Archief van de augustus, 2013

Aug 28 2013

Test pilot tried to warn US Navy in 2010 about troubled F-35 stealth jet

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Raymond “Chip” Dudderar is a retired U.S. Navy aviator and test pilot. For nearly three decades he flew Navy A-7s and F/A-18s?—?and also Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier jump jets as an exchange pilot. Retiring in 1996, Dudderar pursued a second career with the Department of Justice, investigating the Navy’s botched, multi-billion-dollar A-12 stealth warplane program, which spawned several nasty lawsuits pitting the government against the contractors.

In his capacity as an air power consultant, in 2010 Dudderar penned informal, unclassified analyses for Navy admirals outlining the problems with another pricey, problematic airplane development: the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is costing more than $400 billion just to design and buy 2,400 copies for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The Navy foots the bill for the Marines’ new weapons.

Dudderar focused his attention on the Marines’ F-35B jump jet model, a supposed successor to the Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (STOVL) Harrier that has run into particularly serious managerial, design and performance problems—even warranting a yearlong Pentagon “probation” a few years ago.

He drew on experience overseeing a Harrier detachment in some of the same conditions in which the Marines expect the new F-35B to function. “I learned first-hand … about the foolishness of the STOVL concept in a true operational environment,” Dudderar tells War is Boring. “I have tried to alert the Navy and others of the these fatal flaws that are now coming home to roost in the F-35.”RE

Read here the first of Dudderar’s warnings to the Navy, edited for style and clarity by David Axe of “War is Boring”

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Aug 27 2013

Marines’ Stealth Fighter Repeating Navy Jet’s Embarrassing History

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

David Axe (War is Boring) writes about the warning of test pilot Chip Dudderar about the US Marine Corps F-35B. Chip Dudderar sees parallel paths to perdition with the canceled A-12 Avenger in the eighties and nineties.
Chip Dudderar: “Looking back, I realize that the A-12 and F-35 programs share several remarkable and disturbing similarities.”

And he continues:
The A-12 was conceived to apply a single technological trait?—?low observability (LO), or stealth?—?for somewhat uncertain mission enhancements. In the process of applying LO, the airplane had to suffer some flying quality and performance penalties that significantly reduced its flexibility and range of mission capability, therefore narrowing its utility to the Navy.

But the Navy and industry fell in love with LO as an end in itself and forgot that this airplane had to succeed in day-to-day operations in the uncompromising environment aboard a ship. The A-12 contractors promised miracles knowing that they could not deliver in the time and with the money they bid for the program. The A-12 pitted the Navy against their industry partners in a nasty battle over cost, schedule and performance that resulted in a fatal loss of candor and intellectual honesty.

In desperation to save the failing program?—?although one could fairly argue that it was doomed from its very first day?—?both parties fudged their cost and program risk estimates and passed along that bad data to the public and to program oversight bodies. Basically, they lied.

In the end, the A-12 house of cards finally collapsed under very superficial scrutiny from within the Office of Secretary of Defense. Many of the really gory details were later squeezed out of the security murk during the years of litigation that followed the program cancellation. It’s clear in retrospect that the nation, the Navy and industry were all saved from a horribly expensive blunder by the cancellation of the A-12.

The stealthy, vertical-landing F-35B is traveling a parallel path in almost all respects. The single technology that has spawned the lust for F-35B is short takeoff vertical landing, or STOVL. The Marines have built their entire argument for F-35B around the unique virtues of STOVL, claiming this attribute is indispensable for future war.

But STOVL has never been used?—?and never will be used?—?as the Marines contend. For that reason, a conventional fixed-thrust tactical airplane such as the F-35C could perform the Marines’ missions just fine.

The penalties imposed by STOVL, mostly in the form of the variable engine thrust and specialized flight controls, will fatally narrow the range of mission capability available to the nation due to the physical limits they impose on the really important combat capabilities necessary for close air support of ground troops.

The F-35B will also produce an absolutely prohibitive logistical burden on the Marines and Navy when deployed in a true STOVL environment: the proposed austere operations ashore or afloat.”

Read more: War is boring, F-35B Repeating Navy Jet’s Embarassing History

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Aug 19 2013

How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was meant to improve the U.S. air arsenal but has made it more vulnerable instead.

Read this overview of the F-35 challenges, progress and problems.

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Aug 15 2013

Eglin AFB celebrates 2000th sortie of F-35 wing

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Airmen and Marines assigned to the F-35 Integrated Training Center at the 33rd Fighter Wing here have consistently flown successful training sorties and generated their 2000th sortie on August 13 with an instructor pilot of the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 (VMFAT-501), at the controls.

