Aerial refueling of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters at Eglin AFB, Fla.

For years, the news about the most expensive conventional weapons system in US history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been driven by its soaring costs, technical problems and schedule screw-ups. The government and Congress and the public rarely speak about what the F-35 will do, how effectively it could destroy an enemy’s air defenses, shoot down an enemy plane, or find and strike other high value targets.

As the first variant to be ready for combat, the Marine Corps F-35B, approaches what is known as its Initial Operating Capability and prepares to make its first flights outside the United States in the UK this July, Air Force Gen. Mike Hostage, who will command the largest group of F-35s in the world, sat down in his office at Langley Air Force Base to discuss what the F-35 can do in the first 10 days of war — within the constraints of what is classified — and in the case of this weapon, much of what it does remains highly classified.

I spoke with dozens of experts in the government, the defense industry and academia about likely scenarios for the F-35 and to flesh out some of its capabilities. This is the main piece we’re running this week about the F-35, based on my interview with Gen. Hostage and those other experts. The second piece deals with the cyber and electronic warfare capabilities of the F-35.

The issue of how effective the F-35 would be in a classic dogfight often arises. Gen. Hostage noted during our interview that the F-35 pilot who engages in a dogfight has either made a mistake or been very unlucky. Shooting down other planes using kinetics is only one role of the F-35. Perhaps air forces around the world are going to have to come up with a new honor other than ace to define those who fly the F-35. What should a pilot be awarded for outsmarting the best air defense systems in the world or injecting something like Stuxnet into the enemy’s command and control system? So much of what this aircraft will do has nothing to do with shooting down another pilot that we may need a new term. 

LANGLEY AFB: After months of name-calling and increasingly aggressive sea and air patrols around the Senkaku and Spratly islands, a Chinese frigate rams and sinks a Japanese Aegis ship patrolling near Uotsuri Jima on Christmas Eve 2021. Is it accidental? Irrelevant. After repeated provocations and increasingly shrill pronouncements by Chinese leaders, the Japanese people have had enough. Japan scrambles fighters and bombers to protect the Senkaku Islands, Okinawa, and the rest of its southern and western flanks. In response, China’s most capable aircraft carrier deploys fighters from just outside Japanese territorial waters.

After decades of sporadic but increasingly violent confrontations, these actions finally prompt Japan to invoke its mutual defense treaty with the United States. As several hundred Chinese J-20s are scrambled and streak toward the Japanese islands, more than 500 F-35s from the US, Korea and Japan join 70 F-22s roaring off flight lines from across the Pacific. US Air Force F-35As take off from hardened air bases in Japan and a now-unified Korea. Roughly half the F-35B fleet in the region zoom off from ships and locations scattered across the Pacific where they have been moved far from hardened facilities as tensions rose. A small force of F-35Cs join Growlers and F/A-18 Super Hornets fly picket for the three US carrier groups operating in the region. The bulk of the F-35C force sits ready on the three flight decks, ready as a reserve force, along with the half of the allied force’s F-35Bs poised on highways and ships scattered across the Pacific theater.


  • ELP

    Oh really? Physics is not classified. (Google: Assessing Joint Strike Fighter Defence Penetration Capabilities ). No F-35 has passed OPEVAL or an operational readiness inspection. This will not happen for years; if ever. Or as someone once said, “You say you have something better than ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Gone With the Wind’, yet your record is ‘Ishtar’ and ‘Howard the Duck’. You will have to do better than, ‘trust us’ and ‘it’s classified’. I had to check the link at the top of the browser. I thought I somehow got onto the ‘Second Line of Defense’ website, or worse, ‘The Lexington Institute’. but oh my gosh, I am not. Of the 3 aircraft highlighted above, only the F-22 has a chance of survival. You see, back in the ATF days (which became today’s F-22), red-force analysts discovered that stealth for stealth’s sake was not good enough, you needed extreme high-altitude and speed in order to foil the no-escape-zone solutions of many kinds of threats. The F-22 is there specifically to clear the high-end threats. Without that, there is no air supremacy. The JSF Joint Operational Requirement Document (JORD), composed in the 1990’s and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade assumed that there would be hundreds of combat-capable F-22s to take on those chores. We all know how that turned out. As an aside, the red threats that are building out there are gaming to beat the F-22. Do that to enough capability and you have the F-35 dead. Easy. If someday when there is an operationally representative F-35, it has to, in practice combat, beat the F-22 and the Typhoon (representing something close to SU-35 ability and similar). Do that, and you have something. Now, as an aside, Industry (you know which one) has been marketing the F-35 as a go-it-alone combat aircraft (2007 brief to Israel et al). By virtue of the JSF JORD (and from what we see today), that is not so. We have a lot of talented people building the wrong aircraft. We need them to be building the right aircraft. That is the fix. A painful fix. But less painful than what is not too far in the distance. Remember, the Death Star was too big to fail.

    • lightning_bolt

      Yes, by all means. The death spiral is so strong that the JSF would be sucked into the black hole that it has created. Just look at what has happened in the last few months. First the South Koreans refused to buy the F-35, then the turkish backed out from the 100 F-35 they had always planned on ordering, and now the news that Australians are buying second hand eurofighters instead of the F-35A’s. With so many cancellations the F-35 is falling like a house of cards.

      • billy

        ….”and now the news that Australians are buying second hand eurofighters instead of the F-35A’s.”

        Where do you get this news from?

        • SMSgt Mac

          It’s called ‘sarcasm’ Billy. The only response suitable to the drivel that called for it.

          • billy

            It seems some people have turned drivel into a tag-team event. They have drivel conversations with each other.

          • ELP

            F-35 fan base.

          • eric_palmer

            Delusional armchair general+stealth expert+testing expert+ Fake secdef but basically an expert in searching the internet and having 6-8 hours on a daily basis to look for f-35 articles on the net. The bad ones get copy pasted on the blog, the good ones get trolled.

          • Bat Man

            General Hostage?

          • Mehmet

            Thanks for the comments. In the meantime you can take a look at some kewl F-35 photos:

            F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Pictures

    • eric_palmer

      So the F-35 will never pass OPEVAL. Ready to stand by it, or would it be just like the other NOT EVER comment you have made in the past about trapping on a carrier.

      • ELP

        Could not find a name yourself to troll with?

        • eric_Palmer

          its the best name a troll could possibly acquire. And why was your last post only 3 lines? Don’t you have an entire word document to copy / paste?

    • Peter_Goon

      What is obvious to all, Eric, is how the JSF fanbase is only able “to play the man, not the ball”, that hoary old logical fallacy known as “Argumentum ad Hominem”.

      They have been doing it and relying on other logical fallacies such as “Appeal to Authority” and “Straw Man” for years.

      Why is that?

      Because that’s all they have got since the F-35 JSF Program and the resulting aircraft designs are based on logical fallacies and bullshit a.k.a “a total indifference to what is real”.

      Let’s see what SgtMac and others have to say about the following statement by Gen Mike Hostage:

      “Because it [the F-35A JSF] can’t turn and run away, it’s got to have support from other F-35s. So I’m going to need eight F-35s to go after a target that I might only need two Raptors to go after.”

      • jensen

        Buddy, where is your submission to parliament committee this year? repsim have done AWAL too

      • R Valencia

        Hello Peter Goon.

        General Mike Hostage On The F-35 vs F-16

        But Hostage says, as do other senior Air Force and Marine officers, that an F-35 pilot who engages in a dogfight has probably made a mistake or has already broken through those IADS lanes and is facing a second wave of enemy aircraft. The F-35, he says, has “at least” the maneuverability and thrust and weight of the F-16. The F-35 is to the F-22 as the F-16 is to the F-15.

        F-35 is not F-22, but it’s on par with F-16.

        Your bull$hiting again Peter.



  • truth-be-told

    There should be a countdown to see how fast Eric runs to every article written about the JSF with the same nonsense. He should be allowed to compete with his personal bests and there should be a award for him at the end of the year. Perhaps then he can stake his claim to be an expert, other than someone who has way more free time then anyone else on the net

    • billy

      Do not be surprised if their time isn’t “free”. Do not be surprised if these clowns are being paid to spend so much time denigrating the JSF. I think the Chinese are terrified of this aircraft.

    • ELP

      Says the nameless internet troll.

      • truth-be-told

        Says the Shadow_secretary of defense of an Aussie basement.

  • mac&cheese

    In the race between ELP and DON BACON, ELP has won. Perhaps the DON is a late riser.

    • @notrizzo

      Where is Gary? Either the moderators blocked him or his meds finally kicked in…

      • billy

        Drowning his sorrows in a bar in his local Chinatown.

        • Super-stealth-expert

          Garry has been given the “space X” department these days, so he is no longer attached to the JSF side of the business

          • billy


      • mac&cheese

        Its Friday, Garry gets the weekend, Eric and Don hold the fort on friday’s

        • ELP

          Nameless Internet Troll — (anyone counting?)

          • billy

            I can count a few in here. And you’re one of them.

          • ELP

            The difference is, people know who I am. You are who, exactly…other than a nameless troll?

          • billy

            Yeah,I’m just looking at your followers. A journalist from Taiwan. Someone else called Tanaka who prowls internet forums and says one word “hai”, a guy called triple 555 who has made one comment (and that’s in Chinese) and someone else with a name in Chinese characters. Wu-mao.

          • eric_palmer

            That’s true. People know who you are and can ignore you from the start. Good point.

  • CharleyA

    And yet the US Navy seems pretty clear that F-35 by itself will not be enough to defeat emerging defenses. So who do you believe? When the JSF program was being run by USAF officers, lots of misinformation about the aircraft was promulgated, from its projected cost (remember $35M URFC?) to schedules (now 8 years or so late.) It took leadership from a Navy officer, VADM Venlet, to resurrect this program and get it back on track. USAF LTG Bogdan continues the progress made under Venlet’s watch – interesting that Bogdan is not from the tactical fighter community, but I digress. The point is that USAF leadership will do and say anything to protect their precious F-35 – even retiring whole fleets of perfectly good aircraft that are viable to 2028.

    LM and its surrogates have been pumping out a lot of PR of late, and feeding articles to various friendly news sources, so something is up. Whether it is an attempt to eliminate competition in the domestic market (by trying to influence the closing of the SH/Growler line) or to secure a few more orders for FY15, its hard to tell. I’d like to see what the next lot negotiated price will be….

    • @notrizzo

      It’s important to note the different number of aircraft that will be available to a USN commander vs a USAF one, with deck space for only ~40 or so strike aircraft (and no F-22s like the USAF) you have to solve that 8 F-35s for 2 F-22s problem differenently. One key way to do that is with the Growler.
      Different problems, different solutions.


    General Hostage is not America’s strategist. He is running a program, and is such is its advocate. Much of the talk about what is essentially tactics (“taking out IADS”) has to do with invading the Chinese mainland — which is insane. It is not General Hostage’s choice; it’s the President’s. And whatever we do, it’s going to be joint — and joint takes careful preparation, not rushing off into the blue upon first shots. Of course, we lived all across the Cold War expecting the Soviet surprise attack. They didn’t — and they had their own mobilization problems. Please give me a theory of deterrence against the Chinese like we worked on in the Cold War. So far, I’ve seen nothing — just weenies at low levels doing tactics.

    • Mike

      Mr. Gaffney,

      I’m reminded of the rise of gold during the Star War’s period as that “Window of Vulnerability” was closing….. Then came April 11th, 1987 and gold fell as the Soviet Union went financially bust and the Cold War ended….

      China is really simple… Stop buying their products….. It appears that an increasing number of ordinary Americans are” connecting the dots” and buying “Made in America” over “Made in China”… I believe we are far and above their biggest client……

      • H. H. GAFFNEY

        You’ll just have to talk to American businessmen about that. There have been no Chinese salesmen in America (though they may be trying to make investments here now); only American buyers going to China since it “costs too much” to make things here — got to pay people here a living wage, which they do not like to do — cuts into the bosses’ bonuses.

        • Mike

          Cycles sir, cycles….. I believe we are simply repeating the Long Wave Kondrotiev Cycle of 1929-1982 and the new cycle began with the latest Stock Market Crash and Depression of October 2007, under those other darlings of the Republican/CUW world, Cheney/bush…

          As customers stop buying their Chinese products, they will revert to rebuilding the American factories. Either that or other American businessmen will replace them….

          Americans are, in ever increasing numbers, following the dots and that is good for America… Similar things happened as we clawed our way out of the Republican brought Depression
          of the 1930’s And with those changes, American wages will begin to increase, “for the good of America” and income inequality will drop much as it also did in the above time frame…

    • SMSgt Mac

      “Not America’s stragegist”? He pretty much has the final say when it comes to Tacair, and he doesn’t run a program (not a PEO). As per his AF Bio:

      “Gen. Mike Hostage is Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. As the commander, he is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining combat-ready forces for rapid deployment and employment while ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime defense.”
      At his level, national strategists describe their needs to him to find out what is ‘possible’. Together they iteratively shape the strategy around the realities and then he takes those strategies and translates them into capabilities that will suit/support the strategy.

  • PolicyWonk

    So sayeth the General – and what an inspiring story about the mighty F-35!

    However: all is not ducky with the F-35, here’s the bad news.

    • JimBobJoe

      Good article. Still waiting for Mr. Palmer to show up.

  • Curtis Conway

    With all due respect for General Hostage and I do respect him because he leads from in front (F-22 Oxygen Problem), it is impossible to make a statement as categorically stated as he has in this incident. We are in a constant ‘measures’ – ‘counter-measures’ struggle, and there is no such thing as a “Perfect Stealth” system. When combat operations begin, the more energy one can place in the Elecrtro Magnetic environment, the better off you are, and is money in the bank on the safety side of the equation. The USAF has not invested in that bank (Electronic Attack). Perhaps some thought should be given by the USAF in this area. Several Squadrons of EA-18G Growlers in the USAF would be a good thing. It’s just difficult for USAF pilots to land on something that is not standing still and several thousand feet long.

    The flexibility of the F-35B is yet to be demonstrated even in exercises, and may be more difficult than realized by most. The RIAT flyby and Queen Elizabeth visit are cases in point. One cannot just pick out a piece of concrete or pavement on the planet and decide to operate F-35Bs on or from that piece of real estate.

    In addition the EA-18G is one of the only aircraft to score a kill against an F-22 in a simulated combat exercise.

    Better Safe Than Sorry.

    Plan For The Worse, and Hope For The Best.
    Granny was RIGHT, and the General needs to go back to fundamental principles.

    • Don Bacon

      F-35 operational testing won’t start until 2015 at the earliest.

      • Wang Guanzhong

        Get your $hit straight. Your colleague in the department (ELP) is saying that it (operational testing) will never occur. Having this sort of discrepancy paints the entire effort as being badly coordinated and may result in a cut in your weekly pay cheque. Consider this as a warning.

        • billy

          Off to the re-education camp with him.

    • PolicyWonk

      Indeed, the USAF has put all their eggs into the stealth basket. The navy, to its credit, has continued to invest in EA-18G’s/electronic warfare, and is still on track to buy a number of F-35’s (it has been reported that the tail-hook problem has been resolved).

      The Russians and Chinese have had decades to work on their radars and detection systems since we’ve deployed F-117’s and B-2’s, and none of our stealth platforms have been tested against sophisticated adversaries.

      Our navy is playing it safe, and here’s hoping the USAF didn’t screw up massively by betting the farm on one technology.

      • MathewT

        The USAF should have put all the eggs in the advise received from a person named PolicyWonk and in his wisdom. So much so that Mr PolicyWonk is giving free advise instead of charging an arm and a leg in the consulting profession.

    • bcsd2014

      Curtis, there is a reason why USAF has been training its Electronic Warfare Officers (EWOs) with the USN at Whidbey Island for years. Public domain: “The Air Force has worked with the Navy for
      16 years since the EF-111 Raven was retired and left the Air Force with
      no fighter type electronic warfare aircraft other than the EC-130H
      Compass Call. It is with the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler
      that Air Force electronic warfare officers can gain knowledge and better
      prepare for the future”. Pretty telling. They’re investing in “knowledge”, but not systems. USN: EA-18G. Check. Next Generation Jammer. Check.

      • Curtis Conway

        Noted. Good comment. There are even some USAF pilots who have perhaps taken a hook? Cross decking should not just be “EWOs”. In my humble opinion, a fast tactically significant Electronic Attack aircraft has qualities all its own that the EC-130H will have a hard time filling. USAF strike packages really liked to piggy back on USN strike packages ingressing into the combat area during Storm & Shield. This wisdom has evaporated? Don’t think so! Hardkill on the transmitter is a good idea.

      • Curtis Conway

        I spent some time in the periphery of this USAF EW environment, along with my NAVY time. The USAF concept is somewhat different when dealing with Electronic Threats. A common JOINT Threats Program Office should have already been formed in DoD (if it has not already been and I’m not aware of it) that deals with a common and comprehensive Threat Database across the board. That Joint program office, and the database they maintain, should drive ALL service threat monitoring capability, countermeasures activity, Electronic Attack criteria, and attack matrix. This part of mission planning for any platform surface or air, should be directly plugged into this database driving the upgrades to the threat matrix in as close to real time as we can manage. This kind of activity has been recognized for over three decades, and I’ve yet to see it come to fruition. If it exists . . . .give me a heads up.

      • Charles Hixon

        The Navy has always had superior signal intelligence departments, its much more important to them as a wing of the military. Surface warfare ships are big on electronic warfare, signal interception, encryption and decryption. It makes sense that the navy would have the expertise on electronic warfare over the Air Force.

    • Charles Hixon

      I think the F-35 has a better chance of scoring a kill on the F-22. Because it’s all about situational awareness at that point. Jamming the radar to blind the F-22’s senses so it cant set up for a sneak attack on you and allowing you to sneak up on it, that’s how a growler can kill an F-22. It’s not like the F-18 is a great performance plane. The F-35 will operate by the same principal only instead of jamming it will just be stealth and set up the same situation. Probably better because of the 360 weapons cueing. The F-35 has a better chance of sneaking up on an F-22 than probably any other plane. Remember the dogfight mantra, it was the one you didn’t see that got you.

      • Curtis Conway

        Amen Brother. Can’t count out the F-35 in BVR. Just don’t ask it to mix it up in DACT.

    • M&S

      Actually there is quite an argument to be made for a 600nm class (F-35C = 584nm) vs. 1,000nm (outside DF-21D range, barely) strike with just F-35C vs. ‘the whole circus’ that is a CVW.
      And F-35C has six 2,500lb rated hard point stations and, if need be, wet wing plumbing.
      On internals along, it can carry roughly 20,000lbs of fuel. And F/A-18F, with twice as many engines, carries 14,000lbs internally and another 9,800lbs in three external 480 tanks. When it goes for long range like this, it is _seriously_ limitered in both catapult launch weights and available heavy weight stores, as DMPIs.
      Put mildly, an EA-18G, by virtue of it’s SEVEN large, external, stores (low band on the centerline, two highbands, two 480s and two HARMS) is limited to a very low transit ceiling of around 25,000-30,000ft and less than Mach .65 as a 1G capability. If it gets jumped before it can burn off some gas and descend to fighting altitudes around 17,000ft, it will be all but helpless in this cruise profile at about 1G commanded and less than 350nm of reach.
      An F/A-18F will be little better off, with a reach of perhaps 500nm.
      Since these are the slowest marchers by which you set your drum beat, you can count on sucking gas like a wolf on the sheep’s teat all the way in.
      But, simply by virtue of that massive 680sqft wing, larger than an F-15s in fact, the F-35C can motor on at 35,000-40,000ft in a Rutowski burn up profile and sustain 300-350 knots all the way out to 450-500nm.
      Where it will tap prestaged tanking ONCE, move onto the target area, another 300-400nm further in, and then drop whatever happens to be in the weapons bays and under the wing pylons.
      If those munitions happen to be Joint Strike Missiles with ranges on the order of 150nm and excellent precision guidance + stealth, the distance through which the JSFs have to penetrate target area defenses, even in an OPP role, is minimal.
      And thus you’re left with row after row of S-300/400 and HQ-9/FT-2000 clones, trying to play ‘swat the V-1’ ala 1944 ADUK, and doing pretty piss poorly at it.
      While your JSF, having added a ‘magic’ 150nm to their absolute radii, can now head back to the tanker for another plug and motor on home.
      They get all the gas and especially if those tankers are not K-46 but rather whaled up F/A-18s (reaction time to a sudden assault in Korea or against Taiwan) that really matters. Because you are going to be using ‘whales to push whales’ with half your squadron strength as tankers and half as escorts to those tankers with most of the flying done ultra low because an F/A-18E does _not_ want to fight a J-16 anywhere, at all, ever.
      Let alone while holding hands with the only jets that are going to get the entire mission force back home.
      This is important CC.
      Because with 20 F-35 (two carrier squadrons) dropping 6 cruise missiles which run about 800,000 dollars each compared to 2.5 million for a followon LRASM-as-TACTOM replacement, you get a total of 120 DMPIs serviced which is enough, in theory, to open up a large enough area of coastline to bring the CVBG into the littoral bounds.
      Assuming your RQ-180 or overhead lasts long enough to find the YJ-12/18 and DF-21 battery clusters.
      But if you do ‘ye olde fashioned way’, pushing a horde of Iron Hand and other SEAD/EWF assets in with a major Alpha Strike, not only do you have to make everyone (single engine or twin, high cruise Mach or slowboat, two pylons or six) hold the march (all but demanding an entire wing of KC-46) but you also have to account for the mission split between banging heads together on the door guards vs. sticking a dagger between the ribs of the king and Queen in the tower bedroom.
      Even with extraordinarily large packages (60 jets, 2 pylons each, max tanks), you generally run out of either suppression missiles, gas (as station time) or mission ordnance to bag everyone. Which means you get to come back tomorrow! And do it all again. Whereas the cruise attacks can go anywhere within that 150nm (MTCR/CFE limit) range, without any penaiding at all.
      Whack the hornet’s nest once like a pinata, shame on you. Kick it twice while it’s on the ground and buzzing fit to shake apart and you deserve whatever you get.
      The USN cannot afford to play the “Kill you all, tomorrow!” (and tomorrow and tomorrow…) they don’t have the jets to throw away in attrition warfare.
      This is exactly what we discovered after those early major raids going Downtown on Baghdad. It just isn’t worth the effort to try and keep critical mission enablers in rotation to cover the lag between F100 powered F-16A/C.25s and F110 powered F-16C.30s as half the package ends up later and/or sucking wind and the hornets done be /pissed/ by the time the last jets roll through.
      So, after Week One, Downtown essentially became F-111/F-117 restrictive and the F-16’s pounded sand, literally.
      The big question becomes whether the USN is smart enough to trade costs (SSGN-728 fired 93 BGM-109 in the opening hours of Odyssey Dawn) on a DMPIs per day basis of “Forget LO, we want SOM trucks!” traded sortie capabilities.
      Or if they are truly as thick headed as the USAF in demanding the F-35 follow as son-of-Cockroach in direct laydown attacks. Here, the range of weapons like the JDAM (12.5nm, subsonic) guarantee you will be shot down by terminal defenses. While the SDB, though a great shot multiplier, all internal, is right on the verge of not having enough range to beat the detection threshold on some of the larger SAMs with their Mach-7 hypervelocity weapons.
      (JSM also gives you profile variability in that you don’t have to fly high to release it as it’s powered).
      Split the difference, at least for certain target classes, and you have SPEAR-3.

