Possibility small STOVL carrier USN/USMC

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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Unread post11 Oct 2010, 22:53

Royal Navy running-jump method confirmed for F-35B - Supersonic stealth jumpjet to learn Brit trick by Lewis Page 11 Oct 2010

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/11/f35b_srvl_deal/

"A US military contract announcement suggests that the UK Ministry of Defence still plans to purchase the F-35B stealth jumpjet for operations from the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers. Lockheed, maker of the aircraft, has received an $18m deal to integrate the UK-developed "Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing" (SRVL) method into the new fighter.

According to the US announcement, made last week and flagged up first by Flightglobal.com, Lockheed will be partnered with the UK side of BAE Systems plc for the task of ensuring that the F-35B can get down on a ship at sea using SRVL. BAE is already involved in development of the jet, and in fact the lead test pilot for the F-35B, Graham Tomlinson, is a BAE employee.

The idea of SRVL is that the F-35B will not set down vertically supported solely by thrust from its lift fan and downward-swivelled jetpipe. Rather it will come down still moving forward slowly, supplementing the vertical thrust with lift from its wings. The forward speed would still be slow enough that there would be no need for arrester wires and a tail hook.

This should allow an F-35B to set down on a carrier deck while carrying a larger amount of fuel and weapons than would normally be possible. The Royal Navy is well-known to be anxious about this issue as it led to the early departure of the late, great Sea Harrier fighter.

The Sea Harrier had been upgraded in the early 1990s to carry heavy AMRAAM missiles, making it probably the UK's most powerful fighter at the time (bearing in mind that the the only other contender then was the lamentable Tornado F3). In the cold northern seas where the RN had expected to operate against the Soviets, the upgrade worked.

In hot weather, however, jet engines lose thrust and the Sea Harrier was unable to make a vertical landing with AMRAAMs still aboard and a safe margin of reserve fuel. Thus, for fighter patrols say above the Persian Gulf, it would have been required to dump its expensive weapons after every flight. This was an unacceptable weakness, and in the end that RN scrapped the Sea Harrier and shifted to operating the bomber-version Harrier used by the RAF.

The F-35B has much more hover power than the Harrier did, and programme officials have repeatedly insisted that it should be able to land vertically with safety fuel and 2 AMRAAMs. Nonetheless, the UK MoD has done trials to develop the SRVL method using a test Harrier and computer modelling.

The Royal Navy is quite sure that it wants to proceed with SRVL for the F-35B. Senior naval aviators have previously told the Reg that it will be the preferred method of landing regardless of the F-35B's eventual performance as it will allow more weaponry or fuel to be brought back to the deck and will also ease maintenance as the jet's engine won't have to be run so much at full redline power in the hover.

Much though the US Navy is listed as the contracting authority for F-35B SRVL, the $18m in question comes from the MoD. However, events may be outpacing the movements of transatlantic bureaucracy.

The F-35B is stalled in flight tests at the moment, as the sole flying example is grounded due to a door hinge issue. The programme was already badly delayed and subject to cost overruns, and it is clear that the price of early F-35Bs to be delivered within the next few years is likely to be ruinously high.

Unfortunately this is just when the Royal Navy will need jets: although it has been delayed, the first of the two new carriers will be delivered in 2014 under current plans. It is widely acknowledged that the MoD, now in the middle of a massive budget-cutting exercise, cannot afford enough jets for the two ships at early-production prices: perhaps not any point in the manufacturing run, the F-35B being one of the most complicated aircraft in the world.

This has led to speculation that the new British carriers may be fitted with catapults so as to allow the purchase of cheaper aircraft. Such speculation has been lent some weight by reports of RN pilots training in catapult launch and arrested recovery landings, and of ongoing electromagnetic catapult work by British firms.

