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Thread: What is up with the F-35? Part II

  1. #1651
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    Quote Originally Posted by JA Boomer View Post
    ? They don't actually fly Saab Draken aircraft, it's the company name.
    A Draken would be preferable over the L-159E and A4 that they actually used...

    (not that they used those aircraft for their air frames - they merely used them to lug around pulse doppler radars at subsonic speed to simulate different opponents; they operated alongside USMC aggressor F/A-18E)

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    You're correct, looks like they brought trainers and A-4s.
    Those L-159E aren't trainers, they're single-seaters built for air-to-ground and air-to-air missions (although to my knowledge the AMRAAMs intended for the BVR air-to-air role were never integrated).
    Last edited by kato; 10 Mar 17, at 18:27.

  2. #1652
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    wonder if they brought their MIG-21's....?

  3. #1653
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfng3569 View Post
    http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone...bs-to-red-flag

    With great fanfare, the U.S. Marine Corps’ Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) arrived at Nellis Air Force Base with a contingent F-35B stealth fighters in July 2016. This was the first time F-35s of any type had participated in an iteration of the U.S. Air Force’s most important aerial war game, Red Flag.

    “If I had to go into combat, I wouldn't want to go into combat in any other airplane,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. J.T. Bardo proudly declared to the press near the end of the exercise.

    Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, The War Zone can now share how Bardo described the experience to his superiors behind closed doors. The executive summary of his final report paints a picture that is—like everything about the F-35—more complicated than the Pentagon’s public affairs push. A reading between the lines would seem to prove Marine F-35Bs were still far from ready for actual combat a year after the service declared the aircraft had achieved initial operational capability (IOC). It's especially enlightening to read after the Air Force's impressive claims about its own F-35As at Red Flag 17-1 in February 2017, where pilots reportedly racked up an impressive kill ratio of 15-to-1, a figure that was later revised to 20-to-1.

    Of course, It’s important to note The War Zone has only seen the executive summary and not the full and undoubtedly more detailed after-action review. At the time of writing, the Marine Corps had not yet responded to queries relating to the document. Though we have no reason to suspect the report is in any way disingenuous, we are still relying on Bardo’s own observations about his own unit’s performance.

    Overall, the F-35 was far more survivable then the participating legacy aircraft,” the Marine officer wrote in his concluding paragraph.“ This was the first Red Flag exercise with F-35 participation and the USMC lead from the front.”

    In addition to the Marine’s Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), Red Flag 16-3 included Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-16 Viper fighter jets, and Navy EA-18G Growler jammers, along with a host of other supporting aircraft and drones, such as E-3 radar planes, KC-135 tankers and RQ-4 Global Hawks. More F-16s from the Air Force’s 64th Aggressor Squadron and Draken International’s A-4 Skyhawks acted as the opponents. Everyone got a classified briefing about what the F-35 could do and some individuals sat in on a second briefing about the program in general.

    According to Bardo’s memorandum, during each week, his unit would spend two days flying air-to-air missions and three days practicing air-to-ground strikes, targeting opponents with the aircraft’s sensors and escorting combat search and rescue assets. In the vast majority of those cases, the squadron sent out a pair of F-35s. Four-ship “surge events” occurred two nights a week, as part of the “defensive counter air” and “strategic attack” sessions.

    The F-35’s actual flying time during the exercise appears to have been relatively limited. Over the course of two weeks, VMFA-121’s six F-35s spent a total of just over 94 hours in the air—three hours more than exercise planners had planned for the unit. The squadron expected to conduct 70 sorties in total during the exercise, but missed three in the end.

    Weather, specifically a thunderstorm and fears about dangerous ice buildup, forced the Marines to cancel two sorties since the potential danger of lightning strikes has long been a vexing problem for the F-35. In June 2016, storms temporarily halted Air Force F-35As from flying during a separate exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, according to other records the author obtained via FOIA. Earlier in March 2017, Australia’s two F-35s had to wait an extra day to leave the Avalon Air Show near Melbourne because of similar concerns.

    An unspecified maintenance issue forced the Marines to abort the other flight. Without knowing more details, this could be anything from a flat tire to something far more serious. The F-35B has suffered dangerous incidents in the past. In November 2016, Military.com broke news of one of the Corps’ JSFs suffering a major fire in the jet’s internal weapons bay. Investigators ultimately traced the cause of the problem back to a loose bracket holding electrical wiring.

    VMFA-121 also left a seventh jet behind at its base in Arizona due to a malfunctioning integrated power package (IPP), which provides electrical power for the aircraft, Bardo noted. In all, fewer than two of the squadron’s fighters— 23 percent—were “full mission capable” at any one time, on average. Crews kept approximately 53 percent of the six planes “partial mission capable” throughout Red Flag 16-3. “Notably, these numbers only reflect the six aircraft deployed to Nellis AFB,” Bardo stressed.

