How have your opinions of the JSF changed over the years?

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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geogen

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 05:40

andreas77 wrote:
SpudmanWP wrote:...It would have been more expensive (two engines as opposed to one) and wider. Having two engines also means having to feed them with a higher flow of air, which means larger tunnels and less internal fuel (ie lower range)...


The 414 offers equal or more (EPE) thrust with lower weight. Regarding cost I am not so sure one is cheaper than two. What are the manufacturing costs of the two engines respectively? One F-135 costs more than one GE414, thats for sure. And the F-135 development program is now at $8.5 billion (according to flightglobal).

Its true that the fuselage would be wider, but it would also be lower...


Twin F414 type would be cheaper than a single F135 likely through the end of LRIP (e.g. for 400 or so jets worth) at which point prices would probably level off to about parity. ($9.5-$10m e.g.) It can be taken into consideration that the originally expected economies of scale derived theory will not be on target with regards to the engine component as well. But as noted, the engine Program cost including R&D sorta tips the scale off the table price wise - part of which could in go back into covering added Life cycle cost of twin f414. imho, Better to have sunk that cash into developing a variable cycle F100 or F110 for a woulda been 40k feet altitude super cruising interim F-16XL mod, until the 5.5 gen can begin deliveries by end 2020s ;) Anyhow...

On the twin F414 airframe being wider point, not ncecessarily as the whole rear section fuselage would have been a different design and that could have easily been incorporated into similar fuselage width dimensions. But as was pointed out, width itself isnt really the issue - rather a twin F414 design would have allowed for a less 'chubby', thinner tail section likely giving better aerodynamics. And the shorter engine bays could have allowed for shorter intake tunnel (offsetting other weight) while creating even more interior space for fuel capacity or further lengthened storage bays. imho.

Bottom line; FY13 DoD budget could unfortunately see forced cuts taking it down more than even under the soon to be reduced austerity budget, and FY14 budget will be much less than required to afford the number of F-35 airframes expected to ramp up in production. 'FRP' production rates will be far fewer per year and PUC cost far greater than still apparently expected. In that sense, my long time opinion to be more strategic minded and better calculating when it comes to mid-term/long-term Tacair recapitalization planning is reinforced more than ever. God speed.
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1st503rdsgt

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 06:04

geogen wrote:The 414 offers equal or more (EPE) thrust with lower weight. Regarding cost I am not so sure one is cheaper than two. What are the manufacturing costs of the two engines respectively? One F-135 costs more than one GE414, thats for sure. And the F-135 development program is now at $8.5 billion (according to flightglobal).


Look geogen, we all get that you have some ideas about how the JSF could have been better and that you saw this mess coming long before most of us did, but you need to accept the fact that it is way to late to change direction now in a way that would cost less than "staying the course." NO ONE IS ABLE TO, OR GOING TO REDESIGN THE JSF OR START A CRASH PROGRAM TO DELIVER AN ALTERNATIVE.
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geogen

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 06:38

I respect that comment 1st503rd and for the record I don''t support unilaterally 'redesigning the F-35 from scratch', or 'starting a crash program for an alternative'... unless perhaps, it is assessed to be more cost-effective and strategic in the end game when coupled with stop gap 4.5gen procurement, e.g..

Additionally I actually support some sort of commidified, potential QE3 F-35-Bond buying approach via a strategic Lease in order to maximize success, maximize force structure and sustainability/viability of the Program. (I've truly not seen any other such similar interventionist proposals to 'save' the F-35 to date, which is quite astonishing - there should be strategic hearings on how to creatively save the Program. I just don't get it).

With regards to the specific quote above, it was merely a rebuttal to the claim above that 1 F135 is cheaper than 2 F414 and such a hypothetical twin-engined do-over jet would have been 'wider' as a negative, when it would have mostly likely been more aerodynamic, thinner, etc. I think that part of the reply is fair in any ongoing discussion. Respects-
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1st503rdsgt

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 07:07

geogen wrote:Additionally I actually support some sort of commidified, potential QE3 F-35-Bond buying approach via a strategic Lease in order to maximize success, maximize force structure and sustainability/viability of the Program. (I've truly not seen any other such similar interventionist proposals to 'save' the F-35 to date, which is quite astonishing - there should be strategic hearings on how to creatively save the Program. I just don't get it).