Last week's SRVL announcement would seem to suggest that the original jumpjet plan remains on track: but in fact the length of time it typically takes to organise such a deal and get it approved by the US government is such that it may reflect the thinking of some months ago.
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Unread post12 Oct 2010, 22:25

USMC reply to USN AFJ recent article against F-35B:

Flexible future - The F-35B will give the Marine Corps unprecedented basing options
BY MAJ. TYLER BARDO AND MAJ. CHAD VAUGHN

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2010/10/4765181

"In a AFJ article titled “Hovering at a precipice,” [July/August] http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2010/07/4679496 Lt. Cmdr. Perry Solomon challenged the merits of the F-35B Lightning II and the Marine Corps’ commitment to building an aviation force composed entirely of short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. Solomon introduced a healthy dialogue about the challenges the Marine Corps faces with the acquisition of the F-35B, but his argument lacked the necessary background of how the Marine Corps fights and why an all-STOVL force is such an important component of Marine Corps war-fighting doctrine...."
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Unread post15 Oct 2010, 11:54

JSF To Develop Landing Technique For U.K. Carriers Oct 15, 2010 By Graham Warwick

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... adline=JSF To Develop Landing Technique For U.K. Carriers

"While the future of the U.K. Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers is uncertain, Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $13 million contract to incorporate shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) capability into the F-35B for the U.K.

SRVL will increase the payload that the F-35B can bring back to the carrier by 2,000-4,000 lb. above what is possible with a Harrier-style vertical landing, reducing the need to dump unused weapons or fuel before recovery.

The maneuver involves landing at a slow forward speed so that some wing lift is available to supplement lift provided by the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) propulsion system.

The two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers are designed around the STOVL F-35B. The ships are already under construction and planned for service entry in 2016 and 2018, but threatened by the new U.K. government’s strategic defense review.

Development of the recovery technique by the Joint Strike Fighter team, Qinetiq and the U.K. Defense Science & Technology Laboratory required several potential safety hazards to be overcome, says Richard Cook, BAE Systems SRVL project lead. He spoke at last week’s International Powered Lift Conference in Philadelphia.

These included risks of the aircraft hitting the stern of the carrier on approach; the deflected main engine nozzle striking the deck on touchdown; exceeding the gear strength; and insufficient stopping distance after touchdown.

The result was development of a flexible SRVL maneuver in which the pilot flies a constant Earth-referenced glideslope to touchdown on the moving deck, at which point the aircraft de-rotates and brakes.

The maneuver uses a shipboard visual landing aid called the Bedford Array. This is an array of lights on the deck centerline that provides a glideslope indication stabilized for ship heave and pitch.

The lights illuminate based on ship motion to provide a stabilized aimpoint for the pilot. This array is used in conjunction with a special velocity-vector symbol and glideslope scale on the pilot’s helmet-mounted display.

Aligning the helmet symbology with the aimpoint provided by the lights on the deck allows the pilot to clear the ship’s aft ramp and touch down at the planned point with the specified descent rate, Cook says.

Flight tests of the SRVL were conducted on the French Navy carrier Charles de Gaulle using the Vectored-thrust Aircraft Advanced Control testbed Harrier, which was programmed with F-35B’s control laws.

Cook says the U.K.’s threshold and objective bring-back payload goals are “conditionally achievable” with SRVL, with further development required through flight trails of the F-35B and tests with the first Queen Elizabeth carrier."
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Unread post15 Oct 2010, 23:20

Excerpt 12 pages from main PDF (URL below - other pages not relevant) with some text paragraphs for encouragement to interested readers:

Acquisition of Capabilities through Systems-of-systems: Case Studies and Lessons from Naval Aviation by Dr Michael Pryce

http://acquisitionresearch.net/_files/F ... 09-010.pdf

"Aircraft and aircraft carriers form symbiotic system for the delivery of capability. A view of aircraft carriers as mere infrastructure, a floating runway and hangar for the aircraft it carries, misses much of its importance. In order to understand how to acquire such capabilities, we need to understand the interactions between the aircraft carrier and its aircraft. In this paper, the prosaic issues that matter in operating aircraft from ships will be illustrated. This is not to diminish the modern need for digital interoperability, etc., but rather to illustrate how matters such as simply being able to move aircraft around the deck and hangar of a ship in an effective manner can have significant effects on capability....

...it is the intention of the Royal Navy to replace these vessels [Invincible Class] in the next decade with two much larger ships, under the CVF programme.

These vessels are intended to employ the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), in particular the STOVL F-35B Lightning II version of the JSF. They will, therefore, be able to build upon the experience of STOVL operations at sea built up over many years by the Royal Navy, while at the same time benefitting from being able to design both systems in parallel in order to maximise the capabilities they can provide.

