Saturday, January 31, 2015

JSF Tidbit From The Past

Remember the good old days when the JSF was the low cost alternative to the expensive F-22?  Well, ComNavOps was reminiscing over a pile of old Proceedings magazines and had his attention drawn to this statement from a 1997 article (1).

"The Joint Strike Fighter, conceived from the ground up as a multirole stealth jet, is just down the road.  Most estimates peg it at half or less the per-copy cost of the F-22."

The reference citation associated with that statement puts the JSF cost at $67M which is $98M in FY14 dollars. 

I wonder if the article’s author would have written his piece differently if he had known that the JSF would cost twice what he cited? 

Just an amusing bit of historical perspective.


(1) US Naval Institute Proceedings, “Catch F-22”, Cmdr. Jeff Huber, USN, Sep 1997, p.38

32 comments:

  1. whats the estimate cost for a new F22 assuming the production lines are opened again , let's say for 1000 unit production run ? will it be cheaper or more expensive than the current per unit cost of F35 as of today ?

    assuming there's a full scale war against a peer nation tomorrow, how soon can a production line started to replace the lost F22 in battle attrition ? or is the existing inventory of F22 the only ones existed and no replacement possible ?

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    1. First do you want to to just build more F-22A's or do you want an upgraded version?
      Do you want a version for the Navy as well?
      Do you want land attack?

      It would take years just to put the production line back together, if you want a naval fighter with land attack capability, you need to redesign most of it, so add a few more years of design work as well..

      The reality is a production line for something as complex as a plane is not a tap you can just turn off and on when you like, once you close it, it is gone and gone for good!

      If you do not like the F-35 your options are:

      1. buy more 4th gen jets and hope those Chinese jets do not get better, or
      2. Start a new program and wait twenty years for your new aircraft to arrive.

      Before you think you can do both, you only have so much money in your budget, so unfortunately you can only pick one option, buy more more hornets, and you will never ever get your next generation jet.

      Mark

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    2. Mark, there is another, common sense approach to aircraft development.

      We've come to believe that we can't procure existing aircraft and develop a new one simultaneously because we've developed the [very bad] practice of concurrency which is attempting to develop an aircraft while we produce it and that is just far too expensive.

      The common sense approach is to procure proven aircraft while we conduct RESEARCH programs to develop a new aircraft. Once the new aircraft is ready and proven, then we can shift to procurement of the new aircraft. Further, there is nothing wrong with having multiple aircraft R&D programs going simultaneously. If limited to a couple of prototypes each, they won't be that expensive and that offers the possibility to abandon a failing effort for a successful one. We run into problems when we put all our eggs into one basket, as we have for the F-35. And, if we scale back our fantasy technology wishlists just a bit, they should be achievable in a reasonable time frame.

      Buying existing aircraft does not mean that we are stuck with the capabilities they had when they entered service. We can incorporate new technologies into existing aircraft as they become available. Consider the Hornet. While there is nothing we can do to make it as stealthy as a new design stealth aircraft, we can certainly improve its stealth, upgrade its sensors, add new comm links, add a new engine, and expand its weapon carry options.

      There is nothing wrong with pursuing R&D for exotic technologies but it has to be done with some semblance of reality. Want to pursue 360 degree sensor fusion displayed on a magic helmet? Fine, but insist on actual accomplishments in a reasonable time frame. If the developing company can't achieve that, then scale the effort back to a back burner until the supporting technologies mature enough to make it a more reasonable proposition.

      Had the F-35 been handled in this manner, we might have had a moderately priced, reasonably stealthy aircraft in service a decade ago. Or, we might have realized that the 360 degree, sensor fuzed, magic helmet was unachievable and we would have scaled the design back to something more realistic long ago.

      We've developed some very bad aircraft procurement practices and they're killing us. Recall WWII - several aircraft companies had mutiple designs going at the same time. Some made it to production and some didn't. The brunt of the design, development, and prototyping was borne by the companies, not by the government. If we did that today, we might find that industry would be more realistic in what they claimed to be able to develop. As it stands now, why shouldn't industry claim they can develop invisibility and anti-gravity? The government will fund them endlessly under the too-big-to-fail theory so the incentive is to keep going rather than apply reality and scale back.

