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USAF realises F-35 is not what they set out to make

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Philjia
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USAF realises F-35 is not what they set out to make

Postby Philjia » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:13 am

The USAF's chief of staff has floated the idea of developing a new lightweight low-cost fighter to replace the air force's aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons, and complement their higher end F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning IIs.

This is all well and good, but there was a project years ago that was supposed to deliver this kind of aircraft. It was called the Joint Strike Fighter program, and was intended to deliver an affordable plane that could cover the needs of not just the air force, but the army and navy too. Twenty years and about $1.5 trillion later, what they've actually produced is the F-35 Lightning II, which is actually three different and very expensive variants. The F-35 is not a failure as far as the performance of the aircraft itself is concerned; each variant does serve some need for the branch that will use it. What it is a failure of is management, as the project has run over time, over budget, and well outside the original brief. The question is, now the air force has to start from scratch, will they learn their lesson?
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Postby A-Series-Of-Tubes » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:33 am

You'd get a much cheaper fighter if you just designed it in the USA, and let the Chinese build it.

I mean, why not? The Chinese are going to get your design anyway (then probably sell half of it to Russia) so all you have to worry about is the software not working at the worst possible time. So maybe do the software yourself.
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Postby Risottia » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:40 am

Philjia wrote:The USAF's chief of staff has floated the idea of developing a new lightweight low-cost fighter to replace the air force's aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons, and complement their higher end F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning IIs.

This is all well and good, but there was a project years ago that was supposed to deliver this kind of aircraft. It was called the Joint Strike Fighter program, and was intended to deliver an affordable plane that could cover the needs of not just the air force, but the army and navy too. Twenty years and about $1.5 trillion later, what they've actually produced is the F-35 Lightning II, which is actually three different and very expensive variants. The F-35 is not a failure as far as the performance of the aircraft itself is concerned; each variant does serve some need for the branch that will use it. What it is a failure of is management, as the project has run over time, over budget, and well outside the original brief. The question is, now the air force has to start from scratch, will they learn their lesson?


The F-35 is a botched aircraft because it was meant to be a compromise solution to way too many requirements. It is an over-engineered craft which cannot really excel at any of its intended tasks, it is merely good at most of them. It was completed because of the lack of alternative solutions and because too many nations had already spent way too much money on it. Really, you cannot expect a single aircraft, albeit in three different variants, to cover the whole range of operational tasks of F-16, F/A-18, Harrier, Tornado, A-10, A-6, F-14, EF-4, EA-18, F-111, F-117, AMX.

Now I expect the geniuses at the DoD to do exactly the same thing with the next fighter, because that's how they love to waste taxpayer's money for the benefit of Lockheed and Boeing.
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Postby -Ocelot- » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:47 am

Risottia wrote:
Philjia wrote:The USAF's chief of staff has floated the idea of developing a new lightweight low-cost fighter to replace the air force's aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons, and complement their higher end F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightning IIs.

This is all well and good, but there was a project years ago that was supposed to deliver this kind of aircraft. It was called the Joint Strike Fighter program, and was intended to deliver an affordable plane that could cover the needs of not just the air force, but the army and navy too. Twenty years and about $1.5 trillion later, what they've actually produced is the F-35 Lightning II, which is actually three different and very expensive variants. The F-35 is not a failure as far as the performance of the aircraft itself is concerned; each variant does serve some need for the branch that will use it. What it is a failure of is management, as the project has run over time, over budget, and well outside the original brief. The question is, now the air force has to start from scratch, will they learn their lesson?


The F-35 is a botched aircraft because it was meant to be a compromise solution to way too many requirements. It is an over-engineered craft which cannot really excel at any of its intended tasks, it is merely good at most of them. It was completed because of the lack of alternative solutions and because too many nations had already spent way too much money on it. Really, you cannot expect a single aircraft, albeit in three different variants, to cover the whole range of operational tasks of F-16, F/A-18, Harrier, Tornado, A-10, A-6, F-14, EF-4, EA-18, F-111, F-117, AMX.
Now I expect the geniuses at the DoD to do exactly the same thing with the next fighter, because that's how they love to waste taxpayer's money for the benefit of Lockheed and Boeing.


