Oh @#%@#@ joy…

Here we go again with another F-35 boondoggle…

“Without defined PTMS and engine modernization requirements, the F-35 program is at greater risk of repeating prior missteps,” GAO said. “By proceeding with planning and development of future capabilities without considering the demands on the PTMS and engine, the program endorsed capabilities that neither could support. The program risks repeating a similar mismatch between PTMS and engine capability and future modernization needs if the military services select an option without first defining future requirements.”

Full article, HERE from Defense News.

Note these words- ‘Greater risk of repeating prior missteps’

This is NOT the first time the program has tripped all over itself causing multiple problems and cost overruns, and a cost per maintenance man hour of $37,000 according to some reports.

This is what happens when ‘things’ get crammed into the platform without proper design engineering, system load design, testing and assessments… I’m betting by the time all this crap comes to a head, the F-35 will cost damned near as much as a B-2 cost!!!



Oh @#%@#@ joy… — 37 Comments

  1. “This is what happens when ‘things’ get crammed into the platform without proper design engineering, system load design, testing and assessments”

    In other words, business as usual inside the puzzle palace. Along with contractors willing to promise anything to get/keep a contract.

  2. That sounds very much like this movie clip. It’s supposed to be funny, but I think it is a documentary of real life.

  3. And to think, they canceled the Raptor (of which there are far too few) because the f-35 would be cheaper.
    This is also what happens when the powers that be pick an aircraft because they like the way it looks more than what it can do (true story).

    Last of all, has NO ONE learned the lessons of the Switchblade Edsel? Seriously?

    • I have in the recent past read some comments that the X-32 was better than the X-35. Is that what you were insinuating? I would like to see the comparison. What I saw in, I believe, an NPR documentary on the testing and fly-off of the two X models was not very encouraging for the X-32. I remember with specificity that Boeing had to partially disassemble the aircraft to demonstrate the short take-off and vertical landing capabilities. Also, that there were major stability problems with the aircraft as designed, and it would have to have horizontal stabilizers/elevators added.

      The X-35 had none of these issues. The very last flight of the X-35B involved a short take-off, climb to altitude, supersonic dash, and a vertical landing. I have heard that is what sealed the deal on the X-35 design winning the contract looks aside. With all that has come out about Boeing with regard to the B737MAX and the Starliner spaceship, I have to wonder if the F-32(?) would not have had a lot of problems.

      • From what I saw of the original testing, the 32 out performed the 35. Yes, both aircraft had problems, the 35 had a fair bit of issues with vtol (which we’re now seeing pan out).
        Was it by a large margin? No, but it was clear then that fixing the 32 would be a lot easier than fixing the 35.
        But the 32 was ugly as sin, and the air force only likes sexy.

        People don’t understand that the test aircraft never look anything like the final product, because the test aircraft don’t have many of the systems that they’re meant to fly with. That’s why the F-16 beat out the aircraft that it was up against when it went through testing. Once they put all the systems in, it became inferior to the aircraft it was up against.

        Hell, the navy got rid of the F-14 and the A-6 and replaced them both with the F-18, an aircraft that can not do the job either aircraft. But that’s politics.

      • Bill….
        I may be recalling the same documentary.
        As I recall, at the finish of testing, the X32 could not meet all the design criteria as it stood and that some claimed capabilities were still “under development” and could not be demonstrated.

        If the issue in further development is delays and “boondoggles” then selecting a design that could not meet testing deadlines without unresolved issues and criteria failures would make even less sense.

        I was interested at the time, because Australia was debating placing an early order.

  4. The problem with most engineers is that they think they have all the answers. Having worked on manufacturing parts and equipment for the US Navy for many years and working with engineers, some of them have the attitude that they know more than the machinists doing the work. They do not look at the whole picture but focus on just getting the job done as quickly as possible, then when a problem occurs they have to come back and review what was wrong even though they were told in advance by those doing the actual work what was wrong with their project and how to fix it before anything was machined or assembled.

