Trump Slams 'Out Of Control' F-35

by Lara Seligman
Dec 11, 2016

Donald Trump left the collective defense community quaking in its boots last week after he threatened to cancel Boeing's new Air Force one. Now he's going after another massive aerospace firm, slamming Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for "out of control" costs. 

"The F-35 program and cost is out of control," Trump tweeted early Dec. 12. "Billions of dollars can be saved on military (and other) purchases after Jan. 20." 

Just before delivering Israel’s first two F-35s at Nevatim air base, Jeff Babione, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, used the president-elect’s statement to stress the program’s relative value.

Lockheed has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the per-unit cost of the airplane more than 60%, he said. The company projects the price tag will be $85 million in the 2019 -2020 timeframe. At that that price, the F-35 will be less expensive than any fourth-generation fighter in the world, Babione said. “And it will be the premiere fifth-generation fighter. That’s an incredible value for anyone operating the airplane.”

The JSF is the second big-ticket defense item Trump has slammed in the last week in an apparent campaign to rein in contractors and costly military programs. The tweet comes just 24 hours after Trump hit similar notes on F-35 during a Dec. 11 TV interview. 

"Look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars," Trump said on Fox news. "It's out of control."

If the president-elect is looking to cut costs or send a message to defense contractors, the $100 million-a-copy JSF is a huge target. The program has succeeded in bringing costs down for the past few years, and achieved a milestone in August when the U.S. Air Force declared its model ready for war. However, F-35 is still haunted by a critical cost breach in 2010, and is currently facing a cost overrun on finishing its development program and a potential delay to the start of its final test phase. 

The Pentagon's most recent estimate pegs the cost to operate and sustain the F-35 fleet over its 60-year service life at just over a trillion dollars - an eye-catching figure. 

Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry's revolving door.

"The people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies," Trump said on Fox. "You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these big companies that made the deal... they should have a lifetime restriction." 

Trump first floated the potential lifetime ban during a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, according to Reuters

Trump's remarks come just days after Northrop Grumman named recently retired Gen. Mark Welsh, who served as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff last year when it selected the company to build the next-generation stealth bomber, to its board of directors.

There are rules restricting what government employees can do if they move to industry, but they do not prohibit Welsh from joining Northrop, says Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Welsh had no involvement in the source selection process for the new bomber or the decision to award the contract to Northrop, she stressed. 

Editor's note: This story was updated to include a statement from Lockheed Martin.

Discuss this Blog Entry 216

on Dec 12, 2016

Wow, a lot of Trump supporting F-35 fanboys are going to be upset...

on Dec 12, 2016

LOL, indeed. Must hurt.

on Dec 12, 2016

Well good luck with that.
Little pieces of F35 production were carefully spread out through numerous Congressional districts...
People are forgetting he still has to fight the House and the Senate and when he tries to make a "Job Killing" move he is going to get some big time push back
I actually agree with him on this one. 500 capable fighters vs 125 boutique fighters would have been preferrable

on Dec 12, 2016

Not so as long as he can politically show that any program cuts are destined to lowering middle class taxes, fund Social Security, and lower debt....which is a bipartisan issue.

on Dec 12, 2016

Lower middle class taxes??? Yeah, after he first grants obscene taxe cuts for the richest one-tenth of one percent!

And lowering debt? His tax cut proposals will run up the debt by trillions according to the CBO.

The man is a con artist.

on Dec 12, 2016

Not all of us are getting cuts. If his current proposal goes through, my rate will actually go up and I'm in the top 5% of income earners. By taking 8 tax brackets and going to 3 as he proposes, I go from 28% to 33% with my current income as a married/joint filers.

on Dec 12, 2016

ahh that's right.

Spending goes UP, taxes go DOWN, it worked so well in the past, what's not to like.?

Medical plan just gets better and costs less.

And so it goes for the next 4 years.

on Dec 12, 2016

I agree with Trump on this one as well which is a pretty rare thing. The DoD budget does not need to grow, they need to spend it better either thru cutting the ridiculous bureaucracy, making the contractors keep tighter costs control, stop requirement creep, and stop trying to make one weapon system do everything. Someone has to impose harsh discipline on the DoD. I also agree that procurement officials should never be able to work for defense contractors. That is also a recipe for cost overruns. That said, I am guessing the Russians are pretty thrilled having Trump and Co. in the WH. Could well turn out to be the amateur hour when it comes to foreign policy and Trump does love his ego to be stroked. Hope not the disaster I am predicting.

on Dec 12, 2016

Great comments!

on Dec 12, 2016

if the relationship between Trump and Russians if there is really any and if it works for peace and better growth of both countries and the world, then it should be welcomed. besides how long will USA and Russia stay as enemies.

as a matter of fact US and Russia are engaged on many very important business deals most notably in space program. US is completely dependent on Russian Soyuz capsule to ferry US Astronauts to and fro ISS.

if in power government makes any deals with Russia then it is completely justified and at that time Russia doesn't look like an enemy however if a private businessman makes friendship or a business deal then it is wrong and he will be treated as traitor. why is this discrimination!

it seems to be very funny when Air force spokeswoman says there is no role of in-service Air force chief of staff in air force acquisition programs. are the officers responsible for acquisition higher than its service chief. do they have courage or power to say no or to avoid him from interfering in acquisition programs.

signatures may be of the officer appointed for acquisition programs however in most cases depending up on the cost and importance of procurement concerned services chiefs are the final decision makers and they will decide to whom contract should be awarded if political leaders won't interfere.

one can justify F-22 however F-35 is just waste of money. by the time it achieves its Final Operational Clearance some countries may have developed radars or detection systems for F-35s.
China seems to be front runner in this case, rumours are they have developed radar systems that can detect US stealth aircrafts.
if it is true then B2s and F-35s are simple waste. due to its speed and agility F-22 will be ok however other stealth planes will be useless.

on Dec 12, 2016

dfkeller: " That said, I am guessing the Russians are pretty thrilled having Trump and Co. in the WH. Could well turn out to be the amateur hour when it comes to foreign policy and Trump does love his ego to be stroked."

