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Suddenly, The F-35 Fighter Is Everywhere

Feb 22, 2017
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Suddenly, The F-35 Fighter Is Everywhere

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If the F-35 fighter was a normal Pentagon program, this July would look like a landmark month of spectacular successes. Instead, it is shaping up to be a fairly typical month in the recent history of the world’s biggest weapons project.

Greece disclosed that it wanted to buy 20 of the multirole fighters, and maybe twice that number. The Czech Republic revealed that it wanted 24.

The government of South Korea announced it would increase the size of its planned F-35 fleet by 50%, to 60 aircraft.

And news out of the Farnborough Air Show was that the Pentagon and airframe integrator Lockheed MartinLMT 0.0% had reached agreement on the next three production lots of F-35, with the aim of buying 375 fighters in three versions for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and various overseas partners.

Meanwhile, F-35 pilots, of whom 1,700 have been trained, continued to fly training and operational missions, having accumulated well over half a million flight hours.

In the Baltic region, U.S. F-35s flying out of Estonia supported regional air defense. In the Mediterranean, they flew from Souda Bay on Crete to train with Greece’s air force. In Northeast Asia, they conducted exercises with the F-35s of South Korea’s air force.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, sea-based F-35s participated in Pacific Rim exercises off Hawaii, and Australia announced that it had stood up the first full-service depot for maintaining F-35 engines in the Indo-Pacific—organized to support the 100 F-35s Canberra is buying plus those of Japan, South Korea, and U.S. services operating in the region.

Remember, I’m just talking about July, and the month isn’t over.
F-35 is fast becoming the most ubiquitous tactical aircraft in the world, the fighter every friend wants and every enemy fears.

With 830 fighters delivered and thousands more to come—the U.S. alone plans to buy 2,456—it seems that F-35 will define what air dominance means through mid-century. The Pentagon plans to operate them until 2070, and is already pursuing technology upgrades to assure they will always “overmatch” adversaries (to use a favored term of Pentagon jargon).

Even without the upgrades, F-35 out-performs other fighters in the U.S. fleet. It defeats adversary aircraft in exercises by a 20-to-1 margin, it accomplishes a broader array of tasks, and it is easier to maintain. By some measures, it is the most reliable tactical aircraft in the joint fleet.

But there was a time, not so long ago, when the fate of the F-35 was far from certain. The program was conceived during the early years of the Clinton Administration, when the collapse of the Soviet Union had undercut any sense of urgency about investing in future military technology.

Determined to wring a “peace dividend” from the demise of communism, officials loaded up what was then called the Joint Strike Fighter with a slew of performance requirements so they could avoid buying other things.

The fighter had to be nearly invisible to enemy radars. It had to provide pilots with unprecedented situational awareness. It had to collect and process vast amounts of intelligence. It had to be securely networked to other military aircraft. It had to meet the distinctly different needs of three separate military services.

And oh by the way, it also had to be affordable—bending the cost curve that previously drove up the price-tag of each new generation of fighters.

Nobody had ever before tried to combine all those features in a single military aircraft. At the program’s inception, it seemed possible that nobody could. But Lockheed Martin led an industry team that satisfied all of the “key performance parameters,” and confounded analysts by delivering each new production lot at a lower cost per plane than the Pentagon had projected.

Pratt & Whitney, the company that won the contract to provide each fighter’s engine, delivered a propulsion system that combined unprecedented thrust, flexibility, and even stealth.

Both of these companies, and several others supporting them, gave money to my think tank, so I secured a front-row seat for the agony they felt each time Congress threatened to scale back the program or kill it entirely.

Lawmakers had reason to doubt good-news accounts of how the program was faring, because the technical demands were so imposing that success was uncertain.

But success is what the companies ultimately delivered. A flight-test regime of over 9,000 sorties proved Lockheed and Pratt had met performance goals, and once that was demonstrated they turned to refining sustainment practices to keep the fighters affordable across a 50-year service life.

