F-35 A-1 front end shot

WASHINGTON: Everyone now knows Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon placed far too much faith in the benefits of concurrency — that is, building production model aircraft while finishing ground and flight testing. But we’ve had relatively few data points to illustrate the issue. Thanks to a Request for Proposals issued Dec. 16, however, we now know that:

“The F-35 Joint Program Office intends to issue multiple contract modifications to the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 2 contract” to Lockheed “for retrofit modifications” the six F-35As and six F-35Bs bought in Lot 2. “These potential actions will provide for a variety of improvements to the F-35 fleet, focusing on previously documented modifications related to the maintainability of the aircraft systems. These modifications are required to extend the service life of the aircraft.”

The work should be done next year. The Lot 2 contracts were awarded beginning in May 2008. For those who may not know, the Fort Worth assembly line is already working on Lot 7 aircraft, as I saw during our tour of the assembly line last week. Issues that have shown up in testing so far have been addressed in the current batch — the 100th JSF just rolled off the production line earlier this week — but the government must go back and retrofit the Lot 2 planes to fix problems that only showed up after they were built. This is part of the very impressive $496.2 million that will pay for cost overruns on Lots1 to 3.

So, while the F-35 program is certainly in much better nick than it was two years ago when most of the new costs — mostly related to concurrency — were unveiled, this little data point demonstrates quite clearly why Adm. David Venlet told us two years ago in his exclusive interview that relying so heavily on concurrency was “a miscalculation.”

“Fundamentally, that was a miscalculation,” Venlet said at the time. “You’d like to take the keys to your shiny new jet and give it to the fleet with all the capability and all the service life they want. What we’re doing is, we’re taking the keys to the shiny new jet, giving it to the fleet and saying, ‘Give me that jet back in the first year. I’ve got to go take it up to this depot for a couple of months and tear into it and put in some structural mods, because if I don’t, we’re not going to be able to fly it more than a couple, three, four, five years.’ That’s what concurrency is doing to us.”

And it’s still doing it to us.


  • TerryTee

    The “Junk Strike Fighter” the Program that just keeps Giving & Giving the Taxpayer Much Larger bills for an already Obsolete Aircraft. At least when the Chinese stole the plans and copied it they fixed many of the problems when they released their J-31. It has 2 engines, it’s much thinner & much more aerodynamic thru the body ( F-35B fans caused increase in body thickness for STOVL, which servilely handicapped the A & C versions because of being so thick ), and it looks like it’s Carrier capable from the get go. Plus it’s supposed to Super Cruise, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

    I sure hope the Navy exercises the options for more Super Hornets next year, and upgrades their current Super Hornets with the New Options from Boeing ( Conformal Fuel tanks, new ASEA radars, more advanced IRST etc, etc. ) so we have a strong Navel Carrier Force. Considering The F-35C still can’t land on a Carrier and the new updated tail hooks doesn’t appear to be any better than their first attempt.

    • aeolus13

      You silly boy! Don’t you know that Lockheed has promised, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die, that this plane is really, really, super duper? (and they need more money for it)

      • Don Bacon

        The top four major F-35 contractors haven’t been doing badly. Their stock prices have risen over the year and are currently at near highs. From Morningstar:

        company — current price — 52-week range

        Lockheed — $144.68 — 85.88-144.93
        BAE — $27.83 — 20.33-30.24
        Northrop Grumman — $112.97 — 64.20-114.48
        Pratt&Whitney (UnitedTechnologies) — $110.95 — 80.28-112.46

    • Gary Church

      This super cruise thing is really interesting to me. If you can fly at a thousand miles an hour air refueling once an hour then you can take off from the U.S. and pretty much strike anywhere on Earth so many hours later. As long as you have a string of tankers with one every thousand miles. This kind of puts aircraft carriers out of business. If it worked like that they would be advertising it for all it is worth so I doubt the concept has merit in reality. Too bad.

    • Brandyjack

      Which is why the Air Force and Navy got over each other with the Phantom II. The Navy versions needed a stronger frame and body, and a tail hook. Ain’t no way, Air Force pilots can just jump into Carrier duty. I worked on the beast. You could almost walk to the engine fan, in the intake. The exhaust was deadly, even at a distance. Believe you do a real good impression of Superman, if the exhaust catches you. Just watch out for those little blades between the intake and the fuselage. Those be sharp and ready to open you up, they are not hand holds.

