Discussion on canning the F-35 for the US Air Force

y_p_w

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What concerns me about the F35 is this. Should the Russians or Chinese suddenly develop a tracking system that makes stealth redundant, what are we left with? In the case of the F22 it would still be the premier air defence fighter in the world. I am not really sure what the F35 would do any better than the latest fourth generation aircraft.

There's been talk about that for decades. I used to be skeptical about stealth capabilities, but it's been proven to work. It's not impossible to locate an aircraft, but the general idea is to make it very difficult. It's always possible to track something visually or based on its heat. However, isn't the major of air combat these days based on radar guided missiles? When you've got something with that little a radar signature, what happens if a missile loses track?

The other thing about the F-35 is the advanced electronics. I think they call it "data/sensor fusion", where it doesn't have to be a self-contained. It's supposed to be able to direct weapons from other assets that are airborne or on the surface.
 

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Keep in mind that fighters like the F-22 are constantly being upgraded too. F-22 also has "data/sensor fusion" technology.
 
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There's been talk about that for decades. I used to be skeptical about stealth capabilities, but it's been proven to work. It's not impossible to locate an aircraft, but the general idea is to make it very difficult. It's always possible to track something visually or based on its heat. However, isn't the major of air combat these days based on radar guided missiles? When you've got something with that little a radar signature, what happens if a missile loses track?

The other thing about the F-35 is the advanced electronics. I think they call it "data/sensor fusion", where it doesn't have to be a self-contained. It's supposed to be able to direct weapons from other assets that are airborne or on the surface.

There's not much air combat going on these days, and if there is it's with a big power discrepancy. I doubt there's much happening where both sides have 4th generation fighters or above.

However, when stealth meets stealth in battle, ranges will shrink and possibly to within visual. I don't think that's advantageous for the F-35.
 
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Hi.
It has been mentioned before but military planners must always work toward a worst case scenario. That being a conflict with Russia or China. Like the old saying goes 'better to have it and not need it'.......etc.

Like i said earlier, the designers should have set out to make it the very best aircraft in the world regardless of stealth. That is what the F22 is and given the money spent on the F35 is that such a ridiculous ask?

I really hope the F35 is the world beater it is alleged to be. I have read figures of 15 to 1 kill ratios at 'red flag'. Are these genuine or designed to make the F35 look good?

Do your stealth aircraft need a better long range missile? By their very nature, they will always prefer beyond visual range engegements, but yet AIM-120 has only a 63.15% kill probability ( Wiki ). I note that RAF and RN F-35 will use the new Meteor missile.

It could well be that the Israelis find out first just how good the F35 is in any future conflict with Iran.
 
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I don't think it's in anyones interest to show the F-35 as bad... So the exercises will be set up to reflect that.

When there's a replacement on the horizon or a major upgrade package the kill ratios will likely drop and complaints surface.
 
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My argument would be that on overall military capability, there are countries "near peer" with the US, but when it comes to stealth fighters, there is no other country that approaches the US capability. The Chinese seem to be the most advanced, and I do not believe their latest and greatest low observable fighter would even be called "stealth" in the US. Whether the US stealth capability is worth the high initial and maintenance cost is another discussion.

I personally would not use the term "only" with a missile that (using wiki Pk numbers cited) achieved a kill ratio of 63.15%. In operational terms, that is exceedingly high.

Red Flag numbers will be skewed by the rules of engagement in place for the exercise, but I don't think they are designed to make the F35 look good. As mentioned before, the program is too big to fail, and, unlike the F22, it doesn't have to succeed before mass numbers are purchased. There is literally no reason the Air Force has to inflate the capability of the program.
 

y_p_w

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My argument would be that on overall military capability, there are countries "near peer" with the US, but when it comes to stealth fighters, there is no other country that approaches the US capability. The Chinese seem to be the most advanced, and I do not believe their latest and greatest low observable fighter would even be called "stealth" in the US. Whether the US stealth capability is worth the high initial and maintenance cost is another discussion.

I personally would not use the term "only" with a missile that (using wiki Pk numbers cited) achieved a kill ratio of 63.15%. In operational terms, that is exceedingly high.

Red Flag numbers will be skewed by the rules of engagement in place for the exercise, but I don't think they are designed to make the F35 look good. As mentioned before, the program is too big to fail, and, unlike the F22, it doesn't have to succeed before mass numbers are purchased. There is literally no reason the Air Force has to inflate the capability of the program.

Nobody really knows that much about the J-20, and at this point they don't even have the engines that they hoped that they would have. However, it's assumed to be an interceptor and not really a fighter. The canards are certainly not a good thing for low observability. I'm pretty sure that in China they'd do anything for access to an F119 or F135 engine. Heck - they'd probably be OK with a YF120 or F136.
 

y_p_w

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There's not much air combat going on these days, and if there is it's with a big power discrepancy. I doubt there's much happening where both sides have 4th generation fighters or above.