Excuse me? We've had the last eight years be characterized by rank amateurism in foreign policy and an oversensitive egomaniac in the White House. The "reset (overcharge) button", the orders from SecState Clinton to diplomats to conduct identity theft from other nations' diplomats, the debacles in LIbya, Egypt and Syria were gifts to Russia Trump would be hard-pressed to equal. Our lady in the Ukraine wasn't exactly at the top of her professional form, either (though that was such a swamp on both sides, it's hard to point fingers - just saying it was a hot mess during the Obama adminstration).

We're already in full possession of a foreign policy disaster.

on Dec 12, 2016

Well we see how well he is doing at draining the swamp.

Sort of like the circus, he is bring the swamp with him.

I mean what's not to like about World Wide Wrestling running SBA? Dang, its such a natural.

on Dec 12, 2016

Which 500 capable fighters would those be? And you do realize that almost 3,000 F-35s are being produced for the US and other countries?

on Dec 13, 2016

You hope.

on Jan 29, 2017

false choice. unless a "capable fighter" is a propeller powered light fighter like the texan or super tocano. the f35 is by far the best plane, and the prices are approaching what you would pay for a super hornet.

on Dec 12, 2016

Trump is just being Trump .... mouthing off ignorantly and stupidly as always. He also said all the generals are stupid and failures ... then proceeded to fill his administration with the same generals.

Trump is going to upset a whole lot of people ... the American people ... over the course of the next four drama-filled years.

on Dec 12, 2016

Amen to Trump's "mouthing off." But as to the "generals," I would argue that the ones Trump has picked hardly fit into the general (pun intended) mold of Pentagon pukes.

on Dec 12, 2016

Say that I agree with you, the System which produced two such inept candidates is the problem. And it is a deliberate one which will be solved when Americans are offered a 'so much better when corporations run it' alternative as defacto world government.

That is the next step. And what role do you expect the American military to have in that followon? It is the largest and most capable but it will _have to_ share the global stage with other, regional, powers or there will be ZERO cooperation.

The truly sad part here is that America doesn't have a democratic government because the people (Two Percenters) in the wealth class who fund campaigns and thus vet candidates are both the ones who gave us this man and his corrupt opposite in a race which was _openly admitted_ to be rigged against alternatives like Sanders.

By itself, that should have triggered Constitutional Protections that brought a ton of bricks down on the DNC and forced the rerun of the Democratic primaries. It did not.

And our 'betters' refuse to even /attempt/ something like local rule via a true democratic system that only required participation and comprehension factor to retain voter rights by JQ Average at the end of the day. Listen to debates, take a weekly pop quiz and VOTE, electronically, over the internet, with a two stage verification process that SHOWED YOUR NAME beside your choice to guard against fraud. It might not decide national level priorities but it would go a _Long Ways_ towards returning rights 'not specifically delegated' back to the States and The People. Government bloat as intervention in too many local issues is the problem here, with half the power, it would be twice as efficient at using what it held.

And the Elites would have a lot less to bring to the bargaining table with their 'project' for followon, extranational, government.

Now, to return this to the F-35, Reality Check:

1. The USAF/USN/USMC are large, college trained, labor unions.
They will NEVER yield power to an economical system (zero training hours for 90% of the fleet) as UCAS on their own. They will always find a way to justify 'cyber vulnerability', even if they have to insert it themselves (USAF Predators without encrypted video etc.).
If you don't take the choice away from their control, they will NEVER write the check which disenfranchises them from one of the best jobs in the world.

2. The F-35 is NOT a fighter.
It is an F-117 level bomber, crippled by two factors: First, it's got a fighter engine in an interdiction mission platform which means a .889pph TSFC which is _crippling_ it's range. Second, it is sized around a 2X2,000lb delivery capacity for non-winged GBU-31. Which is to say _exactly_ the same target overflight, laydown, mission as made the Serbia F-117 vulnerable to shoot down by EOCG SA-3. Except we're not facing Goas we're facing Growlers (SA-21) and so the WEZ threat ring is closer to 20-30nm where the Gravestone _will see_ the F-35, stealth or no.

2. The F-35 is NOT an ISR platform.
Despite being packaged around an ISR class, multi-aperture, sensor package which it _cannot use fully_ because a 1,000nm radius (actually 584nm without AAR) and a 7-8 hour flight limit for the pilot makes it all but impossible to achieve the needed 10-20hr MINIMUM target dwell for building and sustaining a corporate intelligence database that can deal with the kind of transient (TCT) target sets which denote the other end of the spectrum as OOTW/LIC/SSC in support of troops on the ground.

3. Flying Ferraris In A Chevy Air War...
Operationally, the F-35 is up to about 42,300 dollars per flight hour CPFH so _even if_ the manned asset limitation on persistence and deliverable kills was not an issue, you are whacking gnats with a gold plated sledge hammer.

4. The Jet's 'Awesome 5th Gen!' performance is built around lies.
We were told it had F-16 energy performance with F-18 equivalent, high AOA, maneuvering capacity. It doesn't. It is a slug in acceleration because of all the moldline changes and weight gains needed to get it enough fuel to make radius (it doesn't) and the huge lift induced drag which the combination of tiny wings and a forward weapons bay provide it, limiting the (F-16 like) ability to trim into it's fabulous 9G turn.

The high alpha regime is similarly crippled because the jet is operating on two lift curves, one off the lifting body, the other off the aftset wings. This results in an AOA differential such that the jet literally is losing energy as it goes transient in the 23-25 degree area when MOST 4TH GEN JETS are only entering this in the 27-30 degree range. As you lose lift, you have to split more and more of your residua authority between keeping the nose up and retaining roll and directional stability margins which means your _bomber_ is slow to pitch and starts to mush as the FLCS takes away authority at precisely the point where good roll and peddle authority to chase targets around a defensive slice or rolling scissors are incredibly important. This is _important_ because, in VLO configuration, the jet has ZERO SRM which means it has ZERO ability to HOBS the threat. You're a damn fool if you wait to use your TWO AIM-120 until you're within visual merge and the distance between a 10-15 radar merge and a 15-20 EO merge is too long for just two BVR shots. You go to flight formations to match the carriage capacity of ONE F-22 and you lose all the costing advantage of stealth as a one-jet/one-target combination.