That's more like it, but I have another idea. Why doesn't someone (the President, Congress, or DoD [I don't care which]) tell LM to un-fu<k itself now or risk losing all defense contracts for the next 20 years?
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geogen

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 08:22

1st503rd, truly the reality of the situation is that such a complex aircraft integrating entirely new components/systems, using new materials, requiring insane software programming and learn on the fly revolutionary construction techniques by highly expensive workers all on pre-mature SDD aircraft which are still requiring 1,000s of design fixes until reaching block III maturity alone, then onto block 4 fixes, etc, IS NOT AN F-16 PRICED AIRCRAFT! Thus what we have is the harsh reality that original estimates are FLAWED! Well-intended but inaccurate... Ain't gonna see em! What is being witnessed now is simply a result of what one gets from a policy of kicking the can down the road and ultimately having to realise that you are pretty dang far from home. Sadly, no matter how much frustration and protest is exhibited against the price realities, one can't force or intimidate out of manufacturer cheap fighter jets of this class. And whether we like it or not LMT is too vital a vital defense/industrial/economic interest to simply 'not buy from or take bids from' as punishment. What needs to be corrected is core strategic planning and assessment making - building muscle and cutting fat - in this new paradigm of austere budget environments going forward. imho
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 08:47

battleshipagincourt wrote: Quite upset they cancelled the Raptor over something unproven and as yet a money pit.


Money pit, now there is a perfect way to describe the F-22. Afterall its had no end of problems, is extremely maintenance intensive, is limited in overall ability and of course now it's also grounded, seemingly indefinitely. Yes it's fantastic when it actually works but thats a rarity in itself. Just saying.
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delvo

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 12:56

What I think of the JSF hasn't really changed. I first heard of it from someone who tended to put it down, but was suspicious of his claims all along, partially because of his bias, motivation, and mode of presentation; he was a big F-22 fan and was countering claims by people who were against that program that its job could be done cheaper by JSF, and went overboard in the rhetoric with which he did so. Also, his story that the ATF was so awesome and another thing produced by the same people was so not, just didn't make sense, nor did the idea that so many people in both the American government and foreign ones would all be pushing a bad plane. As I've learned more, my suspicions have only been confirmed; the put-downs against it were all either inaccurate, true but distorted and misrepresented to imply inaccuracies, or true but actually positive traits not drawbacks. (An example of the latter that I still sometimes see here is its lower top speed than F-22, but top speed is related to minimum speed in design, and a low minimum is good for its own reasons, separate from the reasons why a high maximum is.)

* * *

About Lock-Mart screwing things up, I have to recommend "Skunk Works", by Ben Rich, who worked there at first as an engineer and later in charge of the whole program, during the era in which they invented the U-2, SR-71, and F-117. (He was also still there at least early in the ATF program but the book says little about it.) The book doesn't have much technical detail but does tell the stories of the people involved and how they worked together, much of it consisting of parts written directly by others and collected by Rich so the book would include the thoughts and experiences of not just himself but also other engineers/mechanics, government officers, and pilots.

He says a crucial part of what made Skunk Works so successful in that era was being left alone, both by the big bosses at Lockheed (which Skunk Works is only a part of) and by the government. He says the entire reason for routine cost overruns and delays in advanced military development now is government (and company executives) sticking its nose in advanced development divisions' business on a day-to-day, on-the-workshop-floor basis, ironically supposedly to prevent the very kinds of problems that their presence creates. A few excerpts...

Northrop's management is in large part to blame for all the delays and cost overruns, but so is the Air Force bureaucracy, which has swarmed over this project from the beginning. When we began testing our stealth fighter, the combined Lockheed and Air Force personnel involved totaled 240 persons. There are more than two thousand Air Force auditors, engineers, and official kibitzers crawling all over that troubled B-2 assembly building in Palmdale. What are they doing? Compiling one million sheets of paper every day--reports and data that no one in the bureaucracy has either the time or the interest to read. The Air Force now has too many commissioned officers with no real mission to perform, so they stand around production lines with clipboards in hand, second-guessing and interfering every step of the way. The Drug Enforcement Agency has 1200 enforcement agents out in the field fighting the drug trafficking problem; the DOD employs 27000 auditors. That kind of discrepancy shows how skewed the impulse for oversight has become both at the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress.


General Electric's jet engine plant at Evendale, Ohio, sells its engines to the commercial airlines for 20% less than to the Air Force. Price gouging? No. But the Air Force insists on having three hundred inspectors working the production line for its engines. The commercial airlines have no outside inspectors slowing down production and escalating costs.


That's right, RS-71 was its official designation, but {President} Johnson accidentally turned it around and called it the "SR-71". Instead of putting out a brief correction, the Air Force decided not to call attention to a very minor mistake by the commander in chief and ordered us to change about 29000 blueprints and drawings at a cost of thousands of dollars so that they would read "SR-71" and not "RS-71". Another frustrating example was the stubborn insistence of the Air Force to have its insignia painted on the wings and fuselage of the SR-71 Blackbird, even though no one would ever see it at 85000 feet; finding a way to keep the enamel from burning off under the enormous surface temperatures and maintain its true red, white, and blue colors took our chief chemist, Mel George, weeks of experimentation and cost the government thousands of unnecessary dollars. After we succeeded, the Air Force decided that the white on the emblem against the all-black fuselage was too easy to spot from the ground, so we repainted it pink. Air Force regulations also forced us to certify that the Blackbird could pass the Arizona road-dust test! Years earlier, low-flying fighters training over Arizona's desert wastes suffered engine damage from sand and grit. We had to demonstrate that our engine was specially coated to escape grit damage--this for an airplane that would overfly Arizona at sixteen miles high.