    • SMSgt Mac

      RE: “Considering The F-35C still can’t land on a Carrier and the new updated tail hooks doesn’t appear to be any better than their first attempt.”

      ….And thus we have proof-positive some people just make ‘stuff’ up.
      Over a year ago:
      “10 August 2012: First F-35C Fly-In Arrestment
      Navy Lt. Chris Tabert accomplished the first fly-in arrestment into the MK-7 arresting gear cable by an F-35C at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Using an interim arresting hook system, an engineering team composed of F-35 Joint Program Office, Naval Air Systems Command, and industry officials conducted tests to assess cable dynamics, aircraft loads, and performance on F-35C CF-3. During testing, Tabert achieved five of eight attempts into the arresting gear. Completing these tests enabled the F-35 program to improve the redesigned arresting hook system. Engineering design reviews will continue, culminating in initial sea trials projected for spring 2014.”

      The test rig only has one (vs. 2 or 3 on a carrier) and if you search around the web, you will find that the three misses were because the landing was long or short. The only change at that time was to the hook point.
      Indications are the program leveraged what they learned, fixed the Navy arresting gear model, and moved forward, as the full implementation of the new design has just passed its first test:
      “Aircraft CF-3, which is the first F-35C fitted with a production tailhook, caught an arresting wire at a shore-based test rig on Dec. 19 at the Navy’s primary flight test center according to Naval Air Systems Command. The aircraft was flow by Lt. Cmdr. Tony Wilson.”
      Use some ‘mad search engine skillz’ to look these up if you like, but feel free to stop making ‘stuff’ up. I picked this one canard because it was the easiest to disprove. Keep making ‘stuff’ up and I’ll just start working down the list.

  • Don Bacon

    One of the items needing retrofit is the upper lift fan inlet doors on the F-35B STOVL, which continue to fail to operate correctly due to poor actuator design. Crews have observed failure of the doors to close on flight test aircraft and the early LRIP aircraft at Eglin AFB during ground operations.

    If you look at the above photo you can see the white inlet fan door — likened to a ’65 Chevy hood — upraised behind the canopy. It admits air into the 50 inch vertical fan which runs off a shaft from the engine and provides downward thrust forward of the CG for vertical landing. The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem® comprises the Rolls-Royce LiftFan®, Driveshaft, 3 Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM) for the aft end and Roll Posts (downward air thrusts from the wings). This system is averaging about $25 million per in the current low rate initial production, and it’s what mandates the F-35 wide-body (and one-engine) design.

    • Don Bacon

      Okay, you come to Breaking Defense for spectacular photos, straight from the BD Special Effects Department here’s the air flow schematic from a descending F-35B.

      • Don Bacon

        Or possibly ascending. The plane (unladen) can rise vertically and then proceed horizontally. With full combat load it’s short take-off, still using the fan and nozzle swivel. (Subject to correction.)

  • Don Bacon

    The work should be done next year.

    Nobody knows. The F-35 is only halfway through development testing, the easy half, and there are many problems. It’s like a TV ad: “Wait, there’s more…”

    news report:
    The F-35 program is “really, really close” to turning the corner and becoming a truly healthy program, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer, told the Daily Report. He said he’ll be satisfied the program has really turned around . . . . after the next year or so of software and weapons testing—all the “really hard stuff” of operational testing. –Sep 19, 2013

    Don’t hold your breath, Bogdan, that “year or so” is more like five. The Block 3F software necessary for full operational testing won’t be available for at least four years, the helmet isn’t ready, nor the on-board logistics reporting system, and of course the carrier variant is really a carrier truant — not ready for prime time.

  • Gary Church

    An even worse rip-off than the V-22. Kill it and go with the silent eagle. As for super hornets; get rid of the entire carrier fleet and replace it with attack subs; the sunburn missile signal the end of the age of surface warfare. Anything floating on that flat surface is simply a target with a missile targeted on it. This is nothing new- even the Falklands taught the lesson that missiles are kamikazes- one will get through eventually.
    Even the attack sub may eventually become completely naked and detectable and be declared obsolete. But for now they are the only effective warship.

    • Pat Patterson

      BS, subs don’t do power projection. By you’re reasoning there should be no surface navies at all which is ridiculous.

      • aeolus13

        If we were China, that would be a problem, but we aren’t. The current international order is one that is really favorable to America, and we don’t need to overturn it. We just need to stop others from overturning it and replacing it with something else. Subs are great for this role.