Marine Maj. Adam Levine, who flew in a two-ship formation, said he was surprised with the news upon landing but said that is typical since the flightline members are focusing on safe and effective flying rather than keeping pace with data tracked by those in statistical analysis. “Every sortie, every takeoff, every hour is a win for the F-35 enterprise,” he said. From his cockpit, Levine also witnessed the first taxi of the U.S. Navy’s F-35C carrier variant preparing for its maiden flight from Eglin AFB.

With the US Air Force, US Marine Corps and US Navy pressing forward to meet goals of initial operating capability in the next few years for their respective services, getting ample time in the air is crucial to meeting their timelines.

Flying the 2000th sortie highlights the accomplishments of the entire F-35 airpower team at Eglin AFB and moves us one step closer to the aircraft’s initial war fighting capability,” said Col. Todd Canterbury, the commander of the 33rd FW.
The Eglin AFB F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C variant joint training has been accomplished while operational and developmental test missions at flight test sites on the east and west coasts have been conducted simultaneously — a process known as concurrency.

In these last couple weeks, Eglin AFB officials sent a handful of their pilots to Luke Air Force Base Ariz., to become the initial cadre of F-35A leaders at the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Wing, said Col. Stephen Jost, the commander of the 33rd Operations Group here. Luke AFB’s first joint strike fighters are scheduled to arrive in spring 2014 with plans to grow to 144 aircraft in the out years.

No night flying at this moment

For now, the Eglin AFB-based flyers are expanding their training curriculum as they double up to full aircraft strength in the spring with all 24 Air Force F-35As expected to be on base. Jost will lead the group’s transition to the Block 2A aircraft, which carry upgraded computer software, in the first quarter of calendar year 2014 in order to accommodate more aircraft capabilities.
We will increase the current syllabus from 6 student sorties to 8 and even 9 depending on when we will be cleared by the test community to fly at night,” (seven years after the first flight in december 2006!!), Jost said.

Most training with simulator

Aside from flight operations, this also entails transitioning the ground school instruction such as flying more advanced scenarios in the full mission simulator. “The primary capability of Block 2A is use of the plane’s multifunction advanced data link,” he said. Currently, voice transmission is the primary means of communication.

Extended operations in 2014-2015

While Air Force planners is busy seeding Luke AFB with an initial F-35 team, the Marines have been doing the same for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., just a short flight away. Having trained up the initial cadre of U.S. and United Kingdom pilots and maintainers at VMFAT-501, Marines at Eglin AFB continue to train instructor pilots with a portion of the classes’ students being operational test pilots. These pilots are standing up MCAS Yuma’s operations at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-121, Levine said.

In the near future, Eglin AFB’s VMFAT-501 is preparing to conduct its first local short take-off and vertical landing of the F-35B, an accomplishment realized at MCAS Yuma in March that the VMFAT-501 helped make possible. Meanwhile, the Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 101 at Eglin AFB, has conducted its first maintenance check flight yesterday, is preparing for its first student flight this week.

In the upcoming years, when operating at full capacity, the Eglin AFB fleet will grow to 59 aircraft with about 100 pilots and 2,100 maintainers graduating yearly. The F-35 joint strike fighter program is a joint, multi-national program. In addition to U.S. armed forces, the F-35 increases operational flexibility and interoperability with the eight other international partners participating in the development of the aircraft. They are the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway.

With so much history in the making, the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C fighter units at Eglin AFB are making strides for airpower for years to come, officials said. “The versatile and high-tech aircraft will carry the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy into the next 50 years of air dominance, and the men and women here can reflect back knowing they were among the pioneers in its initial phases,” Canterbury said.

Source: US Air Force, Eglin AFB, 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs (Karen Roganov)

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Aug 01 2013

US Budget review suggests to cancel F-35 fighter as worse case scenario

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Reuters reports:
“The U.S. military on Thursday downplayed concerns it could cancel the F-35 fighter and a new stealth bomber, after leaked documents from a budget review suggested the programs might be eliminated as one way to deal with deep budget cuts.”

Pentagon officials held a briefing on Wednesday in which they did suggestions how to manage the US$500 billion in automated budget cuts required over the next decade. A slideshow laid out a number of suggestions and exposed the Pentagon’s frustration with its F-35 jets. A choice has to made between a “much smaller force” or a decade-long “holiday” from modernizing weapons systems and technology, the Pentagon told reporters.

Read more: Reuters; 1-aug-2013; Pentagon downplays prospects of cancelling F-35, bomber

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Aug 01 2013

Lockheed F-35 Faces ‘Significant Challenges,’ US Senators Say

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Bloomberg reports from USA:

The Senate committee that approves defense spending said in a report today that “significant challenges remain” for Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT:US)’s F-35 fighter even as progress is made. The program “continues to experience considerable challenges with software development, system reliability and maintenance system development,” the Senate defense appropriations panel said in its report on the Pentagon’s $516 billion budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Read more: Bloomberg 1-Aug-2013

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