However, when stealth meets stealth in battle, ranges will shrink and possibly to within visual. I don't think that's advantageous for the F-35.

Part of the concern here is that so many seem to think that what they saw from Top Gun is how one aircraft shoots down another. The primarily pilot who flew F-14s for the movie said that the scenes were filmed too closely, and in a ACM fight they'd probably be a half mile further away. However, it would be hard to see on screen when one aircraft is a dot while the other is up close and personal.

Also - the idea that one pilot has to be on the six of the other like old gun combat is way outdated.
 
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the target would have to be somewhere where the radar can see it for radar guided missiles, so that would be somewhere in front of the plane as the radar is nose mounted (both for the aircraft and the missiles). For IR missiles, with helmet mounted targeting the target needs to be where the pilot can see it, or at least turn his head in it's direction. In front and above (relative to the x-axis of the targeting plane) would be preferable. So behind and below is the most advantageous position, and if you want or need to go for a gun kill it's easiest to pull the nose up and roll for the necessary lead.
 

y_p_w

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the target would have to be somewhere where the radar can see it for radar guided missiles, so that would be somewhere in front of the plane as the radar is nose mounted (both for the aircraft and the missiles). For IR missiles, with helmet mounted targeting the target needs to be where the pilot can see it, or at least turn his head in it's direction. In front and above (relative to the x-axis of the targeting plane) would be preferable. So behind and below is the most advantageous position, and if you want or need to go for a gun kill it's easiest to pull the nose up and roll for the necessary lead.

I'm just getting to the common misconception that modern air combat is about getting really close to an opponent and firing a missile from behind the target. Even a Sidewinder has a range of at least 15 miles. I hear the modern version can't even be used at distances less than a mile because it has a safety mechanism that won't arm for a few seconds.

AIM-9M_Formatted.pdf


This has some video of "dogfighting" from Desert Storm. Mostly locking onto a little blip on a radar screen and firing from a few miles away. Or maybe a bit over a mile away. It shows one aircraft dispensing flares to try to evade a missile.

 
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Nobody really knows that much about the J-20, and at this point they don't even have the engines that they hoped that they would have. However, it's assumed to be an interceptor and not really a fighter. The canards are certainly not a good thing for low observability. I'm pretty sure that in China they'd do anything for access to an F119 or F135 engine. Heck - they'd probably be OK with a YF120 or F136.
There is much more to this than just performance. Russians always show their airplanes as latest technological marvel with excellent maneuverability etc. In reality, frames cannot sustain nowhere near hrs. as Western aircrafts, logistics is a nightmare, procurement of spare parts is nightmare etc. So, after Chinese make whatever they want to make, and make propaganda movie, we still do not know in reality, on every day basis, how that works.
 

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Congress Could Buy Fewer 'Fiasco' F-35 Fighters​


Kyle Mizokami
Wed, March 24, 2021, 12:15 PM


From Popular Mechanics
  • A ranking member on a Congressional subcommittee referred to the F-35 as a “fiasco” and warned the new Congress would put a stop to the jet’s high costs.
  • Although the price of the F-35 is falling, the cost to fly the plane is still high, and there are further looming costs of updating older jets.
  • The criticism comes just a few weeks after the head of the Armed Services committee called the jet a “rathole.”
A key Congressman recently called the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program a “fiasco” and warned high costs associated with the plane would come to an end.

✈ You love badass planes. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

In a hearing last week, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee, singled out the “huge problem” with the F-35: “We buy more planes [but] we’re not able to maintain the older ones, so the more we buy, the worse the overall performance has been. That is going to stop.”

Garamendi is hardly the first Congressman to criticize the F-35 program. Earlier this month, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the new head of the House Armed Services Committee, called the F-35 a “rathole.” Smith suggested the Pentagon should “cut its losses” and invest in a range of jets.
The U.S. Air Force plans to buy 1,763 F-35s and the Navy and Air Force will buy 693 of the planes, for a total of 2,456 aircraft.
Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images

Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images
It isn’t clear which cost problem Garamendi was talking about. The F-35 is actually growing cheaper to buy, with unit costs falling as the Pentagon and allies buy more planes, and contractor Lockheed Martin makes the manufacturing process more efficient. Garamendi may have been referencing the operating costs, as the F-35 currently costs $35,000 per hour to fly (recently down from $44,000), compared to $27,000 per hour for other jets.
Cost per hour adds up fast. Let’s assume a single 24-jet F-35 squadron includes 24 pilots. (The actual number of pilots is typically higher, but varies from unit to unit.) The Air Force, as one example, wants each pilot to have a minimum of 200 hours of flight time a year. At $35,000 a year, it costs $168 million for 24 pilots to get their annual flight hours. A F-15 squadron, on the other hand, would cost $129 million. A pilot with 1,000 hours in the cockpit, or 5 years of steady flying, would cost $35 million alone.
Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images

Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images
Furthermore, the costs scale up. The Air Force could afford to fly 26 squadrons of cheaper planes for the same price as 20 squadrons of F-35s.
The Air Force desperately needs the cost per flight hour of the F-35 to come down. The goal is to arrive at $25,000 per hour by 2025, but the service has already warned that may not be possible.