        • Gary Church

          Attack subs are the only vessel that are presently capable of surviving for any length of time in a real war. Everything else will go down in flames in the time it takes a mach 3 anti-ship missile to reach them. “Power projection” is one of those B.S. technobabble pentagon-speak terms that has no meaning in the real world.

          • bobshankjr

            I agree.

    • Araya

      The sunburn the end of the surface warfare? Sorry but you’re exaggerating immeasurably the SS-N-22 is a fast Anti-Ship Missile but also big and hot from the early 1980 since them the USA has was able even acquired Sunburns for study and testing and a lot of countermeasures there take to counter this threat for example the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile how can be fired in large numbers and maneuver up to 50g was put in service also the RAM System as CIW replace or support was fielded and the ECM Abilities and Countermeasures of all Surface Ships improved like as the early warning and guiding systems of the long range defense missile’s to combat the sunburn for example the SM6 was recently put into service. So the SM6 can be guided by the Data form an E2-D and hit so the incoming Sunburn far beyond the Line-of-sight propagation of the surface Radar systems. The SS-N-22 was during the Cold War and the early nineties a threat much bigger them the Chinese ASBMs today but the USA/NATO have learn to deal with. Today an enemy how will fire is sunburns one a US Carrier Group has to overcome a lot of obstacles so he has to locate the carrier group first, then he has to conduct a massive attack against the Group the Soviets have trained such massive attacks in the late eighties with poor results so they there unable to coordinate and guide their forces effectively. But even the enemy is able to successfully start a massive attack against a carrier Group he has to penetrate the Overlapping defense of the Carrier Group. First he has to deal with the Early Warning System with other Words the E2C/D how are likely to recognize incoming enemy Fighter or Surface Ships far before they can fire there Sunburns them this happen the Attacker will have to fight against the F18 E/F and hopefully against the F35C and F35B. Them they beat the first defense line and are able to fire there missiles the real fun begins only because why the sunburns will have first to survive a massive wave of SM6 and SM2 Missiles and at a distance of 50 kilometer they have to deal with the much faster and maneuverable ESSMs how can fire in large Numbers and the few surviving sunburns will have also to penetrate the last line of defense formed by strong ECM, ECM Decoys, Chaff and Flares as Hundreds of RAM Missiles and Thousands of CIW Projectiles fired form the close defense systems of the carrier and is escort.

      The Soviet Plan in the late 1980 was to saturate the US Defense Systems with hundreds of Anti-Ship Missiles in order to destroy just one carrier Group at this time the US Navy had just Phalanx CIWs, inaccurate Sea Sparrow Missile, SM1 Missiles and a handful of first generation Aegis Cruiser without VLS System’s. No the sunburn is no longer a Game-Changer and the low hazard for Surface Combatant’s the real capability gap of the US Navy are the limited ASW Skills especially against quiet diesel-electric submarines like as a credible countermeasure against enemy torpedo’s. The Offensive Capabilities are also to carrier based so the largest part of DDG51 didn’t have Anti-Ship Missiles and depend completely one the firepower of the few Carriers. I hope what the LRASM will become operational and finally feel this gap. Personally if I had the power rebuild the US Navy I would make the fallowing decision.

      1. First I will Immediately Kill the LCS Program and use the funds for the LCS
      to upgrade all existing Surface Combatants with state of art weapons expectedly Anti-ship Missiles for example the LRASMs for any DDG51 and Cruiser and buy the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) for smaller ships like the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for the F35C and B this should be enough to close the offensive fire Power gab of the US Navy.

      2. Second I start separately a Program for the replacement of the outdated US Frigates with a military version of existing National Security Cutter it will a half of a LCS but it will be fully seaworthy and easy to arm with 8 to 16 Naval Strike Missile, a bigger Gun like as a Ram Systems for close Defense and 12 VLS Cells with 48 ESSMs. The Unite price should be around 700 Million Dollar them you include the Weapons and buy 30 to 40 of them.

      3. Third I will do everything to accelerate the production rate of the Virginia Class from 2 to 3 later them possible 4 Units per Year in order to hold the actual strength of the US submarine fleet of 55 SSNs.

      4. Fourth I will also buy 30 Type 214 German SSKs for regional/forward deployment in order to deter the growing Chinese Red Fleet. The Type 214 is widely considered as the most advance conventional attack submarine and it is also proved and in compare to a Virginia class Submarine with just 330 Million dollar peer Unit cheaper them a National Security Cutter or a useless LCS.