    The pilots trained with aircraft in their most stealthy state, without any external weapons or other stores. "Training in this configuration is critical, as it allows pilots learn to effectively employ the aircraft as well as trust the low observable signature," Bardo said, suggesting that VMFA-121's pilots were not yet fully aware of how well the F-35's stealthy features might actually hide them from threats. This wouldn't be unreasonable for aviators still learning the ins and outs of any new plane and it is possible that in day-to-day training the aircraft's stealth coatings are allowed to degrade further than during combat or a major exercise like Red Flag. Also, F-35s wear radar-reflective lenses during some basic training evolutions.

    Bardo did not include his squadron’s win/loss ratio for Red Flag 16-3, but blamed all losses on pilot error or the exercise’s constraints. The limits of Nellis’ training range, artificial no-fly areas, and rules that confined the jets in a 1,000 foot “altitude block,” meant the F-35s could play to their strengths, he wrote. Based on the available information, we cannot independently assess those claims.

    Even with these limitations, VMFA-121’s aviators had “the ability to use the aircraft's high fidelity sensors to share data over Link-16 [data link] with fourth-generation assets with less capable sensors/radars,” Bardo explained. “This type of non-kinetic support was a force multiplier and enabled fourth generation escort assets to be more lethal and survivable.”

    Still, it is unclear how often the F-35Bs were actually available to provide this support. There is very little detail about the aerial combat sorties in the executive summary in general. During air-to-air missions, Bardo said the JSFs stay on station to pass information to other aircraft after they had “expended” their mock weapons. The F-22 has done the same thing, acting as a "quarterback" of sorts for less capable assets even after their weapons bays were virtually empty.

    However, Bardo noted his jets couldn't refuel in midair since none of the tankers at the exercise had the necessary probe-and-drogue equipment. On top of that, since the F-35Bs were in their stealthiest configuration during the sorties, unloading their total missile load would have meant “firing” at most four AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. It is entirely possible the majority of VMFA-121’s flying time during offensive and defense-counter air missions was spent without any available weapons regardless of its pilots specific roles.

    Similar issues were apparent during the ground attack flights. During the exercise, despite having the long-range sensors, software limits meant the Marines could only engage practice targets at relatively close ranges with laser-guided GBU-12 Paveway bombs and GPS-guided GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. “Lack of stand-off weapon in this current software configuration continue a to be one of our biggest limiting factors,” Bardo himself conceded.

    Unfortunately, the F-35B’s massive lift fan, essential for its vertical take off and landing capability, is the major limiting factor when it comes to the jet's internal weapons carriage capabilities. With the added weight and size of the fan, the Marine's version can only manage to carry 1,000 pound-class weapons internally, while Air Force and Navy models can carry bombs and missiles in the 2,000 pound category. In addition, the F-35B Block 2F software package doesn’t yet work with the smaller Small Diameter Bomb glide bomb that can allow the jet to hit targets precisely from over 50 miles away.

    Regardless, Bardo specifically pointed out the exercise designers had not crafted a single scenario where they believed a fifth-generation stealth jet was critical to successfully completing the mission. All in all, unsurprisingly, the Marine's assessment represents a mix bag or sorts that depicts a new plane showing promise but still in its teething phase, and services still trying to understand its new capabilities and adapt training exercises to suit them.

    We are eager to see if there will be similar detailed information available about Red Flag 17-1,—which featured a larger contingent of USAF F-35As flying with more advanced software—as well as a more robust set of threats for them to deal with.
    that article has a few errors in it

    the RAAF JSF's were held over on lightning issues only because they are early blocks and have not had the mods done

    it references E3's - all battlespace management by air was tasked to the RAAF E7 Wedgetail - E3's were not tasked to do any of it

    the last sentence is a bit disingenuine - the red threat this year was the most complex ever fielded - far greater and stronger and far more heavily weighted against blue team than any other red flag conducted to date
    Last edited by gf0012-aust; 11 Mar 17, at 01:24.

  4. #1654
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    Looks like Israel is willing to trade more F-15s for less F-35...

    Either the F-35 really is a lot latter in coming than anticipated, or the costs are biting into the budget...

  5. #1655
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    Looks like Israel is willing to trade more F-15s for less F-35...

    Either the F-35 really is a lot latter in coming than anticipated, or the costs are biting into the budget...
    It's not really a budget issue, as new build F-15s will cost more than additional F-35s.

    The Israelis are nervous about the US approving the sale of 72 F-15QA fighters to Qatar and to a lesser degree the sale of F-18s to Kuwait.

    Israel wants more high end fighters quickly, and even with Lockheed set to quadruple the speed of F-35 production, every aircraft to come off the line for the next several years is already spoken for. Israel didn't commit to enough F-35s early on, so now any additional orders they place will go to the back of the line and arrive too late to balance out Qatar's increased air power.

    Without the ability to snap up a bunch of new F-35s quickly, the next best option to go head to head with Qatari F-15s, are additional Israeli F-15s.

  6. #1656
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    Steve

    Excellent post
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  7. #1657
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    It's not really a budget issue, as new build F-15s will cost more than additional F-35s.

    The Israelis are nervous about the US approving the sale of 72 F-15QA fighters to Qatar and to a lesser degree the sale of F-18s to Kuwait.
    Hadn't thought of this. Good point.

