Tuesday, April 20, 2021

F-35 Readiness Failure Lessons

It’s no secret that the readiness of the F-35 (and most other US aircraft) is abysmal.  We’ve documented it multiple times including just recently (see, “The Real Aircraft Readiness Rates”).  Well, here are some additional data points provided by Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, that paint an even worse picture, if that’s possible.(1) 

 

 

 

Rate

Target

Mission Capablea

69%

80%

Fully Mission Capableb

36%

50%

 

a able to perform one of the F-35’s assigned missions – lowest level of readiness

 

b able to perform any of the F-35’s assigned missions – highest level of readiness and the only one that is meaningful and useful and indicative of combat readiness

 

 

Aside from yet again demonstrating the fraudulent nature of Navy readiness reporting, the data demonstrates that the F-35 has consistently had atrocious readiness rates from the very start of the program until now.  Readiness has not generally or significantly improved and this is with an abundance of manufacturer’s assistance, clean bases, and ample parts (in most cases).  This does not bode well for war when all of those things will be in short supply.

 

What is causing the abysmal readiness rates?  According to Lord,

 

Lord attributed the low percentage of fully mission capable jets to ongoing issues with the F-35′s canopy and the F135 engine’s power module.

 

Although she did not elaborate, the program has grappled with a longstanding problem with “transparency delamination,” where outer layers of the canopy begin to peel away from the base. (1)

 

Other sources cite other problems affecting readiness.

 

The GAO noted that spare parts shortages had contributed to the F-35 not being able to meet readiness objectives.

 

“Specifically, the F-35 supply chain does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements,” the GAO stated. “Several factors contributed to these parts shortages, including F-35 parts breaking more often than expected, and DOD’s limited capability to repair parts when they break.” (1)

 

Okay, so the Navy is falsifying readiness reports and the F-35 is inherently difficult to maintain.  However, rather than beat up on the F-35 yet again, let’s focus on a few things that jump out from the data.

 

 

Targets – It’s bad enough to fail to achieve readiness targets but the larger issue is just how low the bar has been set on those targets.  A fully mission capable rate target of only 50% is absolutely pathetic and demonstrates just how far our definition of a good aircraft program has been dumbed down.  The same is true of the mission capable rate.

 

For any aircraft, the mission capable rate (the ability to perform just one of the assigned missions – which basically means the ability to take off) should be on the order of 95%+ while the fully mission capable rate (which is the only measure of a combat readiness) should be 80%.

 

This dumbing down, this lowering of expectations, is symptomatic of the mindset of the entire military.  Instead of demanding high performance and combat ready standards, we’ve lowered the bar in just about every area.  We’ve lowered the bar for boot camp and physical fitness requirements in order to accommodate women, we’ve instituted routine use of waivers to allow sailors with lapsed certifications to continue operating ships, NAVSEA has hugely reduced (essentially eliminated) the requirements for completion of a ship prior to delivery and acceptance, the Navy has attempted to bypass ship shock testing, and so on.  The list is nearly endless.

 

Quantity vs. Quality – While there is a well known axiom that quantity has a quality all its own, that pearl of wisdom only applies if the quantity is functional.  A thousand aircraft that can’t fly have no quality whatsoever.  We currently have something on the order of 400 F-35 concurrency orphans that are incapable of being cost effectively upgraded to actual current combat standards.  Yes, we’ve got quantities of the F-35 but we haven’t got functional quantities.

 

Our military leadership has emphasized numbers over readiness.  They would seem to prefer 100 aircraft with 40% readiness than 40 aircraft with 100% readiness.  Our military leadership would seem to prefer fifty useless LCS than much fewer ships that are actually functional and useful.  And so on.

 

K.I.S.S. – The failure to achieve even the minimal readiness targets points to an issue of over-complexity.  It stands to reason that the simpler the system, the easier it is to maintain.  The flip side of that coin is that complex systems are more capable …  in theory.  The reality is that overly complex systems fail to perform because they can’t be maintained.  We’ve often cited the fleet wide Aegis degradation as an example of this.  We have to readjust our thinking from trying for the most complex system we can to simpler systems that can actually operate at 100% of designed capability and can be maintained at that level.  We have to adopt the K.I.S.S. principle (see, “K.I.S.S.”)