I was in Boston recently and visited Old Ironsides at its berth, coincidentally at a time when the ship was being painted. I chatted with one of the supervisors and asked him about the length of the government specifications for this particular job. He said it numbered 200 pages and laughed in embarrassment when I told him to take a look at the glass display case showing the original specification to build the ship in 1776, which was all of three pages.


An Air Force general in procurement at the Pentagon once confided to me that his office handled thirty-three million pieces of paper every month... he admitted that there was no way his large office staff could begin to handle that kind of paper volume, much less read it. General Dynamics is forced by regulations to store 92000 boxes of data for the F-16 fighter program alone. They pay rent on a 50000-ft² warehouse, pay the salaries of employees to maintain, guard, and store these unread and useless boxes, and send the bill to the Air Force and you and me. That is just one fighter project.


Back in 1958, we in the Skunk Works built the first Jetstar, a two-engine corporate jet that flew at 0.7 Mach and 40000 feet. We did the job in eight months using 55 engineers. In the late 1960s the Navy came to us to design and build a carrier-based sub-hunter, the S-3, which would fly also at 0.7 Mach and 40000 feet. Same flight requirements as the Jetstar, but this project took us 27 months to complete. One hint as to the reasons why: at the mock-up conference for the Jetstar--which is where the final full-scale model made of wood gets its last once-over before production--we had six people on hand. For the S-3 mock-up the Navy sent 300 people.


Under existing laws if a company actually brings in a project at considerably less cost than called for in the original contract, it faces formidable fines and penalties for overbidding the project."


There was also something about Skunk Works crews putting planes or at least large complex parts of planes together, after which government inspectors would take it apart for inspection and then put it back together again, but I'm not sure where to find the quote for that.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 13:48

andreas77 wrote:
battleshipagincourt wrote:...but having all the mission equipment within a clean airframe is better for performance and range than mounting it externally.


Well thats not really true either, an airframe with internal stores and sensors gets larger and adds extra weight (doors, actuators, ejectors etc.) and volume (which tends to be much bigger than the actual volume of the bombs/missiles that you put in there), there are no free lunches.

I mean, just look at the F-35, with the size constraints that was given there could not have been a surprise for anyone that the internal weapons bay and sensors would result in a chubby airframe and relatively small wings, thats not really what you want when you are designing a fighter.

And if internal weapons bay and sensors improves on range, why hasnt there been any non-stealth fighter built this way? The range of the F-35 has more to do with its fuel fraction than the fact that it has internal weapons bays. And if the F-35 is so aerodynamic, why is so heavily punished by external stores (8% extra range from 30% extra fuel)?


Try getting an F-16 to M1.6 carrying a 5000lb load(at any fuel state, much less a high fuel state). You may want to check up on your history, a number of non-stealth tactical aircraft have had internal weapons bays(F-101, F-102, F-105, F-106, F-111, YF-12....). It's all in how the size of the fighter is scaled, as to whether there'll be significant performance degradation. Internal bays are more costly, which is why the majority of legacy fighters were designed with the compromise of draggy combat configurations.
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wrightwing

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 13:52

andreas77 wrote: The 414 offers equal or more (EPE) thrust with lower weight.


Equal or more than what? The F-135 has as much or more thrust dry, as the F-414EPE does in full afterburner.

Regarding cost I am not so sure one is cheaper than two. What are the manufacturing costs of the two engines respectively? One F-135 costs more than one GE414, thats for sure. And the F-135 development program is now at $8.5 billion (according to flightglobal).


It may cost more than one, but it doesn't cost more than two(or the maintenance, and fuel costs, over the life of the aircraft).
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 13:53

grinner68 wrote:At some point the cost of the aircraft will exceed it's capabilities.
The F-35 may have hit that mile post before it's even entered service.


The fly away cost should be lower than its competitors, so I think it's a bit premature to make this claim.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 15:33

wrightwing wrote:
andreas77 wrote: The 414 offers equal or more (EPE) thrust with lower weight.


Equal or more than what? The F-135 has as much or more thrust dry, as the F-414EPE does in full afterburner.



Of course I mean 2 x GE414
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 15:49

andreas77 wrote:
wrightwing wrote:
andreas77 wrote: The 414 offers equal or more (EPE) thrust with lower weight.