      • Curtis Conway

        Love the analysis M&S. Takes me back to another life. The USAF should look at the F-35C. Arguments could be made for an Expeditionary Role for F-35B. The Marines already have that in the planning, and visiting jets going & coming makes sense. I still think there is room for Light Carriers if you can call a strait deck 45,000 ton beast VSTOL/STOVL platform a Light Carrier. For a Proactive Presence it makes a whole lot of sense, freeing up Bird Farms for the real work. I still think that at least 50 Aegis FFGs are required. If we up-gun what we have (LCS modified as a frigate) we can buy a considerable amount of capability. The new Saudi unit looks like what we should have started with, but ours need more. Maybe their money will pay for the development and we can just build/upgrade upon that engineering. Enjoyed the exchange.

        • M&S

          F-35B is attached at the hip to a 1,000ft hull, same as any F-35C. The basign mode signature is what drives the threat, not a vacuous perception that one hull is cheaper than another and thus less radiologic mazcat likely to be missed when it’s sunk as ‘just another carrier’.

          As for staging forward…ainh. Look at the history of the Harrier in ODS trying to be ashore in daylight and having to retire back to the boat to do all the heavy maintenance.

          Speed forward ten years and the USAF and USN politely instructing the Marines to stay the hell out of OEF with their toy fighters.

          In 1991, they could not sustain forward, even with all of Saudi behind them as FOL-to-FOB alternative. In 2001, we could not afford to pretend they deserved to try, sucking dry our strike tanking in the process.

          With 2,500 men on both ships, you will not see an LHA-6 in the littoral boundary until the coasts have been swept for a thousand miles to either side of the bow, depending on how bad (BASM vs. ASCM) the threat really is. Politically, it’s not a tenable risk.

          Blue water with Big Decks, you can make the threat targeting come to you and unless the threat has OTHB (ROTHR) or Ground Wave (China has both), it simply doesn’t do them any good to come get their foreheads grooved by a RIM-174 passing between their knees.

          But that’s a surface escort solution for an air platform protection mission which quickly devolves into “Why are we here again?” a costs game for missile:missile comparisons.

          Future Of The U.S. Surface Fleet

          Whereby, you attract all manner of organized threats with an entire country backing them to dogpile you, 6,000 miles from your own supply chain. And they whittle you down.

          Targeting at that point becomes a matter of who shoots down which drone or overhead X-many times before someone figures out that a partial orbit, semi-ballistic radar and optical system _on a DF-21D_ can provide the same basin-wide surveillance as a satellite, a lot faster, with more attrition redundancy and with similar (20 vs. 10 million per missile) costs which still favor the attacker over the defender. Especially if the only counter is the SM3 of which BMD equipped ships carry perhaps 10.

          Between radar emissions and the natural ‘I can fudge the signature to make a DDG look like a fishing trawl but I can’t explain why six of them are so close, with aircraft flying around them in mid ocean!’ restrictions, you will quickly solve for threat ASST just by being yourselves.

          Which means that, for carriers to be useful, you are down to strategic attack with LRSB and until those strategic bombers and the RQ-180 spotting drones are done or done in, half your reaction force is going to be sitting on it’s thumbs, too valuable to expose within the A2AD footprint that is inshore defense.

          Strip the escort force costs as ladies in waiting (and waiting and waiting) and the carrier has to be middle-of-ocean able to launch and recover mini-FALCON hypersonic strike platforms able to perform shuttle missions, basin to basin or basin to distant (Shindand, Al Udeid etc.) landbases.

          i.e. a 737 sized airframe and 10 on deck, total.

          Which would be wonderful if we would pay for it but nobody in the military will sacrifice the entire concept of an airwing (as recap) to buy into ‘divide the planet into quarters, like an orange and that is how many CVNs you need to cover everything’ followon.

          The alternative is to ditch the carrier and keep the strike warfare resident on small combatants and subs. But then your big problem is _targeting_.

          And for that, the 200-250nm effective radius of the F-35B is utterly worthless. .9lb/lb/hr engine X .7 throttle X 28,000lbf IRT = 17,600lbs per hour. And the F-35B only carries 14,00lbs internal gas.

          THIS is what is stupid about the F-35, more than any other element. You have to have a high residual thrust capability as both aft post direct thrust and torque to spin up the SDLF. And that means a big fan to suck air at zero airspeed. But you pay through the nose for that big fan in cruise (F100 is only .7lb/lb/hr) as suck and squeeze (mass flow) becomes blow and go (stoichiometric temp ratios = fuel flow) which is THE LAST THING you want to more thrust than brains doing to a long range interdictor.

          An F-35C has 2/3rds the internal fuel of an F-111 but less than half the maximum radius of action. Even though the F-111 has twice as many engines. An F-35B has 2/3rds the fuel of an F-35C.

          Where 14,000/17,600 is .79 hours of flight time, F-35B has a 316nm range at 400 knots (which is being generous given how draggy it is at 70% throttle). Divide that in half for radius and you are down to 158nm of radius with no time over target and no naval reserve.


          If the F-35B doesn’t carry external tanks as a ‘pure CAS fighter’ it’s not going to go -anywhere-. Because the very system which makes it superior to the Harrier as a STOVL aircraft makes it worse as a ranged strike fighter.

          Since ISR (F2T2EA completing the kill chain) for missiles on an SSC or an SSGN is _all about_ loiter at range, the F-35B cannot do the one thing which I would ask of it and that is launch off an Independence or Freedom class flight deck with DAS and EOTS and Barracude in pure vacuum cleaner mode.

          Various UCAV

          This is where all our plans to turn secondary theaters into SAG based cover forces with a mix of LHAs as QRF thrown into the mix goes right to hell.

          Because you can shoot what you can’t see. And you can’t see what you can’t stay on station to match the bad guy’s schedule.

          Brown Shoe Navy beats Black Shoe Navy. Manned beats Unmanned. STOVL doesn’t work if it has to pretend it’s a half Raptor and half Aardvark.

          The whole military is mix and match screwed up based on dated warfighter paradigms and community turf R&M partisanship.

          What we see in the Caspian, laughably a land locked Great Russian Lake rather than true salt water navy, is how we could be making the entire USN work. As a covering force while we shifted CVBGs to high supersonic (ADVENT) or hypersonic (SABRE) HSPs that could operate on a 1,000nm transit radius, sit over the target for 2-3 hours and make the return trip in a similar time frame.

          Reinvigorating the CVBG as a major capital investment. And advancing the idea that if the damn thing isn’t moving (whether it can or not) you can and should splatter it with a cruise weapon, making sure it gets there fast enough to be reactive on TCTs.

          i.e. Interdiction should no longer be a manned mission but a missile one. DEEP STRATEGIC STRIKE (with conventional weapons) can be manned or unmanned, but it must be able to cover 4-6,000nm without refueling. Giving a U.S. president the ability to hit Chinese or Russian civilian infrastructure and industry as feel-the-pain discouragement rather than fighting tooth to tooth at the coal face of Taiwan or Ukraine.

          These are goals worth pointing towards. Not least because lasers are here and will be deployed by 2025 which makes anything below 1,500 knots and 60,000ft nothing but greasy steam.

          While the two oceans keep us safe from 4,000nm platforms so that direct copying doesn’t do the threats any good. They have to better our performance points to hit CONUS with conventional strike.

          Everything else we do with air right now is looking for a fight in ten years. Rather than a warfighter that is good for 30+.

          The latter _is achievable_, no matter what they say about technology advancing too fast to tell.

          If you set the bar high enough on RMA change.

          This is why I don’t want to buy an ‘improved’ piece of crap Saudi gunboat based on a testbed American piece of crap gunboat. Because we don’t fight coast guard wars.

          There have been enough USS Panays in our history, thank you very much.

          • Curtis Conway

            We have to stay ‘oranges and oranges’. The AV-8B Harrier II was a unique platform in the theater. There is much commonality with the F-35, and yes some unique differences (parts) but they are (will be) in the logistical support system (ALIS) and can be palletized. FEDEX here we come military style (USTRANSCOM or NUFEA).

            As for carriers forward . . . I have never suggested that a Light Carrier would ever be used for anything but Proactive Presence, small
            international issues, or supplement the CVW when required via common tanking, or used as a faint otherwise. At no point would I want an LHA-6 Class vessel near the littorals if it were not safe (e.g., missile defense platforms).

            As for AN/RIM-174 . . . I would very much like to see different guidance packages, or multiple capable guidance packages on that weapon, so we have more options, including Passive Launch On Remote, and we never radiate a thing. It is possible to detect, track, and control in the EM Spectrum without going into the RF portion. I have consistently suggested that our new little Aegis Guided Missile Frigate should be the introduction platform for a primarily passive combat system with active systems as backup. The large ESSM loadout is for self-defense and escort duty (battle force defense), with SM-6 on board along with ASW weapons (the FFG must be very effective as an ASW asset). If guided projectiles EVER get into the mix a 76 mm format is required at a minimum, and 127 mm (5”) is better. With rocket-assist we can do many things with such capability perhaps including DF-21D defense.

            “….. the 200-250nm effective radius of the F-35B is utterly worthless.” The Marines have (or will have operational soon) V-22 tanking capability.
            The USN Naval Air needs a new tanker (KC-3A Super Viking) and that
            airframe has many more uses than just tanker and COD.

            In my humble opinion every flight deck in the US Navy should be a “Ready Deck of Opportunity” for an F-35B with Thermion on a deck than can handle 70,000 lbs and has F-35 refueling capability.

          • M&S


            We have to stay ‘oranges and oranges’.
            We are. As long as you are using jet thrust instead of field effect propulsion (no, I’m not kidding) the volume of your STOVL jet is going to be competed to death. between VLO (weird angles, weapons bays), pilotage (pressure chamber, ejection seat, big canopy), ‘fighter’ (AI radar, 9G structure, afterburner, big tails), and ‘attack’ (range:payload) this is a manticore of a mission platform.
            Something has to give and it cannot be moldline as weight.
            Because jet STOVL just doesn’t have the margin without becoming a thermic lance eating through everything it touches.
            The AV-8B Harrier II was a unique platform in the theater.

            In ODS, the only unique thing the Marines were dropping were BLU-77/B fire bombs to light up oil trenches around the protected Iraqi regimental perimeters. Utterly worthless mission as most sites were abandoned or bypassed.
            Everything else was Mk.82 iron which everyone shared a piece of because that WAS the inventory standard. Not GBU-12, not GBU-10, not GBU-31/32. All that came later. Oh, we also were ‘allowed’ to use cluster.
            There is much commonality with the F-35, and yes some unique differences (parts) but they are (will be) in the logistical support system (ALIS) and can be palletized.
            Less than 30% common, even to the cousin level. You’re looking at three different jets with a common name and what differentiates them is a landing and takeoff modality that concerns less than 1% of the mission time. Less than 1%! Unbelievable waste.
            The problem with ALIS is that it’s proprietary rather than a US Fed owned technical data package. I don’t know what dirt Lockheed had on the people who signed that portion of the contract but it’s a sweet little mafia deal when you get to determine what’s wrong with the plane and how much the part needed to TAC (total accumulated cycles) replace it will cost. Me, I’m suspicious of anything that costs 50,000 dollars per flight hour because the contractor says so when the original spec was for HALF as much as the F-16.
            That’s a trust if not deal breaker, right there.
            FEDEX here we come military style (USTRANSCOM or NUFEA).
            Not unless FEDEX can land on a 1,000ft straight through deck without an arrestor system.
            As for carriers forward . . . I have never suggested that a Light Carrier would ever be used for anything but Proactive presence, small international issues, or supplement the CVW when required via common tanking, or used as a faint otherwise. At no point would I want an LHA-6 Class vessel near the littorals if it were not safe (e.g., missile defense platforms).
            And there’s the problem. Someone, somewhere, has gotten it into Congress’ head that two oil burner ships, one a full CVE with _25_ jets onboard. And the other a real gator freighter is ‘less expensive to operate’ than a single nuke deck. It isn’t. Long term: oil consumption will continue to rise as other world states begin to move into the modern era and we are already likely post peak on production of known resources. Something will have to give and that’s gotta be price for the worlds number one POL consumer: the DOD.
            In any case, what will happen will be than you will see fewer nuke decks deploy so that the Marines can have some at sea time to visit and do exercises with fellow treaty states as a kind of reinforcement of hegemony as much as alliance.
            And thus, when the call goes out, as the balloon goes up, the only decks which will be near enough will be Marine Decks with 25+8 F-35Bs which are inferior to landbased fighters _even though_ they are supposed to be supersonic capable (supersonics = 16 second lag from Mach .8 to 1.25 which means more burner time which means more fuel burn which means the F-35B is not supersonic, anymore than the Harrier was, it just doesn’t have the gas to compete…).
            Since the Marines are supposed to be inshore, supporting seizure of a SPOD to bring reinforcements into a hard entry situation, they will be targets. And with less jets than a big deck, they will not be able to either maintain a FORCAP or do beachhead CAS and STOM escort for airmobiles.
            There is a reason why real carriers cost 14 billion dollars and that reason is bigger everything from fuel bunkers to magazines to deck parks for up to 80 jets.
            And even then, when it’s serious, you never send a CVN in without a partner carrier behind it, flying FORCAP forward or acting as a decoy force to draw fire someplace else.
            The Marines don’t get this. Or they don’t care. Because they are principally a ‘bullets and grenades’ force, not a high intensity warfighter.
            No armor. No RT. No hope if real carriers are not there.
            And let’s be clear here: IT WILL NOT MATTER. If the threat is too intense for an LHA-6 class, it is likely too dangerous for a CVN-78 class. You just don’t play into an A2AD scenario leading with your gun.
            As for AN/RIM-174 . . . I would very much like to see different guidance packages, or multiple capable guidance packages on that weapon, so we have more options, including Passive Launch On Remote, and we never radiate a thing.
            VARIOUS can provide a sneak-thief defense out to about 20-40nm before you start to have volume search limits compared to a real radar (attenuation and absorption issues on obscurants etc.) But if you want to take SM-6 out to it’s full 400km+ loft range so that you can ‘hit archers instead of arrows’, you need a 1MW or better radar sitting at 60,000ft to roll back the horizon on all sides.
            An HAV (Hybrid Air Vehicle, neutral buoyancy airship with semi rigid hull that can ‘fly’ at 100-200 knots for aerodynamic lift as climb but is otherwise limited to hovering under 10,000ft, at least until fuel burns down) will get you there.
            But only to the extent that you accept that you are now dependent upon a very high risk platform which is vulnerable to ‘plunging fire’ from 40N6, 48N6E2 or R-172 type (LRSAM/LRAAM) weapons from HUNDREDS of miles out.
            At the very least, this means a pair of Burkes in close attendance on either end of a 100nm long orbit racetrack while the HAV looks forward over the backs of a wall of shooters further out front.
            BAMS or Blk.40 is not enough, on it’s own, to do the trick here (though you will end up losing a lot of those too) as endurance and radiative power is what matters. And 36hr mission times with 8hr transits is just a drop in the bucket.
            Can you sustain an HAV for 2-3 weeks on the pointy end with an investment in your slung gondola payload volume equal to an E-3 AWACS? Maybe. But you cannot stock a large replacement inventory when, not if, you start losing a lot of them.
            However you do it, without an onboard hemispherical emission system (useless beyond 12nm against skimmers) to attract targets the divorce between /strike cruiser/ and ‘fleet escort’, becomes a sharply delineated one.
            Anyone receiving forward pass cribbing from an HAV has no business going active like a lighthouse Anyone who is not part of an AAW team has no business charging the ether with network commo traffic.
            Which means your ‘AEGIS’ loses it’s quadruple phased array and at least holds dummy loaded it’s AMDR replacement (AESA on a stick) for absolute emergencies only.
            Because fishing trawls don’t carry SPY-1.
            In turn, what you DO need is an IJN Mogami style loadout of ‘half battleship, half carrier’ mix of VTOL ISR and VLS.
            The one requires no weapons to keep weight down. The other provides the weight of fire to remain persistent over a battlefield, long after any organic weapons would be gone, even on a normal (manned, CVTOL) aircraft.
            As long as you have those drones, you have a FORCAP sufficient to roll back the horizon to 15-20nm. They only call you when they see something so the network presence is minimal.
            And as long as you have 200 VLS slots you don’t have to worry too much about your fires mix and match.
            It is possible to detect, track, and control in the EM Spectrum without going into the RF portion. I have consistently suggested that our new little Aegis Guided Missile Frigate should be the introduction platform for a primarily passive combat system with active systems as backup.
            Double Quick: V-22 Tanker or HAV?
            If you picked the Tanker, you chose to disable the Strike Warfare Cruiser. Thing is, as long as the F-35B is useless without tanking, the F-35B pilot will weigh in behind the CV-22 pilot and it looks like ‘the experts are in agreement’.
            And they are. But for the wrong union-job reasons. This is called ‘extreme conservativeness’ in the community and is considered a never-bitten good thing.
            What it really is however is job security for it’s own sake rather than the national defense and it is wrong.
            The large ESSM loadout is for self-defense and escort duty (battle force defense), with SM-6 on board along with ASW weapons (the FFG must be very effective as an ASW asset). If guided projectiles EVER get into the mix a 76 mm format is required at a minimum, and 127 mm (5”) is better. With rocket-assist we can do many things with such capability perhaps including DF-21D defense.
            One of the many things I disagree with in Preble’s lecture in the above video is the notion that ‘everything at 30 guarantees the opening of laser and railgun terminal envelopes to leakers.’.
            As if a single range point engagement (or start of engagement) to -assure- the utility of cheap terminal fires was a good thing.
            What it comes down to, for me, is that swarming tactics will continue to increase and become more roboticized, across the board (small boats firing small turbine missiles with modified RC jet engines) and thus the inner zone becomes a mixed threat capability as much as an exclusive AAW one.
            That said, the nice thing about Sea Sparrow was that it was always S2S capable and ESSM has since adopted that capacity as well.
            The next big thing however is going to be turbines on the SAMs so that you can soft launch and get downrange with a .6 missile and then steer in behind the onrushing threats like Kaliber/Klub and then run up their exhaust trail -before- they transition to supersonics.
            With self imposed volume coverage limits (the longer the radius the greater the periphery) on look down volume search, this window is going to be, of necessity, very narrow, even with multiple AAW sensor drones up and running. Which means you _have to be there_, in-air, ready to take the snap-steer. See: MIM-160 MALI.
            Conversely, I am not so sure I want a high value laser aperture on an exposed deck mount trying to point defend if I can instead put it and a turbine power pack and a salt-water heat thermocouple on a Stiletto or similar and push it out the back of a boat deck.
            This keeps the laser aperture salt-free when not in use and the outer moldline (of the parent ship) mount free with regards to stealth.
            More importantly, if you only have 2-4nm range at sea level due to all the humidty and wave spray, is it not better that it be 2 miles coming in and 2 miles going away? Indeed is it not better that you be able to stack arrays 1-2-3 and combine their spot intensity to rapidly deal with multiple targets?
            Worst case, I would rather cant the upper hull and deckhouse (as one unit), inwards to ’tilt’ blast effects, double walling it to absorb fragmentation and using a modified APS interceptor to detonate warheads 100-200ft off the hull than put a bunch of apertures and gun mounts on it which will ALL be shock damaged.
            If seekers are too smart to be reliably fooled by SRBOC or kinematic flares, and we can invest 2 million dollars for an APS to save a 4-6 million dollar tank, why can we not invest 20 million for a slightly larger version to save a 500-800 million dollar SSC?
            It’s this refusal to think their way around the geometries, time windows and alternative engagement methods, when automatically assuming SAMs are too expensive to deal with swarm attacks that bothers me about present day naval thintelligence.
            “….. the 200-250nm effective radius of the F-35B is utterly worthless.” The Marines have (or will have operational soon) V-22 tanking capability.
            What’s the offload capacity, do you know? I ask this in all honestly because I don’t think the high diskloading is going to make for a lot of power reserve on takeoff to accomodate a hose/drogue reel and a significant bladder load but I simply don’t know for sure.
            My issue is instead that they KV-22 is just the first step. Then you have an AEW&C, even if it’s just an Aerieye system with a remote operator. And the VC-22 COD which isn’t big enough to move an F135 engine.
            ALL of these airframes are essential for FRS sustaining an F-35 detachment at sea. And at the least, they all need a major improvement in pressurization (if not an entirely new fuselage) to allow them to refuel above the weather band and make long range transits from the beach to the boat a little less of a thrilling experience.
            You can go with a real carrier which has all these things plus EWF and SEAD already in place within the Airwing.
            The USN Naval Air needs a new tanker (KC-3A Super Viking) and that airframe has many more uses than just tanker and COD.
            The Navy wants to lock in a supersized UCAV as a replacement whale to make _absolutely_ certain that robots have nothing to do with combat.
            This despite the fact that the only thing which really stabilized The Surge in 06-08 was the massive increase in UAV CAPs with persistent presence and enough hellfires to make a good Muslims out of ambushers and tire burners.
            Problem Being: If you make a supersized utlity airframe (CSA without pilot), you are not going to have the funds to develop a secondary ISR platform which is smaller, cheaper and, if need be, loseable.
            IMO, we need reconnaissance strike complexes more than we need fatigue life relief for the KA-18s.

            In my humble opinion every flight deck in the US Navy should be a “Ready Deck of Opportunity” for an F-35B with Thermion on a deck than can handle 70,000 lbs and has F-35 refueling capability.
            Well, there is such a thing as massing so I assume you don’t mean ASW helo decks. The problem for the CVN is that you have a jet which doesn’t have enough room ahead of the waist cat to launch with the JBD raised. And if you take the JBD down and run the full length from the spud locker forward, you are creating a HUGE noise and jet wash zone.
            Recovery is the same issue: You cannot VL over the deck edge because that’s a rear deck park. You cannot SRVL over the angle deck if you are part of a mixed force because the pendant will be rigged and the F-35B eats tires as it is.
            But the big concern is still the same one I mentioned: You cannot mix and match airwing capabiltiies (say as part of an ‘all stealth’ naval air force, looking to retire the 40 year old conceptual design of the Hornet/Super Hornet) where one JSF variant has twice the radius of action and 30% more payload options as the other.
            SInce integrated operations between all services was one of the core justifications of the program, well, we’re in Twilight Zone territory.
            STOVL is a nifty parlor trick but unless you are willing to downgrade your performance expectations to say that of an A-29 as AH-1Z replacement, it simply brings too many structural plumbing issues to the design process to ever be complimentary, let alone competitive, with conventional jets as a strike warfare platform.
            A big improvement over the Attack Helo with it’s huge transmission and mast weight/CG issues to be sure. But against a traditional fighter of any kind, it is neither survivable nor particularly operationally effective (MMH:FH, CPFH).

          • Curtis Conway

            When we try to keep the argument about combat aircraft (manned or unmanned in the atmosphere) in an ‘oranges compared to oranges’ . . . Field Effect Propulsion is not even in the argument. There is not a single example available for use today, and if there ever is, it will be exo-atmosphere first before power levels ever get sufficient to provide atmospheric utility. Red Herring Argument?

            We do have new and wonderful sensors that can track in various parts of the EM Spectrum. However, anything moving through the environment must necessarily be subject to the same effects, and the results there of (heat generated by a mass moving through the air), which can be hidden, but at great cost and weight disadvantages. Compression of air by a body of any size moving through the atmosphere is hard to hide.

