Skip to comments.Congressional caucus is determined to save F-35
Posted on 01/30/2012 10:19:22 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Congressional caucus is determined to save F-35
WASHINGTON -- For all its high-tech stealth and record cost, the F-35 joint strike fighter embodies the droll military motto "hurry up and wait."
Conceived in the heady post-Cold War 1990s, the futuristic fifth-generation jet fighter was to be a technological marvel built in a rush and paid for with "peace dividend" dollars.
But now the fighter is billions over budget and years behind schedule.
With the Pentagon facing $1 trillion in possible cuts, the F-35's high cost makes it a prime target. But thanks in part to campaign contributions from its main contractors and their jobs nationwide, the F-35 has its own congressional caucus of 48 lawmakers dedicated to saving it at all costs.
When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Jan. 20 that he wouldn't kill the F-35 program outright, there were sighs of relief for subcontractors and parts suppliers that Lockheed Martin has promised will provide 127,000 jobs in 47 states.
Think of the F-35 as the military's version of Medicare: There are huge potential spending cuts but also powerful constituencies.
The struggle over the joint strike fighter reflects the broader challenge that lawmakers and President Barack Obama face: The biggest budget savings come from large government programs that are popular and, in some cases, needed.
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., calls the F-35 "the big enchilada," the most advanced stealth aircraft in the world and a great investment in U.S. national security.
Dicks, who founded the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus in November with Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, said the F-35 isn't the first major new weapons system to encounter problems.
"Everybody would like to see a low-cost, no-problem development," Dicks said. "But there's never been one. We have to do this: The Marine Corps
(Excerpt) Read more at star-telegram.com ...
One thing that chart doesn’t take into account is UAVs. They are getting to the point where they are going to be replacing more and more manned aircraft. They are cheaper to operate, have better loiter times, and can be deployed in larger numbers. Plus, when you get the human and all of this life support systems out of the aircraft, you can make them smaller while still having plenty of capability.
The chart posted does not include the sustainment costs. The earlier jets (including the F-15, F-16) have huge sustainment costs associated with them, especially now in this stage of their life-cycle. The commonality of the F-35 airframe shared between services would allow for a lower logistics burden while increasing capability.
‘Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., calls the F-35 “the big enchilada,” the most advanced stealth aircraft in the world and a great investment in U.S. national security.’
Mr. Dicks is confused. The F-22 has better capabilities across the board, except perhaps for electronics which could be retrofitted. It’s insanity that we’re no longer building operational F-22s (650 were originally planned, instead of the 187 we actually got). Instead, we’re waiting for an inferior plane that will end up costing more than the F-22 per copy.
Such is the state of affairs in America, circa 2012.
That was my understanding but did you see the news last week about the Global Hawk getting canceled in favor of the U2?
Supposedly, but as you put all your eggs into one basket, the cost of not maintaining the basket approaches infinity and therefore, the cost of maintaining the basket also follows the unacceptable alternative to infinity.
It's important to note that this is not Lockheed Martin's fault. LM does not have a role in setting DoD's egg strategy. Congress does that and it seems like more and more their sole concern is making sure the golden basket gets built and maintained, with no alternatives, in 47 states.
It won't be long before we have more astronauts than fighter pilots and neither kind is likely to have a ride.
“I had a friend send tell me that the lobbyists are pushing the idea to replace A-10 with F-35s. “
That has been the plan since the inception of the F-35 program...
The A-10s are regarded as not being survivable over the modern battlefield against first-world opponents, too low and slow. The titanium bathtub won’t help when it’s lawn dart time.
The F-35 is a multi-role fighter. It was never designed to be an air superiority fighter although due to the shortsightedness of Congress it may be pressed into that role. So it isn’t an “inferior” aircraft, it’s simply isn’t designed for that mission (just like the F-22 would be an inferior strike fighter).
Here’s a good article by Rear Admiral Stufflebeem which goes into some detail about how the F-35 could be a game changer for the Carrier Strike Group. It gives you an idea of what its advanced capabilities may mean in future battles.
“The F-35 is a multi-role fighter. It was never designed to be an air superiority fighter although due to the shortsightedness of Congress it may be pressed into that role. So it isnt an inferior aircraft, its simply isnt designed for that mission (just like the F-22 would be an inferior strike fighter).”
I’ll just point out that the F-22 also has air-to-ground capabilities, with the capability of carrying two 1,000 lb. JDAMS bombs, or up to eight small diameter bombs (SDBs) in its internal bays. It also has four external hardpoints capable of carrying 5,000 lbs each once air dominance is achieved.
The major advantages of the F-22 on Day One of a conflict are supercruise and all-aspect stealth. Neither is matched by any current fighter, most certainly to include the F-35.
Just as with the F-15 Strike Eagle, there is nothing preventing an excellent air superiority fighter from also filling the strike mission as needed. However, the mediocre performance of the F-35 will not do nearly as well providing air superiority if it is pressed into that role.
BTW, I did mean to thank you for the link, I’ll read it ASAP.
Are you really going to risk your only true air superiority platform (all 187 of them) on strike attacks?
The F-35 carries a larger internal load than does the F-22 and it has all the power it needs to do the strike job.
Hanging 5k of ordnance on external hardpoints degrades performance and kills stealth.
“Are you really going to risk your only true air superiority platform (all 187 of them) on strike attacks?”
The point of my first post on this topic was that we could have F-22s instead of F-35s, operational now, and at a lower cost. What’s not to like?
We’ve replaced our last-generation air superiority fleet of 650 planes with 187 F-22s. That is not optimal. ;-)
“The F-35 carries a larger internal load than does the F-22”
Point granted, although two JDAMs per mission is one more than the F-117 carried, as a dedicated bomber... ;-)
Mixing and matching JDAMs and SDBs makes for flexible loadouts.
“and it has all the power it needs to do the strike job.”
That is not clear for day one operations. It’s vulnerabilities are front aspect only stealth, and no supercruise. It will be much more vulnerable than the F-22.
“Hanging 5k of ordnance on external hardpoints degrades performance and kills stealth.”
Up to a total of 20K, and again my point is that it would work fine once air dominance is achieved. Send a clean F-22 as escort and you’re good to go.
On the other hand, eight SDBs will solve a lot of problems using just the internal bays.