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    3. Excellent point: Concurrency is killing the armed forces in procurement...hence an equal number blogs out there criticizing both the F-35 and the LCS, both babies of the concurrency nonsense.
      I would also suggest that part of the problem is the belief in single platforms from a single source.
      In WW2 we only flew mustangs right?...well no. The Navy/Marines flew Corsairs, Hellcats, etc. and the USAAF flew Thunderbolts right alongside the Mustangs, and lesser known aircraft like the Airacobra which did well in ground attack or the Lightnings which killed Yamamoto. Even common designs ranging from the 1911 pistol to Liberty ships were made by multiple manufacturers with Singer making 1911s and 6 different shipbuilders cranking out Liberty ships.
      Multiple sources and multiple designs means competition. Competition brings down price, and means you can drop one if things go truly south. Sometimes one design turns out to excel in a niche that a one-size-fits-all cant. The P-47 was more rugged than the Mustang in close support, and the P-39 was useless in a dogfight but its 37mm cannon devastated tanks and its armor kept the pilot alive...the A-10 was an update of the P-39 which failed as fighter...please don't anyone throw up the LCS having both in production--you have concurrency messing up the mix. But even so, I think a case can be made that IF they worked as advertised, you would still find that each had advantages over the other. The Independence is a better helo platform and there were Freedom designs that didn't get picked for the SSC were real frigates with VLS. Perhaps if the X-32 (the Loser to the x-35) had become the F-32 alongside the F-35 then either it may have proved better at VTOL for the marines or more affordable. It it had come in cheaper than the F-35 then Lockheed would have had to scramble to either change the price on theirs or get it to work better. Instead once they got the contract, it became too big to fail. Why does the F-35 have to REPLACE the F-18? Have the Advanced super-hornet get made and not only may it prove the equal but having competition will force Lockheed to fix the F-35...and maybe then the F35 will live up to the advertising brochure.
      Multiple acquisitions of common designs make for not only faster production --something we are doing with Burkes and Virginias today-- but provides again the failsafe of dropping a yard if they fail to make quality product. Yes, I know the Navy doesn't design their own ships today, but why not buy a design (with a working ship from the maker not a concurrent nightmare) then make open offers to ANY yard that can make them to spec, the original yard getting some royalties and of course a jump on the competition to build it.

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    4. "Had the F-35 been handled in this manner, we might have had a moderately priced, reasonably stealthy aircraft in service a decade ago".

      Sorry I have to disagree with you on this one.

      1. Almost everybody agrees that Lockheed Martin low balled both the cost and time estimates to deliver the F-35. This is evidence that the project was always going to take the twenty years to deliver not that the project could have been completed quicker.
      2. Yes money was wasted in the early design and development phase. This where the real concurrency issue was incurred. Instead of waiting for the research teams to finish there work we paid design engineers to go ahead and design an air frame knowing full well, it was 99% likely that that work would need to be redone. To me this is one of biggest lesson from the f-35 program. It shows we can do it for less, but again does not point to it being done quicker.

      "Perhaps if the X-32 (the loser to the x-35) had become the F-32 alongside the F-35 then either it may have proved better at VTOL for the marines or more affordable."

      Sorry but any reasonable analysis of the X-32 design comes to the conclusion it was a dud. I have seen no evidence it would have been a better option for the Marines than the F-35.

      Note the F-35 is replacing the old Classic Hornets, not the Super Hornets. That is the job of the F/A-XX, your super hornets will be around for a long time yet. The proposed advance Hornet is not free, you still need to fund its R&D.


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    5. If I could go back in my time machine to 2005 would I have do it differently, hell yes!!

      To me that advantage in the F-35 is the common use of subsystems, avionics, cockpit design etc, not the air frame itself.

