|One of These Is a Fighter. Your Guess.|
Imagine what would happen if you showed up for your first day of work at a new job with no pants. That, in a way, is the story of the Lockheed F-35.
Perhaps to keep antsy foreign customers in line, the US military set 2015 as the service entry date for the overdue, over budget and under-performing light strike bomber. It's now known that this aerial boondoggle won't be showing up ready for work. The software needed to operate its 4-barrel gun won't even be finished until 2019. And the F-35 will only be able to carry a paltry 180-rounds of ammunition anyway. A quick squirt, maybe two, and you're done.
Pierre Sprey, a founding member of America's "Fighter Mafia" that drove the development of high-performance, low-cost warplanes like the F-16 and A-10, believes the F-35 has enough political muscle to survive - but not for long.
The F-35 is in serious trouble, the latest is over the gun system. It is being reported that is due to a computer glitch – that is a severe understatement.
What it is really due to is two things: one, the disaster of ridiculously over-complex computer software system; and two, the fact that the gun itself is mainly for the purpose of close support and close in the air combat and the air force does not think that either of those are important....But it is not that it is a glitch that has suddenly arrived and said, “Oh, we were going to have a gun, we won't have one till 2019” – they never even planned to have software to have the gun work until 2019.
And they are so far behind schedule, it is amazing. Since the beginning of the software engineering every year they've been losing six months of schedule. So they are supposed to advance a year – every year they lose six more months.
So when they promise 2019 for the fourth version of this software that might be able to shoot the gun, it is very likely that it will be another year or two later than that. This is a promise simply based on the current schedule which they’ve never held.
...So far they are spending as much effort on public relations to try to smooth the overall problems they’ve been having in actually engineering and designing the airplane. So unless there is some terrific series of crashes, I think, for the meanwhile, there is no chance that they will cancel the program.
I do predict that they will have that much trouble within the next few years, and that we will never see them build more than 500 of these airplanes. That the airplane will become technically such an embarrassment that they'll pretend they did not really need it anyhow, and that “it’s alright we have a better idea, we are working on a new airplane and forget about the F-35.”
That is exactly what they did with the F-111, which was equally a huge technical embarrassment and all the sudden the airplane wasn’t that necessary and instead of building 1,500 we only built 500. I think that is the scenario you will see for the F-35. Out of embarrassment in the next five years, they'll simply walk away from it.Which ever party forms the next government, it's vital to Canada to walk away from this aerial turkey. Locking our forces into this could be disastrous for decades to come. The Americans are big enough that they can just ditch it and move on to the next plane. We can't afford that. We're going to have to live with it for very long time.
And then there's James Fallows "heads up" piece from The Atlantic.