The sustainment challenge continues to be worked, but once you grasp the functionality each fighter delivers, it looks like a bargain even if it costs more to maintain than a legacy fighter. After all, what is it worth to America to defeat Chinese pilots 19 times out of 20 in a future conflict?

So now the F-35 really is poised to be everywhere that matters, from Finland to Italy to Poland to Israel to Australia to Japan. Sixteen countries are buying it or have expressed an intention to do so, and other countries will reportedly join the community of users in the near future.

F-35 is, by any reasonable standard, a smashing success. It is one of the greatest technological achievements of this generation.

However, there is nothing “sudden” about the increasing ubiquity of the F-35. It required two decades to get to this point, and a domestic political system that was willing to set aside partisanship for the sake of national security.

If anyone tells you Washington can’t get big things done anymore, remind them of the F-35—a program that Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden have all agreed needed to be kept on track.

Today, the F-35 fighter thrives as an example of what discipline and innovation can accomplish despite the naysayers, and despite the frictions of a contentious political culture.

 

Michel Niesten

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Not bad for a renowned "failure", eh? :D
Lots of newly developed planes have issues and problems in the design and test phases. Especially when it’s a plane that has to be designed to do so much different tasks for different air arms (Air Forces, Navy, Marines.)

And long after those issues have been solved, people still moan about the early issues.
 

Hamartia Antidote

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s threats against Taiwan mean nations that are fearful of what Moscow and Beijing could do next are clearly thinking about what their air force needs to look like in the years to come. Many are making the jump to stealth – and that can mean only one thing: considering a purchase of the F-35.

The F-35 Lightning II is the most capable multirole fighter aircraft in service anywhere in the world today, and the aircraft has certainly done very well for its maker, Lockheed Martin Corp. The company’s business segment, Aeronautics, recently signed a modification contract that was provided by Naval Air System Command, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Valued at $7.63 billion, Lockheed Martin (LMT) will produce a total of 129 F-35 aircraft – from all variations – while also providing 69 shipsets of technical hardware. The contract will serve the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, non-U.S Department of Defense (DoD) participants, as well as Foreign Military Sales customers.

According to the Pentagon, 49 of the F-35As will be delivered to the Air Force, while three F-35Bs and 10 F-35Cs will be received by the Marine Corps. Fifteen of the contracted F-35s are for the U.S. Navy, while 32 F-35As and four F-35Bs will be delivered to non-DoD participants. The remaining 16 F-35s will go to U.S. allies under Foreign Military Sales.

A major portion of the agreement will be executed in Fort Worth, Texas; whilst additional work will be completed in California and the UK
 

BON PLAN

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F35 is everywhere and... flawed.


in Australia, with the euphoria of acquiring the first fighters long gone and their history with the RAAF, operational problems are already emerging.
The government program to build a fourth squadron [96 F-35s in total] by the government in the country was the first to fall under the experts’ radar. Australia’s most respected military expert and the country’s defense analyst since the 1970s, Mr. Brian Toohey disagrees with the government’s intentions. Toohey argued that Australia should demand a refund of the amount given to date for the F-35 purchase.
There are several reasons. First of all – the cost of maintenance. It turns out that each Australian F-35 spent 23% less time in the air than planned. In the next three years, this trend will continue. This means more downtime on the ground than anticipated and increased maintenance and storage costs. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Australia must spend $11 billion to maintain its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fleet until 2053.

This immediately begs the question: if the reason for the fewer flight hours is maintenance issues, how many more billions will the Australian taxpayer have to pay to ensure the aircraft are operational until 2053?