Again, the variance between what we were promised and what the jet has now shown that it can't do "But I don't really care if it can't turn or sprint because it has all these cool apps!..." (Bogdan ) is so anachronistically wide of the modern threat environment, let alone (hunting weapons, lasers) the one we will face in 10 years, that the specification itself simply has no relevance to a believable mission set.

5. It's completely illegal.
Read my lips: You cannot declare IOC without IOT&E to proof the system. Without Milestone C certified completion of system development, you cannot run IOT&E as initial service trials.

Bluntly, we don't know -what- the jet can do. It certainly lacks a raft of ordnance to be useful in the DEAD mission which is all that the fancy cross-cuing ASQ-239/AAQ-37/40 really is good for.

No SACM, no T-3, no GBU-53, limited fusion without over-stacking targets. The jet, as is, is an F-117 with internal stores and an F-16 with externals (minus the HARM). This is a Desert Storm era platform.

IOC thus becomes a gateway to contractual obligations to Lockheed Martin's stock owners, not a certification proof that the jets are ready to go to war.

To buy into the F-35 is thus to accept the onus of a multi-year 'big block' buying strategy which is the SOLE HOPE of getting this goldplated sandbox into inventory at anything like 85 million dollars apiece. Because we will not know what or whether this aircraft can do anything useful until Blk.4 and maybe Blk.5 certification in the 2020-2025 period as the MODERN ORDNANCE starts to come online, assuming they've paid for it.

That's a big deal here because the munitions make the jet and IMO, we are looking at scenarios where ASH F-18s and CABS C-17 can offer the potential for FOUR and TWENTY FOUR shot worth of AGM-158, at roughly 1.5 million each, with upwards of 600km of range leverage _ontop of_ 550nm and 2,500nm of 'safe standoff' for the aircraft themselves.

This is important, because it's not just that the F-35 is itself a vacuous impression of what a fighter should be, it is that the entire constellation of supporting missions, from fighter escort to SEAD, EW/EA, AEW&C and Tanking all have _real problems_ making it through a modern defense to a threat upwards of 1,500nm distant as the MINIMUM which we can expect to fly to keep airbases and carriers out of harms way themselves. If you want to kill stealth, the best and easiest way to do so is either to turn it's runway into a submarine or to starve it of get-home gas by jumping the tanker orbits with another stealth jet. And thanks to the nearly 30 years that this cold war envisioned (package attack, system of systems centric) design has been in development, the threat as all but caught up with us in terms of the REAL RISK to deploying support missions anywhere near the fence into indian country.

ARGUMENT:
What we don't know is the status of the monetary system, our commodities securitization and the attitudes of BRICS/SCO/AIIB towards demanding an SDR to allow them to buy and sell petro products in other than dollars. Until we know how much money we have (how much real-value any QE4 will maintain) we don't have a clue what to do. Any change in the USD as GRC will effect interest rates and interest rates on 20+100 trillion in official and uncovered debts will mean the collapse of this nation.

The military is one of the largest POL consumers on the planet. Having platforms that can do the long dwell mission (effectively turning three sorties into one) and NOT TRAIN the rest of the year would be a big way to cut this in half or more.

Contrary to the above poster, I take the opposite view of the F-35: we have here a specialist mission system, not all that different from the F-22 but with more A2G = DEAD emphasis as a platform to use it's Barracuda and APG-81 to blow open holes in high level threat defenses (HQ-9, S-300/400/500) and then let the legacy jets flow in and deal with the lower end stuff Ye Olde Fashioned Way with MALD and HARM. We did that in the 1980s with about 120 F-4G.

We could do the same here with a similar number of F-35, kicking as much of the sensorization, MADL datalink LPD waveforms and some mass video memory storage into a drone platform for targeting and then shifting completely away from manned air to Fast Missile (Hoplite, HSSW) for the deep strike alternative mission set.

At 2 and 4 million each, followon supersonic and hypersonic, aeroballistic missile systems have a major leverat (50:1 and 25:1 cost fraction) for EACH F-35 you don't buy or lose, for want of proper support missions, deep in Indian country. It would be just too bad if we pissed away 420 billion in R&D on another F-117 shootdown compromise of the Lightning's technology base, less than ten years after we started buying the things. But particularly as long as we stay married to the GBU-12/PWIV and GBU-31/32 as primary freefall PGM, we are risking that, because stealth is not invisibility, it's just lower observability.

CONCLUSION:
The Armed Forces have functionally refused to follow the direction of multiple administrations and Congresses as seated, sovereign, governments in attempting to gain some kind of fiscal accountability for their efforts. We are ten years past the last required date for an audit and their accounting systems are still 'unreliable' in tracking the most basic of white vs. black world programmatic spending. Even at a non-itemized level.

This alone signals massive fraud and would bring down RICO threats in a BIG WAY for any corporation or agency other than Big D who showed such piss poor (deliberately obfuscating) performance in accomplishing a basic degree of financial transparency as is _required_ for every other department of government.

It is time that the USAF, USN and USMC have a major C2J moment. And the F-35 is exactly the bloated pig program to do it with. Anything less and it will be all too obvious that the horse is riding the jockey in our system of governance. And that is not the concept of trust-only-what-you-verify governmental checks and balances which America is built around.

on Dec 12, 2016

Very impressive analysis - I took the liberty of copying and passing on to my Member of Parliament who is part of the Committee investigating the F-35/FA-18 issue.

on Dec 13, 2016

"Analysis"? It's just Kurt Plummer again, under his latest guise. He's just butt-hurt that the F-35 isn't capable of VTO with an F-15E payload, F-22 kinematics, and Global Hawk endurance.

on Dec 12, 2016

Glaaar: "The Armed Forces have functionally refused to follow the direction of multiple administrations and Congresses as seated, sovereign, governments in attempting to gain some kind of fiscal accountability for their efforts. We are ten years past the last required date for an audit and their accounting systems are still 'unreliable' in tracking the most basic of white vs. black world programmatic spending. Even at a non-itemized level.
This alone signals massive fraud and would bring down RICO threats in a BIG WAY for any corporation or agency other than Big D who showed such piss poor (deliberately obfuscating) performance in accomplishing a basic degree of financial transparency as is _required_ for every other department of government."