      5. I will also restart the production of the DDG1000 in a better armed version in order to replacement the Ticonderoga-class Cruiser in proportion 1 to 1.

      6. I will procure more F35B for operation form LHA6 Class Ships, the America class can be used as a Sea-control Ship and will help to relieve the relatively small fleet of US Super carriers.

      7. In order to give the USMC a powerful but also cheap landing Ships I will also buy 20 Absalom-class support ship how coast just 400 Million dollar each and nearly completely based on US Technology but are strong armed with 16 ESSM Missiles, 8 Harpoon Missiles, Torpedo Launcher, 1X Mark-45 Canon, 2X Sky shield CIWS and a Helicopter Hangar for 2 ASW helicopters and more important they are able to carry up to 55 Combat Vehicle including 7 MBTs and this by a maximum range of 9000 nautical miles.

      As result the Navy will finally have around 10-11 Carriers, 5-6 LHA-6, 22 DDG1000, 72-82 DDG51,30-40 Frigates, 55 or more SSNs, 30 SSKs with other words around 224 to 246 Combat Ships for High Intensity Warfare. Additionally 12 San Antonio-Class Amphibious Transport Docks, 8 Wasp-Class Amphibious Assault Ships and 20 Absalom-class Support ships what makes additional 40 Combat and Support ships.

  • FrakU

    F-16’s were crashing and pilots were dying and this was after it had been cleared to enter service! Like the F-16, and every other fighter (except for the F-5) there are “teething” problems. We’re not building bicycles here folks. And then there’s the worst thing to ever happened to fighter design – POLITICS! The F-35 will be alright but for now just hold on to your butts! There’s going to be more issues to tackle for the next few years…

    • Matthew McAllum


    • aeolus13

      As far as I know, nobody’s worried about the teething problems. That’s to be expected in any new product. We’re actually worried because we’re going to blow 1.5 trillion on an airplane that will be inferior to its Chinese and Russian competitors from the moment it enters service.

      • Don Bacon

        IOW Col. John Boyd didn’t design it and General Dynamics didn’t build it, as with the F-16.

        • Marauder 2048

          What Boyd “designed” was never put into production; the F-16 was and is a very different beast though the General Dynamics portion of LockMart is building the JSF.

          • Gary Church

            Yes; the original F-16 was pure hot rod and did not have radar or bomb racks- it was meant to be cheap enough to be built in the thousands and was designed with such overwhelming performance in air to air combat that it was really meant to do only one thing; sweep the enemy air force from the skies. Our air force took it and added tons to it and made it more expensive which was probably a big relief to the soviets.

      • Douglas Paul Cox

        Why would it be inferior? Does anyone really believe that the Chinese or Russians can develop and build more stealth aircraft (like the PAK FA) faster and cheaper than Lockheed developed and built the F-22?

        • Gary Church

          No one believed the Japanese could build the zero. The main opponents to this Mitsubishi product in the first months of the war were P-39’s and P-40’s and when they tried to go high they were coffins because of poor performance at altitude. The Allison engine was one of the greatest allies the axis ever had. It ultimately made the P-38 far less effective than it could have been with Packard Merlins- the engine that made the P-51 a winner. The Russians have built things that we were not happy to see over the last half century; no reason for them and the Chinese to stop raining on our parade. It’s a business after all.

          • Blair Maynard

            From Wikipedia,
            “The V-1710 has often been criticized for not having a “high-altitude” supercharger. The comparison is usually to the later, two-stage, versions of the Rolls-Royce Merlin built by Packard as the V-1650 and used in the P-51B Mustang and subsequent variants. The USAAC had specified that the V-1710 was to be a single-stage supercharged engine and, if a higher altitude capability was desired, the aircraft could use their newly developed turbosupercharger as was featured in the P-37, P-38, and XP-39.” If this is true, it appears that the USAAC had not adequately funded or had not wished to buy an engine as expensive as the Merlin. Weapon design deficiencies cant always be blamed on the manufacturer. Certainly, the U.S. underestimated the Japanese fighter designs prior to WW2 and the implication would be that as a consequence the procurement of cheaper inferior aircraft was a natural result of this.

          • Gary Church

            The Allison was junk. They tried everything- some of the engineers who were in on the beginning of the space age cut their teeth on trying to make it better; they failed.

            The P-38 was anything but cheap- it was a very expensive plane. So I do not believe your points are valid.