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    http://aviationweek.com/defense/podc...at-f-35-can-do

    Aviation Week Editors Jen DiMascio, Lara Seligman and Graham Warwick talk with Marine Lt. Col. David Berke. The team at Aviation Week has reported on the F-35 program for years from a programmatic and technical perspective. But Berke, who has flown the F-22, the F-35 and the F-18, tells them why the F-35 is a superior aircraft.

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    This was from Nov 2016. AW&ST reporter Lara Seligman was flown to the USS America

    http://aviationweek.com/defense/how-...ike-operations

    Lightning Carrier
    The F-35B is driving the U.S. Marine Corps to rethink its traditional sea-basing operations

    Lara Seligman Aboard the USS America

    With an eye toward the Asia-Pacific region, operators are finding that Lockheed Mar¬tin's F-35 "Lightning II" is fundamen¬tally changing the way the U.S. Marine Corps thinks about operating from the sea base.
    As Marine Corps Attack Sqdn. (VMFA) 121 prepares to fly to Iwakuni, Japan, in January, marking the Joint Strike Fighter's (JSF) first-ever over-seas operational deployment, sailors and Marines onboard the USS Amer¬ica are putting the F-35B through its paces. The decks are loaded with 12 F-35Bs—the most ever aboard a ship—

    and

    The exercise reflects the emergence of a potential shift in the Marine Corps' operating concept. Marines tradition¬ally focus on amphibious operations, at¬tacking the enemy at its teeth. But what if they could penetrate the enemy's de-fenses, deliver force to an undefended area, and attack outward instead? The F-35B, combined with the Osprey, could be key to that approach.

    and

    "The goal of this is a proof-of-concept for the [Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)] tailored toward a more ro¬bust fixed-wing capability," says Rowell. "Lightning carriers provide the MAGTF with an increased aviation combat power across more mission areas than we currently have."
    On Nov. 20, operators on the America launched six F-35Bs for a simulated strike mission into a contested environment. Four of the fighters engaged a notional integrated air defense system threat on the shore, while the other two provided armed escort for the V-22s as they delivered their

    notional load of Marines. Operators launched all the aircraft on time, hit all the mission objectives and success¬fully recovered all the aircraft aboard the ship.
    The Marines are finding that the F-35B is a particularly good complement to the Osprey, using its advanced sensors and strike capabilities to clear a target area before the V-22 arrives. It is a symbiotic relationship: Unrefueled, the F-35B/V-22 package has a range of 450 nm. But with the V-22 Aerial Re¬fueling System, which will be ready by 2018, the Osprey will be able to re¬fuel the F-35—along with other Marine Corps aircraft such as the AV-8B Harrier and Sikorsky CH-53E/K heavy-lift helicopter—in flight, further extending the reach of the strike package.
    Combined with the V-22 and H-ls, the F-35B provides an unprecedented fifth-generation capability to deliver Marines or Special Operations Forces to the target in a high-threat battlespace, says Davis.

    Davis is Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant for aviation Rowell is Col. George Rowell, commander of Marine Opera¬tional Test and Evaluation Sqdn

  10. #1660
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    AARGM-ER internal carriage on F-35

    Name:  C8k6gwrXcAAiFFe.jpg
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  11. #1661
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    not sure if this has been posted yet but I thought it was interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MilitaryMuseums View Post
    not sure if this has been posted yet but I thought it was interesting.
    This is pretty much ignorant tripe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MilitaryMuseums View Post
    not sure if this has been posted yet but I thought it was interesting.
    He's right that cancelling it is impossible, but not only because of the jobs. The most compelling reason is it would cost more at this point to start a totally new program or reopen the F-22, than it would to continue this program, it would cost far more in time and money. if we are talking about a jet or multiple jets to take over the roles of the F-35. Just a hard fact, and I notice, with great surprise, that the speaker does not cast doubt on the F-35's capabilities. If its all about the money, the choice is clear.

    Cancelling the project is a non-starter, because it costs more and pushes back schedule, and scaling back the project leads to F-22 levels of cost (did this guy not do his research?) What 'deep design flaws' is he trying to reference? Failing parts are not a game breaker any any program has their share of issues in their infancy (which the F-35 is still in). It's certainly nothing to cancel it over.

    Lots of BS here like 'its unclear the US military even needs it anymore', just laughed at the reasoning.

    Should be noted the video is obsolete in any case. Trump has no issues with the F-35 now (presumably after being told the truth, and taking things from Pierre Sprey), and this video was made Jan 27. Already a better leader than Trudeau.

  14. #1664
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    What's the cost of the F35 program compared to the F22?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MilitaryMuseums View Post
    What's the cost of the F35 program compared to the F22?
    Depends how you slice it.

    Total program cost for the F-35 is dramatically higher than the F-22. That's to be expected when you compare a program that's going to deliver 3000 aircraft to one that delivered 200.

    Price per aircraft, the F-22 is a lot more expensive than an F-35. This is particularly true if you divide R&D investments across the fleet. Once again this can largely be attributed to the differences in production volumes, although F-22s are physically larger and have twin engines which drive costs up as well.

    Ongoing operational costs favor the F-35 as it's got the first "tough" stealth coating and only a single engine. Future upgrade costs will also be spread across a huge number of aircraft reducing costs significantly.

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