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Military Dominance
F-35 Living Up to the Hype?
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  • Nevis07

    The F-35 has taken a lot of criticism from a lot of people, myself included. I think it will be a pretty good plane, just good at all roles, but probably not exceptional at any one of them, which in my opinion is it’s greatest failing (that’s not on the engineers, it’s on the Pentagon planners).

    At any rate, this still does not excuse the cost overruns on the taxpayer’s tab and all of this recent high praise may simply be a marketing effort on part of the defense procurement people to save their own jobs. I remain cautiously sceptical on the plane’s performance – 24 to zero kill ratios are great in simulation but the real world could well turn out different. I also remain worried about the plane’s vulnerability to cyber attacks. Either way, it would seem we’re stuck with the F-35 for better or worse, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

  • f1b0nacc1

    WRM seems to ignore the avalanche of criticisms from pilots (test and line) who castigate the F-35 for poor maneuverability, lack of energy, limited range, and payload in stealth mode, as well as any of the almost innumerable criticisms that have been coming from the computer security community and the aircraft industry as the plane, its software, and its supporting elements (the pilot’s helmet, key to its operation, is a huge mess) fail test after test. We can impress some air-show crowds, and shine in simulations designed to show off how wonderful the plane is when everything works, but are these real-world evaluations of how useful the aircraft is? Meanwhile, in the real world, we don’t have the resources to keep the aircraft we already have properly maintained, our operational limitations are becoming more and more serious with no end in sight.

    • Andrew Allison

      Hook, line and stinker!

    • PKCasimir

      Please identify one active duty line pilot who has flown the F-35 who has criticized it. Criticism has come from pilots who do not support stealth and who have a WW2 attitude towards aerial warfare. As far as range is concerned, the F-35A or F-35C does not have limited range and carries more fuel than any other US fighter. The F-35B is limited in range but that comes from STOVL. The helmet is not a “mess” and it’s obvious the author isn’t aware that the USAF will declare IOC for the F-35A next month.

      f1b0nacc1 appears to have succumbed to the F-35 hate club.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Active duty pilots involved in the testing of the F-35 have criticized it’s poor flight characteristics (example:, particularly when compared to existing aircraft such as the F-16 (a 40 year old design). You don’t have to be a stealth skeptic or long for the days of WWII to be concerned with the lack of power, poor energy management, and lousy maneuverability that characterize virtually every assessment of the F-35, even by those who support it. Unless you believe that the future of air combat is going to involve stand-off range missile barrages (in which case, arsenal planes make far more sense), the F-35 offers very little beyond an excellent electronics and sensor suite, something that hardly requires the rest of the airframe to support. The F-35A/C models do carry a lot of fuel, but they also consume it very rapidly, especially when carrying a maximum payload. Because they depend so heavily on stealth (face it, they have nothing else), external fuel tanks (and other external stores) which would dirty-up the airframe cannot be used for a non-permissive airspace, so in practice they lack the unrefueled range of an F-18E/F/G or an F-15. I notice that there is no mention of software issues, nor the insufficient ammunition for the 25 mm gun or the system integration issues with the SBDII and LRASM. And all of this ignores the problems that have cropped up with that mess that is the F-35B…
        Regarding the IOC for the F-35A, the air force brass has so much political capital invested in this turkey that they will drag its corpse across the finish line no matter what, and declaring IOC (FOC is nowhere in sight) is a way to keep the money flowing. We keep hearing that the sensor suite and the communications capabilities are world beaters, but none of this has been demonstrated in a real-world environment (heavy countermeasures use, attacks on supporting systems, etc.) where the bad guys don’t play by the rules of the simulations. Meanwhile, the F-35 acts as a black hole, sucking up every spare dollar available for spending, leaving the air force starved for resources in everything else, even as FOC slips further into the future.
        If hating the F-35 has become a cult, it is nothing compared to that which has evolved amounts its fanboys. This isn’t a particularly good airplane, and it is going to cost us dearly on a lot of different levels.