 

Schedule-Induced Obsolescence – The failure to get the F-35 fielded in a timely manner guaranteed that the program would struggle with spare parts issues.  The parts that were readily available 20 years ago when the F-35 was being spec’ed are, of course, unavailable now, twenty years later.  This, alone, demands that we change our approach to design and acquisition.  We have to stop making weapon systems so complex that they require multiple decades to reach service.  All weapon systems struggle with maintenance after twenty years of service – it’s unavoidable.  Parts suppliers have gone out of business during the intervening decades or have moved on to different or upgraded parts that are not backward compatible.  We have simply got to field new systems in a much faster fashion.  I’ve laid out exactly how to do that (see, “How To Build A Better Aircraft”).

 


 

The F-35 fiasco offers many design and procurement lessons for us but we continue to steadfastly ignore them.

 

 


_____________________________________

 

(1)Defense News website, “The Defense Department still isn’t meeting its F-35 readiness goals”, Valerie Insinna, 20-Jan-2021,

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/01/20/the-defense-department-still-isnt-meeting-its-f-35-readiness-goals/


47 comments:

  1. "We currently have something on the order of 400 F-35 concurrency orphans that are incapable of being cost effectively upgraded to actual current combat standards."

    I don't know if you still keep track on this but I haven't seen anything regarding it since then. The article that you reported on was slightly exaggerating since its source was talking about a possibility (not a certainty) of retiring the orphans. While I have no definitive confirmations, POGO later that year did receive a message from F-35 Program Office saying that all of the 108 orphans in the original report will be upgraded to 3F. It seems like they bite the bullet on that one.

    https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2017/10/f-35-program-office-finally-responds-to-concurrency-orphan-report/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you know, the military makes lots of statements about wishes or intents that never come to fruition. I'm unaware of any actual upgrades having been funded and completed. If you come across any, let me know.

      Recall, also, that the upgrades will involve, in most cases, physical/equipment/structural changes as well as software. It will be hideously expensive and, therefore, highly unlikely.

      Delete
    2. On a related concurrency note, the LCS was built as a concurrency program and the Navy opted to retire the first four ships rather than upgrade them to current standards. This is what happens when you develop concurrency orphans.

      Delete
  2. Time to repeat history. In 1975 3 out of 5 Squadron COs were MAG-31 for not accurately reporting their F-4 status. Too much kick the tires and light the fires big Daddy. Well that lead to the USMC Air Wing getting real about readiness. That and Commandant Barrows (who got them the resources) led to the Corps flying aircraft that cold do the job. Time to start relieving some Admirals at NAVAIR and going after some fat paychecks at the Defense Contractors. What gets punished stops, what gets rewarded gets done, and everything else is a crapshoot.

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  3. If an F35 has availabilities of 36/69, what would happen with a carrier air wings in the event of a war with China?

    Nowadays I think a carrier has something like 60 combat planes, that would mean that 22/42 would be fully/partially capable. If we subtract a dozen for defense we would have at most 30 for attack missions, surely less.

    I wonder if would be better to have a Gripen like plane (that I think is easily serviceable), that would have good capabilities even if inferior in EW to F35, probably better air combat profile and price and pack the carrier with them at the same cost?

    If that hipotetycal plane would have 70/90 availability and we put 80 in a carrier we could have 56/72 available for missions at the same cost.

    JM

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    Replies
    1. "Nowadays I think a carrier has something like 60 combat planes,"

      The current air wing has a total of around 65 aircraft which includes helos, AEW, and such. Depending on what definition of 'combat aircraft' you want to use, the number of combat aircraft is around 40 or less.

      The air wing has around 44 Hornets. The remainder of the 65 aircraft are EW, AEW, helos, COD. When the F-35C enters squadron service, squadrons will be reduced from 12 aircraft to 10 which will further reduce the size of the air wings.

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    2. "Gripen"

      We have a tendency to think that foreign weapon systems are trouble free and that's rarely (never) the case. We just don't hear about their problems. Do you have any actual data on Gripen readiness? That would be interesting to see.