            When the VSTOL/STOVL platform discussion was introduced, it bounced to AV-8B and you made the argument about logistics concerns that kept them from operating from Saudi Arabia and mostly out of the fight, which would bring me to the Iron Bomb dropping Harriers operating out of the Soccer Field parking lot, and to the Harrier Carrier. Well the AV-8B Harrier II now drops many, if not all eventually, of the precision guided munitions, and the logistics argument still stands. However, when we move to the F-35 (any
            flavor) that logistics argument, though still valid, has less relevance, for the logistics train is ‘One’ and just transports different parts for specific aircraft, but it is still one Automated Logistics train (ALIS) regardless of who owns it (which is not relevant to the argument at hand . . . another Red Herring?). As for “only 30% common parts”, that’s better than 0%, or only the radios will swap out with other jets.

            The FEDEX reference is what US Navy guys used to call ‘Hub & Spoke’ logistics. Now we have some HV-22 CODs in our future to assist with the VSTOL/STOVL platforms which is a plus not a negative. We just need to haul more freight of greater weight and dimension (e.g., KC-3A Super Viking) and can provide growth for future systems like a pure jet E-2 platform, ASW/SSSC/EW platform.

            The Proactive Presence USS America (LHA-6) is the most efficient ‘oil burning’ platform of its class and the USS Macon Island (LHD-8) employment numbers provide the proof from multiple underway periods. If a Light Carrier based upon this premise is in the Med, or other area requiring a CVN at present, and can displace that CVN, that CVN is now available for other tasking like an A2AD environment, which the Light Carrier was never intended to operate in without significant defensive escort. In my humble opinion the lighter and smaller angle decked CVE vs. CVN is a non-starter because it will just turns into another Military Industrial Complex boondoggle eating up budget and time we do not have. Every time the Light Carrier argument comes up, which is represented (by me at least) as a CVN replacement for Proactive Presence, and could handle light tasking in a permissive environment, everybody goes to the coast of China in an A2AD environment, which it is specifically excluded from in this argument, and off they go. STAY ON POINT and leave the Herrings out in the swamp. Light Carriers are appropriate for the Med, both coasts of Africa, and Central and South America (at present), Caribbean, and will continue to be so until the proliferation of ASCMs and TBMs grows a bit more. Chinese and Russian waters are expressly not in this argument, and if they ever are the CSG will be the planning tool, not a CVLBG.

            As for the KV-22 Osprey . . . 17,000 lbs or less of fuel give is available, and that’s with another standing by to tank the tanker to get home. The MV-22 Osprey has already ‘demonstrated’ moving an F135 in a new cradle. It’s not pretty but it works. What is needed is the KC-3A Super Viking to bring a full up engine, in its shipping container, to the CVN. No one is working on this at present, even though we are going hook line and sinker for the F-35Cs in the future. There will still be Super Hornets there, but the F-35s will be the Quarterbacks.

            There is no doubt that more AI driven drones are in our future, but one cannot exclude the intelligence that must manage it (quarterback), and in some cases Shepard it into combat. For that activity to be relevant one will have to be close. I suspect this will be a Quarterbacking F-35. Future systems must be like equipped.

            If you have ever witnessed F-35B flight operations, they do not use a JBD, or come over the fantail. They hover next to the deck then just transverse over, and get weight on the wheels, then the engine goes horizontal as it spools down. The engine points down about 20° on a deck roll for takeoff which is quite a short deck roll. As for F-35B effectiveness, if one can make an argument for an AV-8B harrier IIs effectiveness, then the F-35Bs argument is made. The F-35B can fly an AV-8B profile, but the AV-8B cannot hang on the wing of an F-35B throughout its operational envelope. AND . . . YES, I meant ASW helo decks. EVERY flight deck in the US Navy should become a “Ready Deck of Opportunity” for the very valuable and expensive F-35B, and that ain’t Twilight Zone, that is the reality we are presently steaming into.

            Everyone dances around the issue, and makes arguments hinting at the EW mission set. However, no one wants to embrace Electronic Warfare as a Battle Force enabler, multiplier, or primary combat element. This lack of respect for EW will serve our enemies and be the genesis of our undoing. There should be an Electronic Warfare Combat Commander (EWCOM) on the level of USTRANSCOM, SOFCOM, STRATCOM, and the EWCOM should coordinate all EW operations across all services, and with our Allies.

            And . . . it looks like I’m talking to a computer instead of a person.

          • M&S




            When we try to keep the argument about combat aircraft (manned or unmanned in the atmosphere) in an ‘oranges compared to oranges’ . . . Field Effect Propulsion is not even in the argument. There is not a single example available for use today, and if there ever is, it will be exo-atmosphere first before power levels ever get sufficient to provide atmospheric utility. Red Herring Argument?



            No, the point I’m making is actually in agreement with what you are saying. We are so far out into lala land with ‘antigravium’ that we don’t have any way to make a comparison with what we know works of reaction mass physics.




            This in turn means we must accept the limitation of conventional propulsion modes are significant in what they imply. With RM, you turn the force inside the vehicle and jet it out another direction. That builds heat which requires hot-insulated plumbing which eats volume already at a premium with fuel, weapons and MEP as well as pilot and role performance.


            Want STOVL anyway? Fine. Remove the pilot and the role performance. If someone has a laser turret that rotates 90`/sec there is simply no way to ‘out turn’ the weapon effect and thus that 9G requirement goes away.


            If 9G isn’t there, the burner and it’s godawful effects on fuel reserves isn’t there and now you have taken away 5,000lbs from the front and 5,000lbs from the back and suddenly the jet isn’t 30,000lbs empty (F-15 class) but 20,000lbs empty (F/A-18 class).


            It’s little admissions like this which buy you big gains here. Because if you have a decent ability to shoot down, not just enemy aircraft but enemy missiles with say a 200KW laser firing in the thin atmosphere of great height, you can handle truly awesome numeric disparities by simply pushign out first (threat missile) engagement range to 20km from 10km.


            If someone fires 10 missiles at your airframe, can you ‘dodge them all’? I doubt it. But by dropping the extensive airframe compromising capabilities for maneuver, you can _also reduce signature_ as a function of shifting to Daemon type fluidic controls and TVC instead of retaining a massive set of tails which are veritable billboards for signature flash and which also have wetted area drag multipliers. Which means you are not shot at to begin with.


            NOW. Now, you have a possibility of real change at a doctrinal level. Because if you cannot fight the ‘good fight’ (Ps. vs. Ps, round and round the 1-2 circle dogfight) you must fight, and win, the prolonged running-chase alternative.


            Which is to say: “He who sprints fastest, launches first, _slows down_ and then runs the other way, lives to sprint-shoot-flee another day.” Because so long as the threat’s own missiles are in tail chase, you can extend the engagement window for a laser defense system which zaps them as they come just by halving their overtake.


            So that, instead of it taking 2 .5SSPK missiles per target to beat a combination of DRFM jammer, HPM capable radar, and VLO signature, maybe it takes 20:1 to overwhelm the point defense system as ‘CIWS on an airplane’.


            Technology drives doctrine. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. Stealth and Guided Weapons tech has plateau’d, as has a lot of propulsive and aerodynamics (though there is wiggle room here, as the above shows). For the moment, we hold a substantial leverage in SSL and EML technology base.


            Did we employ that leverage, we could make some real changes in how airpower works which included things like sustained supersonic cruise as a transit aid in the ‘dull parts’ of to and from the combat area. And application of weight savings to drone platforms which would make STOVL, _perhaps_ possible.


            But if you don’t have the balls to make the big changes in aerodesign that buys you back more from giving up certain features than technology incrementation can gain with tiny percentile improvements, you will _never get to the point_ where you are making apples to apples comparisons. Because the jet which can come the farthest with the most support missions (landbased, CTOL, long runway, plus tanking) will make a fruit salad of your STOVL jet on up and away performance.


            The only thing that STOVL buys you is the ability to avoid a 14 billion dollar, 5,000 life, radiological, mazcat (Mass Casualty) inherent to bringing a Carrier into the 1,500nm defended zone of a BASM system. It does NOTHING AT ALL to improve up and away performance. As what decides the outcome of air combat.


            And it will continue to be that way until field mechanic propulsion takes the motive force and thus the plumbing to direct it, outside the airframe.


            I would add one other thing here.


            If you can use a torsional field effect to pull apart local space time, you must understand that the atmosphere which folds along those field lines parts too. So much so that you can create differential motion (sail effect) as _lift_ around the body and hust propulsion without reaction mass.


            But at the same time, air within the bubble fades to vacuum.


            Which means that atmospheric flight at ultra high Mach numbers no longer looks like a HTV-2 did, with Q forces so high that they literally eroded the RCC nose of the testbed until the burnthrough became possible.


            Imagine what that means. Imagine flight at Mach 10 between Kennedy and LAX _without a sonic boom_ problem. Because you are literally opening and closing air around and ahead of the jet in a perfect slipspace of zero compressibility.


            Imagine what it means when you can remove the drag quantifiers for SSTO in creating an orbital assembly yard for a trip to Mars. Right now, we cannot put enough stuff into orbit to make a thousand foot long transport with a kick plate and safe loft of atomic propulsion as the sole means to get to the Red Planet, quickly enough, to make manned exploration of space possible.


            But _without going antigravity_, simply by splitting stitial boundaries to adjust flow fields in conventional aerodynamic design by a margin of 10-20%, all that changes. We get off this world and start to open our eyes to a much broader reality.


            The military should consistently bear this in mind when they reach out for the lesser solution. The ‘affordable alternative’. Because a lot of what made The West great was about needing a major edge in military capabilities to keep from beign annihilated. And that technology push has to be retained, even in a time of peace.



            We do have new and wonderful sensors that can track in various parts of the EM Spectrum. However, anything moving through the environment must necessarily be subject to the same effects, and the results there of (heat generated by a mass moving through the air), which can be hidden, but at great cost and weight disadvantages. Compression of air by a body of any size moving through the atmosphere is hard to hide.



            The F117 engine on the AGM-129 generated 1,000lbs of thrust from an installation weight of 99lbs. It has a ‘radish’, in-stream, IR suppression system which brought exhaust temps down to a point where they could be mixed to ambient within a few feet of the nozzle, which was surface masked from direct view by an actively fuel-cooled fuselage body. That engine had a based TSFC of .21. With heavy fuel (boron laced diesel) that specific fuel consumption went down to about .15.


            We could easily make a jet which tooled about at 200-300 knots and 45,000ft for 10-20hrs with ZERO effective propulsion signature. Just by taking the main cruise engine offline and starting up the ‘APU’ equivalent microthruster which turned it into a powered kite. When you get to that low a velocity, compression effects are minimal and you can start to look at thin film equivalents to the armored Adaptiv/Black Fox as electrothermal (Peltier) equivalent reductions in opticals.


            The sky is very big. A single droplet of water can refractively divert or absorb multiple photons of light across a milliradian subtend of angle which effectively maskes SEVERAL MILES of airspace only 20 miles behind it. Unless you have multiple 5KX5K hyperspectral sensors, electrooptical is not practical as a sensor for wide area surveillance. RF is a known quantity which will also continue to be worked down, most likely with active stealth using the skin itself as an EM cheesegrater to rough up and band scatter the reradiant energies with changed polarities. Something which looks at microgravity compression pings as background change might work but has the problem of sorting SNrs that are off the charts in terms of mappable squeaks and squeals. All of which would change, seasonally, with things as simple as solar wind impingement.


            The key here is to acknowledge that the ability of air to leverage battles by scoring entirely assymetric levels of pre-engagement attrition is so incredibly valuable that it’s use can simply not be given up. BUT. The actual fires sequencing of ‘who sees vs. what shoots’ can be made entirely different with the emphasis being arrow-to-arrow on an object moving 3-8 times the speed of sound (i.e. a very hard intercept achievement, as a physics exercise) vs. something which, _must be_ slower and more persistent, so that it matches the OODA cycle of the threats it F2T2EAs on. If you have a few recce assets spotting for a low of arrow shot, you can afford to make those ISR agencies very high end signature protected as their raison detre`.


            The JSF is not that capability. First, because it’s manned and that means it’s got no more the 8 hours of total in-air persistence before pilot fatigue becomes the primary driver on system performance and safety. Second because it’s a ‘fighter’ which is all that a recce asset should NEVER WANT TO BE in terms of things sticking out at odd angles and huge thrust trusts creating enormous fuel requirements on a never ending weight incrementation as signature bloom.


            And the reason the JSF is designed so poorly in terms of up and away performance _where it counts_ is because the stupid and greedy airpower services chose to put emphasis on the frankly idiotic methods by which it lands and takes off, solely to scratch each other’s backs in maintaining a ‘separate but equal’ Roles And Missions preserve. Which is treasonous because we could get along with half the airpowert we have, if only we could bring ALL of it to theater and guarantee it would be effective when it got there. This is possible with JPALS and Delta Path as a single integrated landing mode, CTOL or CVTOL. But it is NOT POSSIBLE so long as the platform has no supercruise to get it over a 1,000nm standoff sufficient to protect the basing mode while still putting at least 50% of it’s total in-air mission evolution time over the combat area.


            The JSF is a pig. It will never be able to maximize the destructive or spotting kill effects of a war machine because it’s got all that engineering emphasis on how it takes off and lands. Which is less than 1% of it’s mission evolution time.



            When the VSTOL/STOVL platform discussion was introduced, it bounced to AV-8B and you made the argument about logistics concerns that kept them from operating from Saudi Arabia and mostly out of the fight, which would bring me to the Iron Bomb dropping Harriers operating out of the Soccer Field parking lot, and to the Harrier Carrier. Well the AV-8B Harrier II now drops many, if not all eventually, of the precision guided munitions, and the logistics argument still stands.



            Harrier has what, 7,800lbs of fuel? A little more than the F-16 with equivalent military thrust to what the early F-16A had as A/B enhanced. Yet an F-16 will fly 550nm, unrefueled, low level, bomb a nuclear reactor and come home. An AV-8B will not. This is what happens when you overfan an engine to a gerbil-on-flywheel core. The core runs very hot and very high efffective (DEEC) fuel feed settings, even when the throttle is brought right back to flight idle. And you just suck gas all the time.


            Now, the F-35B has nearly DOUBLE the amount of fuel that the AV-8B does and, if anything, less internal stores as repeat passes. It’s mission gross is roughly 27,000lbs which is, again, half that of the F-35B. And yet, thanks to my demonstrated TSFC issue, you have a similar if not lower, mission radius.


            Which means that it is going to be ‘operating in the field’ because it literally cannot get anywhere past 200nm from launch point.


            Why is this stupid?


            1. Camp Bastion.

            8 Harriers blown to hell. Twenty odd Marines hurt or killed. By guerilla insurgents without sophisticated tubed or rocket artillery.

            2. 20,000lbs of logistics, per plane, per sortie.

            A KC-130 will only carry about that much in total offloadable fuel which means a second aircraft will be needed to bring in the munitions. To a forward road base. WHY if you can bring that kind of 3,000ft landing capability logistics into theater, don’t you just take off from whatever MOB the herk did and FLY FORWARD to your coverage zone?!? I guarantee, if you’re already in-air over the TACP which has you cab-ranked for necessary support, you have a faster reaction time than any FOL based system. And I guarantee that if the threat isn’t dead by the time you put 2,500lbs worth of GBU-32 through his forehead, by the time you run back to base and load two more, the ground force will have beaten him with sticks or died trying anyway, whether it’s 20nm or 200nm.


            We’re not talking about rolling a stack of 50 gallon drums off a pallet and 100 boxes of .50 cal to run the whole ops day with Corsairs.



            However, when we move to the F-35 (any flavor) that logistics argument, though still valid, has less relevance, for the logistics train is ‘One’ and just transports different parts for specific aircraft, but it is still one Automated Logistics train (ALIS) regardless of who owns it (which is not relevant to the argument at hand . . . another Red Herring?). As for “only 30% common parts”, that’s better than 0%, or only the radios will swap out with other jets.



            No. The only logistic determinator in combat is time. If you are caught between combat point and FOL/FARP your supported force dies. If you suck up every drop of fuel and munitions weight in the place to feed a single fighter, your supported force dies. FEDEX doesn’t deliver to FOLs and the Marine assumption that they will be just as useful to a combat team with two GBU-12s as a Reaper with up to 8 AGM-114 Hellfire is specious. Because the Reaper will be there all damn day, regardless of whether the enemy shows up to the party or not.


            And then that MQ-9 will fly 500nm home where it’s easy to source 3,500lbs of fuel for it to repeat the process.



            The FEDEX reference is what US Navy guys used to call ‘Hub & Spoke’ logistics. Now we have some HV-22 CODs in our future to assist with the VSTOL/STOVL platforms which is a plus not a negative. We just need to haul more freight of greater weight and dimension (e.g., KC-3A Super Viking) and can provide growth for future systems like a pure jet E-2 platform, ASW/SSSC/EW platform.



            Which is the same as saying you cannot bring beach to boat a sufficient weight or volume of stuff and so you are claiming a need for a future alternative to a platform you also don’t yet have.


            The penultimate point here being that the S-3 COD _also_ isn’t going to operate from an LHA-6 class which means that ‘somewhere’ there has to be a real carrier acting as the hub point for the C-2 Greyhound to drop off Marine goodies for the HV-22 to bring out to their toy carrier.


            At which point one has to say: “Wait, you want the USN to stop using a critically limited asset for their own, much larger, more combat effective, force exponent’s FRS (Fleet Readinesss Squadron = spares pipe) so that the Marines can steal sorties on that platform to limp along their CVE worth of 25 X200nm capable jets?


            Oh no you don’t.


            You don’t have the right to demand mini-decks to replace major combat assets and then twist the existing system logistics into a pretzel to support your unlogic by demanding that the major combat asset be present anyway, solely to ‘hub and spokes’ support your Go Hero! mode half arsed capability.



            The Proactive Presence USS America (LHA-6) is the most efficient ‘oil burning’ platform of its class and the USS Macon Island (LHD-8) employment numbers provide the proof from multiple underway periods.



            You double up the size of the ARG or MAGTF or whatever the present name is for TWO such oil burning carriers (one for the tradition Marine ground component, the other to be a pretend-carrier) and your efficiencies are NOT less than that of the real carrier. Not least because you also have to expand the fleet train to


            A. Provide more underway replenishment of naval aviation stocks. JP-8, Munitions and Spares.


            B. Have to double up the size of the escort force since the fleet trains are now larger and you really should not be risking the ground force contingent to needless co-associative danger inherent to a ‘Proactive Presence’ (in their face) before the CVE can try to soften things up.


            When the IJN operated the Tokyo Express in the Slot, without carriers, they got chewed up. When Nagumo lost, big, off Midway, the Amphibs which were 200 miles behind the carrier force, slunk away.


            The difference being that Nagumo could put 4X80 aircraft into the air and still didn’t see the point in trying to protect a landing force component if he didn’t have to. You will have ONE jeep carrier with 25 jets and -maybe- 1-2 days of high intensity operations before it’s off to the trains to resupply.


            This is a compound absurdity sir. Economically, you are trying to do less with more and pretending it costs the same. Tactically, you are generating a three way split between what the CVE can do to defend itself while pushing in the nose of the enemy (damn little), while leavign the fleet trains and the ARG completely off on their own, each with their own escort group to also oil and feed. Or snuggling them up close and creating one massive targeting centroid.


            All this while failing to acknowledge that it won’t be ’10 true carriers and 11 minideck wannabes’ it will be ‘6 carriers and 6 wannabes’ (because Congress is cheap) which means YOU WILL FIGHT THE BAD FIGHT becuase there will be no one else available to do the mission.


            You don’t have a right to jeopardize this nation’s national security just to make the Marine Corps into this nation’s third air force. You don’t. Replace the Tarawas as they reach end of life and keep the Marines a ground force. The Navy will continue to supply a real carrier to do the high-intensity SPOD capture mission while retaining the option to spank countries we don’t like but who are not worth invading with a full size, full deck, carrier force that can cover the world rather than huddle in a muddle at home.


            Because the Marines are stealing all the deployment cruise oil.



            If a Light Carrier based upon this premise is in the Med, or other area requiring a CVN at present, and can displace that CVN, that CVN is now available for other tasking like an A2AD environment, which the Light Carrier was never intended to operate in without significant defensive escort.



            Only if the total carrier force is not drawn down to pay for the minideck. Which the SDSR recommends to between 6-8 decks.


            And let’s be honest here.


            1. If the Euro-zoners have their way, Europe will look like ancient Rome by 2060. With the Mediterranean a Mare Nostrum lake. Will we even be welcome there?

            2. There already IS a ‘permanent carrier presence off Libya’. It’s called Sigonella NAS. Which is where the majority of Eurofighter, Rafale and F-15E sorties came from. Sorties whose total count woudl dwarf that of an LHA-6.



            In my humble opinion the lighter and smaller angle decked CVE vs. CVN is a non-starter because it will just turns into another Military Industrial Complex boondoggle eating up budget and time we do not have.



            When I say CVE I am comparing Air Wing sizes as much as landing modes. It doesn’t matter whether the deck is straight through or angled because neither is efficient. If you want a true ability to run concurrent ops, you need a Dual Tramway system. The Marines had this option but rejected it, on cost grounds, for LHA-6. Now they are FORCED to choose between an fastair-carrier and a heli-carrier. And that is also not the USNs problem. Because the Marines are not a useful fixed wing air force. They simply lamprey money away from the two services who are. If they were at all competent to the necessities of naval airpower, they would acknowledge that you cannot do even medium intensity missions (right of navigation, like Sirte) with a 25 aircraft airwing.



            Every time the Light Carrier argument comes up, which is represented (by me at least) as a CVN replacement for Proactive Presence, and could handle light tasking in a permissive environment, everybody goes to the coast of China in an A2AD environment, which it is specifically excluded from in this argument, and off they go.


          • M&S

            Pacific Pivot.

            We murdered Gadhafi he’s no longer an issue. China is going to shortly begin receiving oil and gas from Russa and Iran. When they do that, usign the Peace Pipeline, we will NOT be able to interdict it, using torpedo-the-tanker submarine interdiction at Malacca.


            If we do not interdict it, the world will no longer use the U.S. Dollar as a GRC base for petrotrading, they will make all exchanges happen in gold, Euros, RMB or commodities barter.


            If the USD is no logner in use as a massively over-eased global base currency, whose value is always positive vs. the other national currencies, their currency values will begin to rise and the rich and shameless who form the 1% will begin to reinforce the avalanche effect of investments in growth economies and _rising interest rates_ as returns on those investments.


            Rising interest rates translates to an inability to service our massive national debt and the collapse of the United States as a soverign nation.


            Which means we will have two different choices: We can invade Pakistan, roll north to Afghanistan and bomb the crap out of the pipeline from Shindand as IP passes just to the north through Turkmenistan. Or we can sail to the top of the Persian Gulf, invade Iraq and bomb the crap ouit of the source points for the petrogas in the Baku region and the South Pars fields (Iran and Russia).


            Get a bleeping clue, buy buy a bloody vowel. These are NOT ‘medium intensity missions’. There is a reason why we chose to Pivot West. There is a reason why we are attempting to get Ukraine into bed and why Putin put blocking forces into the LDPR as a hard check. There is a reason why Karzai and Abadi both said No Thank You to a permanent status of forces arrangement.