One clear lesson that has been adopted on the CVF programme is that a large ship is helpful in operating even STOVL aircraft, as it gives much more space for moving aircraft around, which has been a problem in past operations and studies. Based on the idea that “air is free and steel is cheap,” this appears to be a welcome move, albeit one that may seem to reduce the need for using STOVL aircraft at all. Indeed, the CVF design has been developed so that it can be adapted for the later adoption of CTOL aircraft, including the CTOL version of the JSF. However, this would require not only a significant shift in UK procurement policy but also a re-assessment of all the lines of development for the CVF and JSF. As Figure 2 showed, the costs are distributed differently for the different types of aircraft, although basing them on versions of the JSF should reduce such differences.

Nevertheless, the current plan to deploy STOVL aircraft on the CVF means that the experience built up on the Harrier will be of use. This does not just depend on the service use of the Harrier, but also on research programmes that have used the aircraft. Most notable among these is the VAAC Harrier programme, which has been used to develop the flight control aspects of the STOVL JSF. In the Harrier family, the control of the aircraft was difficult because the pilot had a high work load when hovering the aircraft. For the JSF, the intention is that this can be reduced significantly, requiring much less training and greater flight safety, at the cost of a more complex flight control system.

Tests with the VAAC Harrier have revealed that the control system that came to be preferred from land-based trials needed some modifications when applied at sea (Denham, Krumenacker, D’Mello & Lewis, 2002). In addition, the VAAC Harrier has been used to develop the proposed Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) technique that will allow the JSF to land at low speeds on the CVF, significantly increasing the “bring back” payload while reducing engine “wear and tear” (Rosa, 2008). While this should allow savings in terms of reduced maintenance as well as operations of the aircraft at higher weights and the deliverance of greater capability, there may be issues to address that may offset these savings in other lines of development, such as training for pilots and deck crew, and the development of additional deck lighting patterns and deck parking arrangements (Hodge & Wilson, 2008).

Further benefits from previous experience with the Harrier, and studies into replacing it, are shown by the adoption of a “ski jump” ramp for take-off. Despite the fact that the CVF is much larger than the Invincible class and that the JSF has a completely different propulsion system, the ramp still gives the same benefits as it did on earlier ships: boosting capability by increasing payloads and enhancing safety, as well as freeing up more deck area for aircraft parking and recovery (Fry, 2008; Rolfe, 2008)...."
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Unread post17 Oct 2010, 03:25

OLD NEWS but relevant to long running SRVL research (Jan 2006):

NASA SimLabs News Volume 6, Issue 1 http://www.simlabs.arc.nasa.gov

2. Lockheed Martin Continues Joint Strike Fighter Tests at SimLabs January 2006

http://www.simlabs.arc.nasa.gov/newslet ... 01_06.html

"Lockheed Martin continued evaluations of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft in SimLabs’ Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) http://www.simlabs.arc.nasa.gov/vms/vms.html [amazing setup] by recently completing four weeks of simulation experiments. The unique motion and acceleration capabilities of the VMS are ideally suited to evaluate the handling qualities of several variants of the F-35. The JSF is a next-generation supersonic combat aircraft designed to reduce costs by utilizing a common design with variants to meet a wide range of needs serving the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines, as well as several international partners. Two variants were recently evaluated in the VMS: The Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) configuration and the Conventional Take-off and Landing / Carrier Variant (CTOL/CV).
The STOVL configuration was the primary variant studied. This configuration required high fidelity motion cues to evaluate tasks that included bolter and ski ramp take-off. A bolter is an aborted carrier touchdown that requires full thrust to take-off after the abort. The ski ramp take-off is a short deck take-off at full thrust using a ramp at the end of the deck. Both maneuvers require high vertical acceleration cues to simulate accurately.
A secondary variant was the CTOL/CV. For this variant, most of the effort was aimed at first flight readiness and tasks such as formation flying or offset approaches requiring a high level of motion fidelity to ferret out any issues with the control system.
As part of this study, representatives from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense evaluated a Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) procedure as one more determinant in their choice between the variants mentioned above. The procedure is tied to a new aircraft carrier design under consideration and will have significant cost ramifications on the carrier design. For the SRVL procedure, touchdown dispersion and ramp clearance under various shipboard and environmental conditions were evaluated. Several aircraft controls handling issues were identified that need further investigation giving designers the opportunity to improve the system while the vehicle is still under development."
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Unread post17 Oct 2010, 04:08

Flew the VMS for an unrelated study in 2008. Though the imposing physical structure of the thing is impressive, the bottom line for that study was that it was no more or less capable than the latest Level D full motion simulators for providing realistic motion cues in any axis.