You've left out one crucial thing - Much of Congress regards the Federal government in general and the Defense Department in particular as ATMs for their constituents.

A quick and easy (but not practicable) fix for this would be to limit Federal spending in a Congressional district to the Federal tax receipts from that district. It'd kill pork spending dead, but it'd mean we concentrated our military and Federal facilities in a few populous and wealthy districts. But that's essentially how things were done in these United States for a long time.

Another way to go would be to enact Trump's import tariff, but on a broader basis - to apply to ALL goods produced overseas in direct competition with American goods. I just got finished taking a cheap Chinese import digital television antenna apart to see why it wasn't allowing me to receive television. TWO cold solder joints, one at the center conductor of the coaxial connector, one on the ground (where no proper ground lug existed, the manufacturer just had the worker attach it to the connector by a glob of solder, which detached) were responsible.

No American electronics manufacturer would have done this. Yet we've allowed financiers to outsource work done by qualified American technicians to whoever did this crap. In many ways, to enrich GE's Jeffrey Imhelt (Obama's "jobs czar") and all the other outsourcers, we've handed over control over our national welfare - certainly most of our tax base has followed those jobs overseas.

So bring the jobs and that tax base back, and we'll be able to afford to make rational decisions regarding our national defense. And even if we don't bring the jobs back, we'll be able to pay for our national defense at the customs shed.

on Dec 12, 2016

EDIT: "Say that I agree with you, the System which produced two such inept candidates is the problem. And it is a deliberate one which will be solved when Americans are offered a 'so much better when corporations run it' alternative as defacto world government.

That is the next step. And what role do you expect the American military to have in that followon? It is the largest and most capable but it will _have to_ share the global stage with other, regional, powers or there will be ZERO cooperation.

The truly sad part here is that America doesn't have a democratic government because the people (Two Percenters) in the wealth class who fund campaigns and thus vet candidates are both the ones who gave us this man and his corrupt opposite in a race which was _openly admitted_ to be rigged against alternatives like Sanders.

By itself, that should have triggered Constitutional Protections that brought a ton of bricks down on the DNC and forced the rerun of the Democratic primaries. It did not.

And our 'betters' refuse to even /attempt/ something like local rule via a true democratic system that only required participation and comprehension factor to retain voter rights by JQ Average at the end of the day. Listen to debates, take a weekly pop quiz and VOTE, electronically, over the internet, with a two stage verification process that SHOWED YOUR NAME beside your choice to guard against fraud. It might not decide national level priorities but it would go a _Long Ways_ towards returning rights 'not specifically delegated' back to the States and The People. Government bloat as intervention in too many local issues is the problem here, with half the power, it would be twice as efficient at using what it held.

And the Elites would have a lot less to bring to the bargaining table with their 'project' for followon, extranational, government.

Now, to return this to the F-35, Reality Check:

1. The USAF/USN/USMC are large, college trained, labor unions.
They will NEVER yield power to an economical system (zero training hours for 90% of the fleet) as UCAS on their own. They will always find a way to justify 'cyber vulnerability', even if they have to insert it themselves (USAF Predators without encrypted video etc.).
If you don't take the choice away from their control, they will NEVER write the check which disenfranchises them from one of the best jobs in the world.

2. The F-35 is NOT a fighter.
It is an F-117 level bomber, crippled by two factors: First, it's got a fighter engine in an interdiction mission platform which means a .889pph TSFC which is _crippling_ it's range. Second, it is sized around a 2X2,000lb delivery capacity for non-winged GBU-31. Which is to say _exactly_ the same target overflight, laydown, mission as made the Serbia F-117 vulnerable to shoot down by EOCG SA-3. Except we're not facing Goas we're facing Growlers (SA-21) and so the WEZ threat ring is closer to 20-30nm where the Gravestone _will see_ the F-35, stealth or no.

2. The F-35 is NOT an ISR platform.
Despite being packaged around an ISR class, multi-aperture, sensor package which it _cannot use fully_ because a 1,000nm radius (actually 584nm without AAR) and a 7-8 hour flight limit for the pilot makes it all but impossible to achieve the needed 10-20hr MINIMUM target dwell for building and sustaining a corporate intelligence database that can deal with the kind of transient (TCT) target sets which denote the other end of the spectrum as OOTW/LIC/SSC in support of troops on the ground.

3. Flying Ferraris In A Chevy Air War...
Operationally, the F-35 is up to about 42,300 dollars per flight hour CPFH so _even if_ the manned asset limitation on persistence and deliverable kills was not an issue, you are whacking gnats with a gold plated sledge hammer.

4. The Jet's 'Awesome 5th Gen!' performance is built around lies.
We were told it had F-16 energy performance with F-18 equivalent, high AOA, maneuvering capacity. It doesn't. It is a slug in acceleration because of all the moldline changes and weight gains needed to get it enough fuel to make radius (it doesn't) and the huge lift induced drag which the combination of tiny wings and a forward weapons bay provide it, limiting the (F-16 like) ability to trim into it's fabulous 9G turn.

The high alpha regime is similarly crippled because the jet is operating on two lift curves, one off the lifting body, the other off the aftset wings. This results in an AOA differential such that the jet literally is losing energy as it goes transient in the 23-25 degree area when MOST 4TH GEN JETS are only entering this in the 27-30 degree range. As you lose lift, you have to split more and more of your residua authority between keeping the nose up and retaining roll and directional stability margins which means your _bomber_ is slow to pitch and starts to mush as the FLCS takes away authority at precisely the point where good roll and peddle authority to chase targets around a defensive slice or rolling scissors are incredibly important. This is _important_ because, in VLO configuration, the jet has ZERO SRM which means it has ZERO ability to HOBS the threat. You're a damn fool if you wait to use your TWO AIM-120 until you're within visual merge and the distance between a 10-15 radar merge and a 15-20 EO merge is too long for just two BVR shots. You go to flight formations to match the carriage capacity of ONE F-22 and you lose all the costing advantage of stealth as a one-jet/one-target combination.