From what I've read F-35 is very expensive, but also a direct improvement all across the board, despite covering too many bases. And many countries want to buy it, which means it must do something right. I find hard to believe that a country would develop something bad and terribly expensive on purpose.

Can you elaborate on why you think this aircraft unit is bad? What should the DoD have done, instead?

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Postby A-Series-Of-Tubes » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:53 am

I'm sure you're right Risottia, but wasn't the aim of trying to cover so many different roles with one airframe, to make maintenance and upgrades cheaper over the lifetime of all variants? That was a factor I'm sure, in rejecting efforts to scrap the program.

Can confirm that foreign buyers would rather have planes than their money back, particularly since we weren't going to get much of it back. Most of us did cut our orders though, making the economics worse for the US. Here in Australia there was talk about buying Russian planes instead of more F/A-18's, if the F-35 deal fell through.
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Postby Philjia » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:01 am

A-Series-Of-Tubes wrote:I'm sure you're right Risottia, but wasn't the aim of trying to cover so many different roles with one airframe, to make maintenance and upgrades cheaper over the lifetime of all variants?

Yes. However, it turns out trying to make one airframe do all those things is quite hard, so they had to make a lot of changes to each of the variants so now they're only something like 20% compatible.
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Postby A-Series-Of-Tubes » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:04 am

-Ocelot- wrote:From what I've read F-35 is very expensive, but also a direct improvement all across the board, despite covering too many bases. And many countries want to buy it, which means it must do something right. I find hard to believe that a country would develop something bad and terribly expensive on purpose.


Yeah. It's also wrong to compare a new design with existing planes that have had numerous upgrades or bug-fixes. The F-35 will be a much better plane 10 years from now, and feedback from nations using it in different environments and roles should really help that. The STOL/VTOL variant in particular, is no doubt optimized for carriers which only the UK has one of. If it can't be safely operated off and onto helicopter landing craft, there will be some grumbling.
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Postby A-Series-Of-Tubes » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:06 am

Philjia wrote:
A-Series-Of-Tubes wrote:I'm sure you're right Risottia, but wasn't the aim of trying to cover so many different roles with one airframe, to make maintenance and upgrades cheaper over the lifetime of all variants?

Yes. However, it turns out trying to make one airframe do all those things is quite hard, so they had to make a lot of changes to each of the variants so now they're only something like 20% compatible.


Well that's a fail. Anything under 50% would be rather poor.
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Postby Philjia » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:07 am

A-Series-Of-Tubes wrote:
-Ocelot- wrote:From what I've read F-35 is very expensive, but also a direct improvement all across the board, despite covering too many bases. And many countries want to buy it, which means it must do something right. I find hard to believe that a country would develop something bad and terribly expensive on purpose.


Yeah. It's also wrong to compare a new design with existing planes that have had numerous upgrades or bug-fixes. The F-35 will be a much better plane 10 years from now, and feedback from nations using it in different environments and roles should really help that. The STOL/VTOL variant in particular, is no doubt optimized for carriers which only the UK has one of. If it can't be safely operated off and onto helicopter landing craft, there will be some grumbling.

The UK actually has two aircraft carriers floating, although the HMS Prince of Wales won't be ready for full operations until 2023 at the earliest.
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Postby A-Series-Of-Tubes » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:42 am

Philjia wrote:
A-Series-Of-Tubes wrote:
Yeah. It's also wrong to compare a new design with existing planes that have had numerous upgrades or bug-fixes. The F-35 will be a much better plane 10 years from now, and feedback from nations using it in different environments and roles should really help that. The STOL/VTOL variant in particular, is no doubt optimized for carriers which only the UK has one of. If it can't be safely operated off and onto helicopter landing craft, there will be some grumbling.

The UK actually has two aircraft carriers floating, although the HMS Prince of Wales won't be ready for full operations until 2023 at the earliest.


Australia has none. We have two of the Canberra class, which look like small carriers because the Spanish demanded money to take the ski-jump out of the design. Or maybe the Australian government doesn't want these landing-ships appearing on the West Pacific theatre as Aircraft Carriers, until there's a reason to do so ... it would signal the start of a Naval Arms Race.