    • Gary Church

      The 16’s crashed because of cheap wiring and it took an air force widow taking the government to court to fix it according to the movie I watched. I actually worked on some of this brand of wiring on another plane and the people responsible should have went to prison. But as far as I know no one even lost their job.

      Yes, these machines all have problems but making the generalization that people dying is a necessary part of this is really messed up. Don’t do that.

  • Jack Everett

    Get rid of this obsolete piece of crap and make the Pentagon start being responsible with the way it wastes our money.

    • bobshankjr

      Agreed. Why should the American (Allied) tax-payer support an ill-conceived, under-engineered, WAY over-priced multi-billion dollar aircraft to exert itself in WHAT aerial combat against, uh, WHICH nation who wants to dog-fight it’s way into international supremacy?? Subs have every weapon conceivable to thwart any foreign invasion, and then some, from thousands of miles away from harm and with no human pilot. And now, we have remote-controlled, ARMED drones launchable from any ship at sea within distance of ANY foreign port, and scalable for defense to ANY domestic territory, launched from, like ANYWHERE? Who’s holding the collusional brain in his/her hand for this vastly over-rated military boondoggle?? Get your sh_t together, people!!

  • Don Bacon

    The new FY2014 budget is out. Modification costs are: procurement $336m, R&D $33m.

    on the planes:
    Table A-9. Congressional Action on Selected FY2014 Aircraft and Long-Range Missile Programs: Authorization
    type & quantity, procurement and R&D in millions of dollars

    F-35A — 19 — proc 3,424.5 — R&D 816.3 = $180m per plane procurement
    F-35B — 6 — 1,370.4 — 512.6 =$ 228
    F-35C — 4 — 1,230.3 — 534.2 =$ 307

    Notice the costs per plane at around two hundred million, the Navy’s regular token buy of 4 at 307 million dollars per plane.
    Plus they’re still spending big bucks for development, a total of $1.8 billion which includes testing.

    • Another Guest (from Australia)

      @ Don Bacon,
      Wasn’t the F-35A’s type & quantity, procurement and R&D of $223.2M each?

  • Brandyjack

    The Marines and Navy tend to go for newer things, the V-22. While the Osprey ain’t the best, it is better and provides an in service profile and experience. It will probably have a short life, like the Marine’s Ontos and Army Gamma Goat. The Navy has good and valid reasons for the Super Hornet. After all, the Navy carried the weigh of the F-4, Phantom II after the Air Force dropped out. Call that a waste? The Navy has one up on all the ‘anti-shipping” missiles producers. Experience in the Deep Blue. The Ocean has surprises all the time. Ask any experienced sailor. Yes, there are wastes. The Concurrent development of the F-35. The Air Force wanted a new super sonic fighter, and didn’t want to foot the bill. So, play politics and propose a single aircraft for all the Services, and only pay a little. Same stunt they pulled with the F-4. Give the Army the A-10, and let the Air Force play DoD Airlines. Dump the over priced main battle tank, and let the Marine Corps find a smaller, more versatile armored vehicle for its style of operations.

    • Gary Church

      “Dump the over priced main battle tank,”

      That tells me you do not have a clue; the main battle tank is THE weapon that we need far more than the other toys. There is no substitute for heavy armor. None.

      • Brandyjack

        Read the rest.. The Marines do not need a main battle tank as their primary tracked weapon. Something more on the order of the M-48 or M-60, smaller and probably with latest technology as fast and deadly as the M-1. The Marines need a lighter tracked vehicle, that doesn’t take up space on a ship, and easier to off load for amphibious operations. The Army needs the M-1 and tracked artillery for warfare. I referred to the Ontos. Check out that mean,little tracked vehicle. You want to discuss ground with 6, 120mm, recoil-less rifles. Since McNamara’s Whiz Kids got into the Pentagon, a lot of things have not changed for the better. Remember, they wanted body counts after operations to Quantify the success of the overall tactics and strategy. That silliness has continued to today. Quality is secondary to Quantity, since the latter is easier to put into a calculator or computer.

        • Gary Church

          I did read it. Funny you mention the M-48; I was in the last cavalry unit to use the M-48A5. The tankers loved it because it had a Ma deuce instead of the turtleback turret on the 60 and it had a machine gun for the loader hatch. Funny how little details endear a piece of equipment. The reason this unit did not use 60’s is the terrain we operated over was mountainous and the couple extra tons actually made the transmissions fail much faster so the lighter vehicles were retained. I was also stationed at the Armor Center at Fort Knox for a awhile and guess who we trained back then? All the Marine Corps Tankers. The Corps has excellent tank crewman. With tanks it is about the armor. There is no doubt you are going toe to toe so taking a hit is the entire rationale behind ARMOR. While the M-1 has a crummy engine that can be fixed. What should not be fixed is the ability to take hits from RPG’s and IEDs and anything else and have a live crew at the end of the day.

