Friday, April 29, 2016

The World's First "Buy Before You Fly" Warplane Explained

It's customary when a country buys an ultra-expensive bit of aerial kit to get all the contenders for the contract to bring their warplanes to one place for a competitive fly-off. They go head to head in exercises to determine just how well they perform and hold up in a full range of mission scenarios - air defence, air superiority, tactical strike, ground support, precision bombing, patrol, the whole deal. Each contender is graded on each category. Points are also given for the reliability of the aircraft, how much time it takes to turn it around, how many missions it manages to fly each day over the length of the exercise.

The world's costliest and most controversial light bomber is the only warplane that doesn't "do" competitive fly-offs. That's because it does a few things somewhat better than the others but far more things considerably worse.

Just getting airborne is one of those things that the F-35 doesn't do terribly well. At a recent mock deployment of six of the Lightning II warplanes at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho only one was able to boot up its software on a readiness exercise. One out of six was able to answer the bell. That's 600-million dollars (USD) of warplanes to get just one F-35 into the air.

“The Air Force attempted two alert launch procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but only one of the six aircraft was able to complete the alert launch sequence and successfully takeoff,” Gilmore wrote. “Problems during startup that required system or aircraft shutdowns and restarts – a symptom of immature systems and software–prevented the other alert launches from being completed.”

Perhaps more troublesome for the F-35 program, overall, is the fact that software stability seems to be getting worse. U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs loaded with an earlier version of the software are reportedly the most stable, enjoying up to eight hours between “software stability events,” military lingo for glitches in one of the aircraft’s computer programs. The Marine Corps has already declared its F-35s combat ready, though Gilmore acknowledged that in real-world combat the F-35B would require assistance acquiring targets and avoiding threats.

So, if the Americans can't get the damned things to work at home, what are the chances they'll allow the F-35 to be put to the test abroad for "small order" customers such as Canada? There are some things you just don't do in public. Testing the F-35 is one.

But these are glitches and, of course, the manufacturer and the US military have for years been assuring everyone that they'll all be sorted out in due course only they've been saying this for years and still, today, here we are with more of the same old, same old.

And let's remember, the F-35 is getting old. Its design is closing in on 20-years. The programme itself began in 1994. The Lockheed prototype was selected for production in 2001. Even today there's no expectation that flight testing will be completed before 2019.

Meanwhile the adversaries that the F-35 could conceivably be needed to attack have looked at America's 20-year old idea and figured out ways to counter it, including with stealth warplanes of their own design.

John Ivison may still sing the praises of the F-35 but, then again, he writes for the National Post which means his credibility is genetically impaired.


Anonymous said...

The F35 is nothing more than a make work project.
The next , survivable , war will be fought with computers.
Any escalation of that will be the end game!


Boris said...

I saw this and thought 'well, good luck getting it started at an Arctic FOB at 40 below for a Russian intercept'. And we're still waiting for the government to sort out what it wants in a new fighter...!

the salamander said...

.. Memo to 'public servants' .. Canada calling .. answer the telephone .. !
Oh.. if you're too busy getting whipped or learning your 'talking points' you are f'd up losers n failures.. frauds

- JOB # 1 - Ensure Canada's coastlnes are patrolled, defended .. Search & Rescue locked n loaded.. n fully funded
- JOB # 2 - Ensure Inland Waters get same level of excellence.. ie rivers lakes wetlands & all inter-related species
- JOB # 3 - Canada IS an environment Canadians live in - Get it? Protect our environment, species n habitat
- JOB # 4 - Embark on military adventurism only after consulting Canadians ie NEVER EVER ?.
- JOB # 5 - You work for us.. not Israel or US of A .. or Big Energy or mining interests or BigBank thuggies


An F-35 and its service contracts and support requirements is about as useful to Canadians as an anvil on a rope on a lee shore.. when its blowin hard from offshore.. but go ahead & suck up to doctrine dogma or 'studies' .. mebbe we could land those suckjets on our 'Royal Submarine decks' or ice floes.. or defend the tar sands 'discounted oil' and pipelines ..

Mebbe F-35's could be retrofitted to extend the Harper n Peter Kent program or pogrom of poisoning boreal wolves to save the boreal caribou by airdropping strychnine poisoned meat baits.. surely this was discussed in Caucus.. ? Or just another insane idea launched by the short pants & Ray Novak crew?

When you fail big time & spectaculary on simple common sense domestic challenges.. that is not a signal to lecture Canadians (your employers) on foreign policy, economics, the Constitution or our 'Values' .. You creeps let other creeps cheat our pensioners and military vets.. derauded all of us via your Voter Database in 2011 .. and would now have us know you 'acted with honor' via Nigel Ray and Stevie on the Senate Scamdal.. The Judge wondered why you weren't pitching the astounding bullshite in Hollywood eh ? !

The Mound of Sound said...

Boris, I have it on the highest authority that the F-35 performs every bit as flawlessly when it's frozen brick solid as it does in optimal conditions - dismally. But Lockheed has them specially equipped with windshield scrapers, the manual kind that don't break down.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, I agree with your take. We have to have an a/c suited to Canada's needs and this option fails on all of them - range, payload, speed (supercruise), agility. What value is stealth if all you can reach is empty airspace while your target sails on by far beyond your paltry range? Some might say we could fix that with tankers but, up there, you can deploy tankers but you cannot defend them and tackle an attacking force at the same time.

the salamander said...

.. gone are the days of 'dogfighting' & even stealth.. by the time a pilot recognizes he or she is being 'painted' the rockets and missile launchers have already launched.. Over the curve or the earth or from a satellite - the aircraft was queried - ID'd - and identified & appropriate smart weaponry sent after it.. much like modern undersea warfare and surface wars..

If anything.. we are headed toward 'smart' drone warfare .. where weapons are launched that can 'loiter' for days on end.. or launch from low earth orbit.. Target aquisition & recognition will be so sophisticated it will blow minds (as will the usual screwups upon hospitals and schools) But the actual weaponry will be designed to dissolve or evaporate.. or be cleverly disguised to stimulate appropriate accusations or factional conflicts ..

We now have so called democratic political parties that utilize election fraud to get elected.. should we expect anything less from their military adventurism when they gain access to super advanced smart weaponry - our national police - our spy services - torture - obstruction of justice - suspension of democracy - immunity from truth, disclosure or prosecution - and unlimited legal delay

Steve said...

what is the mission? Bombing 3rd world countries, we can do that from modified Dash 8's. Bombing China or Russia, thats www3 and that goes nuclear real quick. So what prurpose does a fighter serve for Canada? Showing the flag, well lets let Bombardier make some cool drones.