            They don’t want to be in a free fire zone when the world blows up and the U.S. becomes the number one hated enemy and ‘New Hitler!’ on the planet.



            STAY ON POINT and leave the Herrings out in the swamp. Light Carriers are appropriate for the Med, both coasts of Africa, and Central and South America (at present), Caribbean, and will continue to be so until the proliferation of ASCMs and TBMs grows a bit more.



            Have a broader, longer, view. Marine Harrier Carrieritis will sire a monster that reaches adulthood only when the BASM/ASCM threat peaks as proliferation into other nations matches what will likely be a broadscale nuclearization effect as kiloton yield effects stop being radiofuel weapons and start being cryo-isomers.


            I frankly don’t think we’re going to get that far. I believe that the nations which ALREADY DO HAVE BASM/ASCM and a national interest in preventing the U.S. from continuing to be the sole monetary as much as military superpower, will force the issue over petrotrading.


            And with this, they will either force the U.S. public to do the ‘honorable thing’ and back our nation down from a fight that we don’t have a right to force. Or see us all crumble in our moral values as the wealthy begin a fight to make us into true imperialists, ready to raze the planet to keep the USD afloat.


            The Med is no longer our responsibility. It is ruled by the European Interests as well it should be (we’ve spent enough on big-brothering NATO). And Africa is useless as an undertow continent of high TFR, 70 IQ, warring morons, unless we care to fight for a major share of the resources which China is now coming to dominate with exclusive strongman deals.


            South America is a threat only insofar as we refuse to close our borders to an IQ 83 influx of R-Breeding horde culture and yet unlike the U.S. South America is characterized by Argentina as a failed state waiting to happen but one which is too wrapped up in that decay process to be a threat. And Brazil is an up and comer BRIC who is looking to make money with the likes of AIIB, _hoping_ for an economic out to the massive war which everyone now sees is coming.


            Except, apparently, you.


            I am not the Red Herringist here sir. I am the one looking to put the Marines in their place as naval infantry as a bullets and grenades force, unsuited to high intensity warfare. And unneedful of a stealthy strike fighter for ‘evacuate the embassy!’ missions.



            Chinese and Russian waters are expressly not in this argument, and if they ever are the CSG will be the planning tool, not a CVLBG.



            And thanks to your ‘Have it all!’ female attitude, you are obscuring the fact that buying into Marine Air Force budgetary power economics is going to cost the Real Navy the NUMBERED big deck forces needed to fight the high intensity fight which is the only one which we need to be worried about because the macro economic consequences of losing that bigger picture, strategic, mission set are the essential collpase and fragmentation of the United States into rump ethno states.


            Because Americans are sick and tired of our politicians playing at being leaders of the ‘free world’ and FORGETTING WHO EMPLOYS THEM, here at home.


            It really sucks when you are hated because your leaders engage in adventurist power politicking because they don’t believe they live in a democracy. It also really sucks when you find out that the NATION STATE you thought you were fighting for decides to split up into factional, partisan, entitites because the social and economic consequences of the constant ego trip power plays that the your leaders engaged in during 50 years of cold warring and 20 years of sole super powering has left the ideals and purpose of the United States so utterly in ruins that it’s better to return to a City State status than be associeated with the consequences of ‘not our democracy’ totalitarianism that our ruling 1% have made of us.


            The uniformed armed forces have no excuse in this disappointment because their service oath requires them to defend agaisnt all threats, foreign and domestic, and they have not impeached and deposed our corrupted leadership as Americans no longer have the militia strengtht to do.


            Your budgetary bankruptcy will be your payment for services not rendered sir.



            As for the KV-22 Osprey . . . 17,000 lbs or less of fuel give is available, and that’s with another standing by to tank the tanker to get home.



            Shrug. 8 bombs from four jets, 17,000lbs divided by four is barely enough to provide 20 minutes over target and an overhead reserve back at the boat.


            It does nothing to increase the legs of the jets or the number of DMPIs per day which they service.


            Let’s look at it another way. You have four KV-22, two HV-22 and 2 EV-22. That’s eight airframes with a spotting size equal to a CH-53 and a payload performance equal to a CH-46.


            Where are the F-35Bs taking off from again?


            They’re all down in the hangar you say? Then there will be no well deck and you have built a single type carrier lite which cannot use any of the existing airwing enablers (EA-18, KA-18, F/A-18 SEAD/Escort, E-2 Hawkeye) which would otherwise be available.


            This is double down on stupid. Because LHA-6 is not a gator freighter. And because the followon hulls in the class (which do have well decks) will not be true carriers. A thru-deck cruiser as a carrier has this little problem with where to park the airwing when it’s not flying you see. One of the reasons why we abandoned it as an obsolete design, 70 years ago.



            The MV-22 Osprey has already ‘demonstrated’ moving an F135 in a new cradle. It’s not pretty but it works. What is needed is the KC-3A Super Viking to bring a full up engine, in its shipping container, to the CVN. No one is working on this at present, even though we are going hook line and sinker for the F-35Cs in the future. There will still be Super Hornets there, but the F-35s will be the Quarterbacks.



            The USN doesn’t want CSA because CSA will make them use UCLASS as a sensor platform which will compete with the F-35C as a ‘network combat controller’. With only 250 F-35C coming aboard, even if we do ditch two of the older Nimitz without repalcement, the CV JSF will be more of a token (A-6, single squadron) presence than anything. Which means that the whole notion of a sensor node calling down fires from everywhere is itself doctrinally unsound because if you only have a couple hours, tops, in the mission area, your coverage will be spotty at best with 12 jets.


            The real truth is that the USN wants ten carriers with four Super Hornet squadrons and no JSFs. Because decks = squadrons and squadrons = budgetary power on the airframe they DO WANT which is the Gen-6 NGAD. We will never get there. By 2030, the U.S. will be an object of history. Shattered by economic as much as military warfare. But hey, anyone can dream an airpower dream.


            The Marines are smart enough to see that having the decks equates to having the authority to demand aircraft to put on them and so their vision of 350 F-35Bs will rapidly return to 480+ ONLY if they get their 11 deck LHA-6 class as a full replacement for the Wasp and Tarawa.


            But they refuse to acknowledge the economic realities of payign for twice the deployment cruise economics costs of a gator freighter AND a CVE in each of these ‘cheaper if non nuclear’, carriers.


            Just as they refuse to acknowledge that, if the threat is not high intensity, you don’t need a stealth fighter to handle it.


            And thus their entire economics and force structure case is as flawed as they are themselves greedy. The Marines should be no more than 80,000 men strong. They should be high quality, low intensity, naval infantry. And in a world where Congress is once again gunshy on land wars, that will cost them major monetary privilege at the annual beggars banquet on The Hill. But an fast jet air force is a license to print money, simply because it is outrageously expensive for the actual capability and stupid fools love it anyway, much like they love NASCAR.


            I will say it again: This nation does not need three fixed wing air forces. And the Marines ‘buying in’ with an deficiency commmitment to a force that they assemble by pieces into a full fledged money sucking parasitic tape worm is vile. And illegal under RICO statutes.



            There is no doubt that more AI driven drones are in our future, but one cannot exclude the intelligence that must manage it (quarterback), and in some cases Shepard it into combat. For that activity to be relevant one will have to be close. I suspect this will be a Quarterbacking F-35. Future systems must be like equipped.



            ‘AI’ need not apply unless you honestly mean to suggest that the 90% of each mission which a manned fighter spends locked in autopilot goign from Point A to Point B _on autopilot_ qualifies for a Turing Test. What F2T2EA is about is flying a progression of those autopilot waypoints like a railroad track between points of interest and noting CCD or Coherent Change Detection thresholds (pixel to pixel) when something of interest crops up. When this happens you generate a robotic contact report, point your CDL AESA antenna at a satellite or pseudolite (HALE BACN) and shoot the image squirt. Because you are operating at X-band, you can pass reams of data (170MB raw SAR map data) in 4-7 seconds.




            Because it involved no-kidneys loiter. And a math coprocessor rather than spatial intuition.


            F-35s with two AMRAAMs will shephard nothing and no one. Nor was the intent of stealth -ever- to do so. Because the best RFLO hunter becomes vulnerable by association with what he chooses to ‘defend’.


            This includes the F-22 Raptor which was always a specialist platform intended to take down other enabler systems like tanking, EW and AEW&C. Never as a frontal fighter ala Typhoon or an F-15 replacement.



            If you have ever witnessed F-35B flight operations, they do not use a JBD, or come over the fantail. They hover next to the deck then just transverse over, and get weight on the wheels, then the engine goes horizontal as it spools down.



            You didn’t read what I said-



            Recovery is the same issue: You cannot VL over the deck edge because that’s a rear deck park. You cannot SRVL over the angle deck if you are part of a mixed force because the pendant will be rigged and the F-35B eats tires as it is.



            They cannot come over the SIDE of a big deck which is the rear deck part as well as the LSO platform. You will blow corpses into the sea and flip aircraft, on fire, end over end with the down force of that F135. This is indeed the standard ‘stop then land rather than land and hope to stop’ method of the Harrier.


            The F-35B also cannot execute SRVL which is going to be the (by far) more common method of landing because the jet is seriously overweight with minimal hot and high reserves sufficient for places like the West Pacific without losing bringback.



            The engine points down about 20° on a deck roll for takeoff which is quite a short deck roll.



            Which is why F-35Bs which use the entire deck of an LHD for runup seriously _sink_ when they come off the bow. The distance from the JBD to the angle deck end is about 200ft. They will not just sink, they will splatter. You cannot put them on the back of the boat and run them all the way forward because they have an enormous, energetic and hot jet wash which means that they cannot take off from a CVN. In truth, they also cannot take off from an LHA or LHD which is running concurrent helicopter ops because the RWA deck spots are competing with the full lenght needed for them to operate. Which means STOVL itself is a bogus concept because it only works when it is given exclusive and specialist support as a ski ramp and full-deck runway. Which is utterly ridiculous given the miserable up and away performance it represents.


            The only way to make an F-35B work without trampling other Useful-To-Marine-Ops systems is to give it a ship with a dual tramway set of flight decks so that RWA or conventional CVTOL on one side can operate independently of a skiramp assisted STOVL deck on the other. And once you accept that STOVL and CVTOL can operate together, STOVL loses it’s appeal because CV is otherwise completely superior in up and away performance.


            Conversely, you _cannot_ bring the F-35B effectively aboard a CVN because it screws with the deck cycle of the CVTOL aircraft in the one area of flight ops where it is suppoed to be ‘oh so superior’.


            The F-35B is completely outclassed by every other, non-STOVL platform out there. Including other F-35s. For radius. For payload. For Ps. For integration within an existing airwing support mission structure.


            It is simply _inferior_, across the board.



            As for F-35B effectiveness, if one can make an argument for an AV-8B harrier IIs effectiveness, then the F-35Bs argument is made.



            Except one can’t. Because the alternative to the AV-8B is the AH-1Z. And the AH-1Z, with multiple guided shots (Hellfire and APKWS, both forward, not drop firing) is actually superior to both Harrier and JSF for the kinds of ‘F-35B principle role will be CAS!’ missions the Marines say they need airpower for to begin with.


            The only reason helicopters do not completely replace fixed wing airpower for CAS is because their frankly superior weapons systems are linked to a propulsion as flight dynamic principle which locks them into the heart of the trashfire envelope.




            But for the F-35 to adopt Hellfire and 70mm guided rockets, it would have to mount external pylons at 1,500lbs for the MAU and jettison kits and that not only compromises their signature, ruins their specific excess power as bring back and adds drag to an already porky airframe, it also sticks them with the penalty of an engine from hell that is _LESS EFFICIENT_ at STOVL enabled strike than the F402-RR-408 of the Harrier II.


            Understand this: A Harrier II will go farther on half the internal fuel, with externdal stores, than an F-35B will go, clean. By itself, that means there is something serious wrong with the JSF.


            And yet the Marines want us to buy this new toy for them, knowing it’s a total failure at every mission metric THEY SAID they wanted it for!


            Where we cross the border from screwy thinking to criminal fraud is when you realize that the British have had Brimstone on Harrier, Tornado and now Typhoon for a decade. When the JSF enters service, it will still be dropping Vietnam era GBU-12 as it’s principle guided CAS weapon. If the British can afford to integrate guided weapons on three aircraft types which trade standoff safety and multishot aimpoint control _regardless of launch heading_, then what price a RICO charge when, ‘against the CAS threat’ the F-35 was bought for, we would have paid maybe 2-4 billion to integrate the same weapon on our jets and have REAL capability improvement because the PGM was off the helo and above the trashfire?


            The stupidity of this simple 500 billion for 350 jet vs. 5 billion for 20,000 warshots comparison is so eggregious it can only be deliberate. And where it is deliberate, it is a crime of mal-approrpiated funding waste since, _in a CAS environment_, an AV-8B would be safer delivering 6X Hellfire from 12km or JAGM from 20km than an F-35 would be dropping two GBU-12.


            And so would the Marines being supported.



            The F-35B can fly an AV-8B profile, but the AV-8B cannot hang on the wing of an F-35B throughout its operational envelope.



            Stealth is the art of minimal airframe deflection. You fly like an airliner because you don’t want to flat plate the machine (with g-con besides) on a hot-side aspect where the jet is FULLY VISIBLE to the emitter.


            In this, an AV-8B with an external rack of BRU-61 loaded SDB II is now also a superior contested BAI/INT machine to a stealthy F-35B with all of two GBU-12s in the bays because the AV-8B can now drop from 12nm on a moving target, 20nm on a hardened target and 30nm on an airburst target.


            Whereas the F-35B is going to fly a laydown profile _exactly_ like an F-117, in which target overflight is /guaranteed/, because it cannot afford the signature change that a breakway designation turn would mean.


            The F-35B will not mount a BRU-61 internally, because the bays are too short. Which means the primary stealth-attack alternative to 1960s Mk.80 based LGB and IAM is now denied it.


            And I am supposed to believe this is a good trade?



            AND . . . YES, I meant ASW helo decks. EVERY flight deck in the US Navy should become a “Ready Deck of Opportunity” for the very valuable and expensive F-35B, and that ain’t Twilight Zone, that is the reality we are presently steaming into.



            An MH-60 carries 4,039lbs of fuel internally. The F-35B carries 14,000lbs.


            I doubt, seriously, if it will VTO with half that amount.


            Now throw in stowage of the 12ft X 347lb AMRAAM and any air to mud you care to provide on each and every lilly pad you want it to recover to as an admission it doesn’t have the gas to achieve radius or station time any other way.


            The Marines are inventing reasons to laugh at this jet. And you are helping them to further the farce.



            Everyone dances around the issue, and makes arguments hinting at the EW mission set. However, no one wants to embrace Electronic Warfare as a Battle Force enabler, multiplier, or primary combat element. This lack of respect for EW will serve our enemies and be the genesis of our undoing. There should be an Electronic Warfare Combat Commander (EWCOM) on the level of USTRANSCOM, SOFCOM, STRATCOM, and the EWCOM should coordinate all EW operations across all services, and with our Allies.



            Stealth and EWF do not mix simply because EWF requires apertures which are themselves (podded) radar targets, even before you start yodeling in code and most of your ‘CAS’ threats will simply EOCG you with weapons like the Tor and Tunguska.


            Stealth and Soft Kill HPM might be more workable. But the difference is that:


            A. If you are beating up hill billies in outer Swabovia, _as a CAS platform_, you don’t have need for either conventional ‘jamming’ or cyber insert to stun a SPAAG/ADV which is, in any case, the ONLY radar threat which a CAS fighter should have to worry about.


            B. If you are a cyber assassin, scoring electronic kills with hard insert of degenerative coding on threat electronics, stealth is more important than EWF (because stealth gets you to the range point where a single lick will instantly disable the threat) only insofar as you are not part of a larger package effort. The reverse is not true because jamming lowers the S/Nr threshold by which stealth can leak through the filter yet the power of a good jammer is inherent to the size of the aperture, it’s cooling and it’s ram turbine, all of which is non-stealthy and thus useless to a stealth fighter. While a conventional signature platform simply won’t get close enough for a Cyber insert to work any better than an AARGM through the operator cabin.


            C. The JPO has lied to us. Either by stating that the F-22 has superior VLO when the F-35 does. By saying that all F-35s have the same VLO when they don’t. Or by insisting that the F-35 now has superior, all aspect, VLO to the F-22. Once you lie to someone, nothing you say to qualify/rectify our untruths can be trusted. And the Marines have shown a particualr failur to comprehend the exigencies of STOVL vs. Stealth on a _maintained in the field_ basis of sustainable, useful, airpower such that it is impossible to believe that they even understand the fundamental issues of airpower doctrine and logistics as to be able to know why their lies are damaging our security posture.



            And . . . it looks like I’m talking to a computer instead of a person.



            I have been called worse. The difference between me and a silicon chip is that a computer doesn’t generate good code when it is fed false datums, under teh GIGO principle.


            A good human analyst has a bullshit threshold beyond which any further attempts to bait and switch on current vs. past promises of performance simply leads to laughter.


            Covering for contempt.

            There used to be a time when Warriors would never let their honor be tainted by lies because they knew that when it all hit the fan, their word was the only thing that bought trust as gold to save blood. Modern Day warriors act too much like union leaders, saving their own MOS job specialty at the cost of mission performance. And then wonder why they get no respect.

          • Curtis Conway

            Like the analysis on the long term International economic view concerning the Bear and the Dragon.

            “Africa is useless as an undertow continent” How many mineral caches are there yet to be developed in Africa? The United States should be head and shoulders in Africa like the Chinese are. Zambia is a case in point.

            South America is the same analysis. We already have trade agreements with them. Regime change in Venezuela should be on the table. They are a puppet to Russia, and have a destabilizing effect on the continent.

            “I am the one looking to put the Marines in their place as naval infantry as a bullets and grenades force, unsuited to high intensity warfare. And unneedful of a stealthy strike fighter for ‘evacuate the embassy!’ missions.” I did not choose the F-35B for the Marines, but it IS the only game in town. They do not have a choice. Well, maybe we could do something with the Textron Scorpion, or what the A-10 replacement built to its Spec would have been, but getting either back on deck is tough. As it is, the F-35’B’ represents a unique capability, with that awesome combat system that resides in every one of them. THAT represents game changing technology that will go far in combat.

            “… the essential collpase and fragmentation of the United States into rump ethno states.” With the fracturing of our society by the current administration, and its pitiful leadership example for, and abuse of respect for authority (and that effect on society at large), the stage is set for what you described. I’m glad I live in Texas. Perhaps we should invest in our own BMD Program.

            If Proactive Presence had been maintained over the last 20-30 years we could have avoided much of this, or at least forestalled it further. However, now it is a ‘fait acompli’, and we can only influence the timeline.

            The only real answer is to leap into space and change the equation. Don’t thinks mankind is ready for that, or at least it has not shown the willingness to do that, and with what the school systems have been cranking out lately (the ‘highly educated’ Liberal Elite were duped by Satan himself and have done us in), we are unable to do that leap into space with what is coming out of the schools now. Home schoolers and church schools are mostly the only ones who understand the real world anymore. Everyone else have been indoctrinated to line up at the public trough.

            Cheers my friend, and your obviously not a computer.

          • Curtis Conway

            M&S, I find your arguments cogent a logical. I still find your assessment of the F-35 JSF Combat System somewhat missing in understanding of exactly what it brings to the table. I still think there is a place for Expeditionary Strike Groups particularly in the Pacific. Maybe not in any of the (X) China Seas, but elsewhere. I also missed your opinion on the creation of an Electronic Warfare Combat Commander (EWCOM). I would be interested in your opinion.

    • Charles Hixon

      IF one looks at the USAF description of electronic warfare, stealth definitely applies. “The purpose of EW is to deny the opponent an advantage in the EM spectrum and ensure friendly unimpeded access to the EM spectrum portion of the information environment.” A stealth aircraft denies a portion, a very important portion of the EM spectrum to the enemy without impeding friendly aircraft capabilities. the EA-18 cannot do the same, it either jams a frequency, which denies it to all, or it doesn’t. The nice thing the EA-18 can do is jam multiple frequencies and has more power, allowing it to attack different kinds of targets. Lets be clear though, X and S bands are the most prominent bands for weapons and tracking. those 2 bands are what stealth denies, in addition to modern fighter aircraft being able to jam in X bands with AESA radars themselves. Stealth is definitely the way to go in the modern world. Surface to Air missiles are the real threat.

      • Curtis Conway

        Your whole argument recognizes the utility of the EM spectrum and the necessity of its expeditious use and control there of before, during, and after combat. There are comms, and detection and tracking (not just RF) that must be dealt with in this matter. The EA-18G Growler in the most capable tactical combat platform at present, and takes care of some of that, and the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) will give it even more sway over the EM spectrum. Note They are very capable platforms that can be wielded as weapons, or information denial mechanisms required to win the battle (and the war), a coherent boss over all services is clearly needed. Ignorance of, or lack of understanding of this truth is dangerous. It is time to create Combat Commander for Electronic Warfare (EWCOM) on the level of STRATCOM, USTRANSCOM, or SOFCOM, and the USAF should re-emphasize the importance of EW to all combat crews. We do not want aircraft experiencing what the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) experienced in the Black Sea. Our engines are digitally controlled, and that digital combat system must continue to function to be effective and to survive. All branches of the US armed forces should be concentrating on Mode-3 manual ops, and passive combat system capabilities as well.

        • Charles Hixon

          The EA-18G and the F-35 operate with different philosophies of EW. I agree that the EA-18G is probably our best asset at total EWar control in terms of the full spectrum, but I would still argue that he F-35 allows for tactics that are unavailable even to the growler. Stealth allows you to deny a whole spectrum of RF (one that is used extensively in weapons systems) passively. In addition it has extensive sensors in all communication and ewar signals, making it an excellent ELINT platform. It’s ability to jam in the X-band compounds on its stealth meaning that it can actively attack radars by closing the majority of the distance undetected, then jam it. Jamming is more effective the closer you are towards the target, in addition, the clutter the RF has to sweep through is looking for a small stealthy object. Not that there aren’t countermeasures to this tactic, but all things have their countermeasure. I would never propose replacing EA-18G with more F-35s, but I do believe that this platform, is a jack of the Ewar trade. Having a platform that can do anything fairly well, allows for flexibility and ingenuity for commanders. Cyber warfare is indeed a new spectrum of the new era of electronic warfare and I no doubt believe that both the F-35 and EA-18G growler are equipped to deal it out.

          • Curtis Conway

            I like the way you think. The EA-18G Growler / F-35 Lightening II Team can accomplish a lot in a coordinated fashion if they are using a common data link (MADL?).

          • Curtis Conway

            Charles, another thought, if you have a background in EW, is That fact you pointed out about the receive side of that AESA radar antenna with an extra 30+ Db more sensitivity. With specifically targeted receivers there are a lot of . . . possibilities.

  • Don Bacon

    The F-35, after thirteen years and many delays, is still early in development. DOD expects to complete developmental flight testing in 2017. Less than three-quarters of its requirements have been tested and proven. The production decision is scheduled for 2019, and it looks like that date will slip yet again. General Hostage will be long gone by then. So sit back and relax, there isn’t really an airplane yet, just a bunch of faulty prototypes.

