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F-35 Issues

Posted by Jolly on January 17, 2012

F-35a.jpg

F-35A, Eglin AFB FL

 

I got the following forwarded to me from a very reliable source concerning the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.  So glad we've put all our eggs in one basket.  Is it too late to keep the F-15 line open?  We may need some iron on our ramps in the near future!

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F35c-cat.jpgThe Joint Strike Fighter program -- subjected by DOD leaders to a comprehensive technical review and restructured twice in the last two years in a bid to manage cost growth and development challenges -- is unlikely to meet two crucial operational criteria pivotal to future production decisions, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester.

 An assessment of the F-35 program conducted by the JSF operational test team "determined that it is not on track to meet operational effectiveness or operational suitability requirements," Michael Gilmore, director of Operational Test and Evaluation, states in a new report detailing a wide range of challenges the Pentagon faces in trying to realize the full potential of the new aircraft.

One of the main statutory responsibilities of the office of the director of operationalf35b.jpg test and evaluation is to assess a new weapon systems operational effectiveness and operational suitability, a finding that is presented to Pentagon leaders on the eve of a decision on whether the acquisition effort can begin full-rate production. The Pentagon next month is expected to set a new target date for JSF full-rate production; current plans call for low-rate production to last through 2015.

 "The primary operational effectiveness deficiencies include poor performance in the human systems integration," Gilmore wrote, "and aircraft handling characteristics, as well as shortfalls in maneuvering performance."

f35helmet.jpgThe issues associated with the program include difficulty with the helmet-mounted displace and the night-vision capabilities for pilots, and issues related to maneuvering performance include the F-35A combat radius and the acceleration capability of the F-35C, the naval variant, according to the report.

In April, the Pentagon disclosed that the combat radius of the F-35A, which was originally set at 690 nautical miles, was predicted to be 584 nautical miles, slightly under the revised requirement of 590 nautical miles.F35cockpit.jpg

The evaluation was based on "measured and predicted" performance against the keystone requirements document for the F-35 program, revalidated by Pentagon brass in 2009.

"The driving operational suitability deficiencies include an inadequate Autonomic Logistics Information Systems for deployed operations, excessive time for low observable maintenance repair and restoration capability, low reliability and poor maintainability performance, and deficient crypto key management and interface compatibility," the new DOT&E report states.

F35cliff.jpgThe JSF program was restructured in November 2011 following a technical baseline review. Among the changes was the addition of time to allow for further development and testing. The testing report warns, however, that even more time may be required.  "While additional time and resources in development may aid the program in resolving some deficiencies," the report cautions, "several requirements are not going to be met given current, known program plans."


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Comments:

Posted by Doc on
Can you say Ardvark? The F-35C can't pass carrier quals beacause the tail hook skips over the wire. That being because of the tail hook postion on the aft bulkhead and the overall length of the tail hook itself. To date, it has missed the wire everytime.
But hey, the RPA is going to save us all! Errr...can you say no gun in the F-4? Old lessons being relearned!
You can cure ignorance with education but STUPIDITY is FOREVER!
Doc
Posted by Jolly on
I also hear you can't get the hook down with a complete electrical failure. Small point, since you probably need trons to fly it too.
Posted by Jolly on
This from Larry:

According to a news report this morning, it also won't land on a carrier because the hook is too close to the gear.
Posted by Jolly on
This From Cooney (he's a man of few words):


Fucking figures

Lockheed
Posted by Jolly on
Got these words from a Lockheed guy:

I find it very hard to believe that the Eglin’s Integrated Training Center is not keeping their cadre pilots aware of what’s really going on in the F-35 program and why their current jets have not received clearance to fly yet. I have already emailed our LM people at Eglin asking to checking and see if their pilots are so miss-informed on the facts.

Like many wild rumor they start out with some true and spin into “the sky is falling!” The 8 jets (6 USAF F-35A and 2 newly delivered, USMC F-35B) at Eglin are waiting for the latest software drop (which is, by design, is the same as the sim) and waiting for Headquarters clearance to start fighting ops. That should happen in the next few months if not earlier. A challenge we have with this unique, joint, program is we have a large number of voters at the JPO, ASC and NAVAIR.

The test F-35s at Edwards are flying great. Radar, Electro Optical Target System and Distributed Aperture Systems (the system that allows the pilot 360 degree virtual vision around the jet) are working super with glowing remarks from the test pilots like… “the DAS is astonishing, I could comfortably fly the mission with my helmet bag over my head. Of course, like any test program the first times the systems are flown they find a number of problems that have to get worked out to get performing correctly. The test jet have 1.6 mach and 9Gs. Haven’t gone to 50k Altitude yet but as week got cleared to fly and 43k. No big problems with the envelopes yet. 2011 Flight Test finished the year with 15% more flights and test points accomplished than plan.

