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F-35 Questons

Posted by Jolly on October 15, 2015


There's a ton of questions about the F-35.  Those flying the F-35 say it's the answer to replacing airplanes like the Viper, Hog, and Hornet.  Those trying to keep the program funded defend it for obvious reasons.  Those of us old school fighter jocks just say WTFO?  You're going to replace the Viper and the Hornet with a single engine jet that looks more like an A-7 on steroids than a sexy fighter.  

Pilots flying the jet say "trying convince old school fighter pilots we need the F-35 is like trying to convince Korean War F-86 drivers we needed the Eagle and Viper back in the 70s."  I get that argument, we are not there for all the behind the green door briefings on what this airplane can really do when the hand cuffs are off.  But, just looking at the argument as an old codger fighter pilot -- is a single engine, kinda slow, not so nimble jet with a $400K helmet to make it all work really the answer to solving our aging fighter force?  Maybe someone in the know can answer that question.  Rant over.  

Side Note -  Read my comment below.  After discussing some of this over a beer with a pilot involved in the program I had to retract my comment about having no legs.  The jet has great legs, carries a boat load of gas, and only burns it on one motor.  Also, the not so fast comment may be misleading.  His point was that once you start hanging stores on a Viper/Hornet/Eagle the top end speeds are pretty close.  A clean 4th Gen fast mover will kick it's ass, but the only time your jet's clean is when you're bugging out of the fight tyring to get the hell out of dodge.  His other point was, like it or not this is the chick we brought to the dance and we are stuck with her.  All valid points in my opinion.  

Just to throw some gasoline on the already burning fire, here's a video from Afterburner on the topic: 


Posted by Doc on
Spot on.
Posted by leighv on
Is just because I'm so damn old or is it realistic to say, "REMEMBER McNAMARA AND THE TFX(aka F-111)."
Posted by BearPilot on
How about:
"In the context of Modern Aerial Warfare, the idea of a fighter being equipped with a GUN is as archaic as warfare with bow and arrow."
Robert S. McNamara, SecDef, 4 June 1964
Posted by dleatham on
Seems like we are just replacing the F-16 with a newer more expensive lawn dart.

Cheers, Lefty
Posted by coyotecarr on
Nice comments above and how true.

With the F-111; it turned out to be a fairly good aircraft, as reported from an F-111 pilot friend. True, but after alot of $$$ and a limit to it initial mission statement; now ground attack at night only and not the all around strike fighter McNamara wanted.

IRT the F-35. Recent briefing at MCAS Miramar about the aircraft. Former AV8 and F-35 pilot said that there were issues with the aircraft and that USMC might be wise to stay with another aircraft(F18?). Some in the audience suggested A-10's for the USMC if the AF wants to dump them.
Posted by Plug on
I believe it is difficult to compare new to what's been. Few people have the experience of both and without revolutionary changes, the hopefully incremental improvements will make the F-37??? Or whatever a better craft. Problem now is that cost goes up exponentially so it's difficult to justify increments of 'better'. Maybe the idea of still having a driver beats the notion of a world full of drones. How do drone operators celebrate? Sip a no lactose milk?
Posted by N743KS on
I was in the Pentagon when the One-Engine/Hole vs. Two-Engine/Hole was raging over the F-15 and F-16. We know what eventually happened with both but it was the bureaucrats who prevailed in the first round...and eventually were proven wrong(mostly). Also, don't forget how we in the fighter community pooh-poohed the A-10 at first....It is and remains UGLY but has truly proven itself over time. As ugly as it is, we need to give the F-35 some time to either prove itself or.....otherwise!
Posted by Plug on
A great decision was made in the 70's for the USMC to stay away from the Tomcat. That decision could have led to no fixed wing craft in the Corps.

USMC aircraft must be carrier capable, so the A-10, while a fine airplane does not meet that need.

A short 111 story. On a x-country stopping at Holloman (sp?.) we had 2 Phantoms with 2 FNG's. I went to ops to file the next leg and told them the USAF was serious about security when they expressed an interest in looking at a pair of 111's parked with a security rope around them.

I came out of ops to find the lads face down on the Tarmac with security people aiming rifles at them. I guess they ignored the roped off area. As usual, we promised to never return to that AF base and keep our 'greasy Marine F-4's' away. I guess some sort of incident report was filed but they let us leave. Probably wouldn't have known what to do with us if they did not let us leave.

