Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning and F-22 'Raptor' : News & Discussion

Bali78

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Dec 26, 2017
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Apple and oranges comparison really. Nothing related to technological deficiencies.
The prototype NASA alone develops and test is multiple times higher than all Europeans combined. Regarding manpower bottlenecks, have a look at magnitude of automation of F35 line. While Europeans still using manual labor for everything not much different than HAL.
It's a question about development timeline not automation line. Do I need to tell more about the development timeline of F-35? At the end of the day you need people to do the freaking job. We have not reached that level of automation where a highly skilled engineer can be replaced by some automation tool !!
 

randomradio

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Nov 30, 2017
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F35 as an integrated weapon system is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else designed till today. It’s a whole different concept. Only Su57 comes somewhat close. Rafale or Typhoon as a stand-alone platform can beat F35 in training exercises no doubt but in battlefield along with all its networked sub systems of US, F35 will enable even F16/F18/F15s to knock out any other fighter without even breaking a sweat.
It’s not a fighter, it’s just a component of whole US war fighters machinery.
F22 was designed as a standalone fighter but with F35 they shifted the whole concept of fighting a air war

As it stands today, all offboard networking on Rafale and F-35 is the same, both rely on Link 16. Only F-35 to F-35 communication is advanced.

Regardless Rafale has far greater networking capabilities than the F-35 does. For example, the F-35 lacks ROVER capabilities. ROVER is used to transfer data to troops on the ground during CAS.

The only drawback on Rafale F3R is its lack of a directional high speed datalink like the F-35's MALD. On the French version, it will be fixed with Contact SDR with F4.2, whereas it's likely that India will use the Israeli BNET, if not Contact. Both Contact and BNET are more advanced than anything on the F-35. Overall, with BNET or Contact, the Rafale will be far more networked than the F-35. The Israelis also use an Israeli solution on their F-35.
 

BMD

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Dec 4, 2017
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And those making fun of F35 should understand one thing. It’s US Defence companies. People said same things when F16 was introduced or F18 or F15 for that matter. All of these were mediocre at best when they were launched. But they never abandoned them but improved their deficiencies one by one to the point that they are considered absolute best in their respective roles.
meanwhile Europeans and Russian designed some absolute pathbreaking designs like Mirage, Harrier,Gnat, Tornado, Jaguar etc

Have a look at some of the great concepts designed by Brits almost centuries earlier which look much closer to what US did decades later. But these countries failed to improve on these designs and just abounded the projects.

These same US companies can design and develop contemporary fighters like Typhoon and Rafale in extremely quick time if needed. Those who are designing fighters like F22, B1, B2 and F35 trio since ages must not be laughed at.
Missed one.

 

Picdelamirand-oil

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It's time to divorce the F-35 'hangar queen'

The F-35 costs too much and performs too poorly to justify continuing to purchase it

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

To be the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, has to be highly partisan and comprehensively loyal to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s radical agenda. Thus it’s tempting to ignore what he said about the F-35, which is supposed to be the top-line fighter for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines for the next 30 years.
But given what we already know about the F-35, and what Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Brown recently admitted about it, it would be a big mistake to ignore what Mr. Smith said.

Illustration on the F-35 by Linas Garsys/ The Washington Times
Illustration on the F-35 by Linas Garsys/ The Washington Times


Calling for the termination of the F-35 program on March 5, Mr. Smith said that he wanted to, “ … stop throwing money down that particular rathole.” He said, “What does the F-35 give us? And is there a way to cut our losses? Is there a way to not keep spending that much money for such a low capability because, as you know, the sustainment costs are brutal.”

The F-35 has been plagued by myriad serious problems and extremely high cost since the contract for it was signed 20 years ago. It required that one aircraft design would satisfy all three services and that production would take place concurrently with development which creates a whole different set of problems.

That approach created two sets of problems. First, because the physical differences in operating from a carrier deck and a paved runway, no aircraft can meet both the Air Force’s and Navy’s requirements. Second, that concurrent development requires repetitive engineering and multiplies costs.