Again, the variance between what we were promised and what the jet has now shown that it can't do "But I don't really care if it can't turn or sprint because it has all these cool apps!..." (Bogdan ) is so anachronistically wide of the modern threat environment, let alone (hunting weapons, lasers) the one we will face in 10 years, that the specification itself simply has no relevance to a believable mission set.

5. It's completely illegal.
Read my lips: You cannot declare IOC without IOT&E to proof the system. Without Milestone C certified completion of system development, you cannot run IOT&E as initial service trials.

Bluntly, we don't know -what- the jet can do. It certainly lacks a raft of ordnance to be useful in the DEAD mission which is all that the fancy cross-cuing ASQ-239/AAQ-37/40 really is good for.

No SACM, no T-3, no GBU-53, limited fusion without over-stacking targets. The jet, as is, is an F-117 with internal stores and an F-16 with externals (minus the HARM). This is a Desert Storm era platform.

IOC thus becomes a gateway to contractual obligations to Lockheed Martin's stock owners, not a certification proof that the jets are ready to go to war.

To buy into the F-35 is thus to accept the onus of a multi-year 'big block' buying strategy which is the SOLE HOPE of getting this goldplated sandbox into inventory at anything like 85 million dollars apiece. Because we will not know what or whether this aircraft can do anything useful until Blk.4 and maybe Blk.5 certification in the 2020-2025 period as the MODERN ORDNANCE starts to come online, assuming they've paid for it.

That's a big deal here because the munitions make the jet and IMO, we are looking at scenarios where ASH F-18s and CABS C-17 can offer the potential for FOUR and TWENTY FOUR shot worth of AGM-158, at roughly 1.5 million each, with upwards of 600km of range leverage _ontop of_ 550nm and 2,500nm of 'safe standoff' for the aircraft themselves.

This is important, because it's not just that the F-35 is itself a vacuous impression of what a fighter should be, it is that the entire constellation of supporting missions, from fighter escort to SEAD, EW/EA, AEW&C and Tanking all have _real problems_ making it through a modern defense to a threat upwards of 1,500nm distant as the MINIMUM which we can expect to fly to keep airbases and carriers out of harms way themselves. If you want to kill stealth, the best and easiest way to do so is either to turn it's runway into a submarine or to starve it of get-home gas by jumping the tanker orbits with another stealth jet. And thanks to the nearly 30 years that this cold war envisioned (package attack, system of systems centric) design has been in development, the threat as all but caught up with us in terms of the REAL RISK to deploying support missions anywhere near the fence into indian country.

ARGUMENT:
What we don't know is the status of the monetary system, our commodities securitization and the attitudes of BRICS/SCO/AIIB towards demanding an SDR to allow them to buy and sell petro products in other than dollars. Until we know how much money we have (how much real-value any QE4 will maintain) we don't have a clue what to do. Any change in the USD as GRC will effect interest rates and interest rates on 20+100 trillion in official and uncovered debts will mean the collapse of this nation.

The military is one of the largest POL consumers on the planet. Having platforms that can do the long dwell mission (effectively turning three sorties into one) and NOT TRAIN the rest of the year would be a big way to cut this in half or more.

Contrary to the above poster, I take the opposite view of the F-35: we have here a specialist mission system, not all that different from the F-22 but with more A2G = DEAD emphasis as a platform to use it's Barracuda and APG-81 to blow open holes in high level threat defenses (HQ-9, S-300/400/500) and then let the legacy jets flow in and deal with the lower end stuff Ye Olde Fashioned Way with MALD and HARM. We did that in the 1980s with about 120 F-4G.

We could do the same here with a similar number of F-35, kicking as much of the sensorization, MADL datalink LPD waveforms and some mass video memory storage into a drone platform for targeting and then shifting completely away from manned air to Fast Missile (Hoplite, HSSW) for the deep strike alternative mission set.

At 2 and 4 million each, followon supersonic and hypersonic, aeroballistic missile systems have a major leverat (50:1 and 25:1 cost fraction) for EACH F-35 you don't buy or lose, for want of proper support missions, deep in Indian country. It would be just too bad if we pissed away 420 billion in R&D on another F-117 shootdown compromise of the Lightning's technology base, less than ten years after we started buying the things. But particularly as long as we stay married to the GBU-12/PWIV and GBU-31/32 as primary freefall PGM, we are risking that, because stealth is not invisibility, it's just lower observability.

CONCLUSION:
The Armed Forces have functionally refused to follow the direction of multiple administrations and Congresses as seated, sovereign, governments in attempting to gain some kind of fiscal accountability for their efforts. We are ten years past the last required date for an audit and their accounting systems are still 'unreliable' in tracking the most basic of white vs. black world programmatic spending. Even at a non-itemized level.

This alone signals massive fraud and would bring down RICO threats in a BIG WAY for any corporation or agency other than Big D who showed such piss poor (deliberately obfuscating) performance in accomplishing a basic degree of financial transparency as is _required_ for every other department of government.

It is time that the USAF, USN and USMC have a major C2J moment. And the F-35 is exactly the bloated pig program to do it with. Anything less and it will be all too obvious that the horse is riding the jockey in our system of governance. And that is not the concept of trust-only-what-you-verify governmental checks and balances which America is built around."

Folks...this ^^^ is one of the most well written pieces of BS I have EVER read. Point 4 especially so, very indicative of a critic that has lived his life at 1G. Unfortunately I must leave it at that.

on Dec 12, 2016

The dictator Trump must understand he cannot be a dictator. Don't cry just deal with it.

on Dec 12, 2016

Dear Glaaaar, such a loverly piece of work! You leave me totally convinced despite the mind numbing alphanumeric evidence sprinkled like aggregate in concrete.

I am Australian and I despair of our military who seem to have been "sold" this squashed turd. This country would be bankrupted in one day of real war just by the cost of the "smart" munitions alone, let alone this surgical grade aircraft in dust, sand and bad runways and dodgy fuel. O, and one motor when there is more than a thousand kilometres between each military airfield.

