep buying them from the same guys trying to sell us technology that won (or didn't win) the last war... startups don't have the budget to bribe people, that TMPTB does.

Blogger OneWingedShark February 24, 2021 6:25 PM  

Brian D. Kennedy wrote:According to the linked article, the US Air Force intended for the F-35 to replace both the F-16 and the A-10. Isn't this equivalent to designing a single automobile to replace a sports car and a pick-up truck? Or producing a family-friendly film with full-frontal nudity?
Essentially, yes.

Fernando Covett wrote:“The 17-ton, non-stealthy F-16 is too difficult to upgrade with the latest software”. As both a mechanical and software engineer with some experience in developing a flight simulator and actual aeronautics, I’m calling bullshit on that.
I think there's probably multiple items at play here:
1) The F-16's older CPUs likely aren't backdoored in the hardware, by enemies and (((alies))) alike, ,like modern CPUs are;
2) The software in the F-16 is [IIRC] Ada, which is a lot more robust and secure than C or C++;
3) Due to the nature of the attacks China and (((others))) will employ, they would push for new CPUs and new control software, so that they have something ready to exploit "off the shelf".

Blaidd wrote:But if we switch to drones, the guys who spent 4 years at the Air Force Academy learning to fly jets won't get the prestige of being fighter jocks. What's more important, effective warfighting or the egos of a couple thousand officers?
Given the defense companies' move away from Ada in favor of C++ —ostensibly because they couldn't find Ada developers, quite conveniently ignoring the fact it would take less money to train programmers on it than to change the software-suites of things like the Paladin— and it's quite likely that the "effective warfighting" of these drones would never come to pass (or at least be very late in coming).

Doc wrote:Sounds like the Comanche helo program….
And you know what's sad?
That we never got the Cheyanne.

John Williams wrote:Drones are already here. I know the guy who fired the first hellfire missile off a predator at a research facility in CA. They are here to stay.
You need reliable control software, reliable communications, and robust hardware for any sort of military usage.
Comms will be the first thing the enemy will interfere with, followed very closely by getting a 'hack' on the control software.

Blogger One Deplorable DT February 24, 2021 6:27 PM  

@32 - All the stealth tech in the world is instantly wasted the second they turn the radar on.

The F-22/F-35 radars rapidly, randomly change frequencies...among other tricks...to minimize detection and pretty much eliminate tracking. If they're not being tracked and 'shot down' this way in air exercises, then it's not very likely to happen in the field. The USAF literally changed strategy when they realized, during early air exercises, that the F-22 could provide AWACS like support to legacy fighters without being a brightly lit target to enemy forces. The radars and passive sensors are that good.

Passive IR Soviet 1970s tech is actually better in many situations, like a guessing game dogfight.

No, it is not. It's not even remotely comparable.

@33 - As both a mechanical and software engineer with some experience in developing a flight simulator and actual aeronautics, I’m calling bullshit on that.

Agreed. The good general is ignorant on this point and is likely being guided by people who see the financial opportunities in a program for yet another airframe.

@35 - According to the linked article, the US Air Force intended for the F-35 to replace both the F-16 and the A-10. Isn't this equivalent to designing a single automobile to replace a sports car and a pick-up truck?

It was ridiculous of the USAF to ever imagine that the F-35 could replace the A-10. I don't know how you even respect generals or contractors after they dream up something so stupid.

Blogger RadixMalorum February 24, 2021 6:28 PM  

Something tells me there won’t be any chances of reform until the us experiences its Syracuse moment.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 24, 2021 6:30 PM  

Ivaneus wrote:I doubt anything we didn't already know was found out but I'd still like to see the reports on the F-35's effectiveness in this joint exercise.
I'm sure the reports will show the politically necessary result, no matter what. The point of a weapons system is to funnel taxes to contractors, so the contractors can make campaign contributions.