Computer modeling was used to design the aircraft, but when the first F-35s took to the skies they performed far differently — and much less well — than the computers said they would. As a result, the computer models and the aircraft’s design have evolved continuously necessitating the refitting of already-delivered aircraft to the new designs again and again at significant cost.

(About 500 of the planned 2,500 F-35s have already been delivered — problems and all — to the Air Force, Navy and Marines.)

A number of serious problems are still being encountered with the F-35’s computer software. The various computers and computer-controlled equipment in the fighter run on more than 25 million lines of code. The developers soon found that when they fixed one software problem, three more would result from the fix. The software troubles, and other major problems, remain unresolved.

The result is that the F-35 is what the Air Force used to call a “hangar queen.” The aircraft is so unreliable that it can’t be depended on to fly and fight when the stuff hits the fan. Ellen Lord, the outgoing undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said on Jan. 19 that only 36% of F-35s were fully mission capable at that point. That means if you have ten F-35s on the flight line, only six are going to be able to fight that day.

Much of that problem results from the fact that too many companies — spread around over a dozen nations — make parts for the F-35. According to a November report by the Government Accountability Office, “… the F-35 supply chain does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements.”

All that adds up to a pretty lousy return on an immense investment for the most expensive weapon system the U.S. has ever bought

This year’s budget for the F-35 is $398 billion. That’s more than the total being spent on the three top Navy shipbuilding programs (ballistic missile and attack submarines and destroyers) and $44 billion more than the total expenditures on 11 other major DoD weapon system programs ranging from the KC-46 tanker aircraft to the CH-47 helicopters.

Mr. Smith’s remarks came days after Gen. Brown admitted, in carefully hedged terms, that the F-35 is a failure. The F-35 was supposed to be the “new 5th generation” fighter that would fill all the Air Force’s and Navy’s needs. Announcing a new study of tactical fighter requirements, Gen. Brown said that the Air Force needs not only a sixth-generation fighter but also a new “5th-generation minus / 4.5th-generation aircraft.”

That means the Air Force and Navy need — right now — to fill the gap created by the F-35’s inability to perform its mission. They will have to resort to a mixture of updated far older F-16s, F-15s and F-18s to fill that gap. It’s hard to see how they can afford those aircraft, and the new 6th-generation fighters, if money is still being poured into the F-35.

In 2014, the most honest verdict on the F-35 was delivered by the then-commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Michael Hostage. He said that unless the F-22 was flying with the F-35 to defend it, the F-35 was “irrelevant” to air warfare. The Air Force has only about 185 F-22s. You can’t protect 2,500 F-35s with 185 F-22s.

If Gen. Brown had spoken forthrightly, he would have said flatly that the F-35 is a failure. The F-35 costs too much and performs too poorly to justify continuing to purchase it. It’s long past time to cancel the F-35 program, fill the gap it creates, and get on with the development of new fighters that can meet the warfighters’ needs.

• Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of Defense in the George H.W. Bush administration, is the author of “In the Words of Our Enemies.”
 
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BMD

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BMD

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But then why use an F-35 for this mission?
Because it can still carry 2 AMRAAMs/Meteor plus 2 JSM, which is a stealth package and will happily dismiss one, if not 2 enemy fighters from range before taking the ship(s) out.
 

RISING SUN

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Stealth, Dispersed Operations, and a big Jammer​

With the first Danish F-35 now officially handed over to the Flyvevåbnet, it seems to be a suitable time to look at the aircraft that perhaps arouses the strongest emotions of all HX-contenders. I have earlier criticised the Kampfly-programme under which the F-35 was chosen (though I should note that the F-35 not being able to fairly prove that it is best fit for the Danish requirements doesn’t mean it isn’t), and a number of decisions surrounding Denmark’s future fighter have raised questions about how a potential HX-winning F-35 force would look in practice (*cough*, the RDAF Skrydstrup budget). To get some answers to the questions, I recently had an opportunity to chat with Scott Davis, Lockheed Martin’s Managing Director for Finland.

