Saturday, January 7, 2017

Is it time to cancel the F-35 program?

National Review asked that question this week in a scathing essay.  The alleged multi-service fighter plane is plagued by costs overruns, delays, safety problems, and -get this- part of the plane is now obsolete since it has taken so long to roll out into full-scale production.



Our incoming president’s willingness to boldly challenge the status quo is arguably the main reason he was elected. And no defense project is more representative of a disastrous status quo than the 20-year-old Joint Strike Fighter program — the F-35. The F-35 program showcases all that is wrong about our military’s vendor-dominated, crony-capitalist procurement system....

Therefore, President-elect Trump’s willingness to publicly call out this $1.5 trillion program is good news. However, getting involved in negotiating a better price on incomplete, crippled fighters will not save taxpayers any money in the long run — because the prices being negotiated between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon are prices designed to fool the public about the F-35’s true costs. Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon both know that any “discount” or price reduction negotiated in public will quickly be made up on the back-end, where a plethora of upgrades, airframe life-extension programs, and uber-expensive spare-parts purchases over the life of the program will easily generate over $200 million for each plane delivered. Consequently, if Trump expends presidential prestige to save a few percent off the top, it won’t solve the underlying problem. Instead, he will only validate a failed program that is a big part of the swamp he is eager to drain as part of his plan to restore our depleted military.....

It’s time to face the facts: Because of fatal mistakes made during the conceptual design process well over 20 years ago, the F-35 will forever be crippled by intractable weight and heat issues that ensure that the program will never deliver a reliable, cost-effective fighter.

Further evidence of this was revealed on Wednesday, when Inside Defense exposed the fact that the Navy’s F-35C model has design defects that can cause pilots to suffer disorientation and severe pain when undergoing carrier catapult launches. As it stands, Navy pilots have determined the F-35C is not “operationally suitable” for carrier launches. New design changes to the F-35C will be required that could take years — and even our carriers may need to be modified to fix the problem. This issue has been known about for years, but until now it has been concealed from the public....

The F-35’s severe, ongoing problems with weight have resulted in indefensible decisions affecting plane safety, reliability, and durability — the most egregious example being the removal of hundreds of pounds of equipment designed to keep pilots from dying in fiery explosions. Some of the safety equipment removed includes the fuel tank’s ballistic liner, critical fueldraulic fuses, the flammable coolant shut-off valve, and the dry bay fire-extinguishing unit. The unprecedented and pervasive presence of flammable hydraulic fluid, flammable coolants, and fuel throughout the plane makes the F-35 a flying tinderbox. But without these risky weight-reduction measures, the F-35 will not be able to meet even its bare-minimum contractually mandated range goals. It should be unacceptable to ask American pilots to fly these fighters.

Unfortunately, cracked bulkheads are not the only casualty of the weight pogrom. The Department of Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E), which answers to the secretary of defense, has issued reports that are full of descriptions of cracks in engine parts, failed turbine blisks, cracks in the floor, root-rib cracks, and the like. In 2004, the F-35’s F135 engine was also subjected to an extreme weight-reduction program. Not coincidentally, according to an April 2015 Government Accountability Office report, it has very poor reliability — “less than half of where it should be.”...

Other bad design decisions executed in the name of saving weight have focused on reducing the airframe’s weight. For example, load-bearing structural bulkheads originally supposed to be made from fatigue-resistant titanium were swapped out with fatigue-prone aluminum bulkheads. Now, we have aluminum bulkheads suffering stress-induced fatigue cracks that will require heavier bulkheads in future F-Further evidence of a what a sham the Air Force and Marine Corps IOC declarations are is revealed in a DOT&E memo. In it, we find that on the battlefield F-35s are not an asset. In fact, America’s new fighters will actually have to be protected in combat. Because of numerous performance deficiencies and limited weapons capacity, the so-called operationally capable F-35 will need support to locate and avoid threats, acquire targets, and engage enemy aircraft. Unresolved deficiencies in sensor fusion, electronic warfare, and weapons employment continue to result in ambiguous threat displays, limited ability to effectively respond to threats, and, in some cases, a requirement for off-board sources to provide accurate coordinates for precision attack. In short, the F-35 — a flying tinderbox — will need to be nursemaided by other aircraft that are actually combat capable.