Blogger Nils February 24, 2021 6:38 PM  

"There will always be a need for a fast interceptor, which will certainly be jet propelled..." Why? "There will always be a need for a passenger liner, which will certainly be steam powered..." you live in a world that has changed absurdly in just half a millennia. Is it an impossible idea to process for you, that in a world where a kid with an amazon account some sheet steel and a couple milk jugs can blow up an oil tanker from a hundred miles away, your dumb chunks of billion dollar aluminum are irrelevant? news flash, jet interceptors are out, but go ahead with your battleships Yamamoto, tell me how it goes when the chinks start yeeting a couple million bottlerockets your way, I hear steel shot does wonders for jet turbine blades.

Blogger Newscaper312 February 24, 2021 6:45 PM  

@41 Gray Man
Re pilots vs drone jockeys, one problem USAF has had is stupidly insisting full blown real pilots fly predators, etc. Theyve been losing good killer alpha pilots over it, when you could train enlisted, or a Warrant like Army does for helicopters, to do the job, particularly with todays video game generation.

Blogger tsquared February 24, 2021 6:54 PM  

If they want something that is a lightweight replacement fighter for the F-22 and F-35 they will be hard pressed to make a better fighter than the F-22. Right now the F-22 it the top fighter jet out there and it is a big plane. Air-to-air battles can happen 300 miles away from each other I am not sure why they want a lightweight replacement fighter. Redesign the T-56 with faster engines, longer wings, a 50 BMG mini-gun, and the ability to hang everything the A-10 can put under their wings.

Blogger Crunchy Cachalot February 24, 2021 7:19 PM  

Software complex enough for the mission and reliable enough for combat is extremely expensive.

This is true for every modern military system. Since when has cost ever been a real concern, especially on the armed forces end? And how much do those "head-mounted computers" cost to train and maintain (assuming the pilot seats aren't going to handed out in a more "equitable" manner in the near future so no training needed)?


in air exercises the F-35 is hitting 20:1

How's it doing in the combat readiness ratio?


(b) no concrete requirements [because (a) is fluid]

What could be more modren than a Woke Mission-fluid aircraft for the Chair Force?

Blogger IAMSpartacus0000 February 24, 2021 8:06 PM  

I don't think John Boyd could be in the Air Force today, he would have been kicked out or left due being skipped over, grounded, and general brass stupidity.

I give it 5 years and both Russia and China will surpass our air power.

Don't get me wrong. We have some incredible RND but we fail the logistics of getting something put together.

Blogger Azimus February 24, 2021 8:10 PM  

The sweetest thing would be if the winning bid was a F-16 with a universal cell phone charger and a backup camera. Maybe an extra cup holder.

A new light fighter to face the challenges of the 21st-century battlefield! Cost? Just 92 million per unit!

Blogger Azimus February 24, 2021 8:21 PM  

@ Barbarossa - are you sure? I have family at Fincantieri/Marinette Marine. I thought they said Trump hand-delivered a contract for something like 10 more hulls last fall? Maybe you're just thinking of those NC trimaran scows...

Blogger Kirk Parker February 24, 2021 8:39 PM  

I don't think so. The Northrop developed the f5 pretty much on its own and intended it all along for export sales.

Blogger JohnnyC February 24, 2021 8:54 PM  

So what you're saying is that you need someone who knows what they are doing rather than AA babies?

Blogger Josh Brown February 24, 2021 8:54 PM  

Many a jet fighter jock suffers from G-force induced haemorrhoids, or so goes the gossip among air force medical officers. That must counteract some of the prestige.

Blogger English Tom February 24, 2021 8:57 PM  

@Red

It goes back further, as exemplified by the Billy Mitchell saga.

Blogger Josh Brown February 24, 2021 9:02 PM  

F35s have been taken up by some smaller air forces which have traditionally bought US equipment (e.g F18s). However many feel that the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen would have been a far
better replacement, moreso than the F16 Block 70. For the USAF that would not be an acceptable option of course so the latter would have been an option.

Blogger DJ | AMDG February 24, 2021 9:12 PM  

Brian D Kennedy

I thought something similar, but my question to you which were you imagining full-frontal? The Falcon? Or the Warthog, because.....ehhhh....