    What GAO Found, Mar 2014:

    Delays in developmental flight testing of the F-35’s critical software may hinder delivery of the warfighting capabilities the military services expect. F-35 developmental flight testing comprises two key areas: mission systems and flight sciences.
    Mission systems testing verifies that the software-intensive systems that provide critical warfighting capabilities function properly and meet requirements, while flight sciences testing verifies the aircraft’s basic flying capabilities.
    Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions.

    So any F-35 performance claims at this time are pure speculation.

    • PolicyWonk
      • Don Bacon

        How the Brits and Marines plan to support such a complex system as the F-35B at small remote locations, afloat and ashore, is beyond me. I guess it’ll be like in my car, the orange light comes on and I say ‘so what.’

        • truth_hurts

          “How the Brits and Marines plan to support such a complex system as the F-35B at small remote locations, afloat and ashore, is beyond me. ”

          Please don’t say that. The USMC and the brits were counting on you to divulge ” how to operate the F-35B” in one of your posts around the internet. They have no ideal of how to go about operating it, and relied 100% on your input. If its beyond you, then its pretty much beyond both those services.

      • Truth_hurts

        Old news. Britain cancelled the F-35B and is opting for jump jet version of the Eurofighter typhoon. The first prototype should be flying at Farnborough and RIAT soon and may even fly over the QEC ceremony. They have managed to add stealth to it and remove the second engine. It looks very similar to an F-35B.

    • I know Everything

      Copy paste. I bet you and eric exchange notes in your daily briefings on how to attack the “internet”. One question though, If you make the same point on two different news articles, do you still get paid the same amount even though its less work?

    • Titus Veridius

      This is not quite fair. We can’t know what the capabilities of the software, especially data fusion and cyber warfare capabilities of the F-35 will be because its largely based on software that isn’t even partially complete yet, and which the most heavily classified and compartmentalized part of the project, but we can be fairly certain of things like thrust/weight, maneuverability in various situations (high angle attack ect), radar cross section vs various radar bands, operational ranges, capability to perform published missions with weapons that currently exist, ect. Industry experts both interested, and those acting purely as observers have had more than a decade to look at the plane develop an understanding of it.

      We can be 100% certain that F-35 development will continue, and that eventually fixable problems will be fixed, the software will be completed, and weapons that it needs will be developed because we have no other choice but to do so.

      We can at this point be fairly sure that there will be deficiencies in the air craft concept and capabilities that will only be solvable by incorporating other aircraft into the kill chain (like the Growler), and thus invalidating the entire F-35 project, it’s costs, and it’s affects on our force structure.

      We can be fairly sure that more F-22s would have made the F-35 more capable because the F-35 was originally designed to compliment 800 F-22s performing deep penetration SEAD and Air Superiority, not 180. Having only 180 F-22s makes the F-35 incapable of performing its mission without other aircraft in the kill chain that the F-35 was designed not to need.

      We can be fairly sure that F-35 will not be able to penetrate a Chinese IADS 15 years from now to kill S-400 and later model S-300s without some other aircraft or strike capability creating gaps in the IADS, and it will have to do so with weapons that aren’t even on the drawing table.

      We can be fairly sure that in consideration of the things said previously, that the costs of the F-35, and the probable orders from partner nations will end up decreasing the overall number of NATO fighter aircraft by 2/3rds (conservatively) and ultimately decreasing the overall capability of those militaries to operate in future environments at combat tempo by an even larger margin. (Dutch are going to get 20ish F-35s, exchanged for 60 F-16s, with average readiness of current fighters (which probably be slightly higher than the F-35) The Dutch will be able to put a couple F-35s in the air at a time. Similar problems will exist for Australia, Canada, and all other NATO nation’s that are putting all their eggs in this basket. England, France, and Turkey will be less affected as they have larger forces, alternative aircraft that will main in service, and more resources to deal with bad decisions.

      What we can’t know with any certainty because of the nature of the concept is whether the F-35 will have a cyber warfare super weapon capability to make planes fall out of the sky, because the highly classified software is incomplete, and because the nature of the software design process is such that no one actually knows what it will look like when it’s done. The software design process is using old methods that have been abandoned in the private sector for arguably better models like AGILE/SCRUM.

      Additionally it is probably the final version of this software will not entirely make it our esteemed NATO allies, as it would be a major break from our practice of not exporting the most advanced versions of our defense technology, further invalidating our allies decision to purchase this aircraft.

      I continually look at my thought processes toward the F-35 project and ask myself if there aren’t holes in my logic, if access to classified sources invalidate these points, whether US learned anything from Bradley IFV design to F-22 procurement, whether basic air power concepts such as dog fighting are over appreciated, or concepts regarding super multirole aircraft traditionally amount to doing everything poorly and whether nearly the entire NATO alliance arranging their air forces to adopt a super multirole aircraft might be unfounded and irrelevant in the new millennium, and every time I do I walk away thinking the F-35 is actually worse than I thought it was, and NATO is setting itself up even worse for future overall capabilities.

      In the end, wtf do I know. I didn’t even cite sources in this comment.

      • Titus Veridius

        Please forgive my lack of proof-reading, I didn’t realize there was no edit function for posting.

  • Viper550ful .

    So whaddayaknow, the F-35 has BETTER stealth characteristics than the F-22.
    And this time it comes straight from the top…
    This should shut people up claiming that the F-35 isn’t a stealthy plane.
    It is.
    Wonderful. It keeps getting better and better.

    • Don Bacon

      never tested

      • Viper550ful .

        How do you know?
        Of course it has been tested. It’s just plain high school physics.
        They are already out there flying against possible enemy systems:
        Again, the F-35 BEATS the F-22 in terms of RCS.
        Remember that. You will hear that A LOT the coming years.
        Better come to terms with it. This is as official as it gets. Straight from the top.

        • Don Bacon

          I know because I read the test reports. If a claim is not tested and evaluated it doesn’t exist, simple as that.

          We did get a news report in April:
          Six Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft are currently at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to test the aircraft’s stealth and sensor technologies against representations of Russian, Iranian and Chinese air-defenses.

          But I doubt that we’ll hear anything about it because — “much of what it does remains highly classified.” hah –It’s highly classified but they can still report it as fact, without evidence, is what they do. You too.

          • Viper550ful .

            You got access to the official test data concerning highly classified data?
            Yeah right, pull the other one.
            (or prepare to get a visit from NSA/CIA)
            It was tested years ago and passed with flying colours.
            Here you go:

          • Don Bacon

            The program office has collected radar cross-section
            information on the Air Force version of the aircraft and “we
            are very pleased, very pleased,” U.S. Navy Vice Admiral David
            Venlet, the program manager, said in an interview.

            That’s not the way it works in systems acquisition. More is required than a statement by the program manager that he is pleased, or even “very pleased.”

            The Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) is the principal staff assistant and senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense on operational test and evaluation (OT&E) in the Department of Defense (DoD). DOT&E is responsible for issuing DoD OT&E policy and procedures; reviewing and analyzing the results of OT&E conducted for each major DoD acquisition program; providing independent assessments to SecDef, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)), and Congress; making budgetary and financial ecommendations to the SecDef regarding OT&E; and overseeing major DoD acquisition programs to ensure OT&E is adequate to confirm operational effectiveness and suitability of the defense system in combat use.

          • Viper550ful .

            It doesn’t matter, does it?
            You can only be satisfied if they deliver you the highly classified official test data personal. (which you will never ever get)
            And even THEN, you will claim it’s fabricated…
            Well keep fooling yourself, I and others are extremely pleased that the F-35 is indeed an very stealthy plane.
            Maybe you should talk to the general, why he is (*cough*) “misleading” the public with statements like that.
            One of the leading figures in the United States Air Force cannot have possible access to hard data and test results, because some nobody on the internet, calling himself “Don Bacon” doesn’t have that info either…
            Such a cruel world…

          • Don Bacon

            If the Director DOT&E determines the F-35 has X degree of stealth in various measures than I and others would accept it. That’s the way the system works. It doesn’t work by taking un-evidenced speculations from biased individuals. That’s what has contributed to so many systems acquisition failures over the years.

            Now even if Hostage said we conducted tests (although he’s not the proper authority) and found X, Y and Z I would listen and evaluate. But simply to make unverified claims from a Lockheed brochure, a company that has continually failed? No. Go fish.

          • Viper550ful .

            “I would listen.”
            No you won´t.
            You already made up your mind and nobody is going to change that.
            Did the director of DOD&E ever commented on classified stuff?
            No,of course not, it wouldn’t be classified anymore, would it.
            Some people should not have access to classified info. You are one of them.

          • Don Bacon

            Your getting personal is an indication (if one were needed) that you have no case.

          • eric_palmer

            No case. This isn’t a trial. For all we know you could be an unemployed 30 year old living in your parents basement.

          • Taxpayer Funded Sockpuppet

            It doesn’t matter if he’s an unemployed 30 YO living in his parents basement…because he’s right.

            We’ve all seen the claims of biased people working on this or that program, claiming they’re the greatest thing since sliced white bread…right up to the point the program is cancelled because of non-performance. Over, and over, and over.

            Unsubstantiated claims…are worthless. When DOT&E says they’re “satisfied”, then I’ll buy what they’re selling.

          • eric-palmer

            Of course a discuss board member has so much more wisdom and credibility than an officer that has the known and classified capability of the fighter on his fingertips. Please ask the honorable Mr Bacon to share with us some more wisdom about some other military programs because what he says is always right and what informed people say is always wrong (as per him).

          • Jimmy McNulty

            When its a toss up between a decorated general who knows his “stuff” and an internet armchair secretary of Defense, most folks would choose the latter. Even the services routinely follow Don Bakon around the internet to see what he is saying. Most of then turn off their minds when they receive a briefing from someone who actually knows whats going on. I have also read that the head of DARPA follows Mr Wonk (known here has Policy wonk) and bases the direction of her department to properly align with the wonk’s views. She even eats the same food he eats. Take a case in point of Mr Palmer known lovingly as ELP. He is officer on special duty, on deputation to the government of the Australia as a chief advisor on matters of policy to the RAAF. Thats his level of penetration. In fact until recently the website of the RAAF modernization white paper lead one to Mr Palmer’s blog. They changed that once another Mr Kopp objected that he had making this sort of noise for longer.

          • Admiral-Sweetman

            Apparently sources in the RAAF confirm that while the RAAF chief was getting a “classified” briefing on the F-35 he and his associated showed a lack of interest and were seen browsing Eric palmer’s blog on their iPAD’s. Even during the ROKAF competition DAPA and the ROKAF officials were seen browsing ELP’s website on their giant Galaxy Note II’s.

          • LonelyObservables

            I totally agree. If the director of DOT&E personally invites me to his office, offers me some coffee, donuts or if the secretary of defense arranges for me a guided tour of area 51 where I can see the various secret projects in development I may be inclined to believe. I was recently flown to Sweden with all costs borne by the swedish defense industry. First class all the way. A real taste of their hospitality. From there I went to Russia, again red-carpet-all-the-way and the radar makers over there told me facts about their systems that would open eyes. They were routinely picking F-22’s training at Nellis from Russian air bases using very powerful VHF radars. Its a new technology that America does not have. VHF. Remember those three letters, it will be the thing that brought down the american empire. V (Vee) H (ech) , F (Efff). I have also heard they plan to use their cable tv antennas to detect stealth, and small children can turn satellite dishes into stealth-killers.

          • ELP

            Appeal to authority,

          • ELP

            The “it’s classified” meme. Sorry. Try again.

          • eric-palmer

            Of course nothing should be classified. The Secretary of Defense should personally visit your lair (basement) to give you a classified briefing on the program and on all other military programs that may have classified elements. Because you are so important and convincing you is critical to the US and partner nation’s national security.

          • eric-palmer
          • Viper550ful .

            Ok, from the other article on this site.
            Suppose I could get you a classified briefing, the this will probably happen:
            ” …that each country went in to discussions with the Pentagon with a great deal of skepticism.But once country representatives received the most highly classified
            briefing — which I hear deals mostly with the plane’s cyber, electronic
            warfare and stealth capabilities — they all decided to buy. That kind of
            national and fiscal commitment from other countries may say more about
            the aircraft’s capabilities than anything else.”
            But you are not going to get that.
            Neither should you.

          • walter sobchak

            Sir can you share your classified briefings with us. Not the ones that you received from the USAF, but the classified briefings you received from the folks over in a big a$$ building in shanghai that was recently in the news.

          • ELP

            Ignorance from yet another internet troll. I am anti-communist.

          • walter sobchak

            Its ok that you are anti-communist, thats all well and good. Now get back to the topic and share with us those juicy classified briefings from your friends in Shanghai.

          • ELP

            Believing the “it’s classified” meme shows your ignorance.

          • walter sobchak

            I am not privy to classified briefings. I am also just a common citizen and not an important “information warrior” to whom the Secretary of Defense, head of testing give classified briefings. It is quite clear that someone in your position is entitled to these briefings, since you are vital to the US and Australian national security.

          • ELP

            You are just a troll. You always will be.

          • walter sobchak

            I am what I am. You on the other hand are a legend in the making. I am so happy that in case there is a ww3 we have you on our side.

            P.s. Do not call me names. You’ll enter a world of pain.

          • ELP

            Which means zero when looking at the DOTE 2011 (including the “quick look” report), 2012 and 2013 reports. Parroting LM/DOD talking points is not analysis.

          • Eric_Palmer

            The DOD has long outsourced analysis to Palmer and Palmer LLC an Anti-Communist think tank made up of basement dwellers and armchair generals.

      • Real-Don

        Of course, never tested by you. And until the DON tests it, it remains untested

      • RebeccaBacon

        Its been 9 years and 64 days since you left the basement. You have become so fat that we have been unable to TEST whether you can actually fit through the staircase without damaging the rails. That ability has not bee tested. I am sorry son, that I have to resort to talking to you on the internet, but this was the only option left for me.

  • CharleyA

    “The F-35′s cross section is much smaller than the F-22′s, but that does not mean, Hostage concedes, that the F-35 is necessarily superior to the F-22 when we go to war.”

    Is the General saying the RCS of the F-35 is smaller that F-22? That would be news.

    • Viper550ful .

      He is.
      And says “much smaller”. This is indeed news.
      Either the F-22 is not such a stealthy plane after all, or the F-35 is one hell of a stealthy plane, building upon what they already knew from the F-22 program and others.
      In a way it makes sense, since it’s the newer tech.

    • Don Bacon

      Stealth is a much more complex issue than an RCS number. It involves different frequencies, also visual, EM, infrared and acoustic
      That’s why it must be tested and evaluated.

      • truth-be-told

        Speaks the armchair stealth expert

      • Wang Guanzhong

        No need to explain it to them. Just bash the F-35. Our job here is to talk negative about the fighter and not take it ourselves to pass wisdom onto the uninformed. The less that know how stealth works the better for our J-20 and J-31.

    • Jeb Hoge

      I theorize that he’s (not) saying that in maybe head-on aspect, the F-35A might be. Smaller wing, smaller tails, smaller inlets.

      What I’m reading into this is that the F-35 is going to have to operate like the F-111. Stay fast and avoid direct confrontation of airborne threats. If you’ve got to fire an AMRAAM, do it off-aspect and skedaddle.

  • billy

    Much gnashing of teeth in China.

  • Carter Lee

    It will be interesting to see how one flushes all those F-35’s and F-22’s into the air with the Chinese kicking of the game with a massive ballistic and cruise missile attack obliterating all their bases?

    • KAB

      The thing about China using conventional ballistic missiles against land based targets is that they also have nuclear ballistic missiles and early warning systems can’t distinguish one from the other, which means that our forces might respond with nukes in the heat of the moment.

  • john

    I thought that the F-22 has a lower radar cross section than the F-35. Learn something useful every day.

    The US seems to have a shortage of the finest air combat craft for the coming decades – the F-22. A 4:1 superiority in killing enemt fighter seems like a huge advantage to me.

    Perhaps the flying wing concept can be used in a air to air fighter in the near future. While it might not be maneuverable enough to survive a dog fight, detecting those beasts would be really difficult. You cannot hit what you cannot see.

    Anyway, a very useful article. Thank you.

  • Don Bacon

    Back when the AF wanted money for F-22, it had the smaller RCS. Now it’s different, for obvious reasons(money).

    November 25, 2005: The U.S. Air Force, in it’s effort to get money to
    build more F-22s, has revealed just how “stealthy” the F-22 is. It’s RCS
    (Radar Cross Section) is the equivalent, for a radar, to a metal
    marble. The less stealthy (and much cheaper) F-35, is equal to a metal
    golf ball. The F-35 stealthiness is a bit better than the B-2 bomber,
    which, in turn, was twice as good as that on the even older F-117. Much
    older aircraft, like the B-52, have a huge RCS, which makes them very
    easy to spot on radar. But with a smaller RCS, it’s more likely that the
    aircraft won’t be detected at all.

    • Viper550ful .

      That is a long time ago…
      It hasn’t come to your mind that since then the F-35 went into development and eventually into production and that during that development for several years they might actually have improved a thing or to, to a point it now beats the F-22 in stealth?
      Love how things are so static in your mind.

      • Don Bacon

        Oh, has the F-35 shape changed since 2005, four years after the design program started? I didn’t know that.
        Oct 2001: SDD contract awarded
        Feb 2006 first production F-35A

        But I agree on one point: It was a long time ago, with little to show for it except billions mis-spent.

        • eric_palmer

          Hope you get paid for this. I mean it must take some effort to wake up in the morning, get a coffee, some donuts and hit google every day to find new f-35 articles to comment on. I know copy/pasting does save time but i bet you do this for 6-8 hours every day. Try to get some sunlight. Put your shoes on, go upstairs, just get out of the basement for a full day. Go out in the sun and get some Vitamin D.

          • billy

            These shills get paid fifty cents a post. Wu-mao.

          • truth-be-told

            That explains why they copy/paste so much. I support a salary hike to at least 10 bucks a post, that way there effort will be better coordinated, they’ll have some money to upgrade their blogs, and perhaps even try to bring up some actual research rather than copy pasting stuff all over the www.

          • billy

            Ten bucks a post? Jeez, I dunno about that. Don Bacon’s liable to squirrel it away and skip that rundown building in a nondescript area of Shanghai and emigrate to California. Open a grocery store or something…harangue his customers about the perils of the F-35.

          • Wang Guanzhong

            We have taken notice of the wages and will increase them at a suitable time.

          • billy

            And so you should.

            Good to see conscience and a sense of proletarian solidarity has jolted you from the error of your ways.

            After all, when one reads this….


            or if you prefer this


            it’s enough to make ya sneeze.

          • ELP

            It must take time an effort to be a nameless Internet troll with air power fund of knowledge that you yourself could write inside of a matchbook with a large-sized crayon.

          • eric_palmer

            Aren’t you running low on chips and soda?

    • eric_palmer

      The bums have lost. Get a job sir!

      • billy

        He has a job. He is a paid Chinese troll.

    • eric_palmer
      • Mike

        Come on Eric, that is not necessary….. I’ve followed Don’s comments for a long time, and I’d be quicker to believe that he has “been there done that”…. Even I don’t agree with all his points, but give the man credit, he does know one heck of a lot…

        • Don Bacon

          He’s not Eric– my guess is that he’s a Pentagon sock puppet.

          — In March 2011 The Guardian reported that the company Ntrepid had won a $2.76 million contract for “online persona management” (commonly known as “sockpuppetry”) operations from the U.S. military. The contract is for the creation of “fake online personas to influence net conversations and spread US propaganda.”

          • Mike

            That is a sad day when the military is funding internet propaganda within this country on that level….. Back in my day, the media reported a lot of our good days and bad… Of course, they did go out of their way to not inform the news media when they really “screwed up” … Those things would slowly leak out, sometimes months later as guys involved rotated home…. LZ Lima in the Ill Drang in November 65 comes to mind…

          • Taxpayer Funded Sockpuppet

            But, but, but…I’m a REAL boy!

          • ELP

            “my guess is that he’s a Pentagon sock puppet.” Shack!!! or just “sock puppet”.

          • Wang Guanzhong

            Sir such a short post is not going to cut it. We need at least a dozen lines. This sort of sloppy work is not acceptable and may warrant a re-look at your employment with us. We may have to transfer you to other departments and get Garry back to the JSF. His work with Space X is done.

          • Unit 61398

            Your masters have taken notice of your “sloppy” work here. Expect to be reprimanded. Your blog may even get defunded. Work harder, up the time to 12-14 hours. Cut and Paste more articles. Fabricate stories, do what you must. The JSF must loose orders from Australia, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Israel, Great Britain, Italy,Norway. I hear Canada is going to choose the F-35. Your entire strategy needs to change because clearly it is not working. How come the Australian air force does not base their decisions on what they read on your blog? What sort of Air force is it. Are the Canadians not reading your blog? What about the turkish? Work harder or we will take our business elsewhere.

          • eric_palmer

            Please do not guess. You are bad at facts as it is, and now you want to bring guesswork into the matter.

          • eric_palmer

            No one can come across an internet blog or a discuss board with so much credibility as you show up with, having flown the F-22, F-16, F-15, B-2, even remotely piloted UAV’s over Iraq. Heck, we have a real gem on our hands in Don Bacon.

        • eric_palmer

          Hi Garry, seems you changed your Disqus handle.

          • billy


          • Mike

            Nope, just the am old ground pounder who’s been there and done that…. Appears that Gary has taken some time off…

  • Don Bacon

    . . .the Marine Corps F-35B, approaches what is known as its Initial Operating Capability. . .

    Yes, the MC F-35B is queeny the lead dog on this enterprise, but we haven’t heard a peep recently about how the Marines intend to actually use the F-35B. They have said that the first squadron will be sent from Yuma to MAS Iwakuni, Japan in late summer 2017. Of VMFA 121’s 16 aircraft, six are slated for deployment on the USS Makin Island amphibious assault ship in the Pacific, with the remaining 10 at Iwakuni.

    Back last summer there was an interview with USMC Colonel (ret.) Art Tomassetti who might correctly be called the father of the F-35B. in part–

    Q. What impact will the F-35 have on US Marine Corps operations?
    A.The F-35 will have a significant impact on the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in bringing fifth generation capabilities and flexibility. It will be an important node in a networked battlespace by gathering and disseminating information, which can increase the overall situational awareness for Marines on the ground as well as for Marines and other friendly forces in the air.

    Nothing about strike fighter, nothing about shooting or destroying, or CAS, just “an important node in a networked battlespace.” How is the ACE commander on the Makin Island supposed to respond to that jibberish? Also how will he maintain that complex piece of equipment on an LHD far out at sea? The Marines will be doing this before the F-35 operational tests are concluded. Like most everything on the JSF program, that’s bass ackwards.

    • The real DON

      Just because you haven’t heard it obviously means that they have no idea of how they’ll use it. The great DON speaks out of the back end once again.

      • eric_palmer

        I guess the marines have all these F-35B’s and just park them on the ground and watch a bunch of movies all day munching away at them tax-payer funded Doritos. They eagerly await the “don in shining armor” to come and tell them what to do with the new jets

    • USNVO

      He answered the question asked, which boils down to “What new things does the F-35B bring to the USMC?”. Not what capabilities it has that already exist in the MAGTF. Reading comprehension, something to work on.