Does anyone know why the US persists with flat decks on carriers, when so many other countries opt for the ski-jump?
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Postby The Disorder » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:01 am

If the USAF needed a ground attack aircraft, they should have bought A-10's. The only thing that would ever make the A-10 obsolete is dirt-cheap precision orbital bombardment.

The only mission the F-35 accomplishes better than any other plane: It drowns defense contractors in money.
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Postby Ethel mermania » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:37 am

As with any beauacratic project designed to save time and money, the F-35 costs twice as much, takes twice as long, and does half of what it needs too, as oppossed to doing it right in the first place.
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Postby Great Pacific Switzerland » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:40 am

F-22 Retrofit when???
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Postby Kubra » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:42 am

-Ocelot- wrote:I find hard to believe that a country would develop something bad and terribly expensive on purpose.
Time for a classic movie scene
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQ2lO3ieBA
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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:00 am

Kubra wrote:
-Ocelot- wrote:I find hard to believe that a country would develop something bad and terribly expensive on purpose.
Time for a classic movie scene
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQ2lO3ieBA

I recall a specific incident. They were testing the Bradley against RPGs. The test initially went well, but one of the officers attending the test cried foul, that the RPGs were intentionally being fired at too short a distance, i.e. they did not reach their maximum velocity in terms of what would usually be encountered on the battlefield. The test was rerun on the insistence of the officer, firing the RPG from further away. The result was catastrophic for the Bradley: the Bradley was annihilated, all of the hatches were blown out, and the test dummies inside were blown out too.

It is fun that the movie references that specific incident that happened, albeit in a far more outlandish way.
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Postby Qhevak » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:04 am

The Disorder wrote:If the USAF needed a ground attack aircraft, they should have bought A-10's. The only thing that would ever make the A-10 obsolete is dirt-cheap precision orbital bombardment.

The only mission the F-35 accomplishes better than any other plane: It drowns defense contractors in money.

The A-10 is worthless for actual combat situations. It's slow moving SAM bait in any serious combat environment and the GAU-8 is dead weight against modern MBTs.

It's technically still "useful" in counterinsurgency operations in that it has more endurance and costs less to fly than real fighter jets, but it's still overkill for that role. If you want to fight insurgents in the middle east with no serious AA capability lightweight turboprops with cheap PGMs are cheaper, have even better endurance and can strike targets more accurately.
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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:36 am

Qhevak wrote:The A-10 is worthless for actual combat situations. It's slow moving SAM bait in any serious combat environment and the GAU-8 is dead weight against modern MBTs.

In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

And the GAU-8 would still be effective at getting a kill on an MBT if it hits the tracks or engine deck, or damaging/destroying combat-necessary features such as vision blocks or sensors. And it'd still be highly effective against other AFVs and support vehicles. If it was up against an MBT it would usually rely on the AGM-65 anyway.
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Postby Philjia » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:15 am

The New California Republic wrote:
Qhevak wrote:The A-10 is worthless for actual combat situations. It's slow moving SAM bait in any serious combat environment and the GAU-8 is dead weight against modern MBTs.

In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

And the GAU-8 would still be effective at getting a kill on an MBT if it hits the tracks or engine deck, or damaging/destroying combat-necessary features such as vision blocks or sensors. And it'd still be highly effective against other AFVs and support vehicles. If it was up against an MBT it would usually rely on the AGM-65 anyway.

How modern do the MBTs have to be to be GAU-8 proof anyway? The Chinese and Russians have kicked around modern designs for years but the bulk of their forces are still Type-96 and T-72s respectively. The A-10's definitely not cutting edge anymore, but neither are the things it would be required to blow up should a major conflict actually happen.
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Postby Borderlands of Rojava » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:25 am

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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:28 am

Philjia wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

And the GAU-8 would still be effective at getting a kill on an MBT if it hits the tracks or engine deck, or damaging/destroying combat-necessary features such as vision blocks or sensors. And it'd still be highly effective against other AFVs and support vehicles. If it was up against an MBT it would usually rely on the AGM-65 anyway.

How modern do the MBTs have to be to be GAU-8 proof anyway? The Chinese and Russians have kicked around modern designs for years but the bulk of their forces are still Type-96 and T-72s respectively. The A-10's definitely not cutting edge anymore, but neither are the things it would be required to blow up should a major conflict actually happen.