Blogger xevious2030 February 24, 2021 9:13 PM  

“Software complex enough for the mission and reliable enough for combat is extremely expensive”

The post aircraft carrier situation makes drone deployment a necessity. Aerial combat is a much lower priority in such.

Blogger Dafo February 24, 2021 9:47 PM  

Reminds me of the Japanese putting all their hopes on the Yamato ship in WW2.

Blogger Ransom Smith February 24, 2021 9:47 PM  

Isn't this equivalent to designing a single automobile to replace a sports car and a pick-up truck?
The Australians would like a word.
And I believe they've been successful at the attempt as well.
The Air Force probably could have a catch all aircraft, but never under the current industrial complex with the current diversity.

Blogger furor kek tonicus ( The first rule of Dunning-Kruger Club is that she don't know she's in Dunning-Kruger Club ) February 24, 2021 10:30 PM  

26. The Whisky Priest February 24, 2021 3:46 PM
with Boeing engines prone to failure


you mean Pratt & Whitney, they're showing problems regardless of airframe.



18. Hammerli 280 February 24, 2021 3:31 PM
As for unmanned aviation...you do NOT want to go down that path.


"unmanned" includes remote controlled, and the only software involved in that is the secure comm links ( and "return to location" on loss of comm )
...
which the military already has.

also, it's already been battle proven. as referenced above, Armenia got their asses handed to them by drones after they beat Azerbaijan in the last go round.

it appears that it's going to be very difficult to effectively counter RC drones if you can't jam them.


Blogger Canadian Warlord February 24, 2021 10:43 PM  

@44. Kevin
>>>"I like how we snookered Canada into buying an unreliable, single-engine fighter to operate in northern latitudes."
The only way to top the F-18 sale to Canada, would be to offer up virtual aircraft that don't exist. The CF-18 didn't even have guided bomb technology until Kosovo (1999), when the rest of NATO shamed them into it. Naval strike aircraft with no aircraft carriers and no harpoon missiles! We bought it because it was the cheapest thing with two engines - that's the only reason. Seriously.

Blogger Heath D February 24, 2021 11:04 PM  

Whatever you do, please don’t let Gary and Terry know that “Carl” Brown’s middle name starts with Q.

Blogger NedFlinders February 24, 2021 11:24 PM  

Drone warfare is only useful for killing dirt people like Afghans, Africans and local dissidents. At best it's an assassination tool during what passes for peacetime.

In an actual war vs another competent military you would have the farcical situation of each side flying drones at each other to be hacked en masse and landed at each other's bases to be refueled and sent back in an endless drone exchange program.

If it has a wireless signal more complicated than a two way radio then it will not last in the territory of a technologically advanced enemy. Even Iran managed to hack one the US spy drones and simply land it at their base for photo-ops, and all the US could do was ask nicely for them to return it.

Blogger The Pitchfork Rebel February 24, 2021 11:54 PM  

This is what happens when you have SecAF ("Diversity Dave" Goldfein) making self indulgent recruiting ads and statements about "diversity", rather than hard decisions about a problematic platform.

Worse, the original plan was for 800 F-22 Raptors. Obama cut the production to about 185.

The last bird rolled off the line in 2011 and the complexity of that plane means that you can just restart production, so now that the kinks have been ironed out, it's not an option.

But hey, look on the bright side, Boeing will be able to get on the government teat while the civilian industry is hurting and their 737-MAX, 767 (cough) issues are giving them fits.



Blogger wahr01 February 25, 2021 12:30 AM  

John Williams wrote:Drones are already here. I know the guy who fired the first hellfire missile off a predator at a research facility in CA. They are here to stay.

Until you get overlapping ECM.

I'm surprised we haven't arrived at the WH40k "ECM singularity" where the ECM becomes so thorough the only thing that works is WWII or less in complexity.

This is another reason why the USA is going to be embarrassed in the next major conflict in which the other side actually fights back.