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    3. What are the actual reasonings behind the shrinking of squadron size?? Is it all just being disingenious by saying " we have X number of squadrons" and keeping a certain number while not being able to actually afford them or (??) I just dont understand how you can take somthing that was a standard of measure for decades and just change it. Its like a gallon of milk thats only 3 quarts!!! Are the other services doing similar things??

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    4. The shrinking squadrons pre-dates the F-35! VF and VA squadrons used to be 14, as I recall, and have steadily worked their way down to the current 12 and are headed for 10. We used to have air wings of 90+ aircraft and now we're down to 65 or so.

      Why? Purely budget.

      Delete
    5. From Pentagon's computer war games in last two years, US would lose to China in Asia Pacific, period. Recently, Pentagon did another computer war game, with 6th generation fighter (still not available), in 2030, US would then win. There is a fatal mistakenly assumption - China still operates on what they have now in 2030. Chance is that China's next generation fighter could come out before US. Since Trump and followed by Biden, US tries very hard to block not just US technologies but also allies' not flow to China. However, given decades of education expansions, China has produced far more STEM graduates than US. You can see in recent years, China develop a weapon far faster than US.

      Right now, their hypersonic missile DF-17 can only strike static target. It could happen in couple years that DF-17 can strike a moving target, then, it is nightmare.

      Delete
  4. The other bizarre thing is the reduction to 10 aircraft per squadron, whereas the USAF has 24. With only half ready for each mission, we'll have "squadrons" going into battle with around five aircraft.

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  5. "Do you have any actual data on Gripen readiness? That would be interesting to see."

    No hard data here, but SAAB sure pushes the readiness angle in their propaganda.

    https://www.saab.com/newsroom/stories/2021/march/gripen-delivering-high-operational-readiness

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    Replies
    1. Hey, the Navy publicly claimed 80%+ readiness and that wasn't even remotely correct. Public claims by manufacturers or the military are, invariably, overstated, for obvious reasons. Only actual data from some semi-independent group can be believed.

      You may recall the Marine's IOC 'test' which was publicly claimed to be an enormous success until the DOT&E data showed that they struggled to keep a single aircraft mission ready each day during the test period.

      Claims mean nothing. Only verified data is acceptable.

      Delete
    2. I have seen a number of independent reports claiming that the Gripen (and before it, its predecessor the Viggen) are both highly reliable, easily maintained, and much cheaper to operate than other modern fighters. I can't find any links, sorry, but I have read it frequently.

      SAAB has developed a STOBAR version of the Gripen and proposed it to India and Brazil. I understand Brazil is buying some.

      I wish I had hard data, but from several articles I have read, it is pretty clearly a foregone conclusion.

      Delete
    3. I've never read a single report from an independent and authoritative source about Gripen readiness. Admittedly, I don't spend my days searching for such reports, either. I've read lots of articles that repeat manufacturer or military claims about readiness but those are repeats of highly biased and unauthoritative claims, not independent verification.

      Independent sources would be something akin to our DOT&E and I highly doubt that such data, if it exists, is made public like DOT&E reports. Still, if you find any actual data, I'd love to see it.

      "it is pretty clearly a foregone conclusion."

      Unless you can recall the sources and unless they were actual data reports from independent sources, I'd say the conclusion is far from 'pretty clear' and is far more likely to be average or below than above average.

      Every aircraft ever made was claimed to be fast, maneuverable, lethal, cheap, and reliable. All fail to live up to those claims to various degrees.

      Delete
    4. I don't have access to the kind of data that you are asking for. I do have access to information like this, which states that Gripen is the cheapest western fighter to operate, "in terms of ‘fuel used, pre-flight preparation and repair, and scheduled airfield-level maintenance together with associated personnel costs.’" I would think that would imply pretty strongly that what I have read elsewhere about Gripen readiness and maintainability is correct.

      https://stratpost.com/gripen-operational-cost-lowest-of-all-western-fighters-janes/

      Delete
    5. Did you actually read the article you cited? You couldn't have or you would have noted the following:

      "... a White Paper submitted by the respected international defense publishing group IHS Jane’s, in response to a study commissioned by Saab."

