Skip to comments.F-35 looking more like white elephant
Posted on 01/13/2011 11:28:42 AM PST by too_cool_for_skool
WASHINGTON (AFP) The F-35 fighter jet, set to replace a large part of the US warplane fleet, has become the most expensive weapons program ever, drawing increased scrutiny at a time of tight public finances.
Following a series of cost overruns and delays, the program is now expected to cost a whopping 382 billion dollars, for 2,443 aircraft.
Defense officials say the original cost estimates have now doubled to make each plane's price tag reach some 92 million dollars.
At the same time, the contract awarded in 2001 had been planned to last 10 years, but has been extended to 2016 because of testing and design issues.
Private analysts say the whole F-35 program is becoming a money pit.
"The incredibly unfortunate phrase 'too big to fail' applies to this aircraft more than any other defense program," said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst with the Teal Group.
Kelly Johnson is spinning in his grave.
Unlike the welfare bums who took more money???
“Lockheed Martin playing the American taxpayer like a fiddle. Business as usual.”
I don’t know how to assess this. You could find a million articles about the Bradley that read exactly like this. They turned out to be (1) liberal attempts to hurt defense or (2) political crap within the DoD. The Bradley has been a magnificent vehicle for the armed forces.
Why should I give all the F-35 articles any more credence than the Bradley articles were entitled to?
I would bet anything that part of the cost overruns and delays is caused by requirements to make the fighter jets “green”.
When they cut the F-22 program last year and I objected, what did I tell folks here?
Folks fell all over themselves to assure me the F-22 was a terrible aircraft and we just had to stop the program. The F-35 could handle everything, and besides it was cheaper.
I predicted that as soon as the F-22 program was destroyed, the F-35 would be next.
Here we are folks. We’re about ten years from our air force not having a fleet of state of the art fighters.
Welcome to exactly what I predicted.
One by one, disarming America's Armed Forces. Considering our current national "leaders" think America is a grossly arrogant bully, this comes as no surprise. We are at the 2-year point of 0bama's occupation of the White House. Six more years of him and our military will barely rival that of Liechtenstein.
Has the government changed any of the design or performance requirements since the original award?
Try that with your building contractor and see if the price doesn’t go up and completion schedule get delayed!
Exactly right IMO.
If they decided to build 75 more F-22s the unit cost would be $70 million.....would we not be better off doing that?
Hey ! You can pick up a flown-only-once J20 at Wal-Mart for only $999.95 (6,600 yuan),cash and taxi [ caution: product may contain lead or hormones from cows]
“I dont know how to assess this. You could find a million articles about the Bradley that read exactly like this.”
I remember the Bradley articles as well. I was a tanker; but, I got to play around on a Bradley a little. I also spent alot of time on the piece of equipment it was meant to replace - the M113.
Bradley - Fast, fires a missile, has a moving turret, powerful gun, and advanced fire control system.
M113 - Slow, giant box, and you can mount a machine gun to it.
I remember being shocked at how good a vehicle the Bradley was, after growing up and seeing countless bad stories about it.
Another piece of equipment I remember getting bad press was the kevlar helmet. 60 minutes did an almost sarcastic piece about it, and how wasteful it was to develop it. I can’t begin to explain how big an improvement it was over the ‘steel pot’....both in comfort and safety.
And my favorite - the M1 tank. The media whined about its cost of course. But, they also were fixated on its range (100 miles..ish). They went on and on and on about this. They never mentioned some of the amazing features that made it without a doubt the best tank in the world at the time, and most likely it still holds that title, although some will argue with me.
I know nothing about this airplane; but, I have a healthy (yet civil of course) skepticism about this article.
“Same exact thing with the B-1B. It is THE aircraft that has really carried the weight in Afghanistan for the last 10 years, a gift to all of us from Ronald Reagan.”
Didn’t Carter hold up the AWACS? Another aircraft that is now indespensible.
Tri-service aircraft = FAIL.