      In 2005 it was know internally that the common air frame was not going to happen. We could have said to three services, "look the common air frame thing is just not working out, so here is an idea, each of you and go revisit your requirements, sit down with Lockheed and design a plane which suits each of your requirements, just use the common building blocks, like the engine, avionics etc"

      I hope this is exactly what happens with the sixth generation program. My suggestion split it into four contracts, Engine, common architecture (a systems specialist this time please!), Navy Air frame, Air force Air frame.

      Going forward the most likely outcomes is that current funding for both development and procurement will remain at something like current levels. If want a large increase it would have to be at the expense of some other navy program, a hard sell.

      Unfortunately I do not have a time machine.

      I see the funds currently buying F-18's funding the F-35C's and the funds currently funding the F-35 Design program funding development of the F/A-XX. I do not see the navy being able to afford a stand alone program, but jointly done right can work.

      The point I was trying to make was if you kill the f-35 and start over you have a long wait for a new plane. For example my best estimate for F/A-XX is 2040 for IOC, I do not see how 2030 is possible. Remember we have an x plane program to complete first to prove tailless flight in a fighter, there goes five years, then you have research, seven years, Design seven years, Testing another seven.

      So yes you can cancel the F-35 and buy Super Hornets, but if want to buy the advanced version proposed by Boeing you need to steal from the F/A-xx program to fund the R&D, (do you really want to push it out to a 2045-2050 IOC?) or you stop the hornet line so you can spend procurement funds to fund R&D and have the expense of stopping and restarting it, which we all know would kill program.

      In summary we would all like go back and do things differently, but sometimes you just have to make the most of what you got.

      There are lost of examples of programs which have been cancelled by people hoping a new program will give a better solution only for no new program to ever get off the ground. Think of the billions which have been wasted in aborted programs in the last twenty years and how that money could have been better used.

      End of rant.

      Mark

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    6. I'd go with the Advanced SuperHornet, and start working on the F/A-XX.

      Our advantage of the world has always been some excellent training of our pilots,IMHO.

      Standing up the F-35 and bringing it to full production is gutting the budgets of the services. I've read training is getting cut back. Its doubtful the Navy will be able to have all the F_35's it wants and keep full air wings and training and start funding replacements for SSBN's, Destroyers, and the 'modernization' program for the CG's.

      And all that for a jet that's got significant performance issues, and whose 20 year old stealth effectiveness is going to be questionable when it finally gets into the fleet.

      An advanced super hornet isn't the technological marvel the F_35 is, but I'd be willing to bet its pretty close, and available in larger numbers. Its cheaper right off the bat and it can piggy back off of an existing (and functional) logistics train.

      Finally why on earth does the development cycle have to be 20 years? IIRC the Tomcat and Eagle had 8-10 year development cycles from RFP to LRIP and IOC. Yes, they aren't the X-wing that the F-35 supposedly is. But do we really need X-wings? Or just really good jets with superb pilots and logical doctrine?

      I suppose that's my own rant. Sorry.

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    7. "The point I was trying to make was if you kill the f-35 and start over you have a long wait for a new plane."

      You have a long wait if you initiate another fantasy aircraft with completely undemonstrated technology. On the other hand, if you initiate a reasonable program by taking a Super Hornet and give it a stealthier body, upgrade its sensors with the latest PROVEN technology, upgrade its software with PROVEN software, give it the latest PROVEN comms, add conformal fuel tanks, and give it the latest PROVEN engine, you'd have a pretty good aircraft. It wouldn't be an F-22 but it would be on par with or better than the F-35. Such an approach ought to be able to put an aircraft into squadron service in five years or less.

      In contrast, if we take the military approach and make the next aircraft an optionally manned, hypersonic, global ranging, invisible, outer space capable, laser firing, adaptive skin, wonder weapon then, yes, it'll take 50 years or more to get into service and will cost a gazillion dollars.

      We've lost sight of how a new design aircraft program should be run. We've come to believe that F-35 is how a program has to occur. It's not. We need to build evolutionary Hellcats not Star Wars X-Wing fighters.

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    8. "In contrast, if we take the military approach and make the next aircraft an optionally manned, hypersonic, global ranging, invisible, outer space capable, laser firing, adaptive skin, wonder weapon then, yes, it'll take 50 years or more to get into service and will cost a gazillion dollars."