An August 9, 2016, DOT&E memo put the nail in the coffin with this damning statement: “In fact, the [F-35] program is actually not on a path toward success, but instead is on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities [i.e., full combat capabilities].”35s and weighty retrofit kits for those that have already been built....

After two decades, the F-35 absolutely, positively has not achieved Initial Operating Capability. By contrast, both the F-15 and the F-16 achieved IOC in eight years or less — with full production following quickly. But falsely declaring IOC is only the tip of the iceberg of what Lockheed Martin and its supporters in the military have done to prop up a program that by any reasonable measure is already a failure. Indeed, it has become standard operating procedure for the F-35’s flaws and problems to be kicked down the road to be fixed in the future.

In order to protect the F-35 from cancellation, the Pentagon has lowered key performance requirements and helped Lockheed cheat so that it could continue the charade that the F-35 will actually meet its bare-minimum threshold ranges. And embarrassing, inexcusable design mistakes continue, such as the F-35B not being able to carry the number of bombs it was supposed to.

Because the Joint Strike Fighter’s development has been going on for over 20 years, much of its shiny new tech that looked so neat two decades ago is now old tech. One victim of old age is the Distributed Aperture System — the hard-wired design of which means that the F-35 is stuck with older infrared sensors with vastly inferior resolution to what is available today. Likewise, the F-35’s Electro-Optical Targeting Sensor is already obsolete and is ten years behind those being used by our F-16s and A-10s. Upgrading it will be difficult and costly.

After some 15 years of development, the F-35’s aging, increasingly unsupportable Integrated Core Processor computer system needed upgrading. Because of schedule pressures and the imperative to maintain the illusion of progress, the decision was made to port 20 million lines of buggy, immature code to the new architecture and then use that code as the base for coding new significant functionality. This resulted in severe, ongoing problems with the F-35’s avionics, its sensor fusion, and other unresolved deficiencies. Many of these deficiencies are not scheduled to be corrected until 2021....

To make matters worse, the published $32,000-per-flying-hour cost is a made-up number; its real cost per flying hour will likely be closer to the $62,000 of the much less complex F-22. Its truly dismal sustained-sortie-generation rate of one sortie (mission) every three or four days means that, as is the case with our F-22 pilots, F-35 pilots will only get a fraction of the 30 to 40 hours of stick-time (actual flying time) per month necessary to gain and maintain fighter-combat mastery. The chunky F-35 will find itself facing faster, more agile, longer-range fighters carrying four times as many missiles. In going up against these planes — fighters such as the Russian SU-35S — our F-35 will find itself at a deadly disadvantage, despite its stealth.... Rest of article

News about the F-35 actually gets worse.  Bloomberg reported the plane may never be ready for combat.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cancel it.
I am not familiar with the way contracts are let on the planes but very familiar with contracts let on ships. One company will get the contract but it will partnership with another contractor on the building. They will divide the number of ships contracted with the other contractor. The first contractor will get the design contract and the other contractor will have to build their ships according to the design of the first contractor. Design changes for ships built will have to go through change orders from original contractor. This means the ships will have to be built from the original designs then after they are built the changes will have to be done. Notice I said the original build will have to be tore out and the changes done. Then those changes will have to be torn out and newer changes will be built only to be torn out again. So on and so on.
The contractors get paid for each tear out and change and each one has to be done, inspected, then tore out. If an employee attempts to skip a single one of the changes and build the ship as the final changes show they will be terminated immediately.

An example would be the light switch to a compartment. The original drawings may say the switch is located on the ceiling in the far corner. There may be 20 or more change orders before the switch is finally located near the door on the wall. The switch and everything related to it will have to be built and expected, then torn out and done again for the 20 or more times.
Basically the contractors are paid for building the one ship 20 or more times. Add to the cost the price of the parts used for 20 or more rebuilds.

Who else beside the govt. would let a contractor get away with such mistakes. This may help explain how the $500 hammers keep coming up missing and have to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

How many people in how many states are employed building this plane?

Anonymous said...

Only Stupid People Would Want To Cancel the F-35!!!