    • Gary Church

      “While the Osprey ain’t the best, it is better and provides an in service
      profile and experience. It will probably have a short life-”

      While my first tour was in the army in armor, I spent most of my time in as a helicopter mechanic/aircrewman; IMO the Osprey is junk. It has a very limited role as a medevac because it is faster than a helo but it is useless for anything else. For the vast treasure spent a huge fleet of real helicopters could be had and that would probably save far more lives by ending the battle quickly.

      • Blair Maynard

        You really have no clue about battlefield tactics do you? The Osprey is being adopted by the Marines because it allows an assault group greater standoff during an assault from sea to land. It allows a sea-based landing forcer greater choice of targets, the ability to attack quicker and minimizing an enemy’s chance to reposition it forces to defend against the attack, greater ability to skirt the most lethal areas, it allows an attacking force to spend less time in vulnerable transportation mode, etc. The Osprey may have been born from the Iran debacle, but the Marines want it to allow their sea-borne attacks to succeed and to keep the Naval support force safe.

        As far as “limited role” as medevac. Medevac???? Are you joking? Seriously you only see medevac versions of helicopters at the Paris Airshow. That is because in battle, even sometimes in peace, when you have a wounded soldier who cant be patched up in-situ, it means he or she probably doesn’t have much time to live, so he or she has to be put on the nearest rotorcraft and sent back to medical care immediately. In a large action, there would likely be a constant flow of rotorcraft from near to safe rear areas of the battle. So what is needed is not a “medevac version” of a rotorcraft, what is needed is a rotorcraft RIGHT THERE RIGHT NOW. This would likely be one already there bringing in supplies or reinforcements. Then this same rotorcraft would have to get back to fleet fast and possibly a long way because the Marines would want to keep any medical vessel a safe distance away to avoid enemy land-based aircraft, littoral threats, or land-to-sea defenses. Now if you can come up with another cheaper aircraft that could do all this as well as the V-22, let us know about it.

        P.S. Oh and don’t forget the crew members or passengers in the rotorcraft who might get hurt. Did you hear about this incident in South Sudan. Apparently one of the four SEALS who was hit got it in the femoral artery and only survived because he got to surgeons 650 miles away in Entebbe fast. Maybe he would have survived in a Blackhawk or Chinook, but if someone cut your femoral artery and you had your choice of a Blackhawk, Chinook, or V-22 to fly you to a hospital 650 kilometers away to a surgical center, which would you choose? Or would you prefer to wait for someone to call in a specially equipped medevac version?


        • Gary Church

          “Now if you can come up with another cheaper aircraft that could do all this as well as the V-22, let us know about it.”

          It costs way too much and is a maintenance nightmare- it cannot be justified. That is if it was not a project shot through and through with pay-offs, lies, and corruption all the way up to the last GAO review.

  • Marauder 2048

    Concurrency is awful: it produced disasters like the B-29, the U-2, the SR-71, the F-117 and the F-22. Clearly, it has no place in the development of advanced military aircraft.

    • Gary Church

      Just for the sake of argument;
      The engines of the B-29 overheated and many were lost because of this seemingly simple problem that could not really be fixed though many modifications were made. The U-2 was dangerous to fly just like the SR-71; both had a tendency to go out of control and planes were lost. The F-117 was super delicate and killed pilots because it flew only at night; the army has a wall with about a hundred names on it from the night vision goggle implementation and the air force went through the same deadly stage of development. And the F-22?; so incredibly expensive that we could not buy enough of them to make a difference.

      No military aircraft, vessel, or vehicle is perfect.

      • Jacobite

        But assuming a absence of corruption if these vehicles failed evaluations surely they would not enter service? Its a bit late to change the design when mass production has started. What is the point of further testing when they your production model relies on fielding them anyway.

        • Gary Church

          The V-22 has failed in just about every possible way and is making big money for the defense industry. Pathetic.

    • SMSgt Mac

      Marauder nailed it. EVERY US post-WW2 fighter and most WW2 bomber and fighter aircraft were developed with varying degrees of concurrency. I defy anyone to provide an example otherwise.