➡ The Most Fun RC Planes​

Garamendi might have also been alluding to the cost of upgrading older F-35s to keep them flying. In the 2000s, the Pentagon decided to begin low-rate production of the F-35 before the aircraft was complete. Under a concept known as concurrency, Lockheed Martin started producing planes prior to the design being finalized in order to get them into the hands of pilots faster. That’s the good news.
The bad news? There are hundreds of older F-35s out there—nearly $40 billion worth of planes—that will require upgrades to get them to the latest standard. The cost to upgrade the planes is a cool $12.1 billion.
Photo credit: JACK GUEZ - Getty Images

Photo credit: JACK GUEZ - Getty Images
Congress has two alternatives. The first option: It could commit to canceling the F-35, replacing it with upgraded older jets like the F-16V, F/A-18E/F Block III, and F-15EX, and even a quickly developed, sub-fifth generation fighter like the F-36 Kingsnake.
But that wouldn’t do anything to make existing F-35s cheaper to fly, and would likely make America’s allies who have bought the planes, including the U.K., Japan, South Korea, Italy, and others, very mad at being left with a dead-end jet.
The other alternative is to wait and see if Lockheed Martin can get the cost per flight hour down to $25,000 by 2025. The head of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command has already expressed some skepticism that this will happen, but realistically, the lack of a real Plan B means even $29,000 per hour by 2025 would probably allow the F-35 to survive—though not without a barrage of criticism.
 
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Hi
It looks like the UK will only be buying half of the original planned purchase of 138 F35-B.


I am not sure how many will be needed to fully equip our two new carriers.

Also UK is to lose 24 Typhoons and all its Hercules fleet. God forbid if we ever needed to retake the Falklands again.
 

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Hi
It looks like the UK will only be buying half of the original planned purchase of 138 F35-B.


I am not sure how many will be needed to fully equip our two new carriers.

Also UK is to lose 24 Typhoons and all its Hercules fleet. God forbid if we ever needed to retake the Falklands again.

The UK lost the ability to retake the Falklands the year after that war, with the retirement of carriers, and the downsizing of the Vulcan and tanker fleets.

So, it’s been nearly four decades since the UK had a credible, deployable, power projection capability.

The reason that Parliament and the MOD pressed for the funding and building of two carriers was to regain that capability. They knew it didn’t exist, and the Quadrennial Defence White Papers acknowledged that capability shortfall.

Those ships do need the warplanes for the flight deck, and no, the RAF Harrier GR.9 will not do well enough in a modern conflict to be considered credible capability.
 
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Hi Astro.
I always appreciate your input.

GR9 is no longer an option anyway as we no longer have any in service. USMC bought them all if i remember correctly.

Do you think the Vulcan really had a significant tactical role in retaking the Falklands? I always looked on it as the RAF desperately wanting to get in on the action on what was a RN dominated war. Wonderful logistics involved in getting them there and back though. Today it would be cruise missiles launched from submarines.

We have four RAF Typhoons permanently stationed on Falklands. I am not sure just how well four will cope in the event of an attack until more arrived from UK. Let's hope we never find out. Fortunately Argentina is no longer a Right Wing Dictatorship and is unlikely to try.

How many F35-B do you think that a ship such as HMS Queen Elizabeth needs on it's decks to be a fully functioning and credible force.
 

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Didn’t realize the GR.9 was out of service....

I would say you need 30 airplanes to be credible, plus EW and SAR, both provided by your Sea Kings, IIRC.

There was a great deal of discussion on this topic during my time at your joint service command and staff college in Shrivenham. We studied the Falklands war in particular, examining The disposition of forces, tactical capability, operational planning, logistics, and debating the centers of gravity for both forces.

The entire architecture of your new carriers was based on the ability to put war planes on the flight deck. A decision was made over 15 years ago to go with a ski jump/STOVL layout. There were good arguments for a catapult configuration, because the aircraft would then be higher performance* than STOVL.

But the all-electric architecture of the QE class carrier meant that a catapult configuration was dependent on the development timeline of the electromagnetic catapult project of the US Navy.

Going with the ski jump minimized that risk, at the cost of less-capable aircraft.

Further, going with the ski jump also allowed the Royal Navy to use RAF harriers to equip their capital ships, if the F 35B development was significantly delayed. This was another risk mitigation strategy.

Because their procurement was such a significant portion of the MOD budget, the Royal Navy carriers were always under intense political, and inter-service, scrutiny and pressure.