F-111 (McNamara’s switchblade) Navy gave up and built the F-14.
What will cut next? the Osprey?
Back when I was a field service engineer I used to try to carry as few heavy tools as possible.
For this reason I had a pair of pliers that would do several jobs, but it didn’t do any of them well.
Unfortunately our procurement of fighter aircraft follows the same logic as my pliers. We make one aircraft, with modifications, that fills the needs of all of the branches of the military, but it doesn’t do it very well.
We should go back to having aircraft with designated roles, interceptor, fighter-bomber, close air support, etc.
These daredevils pick toys over boots every time. We're running out of boots and the ones left are doing triple duty, not to mention having to deal with the mountain of regulations, and paperwork, power points, and useless classwork. Time for the former pilots in those brand new glass building learn what they have been doing to the rest of the force.
“I done seen ‘bout ev’rything
“When I see an elephant fly!”
If this program had been stopped per pukin’s early info we would hopefully have continued production of the F-22 Raptor. These do all aircraft have a lousy history of cost over-runs and limited efficiency.
I think the real problem comes down to one simple thing.
They tried to pack way too many roles into a single design which creates serious compromises on performance.
I don’t know of any military aircraft that didn’t have the same type of stories about it. The longer they delay production and the more changes they make to the design, the more expensive the final product becomes.
F-22....great platform, could be converted to navy use with some degree of compromise on stealth...
F-23, not as good as F-22, but could be modified on the drawing board to be the navy and jarheads new fighter.(instead, the chinese have miraculously copied the F-23)
Instead of these scenario’s, lets just put together an aircraft cobbled out of the harrier, f-16 and a little bit of f-14 for good measure....
The f-35 was destined to be a failure from the start, and the good old boys of GW Bush started this whole affair....similar to the whiz kids of kennedy...dump the whole damn project, get the f-23 modifed for carrier use, and build a whole bunch more of the f-22...( I know, this makes too much sense, which means it will never happen )
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BS... We will always need pilots..
Same with the Osprey. Wow. That program got hammered in the press.
Any attempt to accomplish anything for the government is going to take longer and cost mroe than initial estimates, period. Changing priorities and requirements, shifting political priorities, etc etc etc..
I don’t think you can find 1 single solitary large scale project in the last 30 years that involved government in any way shape or form in oversight that didn’t take longer and cost more than originally planned.
Question isn’t is it overbudget, it is, what has changed since the original RFQs.
Imagine doing anything by committee? Now imagine that committee is a bunch or has to answer to politicians, and tell me exactly how on time and on budget anything is going to be.
Nice theory, but one problem... Jam or interrupt or compromise the radio signal and you have ZERO ability to have ANY THING IN THE AIR AT ALL...
Remote controlled drones are nice, but you cannot escape a fundamental reality of needing manned aircraft.
The old Pukin Dog predicted all this.
I still miss him.
we will always need pilots, they don’t need to be flying around and killing themselves pulling 10 g’s or getting shot down with nothing more than toenail clippings to send back to the family.
There are ways to get over jamming signals, we got smart folks, I imagine it’s surmountable.
The truth here is both the F-22 and F-35 are truly outstanding aircraft tailored to different defense jobs in the future. The Airforce wants to reinvent their winning F-15 and F-16 one two punch for the 21st Century.
Cost drivers are the development of the electronics. What needs to be done is a fusion of the electronic systems to allow the F22 to be retrofitted with a higher performance system bus and allow the F-35 to piggy back on some of the unique capabilites of the F-22.
The F-22 digital bus is largely 1980/90s computer technology which is way out of date. It can do amazing things but it could do even more amazing things with better computers which the F-35 has and be much more supportable going into the future
The F-35 could potentially by streamlined by using some F-22 technology. This is complicated because the F-35 technology is intentionally dumbed down, with a lot of re inventing the wheel to keep F-22 technology from getting transfered to other countries.