      ‘Concurrency’ as an accounting scam was created by bean-counters who from their ivory tower demand no uncertainties exist before production begins (Seriously, read GAO some reports). As such it has been picked up by the political class as a tool for obfuscation and worse. As practiced by the people who have to actually field weapon systems, Concurrency is a tool for finding and solving problems faster.
      EVERY post-WW2 and most WW2 bomber and fighter was developed with varying degrees of concurrency, most far higher than what we have going with the F-35 at this time.

      The F-35 is even less concurrent than the F-16 and F-18 if one measures number of aircraft built prior to baseline objectives.

      There were 291 F-16 Block 1 and 5 deliveries before the first ‘nominally’ useful Block 10 was built. To keep perspective, the YF-16’s first flight (official) was Feb 74, and the first definitive and fully capable Block 30/32 F-16s for the US first flew Feb 87. Counting all partner nation deliveries, about 1800(!!!) F-16s were delivered before the fully capable Block 30/32s. Until the Block 30, all the capabilities of the F-16 were less than what was envisioned by the planners (just not the so-called ‘Reformers’). The Block 30s were the first F-16s with full Beyond Visual Range-engagement and night/precision ground/maritime attack capabilities. they were the first with full AIM-7/AMRAAM/AGM-65D/HARM capabilities. First with Seek Talk secure voice communications, etc. Until Block 30/32, the F-16 was mostly just a hot rod for knife fighting on nice days. At Block 30/32 and beyond, it was what the users wanted in the first place.
      Fielding 1800 F-16s aircraft before you reach a ‘baseline’ in Block 30/32? 13 YEARS after first flight? –Now THAT is ‘concurrent development’.
      BTW: Anyone who says the F-16 upgrades ruined the weapon system never had to fly it in combat.

      Some lesser minds might also attempt to point out that at least those early Block F-16s were somewhat ‘combat capable. vs. Block 1 or 2 F-35’s. I would point out that is a matter of choice by the F-35 Partners more than a limitation of the aircraft development.

      • Gary Church

        “Anyone who says the F-16 upgrades ruined the weapon system never had to fly it in combat.”
        Just a hot rod for knife fighting on nice days was the original design by Boyd. Nobody flew the original design in combat so you are right- no one ever had to fly it in combat.

        The plane was designed for one mission and was bastardized to take on others.

        • SMSgt Mac

          The mythical Boyd created in the mind Robert Coram may have designed the original F-16 concept. But the real Boyd visualized and brought forward a way designers and operators viewed used E-M to the purpose of building and flying them better. Boys was at the center of a group of people who came up with design REQUIREMENTS, none of whom EVER designed diddly. Almost everything ‘great you read about Boyd that doesn’t involve OODA Loop or E-M is pure fabrication–which is unfortunate because E-M was enough to establish both him and his work as noteworthy. It should also be noted here that Boyd had zero experience in A2A combat between missile-armed aircraft, and his penchant for insisting radars were useless had been overtaken by technology before he ever got ‘famous’. If you have access to a technical library, I suggest you read (for starters)AIRCRAFT CONCEPT DESIGN PERFORMANCE VISUALIZATION USING AN ENERGY-MANEUVERABILITY PRESENTATION; Timothy T. Takahashi; AIAA 2012-5704, ADVANCED FIGHTER AGILITY METRICS; Andrew M. Skow, Willlam L. Hamilton, John H. Taylor; AIAA-A85-47027, EVALUATION OF FUNCTIONAL AGILITY METRICS FOR FIGHTER CLASS AIRCRAFT; Brian W. Cox, Dr. David R. Downing; AIAA-92-4487-CP. If you don’t have such access, just search the web for “A Backgrounder on Energy-Maneuverability” for an overview of the technical principles, or, for a broader overview of the principals involved, to include Boyd, search “The Reformers John T. Correll”

          • Gary Church

            zero experience in combat between missile-armed aircraft; noted. He came up with the requirements and did not design it; noted.
            That has no meaning; very few people pilots have been in air to air combat and such personal experience is not a prerequisite for designing, I mean, specifying REQUIREMENTS.

            I am not familiar with any “penchant for insisting radars are useless.” His reasoning was that for a knife fight on a nice day you only needed to detect the other fighters radar.