From what I understand of Russian military doctrine, they train their branches and squads to operate under the realistic assumption of things like degraded infrastructure, lacking air superiority, etc.

The US military doesn't seem to work this way. If they're denied air superiority they'll just keep fighting an air war trying to get it. Their weapons systems have been GPS guided for decades.

China has isolated this achilles heel and tested satellite killers in real conditions to elminate the GPS network if threatened.

The Iranians also take advantage of this technical dependence. They're able to use drone swarms against us and allied forces because of this dependence.

Blogger Bezzle February 25, 2021 1:06 AM  

@67. IAMSpartacus0000 February 24, 2021 8:06 PM
I give it 5 years and both Russia and China will surpass our air power.

Unless Q-Team has something to say about it.


@83. The Pitchfork Rebel February 24, 2021 11:54 PM
Worse, the original plan was for 800 F-22 Raptors. Obama cut the production to about 185.

Of the planes we know about, it's the one the ChiComs are afraid of, and the one that the US refused to sell to its allies.

Blogger Bernard Korzeniewicz February 25, 2021 2:31 AM  

@wahr01

Mr. Musks's internet-from-the-sky satelites are de facto USA anty-satelite weapon already in place.

The USA have the "hight ground". Thats why China and Russia push HVel weapons, to get a strike before the USA react.

As for F-35: no matter the decision any proces of buing i.e. a hammer for the USArmed Forces has to cost $2B+. The proces got designed that way.

No matter you want a new plane or drones, at first you have to remove Congress _and_ Pentagon from a spending decision chain.

Blogger Bernard Korzeniewicz February 25, 2021 2:34 AM  

@Canadian Warlord
CF-18 is/was way better than F-16s of any variant.
Check who else bought F-18s, you will be surprised.

Blogger liberranter February 25, 2021 2:46 AM  

To be honest, they'd be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine.

That would make good strategic sense, which is why it will never happen. The purpose of weapons development is to enrich politically connected contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman (who, despite perpetual, endless, and obscene cost overruns, followed always by colossal f**kups, on ALL of their projects, never fail to win contracts) by having them build weapons systems so complex and expensive as to be impractical. No one gets rich off of relatively low-tech drones.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 25, 2021 6:33 AM  

20-1 kill ratios, how much should we bet they were scripted, and now going forward this gets revised down? And the F-22 just a reminder how about sortie availability? Remember the hurricane and how many got left behind at the FL base?

And I don't think the Pentagon has moved past 1945's air strategy of having perfectly safe air bases to launch tactical aircraft from that don't require multiple refuelings. So IMO the peer to peer combat imaginings are but fluff.

Blogger MarkyMark February 25, 2021 7:38 AM  

The US armed forces are repeating the mistakes made in the F-111 Aardvark-another plane that was supposed to do everything. And that happened within many of our lifetimes! Does no one look at history, let alone learn from it?

As an interim measure (i.e. the F-35 problem is solved), the USAF should build the F-20 Tigershark with updated avionics. That would be one POTENT, little ass kicker of a dog fighter!

Blogger Digger Variant February 25, 2021 7:39 AM  

What young, red-blooded American man is going to volunteer to potentially sacrifice his life to preserve the Kung Pao Joe and natural-born Jamaican regime? When your leaders hate America and Americans there are better career choices.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 25, 2021 7:46 AM  

wahr01 wrote:China has isolated this achilles heel and tested satellite killers in real conditions to elminate the GPS network if threatened.
I have heard that the Navy intends to start teaching celestial navigation. That'll be a neat trick: they can't even teach their diversity to dodge freighters on autopilot.

Blogger English Tom February 25, 2021 8:03 AM  

#Bezzle

I heard the US is 'selling' the F22 to Israel, which means pretty soon Russia and China will have all its technical secrets.

Blogger OneWingedShark February 25, 2021 9:24 AM  

Crunchy Cachalot wrote:
(b) no concrete requirements [because (a) is fluid]
What could be more modren than a Woke Mission-fluid aircraft for the Chair Force?