      IN RESPONSE TO A STUDY COMMISSIONED BY SAAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Why would that be biased?

      Also, there was nothing in the article referencing any mention of readiness/availability.

      Try again.

      Delete
    6. Yes, I did read it. I tend to believe that Janes is an organization with too much integrity at stake to allow a result like this to be bought. The results are in 2012 US$, suggesting they have been on the street for a while, and nobody has seen fit to dispute them.

      To save reading, here are operating costs per hour:

      Gripen $4700
      F-16 $7000
      Typhoon $8200-18,000
      F-18 $11,000-24,000, depending on mission
      F-35A $21,000
      F-35B/C $31,000

      Those are pretty significant differences.

      Delete
    7. Since the numbers include pre-flight preparation and repair, and long-term maintenance, one can reasonably conclude that the cost savings translate into increased readiness/availability. If you're not willing to go there, then so be it.

      The article speculates that single-engine aircraft are a lot cheaper and easier to maintain, and that makes conceptual sense. I'm sorry, I don't have access to the data you want, but what I do have access to suggests that is a reasonable and logical conclusion.

      Delete
    8. "I tend to believe that Janes is an organization with too much integrity at stake to allow a result like this to be bought."

      You can 'like to believe it' all you want but the conflict of interest is stunning and renders the report absolutely worthless. You wouldn't accept that kind of conflict of interest in anything else so why this? Sorry, but this is worthless.

      "here are operating costs per hour:"

      We're discussing readiness/availability, not operating cost.

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    9. "pre-flight preparation and repair"

      That is not readiness, at all. That's fueling, cleaning the canopy, maybe loading mission parameters, etc. Since it wasn't defined, 'repair' is also meaningless.

      "long-term maintenance,"

      That phrase does not appear in the article. You made that one up. There is no mention or discussion of long term maintenance.

      The references to maintenance say, specifically, "scheduled airfield-level maintenance". Again, that has nothing to do with readiness/availability.

      By the way, where did Janes get their data? Presumably from an authoritative, independent source since that's what you're claiming the report to be? Well, according to the article the data sources were,

      "The report says the figures were based on data sourced from the respective operating militaries and governments, disclosed international fighter competition cost figures (Rafale, F-18 E / F, Gripen), manufacturer-stated figures … "

      Not only was the report bought and paid for by the aircraft manufacturer but they supplied the data, as well, along with the military and government. That's as biased as you can get. Consider what quality of data the US govt and military put out about their aircraft. Unless you believe that other govts and militaries are paragons of virtue, this is an utterly worthless report. Bought and paid for! Apparently, the only thing SAAB didn't do is actually write the report and, after paying for the report and supplying the data they wanted in it, I can't even rule that out.

      Nothing about this article and referenced report offers any valid information about Gripen readiness/availability.

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    10. OK, do you have any report that establishes the information you want with any credibility? Or are you just taking pot shots?

      In my business (law), the side with the most evidence wins. You don't dispute evidence by shooting the messenger, you dispute it by producing contrary evidence. This is the only thing I can find that speaks in any way toward the issue. It's not precisely on all fours, but it is sufficiently close that reasonable inferences can be drawn. And if it were untrue, there would clearly be an opportunity for someone to refute it.

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    11. OK, there is a lot coming out from SAAB about cheap operation, ease of maintenance, and high level of readiness for the Gripen. That's clearly self-serving advertising. But what I haven't seen is anything from anybody else disputing those claims--claiming that their aircraft is cheaper, easier to maintain, more reliable, or can be maintained at a higher degree of readiness than the Gripen. They may claim superiority in other areas, but not those.

      I actually think the Gripen would be a good aircraft for the Marines. Either a CATOBAR version that could operate off carriers, or possibly a STOBAR version if we turned the LHAs/LHDs into CVLs by adding a ski jump and an angled deck, and either way an airplane the could operate off short and unprepared strips ashore. And assuming that what appear to be unrefuted if self-serving comments about ease of maintenance and reliability and operating costs hold up, it could be very useful for them--not quite the "Marine A-10" perhaps, but still useful.

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    12. One of the things I have to do on this blog is ensure that unsubstantiated claims are not presented as fact and that's what you did, in this case.

