Friday, August 1, 2014

U.S. Military Takes Steps to Ensure There'll Never Be Another Disaster Like the F-35

As far as the US military is concerned, the F-35 has broken the bank. With the American people on the hook for what is estimated to be up to 1.5-trillion greenbacks for a warplane, a gimmicky bomb truck, that keeps failing to live up to expectations, the military is determined to see that something like the F-35 fiasco never happens again.

A new US Air Force report, "...paints a future of the Air Force that resembles an innovative 21st Century company as opposed to a traditional fighting force. The document says that it's now impossible for the United States to build a strategy advantage with large, expensive programs that take years — in the case of the F-35, 14 years and counting to complete.

'"We believe rapid change is the new norm and has serious implications for the Air Force," the document states.' The pace at which disruptive technologies may appear and proliferate will result in operational advantages that are increasingly short-lived. Dynamic and increasingly frequent shifts in the geopolitical power balance will have significant implications for basing, posture, and partner capabilities that may favor flexibility over footprint.'"

The F-35 isn't mentioned by name in the forecast, but the program's greasy fingerprints are all over it. The Air Force is apparently concerned that it is pricing itself out of the weapons market because it is spending so much time and money on large programs.

"Large, complex programs with industrial-era development cycles measured in decades may become obsolete before they reach full-rate production," the authors added.

"Operational advantages that are increasingly short-lived."
That's Air Force code for the F-35's supposed stealth invincibility. The very adversaries for which the F-35 is said to be needed have already knocked the snot out of the stealth threat. They know its weaknesses and they've developed sensors, weapons and tactics to defeat it. What's more, they're already fielding their own stealth fighters, warplanes the F-35 was never designed to combat. Even Israeli defence planners gave America's stealth advantage a mere 5-year shelf life.

Return of the Dogfighter

The July 7 edition of Aviation Week focuses on a new emphasis on air-to-air combat capability instead of the air-to-ground focus that western nations have had for the last couple of decades. The shift is the result of Russia's intervention in Ukraine and its overall superiority in air combat capability.

Bomb trucks, like the glorified F-35, are great when you're taking out ground targets or blowing up wedding parties disguised as insurgents but they're seriously compromised against a state of the art fighter.

The F-35 is even more compromised because, unlike leading multi-role fighter-bombers on the market, it lacks super cruise. That means it can only go fast in fuel-guzzling afterburner. This is a huge disadvantage when you're trying to intercept a distant target and an even huger disadvantage when you're trying to evade pursuers. This is what caused the RAND Corporation to conclude that the F-35 won't out turn, out climb or out run its potential adversaries.

But the F-35 has stealth cloaking, right? Sort of but it's only frontal aspect stealth. Enemies approaching from the front will have a harder time finding you. That does not apply, however, to fighters scanning you from the sides, above or below, or from behind. They can see you just fine. So, in the turning, climbing, diving world of air-to-air combat, the F-35's strength is gone and its weaknesses shine through.

Will the CF-35, as the USAF warns, be obsolete before it ever appears in a Canadian hangar? Yes, quite possibly. Will it remain a mediocre warplane with degraded performance? Likely. Will that be enough to make Harper steer clear of it and find something more suitable to Canada's actual needs? Hell no. Buying the F-35 is a political decision. It's American politics that has kept it on life support for so long. Canada's military wants a nice pat on the head from their American big brothers and that means flying American hardware. That means the F-35. Harper too wants to remain a member in good standing of America's aerial foreign legion. The Brits are in. Australia's in. America's in (over its head). We're in. It's what we do.

MoS, the Disaffected Lib

1 comment:

  1. I remember a colleague of mine, during a meeting for a project that had gone way over budget and was way behind schedule, saying that 'so much shit had hit the fan that the fan couldn't even turn anymore'. I suspect that this is what has happened to the F-35 project.