      LOL. RFP: Wonder Woman's jet. That thing's awesome!

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    9. And you will be flying upgraded hornets in 100 hundred years time!

      MARK

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    10. Which will be two years before the F-35 is ready!

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    12. Mark,

      if I understand your premise its that we can't cancel the F-35 because it would just put us behind with the F/A XX due to funding not being available; and that project cancellations in the past have yielded poor results.

      I guess I disagree, at least in part.

      A) The price for the F35C is going to be about $300 million, from what I've read. The Advanced Super Hornet will be about $100. A significant bump from the $65 million of the SH, to be sure, but still drastically cheaper.

      B) Money that would go to F-35C purchases can go to ASH purchases. The R&D funding currently going to the F-35 can go to the F/A XX. You might actually be able to increase it due to the 2/3 drop in acquisition price for the ASH.

      C) ALIS is having issues. In '14 Bogdan said it was way, way behind. The ASH can piggy back off of the existing logistics train of the SH. Further savings than having two completely different ones for the F-35C and the SH.

      D) The R&D on the ASH is largely nil. Most of its technology is mature. Avionics, cockpit, CFT's, F-414 EPE, etc. It all exists.

      In terms of performance, the ASH is a proven airframe. We don't know if the F-35 is ever going to get over its bulkhead cracking and engine flexion issues that limit it in terms of air performance. I count this as a draw between the two, as the F-35 was, from what I've read, supposed to benchmark fighters like the F16/F18 in its performance envelope.

      With Stealth, I think that its not going to be that much of an issue. yes, front aspect stealth of the F-35 is better. But that stealth is 20 years old. Advances in radar and computer processing are going to make it less of a factor. The argument I hear about the F-35 in an A2A fight is that it will be able to shoot first against our enemies. But both Russia and China are working on electronic attack that is specifically designed to hamper our missiles. That will require alot more missiles fired in order to guarantee a hit. The only way that the F-35 can carry more? Hardpoints. There goes your stealth.

      Finally, as to the F/A-XX, I think we have to give up the idea of a tailless stealth X-wing. Give it moderate stealth, great speed, huge range, and great manueverability. Make it a next step, not a jump 8 steps ahead. And while you are at it, design a killer missile, or design it to work with the Meteor.

      When the A12 was cancelled its what they did with the SH. The SH isn't the worlds best aircraft. But its very capable, and its served us well for a couple decades now. I'd have preferred if they'd done that approach with the Tomcat, but I don't have the time machine either.

      I guess to sum up, given our acquisition failures of the past, and our current budget situation, the ASH is pretty close to the F-35. And it has a huge advantage in price. This would allow us to actually buy enough to fully outfit the airwings and fully train with the aircraft. We know the aircraft works, and is a maintenance dream. Numbers matter. More aircraft with a proven maintenance record means more planes able to fly off the carrier. I think this outweighs the advantages the F-35 has; while *still* allowing for funding for the F/A -XX

      IMHO

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  2. so the consensus is that the F22 production line is impossible to restart ?

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    1. Remember the F-22 does not give you a navy fighter and this is a navy blog after all.

      Restarting the F-22 is possible, it just horrifically expensive, would take a lot longer than most people would assume and come with consequences.

      The effect would be to push out the air force F-X program an easy ten years, possibly twenty. This would leave the Navy F/A-XX program in a very difficult position, as it needs the cost benefit of sharing major elements with the F-X to be affordable. Common engine for example.

      Now you Navy has just the F-35 for the next 40 odd years!

      Still think it is a good idea?

      To me if the air force wants to send its money on building more F-22's that is their choice, but if it kills the long term future of navy aviation in the process I am not so happy about it.

      Mark

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  3. "The reference citation associated with that statement puts the JSF cost at $67M which is $98M in FY14 dollars. " is $98M not the current cost for F35-A ?

    I guess we get into the, with or without the engine, question. And of course the engine price is super secret for some reason. ( proberbly should have kept the RR F136 )

    Do we really think the airframe is a big issue now ?
    Helmet yes, sensor fusion yes. Software delays, yes.
    But these are common parts arn't they ? or is that your point ?