      For all I know, the Gripen is the combat marvel of its age with 100% readiness. The point is that I have yet to see any authoritative, independent evidence to support that claim and, clearly, this Janes report was not that.

      The more general point is what I stated in an earlier comment, that we have a tendency to think the best of foreign weapon systems based on nothing but manufacturer and military claims and, when we are able to find actual evidence, those claims invariably fail to measure up.

      So, again, the Gripen could be the wonder-machine of the military world but it is far more likely that it is like every other modern weapon system, meaning that it has some good points, some bad points, costs more than its govt would have you believe, and is a challenge to maintain.

      I would point out that the same considerations apply to operating cost claims. Without knowing exactly what items are and are not included in the operating cost figure, it's a useless number. That doesn't mean the operating cost is good. It doesn't mean it's bad. It means that we don't know what's included in it and how reliable the data is. You've seen the US Navy manipulate data so why would you automatically think some other military is above manipulating data (especially if it would help with their foreign sales)?

      I need to protect the integrity of this blog and I do it by ensuring that any claims put forth are valid.

      If you still like the Gripen, go find some data. Do the research get real data from authoritative, independent sources. If you find any, let me know.

      One final point to bear in mind, if you opt to pursue this, is that even the words 'reliable' or 'readiness' or 'available' are meaningless without definitions. Again, you've seen that the US Navy uses multiple, vastly different definitions of readiness ranging from just able to get off the ground to fully mission capable. You recall that the US Navy claimed 80%+ readiness using a minimal level of functionality. So, you'll need to figure out what definition of reliable or ready or available Sweden uses.

      Good luck.

      Delete
    13. "That's as biased as you can get. Consider what quality of data the US govt and military put out about their aircraft."

      Is there a possibility that being too accustomed to the "higher-up do bad" paradigm makes us blind to alternatives? During my journey looking for F-35 information, I came across f16.net. This forum provides extremely high-quality technical document (as they populated with retied AF personnel) but general sentiment is extremely hostile towards independent organizations like POGO, APA, CBO and CBA and even DOT&E. They paints the narrative of outdated testing mechanism and a failure to interpret modern day requirements holding these programs back while these programs are progressing better than ever before thanks to these measures (like agile development, concurrency development and etc...). They also blame these independent organizations for terrible reporting and the tendency to label anything as high-risk which negatively affects the reputation of programs ("It would have survived if it weren't for the bad rep"). I would have chosen to ignore the information if it weren't for the overwhelming majority of retired service personnel who provides personal unverifiable service stories that if true, would totally justify many military decisions (and to that point, the "decrepit" behavior of these independent organizations). It's hard to see what these retired personnel would gain for defending these manufacturer or the military. But it's even harder to see why would any mentioned independent organizations gained from doing it. My gut says that these independent organizations have a strong record and I trust their judgement but some part of me still doesn't feel right. Could these retired personnel been saying the right thing?

      Delete
    14. "If you still like the Gripen, go find some data. Do the research get real data from authoritative, independent sources. If you find any, let me know."

      It's not THAT big a deal to me. I presented what I could find. I've not seen anything to refute it. That's as far as I know how to go.

      Delete
    15. RE: operating costs per hour for the Gripen.

      I don't believe the numbers that CDR Chip quoted. Here's why:

      I've seen vastly different per hour flight costs quoted (varying by a factor of 2 or more) for the exact same US aircraft, depending on who is doing the measurements.

      Now, I'm a little more charitable than ComNavOps and I'm prepared to assume that no one is actually lying. But the number you come up with for this varies dramatically depending on at least two things:

      (1) What you include or exclude in determining the cost
      (2) What rules of thumb you use for deciding the cost of the things you include or exclude.

      For an example of (1), consider labor for maintenance. Do you count just the marginal cost of one more hour of labor for the actual maintainers, or do you count the pro rata full cost of an hour of their time, including benefits like health insurance and pensions. And do you just count the cost of the actual maintainers, or do you include the cost of their leadership and support teams. Or do you include a pro rata share of the full fixed cost of operating the air base.