        • PKCasimir

          The test pilot involved was not an active duty pilot but a civilian with a well-known axe to grind against the F-35. Your lack of knowledge as to how the USAF conducts tests of its aircraft is matched only by your lack of knowledge about the F-35.You make broad sweeping generalizations about the F-35 that are not supported by facts such as poor energy management” which is just blithering nonsense. The F-35 does not use fuel more rapidly than an F-16 or F-15 and your statement that it does just demonstrates that you are making things up as you go along. And I suppose that F-15s and F-16s don’t burn up more fuel when they carry heavier payloads? You just don’t know what you are talking about.
          There are software issues and will continue to be software issues. That’s the nature of software. The important fact you refuse to acknowledge is that as a package of sensors and situational awareness the F-35 is head and shoulders above anything else out there, to include the F-22. You might want to pay attention to the recent USAF IOC test of the F-35 where F-15Cs couldn’t even get close to it. These aren’t simulations.
          The bottom line is that you are totally out of date in your knowledge of the F-35 program and have a built in bias that no amount of facts will overcome. Half of your argument is just screaming epithets with no factual basis. Facts are stubborn things and pointing the out to a biased F-35 hater doesn’t make me a fanboy but a realist.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Active duty pilots who make public comments about aircraft in testing are likely to face very serious career-ending decisions, which means that few are likely to do so. The test results cited are hardly invalid because of the source citing them, and I notice you didn’t bother to address any of the issues therein. Ad-hom attacks seem to be your specialty here (your references to Fat_Man are particularly noxious and ill-informed), so I wont’ bother responding to your comments about me, but you don’t seem to understand the nature of the issues surrounding the F-35, which is more germane to the subject here.
            The F-35 has serious range issues when in an aerodynamically clean configuration, something that is absolutely essential for it to make use of its stealth characteristics. Because other aircraft types (such as the F-16, for purposes of our discussion here) do not rely upon stealth for their operational effectiveness, they typically make more extensive use of external stores, particularly fuel, which means they can carry larger loads and operate at much longer ranges. The Israelis have in fact made excellent use of conformal tanks for their F-15s, something that the US does not do. The point here is that F-35s have shorter effective ranges than F-16s (or F-18s) in a real-world configuration, and when both aircraft are operating ‘clean’ the F-35 has serious payload issues. This isn’t my opinion, this is in fact a well-known concern often expressed about the F-35. The F-35’s engine consumes fuel far faster than other models (it also performs exceptionally well, to be fair), which means that even though the aircraft carries more fuel, it uses it faster, thus forfeiting any advantages in internal capacity that it might have. This was something that the US experienced in WWII, where the P-47, which carried more fuel internally than the P-51, actually ended up with shorter range because of the relative inefficiency of its power plant.
            The comments made about the F-35s poor energy management aren’t mine, they are made by test pilots who have been openly quoted in the press, and who haven’t been contradicted even by the air force. The excuse has been that since the F-35 won’t be dog-fighting, this won’t matter….a promise that we heard with the F-4, the F-111, etc. That didn’t work out 50 years ago, and it isn’t likely to work out terribly well now.
            Regarding the USAF’s testing protocols, you might want to examine them more carefully yourself. Typically the testing done uses specific parameters that tend to limit the aircraft involved in terms of what choices that they can make. Take for example the AIMEVAL and ACEVAL tests that were originally used to with the F-15 and F-16, and the relative merits of their missile loadouts. In the case you cite, the F-15Cs weren’t allowed to make use of any externally-based sensors, something that would never happen in the real world, but would be most common in any battlespace that the US is likely to be operating in. This isn’t an academic exercise, as much as the USAF would like it to be.
            I won’t bother to address your personal attacks, other than to suggest that given your other comments online, you really aren’t in much of a position to make charges. If you cannot behave in a civilized fashion, then go play with children and leave the adults alone.
            Blocked in the future.

  • lukelea

    Trouble is we already enjoyed air superiority over most of the world, whereas future conflict with China in, say, the south China sea poses the problem that most conceivable bases are vulnerable to missile attack (carriers especially). Against a technologically advanced enemy, fighter aircraft may be a thing of the past, like battleships and carriers. Maybe I’m wrong?

    • f1b0nacc1

      I suspect that fighter aircraft (in some form) will survive, missiles might be what disappear. Eventually DEW systems (and advanced electronic warfare, though this is more speculative) will become practical, which will tend to undermine the value of missile systems like those favored by the Chinese, and these are inherently less able to evolve. On the other hand, who really knows?
      One thing is true…war, war never changes….

  • Fat_Man

    It is a US government project. I am from Missouri. I am still taking the under.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is going to be the last manned fighter bomber that America will build. From now on UAVs will be the order of the day, and will be cheaper, lighter, more dangerous, more maneuverable, longer ranged, and won’t endanger pilot lives.

    • seattleoutcast

      I still remember reading in one of Stanislaw Lem’s novels about hordes of mechanical insects duking it out on the battlefield. I don’t remember the novel’s name, however.

      I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, but I’m sure to be wrong.

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