Test the F-35 has a lot more software (C++) compared to the F-22(15 year old software). F-35 fly with 8.5m SLOC where F-22 fly with 2m SLOC. And the F-35 does have four times more computer capacity. However, the F-35 have never aborted a sort for CNI problems. BTW we’re hoping to put this kind of capability to the F-22 during their modernization.
Posted by LieSniper on
The tail hook being too short shouldn't be that big a deal. With all the global warming going on, the boat will be floating a few inches higher up so it should all work out just fine; problem solved!
Posted by DuckPerry on
No mention of wing root/box longevity issues either, which may be one of those rumors eluded to by "the Lockheed guy". BUT...I know the AF Vice Chief has put together a panel to look at/evaluate/staff a "new fighter alternative"....spelled "what else could we (the AF) get as a substitute for the F35". I have NOT seen any board results or recommendations.
Posted by Jolly on
This from Jeremy:

Jolly,

Since you asked nice, the USAF kept the Eagle line open. Making some o the best ones yet...for FMS.

2011 U/FOUO brief on the JSF's issues was hugely dissapointing. He brief was actually very forthright with the problems. Every swinging dick in the room could not believe the shabby state o the program and the fact that legions of Generals/Admirals/SESs hadn't been fired.
Posted by DuckPerry on
"And the 'hits' just keep on comin"...



F-35 Lightning II News

U.S. Navy and U.K. Royal Navy F-35 unable to get aboard ship

January 8, 2012 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The U.S. Navy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) known as the F-35C is at serious risk of never being able to land aboard an aircraft carrier. This also poses a risk to the U.K. aircraft carrier program which is supposed to use the F-35C at the end of the decade.

CF-1 takes off on its first flight on June 6, 2010. Pilot for the 57 minute flight was Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Jeff Knowles.
Back in 2007, a Lockheed Martin year in review video stated that the F-35C carrier variant (CV) JSF had passed critical design review (CDR). The video and similar public statements said, "2007 saw the completion of the critical design review for the F-35C. The completion of CDR is a sign that each F-35 variant is mature and ready for production."

Yet, a November 2011 U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) quick-look report relating to engineering challenges arising from what is being called “concurrency issues” revealed that all eight run-in/rolling tests undertaken at NAS Lakehurst in August 2011 to see if the F-35C CV JSF could catch a wire with the tail hook have failed.

The report also mentions that the tail hook on the F-35C CV JSF is attached improperly to the aircraft. The distance from the hook to the main landing gear is so short that it is unlikely the aircraft will catch the landing wires on a ship's deck. This graphic from the review explains part of the problem. It illustrates the distance between the main landing gear and the tail hook of previous warplanes qualified to operate from aircraft carriers and compares these distances with that found on the F-35C CV JSF. In this regard, the report refers to the F-35C CV JSF as “an outlier”.

An industry expert who is a graduate Flight Test Engineer (FTE) of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS), Peter Goon, stated that, "Given the limited amount of suitable structure at the back end of the JSF variants, due primarily to the commonality that was being sought between the three variant designs and the fact that the STOVL F-35B JSF is the baseline design, there was always going to be high risk associated with meeting the carrier suitability requirements."

He also points to well known and well understood military specifications that address tail hook design requirements, such as MIL-A-81717C and MIL-D-8708C. (update: the first one should read MIL-A-18717C not MIL-A-81717C as first reported)

When asked how such things could have been missed, Peter suggested they likely weren’t, at least by the engineers, but their concerns would have just as likely been ignored.

He said this should come as no surprise, given the level of stove-piping that had been applied to the F-35 program's engineer community and the dominance of “form over substance” and “a total indifference to what is real” being hallmarks of the program – “Affordability is the cornerstone of the JSF Program” being but one example.

It is highly probable that this design fault could be the last straw for the F-35C. The program will attempt some more rolling tests with a different hook design, but this does not address the problem of the poor location of the tail hook on the airframe.

Other F-35 program problems identified in the QLR Report included the helmet visual cueing which is seriously affected by design issues and airframe buffet in the heart of the combat envelope. Also, all F-35 variants suffer from paper-thin weight margins, unsafe fuel dumping, flight restrictions on diving, speed and proximity to lightning hazards to name a few. And, it can only be flown during the daytime.