      As an example of (2), consider fuel. Is it included? Since jet fighters burn huge amounts of fuel (thousands of gallons per mission), it's a big deal. But if it is included, what do you assume for the cost of the fuel? Is it the average wholesale price of jet fuel at a domestic US base? Or (the other extreme) is it the fully loaded cost of a gallon of fuel delivered by an airborne tanker over Afghanistan? Big difference.

      In this case, we are asked to compare costs for different aircraft, from different countries, using data from different sources with no transparency over what assumptions they made in costing. I think that's next to worthless.

      The only thing I think we can decide from these sorts of articles is a relative (not absolute) comparison of costs for different aircraft using data from a single source, with a single set of cost assumptions and rules. I'm pretty sure it's accurate to say the F35 is much more expensive to fly than the F18, but I think we're pretty fuzzy still on what the absolute cost actually is.

      Delete
    16. "Could these retired personnel been saying the right thing?"

      The f16.net group is well known for being EXTREMELY biased in favor of Air Force programs. They are as far from balanced and objective as you can get. Why would they be that way and what do they have to gain? I can't answer that but I would point out the endless series of Admirals and ship captains who, for years, extolled the near miraculous attributes of the LCS. Merely being a service member (or retired) does not grant one any kind of integrity of view, independence of thought, or objectivity.

      I've occasionally perused the f16.net writings and I've found that there is no flaw in a program that they can't explain away and no critical data that they won't ignore. When a group is that one-sided, I steer away from them. That's a shame, too, because buried in that one-sidedness is probably some good data and information but what they present is so suspect that I can't use any of it without independent verification which I can rarely find.

      That's my view of the group. Take it for what it's worth.

      Delete
    17. " I've not seen anything to refute it."

      As I've demonstrated, you've also seen nothing authoritative and independent to support it!

      I have no interest, one way or the other, in whether the Gripen has a good readiness/availability. I do have an interest in ensuring that claims made on the blog are valid and substantiated. This one was not.

      Delete
    18. " It's not precisely on all fours"

      It's laying on its back with its feet up in the air being tummy rubbed by SAAB!

      Delete
    19. "That's my view of the group. Take it for what it's worth."

      I figured as much. It's a shame because many of the writings are very interesting (although extremely biased) and any sources I tried to pursue seems to go into a dead-end and just outright impossible to pursue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Delete
  6. Considering that the Navy variant is significantly different, I wonder what the numbers are for them specifically?? I dont have much faith in any numbers the USN might publish, but are there any reasonable sources or guesstimates??

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  7. it's hard to avoid the impression that the USN has been wise to slow-roll its F-35 procurement. Though perhaps that impression is mistaken as I am having a bear of a time finding the exact breakdown of F-35s variants produced and delivered to date.

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  8. Let's recent weapon programs:

    Hypersonic missiles - fail, still no product

    LCS - fail, heaps of technical problems plus strategic blunder

    DDG-1000 - fail, lots of technical failure plus strategic blunder

    F-22 - stopped at 186 with no further production, need to be housed in temperature/humidity controlled hanger. Air Force said cost is the issue which I don't believe

    USS Ford - still not entered service

    Stealthy drone fighter - still no product deployed for service

    F-35 - still heaps of problems

    Railgun - fail

    Marine AAAV (Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle) to replace AAV7 - fail

    The list goes on and on! Worse! China got many done. How can you then accuse China copies?

    The whole defense industry have serious problems.

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  9. Does anyone think it may be wise and time to ,again, restart and have a publicly government-run industries to:

    " to obtain cost data for the department’s guidance in its dealings with private manufacturers; and to have under its own control a factory capable of producing experimental designs. "

    Like below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Aircraft_Factory

    Unless I am ignorant, the United states no longer have anything nowadays like the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF)

    https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Naval_Aircraft_Factory

    From link above:

    "The NAF ended aircraft production in early 1945. The existence of the Naval Aircraft Factory was controversial at times, as it put a federally funded industrial activity in direct competition with civilian industry, and this was one of the reasons it was disestablished."