    • I worked in Flight Test for Grumman Aerospace. We had the highest ratio of engineers to management of any aerospace company in the world.
      Which is why our shit tended to work right and problems were fixed quickly. The only time we ever had problems was when the GOVERNMENT forced us to do shit that we told them was stupid (like the engines in the F-14A which were shit).
      Also the guys working on the production line had a LOT more input with the engineers than I’ve seen at other places I’ve worked.

  5. Interesting question. Which is a greater migraine, the L.C.S. or the F-35? Both prove that the committee is usually wrong, especially when it keeps trying to add “multi-purpose” anything to the original idea.

  6. I am NOT an aviation guy. Apart from a few chopper rides, I was boots-on-the-ground for all my service. However, my understanding is that the rationale for the F-35 is that it can do everything.
    Okay; my Leatherman is a multi-tool, and I have a 35 year-old Swiss Army knife, and I appreciate the value in both of them. However, they aren’t GREAT at anything, other than “multi-ness,” and. perhaps, portability.
    What threat is the F-35 uniquely prepared to defeat?
    Here’s a quote from a sho-nuff aviator:
    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
    ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman’s Odyssey
    (seems the F-35 is far short of perfection)

    • To do one thing and do it superbly….. that is what the F22 is designed to do. It’s designed to kill other aircraft.

      It is not designed as a multirole fighter that can attack surface targets, use a wide variety of mission-specific ordinance, conduct SEAD …. and still capably defend itself against other aircraft under most circumstances.

  7. NRW/Steve- Pretty much… I have ‘stories’… sigh

    JohnV- Of course not, ‘we’ know better!

    John- Yes, that is way too common! Cable run sizing on the Zoomie… sigh

    TXRed- Actually, the Zumwalt is the ‘king’ of that particular hill… dammit…

    Pat- Exactly! That one ‘knife’ that does one thing and does it perfectly!

  8. Perhaps the procurement process has reached the decadent stage at which producing an actual useful weapons system takes (at best) second or third place to multiple grifts.

    Some influential people undoubtedly intend the degradation of US defense capability. Boondoggles like this serve multiple aspects of this program. They will help degrade public support for the US military (furthering the active agenda of transferring all that nasty stuff to international organizations) while allowing the well placed to speed it up by siphoning off the military budget in along the way. Win-win. Well, except for those poor expendable rubes at the pointy end.

  9. Its a friggin death star economic equivalent.

    We need a variety of aircraft for a variety of roles.

    This aint rocket surgery.

    And oh by the way, UAVs are the wave of the future…

    They make economic sense, because there is no meatsack restriction on Gs and no need to have a bunch of environmental weight / complexity / cost.

    • Drones are easily taken over by outside forces and the ‘meatsack’ is smarter than they are. As for G’s? That ain’t every thing, and in a lot of cases the G loading limiting factor ain’t the meatsack.

      • John…
        If “taking over” drones is so easy, why are they so effective that losses of “10,000” per month are being tolerated in Ukraine.
        Yes, there are countermeasures. There are also counter-countermeasures.

        There are some very confident assertions that the next generation of fighter aircraft will be a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft. The role of the aircrew in the manned craft being as much battle-space management as actual combat, while the UAVs perform the role of high-agility and versatile missile-platforms under local control.
        Advantages being enhanced ability to maintain eyes and presence over target, present enemy air defence with more and more capable threats, rotate platforms in and out of combat area without losing SA. and undertake higher-risk missions without increasing the risk to aircrew lives.

        Networked systems with multiple radars. Increased use of AI. We can be damned sure that they aren’t telling us about everything that’s on the drawing-board. Some will work. Some won’t.

        • 1st off, everything you’re hearing from Ukraine is propaganda. No one knows just how many people they’re killing. But I can tell you that 10K number is pure BS.
          Also the drones in Ukraine are NOT autonomous.

          Unmanned aircraft, anything that does not have someone flying it, can be (and has been) hacked. Ask the Iranians who hacked one of our most secret ‘autonomous’ drones and got it to land at one of THEIR military bases.

          There is no such thing as AI, and unless there is some significant breakthrough in science, there never will be. All we have are expert systems and they are easily fooled. More easily than a human being, truth be told.