An August 2011 DOD F-35 program briefing revealed that the engineers will have to be reorganized because they were not getting access to all the information/data they needed for design nor, it would appear, were organized and structured in an environment that was being properly managed and transparent. This reorganization should complete in 2012.

The program's pilot training program was supposed to start at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in 2011 after previous delays. With the design issues mentioned above, pilot training is effectively grounded due to safety concerns. There is no known date when pilot training can start. This along with the aircraft's engineering defects strongly suggest that it will be a long time until military services see any F-35 variant in a go-to-war configuration.

Related articles:
DOD report — F-35 problems will take years to fix (2011-12-13)
Warning signs to watch with the F-35 program (2011-11-14)
Carrier version of F-35 cleared for production (2007-06-23)
Other F-35 Lightning II News
News archive for January 2012
Posted by Zoo65 on
I am always amazed that we, (the military and the civilians in DoD and in the aerospace industry), fail to learn from past mistakes. Doc's previous comments about the Aardvark (TFX/F-110/F-111) screw up are spot on. Likewise his comment about the no gun F-4.

I am used to the news from the contractor pukes saying only positive things in the media about their products. That's ops normal and to be expected. But the bubbas who are the program managers with the Green ID cards need to keep it real and put the BS stamp on anything and everything that is wrong/off spec/etc as soon as they know it. And I am not talking about leaking classified info to the media. Working within the established chains of command works if you have the balls to tell the various Emperors that their new suit looks like a homeless guy's cast off rags.

I still remember well the USN O-6 who was the AEDO in charge of the A-6 replacement A-12 Avenger program and his lies up the chain that eventually caused the program to be cancelled because it was so far over budget and behind that it was beyond salvaging. Of course I have no doubt that the contractors involved in the that fiasco knew full well that their program was in huge trouble and yet let the lies continue. This USN scholar was on the Flag selectee list and was soon to be promoted before his house of cards came down.

I like trust and verify no matter who is involved. There is too much $$ around to trust anyone in my opinion. History shows us that time and time again.

The big question is since this is not our first time designing a carrier aircraft WTF happened when it came to engineering the hook, supporting structure, etc??? I doubt anyone in the know wants to confess as to how this major mistake happened, but I would put real $$ up and wager that more than one person knew about this for some time.

So the not as stealthy Super Hornet line needs to be kept open for the indefinite future.

Let's not talk about making the hook longer. That's a whole other can of worms similar to the F-8 Crusader screw up that resulted in the mod to lower the fuselage in the landing configuration so the pilot could see the landing area and fly the ball. BTW they did not raise the wing. The wing had to remain at the same AOA to retain the best L/D numbers.
Posted by DuckPerry on
Hey fellow Fighter Jocks...wanna get your 'dander' up?? Read the last few paragraphs of this!!! (I know..we all scoff and shout "Bullshit". BUT...Here's my problem. Look at the PB and where a big portion of the new aircraft budget is allocated...shocking amount to UAVs!)

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How much of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s spiraling cost in recent years can be traced to China’s cybertheft of technology and the subsequent need to reduce the fifth-generation aircraft’s vulnerability to detection and electronic attack?

That is a central question that budget planners are asking, and their queries appear to have validity. Moreover, senior Pentagon and industry officials say other classified weapon programs are suffering from the same problem. Before the intrusions were discovered nearly three years ago, Chinese hackers actually sat in on what were supposed to have been secure, online program-progress conferences, the officials say.

The full extent of the connection is still being assessed, but there is consensus that escalating costs, reduced annual purchases and production stretch-outs are a reflection to some degree of the need for redesign of critical equipment. Examples include specialized communications and antenna arrays for stealth aircraft, as well as significant rewriting of software to protect systems vulnerable to hacking.

It is only recently that U.S. officials have started talking openly about how data losses are driving up the cost of military programs and creating operational vulnerabilities, although claims of a large impact on the Lockheed Martin JSF are drawing mixed responses from senior leaders. All the same, no one is saying there has been no impact.

While claiming ignorance of details about effects on the stealth strike aircraft program, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, says that Internet technology has “led to egregious pilfering of intellectual capital and property. The F-35 was clearly a target,” he confirms. “Clearly the attacks . . . whether from individuals or nation-states are a serious challenge and we need to do something about it.”

The F-35 issue was ducked as well by David Shedd, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but not the impact of cybertheft on defense spending and operational security.

