The BBC takes us inside the UK’s F-35 simulator where RAF pilots and industry folks are becoming re-familiarized with “cat & trap” naval aviation. This simulator is pretty outstanding, wouldn’t we all love to get “a golden ticket” for a couple of hours in one?
Meanwhile it seems like the UK’s leap to the F-35C and a catapult and arresting gear configured carrier is very much in doubt. Frankly I was stunned when the MoD made the move from the STOVL F-35B to the conventional F-35C. The Royal Navy had gotten along great with their Harrier Carriers over the last few decades and taking on the massive extra expensive of training their pilots for conventional carrier operations, as well as redesigning their ship (ships really but one of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers is going to be a reserve ship, or shared, or scrapped, or???) for such a demanding operational environment. Further, if the UK were to do so, why not purchase a mature and affordable strike fighter to begin with before leaping directly to the hugely expensive F-35C? It would seem like purchasing the F/A-18E/F or Rafale in decent numbers would lower risk, costs, and greatly leverage interoperability between allies. When it comes down to it, with all of America’s Pentagon procurement and force structure woes, no country seems to have a shorter attention span, or make more less informed knee-jerk decisions when it comes to these issues than the UK.
JAPAN THREATENS TO AXE THE F-35 IF COSTS BALLOON
MEANWHILE, THE F-35 INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS HAVE MET, DOWNED THEIR ASPIRIN & COOL-AID, AND CAME OUT UNITED BEHIND THE F-35 PROGRAM
Something seems awefully fishy about this. US government officials go up to Canada to alleviate partner nations fears about their “Winchester Mystery Jet” and proceed to tell them all about the great progress the program is making. Keep in mind it is absolutely key that the international partners buy a load of these aircraft in order to keep the price down for the DoD, and visa-versa. So it’s almost mutually assured destruction on a massive weapons program level.
So who can you really trust when it comes to the F-35? Lets see, the manufacturer? No way, as its their product, one worth A TRILLION DOLLARS in revenue, and almost everything they have promised has not come to fruition. Can you believe the US government? Well it depends on who you talk to. Someone from the program itself who has a vested interest in seeing it succeed? No way. Frankly, anyone sent up there from the DoD is most likely going to try their best to turn a nightmare into a Disney cartoon, because without the international buyers the DoD pays a lot more per jet. Plus the F-35 is developing into a containment strategy against China. America needs F-35 partner nation’s logistics and basing for future wars, especially considering how finicky a stealthy flying supercomputer is going to be far from home. Finally, what about US Lawmakers? We that is a tough one too, as this is the largest defense program in the history of mankind. Pieces of it are built-in almost every state. Further, the F-35 sounds like a wonder-weapon to anyone who has not studied air combat for years or even decades. Can a small businessperson from Arizona, recently elected Representative, really “cut through” the canned briefings on the program? I doubt it because on paper the F-35 sounds like a winner, and without lots of experience in these matters it appears to have no alternative. In the end the only people that seem critical about the F-35, outside of sheer sticker shock reaction, are those key Congressman who have been on the Armed Services Committee or other related posts for years, or especially those who have served in uniform and can actually understand how this thing fits into America’s future order of battle. So what does all this mean?
What is means is that honestly I don’t think you can trust anyone aside from non-bought defense analysts when it comes to a program that has been deemed “to big to fail” by everyone directly involved. Further, the DoD and Lockheed can say whatever they want really, words are just words, they are cheap and frankly this thing has gotten so big and so many people have so much to gain by it that I think the F-35 “echo chamber” has been galvanized into solid granite, and is impenetrable by anything but hard learned facts and clear, undeniable failures.
The DoD and Congress are inflicting most all of the F-35 pain onto themselves really and have been more of a part of the disease than a symptom of it since the beginning of the flawed JSF philosophy. The ones who really lose here are the partner nations. They will end up with a shrunken to irrelevance fighter fleet that it to expensive to operate and train with and an aircraft that features a compromised airframe that was built to do things that their air forces never required in the first place. Imagine what the F-35A and even the C could be, with all that thrust and techno-wizardry, if the F-35B STOVL requirement was never part of the JSF philosophy in the first place? The jet would have cost much less, probably be operational today, would most likely be stealthier and able to supercruise, and less complicated to maintain.
In other words, pack those same avionics into an airframe where STOVL was never a design factor and you would have a real aircraft to hang the free world’s hat on for the 21st century. In the end the Marine’s requirement poisoned the cake, and no matter how much frosting you put on it it still tastes pretty damn nasty.
PACOM COMMANDER IS AGAINST AESA RADARS FOR S. KOREA’S F-16s, YET WE ARE WILLING TO SELL THEM THE F-15SE & F-35???
Is this shoddy reporting or am I missing something here? We are willing to sell S. Korea the F-15SE with the mother of all AESAs installed, and the F-35A that supposedly represents the US’s latest tech on many levels, yet we are unwilling to allow the S. Koreans to throw a AESA radar set in their aging Vipers?
ANOTHER DECENT PIECE ON ISRAEL’S ABILITY TO STRIKE IRAN
It is incredibly convenient for Israel that Iraq has not fielded a fast jet fighter force of any size over the last decade since the US invasion. Once the IAF’s jets get over Jordan they basically have free reign over Iraqi airspace to refuel, regroup etc. Further, Israel may be able to stage a forward deployed search and rescue force in Iraq’s western deserts temporarily while the mission is underway.
It almost seems like for those “on the outside looking in” at the possibility of an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities are missing a key ingredient. What do the Israelis have up their sleeve that would make this mission much more feasible that it appears to be? Could it be the secret approval and cooperation of a Sunni Arab country that also has a lot to lose if Iran gets the bomb, like say Saudi Arabia? Or possibly the Mossad has a large clandestine commando force on the ground in Iran that will support such an airstrike via creating havoc on the ground behind enemy lines? Will their Dolphin class submarines sneak into the Persian Gulf and unleash an opening cruise missile barrage on fixed Iranian air defense and other key targets? Maybe some underestimate Israel’s numerous F-16s, equipped with “Popeye Lite” and “Deliluh” air to ground standoff missiles, which may give their F-16′s the additional reach needed to take out all but Iran’s most fortified targets, which will be left for the more capable F-15Is. Who knows, the IAF may even have another, longer range, air to ground standoff missile that we have yet to hear about. Or is Iran’s nuclear program actually less dispersed and resilient than we think?
As I read these articles I am realizing that those who are writing them are not really taking a “combined arms” approach to the problem. Instead they are looking at Israel’s forces in a simplified, “a al carte’” manner. With this in mind I think I am going to begin working on a hypothetical piece that will lend some light to an already tired, yet at the same time a strangely unexplored topic…
RUSSIA AND CHINA BUY THE MOST ADVANCED SUKHOIS ON THE MARKET
China is also getting in on Sukhoi feeding frenzy with their request to purchase the 4.5 generation Su-35, although details are still scarce. I wonder what Russia thinks of China buying their aircraft then adapting their designs for their own indigenously produced variants? If Sukhoi is still allowed to sell Russia’s latest and greatest operationally capable fighter to China than it would seem that maybe some backroom “understanding” is in place regarding China’s almost seamless unlicensed adaptation of Russian fighter designs.