    Maybe having a competitive government-run industry may make the aircraft procurement more transparent and have better run programs. As well as have better more accurate cost studies. Yes, it would be more expensive but it may be a great addition like to add more capabilities to DOT&E (Director, Operational Test and Evaluation)as already touched upon by ComNavOps below:

    https://navy-matters.blogspot.com/2016/06/dot.html

    By the way about ComNavOps to CDR Chip on:

    "I need to protect the integrity of this blog and I do it by ensuring that any claims put forth are valid.

    If you still like the Gripen, go find some data. Do the research get real data from authoritative, independent sources. If you find any, let me know."

    What would you consider truly "real data from authoritative, independent sources."

    For all I know from what I read the Gripen (and the F-20 Tigershark had it gone into production) would have lower operating costs and higher readiness compared to what the United States have now namely, the F-16, F-35, F-22.

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    Replies
    1. "What would you consider truly "real data from authoritative, independent sources."

      That would be a testing/reporting group that is not affiliated with the manufacturer and is not in the direct chain of command of the relevant military group and that has no vested interest in the outcome of the data. DOT&E is an example, here in the US, as is GAO and CRS, among others. I have no idea whether Sweden (in the case of the Gripen) has such groups and, if so, whether they publish public reports.

      Delete
    2. "Naval Aircraft Factory"

      NAF was only a partial success, at best. As far as I recall, the NAF never actually produced a front line combat aircraft. They mostly built some trainers and patrol aircraft and only in small quantities.

      NAF was kind of a part time effort - never really serious about production on a sustained basis.

      Given the complexity of today's aircraft, it would not be possible for a modern NAF to produce aircraft. It would require resources and capabilities far beyond what NAF was.

      Delete
    3. Hey wait ComNavOps!

      Didn't you recommend that the U.S. rebuild its' in-house design expertise (for ships) below:

      https://navy-matters.blogspot.com/2013/03/general-board-and-buships.html

      Surely you can make the same argument for aircrafts, maybe even after all to *somewhat* re-quote you:

      Given the complexity of today's ships, it would not be possible for a modern Navy’s Bureau of Ships (BuShips) to produce ships. It would require resources and capabilities far beyond what BuShips was. (before it was eliminated by order of the Dept. of Defense in 1966)

      Delete
    4. "Didn't you recommend that the U.S. rebuild its' in-house design expertise (for ships) below:"

      You're conflating two completely different concepts. NAF was a PRODUCTION facility. In-house DESIGN expertise (such as BuShips) is a DESIGN capability which, today, means computers and CAD, NOT PRODUCTION.

      Delete
    5. "For all I know from what I read the Gripen"

      Comment deleted. I've demonstrated that your claim is unsubstantiated regarding readiness. Please stop making it.

      If you'd like to offer an unsubstantiated opinion that is clearly labeled as such, that's fine but do not present it as fact.

      Delete
    6. "I have no idea whether Sweden (in the case of the Gripen) has such groups and, if so, whether they publish public reports."

      They have and they don't publish those particular numbers. In fact all readyness statistics for Gripen that I have found are of limited value per se.

      The Gripen was designed for high availability. Running a system of dispersed airbases, having a low availability would create chaos and is simply not an option. The SwAF and the FMV (Defence Materials Administration) were happy enough with its performance to continue pouring in money in the Gripen project to develop Gripen E which is the current version (C/D relates to the E/F models roughly as the Hornet to the Superhornet). Gripen E deliveries have commenced but there would be no meaningful statistics yet.

      Thai Airforce have a high availability https://defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/214332/thai-air-force-celebrates-100-gripen-availability.html albeit a small number of aircraft and for a defined period.

      In Red Flag Gripen was the only fighter with no cancelled missions and also in Libya no missions were cancelled for technical reasons. https://www.globaldefensecorp.com/2021/01/07/gripen/

      There are other articles to the same effect but all relates to a smaller group of fighters than would be statistically desireable.

      I do not believe that "...the Gripen is the combat marvel of its age with 100% readiness." But I am of the opinion that it is possible to build an aircraft prioritizing high availability and that the Gripen is as good an example as you will get today. And I believe that LM had other priorities when designing the F35.

      There were plans to make a maritime version Gripen M. It is not very likely to come true but it would have been interesting to see how it would have performed at sea.