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, an air base at roughly the same latitude as Rovaniemi AFB, but with more dramatic mountains (Sorry, Ounasvaara!). Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert

While few if any analysts doubt that being stealthy is good, or that the F-35 is the stealthiest of the five HX-contenders, questions have been raised about the trade-offs that brings, and whether the same effects can be achieved cheaper and with greater versatility through the use of active electronic warfare systems? However, the F-35 is far from a one-trick pony, and while the marketing is often heavily focused on the passive measures taken to lower the aircraft’s signature, it does in fact sport a state-of-the-art active EW-suite as well. The two key pieces of hardware here are the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar with a large number of transmitter/receiver modules, as well as the huge Pratt & Whitney F135-engine pushing the aircraft and, crucially, providing electric power to all the subsystems.

The fact that the EW-suite is built up around internal systems means that all the power and cooling needed can be drawn from the aircraft’s main systems, as well as allowing the AESA radar itself to function as seriously sized jammer. Not only does this mean that the jamming power is more than an order of magnitude greater than those of traditional pods according to Lockheed Martin, but they also note the fact that the large antenna surface allows for a very narrow beam, lessening the risk of detection from enemy passive sensors. Scott acknowledges that podded solutions are easier to tailor for a wide range of threats, but while he won’t disclose the closer specifications of what the AN/APG-81 can do as a jammer, there are some things he can tell:

All things that can kill you […] is within our jamming range.

That includes both hostile aircraft as well as missiles, or in general anything that can give a fire-control quality radar track.

Scott Davis had a varied career in the USAF, flying fighters from the late Cold War-period up until the F-22, before retiring from service after a period as the US Defence Attaché in Helsinki. Picture courtesy of Lockheed Martin

However, the aircraft is also able to use the radar in passive mode, during which it in essence becomes a large listening device. With several aircraft in formation sharing passively acquired data through the high-bandwidth MADL datalink (which is designed to be difficult to detect and jam compared to earlier standards such as Link 16), it can then rapidly triangulate other emitters.


If you’re not transmitting, you’re in effect an electronic sponge.

The nice thing here is obviously the synergies that can be had through having your aircraft naturally being able to operate closer to the adversary without being detected, but also being able to do so either completely passively or only using systems that are relatively hard to detect. In essence, with these capabilities feeding into each other the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Granted, electronic warfare capabilities are among the aspects that are hardest to judge based on open sources. However, if the F-35 even achieves par in the EW domain compared to the competition, it should according to all logic be better off overall in a combat situation due to the aforementioned synergies coupled with the stealth features, all other things being equal.


However, in reality all other things are rarely equal, and while Scott is correct in identifying the F-35 as the “Next European fighter” based on the large number of European air forces acquiring the type, most do so in significantly smaller numbers than the F-16 fleets they are replacing. In the case of Denmark, the plan is to replace the remaining fleet of around 50 left in service from the original of 77 F-16A/B (7 of which were attrition replacements) with just 27 F-35A in a single squadron. In Norway the cut wasn’t as drastic, but it still sees 52 F-35A replacing an original 74-strong F-16A/B fleet (of which 56 were upgraded to MLU-status). Still, Norway is also consolidating operations to a single base, further underlining the fear that a Finnish F-35 order might lead to a 40 aircraft Air Force and the closing of one of the two fighter squadrons.


Programme Director Lauri Puranen has however shot down at least the latter idea, stating that concentrating the Finnish fighter force to a single base hasn’t even been discussed, and Scott Davis is confident that the fear of an F-35 specific infrastructure cost causing issues is overblown. One example often brought up is that of Eielson AFB in Alaska, which has seen huge spending on F-35 infrastructure. However, much of those investments were due to the base not having been home to combat coded fighters in recent years, meaning that it was more of an expansion than a modernisation project.