“I am not going to talk about the F-35,” Shedd says. “I’d be sitting with the secretary having a counseling session. The answer is absolutely yes. The leaks have hurt our efforts in that it gives the adversary an advantage in having insights into what we’re doing. It should be clear that whether there are leaks on the technology side or that affect preemptive decision-making, they are very damaging to the intelligence community.”

Those closer to the program are less equivocal about the damage that cyberintrusions are causing the JSF program.

“You are on to something,” says a veteran combat pilot with insight into both the F-35 and the intelligence communities. “There are both operational and schedule problems with the program related to the cyber data thefts. In addition, there are the costs of redressing weaknesses in the original system design and lots of software fixes.”

The subject also was addressed during Pentagon briefings about President Barack Obama’s budget for 2013.
“We are very attentive . . . to cybervulnerabilities in weapon systems, ours and those of others,” says Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “It’s part of the modern world. It’s a highly computerized airplane. Like all our other computer systems, we have to be attentive to it.”

In July 2011, then-Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn pointed out that a foreign intelligence agency had victimized a major defense contractor and extracted 24,000 files concerning a developmental system. That is important because a decision to redesign a compromised system depends on whether the lost information would help the intruder develop similar systems and generate methods of attack and defense. Some U.S. officials have pegged the costs at tens of billions of dollars.

There is some empirical evidence to support this concern. China has made a habit in recent years of regularly rolling out new aircraft designs, including the J-20 stealth prototype strike fighter and a series of new unmanned aircraft that look like U.S. designs such as the Global Hawk and Sensor Craft.

Nonetheless, the Pentagon’s ardor for the strike fighter has not dampened.

“We want the airplane,” Carter declares. “We want all three variants. At the same time, there is the issue of cost and the performance of the program in this difficult time when we are trying to reach full-rate production. That’s still a concern. We’ll ride up that curve to full-rate production when it’s economically and managerially prudent to do it.”

Despite the proclamation of support for the program, the Pentagon is expected to reduce by 179 aircraft the U.S. buy of F-35s through 2017 in the forthcoming fiscal 2013 defense spending request, according to a Reuters report. If approved by Congress, this would dash the hopes of Lockheed Martin to swiftly ramp up production and lower per-unit prices, a goal tied to the company’s campaign to sell the aircraft abroad. The Pentagon’s reasoning for slowing production is to reduce the impact of yet-unknown problems that could still arise from the flight-test program. In addition, the Block II software package is late. It was slated for release to the flight-testing fleet by the end of last year.

An early concern about a possible avenue for hacking into stealth aircraft, the F-35’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), is no longer suspect. It was dropped as an add-on to the F-22 and B-2 that would allow stealth aircraft to communicate without being detected. Program insiders say MADL was scrubbed as a “pure money issue.” MADL was designed for high throughput, frequency-hopping and anti-jamming capabilities with phased-array antenna assemblies that send and receive tightly directed radio signals.

The F-35 program may have been vulnerable because of its lengthy development. Defense analysts note that the JSF’s information system was not designed with cyberespionage, now called advanced persistent threat, in mind. Lockheed Martin officials now admit that subcontractors (6-8 in 2009 alone, according to company officials) were hacked and “totally compromised.” In fact, the stealth fighter program probably has the biggest “attack surface” or points that can be attacked owing to the vast number of international subcontractors.

There also is the issue of unintended consequences. The 2009 hacking was apparently not aimed at the F-35 but rather at a classified program. However, those accidental results were spectacular. Not only could intruders extract data, but they became invisible witnesses to online meetings and technical discussions, say veteran U.S. aerospace industry analysts. After the break-in was discovered, the classified program was halted and not restarted until a completely new, costly and cumbersome security system was in place.

There is another view of what is affecting JSF and why. A former senior staffer for the U.S. Senate contends that the F-35 program’s problems reflect diminishing interest in manned aircraft whose performance is limited primarily by its aircrew.

“I think the biggest issue facing the JSF is that there has been a profound shift in the military’s perception of the value of manned aircraft compared to unmanned aircraft,” he says. “I’ve had long conversations with a Marine Corps forward air controller who has just returned from Afghanistan. He pointed out that an F/A-18 can be kept on call for 15 minutes, but an unmanned Reaper is there for eight hours. The day of the fighter pilot is over. There has been a seismic shift in the military’s value judgment of manned and unmanned aircraft.”

However, that is a disputed analysis.

The JSF and its mission of penetrating integrated air defense systems will not be threatened by unmanned aircraft despite cost issues, says a retired aerospace official who has been involved with the F-35 throughout its life.
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