          If you’re going to put your ‘high risk’ missions on an autonomous vehicle, you’re going to lose a lot of them. They just can not react to unexpected events, and the people who program these things? They can’t think outside of the cube they sit in all day. None of those people know a thing about air combat, military aircraft, or flying.
          This I know from personal experience.

          Drones that are operated by people have a place, and some level of ‘autonomous’ may work in missiles to make them harder to defeat. But if you put them out there to actually work as front line fighters? Don’t be surprised when they come back home and blow up their base.

          • John…
            I’m not accepting pop-media claims of effectiveness. I’m going off the known numbers being supplied and put into use. I’m asking why they are in such great demand and being used in such numbers IF, repeat IF they are as easy to jam, hack, divert or otherwise defeat as you claim. You haven’t answered that question, and those are the simple ones.

            Secondly, and as I mentioned, the projected use of UAVs is not as 100% robotic fighters, but as missile platforms under the control of the human being is the manned aircraft.

            Yeah, ok, one was “hacked”. A bloody sight more than one aircraft has been shot down. It has been happening for over a century. We haven’t stopped putting aircraft in the sky because of that, either. Instead, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into making it harder to find and hit them.

            So when one of the major international programs attempting to develop a 6th-gen fighter, includes in its aims, “optional manning”, I’m wondering what you know, that they don’t.

  10. Peter- It has gone from actual ‘procurement’ to pleasing the congresscritters by making sure ‘they’ get jobs in their areas… dammit!

    Mark- That it is!

    • Not sure if I’m too cynical or not cynical enough, but I’m pretty sure that there are congressional staffers and lobbyists (i.e. the people who write the bills and brief our Congresscritters) who want to eliminate the US military except as a domestic police force controlling a disarmed populace.

  11. The “Swiss-Army-Knife” model has some benefits. Trying to build the perfect aircraft for just one mission, means that you have a wide variety of missions for which it ain’t suitable…. and any sensible enemy will make sure that he uses strategies that you aren’t equipped to counter.

    Trying to build anough different aircraft to cover all eventualities is far more expensive, because you need multiple manufacturing facilities, multiple supply chains, multiple training systems and qualifications.

    There is a reason why things manufactured in bulk tend to be cheaor to purchase abd run, than small runs and bespoke items.

    It is also the reason why building something that you can sell is more cost-effective than something that nobody else wants (because they don’t have a US-sized budget and can’t afford lots of everything.

    Last I heard, the current price for F35s off-the-shelf was in the same ballpark as that for western-manufactured Gen4.5 fighters with less capability.

    Got figures?

  12. The article cited talks about an engine upgrade that might involve a GE engine. From what I have read of the original design of the core engine (compressor, combustion and turbine sections) both GE and P&W were contracted with (by the government) to create engines for the F-35. P&W’s engine is the F-135, and GE’s engine was the F-136. They were to be interchangeable in the field. I don’t see how the GE core mentioned in the article would not fit the F-35B while fitting the F-35A and F-35C.

    • I hate replying to myself, but I wanted to clarify something. When the U.S. Government contracts for a new aircraft, the builder of the aircraft acts as the integrator for a separately purchased government engine. In the case of the F-35, while Lockheed-Martin builds the airframe with the avionics and other systems, Pratt & Whitney is not a subcontractor to LM but is directly contracted to build the F-135 engine.

      • I do know that it is not the F-136. The thing is that if the core engine will fit the A & C models and is designed for the power take-off to drive the lift fan it will fit the B model. I am thinking that the AETP engine development was begun immediately after the F-136 was shut down.

  13. Ok… I’m not an aircraft geek, but the summary of the article’s complaint seems to that we don’t know what the F35 will have to do in the future, so we don’t know what modifications will have to be made and we don’t know how that will affect current designs and systems.

    That creates POTENTIAL problems, but what is your alternative?
    1. Design and build a complete new aircraft, every time you identify a new need or want a capability upgrade?
    2. Keep chanting “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” until you get into a real shooting war and your pilots are getting killed because your enemy DID upgrade.