    I think F35 has quite a few issues, some of which are global politics.
    Helmet and Engine at the very least had some tested developments from other NATO partners, but have been redeveloped. Seemed to come down to % work share, rather than saving budget or dead lines ?

    I cant help but feel a global recession may have gotten in the way a bit too. BUT I think that has just motivated some companies to try much harder to rip us off.

    Beno

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    1. Ben, you need to stop reading manf publicity releases. When you look at the actual budget line item documents you see that the cost of F-35 is currently $150M-$200M. I've documented this with references in previous posts. Review the archives.

      When you ask whether the airframe is an issue, I guess it depends on what you mean. Aside from structural cracks in bulkheads and bodies that are too short for ideal placement of tailhooks, I guess if you mean the stripped out sheet metal body then yes the airframe is fine. Of course, given the continuous flight envelope restrictions, who knows what issues the airframe may have since we haven't been able to operate it and test it in the combat range of the envelope.

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  4. F-35C costs do continue to amaze me.

    I think the advantage of F35 is that although the ‘C’ has had limited testing and is the latest of the variants. It is literally inheriting the testing from the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ ( or at least much of it ).

    You would of course be looking at 3 lots of flight testing for 3 totally different airframes \ engines etc etc etc.

    We have all been appalled at some of the issues. I think the tail hook for me was one of the worst. However the recent cat and trap testing seemed extremely promising. 100% in fact.

    We wait with baited breath to see if it can do this at a high sea state at night.
    It’s a weird program. It seems a nightmare yes. But you have to remember we (NATO) are all getting this plane a lot cheaper than it might have been. As each of us is bearing some of the cost, and some of the development.

    Sales are already incoming. And the potential of group funded weapons and systems development is huge. I have no doubt that the F35 we have a phenomenal upgrade path, and has the funding of the entire alliance to do so.

    Now normally the USN’s choice of carrier fighter benefits little from Norway’s F16 upgrades, Britain’s Harrier development or the USAF’s A10 advancements. Yadda yadda yadda, I know your all reading ahead now and already writing your responses. BUT bear in mind the nay Sayers with the endless “cancel the F35” comments on some pages are already starting to look very silly. Do we really think that in 10 years’ time this won’t be the aircraft most of the world sets it watch by with the bulk of NATO development behind it.

    Just check out some of the weapons being developed across the alliance right now, some are pretty dam awesome.

    Brimstone 2, Naval Strike Missile, Stormshadow, Meteor BVRAAM, Spear 3

    The ammunition for the gun (Nammo 25 mm APEX projectile) in of itself is a whole new development and extremely effective and as a project has gone brilliantly. Thank you Norway.

    We are all getting a lot more than the plane, and for a lot less than we might have if any one of us had tried to fund this nightmare ourselves.

    Let the lambasting commence ;)

    Beno

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    1. Ben, that is a breathtakingly optimistic view!

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    2. :) LOL, that's politely euphemistic. Have you spent much time in England ?

      I know, I know, you all get to laff at me next month when the bloody wheels fall off the dam thing !!!!

      Ben

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    3. Can the F-35 fire the Meteor? Will it fit in its weapons bay?

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    4. Yer, new version out soon, smaller fins. Especially for the F35B

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    5. And all of those lovely weapons can also be used on other airframes. The wonderful ammo for the gun is moot since they haven't finished writing software for the gun yet and wont be for another year. And the gun for the B model isn't built in but a pod put in the bay taking up space from other weapons.
      At 150+mill a pop, you could have two F-18s with the same ordinance. the "4.5" gen radar on the -18E may not have "sensor fusion" but it does work while so far sensor fusion doesn't.
      It's not bashing to speak reality. As for the NSM or other anti-ship missiles, the P-8A may not be stealthy but it can carry a lot more anti-ship missiles at a much lower cost.
      There is an old NASA saying that bears repeating: No bucks, No Buck Rogers.....At a minimum of 120 mill--a very optimistic price I don't think we shall ever see--if you put 30 planes on a carrier then you are spending over 3 and half billion dollars. At a time when the US has spent nearly a decade in recession, and the government is further in debt than we were after WW2. Which is better: an ultimate plane we have less than a 100 of and an IOC that might be in 1-4 years or planes that do the job now and cost half as much?
      No Bucks, No Buck Rogers...no money, no planes.

