Wheeler: F-35s problems started in the Clinton Admin

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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maus92

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Unread post27 Apr 2012, 18:17

From "The Jet that Ate the Pentagon"

"The design was born in the late 1980s in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon agency that has earned an undeserved reputation for astute innovation. It emerged as a proposal for a very short takeoff and vertical-landing aircraft (known as "STOVL") that would also be supersonic. This required an airframe design that -- simultaneously -- wanted to be short, even stumpy, and single-engine (STOVL), and also sleek, long, and with lots of excess power, usually with twin engines.

President Bill Clinton's Pentagon bogged down the already compromised design concept further by adding the requirement that it should be a multirole aircraft -- both an air-to-air fighter and a bomber. This required more difficult tradeoffs between agility and low weight, and the characteristics of an airframe optimized to carry heavy loads. Clinton-era officials also layered on "stealth," imposing additional aerodynamic shape requirements and maintenance-intensive skin coatings to reduce radar reflections. They also added two separate weapons bays, which increase permanent weight and drag, to hide onboard missiles and bombs from radars. On top of all that, they made it multiservice, requiring still more tradeoffs to accommodate more differing, but exacting, needs of the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.

Finally, again during the Clinton administration, the advocates composed a highly "concurrent" acquisition strategy. That meant hundreds of copies of the F-35 would be produced, and the financial and political commitments would be made, before the test results showed just what was being bought."

http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202 ... _1,00.html
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sferrin

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Unread post27 Apr 2012, 20:24

Wheeler's problems appear to have begun in the cradle.
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spazsinbad

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Unread post27 Apr 2012, 22:16

This quote must be a classic: "...imposing ...maintenance-intensive skin coatings to reduce radar reflections...." Easily refuted in this recent thread and elsewhere on this forum:

F-35 Paint / How they Do It

http://www.f-16.net/f-16_forum_viewtopic-t-19035.html (troll down) :D
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count_to_10

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Unread post27 Apr 2012, 22:49

So much wrong with this, but the bottom line is: What do you want to do, throw away the billions of dollars and years of development to start over on two or three even more expensive planes that wont enter service for another couple of decades?
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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popcorn

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Unread post27 Apr 2012, 23:21

Now the guy is even taking potshots at DARPA.."..undeserved reputation for astute innovation" LOL.
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That_Engine_Guy

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Unread post28 Apr 2012, 08:17

:doh: ~ TEG
[Airplanes are] near perfect, all they lack is the ability to forgive.
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1st503rdsgt

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Unread post28 Apr 2012, 08:17

maus92 wrote:This required an airframe design that -- simultaneously -- wanted to be short, even stumpy, and single-engine (STOVL), and also sleek, long, and with lots of excess power, usually with twin engines.


"Short" and "stumpy" vs "sleek" and "long"? These are the *technical* terms that Wheeler uses? Obviously an idiot writing for other idiots.
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That_Engine_Guy

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Unread post28 Apr 2012, 08:45

1st503rdsgt wrote:"Short" and "stumpy" vs "sleek" and "long"? These are the *technical* terms that Wheeler uses? Obviously an idiot writing for other idiots.

No lack of
"other idiots
" in the media at large, or general/non-aviation civilian populace.

:shrug: TEG
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river_otter

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Unread post28 Apr 2012, 12:24

That_Engine_Guy wrote:
1st503rdsgt wrote:"Short" and "stumpy" vs "sleek" and "long"? These are the *technical* terms that Wheeler uses? Obviously an idiot writing for other idiots.

No lack of
"other idiots
" in the media at large, or general/non-aviation civilian populace.

:shrug: TEG


I used to parody the dumber critics with mocking statements like, "oh, yeah, and slap on some stealth while you're at it."

I guess I can't any more, because it's no longer parody:

Wheeler wrote:... Clinton-era officials also layered on "stealth," ...
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Unread post30 Apr 2012, 23:45

It doesn't matter what we think about the F-35 whether it is good or bad.
The US has only one option and that is to make it work at what ever cost that it takes because they have no other backup plan and the kitty is empty.
Lockheed martin snowballed the government and the government took took the bait hook, line and sinker.
Do you think the have learned their lesson? I doubt it.