    Yeah, integrating new technology is hard. Integrating new technology, designs and capabilities into systems as complex as an F35 is really, really hard…. because you can’t change one thing. I absolutely agree that good management tries to keep all the potential risks and variables under within limits , I’d only argue that it is far less easy than outside observers might think.

  14. “The prototype NA-73X (P-51) was rolled out in September 1940, just 102 days after the order had been placed;”
    “The United States Navy commissioned 175 Fletcher-class destroyers between 1942 and 1944” – both via Wiki

    I think we should hang a few flag officers ‘Pour encourager les autres.’

    • Of course even the NA-73X (A-36/P-51A) was a bit of a dog until our British allies politely (they were Brits after all) suggested replacing the Allison engine with a Merlin.

    • What percentage of the national GDP was being spent on the design and manufacture of new weapons then, as opposed to now?

      I have no doubt you could set up to manufacture more P51s in less time than that, using current manufacturing methods. Convincing your pilots to fly them in combat against 4th and 5th-gen jet fighters…. might be a little more difficult.

    • Have a look at the EMB-314 “Super Toucano”

      Very P-51-like, not an absolute all-weather, all mission aircraft, but with modern avionics it seems (to me as arm-chair historian) it’d be a very capable light attack aircraft at a modest price. Nazi Germany could have built an additional 1,000 type IX U-boats with the materials, energy, and time they put into the Tirpitz.

      • “But modern avionics”.
        Modern avionics – particularly the kind that allow a ground-attack plane to survive in a modern warfare environment – are not developed and built in that time period. … aaaaaand as an F18 pilot said to me once, “You can’t jam hot lead”.

        It’s not just a matter of having “something that will fly “ and duct-taping something to it that will go bang. Not if you want to put a pilot in the front seat and have any chance of having him come home.

        Yes, you can do cheap, simple single-use flying weapons. We call them “rockets” and they’ve been around for ever. If you want precision – because a lot of misses do not equal a hit – then you either need a guidance system or a very competent pilot. Neither of those are quick and easy.

        Remember… nothing is effective if it doesn’t hit the target, and it can’t hit the target if it can’t get to there because the GBAD kills it.

  15. The military industrial complex exists to suckup taxpayer dollars…NOT to create weapons platforms that actually function.

  16. Classic response by a pilot to a technology suggested by engineers…
    “It’s a great idea…. if it works”.

  17. All this reminds me of the time when purchase of the F35 by Australia was being hotly debated.
    A surprisingly well-funded (think about that) lobby appeared, arguing that we should rebuild geriatric F111s, regardless of their age, the lack of spare parts and the fact that flying them into a modern air-defence environment would be close to suicide.

    Their arguments were;
    (A) We already had them.
    (B) They had the range to do the round-trip to Djakarta with a load of dumb-bombs, which the F35 did not.

    And all the pilots were going “Nope”, not feeling suicidal.
    The politicians were going – Indonesia hasn’t been a threat for decades..
    And the military strategists are going “Everyone else is using cruise missiles for that, anyway”.

    But it seems that someone had an idea they could make a lot of $$$$ manufacturing no-longer available spare parts for the old Pigs, if only the Government could be persuaded to keep them. Ot so a cynic might think.

    Most of us are bloody frustrated with our respective governments, and doubt that they could “organise a piss-up in a brewery”, but reasonable scepticism also takes their critics with a grain of salt, too. Political or industrial competitors, neither gain anything from admitting that current decisions, contracts and orders are pretty much ok.

  18. Comes to mind based on precise phrasing that the issue may have been something like 1. pick f-35 engine 2. decide that the future of the service is electric aviation propulsion 3. blame the fighter program instead of the fact that the electric aviation propulsion policy is insane.

    It could easily be a much longer term issue. Could be a bunch of them.

    I could be out of my mind.

    Probably I should have read the article and not only the quotes.

  19. The problem is not so much that it will cost more than a B-2, outrageous though that is.
    It’s that it’s capabilities will barely exceed those of a B-57.