Unfortunately, we volunteer our "defence" assets to Washington's adventures in the ME and end up wearing them out bombing people who aren't our enemies and were created by US political meddling and Israel's meddling and deliberately false intelligence.

Fact is that Washington's behaviour is creating its own enemies even of its allies! The only saving grace is that Trump promised to sit down with Putin in a spirit of friendship and equality rather than one up-manship.

That was my hope until I got a glimpse of the ignorant sicko called Flynn(?) now in Donny's cabinet.

Thank you for your wonderful spray. Where do we go from here?

I wish your country would stop carrying on about Russia! Do you really think that they want to take over the world? Do you really think they are stupid enough to want war? They have got to be shaking their heads at the tragedy of the f35.

As for the Chinese, they are legally buying the world and any military action to get it back would be theft. Gotta use different smarts.

And remember.... War is Terror.

on Dec 14, 2016

IMO, Europe is a zombie continent blundering towards an Islamic Demographic Grave sir. They are led by a leadership whose global humanitarianism does not extend the same degree of empathy towards their own people and we should not be a part of defending such totalitarianism.

As a function of this, we need out from under the NATO albatross, _so badly_, just on economic grounds, and a brilliant excuse would be that if the Europeans won't defend their cultural, economic and sovereign territorial future; it is not for us to do it for them.

I think this is actually a designed for goal, with the Germans and French hoping to kick the U.S. and Britain to the curb so that they can run an EU-army startup a Euro-Mediteranean Empire, similar to the Roman and Holy Roman equivalents.

They began this strategy, back in 1953-54 when Charles De Gaulle was disgusted by the changing of one imperialist guard for another _without changing Imperialism_ as the Marshall Plan and U.S. hegemony.

And as a result, began the EADS (Euro Arab Dialogue States) effort to shatter U.S. power and recreate a Colonialist European economic base with particular emphasis on control of Commercial traffic through the Mediterranean and Suez.

If this is the way they choose to go, then we must deal with it as it comes by limiting our foreign dependencies rather than extending a protection racket defense pact.

I believe that the BRICS/SCO/AIIB organization states have made it all too clear that if the U.S. doesn't stop raping their economies, buying goods and resources at pittances of their real value, based on the vastly inflated dollar exchange rates, they will shift to RMB/Euro/Barter trade on their own, with gold covering tariffs and transport fees as a function of excluding us from a separate global economic market.

Bringing American into a competitive economic and financial stance with that condition is the Number One 'threat' to our security we now face.

If Trump can get the Chinese and Arabs in particular to take a severe hair cutting on their already overextended debt securitzation (they will never get it back), we should jump on it and see what happens in a world with multiple petroleum buying competed currency sources.

If nothing else, we have HUGE reserves on-shelf, on-slope and if need be, via the Tri State Oil Shale holdings (2.3 Trillion vs. 296 Billion barrels in Saudi) so it things get too bad, we could nationalize our oil industry and flood the market.

We don't have to buy 2,400 F-35 and prepare to go to war with the entire world when there are economic controls alternatives.

Looking West, the Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese are all _highly_ advanced nations, with defensive capabilities equal to any threat they face on a 1v1 basis.

ROK in particular could roll the DPRK in their sleep but for one thing: Nukes.

We turn-key the three tigers into Nuclear States and _back off_ to Alaska and suddenly our ability to protect the likes of Andersen or Kadena or even Misawa as power projectors into either the Tai Island or Korean Peninsular theaters goes from hard to non-issue as we can use relays of C-17s with bellies full of JASSM/LRASSM to provide 10-20 shots of conventional defense per hour, in rotation, while the Asians handle their own national defense with the nuclear top card to any madness by the Family Kim (IMO, the Chinese rattle his leash to keep U.S. bleeding green in that part of the world, waiting until we are completely spent-out).

For Australia, the answer is simple: break away from U.S. hegemony and secure your real property rights against Chinese flight capital buyout from their overpowered but stale market economy.

A need to maintain a balanced strategic view was a large part of the reason why you had Mirages -and- Sabers/Phantoms in the 60s and 70s.

Of course, the simple fact is that, as large as they are and as heavily as they are turning towards productive industry to funder their modernization, it is all but inevitable that the Chinese will have a Monroe/Roosevelt doctrine equivalent in the SWAPR region as 'their hemisphere' SOI and our fighting as a 'security partnership' means to twist the arms of our allies on cheap consumer goods which SHOULD be being made _right here_ is ridiculous. It will not change the outcome, only it's timing.

Trump has already spoken to this, and I sincerely hope to hold him to his word. We need new, automan, industry so that we can compete with the Chinese slave labor market (below 50 cents an hour is free) and we need a new Global Economic perspective that may involve a minimum Living Condition as a planetary guarantee of Human Rights and a mandatory switchout between developed and non-developed regions on consumer good manufacture as resource consumption and material wealth _in trade_ for strict population controls.

To guarantee commitment to a broader vision of participation in a global society.

If this fails, we still need a fallback equivalent for our own population, many of whom simply are non-competitive in todays info-dominant technologies market, thanks to our own immigration choices.

Comparatively playing Pacific Pivot, saber rattling, 'presence' games, Projecting Power some 6-8,000 miles from Pearl or San Diego without the likes of a Cam Rahn Bay or similar as intermediate staging point, would lead to a grinding war of attrition today and a suicidal Cuban Missile Crises scenario in 20 years.

Because China has a huge population, an average IQ leverage of 105-106 in critical math/spatial areas needed for high end engineering and the combination of those two factors alone will start to generate a lot of genius which she can _afford to fund_ in stealing American leadership in market innovation.

As defense.

In this, it doesn't help that American flight to Chinese Markets (automotive, largest growth sector in the world) has been met with 'not just your assembly engineering but your R&D and Marketing people too' pre conditions that are rapidly strip mining our university system of it's principle technology development role.

Already, with ROTHR and 1,500nm DF-21D, the PLAN can hit our carriers a least a day away from delivering airstrikes of our own at a differential of One Per Day vs. 20 per hour.