I would argue that it is far more important for the USA to re invent it’s world beating F15/F-16 hi-low mix concept in the F-35 and F-22 and deploy enough of them to make a difference than it is to keep secret a lot of technology that our adversaries probably have already have gotten in far greater detail from espionage.
You cannot hold the wind in todays internet driven world so we should not try to do the impossible. In todays world you simply have to out run your competition so we need to get our hardware deployed as quickly as possible and provide a solid foundation for future upgrades to always keep our qualitative edge as great as possible.
A certain degree of cross platform compatability and integration would allow for this without giving away a store which probably already resides in the hard drives of number of our adversaries.
It may not be the answer to the new Chi-Com J-20. Also known as the “Slick Willie” stealth fighter.
So Gates & The Boyz are laying the groundwork for final cancellation of the F-35 and cover it with a Brand New Bomber.
Be still my beating heart.
The last time I saw that much crap in one place was walking through the feedlot.
Im one of the B-1Alpha guys, saw exactly the same type of people making exactly the same statements about a year before they finished changing specs for the bird by the minute and pulled the plug on the project. (I was long gone by that time, along with every jig and fixture the El Segundo plant could get their hands on and mothball out in the desert until some grownups showed up inside the Beltway again.)
Point One: There is no bomber project. Period. End of quote. Oh, theres studies, articles and speeches galore, but neither Boeing or Grumman is pushing so much as a conceptual drawing, the Skonkworks is closed and neither Aviation Week or Tamiya has put out the detailed specs on any Black Project to build one.
Point Two: F-35? Tie some crepe on it. Final cancellation of the whole damn project is probably going to be announced before summer.
Those pigs in Washington need the money for their next election campaign.
31 posted on Friday, January 07, 2011 6:59:43 AM by Unrepentant VN Vet (743 and a wakeup)
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After further review, if there was a Dead Pool for Defense projects, I wouldn’t take any numbers on the F-35 project higher than 60 days.
Too many piggies to feed......
Ding, Ding, you nailed the bigger problem. This is what most people not familiar with the ins and outs of the defense industry don’t understand. Having worked in the industry myself, I don’t know of a single contract or program that ever came in on the date and budget originally agreed to in the original contract proposal. The military, of which I am a huge supporter, is notorious for constantly changing specs, expectations, systems, and timelines due to the constantly changing nature of the battlefield, which in turn changes their needs and requirements. This is especially visible in ‘long-term R&D contracts’ (ie. projects slatted to take 5+ years to develop). By the time the producer closes in on the completion date, the entire scope of the system could have changed.
2: Having been on both sides of USAF program offices Chasing the latest capability is a rat hole for $$$. One Army program went on for a dozen years and was canceled. Never fielded a single item.
Presidential Helicopter program anyone? The Navy killed that because they just couldn’t leave it alone.
Withheld some and added new requirements after initial designs were completed. Required intensive amounts of re-design work which costs a lot of money.
Added more and more capability requirements until the thing was just too damn heavy to fly anymore and was subsequently cancelled.
Sometimes, if not most of the time, the Pentagon is their own worst enemy.
What we really need is an export version of the F-22. I fully understand that there are elements of this aircraft that are too secret to allow out of American hands but with Russia and India collaborating on one fifth generation fighter and China producing another, our allies need this aircraft as well.
Japan certainly does. Australia probably does. In Europe, selling the F-22 to Germany would give European defense a solid counterweight. The more you make, the less expensive the production is per copy.
While I was a student at the Air War College, our guest speaker one day was one of the "Whiz Kids." During the question period following his talk, when my turn came, I challenged him on the phony "systems analysis" that went into the F-111 decision. I still remember the round of applause I got from the several hundred of my fellow officers in the auditorium. (Having a PhD in mathematics helps immensely in situations like that.)
Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the F-35 is "deja vu all over again."
I work in the aerospace defense industry so I’m not naive to how government bumbling and shifting requirements can drive up costs. But the contractor is often just as at fault through poor program management and shoddy engineering. Yet there is little financial penalty since most of these programs are cost-plus - the contractor continues bumbling along while the government pays for it.