  • John Bogie

    No buddy has referred to the F-35’s wing loading! I learned to fly in 1943 and served in WW II just compare the F-35 Specs with the F-104 of the COLD WAR that became known as the WIDOW MAKER is the USAF and NATO buying another?

    • bigred8690

      The Starfighter had a high attrition rate in part because in those days there was no such thing as control augmentation systems. It is misleading to use outdated paradigms of aircraft design to criticize the F-35, one example being the idea that you have to have a bubble canopy for 360 deg visibility. In your time, as you know, fighter pilots had several minutes to prepare for the merge. By the 1980s, the moment you saw that speck, you had mere seconds. In future air combat, the Chinese pilot waiting for that moment won’t even know what hit him. History does not in fact keep repeating itself; there won’t always be classic dogfights just as there are no more classic bayonet charges or Normandy-like amphibious landings or set-piece naval battles like Trafalgar.

  • bigred8690

    For all the very real problems of the F-35, to be fair you have to understand that the proponents of the F-35 are fighting with their hands tied behind their backs. The most compelling capabilities of the F-35 are undoubtedly highly classified, while its publicly acknowledged shortfalls (for now) can be pounced upon by its detractors.
    If we read General Hostage between the lines, how could the F-35 be stealthier than the F-22? Stealth is always a function of aspect (angle), frequency, as well as condition of the LO materials. It’s a good bet, for example, that the F-35 is a huge improvement over the F-22 in the serviceability and durablility of its RAM. Back-to-back sorties, and it’s still stealthy. I’m being conservative here just to play devil’s advocate. Just that advantage by itself is worth it.
    In a future conflict, the Growler will be about as technologically helpful as dragging along an old WW1 era battlewagon in the 1940s-potentially useful but no longer decisive. If the key to winning the future battle is in the opening stages where stealth is most valuable, why would you want a highly visible Growler with its jamming serving as a huge beacon to be announcing to the enemy that you’re coming?
    In the hypothetical Pacific conflict, the Navy’s key contributions will be submarines and Aegis destroyers with BMD capability. The carriers will be held back so they don’t get sunk.

    • USNVO

      Stealth is also frequency dependent. Since the General was talking about VHF search radar, he may be merely referring to the fact that a smaller airplane has a lower RCS in the VHF band.

    • sabo

      f-18’s EW is meaner and more important then you probably realize. Expect to see this craft in service for a long time. that is unless they come up with some UAV that has its EW capabilities.

  • JimBobJoe

    Decent article. I know judgement should be reserved considering all the classified unknowns, and until the verdict is out.
    It’s also perfectly understandable the amount of distrust considering the rich history of low-balling/inflated promises followed by cost-overruns & delays these guys have. The F-35, not only, fits that profile, but fit’s the profile of following that pattern to the extreme, and causing much damage to other US military capabilities through financial deprivation, if that is the case.

    The F-35’s sustained turn rate is bottom of the barrel compared to potential adversaries, so, dogfights are out of the question. The stealth is reported only straight on. The F-35 does not have all aspect stealth.
    The air defense systems being produced by potential adversaries like the S-400, and the S-500 not far off, are designed to counter stealth. AESA radars are catching up with stealth quickly, and may be caught up by the time the F-35 reaches FOC. It may no longer be a stealth platform at that point. Timing is of the essence in the measures/counter-measures game.

    Growlers might not be needed when war starts, but these will be needed:

    • Marlon Serrano

      What part of Gen. Hostage’s claim that “the F-35A has AT LEAST the same thrust to weight ratio and maneuverability as the F-16” makes it having a sustained turn rate that is “bottom of the barrel”??

      The notion that the F-35 is slow and sluggish is a common misconception among aircraft enthusiast who have not properly researched about the aircraft.

      The thing is, when it comes to maneuverability, the F-35 has a lot of it,

      its thrust to weight ratio and wing loading properties are better than an F-16 when loaded for combat.

      F-16C (block 50)
      Empty: 18,900 lbs
      Load: 8,000 lbs (6,000lbs of fuel + 6 missiles)
      Combat Weight: 26,900 lbs
      Wing Area: 300 feet
      Wing loading: 89.66 lbs / square feet
      Thrust: 28,600 lbs (low altitude)
      Thrust-to-weight ratio: 1.06

      F-35A (configuration 240-4, most recent update)
      Empty: 29,000 lbs
      Load: 10,000 lbs (8,000lbs of fuel + 6 missiles)
      Combat Weight: 39,000 lbs
      Wing Area: 460 feet
      Wing loading: 84.7 lbs / square feet
      Thrust: 43,000 lbs (low altitude)
      Thrust-to-weight ratio: 1.10

      Its flight control surface AOA limit is 50 degrees and has been tested to 73 degrees with ease, the MIG 29 can theoretically reach only 45 degrees without its limiter,
      but pilots of the fulcrum choose to engage the limiter because the Mig-29 easily goes out of control or depart when at high AOA,

      the F-35 on the other hand is notoriously difficult to depart and extremely easy to put back in controlled flight if ever it does depart. So “if”, or should I say “when” the F-35 finds its self needing maneuverability, it will have plenty to go around

      • JimBobJoe

        You know what I am talking about.

        The F-35 is not, nor was it designed to be, an air superiority fighter.

        The fact that America has only 178 F-22’s has made that aspect much more important for the F-35 now.

        • R Valencia

          General Mike Hostage On The F-35 vs F-16

          But Hostage says, as do other senior Air Force and Marine officers, that an F-35 pilot who engages in a dogfight has probably made a mistake or has already broken through those IADS lanes and is facing a second wave of enemy aircraft. The F-35, he says, has “at least” the maneuverability and thrust and weight of the F-16. The F-35 is to the F-22 as the F-16 is to the F-15.


          Furthermore, the Dutch did compare various fighter aircraft in 2002. Who remembers? The RNLAF – the Royal Netherlands Air Force – carried out this study and the balance sheet came out in the Dutch press:
          Here are the ratings reported:

          F-35 = 6.97
          RAFALE = 6.95
          Eurofighter = 5.83
          F-16 Block 60 = 5.80

      • Hound38

        Interesting analysis, BUT I was always under the impression that the F-16 was a pig in a fully loaded condition. The line I always remember was that a fully loaded 757 was more maneuverable than a fully loaded F-16.

        So, wouldn’t that make the comparison somewhat specious? Wouldn’t a better comparison be to an F-15 or the Eurofighter or the Rafale or a JF-17, Flanker…

    • Titus Veridius

      HARM cannot fit in F-35 or F-22 internal bays. Externally mounting the HARM for penetrating IADS would be counter productive.

      As I’ve been saying in these comments, there currently is no announced planned SEAD missile for use on the F-35 or F-22.

  • Scot

    Would there be any value to the program in adding an electronic attack version – FA-35G Lighting / Growler?
    Given that the plane was supposed to be a jack of all trades – why not add another version to the three that already exist?

    • Ron Ham

      I think the USMC and the USN are waiting on this decision. They are eagerly awaiting Mr Bakon and Mr Wonk’s views on the matter to formally launch efforts to create such variants.

    • CharleyA

      That idea was pushed far to the right when the JSF program was rebaselined. The USMC *might* install a version of Intrepid Tiger, a comms jammer, on their jets – it requires little integration with the host aircraft, and could be fielded relatively easily. EA via the NGJ is much more complex undertaking, which is why NGJ will be introduced on the EA-18 years before it appears on the F-35 – if ever.

  • jk641

    Gen. Hostage says that he’s going to need all 1,700 F-35’s. (for USAF)
    He says that he will need 8 F-35’s to do the same job that two F-22’s can accomplish.
    So even if the F-35 works as advertised and everything functions perfectly, it’s going to be much inferior to the F-22.

    He also says that the F-35 “can’t turn and run away”.
    (for obvious reasons. It’s too slow and unmaneuverable. If an enemy fighter gets on the F-35’s tail, the F-35 will be toast. So the F-35s must destroy all the enemy fighters from long range.)
    It’s imperative that the F-35’s shoot down all the enemy fighters from long-range; they simply cannot afford to get tangled up in dogfights with enemy fighters, as the F-35 is simply not a dogfighter.

    But how do you shoot down enemy stealth fighters from long range?
    In the hypothetical US vs. China scenario depicted in the article, how would US fighters shoot down the J-20’s from long range?

    It is not certain how stealthy the J-20 will be, but if it has a low RCS it will not show up on radar until it was fairly close.
    By the time the J-20 shows up on the F-35’s radar, it’s very possible that the F-35 will show up on the J-20’s IRST.

    (The F-35 has the most powerful engine of any fighter jet, and it gets very very hot, especially in afterburner.
    The F-35 doesn’t have the engine plume infrared signature reduction of the F-22.
    So, it will be visible on infrared sensors from a long distance.)

    If the enemy fighters shoot heat-seeking missiles at the F-35, how survivable will it be?

    But more importantly, how will the F-35’s avoid close-in engagements with enemy stealth fighters, for which it is gravely unsuited?


    Let’s face it. The F-35 is in no way invisible to radar.
    It’s visible plain-as-day to low frequency radars. China is also building an OTH (Over the Horizon) radar network that can detect stealth aircraft and has a range of thousands of kilometers.
    The F-35 is only stealthy in the X-band (and only from certain aspects), and can only jam radars in the X-band.
    So, there’s no way that the F-35 can avoid detection.
    And once it’s detected, the enemy will send stealth fighters up against it.
    But the F-35 won’t be able to destroy the enemy fighters from long range.
    And the F-35 will be drawn into a close-range engagement, for which it is unsuited. (poor dogfighting performance, huge infrared signature)
    How does the F-35 come out on top??

    It is clear that China, for instance, will be able to build large numbers of stealth fighters.
    But it appears to me that F-22 Raptors are the only US fighters that will be up to the task of dealing with them.
    The US only has 187 F-22’s.
    The way I see it, US (and its allies) will lose air superiority to a combined Russia/China alliance.

    If we continue with the F-35 program, then this is the only likely outcome.

    • Uniform223

      F-35 F-22 B-2 F-117 are not invisible to radar, just very very hard to find. People always talk up long wave radars, VHF radars and radars of different frequencies. The main problem with those other systems is that they are not accurate. A long wave low freq radar might tell you there is a stealth aircraft out there but it cant give you a good enough vector to the aircraft in question. All you will know is that its out there. Most if not all LO designs for aircraft were design to primarily defeat the radar that would most likely try to target them and is used in weapon systems for a accurate firing solution, X-bands radars. At longer ranges those high-freq radars will almost never detect a stealth aircraft until it gets closer to the source.

      I watched a conference where a USN pilot who was a former F-14 pilot that transferred over to the F-18 Super Hornet and now a test and training pilot of the F-35C say the F-35C has performances comparable to a slicked Super Hornet ( probably all internal carried payload ). He went on to add that the F-35C has 20000lbs of internal fuel, that is a Super Hornet with 2 drop tanks ( what size drop tanks I always wondered ). I’ve heard a USAF pilot state that in some regimes the F-35 can actually outrun a F-16 and that the Viper has to go to AB to catch up. The F-35B is also reported to have the same kinematics as the older F/A-18C/Ds. As I stated earlier the F-35 in terms of physical performance is no slouch. If you try and compare it to more high performance aircraft ( F-22, Typhoon, Eagle, Rafale, Flanker ) then of course it will always look like a bad contender.

      IRST ( even the best of them ) on a good day can give you almost a 90km range. If you’re lucky enough to catch a heat bloom for the exhaust, then you’ll get over 120km. That is great and all but at those ranges there is no IR missile that can engage. Also at those ranges traditional X-band radars will have a hard to locking and tracking a stealth aircraft. If one was so luck ( or unfortunate ) enough to spot an F-35 or F-22 through those means ( IRST or low-freq radars ) then use their ( higher frequencies ) radar to attempt a lock on, they lose the element of surprise. The F-35s and 22s avionics and advanced RWR will pick you up and lock you up. The scary thought is that those two aircraft will be able to effectively engage you but you cant do anything until you or they get close enough. It should also be noted the F-22 and F-35 have some minor design features that slightly minimize their IR signature ( special coatings and active cooling measures in certain areas )

      Then lets look at the J-20. There are so many elements one can pick out that would greatly compromise its “stealthy” features. For one and very noticeable is its forward canards, they present large angular moving surfaces that reflect radar waves. Also upon closer inspection the J-20 will actually have the worse RSC for a stealth aircraft ( comparing to F-22, F-35, PAKFA, and later J-31 ). In that regard the F-35 will be able to detect, track, and target a J-20 WAY before the J-20 can do anything of the sort against an F-35 or F-22.

      I will add though that Bill Gigliotti who himself is a Lockheed Martin test pilot for the F-35 ( graduated US Navy Fighter Weapons School AKA Top Gun, combat veteran of 1991 Gulf War, graduate of US Navy Test Pilot school, and a former F-14 and F-16 pilot ) stated that the US military should closely look at and invest in a new long range missile that would greatly complement and extend engagement ranges for the F-22 and F-35 natural stealth capabilities. We haven’t had a missile like the AIM-54 Phoenix since its decommission. The latest AIM-120D is believed to have an effective range a little over 100mi and that is no where near the European Meteor Missile. The inability to field a long range intercept missile for US fighter aircraft as he stated “is the Achilles heel of the US fighter fleet across the board”.

      • jk641

        About low-freq radars not being accurate enough to pinpoint the location of stealth aircraft:

        I once read an interview of an Australian pilot who was test flying the F-35 in Australia.
        He said that the F-35 was plainly visible to the JORN (OTH) radar network, and it would’ve been easy to use the radar track to get within visual range of the F-35.
        (China is building its own OTH radar network.)
        He also said that the F-35 was slower and less agile than the old Mirage III at most altitudes.

        It’s true that the F-35 isn’t the slowest fighter jet out there.
        But I believe its combination of slowness and lack of agility will be fatal in a dogfight.
        Not only is it slow, its sustained turn rate is a mere 4.6g’s.
        (The FA-18 is also slow, but at least it is very agile.
        The F-16 may handle sluggishly when its fully loaded with bombs, but in A2A configuration it is very fast and agile and leaves the F-35 in the dust.
        The F-35, sadly, can never be fast and agile. It’s too fat and heavy, doesn’t have enough engine thrust, and its wings are too small.)
        If I were in charge, I would scrap the F-35 and redesign it. I would omit the VTOL capability, and give it two engines and bigger wings. (better out of cockpit visibility too)

        Also, in the age of stealth, infrared sensors will become more and more important.
        In stealth vs stealth engagements, the smart thing to do is to turn your radar off. (or use it as little as possible)
        IRSTs are becoming more and more sophisticated, their ranges becoming ever greater, and long-range heat-seeking missiles are being developed.

        Also I don’t know how the F-35 became more stealthy than the F-22.
        The F-35 has only frontal aspect stealth from the horizontal plane, and even this frontal RCS has been getting worse over time.
        If you see pictures of the original X-35, it had a perfectly flat ventral surface.
        But if you look at the current production model, it has numerous bumps and warts on its belly and elsewhere (which can reflect back radar waves).
        OTOH, the F-22 has all-aspect stealth and a much flatter belly.

        I don’t know the exact RCS of the F-35, but I find it very unlikely that it will be more stealthy than the F-22.
        Will it be more stealthy than the J-20 or J-31?
        Will it be able to detect them before they detect it? I don’t know.

        In any case, in a hypothetical US vs China confrontation, the US stealth fighters will be detected by China’s OTH, low freq, and networked radars.
        The Chinese will vector their stealth fighters within visual (or infrared) range of the US fighters.
        At which point the F-35’s stealth will be moot and it will turn into a close range engagement..

        • Uniform223

          No RAAF pilot has flown the F-35 outside COUNUS. The first F-35s to do so will be the 3 F-35Bs flying to England for the RIAT 2014. Those few lines about the “Australian pilot” and his/her “remarks” I call false.

          “Not only is it slow, its sustained turn rate is a mere 4.6g’s.(The FA-18 is also slow, but at least it is very agile.
          The F-16 may handle sluggishly when its fully loaded with bombs, but in A2A configuration it is very fast and agile and leaves the F-35 in the dust.
          The F-35, sadly, can never be fast and agile. It’s too fat and heavy, doesn’t have enough engine thrust, and its wings are too small.)
          If I were in charge, I would scrap the F-35 and redesign it. I would omit the VTOL capability, and give it two engines and bigger wings. (better out of cockpit visibility too)”

          I have heard and read those remarks time and time again and frankly it is getting old. Viper, Hornet, and even Eagle pilots come off the F-35 surprised that the Lightning IIs physical performance is substantially better then reported The 4.6g is the aircrafts minimum turn radius. Here is a really great read that would better illuminate the dreaded 4.6g sustained turn rate.

          “Depending on amount of fuel carried by each aircraft, the F-35A is capable of sustained turn performance on a par with the F-16A. Assuming the F-16A is still the ‘best’ in a sustained turn that there’s ever been at 15K feet and M.8, then that means the F-35A is capable of holding its own” The F-22 and F-35 flying with standard weapon ( all internal ) and fuel loads against conventional aircraft will have performances on par or exceeding, mainly due to lack of drag caused by external stores.
          Example: In 2012 Red Flag Alaska the Typhoon made headlines reporting simulated kill markings against the F-22. Note though ( something that wasn’t widely reported ) before the WVR engagements were kicked off the Typhoons were flying slick with no external stores or pylons. At that point the Typhoon will naturally have better performances then the heavier F-22. The real question to the debate or conversation is IF the Typhoon was flying against an F-22 with a full load of fuel and a standard armament and payload, will the Typhoon perform just as well? Short answer, no.

          People often look at the underside of the F-35 and immediately think or believe that all those bumps and “warts” will compromise the F-35s stealth. When looking more closely at them those bumps and surfaces all align with each other at a 65 degree angle not to mention more modern and durable RAM coatings on specific surfaces. The consistent alignment of angles and RAM covered surfaces on the underside of the F-35 still gives it operational LO survivability against modern and ( possibly ) foreseeable fire control radars. The F-35 might not be as stealthy as the F-22 at all angles and aspects but it has more then enough LO ( physical ) features to get the job done.

          ( How many times do people have to state this ) Again using low-freq/long-wave radars against a stealth aircraft will only let you know that they’re out there. They cannot provide accurate information for proper intercept vectors or firing solutions which is critical. IRSTs are good but compared to the ranges radar systems give, are not good enough. Currently there is no tactic or technology ( known publicly. Though I would assume because the US has had so much experience with stealth designs and tactics; the US already has highly classified tactics and technologies to defeat or properly defend against LO platforms ) out there that is hammering the nail in the coffin to LO designed aircraft.
          The AIM-9X ( from talking to an F-22 pilot at the Nellis AFB airshow in 2012 ) has a maximum range of 20mi with a optimal engagement range between 1mi-12mi. Compared to the AIM-120 which has reported range of 100mi, there is no IR seeking missile that can engage a stealth aircraft at BVR ranges. I will agree that a WVR stealth capabilities become moot ( I do believe though that the F-35 will still be able to hold its own against most adversarial aircraft ). USN and USAF have been experimenting with the LOAL ( Lock On After Launch ) concept with the AIM-9X. This will allow the F-35 and F-22 to maintain its stealth without having to compromise it for exposing the Sidewinders seeker head in order for it to lock on and track an adversary aircraft. Details are fuzzy about the CUDA missile. It is reported and rumored to have a multi-purpose capability, hypersonic speeds, WVR and BVR engagement ranges, and is stated to use kinetic hit-to-kill technology.

          • jk641

            Over the Horizon radar bounces radar waves off the earth’s atmosphere, so frontal aspect stealth is ineffective against OTH radar.

            Also, these days they’re coming up with all sorts of ways to detect stealth aircraft, such as combining long and short freq radars, networked radars, IRSTs, etc.
            They will get better and better as signals processing technology (aided by computers and software) keeps improving.

            The important thing is, once the F-35 shows up on radar, it’s no longer invisible.
            The element of surprise is lost.

            (And once the F-35 appears on the enemy’s IRSTs, it will be in big trouble.
            Its huge engine heat signature will make it a big target for heat seeking missiles.)

            Also, please don’t try to make the F-35 look like an air superiority fighter, because it’s not.

            The F-35 was originally designed as a low-cost ground attack aircraft to complement the F-22 Raptor.
            The US was originally going to buy 750 Raptors, but for budget reasons they ended up buying only 187 of them.
            This is the only reason why the USAF wants to use the F-35 for air-to-air missions as well as air-to-ground missions. (but they’re dead wrong)

            Even Gen. Hostage has said that the F-35 is not an air superiority fighter and that without the F-22, the F-35 will be “irrelevant”.
            The F-35 is much slower, less agile, and has a lower altitude ceiling than the F-22. Also, it can carry only 4 missiles internally, as opposed to 8 for the Raptor.

            Also, I don’t know why F-35 supporters keep comparing the F-35 to the F-16A and insist that the F-35’s performance is “not that bad” in certain situations.
            This is really misleading.

            The F-16A is a small fighter with small wings, so of course its performance suffers when you weigh it down with fuel and ordnance.
            Besides, none of America’s enemies operates the F-16, so why compare the F-35 to the F-16?

            How about actually comparing the F-35 to the aircraft it will likely face in a future conflict?
            For instance, how does the F-35 stack up against the Su-35?

            The Su-35 (or T-50 PAKFA, or J-20) are all larger fighters than the F-16.
            They have bigger wings and a lot more engine thrust, so they’re not affected anywhere near as much as the F-16 when they’re weighed down with fuel and ordnance.
            How will the F-35 stack up against these potential adversaries?

            For instance, the Su-35 has an empty weight of 40,500lbs, but when its fully loaded with 25,400lbs of fuel, its weight is 65,900lbs.
            The Su-35 has a wing area of 667 sq ft, and max engine thrust of 63,800lbf.
            So with 100% fuel, the Su-35’s wing loading is 98.8 lb/sq ft, and its thrust/weight ratio is 0.97.

            The F-35A has an empty weight of 29,300lb. When fully loaded with 18,200lb of fuel, its weight is 47,500lbs.
            The F-35A has a wing area of 460 sq ft, and max engine thrust of 40,000lbf.
            So with 100% fuel, the F-35A’s wing loading is 103 lb/sq ft, and its thrust/weight ratio is 0.84..

            So how do they compare at 50% fuel?
            At 50% fuel, the Su-35 has a total weight of 53,200lb.
            So its wing loading is 80lb/sq ft, and its thrust/weight ratio is 1.2.

            At 50% fuel, the F-35A has a total weight of 38,400lb.
            So its wing loading is 83.5lb/sq ft, and its thrust/weight ratio is 1.04..

            Bottom line is, there’s no way that an F-35A can achieve parity with the Su-35.

            How about Russia’s new T-50?
            (WARNING: This may cause fainting.)

            The T-50 has an empty weight of 39,700lb. Fuel capacity is 22,700lb.
            Total weight is 62,400lb.
            Wing area is 848 sq ft, and max engine thrust is 79,200lbf.
            So, with 100% fuel, the T-50’s wing loading is 73.6lb/sq ft (!). Its thrust/weight ratio is 1.27 (!!).

            How about at 50% fuel?
            With 50% fuel, the T-50’s weight is 51000lb.
            So, the wing loading comes down to 60lb/sq ft, and its t/w ratio is 1.55.
            (Jesus Christ, this thing is an effing spaceship.)

            Basically, in a dogfight, the T-50 will eat the F-35 for breakfast (or a light snack).