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    6. "Just check out some of the weapons being developed across the alliance right now, some are pretty dam awesome.

      Brimstone 2, Naval Strike Missile, Stormshadow, Meteor BVRAAM, Spear 3"

      I'm not terribly familiar with any of those weapons. Is there something other than manf's claims that lead us to believe that they are actually "awesome"? I ask because if we only read the manf's claims, the LCS is awesome as is the JSF and every other weapon system ever made. The reality is almost always quite different.

      We tend to see the flaws in our own systems and then we look longingly at the rest of the world's systems without examining their flaws - and they all have flaws.

      So, before we jump on the "fill in the blank" bandwagon as the greatest system in the world, we need to be sure that the system can actually do what it's advertised to do.

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    7. OK , take your point.

      Judge for yourself.

      Best real world spec. Brimstone ( developed from Hellfire airframe ) is currently running a 99.6% accurate in Libya and now in Iraq.

      It has been fired in combat in its simultaneous 12 missile ripple fire spread. ( see first video for 6 missile spread ). These figures will be in the 99.6%.

      Brimstone 2 will be the same missile but with a 25 - 37 mile range ( up from 12 miles approx. ). Its also been tested at sea in this ripple fire mode.

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0d5_1238238981

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo86Sy7_kuw

      Missiles talk to each other evaluated targets and time themselves to hit all targets simultaneously ( in say an armoured coloum ) without risking launching platform.

      SPEAR3 is basically a more autonomous turbojet cruise Brimstone with datalink and comes on a 4 bomb rack instead or 3. 100km + range. Giving F35 8 + A2A internal.

      Given the technologies (Brimstone) wartime testing, its reasonable to assume at least some of Brimstone 2 and SPEAR3's claims to be accurate.

      Beno

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    8. "Brimstone ( developed from Hellfire airframe ) is currently running a 99.6% accurate in Libya and now in Iraq."

      Ben, come on, now. No missile is that effective. For starters, missiles in general seem to have a 5% failure to launch to begin with. If you read the general after action type reports for any type of missile, they're filled with accounts of missiles that fail to launch or launch and fail to ignite or launch, ignite, but fail to guide.

      Remember the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) which saw the introduction of laser guided bombs? The initial claims were 90+% accuracy. Well, after they went back and carefully evaluated the performance it turned out that they were only around 50% accurate.

      Take the Brimstone you cited. From a cursory reading, I see a claim of "several" missiles fired resulting in 5 vehicles destroyed. They carefully do not define what several was.

      You need to broaden your reading a bit and learn to distinguish claims versus actual performance. As I said, I'm not particularly familiar with these missiles. Maybe they're the miracle exception to all other missiles in history but I'd guess not.

      Think about what the number 99.6% means. It means that there had to have been at least one miss (otherwise the accuracy would be 100%). In order to get the value of 99.6% with one miss, there would have to be 200 total launches (199 out of 200 = 99.5% so I'm rounding slightly). Have there even been 200 combat launches? From my cursory reading, no. Do you have an actual data reference that proves 99.6%?

      And, for goodness sake, don't look at test video and believe it translates to combat! Tests involve carefully maintained and perfectly tweaked weapons, thoroughly briefed participants, perfect weather conditions, and highly scripted scenarios against targets that do not aggressively maneuver (most test shots are against static targets), do not employ deception and ECM, are not stealthy, and do not use cover, concealment, or protection.

      Now, the mere fact that it is not 99.6% effective does not mean that the missile is no good. Heck, even 50% is pretty darn good in combat! It just means that you have to launch a few more missiles. Brimstone may well be a very good missile.