          • Gary Church

            Actually Mac, you seem to know alot more about it than I do. I am just arguing for the sake of arguing. Thank you for citing those references. I have considered it a given that in the event of major hostilities there will be tanks, fighter bombers, and so many infantry involved no one would believe it now; maybe for Monte Cassino in 1944. Whoever we end up fighting in the next quarter century will have some kind of advantage and I am thinking more and more it will be a denial of air power through various air defense weapons that are progressively improved in accuracy using new technology.

  • ORION5

    As I recall, the last time that the Pentagon tried to develop an airctaft for more than one service it was the F-111. It had a short service life and was a disaster for the Navy. Different requirements require different aircraft.
    As for the tank requirements, I hope we never again have to fight an extended ground war. I see no reason for it.
    Though other nations seek nuclear wheapons, I believe we no longer need them, except for deterence. During WW II we sent massive bomber raids over cities hoping that one of those bombs would land on an aircraft or tank factory. With the event of THE BOMB we could accomplish the same effect with ONE bomb. Now we can drop conventional whepons that can be targeted within a couple feet of what they were aimed at.

    • Jacobite

      What the F111 was a great plane with exceptional range, payload capacity and internal weapons bays (only other US fighter with that is F22), it was in service from the 60s to about 2000 which is 40 years, 2010 for RAAF, 40-50 years is hardly a short service life.

      During operation desert storm 66 F111Fs dropped 80% of laser-guided bombs and destroyed more than 1,500 iraqi tanks/armoured vehicles, the Electronic warfare variant were vital to the Supression of Enemey Air Defences through jamming. The soviet union really feared them.

      Now the Starfighter, Lockheads last big plane they tried selling to nato was a complete disaster, I believe most of germanies crashed, highly underperforming. The F22 was too, underperformed, overbudget!

      • Another Guest (from Australia)

        @ Jacobite,

        You can find out why Australia should’ve retained the F-111 fleet http://www.ausairpower.net/pig.html. Indeed the F-111 was a great warplane with exceptional long range, payload capacity and internal weapons bays. The decision to retire the F-111 has been neither popular, nor widely accepted as necessary in the expert community. Built in the late 1960s, the F-111 is a contemporary of the US B-52H and B-1B bombers, both of which the US Air Force intends to operate well past 2030. None of the arguments presented by Defence in Federal Parliament to justify the early retirement of the F-111 were successfully defended in the public debate, as none were truthful.

        • Another Guest (from Australia)

          @ Jacobite,

          You can say the F-111 is a very difficult aircraft to replace that no other aircraft has exceptional long range and payload capacity.

          • Jacobite

            Its a real shame, the only way to truly replace the plane in it’s role and capabilities would be to design a new plane as no production plane matches its capabilities (range/payload) even when you exclude internal weapons carriage. Upgrading the F111 and keeping them in service to say 2020 would have easily given enough time (13years) for a new plane to be designed and fielded (it took about half that time[8 yrs] to get to the moon).

            Australia could have collaborated with one or more of the numerous states (japan, south korea, india, russia, turkey even china) whom are developing 5th generation fighters on either a long-range/high-capacity bomber (f111 replacement) and/or long range fighter. Furthermore numerous companies have privately funded advanced fighter programs or are trying to develop them (i.e. boeings next generation fighter for Carriers, or SAAB wanting to create a new fighter capable of taking on the PAKFA.).

            But they didn’t even consider this option, instead preferring to buy overpriced foreign rubbish. Interestingly JDAM ER reportably has a range of upto 80KM but a more advanced powered version launched at mach2+ might have a range of say 120KM+ and something like the SBDII even further, putting it out of range of most SAMs and giving it a strong stand of weapon with ‘the range of a missile’.

      • ycplum

        The F-111 was a failure in that it did not do everything it was intended to do. To be fair, some nutcase wanted it to do EVERYTHING.

        It was excellent for what you described, but it was originally intended to do double duty as a heavy fighter. I think it only shot down one enemy aircraft and only because it flew unkownly infront of a FB-111 returning to base.
        PS. You forgot about the EF-111 Raven. I always like that one.

  • Ken Miller

    This type of procurement CAN be successful. It’s not all that different than what Rickover did with the timelines for the Idaho prototype and Nautilus. That said, though, there are big differences. You cannot use “fire and forget” management with this. Rickover was involved in every last detail of both projects, from logistics to engineering. He turned his gross personality defects into a successful program. That’s the level of attention that’s required for something like this.

    • Gary Church

      “He turned his gross personality defects into a successful program.”

      If he wasn’t a Jew he would have been hailed as Mahan, Fisher, and John Paul Jones all rolled into one. The most influential naval officer in history.