Sunday, August 16, 2015

F-35 - Even Better Than We Believed!

We all knew the F-35 was an impressive war machine but it turns out that we didn’t know just how impressive it really was.  We thought it was simply the best 5th generation aircraft in the world but it turns out that it’s even better than that because it’s also a 4th generation aircraft!!!!!  That’s right.  It can transition between 4th and 5th by loading bombs on external pylons.  I can see you’re flabbergasted and disbelieving.  No aircraft can do that, you’re thinking, but it’s true.  This one can.  USNI News website is reporting this amazing capability (1).  Here’s a quote from Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation.

“No other airplane can go from fifth to fourth and back to fifth again. I’m buying pylons for the airplane.”

There you have it.  By adding external pylons to the F-35 we gain the entire 4th generation capability in addition to the already amazing 5th generation wonders the aircraft contains.  You’re asking, though, how will this affect our enemies and ourselves?  Gen. Davis describes exactly how this new capability will make our enemies and us feel.

“I think for our adversaries will be quite worrisome, for us should be a source of great comfort.” 

Great comfort!  Yes, yes, that's exactly what I feel when I think of the F-35.  He nailed it. 

But wait, there’s more!

The F-35 has been at the center of debate about close air support (CAS) with proponents (well, actually only the Air Force) and critics debating whether the F-35 could be an effective CAS aircraft.  Well, it turns out the AF was right and the critics were wrong.  The F-35 is not only suited for CAS, it’s optimized!!!

“The pylons optimize the F-35B for close-air support …”

An optimal CAS aircraft and all thanks to the pylons, those amazing pylons.

It’s a shame that they couldn’t hang pylons on, say, the A-10 to optimize it for CAS. 

Is there any way the F-35 could get any better?  No, you say?  It’s not possible, you say?  Well, I hesitate to even mention this for fear of giving away what may possibly be or become a top secret F-35 capability but if the canopy was removed for a flight and a machine gun was mounted to the rim for the pilot to operate by hand, the F-35 would be a 1st generation aircraft.  That’s right, we’d have an aircraft that could transition between 1st, 4th, and 5th generation.  Truly, no other aircraft in the world would have that kind of capability set.

All right, you’re thinking this is another of ComNavOps famous humor pieces.  Well, sadly, it’s not.  This is real.  Follow the reference link and read the article for yourself.  The quotes and the content are real and come from the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation just as I’ve stated.  Yes, the mocking tone of the post is mine and the 1st generation bit was added to emphasize how ridiculous the hype on this aircraft has gotten.  And that’s the real story in this post. 

The hype surrounding this aircraft is out of control and the fact that the Marines feel the need to put out this kind of marketing pap tells me that they’re feeling the heat for declaring a demonstrably unready aircraft (50% availability during the trial period!) cleared for IOC.  If your product is so bad that you have to resort to made up attributes extolling a capability (pylons) that existed in WWI, you have a problem.  This Marine General has made a laughingstock of himself and the Marines.

As I said, I wish this was a humor piece but it’s not.  This is really sad.

Hey, I’m going to further risk national security and let you readers in on another amazing F-35 secret.  Program managers are developing round, rolling, rubberish things to place on the bottom of the landing gear.  They call them wheels (I think that’s how you spell it – not sure, it’s new technology) and, supposedly, it will give the F-35 unparalleled ground mobility.  Gen. Davis and I are on the same page.  The F-35 is an awesome machine.

USNI, “Davis: F-35B External Weapons Give Marines 4th, 5th Generation Capabilities in One Plane”, Megan Eckstein, August 13, 2015,


  1. Ah,ah,ah.
    To close the circle they can also remove the gliding wings and Jdam kit from their bombs to get back to 3th gen and also any other guiding system to get back to the 2nd.

  2. The PR machine is stepping things up.

    I wonder if similar efforts will be made to hype up the LCS and similar projects.

    This airplane is a dog, underpowered and overweight. External pylons and missiles would weaken the performance even more.

    1. Underpowered and overweight compared to 5th generation thank you very much.
      Has about same empty weight as F15E, but less power and smaller wing to boot.( and practically everything else)
      And this was from a plane that was supposed to primarily replace the F16.

  3. It is a sad day to be a retired Marine that worked on Aircraft and in Acquisition.

    1. Anon, maybe you'd consider sharing a bit with us? What were some observations you had about any particular aircraft or aviation in general?

  4. Face palm!

    Thanks for beating the drum CNO!


  5. so installing advanced avionics , DAS and helmet mounted sight on F4 phantom will make it a 5th gen ?

  6. ah , so installing advanced avionics , aesa rader , DAS , and HMS to F4 will make it eligible to be labelled 5th gen fighter ?

    lets go look for airframes in AMARC graveyard

  7. Actually I hate to do this to you comnavops, but you have completely overlooked the opportunities of the F35B, I am thinking use your machine gun idea, stick an extra seat in there, stuff the weapons bays with a person each, add some zip lines, and we have the perfect platform to replace the navies ageing RHiBs in boarding situations! Its such a great idea, in terms of evoloution of capabilities, it really is astounding! There is no other RHiB in the world that has these sorts of capabilities!

    The best thing, fully compatible with existing ships, we just scoop out some unnecessary superstructure, put in telescoping platforms where these RHiBs were, and blam! Backwards compatability!

  8. I hate to say this... but I think we are stuck with this. This won't get cancelled. Both the Pentagon and the military seem to be bought into this entirely.

    To that end... I'm hoping:

    A) We continue to buy SH's. It was always the plan to keep the SH for a long time in the Navy anyway, and we all know our current Hornets/SH's are starting to time out. So lets buy enough to tide us over, and include as much of the advanced tech as we can.

    B) Lets do what we can to get the price down as much as possible. I'm betting not everything on this bird works out. But Lets get working what we can and cut bait on the rest. Lets keep working to get it better. Maybe we can get a better engine with more thrust and less heat. Maybe we can go to a cheaper helmet that isn't magic but just works. Maybe we can add a gun to the Navy version.

    C) With the F-35 we seem to be All BVR all the Time. So be it. The bird has decent range. From what I've read almost Tomcat range. So lets get some great missiles to go with it. If the AIM-120 is susceptible to EA; then FIX THAT. Or buy the Meteor. Buy LRASM and whatever else we might need. And keep workingon extending the range. If we have to win BVR for this thing to be successfull, not only do we need numbers but we'll need excellent BVR tools.

    If we don't do any of that, we might as well hook up a machine gun to the cockpit cowling.

  9. If you take out the engine, it will even become a pre 1st generation plane- Perhaps you could code name it "Icarus capability".

    There's alot of hate for the plane, but they truly can put in an advanced sensor suite, with some long range missiles, and the 360 degree head up helmet display, it could really do some damage to the enemy.




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