They describe the F-35 in Australia as a complete disaster. One example is that the first two fighter jets purchased in 2013 for $280 million are so old that they cannot be upgraded, according to Lockheed Martin’s current configuration.
Mr. Anthony Galloway, an Australian defense journalist painted an even bleaker picture. According to him, the Australian F-35 does not burden Australia’s needs at all. An example is China. An Australian F-35 cannot reach the South China Sea unless it refuels in flight. I.e. with an operational combat radius of 1,000 km, to reach a maximum of 1,500 km you need to refuel. This means placing tankers in the air, which are easy targets if a conflict with China arises.
Galloway even goes further in his analysis, claiming that the aircraft’s actual range is 500 km during combat, as it would need to throttle, accelerate or decelerate. When forcing and accelerating during combat, much more fuel is spent, which automatically reduces the operational range in km.
Other local military experts say that the advertised “supersonic” option does not correspond to reality, since at such a speed [Mach 1.6] the plane can only travel for 90 seconds. After these 90 seconds, the F-35 pilot must slow down. And all this if there is no military conflict.

There are more problems. For example, Australian analysts write, the Australian F-35 uses Block 3F software. It is a digital electronic system designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The maintenance and updating of this operating system are much more extensive and expensive than its competing systems around the world. This opinion is not just the comment of an Australian analyst, but also the comment of a senior American officer.

Last year, Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, the USAF’s deputy chief of staff, expressed serious concerns about the Block 3F software, saying, “the block that is coming off the line right now is not a block that I feel good about going up against China and Russia. “ It becomes even more frightening after it became clear that even US fighter jets did not use Block 3F software during the 2018 and 2019 war games.
nce and engagement capability is still only formulated in budgetary terms, but it is clear that the fear (even if it is putaclic) of having aircraft unable to fight effectively is present.
 

LeGenD

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F35 is everywhere and... flawed.


in Australia, with the euphoria of acquiring the first fighters long gone and their history with the RAAF, operational problems are already emerging.
The government program to build a fourth squadron [96 F-35s in total] by the government in the country was the first to fall under the experts’ radar. Australia’s most respected military expert and the country’s defense analyst since the 1970s, Mr. Brian Toohey disagrees with the government’s intentions. Toohey argued that Australia should demand a refund of the amount given to date for the F-35 purchase.
There are several reasons. First of all – the cost of maintenance. It turns out that each Australian F-35 spent 23% less time in the air than planned. In the next three years, this trend will continue. This means more downtime on the ground than anticipated and increased maintenance and storage costs. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Australia must spend $11 billion to maintain its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fleet until 2053.

This immediately begs the question: if the reason for the fewer flight hours is maintenance issues, how many more billions will the Australian taxpayer have to pay to ensure the aircraft are operational until 2053?

They describe the F-35 in Australia as a complete disaster. One example is that the first two fighter jets purchased in 2013 for $280 million are so old that they cannot be upgraded, according to Lockheed Martin’s current configuration.
Mr. Anthony Galloway, an Australian defense journalist painted an even bleaker picture. According to him, the Australian F-35 does not burden Australia’s needs at all. An example is China. An Australian F-35 cannot reach the South China Sea unless it refuels in flight. I.e. with an operational combat radius of 1,000 km, to reach a maximum of 1,500 km you need to refuel. This means placing tankers in the air, which are easy targets if a conflict with China arises.
Galloway even goes further in his analysis, claiming that the aircraft’s actual range is 500 km during combat, as it would need to throttle, accelerate or decelerate. When forcing and accelerating during combat, much more fuel is spent, which automatically reduces the operational range in km.
Other local military experts say that the advertised “supersonic” option does not correspond to reality, since at such a speed [Mach 1.6] the plane can only travel for 90 seconds. After these 90 seconds, the F-35 pilot must slow down. And all this if there is no military conflict.

There are more problems. For example, Australian analysts write, the Australian F-35 uses Block 3F software. It is a digital electronic system designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The maintenance and updating of this operating system are much more extensive and expensive than its competing systems around the world. This opinion is not just the comment of an Australian analyst, but also the comment of a senior American officer.

Last year, Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, the USAF’s deputy chief of staff, expressed serious concerns about the Block 3F software, saying, “the block that is coming off the line right now is not a block that I feel good about going up against China and Russia. “ It becomes even more frightening after it became clear that even US fighter jets did not use Block 3F software during the 2018 and 2019 war games.
nce and engagement capability is still only formulated in budgetary terms, but it is clear that the fear (even if it is putaclic) of having aircraft unable to fight effectively is present.