[Eielson AFB] was a plus up, adding two more squadrons of fighters […] The logistics footprint of the F-35 is actually less than that of the F-16

In general, the aircraft has turned out to work well in colder climates, including not only in Alaska, but also in locations such as Burlington, Vermont, and over in Norway. Asking about whether actually operating the aircraft in cold weather as opposed to ‘just’ doing cold weather tests have revealed some major insights, Scott confirms that this has indeed been the case. “We’ve definitely learned some lessons”, he confirms, but also states that overall it is going very well and that the “Norwegians are very happy”.

Image
Instrumented test-aircraft AF-01 showing the JSM in the external bomb bay before the drop test conducted from Edwards AFB. Source: Forsvarsmateriell
And speaking of happy Norwegians, they just did the first drop-test of an JSM from an F-35. The anti-ship missile is stealthy, sports a passive IIR-sensor, a secondary land-attack role, and crucially can be carried internally on the F-35. As such it is more or less a perfect fit to the aircraft in that it is difficult to detect throughout the attack run, and while Lockheed Martin can’t discuss details of the weapons package offered to the Finnish Air Force, we know from the DSCA-notifications that it is on the table. An interesting detail that often is overlooked for the F-35 is that a better capability to close with your enemy will not only give you more accurate information about what is happening and where, but also offer the possibility to use shorter-ranged (read: cheaper) weapons to hit defended ground targets.

A picture from a number of years back showing a Portable Maintenance Aid in action. Source: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics photo by Angel DelCueto
Another question which has popped up related to HX is whether the aircraft can be properly dispersed, especially considering the ALIS/ODIN maintenance software which likes to be connected to the international network to which it sends data. There’s also the added question of cybersecurity risks surrounding the data being sent. Scott, however, isn’t concerned, and notes that sovereign data management is already found in the system, with the user filtering what data they want to share. The Portable Maintenance Aids (in essence dedicated laptops, to be replaced by pads come ODIN) also allow maintenance to run smoothly during dispersed operations regardless of whether the system is connected to the main database or not. The rumoured 30 days limit to offline use is also just a rumour, with nothing more dramatic happening than day one falling out of the aircraft’s memory on day 31 if it hasn’t been able to upload the data in between. Interestingly enough from a Finnish point of view, the USAF is also awakening to the need for dispersed basing, largely as a result of the threat from China. This has seen the logistics footprint being tested in recent exercises such as Cope North 21 earlier this year, which saw Eielson-based F-35s deploy from their home in Alaska to remote airstrips in Guam. The US Air Force’s agile combat employment concept (ACE) is based on a hub-and-spooks principle, i.e. a central permanent base supporting austere satellite fields, not completely unlike the Finnish concept of operations. During Cope North, a key base was the unassuming Northwest Field, which saw fighters operating from it for the first time since WWII.

Agile Combat Employment training during Cope North 21 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in February 2021. Here hot-pit refuelling is practiced to maximize readiness capabilities. Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes Montijo
However, even if the F-35 turns out to be both affordable and deployable, there’s still some particular questionmarks hanging over the project. One is regarding sovereign mission data management and exploitation. Things would be routed through the US (not unlike Boeing’s offer), but with the large number of parameters involved in the F-35’s threat library, Lockheed Martin is careful not to make any promises regarding turn-around times for updates (unlike Boeing’s offer).


We are in discussions with numerous Finnish suppliers about multiple opportunities for potential future work on the F-35. Details on the nature of these discussion are competition sensitive so we won’t disclose that information.

Another question that still waits for an answer is the industrial participation aspect of things. With both Saab and BAES/Eurofighter GmbH having promised production of both the aircraft and the engines in Finland in case their respective bids win, and with both having released general numbers for the amount of Statements of Work they have prepared, as well as highlighting key subsystems that are open for cooperation, the answer to my question about the IP-package was surprisingly timid. In particular after the weak showing in the Swiss AIR2030 programme where the offer was for “assembly of major components” of four (!) out of 40 fighters locally, and considering the challenges the rather strict Finnish requirements for industrial participation (3 Bn Euro, of which the majority is direct), it does sound strange that Lockheed Martin isn’t able to provide any details at the time being when they otherwise are rather talkative.