Just a lot more audible creaky noise and more expensive to operate.

OL
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Unread post17 Oct 2010, 04:22

I'm guessing that now it is more about uptodate computer simulations. These I would like to see in the F-35 sim setups.
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 07:30

Naval Aviation Vision January 2010 "Future Carrier Air Wing"

http://nae.ahf.nmci.navy.mil/downloads/ ... ACE_sp.pdf ( 3.2Mb)

Graphic below (from PDF) is not to scale for each flat deck

USMC "Future Aviation Combat Element" 2032:

"The notional aviation combat element of the future will consist
of the following aircraft:
6 short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft (F-35B with Next Generation Jammer [NGJ])
• 12 tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22)
• 4 heavy-lift helicopters (CH-53K)
• 4 attack helicopters (AH-1Z)
• 3 utility helicopters (UH-1Y)
Aviation combat elements are task organized by MAGTF commanders. As such, the exact composition will vary depending on mission requirements."
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 13:48

Interesting graphic SSB.

So if the Marines go in and fight the war on their own, they have six fighters per LHA - versus the 30-some which the UK assessed as being necessary to protect the fleet against air attack and mount offensive operations, on a sustained basis.

If they want to carry more than that, they have to offload V-22s and CH-53Ks, but then get stuck with a load of men and materiel and no way to get them off the boat.

But in the more likely scenario where the MAGTF is accompanied by a CVN, the investment in STOVL adds six aircraft to the 49 (44 fighters and five Growlers) on the CV.
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 13:53

'underhill' I don't believe the USMC base their calculations on what the RN were going to do with their F-35Bs on CVF. How can you think they have the same conops?
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 15:54

I am not saying that. I'm just wondering how much use six fighters are.

The UK arrived at its carrier size because they wanted to do what the Marines say they want to do - provide a self-contained force that could act in the face of a relatively modern, high-level threat. To do that the Brits wanted to maintain a CAP, while still being able to perform CAS or BAI. That drove them to a certain sortie rate, number of aircraft and hangar/ship size.

So what do you do with six aircraft? You certainly can't do CAP and anything else. So if there's an air threat you still need the carrier group.
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 22:16

underhill, I'm guessing the the USMC know. Probably their CONOPS need explanation. There has been some clues on this forum where this SLD (Second Line of Defence) website is mentioned - amongst others: [Examples of USMC thinking re F-35B]

"The F-35B in the Perspective of Aviation History:

http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=7742

"...However, with the very real computer revolution moving with light speed into the 21st Century there is now a fourth design dynamic at work — the man-machine interface.

With the very real capability of three dimensional sensing and being able to distribute information to other warfighers, airborne and on the ground or at sea the relationship of the individual pilot to knowledge of the bigger air battle is truly revolutionary—this is brand new and to undergo further developments.

For example one of the most important capabilities of the F-35B not yet exploited is the distributed information capability. The least experienced fighter pilot to the most experience all flying into the air battle in yet to be developed formations are all equally capable of having the same knowledge and situational awareness.

Consequently in the formation if one pilot gets inside the opponents OODA loop (observe orient decide act) all are capable of having that same joint knowledge. The revolutionary point is the enemy can splash an individual F-35B, but cannot kill the knowledge gained by all: that aspect of modern warfare is truly unique 21st Century technology brought to an air battle.

Conversely, on the offensive if one F-35B picks up an enemies airborne vulnerability such as an aircraft system or weapon frequency emission or stealth breakdown it can be sent to all. Thus, another unique aspect of F-35B 21st Century capabilities is that every Lightning II is a real time intelligence collection system. The entire engagement is also captured electronically for immediate and direct refinements to tactics and analysis at the Marine Air Weapons Training Squadron during the air battle.