      /IED

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    7. " I am of the opinion ... that the Gripen is as good an example as you will get today."

      We need to keep a few things in mind. You're looking at the [apparently] stated design intent. However, there is much more to readiness/availability than just designing for low/easy maintenance. For example, can you think of a US Navy aircraft that was specifically designed for low/easy maintenance? That's right, it was the Hornet which is suffering abysmal readiness/availability problems? How can that be if it was designed for low/easy maintenance? Well, it's because there is much more to readiness than just maintenance. You need depots that are fully manned and resourced - and we don't have those. You need a fully stocked spare parts logistics train - and we don't have that. You need budget funding that prioritizes maintenance - and we don't have that. You need a culture that does not consider deferred maintenance to be a choice - and we don't have that. You need an operational tempo that doesn't wear the aircraft out faster than you can maintain it - and we don't have that.

      So, despite being specifically designed for low/easy maintenance, the Hornet lacks all the other factors that make for actual high readiness rates.

      For sake of discussion, let's say that the Gripen has been designed for low/easy maintenance. The question is, does the Gripen system have all the other factors that are needed to actually achieve high readiness? I don't know and, apparently, none of us reading this blog do, either.

      As you sort of noted, isolated, short term examples like exercises do not really demonstrate anything. For example, if I were sending a detachment to some country's exercise, I'd send a spare aircraft or two along with the very best maintainers I had, lots of spare parts, and I'd make sure I sent aircraft that had just been overhauled, fully inspected, and tweaked up. For the couple of weeks of the exercise, I'd expect fully availability under those conditions. That would demonstrate nothing about my long term, normal readiness.

      And, of course, there's always the issue of differing definitions of readiness.

      As I've said, I have no interest one way or the other about Gripen readiness. My interest is ensuring that any statements presented as fact are, indeed, fact. It appears that we lack the data to draw any definitive conclusions about Gripen readiness. To be fair, you clearly offered an opinion, rather than a statement of fact, and that's fine.

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    8. Agreed. Definitive conclusions are close to impossible so we are left with opinions of varying credibility. I'll keep mine until proven wrong.

      ***

      You write "For the couple of weeks of the exercise, I'd expect fully availability under those conditions."

      Relating to your original post, what kind of availability would you expect on a carrier? I mean, if you send out a task force, I would expect at least the same care and attention to your assets as if you send them to an exercise.

      Or in other words, how does the general availability rate compare with the availability of the aircraft actually sent to a conflict?

      /IED

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    9. "if you send out a task force, I would expect at least the same care and attention to your assets as if you send them to an exercise."

      You would think. However, an exercise lasts a week or two whereas a carrier deployment lasts 8-12 months. It's possible to sustain a maximum readiness effort for a week or two but it becomes progressively more difficult as the months go by.

      "how does the general availability rate compare with the availability of the aircraft actually sent to a conflict?"

      We have one actual example of a conflict availability and that is Desert Storm. The various aircraft units surged to Iraq were generally able to maintain very good availability, HOWEVER, it was achieved by stripping non-deployed units of personnel, spares, and equipment. Desert Storm lasted a few months. Had it continued for a few years, as a major war would, readiness would have declined sharply. Also, Desert Storm was an uncontested conflict. We were able to transport supplies, spares, equipment, and personnel freely into theatre, without disruption. This would not happen in a major war.

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  10. I have to wonder how many of those 'Mission Capable' F-35s are not FMC due to degraded stealth or deferred stealth repairs? RAM can be a real maintenance pig.

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  11. I had to delete a comment and this, unfortunately, got deleted along with it:

    Stupidgunman:

    "Separately, it's not hard to see that other countries make up ridiculous numbers for readiness, just like we do. Germany has spent years playing games to avoid disclosing that most of it's submarines spend large amounts of time non-operational. England has been doing the same thing with it's tanks, using the argument that some of them are being "upgraded" to avoid discussing how they pay for the upgrades by removing a couple from service for every "upgraded" unit. Does anyone really trust numbers from countries that consistently fail to come even close to meeting expected NATO defense spending requirements?"

    To the author, feel free to repost, if you wish. Your examples are an excellent reminder that other country's 'official' data is no more trustworthy than ours.

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