I get the joke, but it's a serious flaw with management in boomer/post-boomer corporate culture: just like they did their best to destroy anything that retained institutional knowledge, the Boomer manager also had a tendency to assume those under him knew what to do — there are points where this is fine, but when it gets to a high enough level in the project it becomes "read my mind" — and how can you be a success in your job if the goal is some sort of hidden agenda?

An example in warfare would be some high-level objective of X unit taking/taking-out Y city. Simply blowing the city up works given that situation, but if there's some additional information that is not given like "because we want to use it as a staging ground" then destroying all the infrastructure is no longer a good course for obtaining the objective.

IAMSpartacus0000 wrote:Don't get me wrong. We have some incredible RND but we fail the logistics of getting something put together.
The US is great at logistics, the problem is that the political elite, both civilian and military side, simply cannot have been wrong about projects like the F–35 and LCS. And so, much like big business being "too big to fail" and not having to pay for their failures or greed by getting bailout after bailout, to the detriment of the rest of the economy, so too does the mandated non-failure of these programs push out effects elsewhere.

Blogger OneWingedShark February 25, 2021 10:33 AM  

English Tom wrote:#Bezzle
I heard the US is 'selling' the F22 to Israel, which means pretty soon Russia and China will have all its technical secrets.

I have a better idea: Treason trials for everyone involved in approving the sale, with public hangings after the conviction… and then Treason trials for people in government linked to those (((allies))).

Then maybe we'll have people leading us that are actually interested in defending our interests.

Blogger Steve Rodger February 25, 2021 10:43 AM  

I bet that they're going to fill that gap with more super hornets and maybe some new F-22s if they ever restart thay production line.

Blogger Silly but True February 25, 2021 11:03 AM  

“If it can work for the Turks and Azeri's, drones can work for the US.”

Not every enemy the US faces will manage to muster the technological excellence of the Armenian Army, Little Sisters of the Nagorno-Karabakh Poor Battalion, Blind Regiment.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 25, 2021 11:03 AM  

OneWingedShark wrote:The US is great at logistics, the problem is that the political elite, both civilian and military side, simply cannot have been wrong about projects like the F–35 and LCS.
But OWS, they weren't wrong! They thought there would be enormous opportunities for graft, and there were indeed, and still are! The campaign contributions are simply enormous! That is the very definition of an effective, successful weapon system.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 25, 2021 12:57 PM  

I heard the US is 'selling' the F22 to Israel, which means pretty soon Russia and China will have all its technical secrets.

If the Israel pipeline was so great I think the Chinese would have the tech for a better jet engine and from what I hear they lag on that front. Other than that I would bet top dollar the Chinese have bypassed the middleman of the ME and just steal direct though obviously P&W and GE and others must have decent security for now.

Blogger OldFan February 25, 2021 3:44 PM  

Discussions of weapons system rarely deal with reality.
The wreckage of 2nd and 3rd rate aircraft and poorly-trained pilots litters the landscapes below a hundred aerial battlefields. The whole concept of the "low cost fighter" is utterly ridiculous. Just require the relatives of congressmen to fly them and see how fast that idea disappears.
The F-35 was never seriously considered to be a “low-cost” platform -it was a “multi-role” platform, which nobody thought would be cheap or simple except clueless morons like most congressmen and a few aviation pundits.
No, the F-35 cannot turn: I would fire the design staff if it could. The last gun kill was 35 years ago and average fighter engagement ranges are over 15,000 meters. These days, fighters actually “shoot them in the face with a missile from 100 miles away.” Yes, this was the theory in Viet Nam - it is the practice today. Even worse, the pundits seem to think that the weapons arc of a F-35 is still 10-15 degrees wide (it’s closer to 60 degrees) and thus absolutely require agile dogfighting (while wearing goggles and a silk scarf, no doubt). Ask folks out at Red Flag what it is like to run into F-35s and what ranges they were killed at.
And finally, most did not notice the open-source reports of 1 megawatt of power available in each F-35 weapons bay. Do you think missiles are electrically powered?