With both the DF-21 and the SM3IIa costing about 10 million each, we cannot maintain a large enough VLS magazine count of mechanical intercepts to be sure of defeating a saturation strike.

And if we cannot break the Littoral boundary, we have no business maintaining 500nm strike capacity, subsonic airframe, carriers for a 'surge response' force. Not at 20 billion per CVBG.

With the 2,500nm DF-26, stupid becomes insane and the kinds of defensive weapons (1MW SSLs) which will counter that will put an absolute end to conventional airpower anyway. Colonial Viper vs. Pulsar style.

Given these facts and the reality that China already dominates Australia's export market, Oz needs a new polar re-orientation plan.

It's a fact that your demographic shift loss of European social control trails Europe's own by only a couple decades but if that is your choice, then it is better to be a part of the hemisphere you are closest to than to maintain a faded European allegiance that is itself not able to sustain an Imperialist Dream large enough to span the globe to protect your interests in that part of the world.

With massive drawdowns of our conventional armed forces, consequent to a pullout from Asia and Europe comes a need to completely modernize the U.S. nuclear systems, just as Russia did, with a common, fast burn, ICBM/SLBM in 1-2 defended Dense Pack railnetwork bastions and an Ohio followon class numbering 10-15 boats, split evenly between SSGN theater and SLBM strategic mission configurations.

To which I would perhaps add a Falcon Strike capability which is more regionally oriented (Mach 10 instead of Mach 20 = no skin burn through as with HTV-2).

By itself, aeroballistic cruise from single subs, invulnerable to BASM and a global precision strike capability from over 5,000nm standoffs, would allow us to do about 70-90% of what we achieve today on about 1/3-1/2 the fiscal output.

It would require a major restructuring of our theater operational art because if you can fly 7,000 miles per hour at 200-400,000ft you can launch cross-track munitions like skipped stones over a millpond on targets a 1,000nm away.

Completely obviating the traditional interpretation of 'air defense' and allowing you to STOP WARS rather than re-invade after 'failing to predict an attack' (CIA tethered radar aerostats on the border of Kuwait, 3 month before the invasion).

As with Desert Storm echoing Normandy.

Which saves yet more money as enabled draw down in the face of obsolescent responsiveness becomes funding for technical reinvention overall.

As another poster suggested, I'm all for a proper genomics effort, particularly to unlock the M1/M3 keys to heightened intelligence as the engine which will drive all other factors of the massive global social engineering problem we now face.

Beyond that, I want the Stars. Not just Mars.

on Dec 13, 2016

There are a few problem.

It appears that all Russian medium range and short range air defence systems can shoot down JDMs like the AGM-88 HARM. And the S-400 has its own dedicated close in defence system (Morphey).

I don't think the Russians are terribly worried about the AGM-158 JASSM since their air defence systems are all mobile. And becoming more so at every iteration. And their close in defence systems are likely to kill it even if it is at short range (depends on the RCS). BTW The Container OTH radars are not relocatable. But there may be similar mobile radars with shorter range.

They might we worried if the JASSM comes with a high power microwave warhead since that might fry electronics that is turned off. However it is difficult to know if this is a real threat since the range of the warhead is not known. If engagement range exceeds warhead range, then it is not much of a threat.

Air Power Australia assumed that the F-35 in an attack on a S-400 could get to the weapon release point, but could not get away due to speed limitations. The F-22 could get away.

I assume that nobody really knows what extensive ECM will do to detection ranges in a real shooting war. I assume this is because the other side don't know exactly what the other party can do with their ECM.

And we who don't know much about the subject have to make do with tantalising rumours. e.g. The F-35 can't detect the Eurofighter until it is 30km away if the Eurofighter has set it self protection suite to war.

on Apr 24, 2017

Gotta love this:" you are whacking gnats with a gold plated sledge hammer" makes me wonder if we will run out of gold before they run out of gnats...

on Dec 12, 2016

It can't possibly be that the Russians would like to see the F-35 cancelled, could it? Not that Trump himself sees how he's being influenced, and his fanboys certainly don't, but the US intelligence community sees it.

Until the whispers in his ear tell Trump he needs to gut the US intelligence community - they're not "loyal". That'll clear the way to cancelling lots of "too expensive" defense initiatives.

on Dec 12, 2016

@rabbit - Read surfisgood02 above post and Don Bacon below post.

on Dec 12, 2016

F-35 RECAP
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is entering its sixteenth year without a finished product. In fact the program is lagging in both legs of its concurrent development and limited production efforts, with both of them behind schedule and over cost which has led to another critical Nunn-McCurdy violation, similar to the previous one in 2010.
The program is currently in the Milestone B Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase (which is still referred to its former title SDD by many). This phase, with the informal title development, is scheduled to end in 2019 but can't end then because of development delays especially with its software.
The JSF program manager, Christopher Bogdan, soon entering his fifth year on the job, said over three years ago that software is still the single biggest concern for the F-35 program and that hasn't changed. While in 2013 Lockheed officials expressed their firm belief that they would deliver the remaining software on time, it hasn't happened. Software development delays are delaying the start of operational testing, what Bogdan referred to in 2013 as the "really hard stuff," into 2018 at least. Plus the development program needs $530 million more as the development program stretches.
The limited production program of F-35 prototypes running concurrently with the lengthening development is also lagging. The 2016 production plan of 53 useless aircraft at the Lockheed Ft. Worth plant will be far short of the target due to quality control problems and the challenge of producing many variants on the same line. The three F-35 variants with 300,000 parts each have little in common, and the "delta" versions for the few foreign buyers are different from the US models. As a result only thirty planes were produced in the first three quarters of 2016, with production not expected to be back on schedule until the end of 2017.
Unit acquisition costs are climbing due to poor contracting (no fixed price) and lagging production. Three years ago Bogdan said that by 2019 the F-35 program will deliver"“fifth-generation aircraft at fourth-generation prices" but unit acquisition costs for the current lot nine prototypes hover around $200 million per plane, compared to less than $100 million for legacy planes.
Even using Bogdan's rosy unit cost estimates (not actual costs), the current F-35 Program Acquisition Unit Cost (PAUC) of $133M is 60% higher than the 2001 baseline of $83M. (both in current dollars) The current F-35 Average Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) is $107M which is also 60% higher than the baseline $67M. Both of these exceed the Nunn-McCurdy threshold, being 50 percent or more over the original program objective.