Fleet wide information sharing among services and allies may be a huge factor in winning an air campaign...."
______________________

The F35B Pilot’s New Helmet And DAS: A huge Leap In Air-Ground Decision-Making Sharing

http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=9192

"...SLD: So that the DAS system works closely with the helmet and it creates a new environment for the pilot to operate in. You also were alluding to something I find interesting, which is this whole relationship between the classic tactical fighter and a specialized war battle manager, who’s on electronic warfare aircraft. In fact those specializations will be broken apart by the F-35.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dehner: Absolutely. The classic tactical fighter was defined by the strike package where I’m going to have aircraft that will deliver weapons; I’m going to have fighters that will either clear the way or protect them while they go in. And then I’m going to have electronic attack aircraft to provide another level of support. In contrast the F-35, by design, will be able to do all three of those things with either the same aircraft or the same little family of aircraft. So, you can prioritize different roles such as : the two on the front are the fighters today, the third is going to pick up electronic attack, and the fourth is going to do the strike. But depending on how we’re configured, we can actually flex that real time. “Hey, looks like the fight is actually more on your side. So, we can actually shift that focus of effort to the other aircraft.” So, it just allows us an extremely flexible platform.

But with all that increased capability, you still have the same human beings that are flying aircraft similar to what we did 50 years ago. Now, you just have to essentially build up those pilots a different way. You take all the very classic training techniques; teach them how to actually fly the aircraft, teach them how to use the aircraft as a weapon and then, you’ve got to go down a different route that’s more or less teaching them to be an information manager, because this aircraft really is an information sponge. This aircraft just creates this little information hub in the sky. And the pilots, their job is to be effective for their primary mission, but then also decide how to get this information to other people, not just other pilots but also to the ground, because maybe they’re in a better spot to be more effective?..."
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Unread post24 Oct 2010, 22:49

Another example of USMC conops thinking:

Flexible future - The F-35B will give the Marine Corps unprecedented basing options BY MAJ. TYLER BARDO AND MAJ. CHAD VAUGHN

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2010/10/4765181

"...To understand why the Marine Corps desires an all-STOVL force, it is important to first have a basic understanding of how the Marine Corps structures its combat power. The MAGTF is a flexible, expeditionary, task-organized unit capable of operating across the spectrum of conflict. Through the detailed integration of combined arms under one commander, the MAGTF has the self-sustaining capability to apply power to a wide variety of scenarios — from a non-combatant evacuation operation to high-intensity combat. Seamless integration between the components of the MAGTF is essential to success. In order to successfully support the Ground Combat Element, the MAGTF’s Air Combat Element must be capable of supporting each of the six functions of Marine aviation:

å Offensive air support.

å Anti-air warfare.

å Electronic warfare.

å Assault support.

å Control of aircraft and missiles.

å Aerial reconnaissance.

Expeditionary operations are inherently challenging in that the war fighter often operates with force structure and external support limitations. As an expeditionary force, the Marine Corps must capitalize on the strengths of maneuver warfare. One of the most important of these strengths is tempo; by generating tempo, we look to gain an advantage over our adversary by attacking at the time and place of our choosing. In the context of tactical aviation, higher sortie generation rates translate into greater support to ground forces for a given unit over a given period of time. The critical variable for sortie generation, given a constant number of aircraft, is time. Sortie rates are affected by the time required to transit to the objective and are further reduced by additional time spent behind a tanker, in a holding pattern, and diverting to alternate airfields...."
&
"...From a sea-basing perspective, the dispersion of carrier-based STOVL aircraft creates a dilemma for the enemy while providing additional combat capability to the supported commander. During Desert Storm, 20 Harriers aboard the amphibious assault ship Nassau operated from a 750-foot flight deck, which resulted in a 15-minute transit time and 40 minutes of on-station time with no in-flight refueling. As the war progressed north, AV-8Bs would launch from ships in the Persian Gulf, fly a mission and then proceed to an FOB in Kuwait to rearm and refuel. After flying a second mission, these aircraft would return to the ship. These combined sea and shore operations doubled the sortie-generation rate for ship-based aircraft, halved shipboard workload and ordnance expenditure, and minimized shipboard resupply concerns. Also, because the aircraft returned to the ship, the force protection requirement ashore was significantly reduced.