This is a mishmash of opinionated critic shaped by paranoia and complaints about US having monopoly over F-35 code.

1. F-35A combat radius > F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat radius

main-qimg-fc2f519bdf9cd238c1bc9085bc64a1b7-pjlq


It is substantial for a mediumweight class jet fighter.

2. Why would Australia want to fight in South China Sea? Get an aircraft carrier if this is important consideration. Otherwise, airborne refueling tankers will do.

3. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is operating a total of 10 F-35A in the present, and RAAF pilots have logged a total of 1900+ flight hours on these jet fighters since 2018. This is reasonable hours per year of flying for stealthy jet fighter(s).


Latest activity in Singapore:

 

Hamartia Antidote

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F35 is everywhere and... flawed.


in Australia, with the euphoria of acquiring the first fighters long gone and their history with the RAAF, operational problems are already emerging.
The government program to build a fourth squadron [96 F-35s in total] by the government in the country was the first to fall under the experts’ radar. Australia’s most respected military expert and the country’s defense analyst since the 1970s, Mr. Brian Toohey disagrees with the government’s intentions. Toohey argued that Australia should demand a refund of the amount given to date for the F-35 purchase.
There are several reasons. First of all – the cost of maintenance. It turns out that each Australian F-35 spent 23% less time in the air than planned. In the next three years, this trend will continue. This means more downtime on the ground than anticipated and increased maintenance and storage costs. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Australia must spend $11 billion to maintain its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fleet until 2053.

This immediately begs the question: if the reason for the fewer flight hours is maintenance issues, how many more billions will the Australian taxpayer have to pay to ensure the aircraft are operational until 2053?

They describe the F-35 in Australia as a complete disaster. One example is that the first two fighter jets purchased in 2013 for $280 million are so old that they cannot be upgraded, according to Lockheed Martin’s current configuration.
Mr. Anthony Galloway, an Australian defense journalist painted an even bleaker picture. According to him, the Australian F-35 does not burden Australia’s needs at all. An example is China. An Australian F-35 cannot reach the South China Sea unless it refuels in flight. I.e. with an operational combat radius of 1,000 km, to reach a maximum of 1,500 km you need to refuel. This means placing tankers in the air, which are easy targets if a conflict with China arises.
Galloway even goes further in his analysis, claiming that the aircraft’s actual range is 500 km during combat, as it would need to throttle, accelerate or decelerate. When forcing and accelerating during combat, much more fuel is spent, which automatically reduces the operational range in km.
Other local military experts say that the advertised “supersonic” option does not correspond to reality, since at such a speed [Mach 1.6] the plane can only travel for 90 seconds. After these 90 seconds, the F-35 pilot must slow down. And all this if there is no military conflict.

There are more problems. For example, Australian analysts write, the Australian F-35 uses Block 3F software. It is a digital electronic system designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The maintenance and updating of this operating system are much more extensive and expensive than its competing systems around the world. This opinion is not just the comment of an Australian analyst, but also the comment of a senior American officer.

Last year, Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, the USAF’s deputy chief of staff, expressed serious concerns about the Block 3F software, saying, “the block that is coming off the line right now is not a block that I feel good about going up against China and Russia. “ It becomes even more frightening after it became clear that even US fighter jets did not use Block 3F software during the 2018 and 2019 war games.
nce and engagement capability is still only formulated in budgetary terms, but it is clear that the fear (even if it is putaclic) of having aircraft unable to fight effectively is present.

The block 3fs are the initial pilot trainers...they aren't supposed to be used for combat.

 

Broccoli

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Of course.
F35 is my favorite subject. So easy.

F-35 beat up Rafale in Finnish tests, especially in air-to-air combat even thought Rafale is supposed to be better at that kinda warfare, but couldn't even notice F-35 before they got "shot down". Rafale is good fighter against Russian fighters (at least modern Sukhois) but like those it's also yesterdays technology while being more expensive than F-35.

French bombs & missiles were also more expensive without offering any extra befits.
 

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