Lockheed has maneuvered itself into a good position. Program costs have exploded (+100%) and the schedule has slipped another 6 years (+60%). But they’ll get rather rewarded for their efforts because this program is “critical” to national security and must be funded. Despite a terrible track record with the F-22 and F-35, they will win future programs as well since the USAF in its myopia awarded all of the 5th-Generation fighter jets to Lockheed, effectively squeezing out Northrop and Boeing and leaving Lockheed with a monopoly on jet fighters.
You want to fix the national budget? Get defense contractors under control.
History contradicts your inept assertion.
You fail to mention the extensive engineering and money involved; neither of which would be minor, to navalize the Raptor.
and the good old boys of GW Bush started this whole affair
The JSF development contract was signed on 16 November 1996.
Easy conclusion for a keyboard warrior.
Seems that people soon forget the long and at times troubled development of just about every great weapon system. The much vaunted F-22 went through just about the same cost overruns and delays that the F-35 is experiencing. The C-17 was another example of an aircraft that the hand-wringers yelling "cancel" because it was costing too much to develop. The F-14 had its own problems in development, yet I still read here on FR how much that aircraft is missed.
There are other opinions on the F-35, especially the B model:
Marine F-35 Problems Are Fixable
Author:Daniel Goure, Ph.D.
Date:Thursday, January 13, 2011
Last week, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, announced that he had placed the short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on double secret probation. The prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, has two years to fix problems with the air frame and engine. It is noteworthy that the Secretary said that the other two parts of the F-35 program for the Air Force and Navy are proceeding satisfactorily.
Building a STOVL aircraft is an extraordinarily challenging undertaking. The aircraft has to be able to operate in both vertical and horizontal dimensions, have a useful operational range and carry a meaningful payload. The same power plant engine must be used to power the aircraft in both flight modes. Only two STOVL systems have ever been deployed, the Harrier and the Yak-38 Forger, and the latter was a failure. The former was a notable success particularly in the Falklands war and Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the Harrier is based on 1960s technology. The Harrier production line closed in 1997 and remanufacture of older versions into the current Harrier II Plus configuration ended in 2003.
A new STOVL aircraft is needed. But to meet emerging threats and new mission requirements, it must have stealth characteristics, a supersonic speed and the kind of advanced avionics that can cope with the modern battlefield. This is particularly difficult when one is building a plane that can also land like a helicopter. This further complicates aircraft design. A hinge flap on an inlet door had to be redesigned when it compromised the F-35Bs stealth characteristics.
What exactly are the F-35Bs current problems? As the Secretary noted, they include both structural and engine issues. Apparently, a bulkhead cracked during testing. While it has been redesigned, additional testing of other structural elements to ensure against a repeat of the problem is ongoing. Lockheed has said that resolving structural issues will not require replacement of the aluminum structures, a move that could add cost and weight.
The engine problems are more challenging, which is to be expected given the nature of the power plant required by a STOVL aircraft. In vertical flight mode some of the components of the lifting portion of the power system have not operated as expected, creating mechanical and heating issues. These are not fundamental technical problems but questions of component design and subsystem integration. The engine manufacturer asserts that it can fix these problems without adding weight or cost.
It is likely that the Lockheed team will be able to resolve the issues that have delayed the STOVL portion of the F-35 program. The challenge is to do it while the clock is ticking.
F-111 was indeed superior in many rspects to the F-15E and now the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is inferior in most performance categories to the F-14D that it replaced.
The JSF will go down as the greatest failure and boondoggle in the history of aviation. The TFX program will be a model of success and good judgement in comparison. And the only reason Lockheed execs shouldn’t be sent to prison for fraud and bilking the taxpayers is that much of Congress would have to share cells with them. This is what happens when defense programs become more important as jobs pork than as military weapons.
The F4 Phantom II became a tri-service aircraft due to its performance. It was designed solely as a navy interceptor.