During recent operations in Iraq, coalition airfields were at maximum capacity and the Navy was unable to source any more big-deck carriers into the Persian Gulf. Operating Harriers from amphibious assault ships put an additional 60 tactical aircraft at the disposal of the combatant commander...."
&
"...F-35B AND THE MAGTF
The F-35B will provide the next generation of tactical air support to the MAGTF. In one aircraft, the MAGTF commander will now have the capability to support an extraordinary range of potential operations and cover five of the six functions of Marine aviation. The Marine Corps will possess an aircraft that combines the ability to generate tempo through STOVL operations with the performance and survivability required against advanced threats.

Critics often point to the smaller unrefueled combat radius of the F-35B when compared with the F-35A and C models. In comparisons to current Navy and Marine fourth-generation strike/fighter aircraft, however, the F-35B meets or exceeds legacy combat radius while retaining fifth-generation capabilities that enable mission performance unattainable by legacy aircraft (see chart). The smaller F-35B combat radius is a calculated and acceptable trade-off for the Marine Corps, given the increased basing flexibility that a STOVL aircraft provides.

Another criticism often levied against the F-35B is that it has a smaller internal payload than the other variants. The F-35A and C can each carry two 2,000-pound-class munitions internally, along with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. The F-35B’s internal weapons carriage allows for two 1,000-pound-class munitions plus two AIM-120s. This smaller STOVL internal loadout reflects a Marine Corps decision to prioritize basing options and operational flexibility over internal ordnance. This is an acceptable trade-off considering that 1,000-pound-class weapons can kill 95 percent of campaign target sets. Finally, it is critical to point out the discussion of internal weapons carriage applies only during the early stages of a campaign when the enemy retains an operational integrated air defense system, against which the low-observable capability of the F-35 is so important. Once low-observable capability is no longer required, the F-35B will be able to carry more than 15,000 pounds of internal and external weapons. This includes 5,000-pound-class munitions on each of the inboard external pylons and 1,500-pound-class munitions on each of the middle external pylons. This combination of internal and external stores provides ample close-air support firepower for Marines engaged with the enemy.

The F-35 program is still in the systems development and demonstration phase and much of its capability is classified; thus there is a good deal of information about the airplane that remains in development or is inappropriate for this forum. What we know based on the testing we have seen to date, however, indicates that sensor performance/fusion, aerodynamic performance and survivability are all on track and the F-35B continues to meet or exceed all of its design key performance parameters. Bottom line: It is clear the F-35B offers a lethal combination of aircraft, system and weapons performance that will surpass the fourth-generation aircraft it is replacing.

FLEXIBILITY RULES
Basing flexibility is the driving factor behind some of the calculated trade-offs in the F-35B’s performance. No longer does the Marine Corps need two different aircraft to operate throughout the spectrum of potential bases. Instead, the F-35B will provide Marine aviation with the capability to conduct launch and recovery operations aboard amphibious assault ships, aircraft carriers, forward operating bases or conventional land bases. The tangible benefits of flexibility are the fact that there are eight times as many 4,000-foot runways as 10,000-foot runways in the Central Command, Africa Command and Pacific Command regions and twice as many flight decks available to the F-35B compared with conventional carrier-based aircraft. One aircraft will now be able to do an afterburner takeoff at maximum takeoff weight of 60,000 pounds (including 15,000 pounds of ordnance) from a fixed base, execute the mission and then do a vertical landing on the confined deck of an amphibious ship. Expeditionary and flexibility go hand in hand...."
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Unread post25 Oct 2010, 22:28

Bill Sweetman does not like the F-35B (nor any other F-35 but divide and conquer is a good strategy):

The Next JSF Debate Posted by Bill Sweetman at 10/25/2010

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/de ... d=blogDest

"Is the F-35B - and, by extension, Marine tactical aviation - at risk?