A better story was when the base ops officer started screaming at my pilot in Korea: went something like I want your CO's name, to which he got the response: I am the CO! They screamed at each other for 20 minutes and all was well. Geesh, I miss those days.
Posted by fredbuck on
The F-35 does not have the 30 mm Gatling type gun, but the A-10 does have it!!!! The army needs this gun to stop tanks!!! The highly paid thinkers in our Government don't like the A-10 because it is so slow!! If the Air Force doesn't want the airplane, then give it to the Army, like they did the A-37!!!! I am suspicious that these thinkers just want to spend the money somewhere else, and don't care about the Grunts that have to face enemy tanks!!!!
Posted by messkit on
question: use a sled with a 400K helmet to take out a Toyota pickup?
sounds like using a 111 on a $9.00 hootch
Posted by Panthers on
Have you ever seen an F-111 turn right? The F-35 hassle with an F-16 was what you would expect. No contest! Tha A-10 should not be shelved! $18,000,000 vs 100s of millions for the the F-35 boondoggle. Too sophisticated, limited range, single engine and short loiter time. The A-10 production line should be fired up again! I believe there are 300 remaining with one active squadron deployed.
Posted by wroberts1956 on
The F-16 was the "safest SINGLE engine" fighter ever produced, or so the story goes, but for one 10-year period, we lost 25/year for engine failure and pilot error. At $25 million a copy ($16 million figure was B*!!%&9$), that's over $5 Billion in capital assets...the F-35 at what, $100 million a copy, WHEN the engine quits, will be far more expensive to lose...and the way we buy things these days, the program will be cut way back, the price will go up and we'll need to reopen the Viper/Hornet lines...hope it pans out. The Viper is supposed to be dual role, but everyone knows that's not what it really does (nor does the F-15E), so whether the F-35 can beat the Viper in a BFM engagement is really no valid test. In, drop, out, without or minimal detection with precision, that'll work. As a replacement for the A-10? Commanders will not risk it. Really? $100,000,000 for a tank buster...don't think so.
Posted by SupGen on
The TFX is the PERFECT metaphor for the F-35...yeah, the F-111 turned out to be an excellent low-level penetration bomber; what no one has mentioned is the fact that it was originally intended to be all things to all services; the F-111B was supposed to serve as the Navys Carrier Based Long Ranged Interceptor/Fleet Defence Fighter, a role it was totally unsuitable for. Is this ringin' any bells? Because of the Marines V/STOL requirement for a Lift Fan the Air Force and Navy are stuck with a fat, slow, short-ranged POS. A less (much less) gold plated version of this thing would probably be perfect for the Marine Corps mission; the Air Force and Navy, not so much. The Marines were right to stay away from the Tomcat as it was completely unsuitable for their mission; it was, however the pre-eminent Long Range Interceptor of its time and, as such, perfect for the Navys Fleet Defence role. The fact that it was sent to the crusher in 2006 is just a reason Dick Cheney should stay in hiding. The failure theme between the F-111 and the F-35 is ONE PLANE FOR ALL MISSIONS. You guys know better than anyone that "That shit jus' don't work!" Rant over.
Posted by surfisher on
Single engine? Not so nimble? No legs?

Sounds like a souped up Thud to me.
Posted by Plug on
This reminds me of the thick crust, think crust debate over pizza. Some people like thick, some thin. So the PC cook says I will make medium crust and please everyone. In the end, nobody likes the end product and nobody eats p Izard any more.
Posted by Plug on
...nobody ends up eating pizza any more....
Posted by Robo on
I really hate the Boyd argument, referenced in the video.