Anonymous said...

It makes no difference how many are employed building the plane. The government is not supposed to be an employment agency. That sounds like Paul Griffin in Madison County, Board of Supervisors. Every time there is discussion of saving the county money, Griffin get his drawers all twisted around how many people will be put out of work. The damned county is not an employment agency and the taxpayers do not have a responsibility to keep people on payrolls. Our obligation is to ourselves. To save money and spend wisely. And discontinue bullshit contracts.

Anonymous said...

I'm retired AF and I have friends who are involved with the 35 program. This is the most advanced weapons system to date and there's a lot behind the scenes that will never be revealed regarding theft by other nations while this aircraft was being developed. But it's being placed in friendly locations like Israel and the Netherlands and other places where we can get and trade parts when necessary. But here's the part that matters most: Whoever has the best aircraft controls the skies and space and whoever doesn't gets to live in Jackson. I have plenty of respect for all of the services (not mentioning Guard here) but it's the sky that matters. Without air domination you'll never, ever own anything on Earth for very long.

Aerospace Professional said...

The f-35 is already outdated. China has the plans, and has built a plane that can beat the f-35. China has also done an excellent job of infiltrating the supply chain with parts that are guaranteed to fail, and virtually impossible to identify. Scratch the F-35, build a plane that is more modern, use one contractor for the entire process, and keep the project top secret until you have at least two dozen planes that are tested and ready to fight.

Anonymous said...

Makes about as much sense as paying $79 for a gallon of milk then when you get home you find it is soured.

Kingsnake said...

Need more F-22's. However, the Navy and Marines still need a fighter plane.

Anonymous said...

The F-35 program isn't going anywhere with it's 146,000 direct and indirect jobs in 45 states. The government may not be responsible for creating jobs, but I want you to convince just one member of our congressional delagation.

Anonymous said...

There always has been and always will be espionage. We just have to find ways to keep the intel and resources from getting into the wrong hands. The USA has dominated and will always dominate. China will only be able to last for so long. Their thought process doesn't include reliability and sustainability, therefore they are their own worst enemy. You build crap that won't stand the test, you lose. We have the best of the best and we probably have minds working right now developing things that are so classified and so far advanced that we do not need to know. Just let them do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, but the F-35 got its ass handed to it by the most advanced versions of the F-16 (a 40 year old design), the F-16E/F Block 60 and F-16V/CAPES. If that's not enough, F-35 test pilots did not have much good to say about the new system, read here: https://warisboring.com/read-for-yourself-the-f-35-s-damning-dogfighting-report-719a4e66f3eb#.whltesccl

And, not to mention the VTOL version for the USMC melts the deck of nearly every ship it operates from.

So another over-time, over-budget boondoggle that the Chinese stole from us...

Anonymous said...

Love all the aerospace experts, contract specialists, economists, political scientists, and others that can blog an opinion that matters. Keep the F-35; scratch it, the F-22 is better; I read in a magazine that this plane is best ever; I saw a video that shows it doesn't work; contract scams everywhere.......bullshit, bullshit. I only hope that there are some folks that actually get to make the decision that have our country's overall interest at heart. Yes, I recognize that many contracting decisions about everything in our military, (as well as other purposes of government, but the military is the one that really counts) are not made for the best of reasons. But the final decision makers - and recommenders - do at least also have our general interest at heart. Have faith folks - it isn't as bad, or as good, as any blog site will ever tell you

Anonymous said...

The F-35 is the least of our problems. Our President Elect is so vain that he wants us to ignore the influence of Russia in his election. (I don't think the results would be different).Woolsey departing and the concerns of Mathis regarding appointments at Defense are signs that should alarm eveyone?

Anonymous said...

Please all you experts opine

Anonymous said...

7:30 if you believe that Barack Hussein Obama has our nations best interest at heart, then I have some ocean front property in Arizona that I will sell you for a bargain.

Anonymous said...

Mathis is a pretty smart cookie, he will lead the exit from the Trump *hithouse!!!

Anonymous said...

History will be kind to President Obama! It will nor be about him, it will be about the incorrigible republicans he had to deal with. Say what you want but he did not bring scandals and shame to the office. Trump has already called anyone who has questions about Putin influencing elections STUPID. Is this how we handle individuals who have a different opinions.