Yes the bulk of the Russian and Chinese MBT force is still vulnerable to the GAU-8. The likes of the T-90SM and T-14 Armata, and the Type 99A would be too, as the PGU-14/B Armor Piercing Incendiary and PGU-13/B High Explosive Incendiary rounds hitting the engine block, tracks, or sighting devices would be enough to put it out of action. But again most of the time the GAU-8 would be used against softer AFVs, it'd use the AGM-65 against an MBT.
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Postby Vassenor » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:30 am

A-Series-Of-Tubes wrote:
Philjia wrote:The UK actually has two aircraft carriers floating, although the HMS Prince of Wales won't be ready for full operations until 2023 at the earliest.


Australia has none. We have two of the Canberra class, which look like small carriers because the Spanish demanded money to take the ski-jump out of the design. Or maybe the Australian government doesn't want these landing-ships appearing on the West Pacific theatre as Aircraft Carriers, until there's a reason to do so ... it would signal the start of a Naval Arms Race.

Does anyone know why the US persists with flat decks on carriers, when so many other countries opt for the ski-jump?


I mean the Japanese already let that cat out of the bag.
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Postby Qhevak » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:47 am

The New California Republic wrote:
Qhevak wrote:The A-10 is worthless for actual combat situations. It's slow moving SAM bait in any serious combat environment and the GAU-8 is dead weight against modern MBTs.

In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

No they haven't. You can look at Coalition loss records from the first Gulf War - 9 A-10As were hit by IR SAMs with 6 losses (4 shot down, 2 returned to base and were written off due to damage), compared to 2 SAM losses for the F-16C and 1 F-15E SAM loss while operating in environments with greater air defence concentration. This was 30 years ago, and fought against an opponent with inadequate air defence capability - the performance gap between an A-10 and F-35A against modern Russian or Chinese air defences will be much higher.
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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:57 am

Qhevak wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

No they haven't. You can look at Coalition loss records from the first Gulf War - 9 A-10As were hit by IR SAMs with 6 losses (4 shot down, 2 returned to base and were written off due to damage), compared to 2 SAM losses for the F-16C and 1 F-15E SAM loss while operating in environments with greater air defence concentration.

Context matters: the A-10s flew 8,100 sorties. 6 losses for 8,100 sorties. So the chance of an A-10 being lost on a sortie was 0.07%. I dunno about you, but I'd call that extremely low...

Qhevak wrote:This was 30 years ago, and fought against an opponent with inadequate air defence capability - the performance gap between an A-10 and F-35A against modern Russian or Chinese air defences will be much higher.

SEAD and countermeasures development hasn't remained static either...
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Pointing their plastic finger at me
They're hoping soon, my kind will drop and die
But I'm going to wave my freak flag high
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Postby Vassenor » Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:11 am

The New California Republic wrote:
Qhevak wrote:No they haven't. You can look at Coalition loss records from the first Gulf War - 9 A-10As were hit by IR SAMs with 6 losses (4 shot down, 2 returned to base and were written off due to damage), compared to 2 SAM losses for the F-16C and 1 F-15E SAM loss while operating in environments with greater air defence concentration.

Context matters: the A-10s flew 8,100 sorties. 6 losses for 8,100 sorties. So the chance of an A-10 being lost on a sortie was 0.07%. I dunno about you, but I'd call that extremely low...


And the F-16C flew 13,500 sorties for 2 losses. 0.014% loss rate.
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Austria-Bohemia-Hungary
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Founded: Jun 28, 2011
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Austria-Bohemia-Hungary » Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:18 am

Philjia wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:In all the combat missions that it has been involved in over the course of the past 30 years the A-10 losses to SAM systems have been extremely low.

And the GAU-8 would still be effective at getting a kill on an MBT if it hits the tracks or engine deck, or damaging/destroying combat-necessary features such as vision blocks or sensors. And it'd still be highly effective against other AFVs and support vehicles. If it was up against an MBT it would usually rely on the AGM-65 anyway.

How modern do the MBTs have to be to be GAU-8 proof anyway?

T-62.

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