on Dec 12, 2016

As a retired Avionics Engineer I spent many years working on F-4, A-6 and A-7 aircraft. All these aircraft went from design to production in 1 - 2 years. Not 15. The current crop Super Hornets , Late model F-16's can do 95 % of what F-35 can, and are proven Weapons systems. This program should be terminated NOW. In my opinion we have reached the end of the line in manned Fighters. And Bombers. Time to rebuild America's infrastructure. Cure Cancer. Go to Mars.

on Dec 12, 2016

Amen. And thanks for your contribution on those excellent aircraft in the past.

on Dec 15, 2016

The two killers are cost and complexity. These killed the UK's TSR2 and resulted in the Royal Air Force buying the Buccaneer which did about 95% of what TSR2 could do at about a third of the cost. As for stealth, it's a busted flush with modern software interpreted radar returns. Remember stealth is reduced radar returns NOT NO radar returns.

on Dec 12, 2016

Brillouin Energy has an independent interim report coming out early next year on it's technology. This report will show that we are now gaining control over the manufacturing technology and electronics to control LENR. We have done this with < $12M dollars not $B's. F35 looks a lot like a rip off. However when "Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry's revolving door." looks ridiculous when he bring in wall street to watch banking and big oil to watch the environment and foreign policy. How about the revolving door between the FDA and companies like Monsanto? Oy.

on Dec 13, 2016

Lockheed-Martin probably knows that C++ is the wrong programming language for building large systems with many programmers. It might work with a small and very bright team, but not something as big as the F-35 software.

The main reason for using C++ is probably that it generates many more billable hours than e.g. Ada would do. Some claim 100% more.

LM claimed that they could get a 6 month head start by using C++ instead of Ada. Even if the programmers were so stupid that 6 months of training were necessary, LM knew that an Ada team would surpass the C++ team within a year or two.

C++ is a fun programming language. It is easy to write and we get a kick out of writing terse code that does clever stuff. However, that makes it hard to maintain. Even for the original programmer. And while we remember how long it took us to write the program in the first place, we never remember how long it took us to get it to work. And that is the important bit.

on Dec 13, 2016

The main reason for using C++ is that everyone knows C++.
LockMart had to hire a bunch of s/w engineers, and these days programmers that know Ada are rare.
The so-called 6 month head start would be the time it takes to train someone on Ada......

on Dec 12, 2016

LOL! NO S***!

RSF (not verified)
on Dec 12, 2016

Grabbing popcorn - this is going to be an "epic" discussion...

on Dec 12, 2016

Not me. I support Trump precisely because there are no sacred cows off the chopping block for him, both on the Left and on the Right. The F-35 is a flying elephant, and was 5 hours late in getting to Nevatim air base south of Beersheba today because it was foggy in Italy :) Ash Carter and Netanyahu and the whole US and Israeli brass were standing there red in embarrassment. but thankfully they finally arrived and the usual nice pronouncements were made. The US is not threatend by a flying elephant, Israel is even if they get them for free. What if the weather is foggy over Natanz in Iran that day?

on Dec 14, 2016

The F-35 is doomed if Trump gets elected. He has to make a big show of cutting something in defense so he can then get away with cutting social spending, and diverting money to those "massive" infrastructure/jobs projects he's promising.

Rightly or wrongly, the F-35 is THE tailor-made target for Trump. It's going down.

The only hope for the F-35 is for enough of the electors in the Electoral College (Google the phrase "who are the electors?" ) to be persuaded to not vote for him as the next President of the United States. The ball goes to the House, where hopefully they'll pick some other Republican who's sober and sensible about defense, and not completely whacko.

But the F-35 community better contact their political leaders now -- the Electors especially. The Electors vote this coming Monday, Dec. 19. After that, it's bye-bye Tweeter Trump, or bye-bye F-35 -- one or the other.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_electors,_2016

on Dec 19, 2016

This Trump supporter couldn't be happier that the F-35 fiasco is receiving his scrutiny.

When you see what Sukhoi is producing with their amazing first in class ACM, maybe we'll be producing aircraft as capable for the right reasons, vs. the corrupt deals that go down. Has anyone gone to jail yet for pushing this project ahead?

Our pilots deserve much more capable aircraft.

on Dec 12, 2016

JSF out of control that is new!!

on Dec 12, 2016

What's new is that the President elect is talking about it, as opposed to those of us on the comments board.

on Dec 12, 2016

It was a sarcastic comment, I was slammed by others and I was told that I was at my humble level a dumb-ass!
I complained about the JSF fiasco for weeks!!

on Dec 12, 2016

Is the Air force one project cancelled yet?

We are seeing a lot of hot air at the moment, time will tell if it turns into anything else more substantial. Wouldn't bet on any major changes to either program.

on Dec 12, 2016

I'd say "a lot of hot air" will indeed be an accurate description of US policy for the next 4 years.

on Dec 12, 2016

So you think that our current military procurement system(s) are just fine and dandy?
And you disagree with the President elect calling the current state of affairs to the public's attention, thereby sending a long overdue message to Lockheed Martin, Boeing et al?

on Dec 12, 2016

No I do not. For decades we have seen people pretending to want to fix the system, Trump is just latest example. He will talk about doing a great many things, may even do a few of them. The most likely outcome is that in fours time most of us will be unable to detect any real change from the current status quo.

If you want to really change the system you need to bring your legion of supporters with you into congress and the senate.

Neither Obama or Trump did this, so the result will be the same, the status quo continues.

on Dec 12, 2016

There is nothing to cancel. The only contract in place is $170 million for capability and risk-reduction studies.
We see a lot of hot air on sites like this, from people that don't know what they're talking about.

on Dec 12, 2016

Trump supporters from the working class will be finding out soon enough that they too have been conned by Don the Con. The jobs he saved were imaginary.

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