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    9. OK :)

      Not too sure what source you will accept. How's this one ?

      http://breakingdefense.com/2013/10/eye-on-fewer-drone-civilian-deaths-mbda-challenges-lockheed-raytheon-with-brimstone-missile/

      I find breaking defence reasonably good. Althought I can find more sources if required ? I have a UK Govenment one somewhere ?

      I get the figures are unbelievable, some might say awesome ;)

      Beno

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    10. Blow by blow ( public domain ) current air war in Iraq \ syria.
      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/latest-iraq-air-strikes
      and some standard gun camera footage
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz0TGfQBaJo
      There was a great one of a manouvering APC, but can you find them when you want them !!!! tut.
      This stuff is all over the place.

      I obviously do take your point. And being and engineer myself would never assume anything works as well as the propoganda.

      I think really my point was that there is a lot of very very good development that does go on around NATO.

      And ( bear in mind we DO love you ) not all of it is American ;)

      F35 allows us all to plug and play some pretty cool stuff, and benefit from a good chunk of each others budgets.

      And this can uniquely benefit the USN carrier planes for once in F35-C. Something that hasn't really happened before given their very unique set of design parameters.

      Beno

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    11. "F35 allows us all to plug and play some pretty cool stuff, and benefit from a good chunk of each others budgets.

      And this can uniquely benefit the USN carrier planes for once in F35-C. Something that hasn't really happened before given their very unique set of design parameters."

      I'm going way out on a limb here, because I'm a computer guy and not an aircraft engineer.... but the plug and play seems more like its a feature of good computer systems design. I.E. you could do it with an advanced super hornet as easily as you could an F-35.

      I know I sound like an anti F-35 slappy, but I just think that the price involved in both the purchasing *and* the support of the F-35 is going to gut the Navy budget, thereby killing any of the good things that might be available. And this is assuming that they fix all the major issues left like engine flexing concerns limiting the G's this puppy can take. "We have an F-35C that can take the Meteor!" "Too bad we have zero money to buy any..."

      The joint development is nice, but the Navy, due to its unique CATOBAR requirements for the C, almost acts as its own nation in terms of purchasing. And when the RN decided against the C an opportunity for bulk efficiences was lost. So the international budget thing really doesn't help the USN all that much.

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    12. Hey Computer Guy Jim,
      That is exactly what I’m saying, when each nation integrates its weapons with the F35, the software is common. When we get to version 3K ( I forget the number but it’s in the 3’s ) you will automatically be getting the integration on F35C for Paveway IV with variable effects fusing, and ASRAMM. You didn’t pay for it. It’s not even developed for the ‘C’ it’s for the ‘B’ but it’s there anyway.

      By V4 software upgrade, you can have Meteor, SPEAR3 and Brimstone or NSM. If you like.

      Sure you have to evaluate, train etc etc etc. And buy the Missiles.

      But mostly it’s common. Attachment points, common sensor feed, common computing.

      And the bills for integration of a weapons system nowadays are SHOCKING! Particularly the new generation data linked variety. And the UK paid for it.

      Good deal for you.

      If you say wanted Brimstone on any of your F35’s, (I think your busy reinventing the wheel right now on that one with Hellfire 2 at huge expense, but you see what I mean.)

      If nothing else it could be a good way to leverage a bit of threat of competition over your “military industrial complex”, kick them back into doing what they used to do, producing the world’s best weaponry FAST and at reasonable prices !

      Beno

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    13. But alot of that stuff could be integrated into an advanced super hornet, could it not? That's what I'm advocating, I guess. I think the F-35 is going to be a pokey porky puppy with alot of vaporware for a long time. The positive stuff, like systems integration, that would benefit us, could be fitted onto an advanced super hornet while we go back and try to develop a proper jet.

      The biggest downside to F-35 cancellation that I see is what it does do to our allies. The RN's new carriers kind of depend on a STOVL aircraft. And with the Sea Harriers gone that would put them in a severe pickle. (I suppose they were designed for, but not with, CATOBAR, but that makes for an expensive refit before they ever hit the water).

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  5. So we've got great weapons, so the crappy plane doesn't matter?

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