Saturday, July 04, 2015

Is the Biggest Military Procurement Programme in World History the World's Biggest Ever Con Job?

"Where once mighty American warplanes soared over all others, giving Washington a distinct strategic advantage against any foe, in coming decades the U.S. air arsenal will likely be totally outclassed on a plane-by-plane basis by any country possessing the latest Russian and Chinese models — one of which, ironically, appears to be an improved copy of the JSF … minus all its worst design elements."

As I wrote in an earlier post today, Lockheed's F-35 now stands exposed not as the multi-role fighter the manufacturer and the US Air Force touted it to be but as little more than a super-costly, light attack bomber. This might be a good time to consult with your broker.

The flight test report leaked earlier this week leaves no doubt that the F-35 is no fighter, not of any variety.  It's a bomb truck.  However Lockheed pitched it to its foreign customers as a perfect replacement for their existing multi-role fighters - F-16s, F-18s, Tornadoes and such.  These were warplanes those countries relied upon to do all the essential fighter stuff - air combat, ground support, tactical strike missions and the ability to, at long range and high speeds, intercept and defend their airspace against all intruders.

I don't like to get into, much less launch, conspiracy theories but this report raises a lot of questions.

Did Lockheed and the USAF only just discover that the F-35 can't fight its way out of a paper bag? Why were they so insistent that it was a genuine, multi-role fighter when they had to have known with its speed, payload, range and agility limitations plus the degrading of its stealth cloaking it could never be more than a light attack bomber? Getting to the point, did they deliberately set out to hoodwink America's allies and, if so, were the F-35's boosters in those allied air forces in on it?

This is a 1.5 trillion dollar programme, the biggest in world history. It sounds like the very sort of thing that could make a company resort to some pretty squirrelly things.

I wonder what they're doing to hunt down the snitch who leaked this report? Getting those flight test results into the public domain is really a Snowden-grade effort.

We'll probably have to wait a couple of weeks to see what the political fallout is going to be in those countries that have already signed on to Lockheed's order book. Talk about a political football for the opposition parties in those countries.

Pierre Sprey and Winslow Wheeler stand vindicated. Sprey predicted the US military would never buy more than about 500 F-35's, one-fifth of the announced buy.


If you're not already creeped out by this, watch this incredibly prescient, slightly eerie Australian documentary from early 2013.

After you watch that (and you really should watch it) read this to understand how we've all been had.  If this is right, our national security and that of many of our most important allies has been compromised... entirely for commercial gain.  If you don't think our democracy has been likewise compromised, read the article and give that a second thought.

Every comment is absolutely welcome.  Have at it.


Toby said...

This probably has much to do with corporate lobbying and compliant politicians. There's a lot of money involved and everyone wants some. That the plane is useless doesn't matter to the sleaze crowd.

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby, check out the link to the YouTube video I just added to this post. Watch it then tell me what you think.

Anonymous said...

There are more con jobs concerning military procurement than you can shake a stick at.
The widow maker Starfighter the Thunderchief nicknamed Thud for the sound it made when it hit the ground after being shot down .
Current liabilities include the under performing 'new' C130J, the Airbus A400 , Russia's SU .
All the western built aircraft have one thing in common and that is spreading out the manufacturing to get votes for the political party of the day.
Sadly our mutant media seldom looks beyond the manufacturers hype when discussing such matters.

Steve said...

Lockheed Martin is a market driven company. ITs like a chapter out of catch 22.
I surmise that the F35 is the weapon that will cripple if not destroy the military industrial complex.

Not content with inflating this lead sled into a 5th generation F15, its also touted as the perfect replacement for a really well designed ground support craft the A10. You know why the A10 is not the choice of the US military? Because the US army cant fly fixed wing, so they buy apache helicopters instead.

You can bet if Harper is re elected we will purchase this turkey in large quantities immediatly.

Anonymous said...

CBC's 'fifth estate' also produced a good documentary concerning the 'runaway fighter'.

The Mound of Sound said...

I didn't link the 5th Estate piece because this Australian documentary is far better.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Steve. I agree that the F-35 has the potential to undermine the defences of several of America's allies, especially those for which the F-35 will be their one and only warplane. Hey, that would be Canada!

The F-35 is wrong on so many levels beyond its aeronautical failings. Countries that buy it won't be able to operate it in stealth mode without the supporting electronic warfare aircraft that feed the F-35 with the necessary data to enable it to use only passive sensors. Those aircraft are highly specialized, very expensive and we don't have any nor are we planning to buy any.

The reality is that Canada would have to operate our F-35s in conjunction with the US Air Force which effectively puts them under US control. From the outset I've said this was our ticket to join America's Aerial Foreign Legion. In doing that you delegate, surrender might be the better term, a significant part of your foreign and defence policy to the Americans.

What's that line about how you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle? Seems to fit in this case.

Steve said...

mound Canada used to about the steak not the sizzle and I used to love stea,k

The Mound of Sound said...

This discussion, Steve, made me recall an item I read several years back claiming that the Chinese, having hacked much of the F-35 data from the contractors' computers, were quietly pleased that America and her allies were getting saddled with this warplane for several decades into the future.

One thing that hasn't come up lately is the suggestion China made a few years ago that it had developed an ability to "hack" the F-35 by exploiting its electronic windows that it uses to communicate with its guidance support aircraft. The Chinese claimed that the F-35's dependence on these electronic warfare aircraft afforded them a means to insinuate malicious software directly into the F-35 itself.

The Americans have been working to "harden" the F-35's data ports but it's hard to do that effectively without some idea of what the Chinese actually have in mind.

Toby said...

Mound, I just finished watching that Australian video you posted above. Thanks. It reminded me of an old vision I have of one of these high tech planes spiralling out of control over the Persian Gulf and a computer error message comes up with a manual reference number and an instruction to reboot.

The Mound of Sound said...

What most struck me, Toby, was the explanation of how the military brass in the allied countries were apparently manipulated to take their American counterparts "word for it" that the F-35 was simply great. Then there's this "secret capability" that no one but Lockheed and its insiders know about and presumably the Chinese and everyone else who has hacked into Lockheed's and other contractors' computers. It sounds like a clever ruse to neutralize critics and cover over known failures and shortcomings without having to produce anything.

Toby said...

Mound, the F35 mess is a testament to the power of a well trained and coordinated sales force. Such a sales force is welcome when the product is good but when it is a pig in a poke said sales force can cause mayhem. Sales forces tend to lack integrity.