            Still wanna buy 2,443 F-35’s and make it the mainstay of US air power for the next few decades?

      • Supernova1987

        That often quoted range for the 120D comes from the wiki article AFAIK. This figure is probably very exagerated. The 120D was supposed to have 50% more range than the C-5, not C-7. The C-5 has a range of about 75km, so that would put the D’s range at about 110-120km. This is already quite good considering the fact that the AIM-120A had a range of 55km or so, and the D keeps the same external dimensions.
        That max range could be significantly reduced if the enemy plane has the ability to detect the launch and does the right maneuvers to escape.

        The F-35 absolutely needs a longer range weapon.

  • someguywithoutaTSclearance

    “The F-35′s cross section is much smaller than the F-22′s….”

    Um, what?

    “The F-35 doesn’t have the altitude, doesn’t have the speed [of the F-22], but it can beat the F-22 in stealth.”

    I admit that a defense journalist and a guy in the Air Force who really should know what he’s talking about on the matter are presumably credible. But those statements go against literally everything I’ve read on F-22 vs. F-35 radar-observability. What I’ve read everywhere being what most of us have probably read everywhere: That the F-35’s RCS is about as good as the F-22’s in the frontal aspect and against tracking/targeting radars operating in traditional frequencies for those, but inferior from non-frontal aspects and against broadband threats.

    So either the F-35’s RCS has come out far better than expected and this is the first public item (I’ve seen, anyway) to report that, or the the author and/or his source are hugely mistaken. The balance of probabilities probably favors the latter, I’m thinking.

    • someguywithoutaTSclearance

      Reading other comments, the only explanation that seems sort of crebile for the comments is that the F-35’s RAM are must easier to maintain than the F-22’s therefore the F-35 has better “practical stealth”, in a sense. Which is not an assine statement, considering what we know about the F-22’s problems with maintainability of coatings and how the F-35 was designed (ie. to sidestep those problems).
      Except that’s not what I take the author and Gen. as saying. It seems clear to me what they’re saying is that the F-35 flat out has a lower RCS than the F-22 in general, on Day 01, Sortee 01 of the war. Which would be big news.

      • someguywithoutaTSclearance

        Ugh, need a mid-life upgrade on remembering to proofread.

  • Uniform223

    Okay first off lets get some simple facts straight. No partner country has completely pulled away from the JSF program. Not Canada, Australia, Turkey, who ever. Though because of the constant delays ( I blame program management not the aircraft so much ) the partner countries for the JSF has scaled back the numbers on how many F-35s they want to purchase. So when ever I read or hear bupkis news about the F-35 being dropped for the EF2000 or Rafale, show me a news article then I’ll believe you more. Speaking to that here is some articles that will piss off the F-35 hater mob.

    It LOOKS LIKE Canada will still go ahead with the F-35 to replace its aging fleet of CF-18s. Australia will purchase 58 F-35s. Israel is now on the F-35 bandwagon. Korea picked the F-35 over the F-15SE and is really eyeing the F-35. So lets face it, as much as people hate the F-35; Lockheed Martin cornered the defense market with the F-35 and there is no real aircraft like the F-35 as close to completion or operational status.

    When it comes to how much/little we know of the F-35, think in terms of bread crumbs or puzzle pieces strewn about. Do not take one piece of “information” and take as pure fact. Part of the fun ( that I have with the F-35 ) is dissecting anything that I can find out there ( I recommend people do the same ), and try and paint a more complete picture ( I do not want to sound or act like I am superior to other but seriously this whole, “lets pick one side and just roll with it” is getting pretty old ). As an aircraft in terms of physical performance its no slouch. From places I’ve read and videos I’ve seen the F-35 ( in terms of physical performance ) is somewhere between that of a F-16 and F-18. The F-35 ( F-35A and C ) will have a faster dash to the transonic but will be slower to the supersonic. The USMC F-35B is a vast physical improvement over their AV-8Bs. F-35B have been known to hit mach1.6 and have the physical performance of an F/A-18C.

    Can the F-35 perform physically, yes though not as well as the Eagles or Raptors. Its NOT a dedicate air superiority/dominance platform but it should be regarded with some respect. In terms of pure software, avionics, battle link systems, ect… I still don’t know what to make of it. Mind you the F-35 was designed over an philosophy of a networked battle space and sensor fusion. So long as all the bugs, glitches, and software issues are resolved; the F-35 will have sensor fusion on a level that no other aircraft out there has now. The networked battle space has been pretty much the vision for big US military since the mid 90s. When or if the F-35s ( all versions ) are out with and fully upgraded to block 3F software and beyond, a flight of F-35s mixed with other aircraft ( F-22s, F-16s, Super Bugs, F-15s, EF2000 ) should make people have a long pause of worry. Though that concept is if military tacticians and planners can truly make that playbook and refine those tactics. When Eagle and Viper drivers went to the F-22 they tried to fly the Raptor like their previous aircraft. When they started to fly the F-22 as the aircraft its supposed to be, the F-22 ended up flooring the competition ( in some if not most aspects ).

    So the other issue is what will the F-35 face. That is a debate that is always ends up in a stalemate ( in my mind ). Looking at whats out there the F-35 will most likely go up against later 3rd generation ( Mig-21s ) and early 4th generation type aircraft. The real concern ( that I have seen damn near everywhere ) is how will the F-35 do against “peer” nations ( Russia possibly China ). Lets step back and look at those two nations track records. Russia is really great about playing up their military hardware capabilities as this huge colossal undertaking. At first the West gets scared of it then when the real number come back we ( US ) will let out a sigh of relief and say, “oh we’ve been doing that for nearly a decade now”. Russian military is really great at really playing up their achievements and keeping problematic issues in a black box somewhere. For instance Russia claims the Su-35 to be the most capable aircraft in the world and can supercruise with the best of them ( F-22, EF2000, Rafale ) though so far have not come out and published any real hard numbers for its supercruise capability. Su-35 also has the latest Russian radar tech the Irbis-E which is a PESA ( Passive Electronic Scanned Array ) and NOT an AESA like the F-22 and F-35. In simple terms an AESA is all around better than an PESA radar. Recently EF2000 and Rafale have upgraded to AESA radars, something the the SU-35 and developing PAKFA have yet to do. Also the USAF upgraded F-15s have been retrofitted with AESA radars and also the F-16s.

    China does indeed have ( now ) a huge industrial base. The real question is how good is their stuff. From everywhere I have seen China is great at making bootleg copies of everything they see ( hell look at their domestically produced cars ). I always joke that China is the bootleg capital of the world. To quote Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, “It seems then the expression Copyright Infringement doesn’t translate terribly well into Mandarin”. Even look at their designs of their vaunted J-20. That looks like if a F-22 and Su-27 had an ill legitimate baby. Then look at their J-31… someone please tell me that DOESN’T look like an F-35. Sukhoi got upset at China for copying and their Su-27s that they sold to them in the mid and late 90s to make their own domestic version the J-11. Russia is reportedly about to finalize a sell to China for a handful of Su-35s but is reluctant to give the Su-35 with its proper engine to China.

    Anyone with a protractor, compass, ruler, and graph paper can easily draw up rudimentary and feasible stealth aircraft ( now ). The next hurdle is how are you going to build it and with what materials. After that when you get it off the drawing board and off the assembly line, the next big question is how are you going to employ it. That is where the US and its closest allies will have a major leap ahead over any adversary that wants to defend against stealth aircraft or use stealth aircraft against the US and its allies. The US has had first hand knowledge of how to build and use a stealth aircraft ever since the SR-71. Then came along the F-117 and the later B-2 pretty much within a decade. Then came along the F-22. Now we have the F-35 coming along to play in this game. The US has had first hand knowledge with LO designs and concepts for more then 30yrs now. The honest truth and fact is that Russia and China still have to catch up. Though there are situations where the F-35 cannot be the end all do all silver bullet it was and is hyped up to be.

    Hardware and the constant dick measuring aside, tactics is what will really make the difference.

    The F-35 is already assisting the F-22 in other ways too.

    • PolicyWack

      Every partner nation has virtually pulled off. Australia has done face saving exercises. One after the other. They have quietly bought super hornets, and are secretly negotiating used Eurofighters from unnamed European countries. Helping them in this deal is an american expat turned basement_general. Turkey is making its own fighter and may buy 1 JSF so that they can test it as an aggressor. The UK has sent to Australia for testing a version of the eurofigther that can take off and land like a helicopter (swear to god, just like a helo). This new version has internal weapon bays and stealth. It looks remarkably like the F-35B with the exception that it actually flies. The UK will unveil this remarkable hyper stealth 6th gen jet at Farnborough and RIAT this year. Keep your eye out for those events and the debut of the 6th gen euro_fighter cum helicopter. South Korea has picked the T-50 (not the PAKFA but the trainer) because it can actually pass OPEVAL while the f35 cannot. Japan is going for their own fighter and helping them is a fellow by the name of Bakon who is an ex US Assistant Secdef with an axe to grind. This leaves the US services. The air force is secretly buying a new version of the F-16 and the Marines are upgrading the Harrier, into a F-135 powered stealth fighter with internal weapon bays. It too looks remarkably like the UK’s Euro_fighter_copter thingy. The USN is going to buy the advanced super hornet because it in its growler form jammed the Mars Rover for a few minutes before NASA requested that the jamming be stopped.

      • John1963

        Jammed the Mars rover..LOL Was that with the old pods or the NGJ?

        • Ron Ham

          I think Boeing is being super quite on this. Perhaps the basement hunters would be able to elaborate more since they have info from their employees who are always on the look out for secret stuff to steal.

  • h_ELP

    The F-35 has three basic problems that would kill it before it is acquired in any serious numbers –

    1) Its size and wingspan. As Mr Don pointed out in an earlier news story, the jet is too big. It can neither fit on a carrier and an LHD would do well to fit around 2 if they are allowed to rub against each other. The photo of it flying next to the typhoon clearly shows that even the nimitz class cannot take more than 5 at the most. The Navy is yet to test whether the F-35C can actually stay on a carrier. This has never been published, that the F-35C can stand on a carrier without rolling over and falling into the water is not KNOWN and no report has been published to the same effect. So therefore the F-35 despite of landing on a carrier has to take off because if it does not it will simply slide off due to the slick RAM treatment on its wheels and we will have a 500 million dollar aircraft take a swim.

    2) The greatest problem is with the B version or as most notable folks call, the BETA version of the jet. It is supposed to take off from forward basing yet for a given situation it fails to protect the basic command and control infrastructure of my basement’s workstation from destruction because the PIG burns too hot to take off vertically and the size would mean that it would not be able to come down the stairs. So the F-35B cannot protect even the most basic C2C structures that of my PAD.

    3) The third biggest problem is that the jet has not been designed around an operational requirement. We are producing them in something that is called concurrency yet they are going to the services and are being parked. Most air force pilots eagerly wake up in the morning and see where mr bacon and mr policy wonk have posted so that they could take notes. Notes which would eventually be incorporated into the F-35 manual and syllabus. If these great individuals stop posting their literature the entire JSF program would come to a grinding halt. To outsource the entire strategy, tactics and doctrine to two individuals namely Mr Policy Wonk and Mr Bakon is quite risky, given that these individuals can choke on a slice of pizza or a donut while typing away during one of their 20 hour marathon coordinated intercontinental Internet trolling runs and be out of action for a few days or weeks/months etc. This would be a great setback to the program’s established goals for IOC.


    Eric Pamler

    • Don Bacon

      Thanks for the humor — we can use it.

      “….choke on a slice of pizza or a donut while typing away during one of
      their 20 hour marathon coordinated intercontinental Internet trolling

      I bet you spent less time than that on your content-less humor piece.
      It was humor, right?

      • RebeccaBacon

        I left for work while you were still sleeping. You should not stay up so late on the internet and get out of that darn basement once in a while. I have not seen you in 2 days. The grocery list is on the kitchen countertop, make sure to get those grocery’s before dinner.

        • Don Bacon

          Thanks for working.
          You’re good for something, I say.
          BTW, Domino’s delivers to basements, if the tip is there.

          • RebeccaBacon

            This has been happening for too long. Don, you cannot continue living in your parents’ house. Find yourself a new place.

          • Eric_palmer

            looks like you are being kicked out. You can always come and live with us in Australia. We have a good racket going on here with the dissemination and propaganda campaigns..The public is also less interest in the military, they buy whatever we tell them

  • Admiral_Wonk

    I have more than 25 years of experience flying F-4, F-15, F-16, and F-22’s ( rc models) and another 5 years of experience as an AG. The F-35 does not cut it, its also called Just So Failed. It will never fly even when it flies and will never trap on a carrier, even when it traps on a carrier. It will also never pass OPEVAL even when it passes OPEVAL and it will also never see combat even when it sees combat. This is all a creation of hollywood, and man never went to the moon. Its too big to fail just like the SUN which we all know will fail to give light to us millions of years from now.

    • admiral_Wonk

      AG stands for Armchair general

    • billy

      You see things in an holistic way. No wonder you is an admiral.

  • John Bogie

    bigred8690 if your control augmentation system is so great why in your training the F-35 is limited to 4.5 Gs it is suppose to do 9.0 Gs. Also the Starfighter had stall warnings on both wings with a stick shaker and a panel light. I had 2 C-47 Capitans that flew the F-104 one at 30,000 Ft. doing a normal turn at 600 Knots the light and stick shaker started and before he could get level he was inverted and in a spin luckily at that altitude he was able to recover from an inverted spin, but at 12,000 feet he would have been dead so he quit the Air force.

    • MajorLebron

      They just received block 3.1 that opened up the G limit

      • John Bogie

        Great is it up to 9 Gs and works OK, Have they solved the Spatial Disorientation problem. FAA reports that only 5% survive this type of accident.

      • Don Bacon

        Nobody just received block 3.1.

        • MajorLebron

          The ITT flew their first sortie with 3I (its not 3.1) and have been flying 2b for some time now. Both those software increments open up the G envelope.

          • Don Bacon

            Block 3I is Block 2B hosted on an upgraded computer processor, three years late, scheduled for acceptance 2016.

          • Truth-Hurts

            But you said it has not flown. What exactly is your position? Or is that you must check back with shanghai?

          • Jackie Treehorn

            Sir less than a day ago you said that

            “Nobody just received block 3.1”

            Did you refer to a person receiving the software, in which case it is accurate. If you referred to the aircraft receiving the software you are incorrect.

            9 minutes ago you said

            “Block 3I is Block 2B hosted on an upgraded computer processor, three years late, scheduled for acceptance 2016.”

            So is it technically incorrect to say that the integrated test force flew the Block 3i software? Because the entire world media has reported it sir. From Australia where you have a correspondent to South Korea where you are in search of one after having lost Mr SLOWMAN whom you so admired on aviation week. Even the Chinese blogs reported it sir, which must have your attention.

            Perhaps sir its time you take a nap, it must be late in Shanghai. Let others hold the fort for a while and start fresh Monday morning. You know you have a lot of work to do given some of the announcements due in the coming weeks and months. Don’t push yourselves, money is not everything. Health before Wealth should be your Motto.

          • Wang Guanzhong

            You need to stop posting and RTB to shanghai and see me first thing in the morning. You cannot have rebuttals that a 2 second search on google can easily debunk. Our job is to target the uninformed and folks that do not have the time to spend on research. But anything that can be cross checked and debunked in 2 seconds actually hurts our position. You are in clear violation of the SOP laid down in your contract with us. Let Eric Palmer hold the fort until you are reinstated. We dispatching Garry Church as reinforcement, you are to seize all activity on disqus with immediate effect and report to my office at 0700 hours.

          • h_ELP

            your fat a$$ better not be late, DON. Way to go, thx for screwing it up for all of us.

        • Truth-Hurts

          You are correct sire. A person is in no need of a software update. We have not been created by god in such a way. Our software updates are through the natural process of maturity and the wisdom that comes with it. Of course for some the curve starts to go down quite fast. Those would be the folks much like yourself that begin to “loose it” past a certain age. Isolation, too much of the internet, blue screen and junk food is a contributing factor. So that is a sort of a deviation from the accepted norm of nature, but statistically significant given what the internet has lead too.

          Perhaps we can discuss this at a later date, but the fighter aircraft more commonly known as the F-35, Joint strike fighter or Just so frightening to you folks that have created an industry out of bashing it has flown an ITT sortie with block 3i software. Perhaps sir, you were too busy typing away your nonsense for the last few days to notice it.

          • solomon_palmer_wank

            Based on reports around disqus mr bacon, mr palmer, mr wonk were locked in a 14 hour marathon boardroom discussion to formulate strategy and tactics for when Canada decides to stick to the F-35. If rumors are to be believed, they were joined by Mr Goon and Mr Church and Admiral Solomon through a conference call because they were busy in shanghai sucking up to their masters. A well thought out, coordinated internet troll attack would be launched which would be followed by a campaign of denial that would run in parallel. Entire blog entries would be omitted that talk of such a situation developing and which ever website reports the matter would be attacked using PTT (precision troll targeting) and other means. Mr Church has been given 1 week leave with pay in order to recover from his previous assignment of following spaceX discussion and to talk down on Mr Musk and Co. He would be fully recovered in time for the Canadian announcement.

            All of the above mentioned “information warriors” would be called back to shanghai in the event if canada is to buy such a fighter in order to formulate a new strategy going forward in the event that canada becomes the 11th nation under the sun to go for the F-35 fighter.

          • Solomon_Palmer_Wan

            UPDATE: News has emerged from reliable sources that during the marathon meeting a consensus has emerged that in case Canada does what Reuters and others are claiming it will, the best line of attack would be to claim that this sort of commitment to the F-35 is just “wishful thinking” and that nothing will ever materialize. This line of argument is likely to persist even as Canada places order of the jet down the road and even as the first parts of their jet begin rolling off the early long lead production line. The argument may change once pictorial evidence begins to leak of a Canadian F-35 under construction. Reliable sources have also told Solomon_Palmer_Wank that their would be a denial campaign claiming that a lot of the countries committed to the f-35 have just done so out of “wishful thinking” and those countries will never end up buying any jets. In a high level one on one meeting between Mr Bakon and an intelligence operative known has Mr WOO, in a undisclosed location somewhere in the suburbs of Shanghai, it has emerged that Mr Palmer would take the lead in attacking the various websites in an event that the rumors regarding the Canadian purchase go throw. Mr Palmer and Admiral Solomon have already begun drafting blog entries (in anticipation) that reflect the new coordinated strategy.

        • Jackie Treehorn

          Isn’t the block 3.1 a software for the F/A-22 raptor?

      • Horn

        Where’d you hear this? Haven’t seen this yet.

  • John Bogie

    Mr. bigred8690 Your must work for LM. If your control augmentation systems is so great why in your training the F-35 is limited to 4.5Gs and it is suppose to do 9.00 Gs. The 104 had stall warnings on both wings with a stick shaker and panel light. I had 2 C-47 Captains that flew the F-104. One was at 30,000 Ft. doing a normal turn at 600 Knots, when the light and stick shaker started and before he could get level he was inverted and in a spin luckily at that altitude he was able to recover from an inverted spin, but he said if I was at 12,000 Ft. I would have been dead so I quit the Air Force. Why did Air France 447 crash and the Bombardier Dash 8 in Buffalo NY crash with all of the modern safety devices, Spatial Disorientation of which 5 crew members suffered the 3rd item in the F-104’s Accident Reports and I read reports that the F-35 Helmet gives problems like this. What happens in thunder Cloud and a Snow Storm?

    • wall street

      Yes i think the VP of marketing for Lockheed is Mr. Big red. I see it in their SEC filings.

    • CharleyA

      AF 447 crashed because the pilots did not recognize that the wing was stalled, and did not unload the airfoil or reduce the angle of attack to recover from an easily recoverable situation.

  • LowObservables

    I have been trying to call General Mike Hostage and have left 21 Voicemail messages. He is refusing to answer my calls on the matter. I have information straight from Sweden that will nullify anything he has to say about the matter. I spent 2 days with cutting edge radar and 6th generation fighter designers that will rubbish all he has to say. I had a blast and To Tell You The Truth, I Don’t Remember Most of It.

    • 2IDSGT

      Made my whole day….

      • Don Bacon

        That bad a day, huh?

        • 2IDSGT

          So what’s your opinion on SpaceX, F-35, V-22 and LCS? They all seem like totally awesome programs.

          Seriously, I’d like to know what you think about all those things… four paragraphs on each at least.

  • snafuu

    What is happening with the program is nothing short of a national scandal. In fact it should be put up in the UN as a case for a scandal. I think I’ll recommend it to the UN. Entire blogs should be dedicated to trashing it and its capability. I spend 10 hours a day doing it but have nothing to gain out of such an exercise. I do this purely from a position of a patriot, which I am, I support a 50 year acquisition program for the Super Hornet. If certain “discus” reports are to be believed the growler can indeed jam the Mars Rover millions of miles away, then we can potentially jam china’s air force form our fighters without having them leave the US coast. This is capability worthy of an investment.

    • Avon Barksdale

      WTF? I think it may have jammed the mars rover messages that are sent from Earth. I am pretty sure it cannot jam signals from another planet.


    This is a very complicated fighter, Colin. You
    know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, a lotta
    strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old David’s head.
    Fortunately, I’m adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regimen to keep my mind,
    you know, uh, limber

  • I am loving it

    Its amazing what technology has done. The pilots on the ground, the maintainers in the field, and the strategists and planners working for DARPA have DISQUSS to fall back upon for guidance on how to plan and execute national security.

  • VladimirPutin

    This is all smoke and mirrors. Have you seen the movie wag the dog?

  • SMSgt Mac

    Colin is probably the only person enjoying this thread more than I am. Dee-licious!

  • sabo

    From the ART of WAR this is called “fighting the last war.” ~ all these
    assumptions are based on what happens today and take in no account for
    advances in enemy technology or tactics. Its already been said that
    stealth is dead with the new russian radar systems, if this is true,
    then the f-22 and f-35 could be in for a world of problems. personally I
    think the f-35 was a bad design choice, because its a Fighter and
    bomber with no real clear role. its operation depends on air
    superiority. this may not be the case, just as we saw in gen 4
    fighters, when the anti-air systems surpassed their technologies. Seems
    like we are putting all our eggs in 1 basket, and I dont think that is
    ever a good plan.

    • 2IDSGT

      If all our base are belong to you, why is russia and china are building stealth fighters too?

      • h_ELP

        Because their stealth can pass OPEVAL, while the F-35 will never do so. Their stealth can trap on a carrier, the F-35C will trap on a carrier in October, but it will not trap on a carrier EVER. Their stealth has plasma technology, F-35’s stealth has No plasma technology. Their stealth has L band Radar protection, F-35 stealth has no such protection. Their stealth can directly fly over a VHF radar, even at low altitude, scrape the top of the VHF radar antenna and still not be detected. F-35’s meanwhile can be detected by VHF antenna while still on the ground.

        Get it?

  • jk641

    It’s scary that even the commander of USAF’s fighter force is saying that the F-35 has the maneuverability and thrust-to-weight ratio of 4th generation fighters.

    Is he saying this because an F-16A weighed down with fuel and ordnance performs similarly to an F-35?

    It is obvious that an F-16A’s performance will be diminished when it’s fully loaded.
    It’s a small plane with small wings and low engine thrust.

    But which of our potential enemies is operating the F-16A?