Actually getting the ships in the fleet, the survival of the program itself, was more important than the performance of the ships in service.

So, ski jump and STOVL.

Back to the Falklands, without an aircraft carrier, there would be no way for the Royal Navy, or the RAF, to mount any kind of operation as far away as the Falklands. Even if you pressed ocean liners into service as troop carriers, as was done in the Falklands conflict, there would be no way to protect them, they would have no air cover. There would be no close air support for troops on the ground in the Falklands, even if their ships survived the journey against Argentine defenses.

It was not at all clear, at the beginning of the conflict, who was going to be victorious. The HMS Sheffield made that clear. Ultimately, the carriers were the Center of gravity for the British effort. Without them, nothing else was possible. But it is important to note that the attack submarines of the Royal Navy were a critical enabling capability, as they were able to contain the Argentine Navy and prevent a surface threat to the British fleet. Thereby limiting the threat to long range tactical aircraft strikes flown from the Argentine mainland. The British superiority in air command and control, allow them to defend against the threat, despite being hamstrung by the short range, poor endurance, modest loadout, and lack of decent air to air capability in the Royal Navy Harriers.

Once the Royal Navy retired their aircraft carriers, the ability to conduct such operations as they did in the Falklands retired with them.

It is great to see the Royal Navy return to the world stage as a major player.


*The F-35C of the USN has more payload, fuel, range, and better turn performance than the F-35B of the USMC/RN. The ducted lift fan is heavy, and takes up room internally, degrading aircraft performance. In fact, some have argued that the USAF should be getting the F-35C as the carrier airplane has a lower wing loading, and more fuel, giving it better performance in endurance, range and payload than the F-35A of the USAF. The F-35A is a 9G airframe. That’s cool for the first turn in a fight, but the smaller wing that allows the higher stress limit on the airframe is a liability in all other performance aspects.
 
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Hi Astro14.
Thank you for the above. Really interesting.

The Harrier has been out of service for 10 years now. The USMC got a great deal on 72 of them and paid $180 million including spare parts.

Would you believe we only have 2 types of combat aircraft now? Typhoon and F35.

Royal Navy has a new AEW system to replace Sea King. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-new...ter-enters-service-ahead-of-cgs21-deployment/

Can this be as effective as a fixed wing system?

I have no idea what will be used for electronic warfare. We have no equivelent of the Growler. Maybe they are just relying on F35-B stealth capability?

So 30 F-35B to be a credible number for a QE Class carrier. So we need a minimum of 60 for the 2. This does not include any RAF requirements or training aircraft or spares. This just tells me that we will never be able to put 2 fully equiped carriers to sea at the same time.

In any future conflict with a Peer adversory, will the Carrier still be a viable weapon system? The new hypersonic cruise missiles being developed by Russia and China are quite worrying.
 
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Hi Astro14.
Thank you for the above. Really interesting.

The Harrier has been out of service for 10 years now. The USMC got a great deal on 72 of them and paid $180 million including spare parts.

Would you believe we only have 2 types of combat aircraft now? Typhoon and F35.

Royal Navy has a new AEW system to replace Sea King. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-new...ter-enters-service-ahead-of-cgs21-deployment/

Can this be as effective as a fixed wing system?

I have no idea what will be used for electronic warfare. We have no equivelent of the Growler. Maybe they are just relying on F35-B stealth capability?

So 30 F-35B to be a credible number for a QE Class carrier. So we need a minimum of 60 for the 2. This does not include any RAF requirements or training aircraft or spares. This just tells me that we will never be able to put 2 fully equiped carriers to sea at the same time.

In any future conflict with a Peer adversory, will the Carrier still be a viable weapon system? The new hypersonic cruise missiles being developed by Russia and China are quite worrying.
A lot of that depends on politics. As Astro14 noted, bcs. MOD budget, these are things under watchful eye of the public. Bcs. Brexit, a lot depends how British economy does.
 
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A lot of that depends on politics. As Astro14 noted, bcs. MOD budget, these are things under watchful eye of the public. Bcs. Brexit, a lot depends how British economy does.

Hi.
We are a free nation once more. We will prosper. The EU will do it's hardest to make sure we do not though. They want to see the UK fail as a warning to any other nation that would dare consider leaving.
I do not want to incur the wrath of the moderators as this is political so that is all i will say.
 
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Hi.
We are a free nation once more. We will prosper. The EU will do it's hardest to make sure we do not though. They want to see the UK fail as a warning to any other nation that would dare consider leaving.
I do not want to incur the wrath of the moderators as this is political so that is all i will say.
Get off that conspiracy theory horse. Business is business. People make money on both sides. However, UK is a fairly small market compared to the EU, and it will have an effect on the UK economy, same as COVID-19 will. So do not get surprised if MOD sees big cuts.
 
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