Equal or more than what? The F-135 has as much or more thrust dry, as the F-414EPE does in full afterburner.



Of course I mean 2 x GE414


1 F-135 is very similar in thrust to 2 F-414s, in afterburning thrust, and with the advantage of less weight, lower fuel usage, lower maintenance/logistical requirements. The only advantage 2 F-414s have, is if you lose an engine.
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lamoey

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 15:54

andreas77 wrote:
battleshipagincourt wrote:...

andreas77 wrote:And if internal weapons bay and sensors improves on range, why hasnt there been any non-stealth fighter built this way? The range of the F-35 has more to do with its fuel fraction than the fact that it has internal weapons bays. And if the F-35 is so aerodynamic, why is so heavily punished by external stores (8% extra range from 30% extra fuel)?


???

Don't external stores punish all fighters in this way?

...


Absolutely not! Remember that 30% extra is quite little, the Gripen NG for example can take almost 100% extra fuel externally and most other 4th gen fighters flies with similar loads regulary (and they would not do that if they did not benefit from it).

Also remember that you gain more from the first extra fuel tank than from the last so if the gain is 8% with 30% extra fuel for the F-35, how much is the gain with 60% extra fuel (4 tanks i guess?)? Its not 16%, thats for sure!


The NG and all other 4th generation fighters use external tanks because they have to, not because they want to. Otherwise many of them would not be able to defend anything but their own runway.

Comparing a clean F-35 to a clean 4th generation F-16/15/18/EuroFighter/NG/Mirage/Mig etc. is as useful as comparing it to a Cessna 172, as none of the legacy fighters have any use in a clean configuration, other than for air shows. As soon as they start to hang weapons their useful range goes down dramatically, and external fuel tanks becomes necessary, which again then reduces the war load they can carry at the same time, so it is a vicious circle that also voids any aftermarket applied LO.

The advantages the F-35 brings to support and operational folks was further highlighted in another thread where the flexibility of not having to have two or three different configurations prepared on the line at all times, reducing the number of fighters that needs to be ready at all times, or makes more fighters ready for whatever happens.
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wrightwing

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 16:34

lamoey wrote:
andreas77 wrote:
battleshipagincourt wrote:...

andreas77 wrote:And if internal weapons bay and sensors improves on range, why hasnt there been any non-stealth fighter built this way? The range of the F-35 has more to do with its fuel fraction than the fact that it has internal weapons bays. And if the F-35 is so aerodynamic, why is so heavily punished by external stores (8% extra range from 30% extra fuel)?


???

Don't external stores punish all fighters in this way?

...


Absolutely not! Remember that 30% extra is quite little, the Gripen NG for example can take almost 100% extra fuel externally and most other 4th gen fighters flies with similar loads regulary (and they would not do that if they did not benefit from it).

Also remember that you gain more from the first extra fuel tank than from the last so if the gain is 8% with 30% extra fuel for the F-35, how much is the gain with 60% extra fuel (4 tanks i guess?)? Its not 16%, thats for sure!


The NG and all other 4th generation fighters use external tanks because they have to, not because they want to. Otherwise many of them would not be able to defend anything but their own runway.

Comparing a clean F-35 to a clean 4th generation F-16/15/18/EuroFighter/NG/Mirage/Mig etc. is as useful as comparing it to a Cessna 172, as none of the legacy fighters have any use in a clean configuration, other than for air shows. As soon as they start to hang weapons their useful range goes down dramatically, and external fuel tanks becomes necessary, which again then reduces the war load they can carry at the same time, so it is a vicious circle that also voids any aftermarket applied LO.

The advantages the F-35 brings to support and operational folks was further highlighted in another thread where the flexibility of not having to have two or three different configurations prepared on the line at all times, reducing the number of fighters that needs to be ready at all times, or makes more fighters ready for whatever happens.


What's also curious is the willingness to except a figure like an 8% range increase with EFTs, but ignoring other range claims from the same source. It's the mindset that stops researching, once they find a single source to corroborate the belief they formed before all of the facts were in.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 20:51

SpudmanWP wrote:
grinner68 wrote:At some point the cost of the aircraft will exceed it's capabilities.
The F-35 may have hit that mile post before it's even entered service.


At FRP the F-35A will cost about 15% more than current 4th gen US jets (F/A-18E). If you think that 6xF-15As can do more and survive longer than 7xF/A-18Es, then it is worth it.


How many F-16's have we lost from 2001-2011?
How many F-16 flight hours were flown during those years.
Now how many F-35's will you need to fly those same flight hours and how much would it cost to purchase those airframes, fly, arm and support them?
I'm thinking it would cost less to fly the F-16's.
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