I For One Am Thankful said...

Why has Obama not whined about Russian hacking for the past eight years? Only now. The only way Putin influenced this election was in harboring the Wikileaks guy who exposed a running ton of shit on Hillary, the Democrat regime, the Foundation and Obama. Call that influence at your own peril.

But what about the Navy A-6 by Boein? It's still airborne and recently rewinged.

Anonymous said...

The real problem we need to examine is why the system has broken down so that we cannot get a new plane or any other needed military equipment to our troops while it's still state of the art.

Anonymous said...

No one involved in the whole military contract system gives a damn about the U.S. or the citizens. There is just too much money to be handed out to all concerned. If the airplane would not even lift off the ground and fly it would still be built.

The person posting about China building crap is a laugh. Take a look around your home. Make a list of the items made in China compared to a list of American made items.

Hacking. Someone should make a comedy show about it. Imagine a man walking his dog down the street. He notices some action happening through the large window of a nearby house. He watches as a person kill another and attempts to hide the body under the cushions of the couch. He calls the police only to be arrested for peeping. Most of the comedy would be located inside of the living room where a leg, arm, and side of a dead body hangs out from under the couch pillows. The maid sets on top of the mess smiling at the press. As the body slowly rots, bloats, and fills the room with stench the law is trying to give the murderer the keys to the city.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem this new administration will have, is turnover. The main reasons will be scandals that they get themselves caught up in and overnight policy shifts by Mr. Trump.

Anonymous said...

This is just like the $900. hammer and the $1,500. toilet!

Anonymous said...

9:44 am

Your reasoning and logic skills are the number one reason Trump is soon to be in office.

Pure authentic jibberish.

Anonymous said...

11:21, thank you very much. Here I was ready for some crude remarks and you actually gave me a compliment.

Anonymous said...

If Obama can look at us with a straight face and say his administration has suffered zero scandals and there have been no terrorist activities in the US on his watch....then surely Trump can survive the hundred day meltdown you Bernie-Clowns are predicting.

As you so joyfully chattered for the past eight years.....HE is YOUR PRESIDENT! Suck it up or hit the road.

Anonymous said...

My opinion, although worth nothing at all, is that this program may have been doomed from the very beginning. I recently applied for a job with LM and during my research on the company found a 2 hour video on YouTube about the F35 program. The DOD decided they wanted a one-size-fits-all fighter jet for the entire military. This meant that the Air Force wanted long-range and high payload, the Navy wanted high speed, sharp maneuverability and carrier ops while the Marines wanted vertical landing capabilities.
LM and Boeing were selected to compete for the contract. During their prototype builds more and more requirements kept being piled on by the DOD power that be. It's amazing that either of them were able to produce something that would even fly.
My thought was: if we have separate branches of the military a one-size-fits-all plane may not be the best idea.

Anonymous said...

Why do we need it at all? Drones are taking over the military.

Anonymous said...

Stop worrying about the F35 and start worrying about our K12 math and science rankings vs the rest of the world. Leading the world in innovation and discovery have created wealth, health and security for the U.S., and we're about to get our doors blown off by several other countries who are passing us. We're pissing everything away and becoming a nation of ignorant, apathetic consumers who are incapable of the critical thinking necessary to determine what is and is not spin. It's not an accident. It's why lawyers kick PhDs off of juries. Democrats and Republicans (and the money that controls both of them) want us to be ignorant and gullible because it makes us controllable. We've got to hold our elected officials accountable for their corruption, waste and lies instead of just shrugging our shoulders and accepting it. And we're got to demand high quality free K12 education for everyone.

Anonymous said...

@10:46 - But we all get trophies now!

Anonymous said...

The U.S. is becoming one big fast food joint. Seems fitting as most of our workers seem to fit right in their fast food occupation. Our citizens seem to like to waddle in and out filling their bellies with fast food.

You can get some idea when so many people have to use a credit card to buy an order of French fries. We need to wake up. We don't need airplanes, we need more big macs. Half of the population flipping burgers and the other half eating them up as fast as they can. Uncle Sam will pay the bill.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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