Blogger FrankNorman February 26, 2021 7:32 AM  

And finally, most did not notice the open-source reports of 1 megawatt of power available in each F-35 weapons bay. Do you think missiles are electrically powered?

Pew-pew-pew?

Blogger Canadian Warlord February 26, 2021 10:08 AM  

Considering the F-22 radar is part of a verb, "Wellstone", thanks to Dick Cheney, there's likely major power available on that thing. Short bursts of radiation from it's huge mega radar will destroy the avionics and instruments on small planes, maybe fighters.

1 megawatt is pissall power for "laser" or other rudimentary cold war energy weapons, but this ain't the cold war era anymore. My money would be on some kind of x-ray or emp weapon separate from the radar which is a weapon in its own right. Only problem with emp is that it won't work against vacuum tube electronics (soviet era or british hawker harriet era). Much less of a problem these days...

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 26, 2021 10:23 AM  

OldFan wrote:The wreckage of 2nd and 3rd rate aircraft and poorly-trained pilots litters the landscapes below a hundred aerial battlefields.
Do our military enemies care about that? If they can replace the cheap planes and the poorly trained pilots (CPPTP) faster than we can destroy them, they can hold out forever. If those CPPTP can take out our few expensive planes and well-trained pilots (EPWTP) faster than we can replace them, the enemy wins. The CPPTP don't even have to score any kills: they just have to do enough damage that our EPWTP must engage them at a high enough op tempo that we can't keep the EPWTP in the air, because we run out of spare parts.

For an enemy that has enormous manufacturing capability to churn out cheap, inferior copies, and tens of millions of unwanted, trainable males, an aerial war of attrition could be a very attractive strategy.

Blogger One Deplorable DT February 26, 2021 2:03 PM  

@100 - well said.

@103 - Do our military enemies care about that? If they can replace the cheap planes and the poorly trained pilots (CPPTP) faster than we can destroy them, they can hold out forever.

They can't. To have any effectiveness what-so-ever requires too large of an initial investment. If you dumb down your planes and pilots enough to swarm the skies, they never score a kill. And missiles are cheaper for us then planes are for them. The nature of air-to-air combat makes it impossible to simply throw men at the problem until the enemy runs out of ammo.

It's the same problem the good general has in trying to replace the F-35 with cheap and plenty. It's scoring 20:1 against F-16s. But we can't afford to field 20x as many F-16s. If you dumb down the F-16 to make it cheaper and faster to produce, that kill ratio is only going to get worse. And that's not even discussing the air-to-ground role where the F-35 can penetrate air defenses that are an assumed death for an F-16.

Speaking of kill ratios...

@85 - Worse, the original plan was for 800 F-22 Raptors. Obama cut the production to about 185.

Of the planes we know about, it's the one the ChiComs are afraid of, and the one that the US refused to sell to its allies.


In one air exercise a dozen F-22s had a kill ratio of 108:0. In another the F-22 led Blue Team had a 241:2 ratio, and the two losses were not Raptors. Any time Raptors are in the theater it is an outright slaughter of the red team. China knows this. China also knows that whatever other nonsense is going on in our strong, empowered, diverse and fabulous military, our air exercises remain more challenging than real combat. And yes, we regularly force the blue team to fly under degraded capability rules to keep them on their toes.

We should have built all 800 Raptors and done something very different with the F-35 program. Or just spent the F-35 money upgrading F-15s/F-16s.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 26, 2021 4:25 PM  

@104, can we really make missiles cheaper than China can make crapcopters? Can we make anything if China stops sending us stuff? Remember, the crapcopters never have to accomplish anything more than force us to keep those few F35s in the air.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 26, 2021 4:58 PM  

One Deplorable DT wrote:To have any effectiveness what-so-ever requires too large of an initial investment.
No. You're thinking like a fighter pilot. Shooting down fighters in air-to-air combat isn't the point here. The point is to win the war, and that can be done without ever shooting down a fighter, without ever winning a battle.