The conventional wisdom on that question was expressed by my tactful colleague Robert Wall: "What are you smoking?" The Marines have, for the last 30 years at least, been very successful at getting what they want through Congress, and something that they want very much is their own tacair. The Harrier's short-take-off, vertical landing performance, from the early 1970s, relieved the Marines from total dependence on the navy's big-deck carriers.

With their corporate memory haunted by Guadalcanal (when Adm Frank Jack Fletcher pulled carriers away from the island as a Japanese fleet approached) the Marines deftly maneuvered into a position where their new STOVL jet has become the leading edge of a massive international program - and they are not about to give it up.

As noted last week, the UK's decision to abandon the B removes one prop from the program - the fact that any Pentagon action against the B would result in the DoD getting nastygrams from State. But it also doesn't indicate a lot of British confidence in the program.

The UK government can try as hard as it likes to blame the magnitude of last week's cuts on its predecessor, but it also knew very well that its actions with the carriers would expose it to criticism and even outright ridicule: to scrap the UK Harrier force and the last carrier, to finish the first new carrier with only helicopters, spend a lot of money to finish the second ship (late) with catapults (risky) and then mothball the first ship after a few years in service.

There had to be a very powerful reason to do that. My speculation is that, at some point in the defense review discussions, defense minister Liam Fox looked someone in the eye and asked them if they could guarantee that the F-35B would fly, would be reliable in service and not break the bank in terms of acquisition and sustainment costs, and that the US would never cancel it - and the answer was not the right one.

But the UK's pull-out comes as the Marine role is being reassessed. In a recent Armed Forces Journal paper, two Marine officers respond to earlier criticism of the B (from a Navy aviator) [see references above]. The piece serves to remind us of why the F-35B exists: because the Marine Air Ground Task Force "has the self-sustaining capability to apply power to a wide variety of scenarios — from a non-combatant evacuation operation to high-intensity combat."

That's precisely the doctrinal issue that is in question now. The "self-sustaining" role of the MAGTF was a Marine dream in the 1950s and 1960s, which was gradually realized - at least in doctrine and theory - with the arrival of the AV-8A Harrier, the Harrier II and (finally) the Harrier II Plus with radar and AMRAAM.

But is the MAGTF to remain self-sustaining? More likely, its new role will be joint - so in a "high-intensity" environment, it would be accompanied by a carrier group.

In that case, according to Navy documents, the most aviation-capable type of amphib - the new LHA-6 USS America or later - would add six jets to the [separate USN] carrier's nominal 49 (44 tactical fighters and five Growlers).

Helpful, yes, but decisive? You could add more JSFs to the amphib, but that would mean trading off the workhorse V-22 transports - probably one-for-one, since the F-35B and V-22 are about the same size.

The Marine plan for JSF calls for F-35Bs on the CV decks too - that's why the most widely quoted split of the 680-aircraft "department of the Navy" JSF buy includes 420 Bs, far more than is needed to replace AV-8Bs. Those aircraft would be able to flex among carrier and amphib decks and austere fields ashore.

But as reported earlier, deputy Navy secretary Robert Work - reviewing the future role and structure of the Corps - is not convinced that extensive forward basing will work when insurgents are armed with guided rockets and mortars. The forward base is a big. soft target - indeed, it always was, but back when the RAF conceived the idea, in the Cold War, it was protected from Russian missiles and special forces by secrecy. The actual sites for off-base Harrier operations were pre-surveyed, but there was no visible preparation, and with the reconnaissance technology of the day the sites would be hard to locate.

The Marines in AFJ talk about "countless battlefield examples" of forward-based airpower, but cite only three times this has been used in the 35-year history of Marine Harriers. In the most recent,"basing AV-8Bs at FOB Dwyer during the fight for Marjah resulted in 65 percent of their sortie duration being spent on station. In comparison, aircraft based at Kandahar spent 55 percent of their sortie duration on station."

Again - is that decisive? And is it worth the very large sums still to be spent on acquisition and operation of the F-35B?" Ask the USMC.
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Unread post26 Oct 2010, 04:35

Commandant's USMC Vision of 2025 in 2009 PPT (10.5Mb):

http://www.marinecorpscouncil.com/brief ... 090418.ppt

"Commandant's Update- Marine Corps Council Brief FINAL 090418.ppt"
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