    In potential future conflicts, the F-35 will face opponents which are much superior to the F-16A, such as the Su-35, T-50, and J-20.
    They are all bigger planes with bigger wings and much greater engine thrust. (they all have double engines)

    If the F-35 gets into a dogfight with these opponents, it will be vastly outmatched.

    We will only have 187 F-22’s to deal with enemy stealth fighters.
    We should start panicking now.

    • Supernova1987

      The F-35A will have the ability to supercruise at mach 1.2, which is not that bad.
      The F-35 will try as much as possible to avoid getting close.
      It should be able to attack at 240degrees or so with its DAS combined with the EOTS in near BVR. And even at 360 degrees with only the DAS and/or off-board targetting informations.
      It’s a matter of time before the capability to carry 6 internal missiles is funded. They have to finish block 3F first.
      It will also be able of carrying the meteor. The japanese for instance are buying the meteor.
      Maybe a mix of 2 meteors on the a/a stations and 4 AMRAAMs on the a/g internal stations will be possible.
      The F-35 should always try to cover each other so they can shoot under any angle.

      • jk641

        It seems highly risky to rely so heavily on the EODAS.
        And on long-range A2A missiles which have not been proven against stealth aircraft.

        Also, the fact that F-35’s will have to be fielded in numbers so they can protect each other is not too reassuring.
        (It’s somewhat reminiscent of the early WWII strategy of sending large formations of B-17 bombers on bombing runs into Germany unescorted, thinking that their tight formations and myriad guns would be able to fend off enemy fighters. Just saying, it didn’t work too well..)

        I agree that F-35s will have to avoid getting close to enemy fighters at all costs.
        They will have to eliminate all the enemy fighters at long range.
        But would that really be possible in real life? Would it really be this clean and tidy?

        What if the rules of engagement didn’t allow you to shoot at enemy fighters at BVR range?
        What if the situation was more ambiguous, fluid, and not clear cut?

        Is real life as simple as air combat simulation games, for instance, where you go in and destroy all the enemy fighters as quickly as possible, no questions asked?

        How useful would a fighter jet really be, if it excelled at BVR combat but was useless for WVR combat?
        Wouldn’t that impose a serious limitation on the plane’s versatility?

        Basically, you can only send in the F-35 if it’s an all-out war (or you’re enforcing a no-fly zone) and you will be destroying all enemy aircraft upon detection, no questions asked.

        Is war really always that simple?

        • Supernova1987

          The B-17s were not stealthy at all and didn’t have the first shot with a relatively good pk most of the time ( by relatively good pk I mean 40% or something like that).
          The DAS can be used to reduce the chances of the pilot being taken by suprise. The pilot immediately knows where the target is with his helmet.
          The DAS can also be used to triangulate between 2 aircraft to have accurate targetting informations.
          In case there is only one F-35 and it’s impossible to triangulate, the pilot can use the field of view of the EOTS to get the targetting informations. He just has to do a quick maneuver to put the target in the FOV of the EOTS.
          It is all a matter of tactics, although I agree using only the DAS may not give a good pk. That is hard to tell.
          The F-35’s AMRAAMs may also not have enough maneuvrability against targets that are close.
          The F-35 will have better missiles than the AMRAAM sooner or later. The NGM will have a tri-mode seeker and will be much more maneuvrable. The problem is not the F-35 itself, it’s the missile. With 6 NGMs the F-35 will be very well armed.
          Also it may be quite hard for an opponent to get close to an F-35 because it would have a hard time finding it. The F-35’s radar will be used for jamming too when getting close. And the F-35 pilot would refrain from using its afterburner when approaching head on.

          • jk641

            Well, these next generation missiles better be very effective against enemy stealth fighters.
            Because if they’re not, the F-35 will be doomed.

          • Supernova1987

            What about the enemy’s missiles. Do you think they are foolproof against a very stealthy plane like the F-35?
            And the F-35 will have a sort of towed decoy ( ALE-70 ) and DIRCM later. Plus its radar will probably be able to attack electronically enemy missiles in the frontal sector. And the DAS will be used as a missile launch warning system to do evasive maneuvers.
            And even if the F-35’s missiles have an average pk, say 40%, the F-35 should have the first shot most of the time. If the enemy plane does not try an evasive maneuvre the pk of the missile will go up. If it does an evasive maneuver, it will lose energy and will be unable to counter attack and guide its own missiles. Its SA will go down against the stealthy F-35 which will reattack as soon as the missile has missed. The one that attacks first has a significant advantage.
            Also you don’t need to take out all the enemy planes to win. A loss of 25% of planes per sortie is huge and an F-35 force could easily inflict that to an enemy.
            The F-35 is not a pure fighter and some will probably be lost, but it is not as disadvantaged as some would want to proclaim. Allied forces would also have a huge numerical advantage.
            Detractors don’t want to look at the advantages of the plane. It will be an excellent strike plane. It can wipe out an enemy air force and IADS quickly on the ground. With its advanced sensors, stealth and sensor fusion it will be an order of magnitude more effective against ground tactical targets.

          • jk641

            Do you know if the AMRAAM is being tested against stealthy (low RCS) targets?

            Also, if the F-35 turned its radar on to attack enemy stealth fighters, wouldn’t it be giving away its location?

            Also, I find it unsettling that they are trying to make up for the F-35’s poor performance by sending it up in numbers, and fully expect that some will be shot down.
            (It’s not like the F-35 is a WWII-era fighter. Even losing a single F-35 will be a huge loss, no?)

            Also, I’m not sure how effective the F-35 will be against modern IADS’s. If the F-35 is detected by long-wavelength and networked radars and whatnot, the enemy will be alerted and the F-35 will lose the element of surprise.

            As I’ve said before, the F-35 will be vulnerable to heat seeking missiles.
            And the worrying thing is that IR missiles are becoming ever more sophisticated and harder to spoof.

            (And as for DIRCM, yes it would be great if the F-35 could be equipped with it, but it hasn’t yet been tested on fighter jets..)

          • Supernova1987

            I don’t know if the AMRAAM has been tester against VLO target. If I remember correctly the C-6 was optimized against cruise missiles, not sure.
            The APG-81 is supposed to have advanced LPI modes. NG has a lot of experience with LPI AESA radar from the APG-77 program.
            I also figure some F-35s would be shot down. But the most important thing is to survive against SAMs. Even if the F-35 has a 1:1 ratio against a PAK-FA or J-20 ( probably more with better missiles ) in the air, most of the enemy planes will be destroyed on the ground. The F-35 at FRP will not be that expensive, no more expensive than a typhoon. When a plane is destroyed, you lose the unit replacement cost, not the full acquisition cost. At FRP it would cost you about 90 millions to replace an F-35A.
            Any air strike plan will try to take care of these low frequency radars first. I guess they would try to kill them with cruise missiles.
            The F-35 has a reduced IR signature. IR missiles have some limitations but indeed they can be a significant threat. An F-22 would have the same problem however.
            A lot of countries will use the F-35 so there will be a strong incentive to develop its capabilities. The development of the F-35 is rather exasperating, but over time it will become a very good strike figther.

        • Curtis Conway

          All the BVR capability will be negated by ROE placed upon the warfighter, which will guarantee their demise.

          • jk641

            Yes. Exactly.

            I’m puzzled why Lockheed and the Pentagon can’t seem to understand this.

  • Supernova1987

    I am sure the USAF would rather invest in the Next Generation Missile ( dual role a/a and A/G ) than in more growlers. The F-35 absolutely needs something better than the AMRAAM and if possible the ability to carry 6 of them internally, and has no anti-radar missile at all.
    An F-35 armed with 4 NGMs ( incuding 2 on a dual launcher in the internal bay ) and 4 SDB2 would have the potential to be highly effective in the SEAD role.
    More growlers is not that usefull, all the more that the USN already has quite a large number of them.
    Apart from this the F-35 can escape at Mach 1.6, which is quite good. Although keeping like 4 F-35s flying CAP to help a strike package escape would probably be a good idea. These F-35s in a/a configuration would also give the strike package 360 degrees situationnal awareness while they are escaping, enabling them to engage enemy fighters in their rear sector with their remaining NGMs. If the enemy fighters are attacked they would have to make an evasive maneuver, so they would lose speed, enabling the F-35 package to escape.

  • strategicservice

    “Perhaps air forces around the world are going to have to come up
    with a new honor other than ace to define those who fly the F-35. What
    should a pilot be awarded for outsmarting the best air defense systems
    in the world or injecting something like Stuxnet into the enemy’s
    command and control system? So much of what this aircraft will do has nothing to do with shooting down another pilot that we may need a new term.”

    Considering all the plane’s technical problems, how about “lucky bastard”?

    How much does Lockheed pay for statements like this, I wonder?

  • Jonathan Amole

    I’m building F-35’s in my basement. I figure to sell them for about $1.95 a piece. Of course the B model will run a bit more. Lockheed and Pratt are not happy, but what can I do? Business is business and I’ve got a family to feed. You will see ’em on Amazon pretty soon. Well as soon as I work out a few bugs anyway…

  • osynlig fog

    I struggle to see how the incredibly high price for the F-35 could be justified when there are options like the Rafale for example. I struggle to see the relevance of radar stealth in a networked environment.

    I would also like to compliment ELP and Don Bacon for managing to focus on the subject despite all the vitriol. I may not agree with what you write but its disgusting to see how the majority of anonymous commenters below are responding with crass personal attacks instead of discussing the subject. The people who think the F-35 is the best thing since sliced bread, support your view with proper arguments if you’re going to bother commenting.

    If you are engaged in a discussion, you discuss the matter at hand and do not make personal attacks or try to lessen your opponent (or use other power tactics). You respect your opponent no matter how different his/her view is from your own. When you resort to personal attacks it is because you are not in command of your own emotional reactions.

    Discuss the subject at hand, the F-35, and not ELP or Don Bacon. You are ruining the whole thread and I for one would like to see some proper discussion. If you think ELP is wrong it is your responsibility to make a good case for why he is wrong, not attack his person. Thanks.

    • Colin Clark

      Kudos for your attempt to bring the focus back on the facts, as best we all know them, and not on the people. Thank you!

    • El_Sid

      Reported costs of the Indian Rafale deal vary, but it’s of the order of 126 planes for $14bn, so $110m; FY11 flyaway costs for the French ones were $90-100m. It’s hard to see what advantage a Rafale would give you over an F/A-18E/F, let alone the F-35 – if the US were looking for a non-F35, then surely they would prefer SuperBug over Rafale?

      • Guest

        A Rafale is superior to a Super Hornet in every measurable way. It’s smaller, stronger, faster, far better manoeuvrability, less visible on all spectrums and the Spectra EWS suite has impressive capabilities.
        I believe the cost of the Super Hornet and Rafale where quite similar in the Brazilian competition.

        • El_Sid

          Who cares about Brazil – SH would be much cheaper for the US. No weapons integration costs (and SH weapons are superior, consider the system not the airframe), existing logistics and training platform, and an existing factory in the US, which they want to support for industrial reasons.

  • Jon

    Can the Growlers capabilities be incorporated into the F-35? Can a two seat version be produced?

  • Ron

    99.999% fantasy mixed with propaganda. I guess its good to brainstorm, but would you want to do it in front of the potential enemies?

    500 F35s this general is either pulling our leg or still dreaming and hasn’t woke up yet.

    Plasma stealth tech. Really, the stuff glows in the dark, might be good against cops but not the battlefield.

    Every war is different and requires different tools, knowing those tools ahead of time is very difficult plus enemy reacts. So in reality we need to flexible and able to react fast. in WWII we could field a new radar in 6 months. F35 does nothing against mind control and 16 year old kids willing to blow themselves up for their mom.

    So we keep working build a few prototypes and keep our minds open, which is what I hope we are doing.

    I enjoyed following this, gives me a good laugh to see passion and pseudo science mixed into a such a humorous cocktail about such a serious subject.

    • Bill Gamelson

      I’m happy to see you have worked so closely with this bird.

  • Daniel Dougherty

    It says “The F-35′s cross section is much smaller than the F-22′s” I have heard the exact opposite other places.

    • Colin Clark

      Few people know more in detail about both aircrafts’ classified characteristics than Gen. Hostage. I’d believe him. There is the possibility he is deliberately misleading, but he’s on the record.

  • Christopher Oaten

    F35 on its own is seriously dis advantaged .But its clear to me now it was never intended to go head to head with a pair of fulcrums .It will be a hub for UCAV s .Electronic counter measures .Missile trucks .Recon.Ground strike .CAS .Extremely manoverable Dogfighting drones .Powerful chemical lasers to destroy missile sensors in flight ect .Pilots of tomorrow will elevated out of direct conflict and spend most of their time analysing real time infomation and assuming control of UCAV swarms .And to be successful thy need a reduced signature so the 35s 22s arnt standing out from the smaller ucavs on radar or thy will punch the hub of the network and somthing so easy to fly so thy can concentrate on the mission .Lockheed have the forsight .

  • Titus Veridius

    There is an obvious gap between the Air force and Navy’s rhetoric about F-35 capabilities against IADS and what it appears the F-35 can actually do. Granted that the high-end specifics of the F-35s avionics will highly classified for decades, we can be certain that current observations of the aircraft RCS from multiple angles, its handling performance, weapons that exist in the US inventory that the F-35 may have access to are probably correct with a reasonable margin of error. We also know what weapons that the US gov is funding through conventional channels for the F-35, and what weapon types are being designed into the F-35 program, officially.

    1. There is no SEAD version of the F-35.
    2. The F-35 is not designed to provide jamming capabilities on the level of dedicated SEAD aircraft.
    3. The F-35 is only very stealthy from the front.
    4. There are no SEAD weapons currently planned or designed to be used by the F-22 or the F-35, rather hypothetical, undeveloped inertial smart bombs are planned for the F-22 and F-35 to kill SAMs with.

    This article relays the point from the air force the F-35 was designed specifically to counter S-400/S-300 type advanced long range SAMs forming the backbone of an advanced and layered IADS, and that the F-35 will be able to carry out that mission.

    Based on what we think we know from available observations, and released data, that statement is entirely unsubstantiated, and probably in the end, entirely untrue. The F-35s mission has evolved as well as its specs, and nothing about the aircraft is being produced indicates that it will have any real capability against an IADS with S-400s without SEAD aircraft. Maybe, after more money, and more development, upgrades of the F-35 and the implementation of non-hypothetical weapons 10 or 15 years from now, the F-35 might be able to perform these missions, but the technology environment regarding access denial and IADS may be quite different then. (barring internally housed, classified super capabilities)

    In fact, rather, it would be more accurate to say the F-22 was more designed to counter the S-300 and S-400 threat with deep penetration SEAD sorties (with hypothetical weapons mind you), and the F-35 was designed to provide follow on SEAD operations in a much diminished SAM/radar environment because of the F-35s low frontal RCS, and it’s more limited capability to run and evade missiles, as well as being less capable of dealing with enemy air superiority fighters encountering during deep penetration of IADS.

    That strategy may have worked, though being extremely expensive, but for the F-22 fleet being limited to 180 aircraft. With current and projected readiness for combat levels, and the dual mission of the F-22 for SEAD and Air Superiority (if all F-22s were forward deployed in the first days of a war) the F-22 will simply not have the numbers to perform counter S-300 and S-400 missions (with hypothetical weapons) and deal with Su-35s.

    F-35 will be forced to perform a mission that is not (and never really was, in actuality) designed to do, and it’s going to fail at. Miserably. Because it’s not going to be able to penetrate overlapping SAM kill bubbles, and radar tracking bubbles (in bands China is choosing to focus on for countering F-22s and F-35s) in order to strike at S-300s and S-400s which for the most part are not going to be on the outside edges of the IADS but spread out, and largely behind layered tiers of weapons and radars. It can’t do this because the F-35 will necessarily not be able to avoid being tracked from side angled and fired, without key parts of the overlapping IADS being neutralized first by the F-22. Additionally US SEAD missiles are traditionally sort ranged compared to Russian versions, especially the inertia based bombs that have been designed for future use by the F-22s or F-35s (no one has mentioned any actual HARM missiles being developed or used by F-35s), and will make this mission even more deadly. Perhaps long ranged stand-off HARM missiles might allow the F-35 to salvage part of this mission but it hasn’t even been mentioned.

    In the end, whenever someone hits on the more detailed points of why the F-35 official line from the Pentagon doesn’t make sense, or MPs from nation’s that have plans to purchase the F-35 make these points or question the cost effectiveness of the overall program, the Air Force’s counter-attack line, which is then repeated in hushed tones in closed meetings by defense officials in those militaries (Australia for one) is that the F-35 has avionics capabilities that exceed anything that has been officially stated by orders of magnitude, and these capabilities nullify any gaps in the logic of the F-35s apparent capabilities, and will make the planes more than worth their cost.

    We can’t judge for classified super weapons with a high degree of certainty, but we can judge the overall tone and composition of the program, and match it with recent history US defense procurement, and I believe that these claims of classified aces in the hole are bullshit. Much of it would be reliant on the F-35s software, and the F-35 possessing systems other than what we know is inside the plane, and there’s not a lot of room for much else. The software is only partially complete, and not even the software engineers know how it’s going to end up.

    These terrible programs are also going to end up pushing other companies out of the defense market (like Boeing) and ultimately leave us reliant on the same Lockheed Martin to build all future defense aircraft.


  • Blacktail

    There’s a number of critical truths that Gen. Hostage isn’t letting-on — and that the author overlooked.

    During Operation Allied Force in 1999, the US military encountered a competently trained, led, coordinated, and organized modern military for the first time since the Vietnam War — a conflict characterized by tremendous combat losses (e.g., half of the F-105 Thunderchief inventory was shot-down over Vietnam). This was also the first time in history that the US military fought an enemy with IADS capability; an Integrated Air Defense System.

    In that same war, one F-117 was shot down by a *radar-guided* SAM, and another was damaged beyond repair by an additional radar-guided SAM. There were 6 NATO aircraft destroyed or seriously damaged in that conflict, and 2 since of them were stealth aircraft, the F-117 loss rate was proportionately very high. Had those losses been sustained at the same rate over a much longer period, the USAF would have lost all of it’s F-117s stationed in Europe over just a couple of months.

    After the F-117s were shot down, every subsequent F-117 combat sortie over the Balkans was screened by a large force of F-16Cs on SEAD duty (“Wild Weasel” anti-radar and anti-air defense missions), and EA-6B Prowlers projecting a very heavy curtain of jamming.

    Thus, operational experience has obviated the entire concept of Radar Stealth, because it’s reason for being is to achieve total surprise. All the assets committed in Allied Force for escorting the F-117s is the equivalent of using a Dixieland band as cover for a Navy SEAL Team infiltration. If you make that big a fuss, the enemy will know precisely why long before you ever enter their territory. Moreover, this was enough protection to ensure that even a large formation of B-52s — the least-stealthy warplane in service anywhere — would be immune to attack, further destroying the logic behind radar stealth.

    The USAF’s response to these lessons? More radar stealth, and no more jamming or SEAD to protect it.

  • M&S

    Numbers don’t mean as much as DMPIs. If doubt if there is much worth fighting over the Senkakus as, for all the ‘rumors of oil’, the only thing these folks seem to build there is airfields and those are essentially replaceable with ease.

    As such, your ‘Ritter Call Of The Rohirrim!’, while dramatic in a Star Wars vs. Death start manner, really doesn’t make much sense for the same reason dragging a Gorilla package over Baghdad on Day 3 of ODS made no sense as you get more confliction and lag than effects. Leave the F-35A and B out of it. Bring the number of Raptors up to about 110 and make sure you EXPLAIN how the Chinese solved the costs, training and resources problem of servicing ‘hundreds’ of J-20s in less than six years.

    We’re talking about 70ft, 50,000lb, twin engine stealth fighters here. Closer to a MiG-31 or YF-23 than even the Raptor. The likelihood that there will be more than a few dozen or at most 100 of them by 2021 is laughable.

    Now, you have a bunch of Raptors with exclusive access to the tankers which are themselves bastioned inside HAVCAP orbits protected by literally dozens of JASDF and USAF F-15C/J Eagles.

    What do you do?

    The obvious answer is nothing. If the Chinese want to buy the Japanese a new airstrip, let them. Carefully record every new crater for about 2-3 days and get the feel of their own (Sea Based) jamming and tactical evolutions (what direction, how many, how often, what percentage flying as fighters and which as bombers) and THEN, when they get complacent, hit them.

    Make it look like an accident. Or not. But take out the group farthest away from the their expeditionary centers. If they have radars up and running with a landed force, Tomahawk them before HQ-9 or better SAMs become an issue.

    But beyond all else, use the Raptor’s speed and weapons to play picador and lance them mercilessly, full power, running laps to the tankers which retrograde if it looks like there is a chase developing. Here, the most important element is not going to be aircraft at all but a combined package of Burkes and late Ticos with Virginia and Sea Wolf ASW protection. Because one VLS with 128 missiles, 64 ESSM, 32 SM-2 and 16 SM-6 is a helluva deterrent.

    And then you do it again. And again. And again.

    Point being, you _do not need_ to seize and reoccupy lands which are just specks of dust in the ocean. You need to punish and humiliate the Chinese so that it becomes clear your patience beats their teacup full of furry. And the long game is yours. Because even against the most desultory of long range SSPK (.15-.25) desultory engagement, you don’t need to do more than 1-5 kills per day to rapidly erode their ability to sustain aircraft over the islands (if they are J-20s, none of them will be carrier capable ala J-15) and once they are down to Flankers and Lavi clones, the PLAAF become shooting gallery targets. Whereas, if they come for you and put your tankers or SAGs at risk, you can legitimately use other subs to wipe them out, 30-40:1.

    That’s a lot of Harpoons and Mk.48.

    The point being here that the notion that the F-35 can play in that game without becoming a liability is a specious one. Softkill EA is only useful if you are trying to generate forward presence as creeping intrusion in OPP and by the time you are talking about that, you are out of the immediate operational area and risking a major escalation of the war.

    Air:Sea Battle in the translittorals is better off played hard and fast with minimum footprint as tempting targets and a lot of clean hardkill rather than ‘sophistication’ so that you both maintain fluidity and keep the threat losing face as forces to the point where he must retire from the field.

    Sun Tzu was wrong here. Because intimidation which removes the threat from the battlespace without engagement only lasts as long as he thinks you’re looking and he isn’t tempted to skulk back in and make nuisance raids. If you get him to commit and whoop is his butt the old fashioned way, so that he is SEEN to be defeated, in the eyes of all his friends and SOI subjugatees, he has to recover his pride as much as his CONOP to try-try again.

    And to give people a realistic idea of the holes we are talking about fighting with multi-hundred million dollar airframes with here-
    As I recall, when the Japanese finally bought the things off the family which had held them for a few generations, it was for the princely sum of 2.05 billion.
    They seriously overpaid.
    As the lady said: “Never mind the little things.”
    As the Chinese say: “The dragon sits atop the mountain while the tigers fight each other bloody on the slopes below.”
    We need to come to understand that half of victory is not a gungho willingness to shred the enemy in a major attrition fight. But rather to control our responses to avoid seeming to care so much that our own pride (face) is flesh in the game.
    Again, this argues _against_ the coordination, asset massing and terrible operational, strategic and diplomatic risks from having someone lose their temper or see an opportunity that should never be presented to begin with.
    It doesn’t mean we can’t bloody a few noses. But on our terms.