To have any effectiveness what-so-ever only requires that they be enough of a nuisance that we have to shoot them down. Stukas would be that effective, but it doesn't have to be Stukas. If they keep the F35s in the air long enough to wear them out, they win. If they lose millions of their men in the process, they win bigger!

Blogger Boo Boo the Fool, Esquire February 26, 2021 6:19 PM  

Hang the traitors who built the F-35 and then buy out a decade's worth of F-22s. Or... bring back the F-14 airframe as a middle finger to Dead Daddy Bush, who hated divine aesthetic and is surely craving a glass of water to dip his finger in right now.

Blogger Canadian Warlord February 26, 2021 8:18 PM  

@Ominous Cowherd,
Yes, we can make cheap missiles and even aircraft if we don't have to pass senate appropriations and have one piece at least (wiring harness in your case) made per state to push the cost of the B-2 past the cost of a nuclear submarine.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 26, 2021 9:02 PM  

Canadian Warlord wrote:Yes, we can make cheap missiles and even aircraft if we don't have to pass senate appropriations and have one piece at least ... made per state to push the cost of the B-2 past the cost of a nuclear submarine.
And if pigs had wings, they could fly.

The corruption is the system here. The purpose of the procurement system is to maximize costs and kickbacks; procuring weapons is incidental, the excuse for the expenditures, never the real reason. We aren't going to see cheap stuff.

Since our supply chain mostly originates in China, keeping costs down won't matter much anyway. Even if those hypothetical cheap missiles are made in the US, how about the materials they are made from? Even if it's mined here, how about the machines which mine it? How about everything that is needed to make and maintain everything that is needed? A war with China would severely crimp our ability to make stuff here for quite a while.

Blogger One Deplorable DT February 26, 2021 10:56 PM  

@105 Can we make anything if China stops sending us stuff?

I'll give you that one. That's a fair question/point.

@106 To have any effectiveness what-so-ever only requires that they be enough of a nuisance that we have to shoot them down. Stukas would be that effective

No, because we wouldn't have to fly manned aircraft to deal with those. But if we did, it would probably be A-10s engaging with gun fire, i.e. the cost would be some fuel and bullets.

If they keep the F35s in the air long enough to wear them out, they win.

Let's assume a very, very cheap jet fighter with performance worse than an F-16. It's still going to cost more than a missile (granted that's assuming we can build the missile without parts from Chyna). And you're not going to wear out F-22s or F-35s. You would see two stealth fighters leading a dozen or more F-15s/F-16s loaded with missiles, firing them off, and going home. You're not wearing anything out and you're not delivering any bombs to U.S. targets, which is ultimately the point of fighting over air dominance.

Meanwhile your cheap fighters are literally useless against stealth bombing missions (F-22, F-35, and/or B-2s) against home targets. Heck, they would be useless against F-15E's and B-1B's. I hope if we ever get into with China that they try this strategy. It would make life super easy.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 27, 2021 9:49 AM  

One Deplorable DT wrote:No, because we wouldn't have to fly manned aircraft to deal with those. But if we did, it would probably be A-10s engaging with gun fire, i.e. the cost would be some fuel and bullets.
That would work, if the objective were to win the war. Our military has a different objective, and isn't likely to go there. They want to maximize expenditures, not minimize them. That's why the Chair Force is moving heaven and earth to get rid of the A10.
One Deplorable DT wrote:Let's assume a very, very cheap jet fighter ...
Why a jet? Under this strategy, they just need a missile magnet. The plane needs only to be able to force a response. I mentioned Stukas because they could damage US ground forces, and require a response. They don't even have to be cheaper than the missiles which shoot them down: they merely have to be able to make more of planes than we can and will make missiles. Remember Vietnam: we didn't run out of material, we ran out of will.
One Deplorable DT wrote:And you're not going to wear out F-22s or F-35s.
Everything wears with use. What I've read about the F35 suggests a maintenance and logistics nightmare, so the F35 may be problematic in practice.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts