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Boardman writes: "Troubles never seem to end for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Not yet fully operational, the nuclear-capable fighter-bomber recently had different test versions either leak oil in flight or burst into flames on takeoff."

All F-35s remain grounded. (photo: Air Force)
All F-35s remain grounded. (photo: Air Force)


F-35 Burns on Runway During Testing

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

27 June 14

 

One $100 million Air Force plane leaks oil, another bursts into flame

roubles never seem to end for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Not yet fully operational, the nuclear-capable fighter-bomber recently had different test versions either leak oil in flight or burst into flames on takeoff.

The F-35 is the world’s most expensive weapons system – $400 billion and counting. The estimated lifetime cost of this military-industrial project is $1.5 trillion. The F-35 is already close to a decade behind schedule and its cost is already more than twice the original estimate. The Pentagon has lowered its performance specs and it’s still years from being operational.

On June 22, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, an F-35A was taking off on a routine training flight when the tail of the plane burst into flame. The pilot aborted the takeoff and escaped from the cockpit. A ground crew extinguished the fire with foam. There were no injuries, but the $100 million plane was possibly destroyed, according to officials.

All twenty-six F-35s at Eglin were grounded after the fire, while the Air Force tried to figure out why the plane had ignited. Air Force spokesperson Lt. Hope Cronin called the fire “significant,” but the cause is yet unknown. F-35s at other bases continue to fly.

Earlier this month, on June 13, the entire F-35 fleet (more then 100 planes at this point) was grounded because an F-35 was leaking oil in flight. The Air Force, the Marines, and the Navy each have a variation of the F-35 that range in estimated cost from $98 million (Air Force) to $104 million (Marines) to $124 million (Navy).

So far, this story has been managed by the Air Force and, to a lesser extent, Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer. Early reporting came from military-industrial-friendly outlets like the U.S. Naval Institute News and Defense News. According to the former, “This is the first incident this severe for the JSF [F-35] during the life of the tri-service program.”

When the L.A. Times told the story, the paper used only official information. The Motley Fool, referring to corporate hopes that F-35 sales would “catch fire,” took a more irreverent view with this headline:

Lockheed Martin Corporation's F-35 Fighter Jet Catches Fire – In a Bad Way

Lockheed Martin hopes to sell more than 5,000 F-35s to the U.S. and other governments. In the past two years, several of those other governments have expressed concern about the plane’s value, with some governments cutting back or cancelling orders. As Motley Fool analyzed it:

What is clear is that the news out of Florida constitutes a significant PR snafu for Lockheed – and potentially a setback to a program that’s expected to eventually produce upward of $1 trillion in revenues for Lockheed Martin.

To make those potential revenues actual, Lockheed Martin must spend more time building new aircraft, and less time helping the Air Force fix problems with the aircraft it’s already bought and paid for. And with nearly 40% of all potential worldwide sales of the aircraft expected to come from international customers, getting revenues flowing will also require Lockheed to maintain enthusiasm for the plane among potential buyers.

Even though the F-35 has been in production since 2006, the plane is still in its test phase. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the F-35, but these recent problems suggest the company is having quality-control problems with subcontractors. The tail fire is thought to have started in the F-35 tail engine, designed by Pratt & Whitney (a unit of United Technologies). The oil leak, found on at least three F-35, stems from an oil flow management system produced by United Technologies, which also assembles the engine.

British debut for F-35 scheduled for July 4

Bad enough to have the world’s most expensive weapons system still dysfunctional after more than a decade, but these particular dysfunctions have come uncomfortably close to the F-35’s first overseas performance before Queen Elizabeth at the official naming ceremony of a new British aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, on July 4. To make their first overseas appearance, three F-35s will be flying across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to a “Marine Corps centric blog,” SNAFU, it’s a “zany idea to fly prototype F-35B airplanes across the Atlantic for a ceremony.” But it explains:

The Brits want the F-35B as part of the ship’s complement. The United Kingdom is the only “tier one” partner on the F-35 development program, which means it’s kicked in some serious money for the F-35 development which started in 2001. They’ve also gained about fifteen percent of the manufacturing pie, with BAE Systems having completed the manufacture of 150 F-35 rear fuselages and tail sets already….

Originally the UK wanted 138 planes, but that has been decreased to 48 probably for cost reasons as with others. The UK owns (sort of) three F-35B now, and has been planning to order 14 more since at least last October…. Now we hear that this fateful announcement for the UK to “order” fourteen more (they have three) faulty F-35B prototypes will be made at the HMS QE naming ceremony where F-35B will be part of the ceremony! Ta-da …

But it’s not funny. No matter who originated the idea for this cheap political stunt, it has no doubt affected the decision not to ground the F-35 fleet after the fire at Eglin, even as they seek the root cause. This puts other pilots at risk.

For all its technology, the F-35 cannot fly in bad weather

Even before the recent oil leak and fire episodes, the F-35B (Marine edition) was scheduled to fly for the Queen only if the weather was good. (Another of the plane’s shortcomings is that it can’t fly with complete safety in the rain.) Pushing for the F-35’s presence was BAE Systems, one of the plane’s subcontractors and the prime contractor for the new carrier. F-35s aren’t expected to fly to or from the Queen Elizabeth itself before 2018 at the earliest.

Assuming the F-35 fly-by at the carrier-naming ceremony comes off without a hitch, the F-35 is scheduled to participate in two subsequent British air shows, the Royal International Air Tattoo (July 11-13) and the Farnborough Air Show (July 14-20). Then the planes will fly back across the Atlantic. These appearances were announced in April.

After taking all this into account, SNAFU wonders:

After this fire [at Eglin], so soon after the grounding of the fleet [for the oil leak], the question becomes clear. Why is the Pentagon ignoring common safety measures all for a publicity stunt in Europe?

Is the program on such shaky ground in the UK that a cancellation of the performance would kill the UK buy? Is the defense ministry so desperate that they would endanger their pilots for an air show?

The answer appears to be yes. Tech is now more important than the lives of our pilots.

Some skepticism is available from an Australian paper

In Australia, where the government is also expected to buy F-35s, the Herald Sun refers to the F-35 as “our trillion-dollar turkey” and treats the plane’s recent difficulties disdainfully as just more of the same. But the paper also reports that shortly before the F-35 caught fire, so did another, unrelated stealth aircraft. Earlier in June, a prototype Sukhoi T-50 Russian fighter had one of its two engines catch fire in flight, but managed to land safely. The right engine burned away part of the plane’s fuselage.

On June 26, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) issued a report on the 2015 defense spending bill recently passed by the House. The report criticized $6 billion more in spending on the underperforming F-35 and supported spending on the relatively cost-effective A-10 Warthog (for close air support to ground troops) that the Obama administration wants to cut.

The F-35 has long been controversial in Vermont, where Stop the F-35 activists have spent years trying to keep the Pentagon plane from basing the plane in the middle of Vermont’s most populous and only urban area. Nevertheless the Air Force has decided to bring the plane to Burlington, with the full backing of Vermont’s Democratic leadership and no dissent from Republicans or even Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Vermont Democrats – from Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, legislative leaders and members, with few exceptions – have goose-stepped in locked formation in support of this Pentagon wet dream of having a single flying computer of a plane that can accomplish any mission the Army, Navy, or Marines can dream up.

Republican senator John McCain, not exactly averse to American weapons of mass destruction, calls the F-35 “one of the great, national scandals that we have ever had, as far as the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars are concerned.”

And speaking of taxpayers’ dollars, the BBC reported on June 26 that Iraq had bought 36 U.S. F-16s for its skimpy Air Force, but that the U.S. had been slow in delivering them. Now, running out of patience and wanting airstrikes against its rebels, the Iraqi government has bought “a number of used Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus.” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said the planes could be flying missions within a few days.

The Sukhoi fighter is no F-35, for which Iraq should probably be grateful.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+31 # Buddha 2014-06-27 11:57
"To make those potential revenues actual, Lockheed Martin must spend more time building new aircraft, and less time helping the Air Force fix problems with the aircraft it’s already bought and paid for....getting revenues flowing will also require Lockheed to maintain enthusiasm for the plane among potential buyers."

LOL, Motley Fool, in one paragraph summing up well Corporate America's attitude, don't stand behind your product, caveat emptor...but then expect "enthusiasm" among the potential buyers of your product despite that lack of support or quality control!! I guess when you have a contract with the Federal government already at a half-billion dollars and climbing, and a campaign-donati on corrupted Congress at your beck-and-call, you can afford to think that way...
 
 
+44 # bmiluski 2014-06-27 13:22
I'm sorry but..........wh y are we paying for this loser? Shouldn't Lokheed absorb the costs since it's their engineers that are cocking this all up.
 
 
+48 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-06-27 14:19
Why are we spending trillions of dollars on all sorts of military equipment? War, war and more war. How about we spend some of our tax funds to have American workers build stuff we need---like repair the rail lines and pave the streets and build homes for all our homeless people. We have schools and hospitals and damns and bridges and storm drains to repair and maintain. Just opened a new bridge accross San Francisco
Bay and it is really to fall down already due to faulty bolts and using cheaper grades of metal to build it. The stuff was all manufactured in China and shipped over here. We don't make a damn thing in this nation any more. The rich bastards who run this country want nothing more tha great profits and paying lousy wages with no benefits or safety measures.

It is time for we the people to rise up and create a democratic government.
 
 
+15 # Joe Bob 2014-06-28 00:39
War Hawks gotta have their goodies. Don't forget rebuilding the power grid that's way outa date. Democracy, What's That ???
 
 
+19 # blizmo1 2014-06-28 00:42
Quoting bmiluski:
I'm sorry but..........why are we paying for this loser? Shouldn't Lokheed absorb the costs since it's their engineers that are cocking this all up.

Unfortunately, this is the "magic" of government contracts.

1) work out a design for "us," based on specified parameters (the more ludicrous the better)

2) spend whatever you might want to, add 15% commission

3) review your own books (because it's too "complicated" for legislators to follow)

4) bill all subsequent costs to the government, to indemnify one's self (investigation? Cleanup? Litigation? Settlements? Yup; all covered). Be sure and tack on that important 15% commission...

See -- since the work was done AT THE BEHEST of the government -- bingo, instant indemnification .

Nice, right? Oh, and then, like Boeing, you can pressure your State govt to give you 10% tax breaks on all materials - labor - manufacturing costs -- or else you'll leave the state....

So -- eternal indemnity, PLUS - functional 25% profit... Dang, wish I could get some of that...

THANK YOU, MR BOARDMAN!
 
 
-4 # psadave 2014-06-28 19:25
Fat chance...it's a gov't contract. I'm a retired air traffic controller & when I was hired, IBM had a contract for the 'new, high tech' system in progress. We waited & waited...they finally said, "Sorry I don't think we can do this. Bye." We have a friend who flew in the Air Force & couldn't wait to retire so he could go to work for Boeing. It started big time with St.Ronald 'cutting' costs through privatization. Which, as we have seen, ends up with contractors who hire Ed Snowden.
 
 
+59 # torch and pitchfork 2014-06-27 14:09
"The F-35 is the world’s most expensive weapons system – $400 billion and counting. The estimated lifetime cost of this military-indust rial project is $1.5 trillion"---how many years of National Health Care did the American people sacrifice for this debacle?
 
 
-3 # Helen Marshall 2014-07-01 09:51
And if we had a national health care system - single payer (AKA Medicare for all) - we would not have the Hobby Lobby decision which is going to turn into a license for business owners to claim that their religious beliefs prevent service to or hiring LGBT folks, or serving an inter-racial couple, or providing blood transfusions for employees, etc etc.
 
 
+34 # Lorraine B. 2014-06-27 14:12
It's worse than a lemon - it's a LIME GROVE... we should rescind (i.e. cancel) the contract now, for cause, and cut our losses.
 
 
+17 # Joe Bob 2014-06-28 00:40
You know, once they get started, they can't stop, just like the wars.... Bastards.
 
 
-61 # arquebus 2014-06-27 14:12
The F35 is an icredibly complex piece of machinery. As you bad mouth it and its manufactuer, keep in mind that the venerable B52 (among others) took years to work out its bugs, but we've now had about 60 years of service and the plane is still flying.
 
 
+47 # blizmo1 2014-06-27 16:11
Quoting arquebus:
The F35 is an icredibly complex piece of machinery. As you bad mouth it and its manufactuer, keep in mind that the venerable B52 (among others) took years to work out its bugs, but we've now had about 60 years of service and the plane is still flying.

An incredibly complex piece of machinery 10 years overdue, an order of magnitude above costs -- AND IT CAN'T EVEN FLY IN YHE RAIN!!!!

Are you kidding me? You can defend this? Perhaps they should scale down the damned complexity and get back to something that works -- even Orville and Wilbur could fly in the rain... (Oh, my lord I can't believe the justifications that tie up billions of our public patrimony...yow .)
 
 
+40 # WBoardman 2014-06-27 18:05
arquebus is right that the F-35 is an incredibly complex
piece of machinery, which is one of its core problems.

It's complexity is the enemy of its functionality.

The B-52 reference is interesting, but as presented
it's a diversion, not an argument. In what ways is the
B-52 development analogous to the F-35 development?

One clear difference: the B-52 had a clear, specialized
purpose – the F-35 is supposed to do everything....

Example: it's supposed to be able to land horizontally, and vertically, and to hover.

It's an expression of technological chutzpah.
 
 
0 # arquebus 2014-07-11 18:24
Just like the Harrier....noth ing new about that...don't see why you brought up a system that works (Ive seen video of an F35 landing and taking off from a carrier vertically.

My point was just to point out that the F35 is not the first aircraft that had a long and troubled time before all the kinks were worked out. The V22 Osprey comes to mind.

The original goal....now missed....was to save the taxpayers money by having one airplane that could not only deliver nukes, but function as an air superiority fighter, a ground support bomber and able to use conventional runways and carrier decks or, like the Harrier, function as a VTOL aircraft. It does look like it would have been cheaper to develop a plane for the AF, the Navy and the Marines.
 
 
+8 # MJnevetS 2014-06-28 09:23
When we are not setting the groundwork for total global annihilation, as a means of securing world domination, under the guise of protecting us from "evil-doers who want to destroy our way of life", which are really just fired up foreign nationals, tired of having their countries invaded and their population murdered, we should take a moment and reflect on, not whether these planes will ultimately perform, but why the hell we are spending "[t]he estimated lifetime cost of this military-indust rial project is $1.5 trillion [Dollars]." This would completely pay for healthcare for every man woman and child in this country for 6 years (or 15 years if we had any of the European systems, as opposed to private for profit insurance companies).
 
 
+2 # psadave 2014-06-28 19:40
One of the arguments for ditching this project is that we already have plenty of a variety of aircraft that we know which ones work & which we don't need.
 
 
+54 # db4635 2014-06-27 15:06
Comparing F35 and B52 is like apples and oranges. There has been so much technological and manufacturing advancement since the B52 initiation. The F35 is pure and simple - a government, political boondoggle making lots of insiders rich.
 
 
+9 # liteguy 2014-06-27 15:20
I would hope these are under warranty....
 
 
+33 # bigbarnjoe 2014-06-27 15:33
How many Senators and COngresspeople does Lockheed own? Must be several.
 
 
+16 # Caliban 2014-06-27 22:30
"Several"? How about several hundred?
 
 
+7 # Joe Bob 2014-06-28 00:41
Now you is talkin' !!!
 
 
+5 # Radscal 2014-06-28 12:56
Even Bernie Sanders lobbied to get the F-35s based in his state.
 
 
+37 # reiverpacific 2014-06-27 15:46
Quoting arquebus:
The F35 is an icredibly complex piece of machinery. As you bad mouth it and its manufactuer, keep in mind that the venerable B52 (among others) took years to work out its bugs, but we've now had about 60 years of service and the plane is still flying.

You reveal yourself as an apologist for yet another military / corporate boondoggle En re':
Noun: "Work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value".
Verb: "To waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects".
Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system was also "icredibly (sic) complex" -and hugely wasteful of public funds ("but the government is the problem" after all) and helped ol' Ronnie-lad to create a record defect, principally on what is jokingly referred to as "Defense spending" whilst concurrently funding massive environmental rape!
I have an elderly neighbor (better watch how I use the term "Elderly" these days!) who was a test-pilot in the early days of jets and he sometimes wonders how they get presumably highly-trained pilots to even crew these lemons any more.
An "Anti-Lemon" law has been established against Auto dealers and manufacturers to protect consumers against shoddy goods: why not Jet fighters too? We should get a refund from Lockheed-Martin to spend on more worthy Public Works, Education and Transport back on terra-firma, not destructive strike-weapons from on high -if they ever get there!
 
 
-1 # arquebus 2014-07-11 18:31
Ain't hindsight great. No one knew in the beginning that the F-35 was going to be so expensive or have such problems. But, it does seem like a good idea to develop a plane that can function as an air superiority fighter, a ground support bomber as well as carry nukes. One plane to do it all logically would have saved the taxpayers lots of money since they would only have to build one model rather than 3 or 4 to satisfy the needs of each service user (The AF, for instance, wants to control the air while the Marines are looking for an aircraft to get support to grunts on the ground)

It seems that from the reports the F35 isn't reliable enough to perform the assigned tasks. If only YOU had been there in the beginning to show those designers and engineers why the plane wasn't going to work out.
 
 
+6 # macevedo 2014-06-27 15:55
Let's be open minded and realistic. Would Apple be in business it it continue pushing the "iphone" technology from the year 2000? No way!! So it goes with the F35, the product name is the same, but with the rapid developing technology, who would buy or want a military plane equipped with TEN YEAR OLD technology? Would you buy a computer loaded with a 10 year old technology? NO way! So lets blame TECHNOLOGY! for the delays, but at some point we must drive the stake on the ground for the F35 and beging a new plane: FXYZ.
 
 
+32 # Billsy 2014-06-27 16:43
According to famed aircraft designer Pierre Sprey, The F-35 is a total failure of design and should never be manufactured. Moreover he claims "stealth" to be a fraud as british designed low frequency radar of WWII vintage can locate such aircraft. The craft is hobbled by too many conflicting requirements; hoverability, speed, capacity, manueverability and endurance. With mutually exclusive design requirements it can't do anything well.
 
 
+24 # ganymede 2014-06-27 16:45
When I read these stories about the unbelievable waste of our resources I can't help but think that the NRA mentality has totally infused our society and the world. Who needs this defective warmongering shit because the idiots running the show think we can control and intimidate all and sundry. Even guns have more practical usage.

As we watch our 'Empire' disassemble, one can't help but think of the good that could be done with all this money that we're throwing down the toilet. We are out of control and if we the people let this waste go on we deserve our bleak fate.
 
 
+19 # fredboy 2014-06-27 16:48
No worries. If 9/11 is any indicator, they will keep them parked on the tarmac if we have any real national emergencies. And only launch them if a Mooney strays into the D.C. airspace.

Amazed Burlington, VT, wants this nightmare. But despair does funny things to people.
 
 
+29 # Anarchist 23 2014-06-27 16:57
9/11 was an inside job and a great cash cow for the military industrial complex! In just 12 short years we have been transformed into a military giant among Third World countries...sin ce that is where our living standards have fallen to for over half the population! Wake up and smell the Fascism!
 
 
+16 # WBoardman 2014-06-27 18:10
As far as Burlington goes, it's not clear
that a majority of the residents want it,
especially in the two most affected towns,
Winooski and South Burlington.

The political coercion – and corruption – has
been astonishing.
 
 
+34 # James Klimaski 2014-06-27 16:52
the F-35 is being built because Lockheed is a major shareholder of the Department of Defense. Chuck Hegel is powerless to stop it. A plane that can do everything poorly and not one thing well can be stopped by a raindrop. It is highly vulnerable, particularly when performing ground support missions that are handled very well by the A-10. The F-35 can't take fire and return to base like the A-10. The only place where the F-35 can't be stopped ins in its mission to line the pockets of the retired generals and admirals. Every state has a piece of the action insuring complete assistance from both the House and the Senate, Republican and Democrat and Independant.
 
 
+15 # Agricanto 2014-06-27 17:25
In a strange way this also provides some solace that as an aggressive and imperial US tries to develop increasingly complex but lethal machines of war, it fails. I'm not sure sure I want the F-35 to work. I can't imagine its deployment worldwide where those who resist imperial designs can be easily wiped out with sophisticated war machines like drones and advanced bombers and robots. I like the getting wet part. Brilliant!
 
 
+17 # jstick 2014-06-27 17:40
The Pentagon PAID for these test models?! Lockheed should be paying US (taxpayers) for putting our pilots at risking to test them out.
Burst into flame on takeoff? I hate when that happens.
 
 
-26 # macevedo 2014-06-27 17:51
Yeah, Yeah Yeah, let's bad mouth the military industry, BUT!, look at it this way. Our tax payers dollars has funded all the military industry research and development, which includes the electronic microminiaturar ization (sp?) of electronic circuitry, which has brought our primitive room size computers to the size of a hand held phone. It made the USA a leader of the world in innovation and many exciting new industries were created. Without that research and development expense, we still would be depending on "hot air balloons to predict the weather and also forget about cell phones and satellite communications! Just stop and think! It isn't that simple to just use tunnel vision and criticize.
 
 
+19 # WBoardman 2014-06-27 18:17
Yes, there are technological spinoffs, good and bad.

Bad, it seems, is the proliferation of drones,
worse will likely be their miniaturization .

Hard to see what promise the F-35 holds for the
civilian world.

What is the actual history of microminiaturiz ation?
What defense contractor deserves credit?
 
 
0 # macevedo 2014-06-27 20:34
All technology development under a government contractual agreement is very much under public domain. Seek and you shall find for your own profit and use. A friend in Yucatan uses a small drone to keep an eye on his "papaya" plantation, that is a good agricultural application.
 
 
+11 # soularddave 2014-06-27 21:12
Quoting WBoardman:


What is the actual history of microminiaturization?
What defense contractor deserves credit?


Bell Labs developed the transistor. Bell Labs was the "phone company" back then. Not sure if government money was involved or not.

By the way, Mr. Boardman, I appreciate the fact that you follow these discussions and comment. Few of the journalists and writers who write for these pages seem to. Thank you for helping us understand and question how this world in which we live really operates.
 
 
+9 # neis 2014-06-27 22:50
How true! How ungrateful of us all. And while we're at it:
Let's forgive Hitler his missteps, since, after all, he gave us the autobahn and Volkswagons.
And let's not forget the microbes -- Ebola, vanco-resistant bacteria, MRSA and such. Without their dedication to evolution, our Big-Pharma folks would have no incentive to invent even more wondrous drugs and cures.
So let's be more grateful to these evolutionary drivers, and remember: that which does not kill us outright makes us stronger!
(what's the Emoticon for "sarcasm"?)
 
 
+17 # Corvette-Bob 2014-06-27 20:05
The cost for the fighter is $ 1.2 trillion dollars and a projected maintenance cost over its life of $ 900 billion for a total bill of $ 2.2 trillion dollars. That works out to something like $ 6500 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
 
 
+25 # soularddave 2014-06-27 21:15
I think peace would be more productive, and a whole lot cheaper.
 
 
-3 # brux 2014-06-27 22:37
Undoubtedly, but you cannot wish peace on the world by yourself. Human beings have been at war constantly ... it is our natural state interrupted only by standoffs of relative deterrence of equality.
 
 
-1 # brux 2014-07-01 13:46
(-2) ... See, I'm right, already two people want to attack me.
 
 
-1 # arquebus 2014-07-11 18:36
Absolutely. Now if you can only convince Hamas, ISIS and others around the world to be peaceful.
 
 
+2 # brux 2014-06-27 22:35
It really scares me that America has taken to building these hugely expensive flying turkeys ... it's not that they are not good planes although they do have problems ... it is that when you look back in military history at every battle it was mainly the overwhelming numbers that won. Not always, but the Allies in WWII had smaller and more numerous tanks than the Germans who had big giant powerful but expensive and clunky tanks ... they could really kick ass until superior numbers showed up, and then boom, they were dead.

I fear we are doing the same thing, allowing China who can make huge numbers of smaller inferior planes - whenever they want to, to start churning them out, and then we either hit them before they use them, or surrender. What do you think is likely to happen?
 
 
+8 # janie1893 2014-06-28 00:15
The upside is--if it can't fly, it can't kill!
 
 
+4 # motamanx 2014-06-28 08:49
I thought that the Air Force and others said, long ago, that we didn't need it and they didn't want it. So why are we still building it?
 
 
+4 # WBoardman 2014-06-28 09:34
There are definitely some weapons (that don't
immediately come to mind) that the Pentagon cuts
from its budget and Congress restores.

Judging by the Vermont experience, the F-35 has
a strong, across-the-boar d constituency,
including elected officials and the Pentagon,
and especially the National Guard.
 
 
+1 # Patrice Ayme 2014-06-28 09:41
This story of corruption already happened with the F22 Raptor (which was never engaged in war missions, not even in Libya). But this time it's worse. Way worse.

The paradox is that the plane's passive stealth system cannot be seen on some radar frequencies, but very well on others.

The French Rafale uses active stealth: the plane is covered with antennas, and focuses electromagnetic emissions that add up to silence for the source, whatever the frequency of the source. That system was used in Libya before the Libyan anti-aircraft system was attacked by the USA, and it worked very well, even against (secretly introduced) latest Russian missiles.

The F35 flying characteristics (thrust to weight, wing loading, carrying capacity) makes it no better than the notorious F105 Thunderchief of the Vietnam war (which was a disaster).

In particular the F35 can pull only 4 gs in acceleration (not good to dodge missiles). By comparison, the Rafales pulls 11 gs (it has specially inclined seats).

Another problem with USA style stealth is that the planes can be seen in Infra-Red, and targeted by IR missiles. In any case, F22 performed poorly against Eurofighters (which themselves perform poorly against Rafales). Even an old Mirage shot down several F22s.

What does that all mean? Massive corruption. Solution: develop an advanced version of the Rafale under license with Dassault as industrial leader.
 
 
+6 # WBoardman 2014-06-28 18:22
On June 27, a day after this story was written and
five days after the F-35 burned on the ground,
the Air Force still didn’t know why the fire started
and grounded all F-35s around the country .

According to Lockheed Martin, the lead contractor on the
F-35, the plane costs $98 million without the engine.

The plane has cost $400 billion to date and is estimated
to cost $1 trillion by the time it’s operational. According
to Motley Fool, the estimated additional cost to operate
and maintain the F-35 for 55 years is another $1.1 trillion.
At roughly $2 trillion, the F-35 is projected to cost about
half as much as the Iraq War so far.
 
 
+3 # Capn Canard 2014-06-30 13:54
F35 is a POS.
 
 
+4 # Auteur47 2014-06-30 15:26
All this money spent, and to be spent, on a weapons system that will deliver an inferior ability for this nation, and the other nations, to make war after sinking $ billions into it. Defense insiders, Pierre Sprey and others, have condemned the design as incapable of performing the missions it is designed to perform as well as the aircraft it is replacing mostly because it is designed to do too many things and is thus a bad compromise. STOVL capability makes it too fat with wings too small to effectively maneuver in combat. On the flip side, as a fast jet plane, it could never perform as well in ground attack or loiter as long as the A-10 Warthog it is replacing. In air to air combat, it would easily fall prey to old cold war fighters as well as the latest iterations of Sukhois, Rafales, Gripens, Chengdus and Eurofighters. Dependence on air to air missiles to shoot down other planes beyond visual range has never worked. Advanced avionics and tactics might make up for some of these sins, but not enough to prevent staggering losses.
As with health care, America is number one, in spending, to get an inferior product.
 

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