You are stuck with with F-35 and have no other choice. And the US is going broke like most ofte other nations that are in this quagmire and cannot realy afford it.
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1st503rdsgt

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Unread post01 May 2012, 00:11

cynical175 wrote:It doesn't matter what we think about the F-35 whether it is good or bad.
The US has only one option and that is to make it work at what ever cost that it takes because they have no other backup plan and the kitty is empty.
Lockheed martin snowballed the government and the government took took the bait hook, line and sinker.
Do you think the have learned their lesson? I doubt it.

You are stuck with with F-35 and have no other choice. And the US is going broke like most ofte other nations that are in this quagmire and cannot realy afford it.


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southernphantom

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Unread post01 May 2012, 00:48

maus92 wrote: the Pentagon agency that has earned an undeserved reputation for astute innovation


:doh:

Does Wheeler even know where the Internet originated??

The F-35's acquisition plan was a huge mistake and has resulted in numerous issues, but, alas, we'd best live with it.
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count_to_10

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Unread post01 May 2012, 01:35

So, if we added up the development costs of the Harrier, the F-18, and F-16, all adjusted for GDP growth, how would it compare to the F-35?
What if we add on a few other aircraft it is replacing?
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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sferrin

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Unread post01 May 2012, 02:37

count_to_10 wrote:So, if we added up the development costs of the Harrier, the F-18, and F-16, all adjusted for GDP growth, how would it compare to the F-35?
What if we add on a few other aircraft it is replacing?


What, you expect to inject sense into this thread? :wink:
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arkadyrenko

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Unread post01 May 2012, 03:48

Strictly speaking, Wheeler is right on this point. (Yes, he's wrong on many aspects of modern air power, but that doesn't make this incorrect)

The F-35's problems are not because of Lockheed Martin is incompetent / evil, its not because the USAF has been busy changing the schedule, though that hasn't helped (most of the schedule changes seem to reflect the fact that the plane just isn't ready right now), its not because of requirement creep (on the contrary, i think we've seen requirement retreat). The F-35's core problems were baked into its design when the program began. It was the Darpa / Congress / DoD decision to roll the USAF/USN/Marine variant into one airframe which has lead to the sub-optimal design of the F-35.

When they designed the F-35, the plane was created to be a light, cheap, stealthy strike fighter carrying one of the most advanced avionics system yet designed. It was supposed to combine the radically different carrier, conventional, and unprecedented level of short take off and landing capability. And it was supposed to achieve all of these goals by 2010 for a cost that allowed the USAF to buy thousands of them. None of those goals have been met so far. (And the cost goal is too far out to be certain one way or another) Viewed from the goal of the program when it first began, the F-35 has not met its original goals.

It seems to me that the primary reason why the F-35 did not meet its goals (including original IOC date) is that the F-35's goals were impossible. One could not physically make a light, cheap, stealthy strike fighter, combining all of these aerodynamic missions, and incorporating a massive leap in avionics capability and complexity. That was impossible, and we should all recognize that by now. (standard caveat: this doesn't mean the F-35 program should be cancelled, its just an assessment of the past history).

And before you claim that no, the F-35 isn't suboptimal, I will just point to the continued development troubles that revolved around the basic airframe, as well as this salient point: the F-35 has one of the most powerful engines in fighter history, and it isn't operationally expected to exceed the speed of sound. (This means, the CONOPS as best as I can understand do not anticipate sustained supersonic operation) That doesn't sound like a very aerodynamically efficient design. We can also discuss the plane's poor size, ie the Marine variant forced size constraints which did lead to design problems. The obvious one was the tail hook, but I suspect that the general "cramped" airframe hasn't helped either. I infer the existence of a cramped airframe from the internal heating problems; that may be a consequence of having too many electronics too close to each other. The question about suboptimal design is: would a plane designed to achieve the JSF mission plane and designed 'solely' for the USAF have looked like the F-35?

ps. I do hope that the JSF starts dropping bombs soon, because as it is the largest DoD program (by a mile) it is the biggest target for budget hawks.
Last edited by arkadyrenko on 01 May 2012, 04:13, edited 1 time in total.
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