Boyd hated the F-15, and proposed a version that had a top speed of Mach 1.6, max 5 1/2G turn, and no radar. The F-16 (medium-ranged, high-tech multi-role fighter-bomber) we have today isn't even close to his vision (which was to be a short ranged, low-tech, air-to-air aircraft).
Posted by Steely on
In 1979 when this young lad went through AOCS, the briefing for the tacair community was F/A-18, F/A-18, F/A-18.. replacing the F-4 and the A-7. Due to a crappy personality for "crew-concept" BS, the TRACOM made me a SLUF driver. First airwing composition on the Coral Sea had classic 'Nam make-up- Phantoms, Corsairs, Intruders,E-2s, EA-6s, H-2s.. Second cruise on the Carl Vinson, the F-4s were gone and F-14s took their place and with the big deck, we had an A-3 det in support. We often flew against USAF 16's and 15s at Red Flags or in other exercises. And we got a chance or two to mess around with a few MIGs. So that gave us some perspective on the "hinge" era Some 6 years later... the Navy FINALLY accepted the Hornet, but thanks to some stalwart gunslingers in the test program, VX-4 and VX-5, we at least knew we were getting a short-legged, poorly software programmed, gun-totin' badass that had survivability and maintainability really prioritized. Still, we lost too many buds even though we knew what we were getting. For a while, I had the pleasure of flying both the A-7 and the FA18 (sometimes one in the am and the other in the pm) and then on my last cruise we were on an "all FA-18" airwing back aboard the damn Coral Sea. That airwing had two USN FA-18 squadrons and two USMC Hornet squadrons along with A-6s, EA-6s, E-2s and Helos. TOday, we've got the F-18 doing EVERYTHING and maybe too much, but the aircraft has matured, as has its tech and we have a LOT of 'em. Nowadays, we're seeing China and Russia beginning to put up pretty fair aircraft, and its time to look forward. SO here's the deal - two of everything are better than one, especially engines(as long as its the correct engine for the airframe - F14 lessons learned), survivability means you can get your ass back to the boat, nothing beats a helo for ground hugging ability but the A-7 is way more comfortable in the weeds then the Hornet (but why go there?)and if there are ZSU-thingies in the way send in the A-10s first please, if China or Russia start launching OTH cruise missiles at the fleet we're going to wish we had the AWG-9/Phoenix back. The F-35 has neither two of everything,nor any legs (so we're back to the early Hornet lessons again), not sure about its survivability design features, and it damn sure ain't got a gun. If we go up against a hoard of 4th and 5th gen China and Russian threats, we're going to need a lot of well-tested, survivable killing machines flown by sharp brained, steely-eyed tough sumbitches. We won't win with a few expensive toys flown by former video gamers, no matter how great the technology.
Posted by Jolly on
Probably the best post I've ever seen on FU! Thanks! Then again, I was always told that Carlsberg was probably the best beer in the world.

Check Six
Posted by Plug on
The comments on the cruise missile threat made me recall and scratch my foggy memory. I guess the Russians are tossing cruise missiles into Syria but with limited success. I would suspect aside from any of the political ramifications they are testing their assets and doing some debugging. In the late 70's I attended the Navy's Topscope training and got a pretty good look at our assessment of their cruise missile capability at that point in history.

From what they had in their inventory and intentions, it ought to be pretty scary for any Naval or even land targets if (when?) they fine tune their systems. We're generations past what I had seen and that was pretty impressive, even if they were not reliable.

Maybe the newest carriers are supposed to defend themselves with the attending support ships but personally I'd feel a lot safer with a capable interceptor a few hundred miles out.

Just seems like the recurring theme of a one-size-fits-none concept will never go away.
Posted by Jolly on
I had a beer with a pilot involved in the F-35 program and made some changes above (primarily the "has no legs" comment). Apparently the jet has really good legs. carries a ton of gas and only burns it on one motor. So that was good to hear. The "No So Fast" coment he took issue with too. His point was a Clean Viper or Eagle are faster, and the Raptor is faster for sure -- But, once you start hanging crap on any airplane the speeds are very close on the top end.
The other point he made which I agree with is that like it or not this is the future, there are some things that are not so good about the F-35 (Cost, CAS mission support, payload, manueverability) that are valid concerns. It has some very cool toys, but what will we have to sacrafice to build up a decent fleet of strike fighters? Building updated 4.5 Generation F-16s, F-18s, and F-15s are probably better options giving us more iron for the dollars. However, this train has left the station and getting the powers at be to see that is a pipe dream. Bottom line, I think we will have to stick with the Fat Chick we brought to the dance. Rant Over.
Posted by flashkb on
To me the F35 reminds me of the old Vietnam era F105 Thunderchief, a big heavy single engine "strike fighter". But the Thud was a tactical nuclear strike aircraft. I don't see F16 or F15 being all replaced by the F35.
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