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What is up with the F-35? Part II

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  • This photo marks the moment when I started do doubt the JSF program seriously. In da club atmosphere,light shows and fake smoke...I mean you can't get more serious than that.
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    • Originally posted by Versus View Post
      This photo marks the moment when I started do doubt the JSF program seriously. In da club atmosphere,light shows and fake smoke...I mean you can't get more serious than that.
      That's hardly the only time that kind of unveiling atmosphere has been used for military aircraft.
      “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
      ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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      • More news of delayed procurement.
        Pentagon to Delay 120 JSFs: Reuters | AVIATION WEEK

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        • Originally posted by Stitch View Post
          Do you mean no engines, either, or just no avionics? I know the avionics are being out-sourced (Elbit Systems), didn't know about the engines.

          BTW, I can't believe we're taking a step backward by acquiring a prop-driven a/c for our armed forces, I'd think more A-10C's would be the way to go. Why aren't we buying more Texans instead? We've already got a bunch in service, seems to me commonality of parts & service would be better if we just bought more Texans.
          No, they're complete aircraft. But only 20. That's less than one squadron.

          I don't think it's fair calling this a step backwards just because its a propjob. Look at the C-130J...you'd be hard pressed to call that a step backwards. A-10s are out of production for good. Much of the production tooling is long gone. Even if it was all mothballed, start-up and flyaway costs would make it stupidly expensive, just like the F-22 (though I'm still glad we kept it). I do find it odd there wasn't much talk about a combat-variant of the T-6. It seems like a logical starting point. Maybe it was seriously considered, I don't know. But the Super Tucano is a good plane, I have no problem with the USAF buying them. But I think we should've done it 9 years ago and bought 3x as many.

          Originally posted by Versus View Post
          This photo marks the moment when I started do doubt the JSF program seriously. In da club atmosphere,light shows and fake smoke...I mean you can't get more serious than that.
          This has become the standard, for some reason. The F-22 rollout was even more over the top (like Apollo Creed over the top).

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          • Originally posted by Stitch View Post
            Do you mean no engines, either, or just no avionics? I know the avionics are being out-sourced (Elbit Systems), didn't know about the engines.

            BTW, I can't believe we're taking a step backward by acquiring a prop-driven a/c for our armed forces, I'd think more A-10C's would be the way to go. Why aren't we buying more Texans instead? We've already got a bunch in service, seems to me commonality of parts & service would be better if we just bought more Texans.

            The A-10 was last built as a new airframe in 1984. The Machining tooling dies and such would have to be remade being prohibitively expensive, for what is essentially going to be a light support aircraft. The Tank busting aspects aren't needed at this time and as awesome as the gun for a warthog is that is really all its the best option for. So a light tactical aircraft is needed, and the a-10 is out. (helicopter gunships are actually great for what is needed as well but the airforce wanted a bigger piece of the defense pie instead of it going to more gunships for the army/marines at the time this started).

            As to why not the AT-6B Texan II It has surprisingly little parts commonality with the T-6 after engine change, and structural avionics changes. There is also undercurrents about it being denied due to the horrific cost overruns in the initial trainer program. There are also concerns about upgrades and future weapons capability, where as the super tucano while related to the 312 turcano is more heavily redesigned to be primarily a warcraft and is in service with a number of other nations. The only order in place for the AT-6 is the armed forces of Iraq. I'm not sure how having a light attack plane in place for a small number of units is a step backwards, as it should be cheaper than a helo gunship, with more payload, and a faster response time as well as in flight loiter time.

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            • Originally posted by Maxor View Post
              I'm not sure how having a light attack plane in place for a small number of units is a step backwards, as it should be cheaper than a helo gunship, with more payload, and a faster response time as well as in flight loiter time.
              some of the alphabet agencies have been using them in combo. ie rotors as the stand off spotters and controllers, lights as the shooters
              Linkeden:
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              • Originally posted by Maxor View Post
                The A-10 was last built as a new airframe in 1984. The Machining tooling dies and such would have to be remade being prohibitively expensive, for what is essentially going to be a light support aircraft. The Tank busting aspects aren't needed at this time and as awesome as the gun for a warthog is that is really all its the best option for. So a light tactical aircraft is needed, and the a-10 is out. (helicopter gunships are actually great for what is needed as well but the airforce wanted a bigger piece of the defense pie instead of it going to more gunships for the army/marines at the time this started).
                Actually, I was thinking they could pull some of the better (low hour) "A" airframes out of AMARC, and upgrade them to A-10C's; I know there won't be any new-build airframes, but we could possibly re-build some of the older A's with the TLPS.

                Originally posted by Maxor View Post
                As to why not the AT-6B Texan II It has surprisingly little parts commonality with the T-6 after engine change, and structural avionics changes. There is also undercurrents about it being denied due to the horrific cost overruns in the initial trainer program. There are also concerns about upgrades and future weapons capability, where as the super tucano while related to the 312 turcano is more heavily redesigned to be primarily a warcraft and is in service with a number of other nations. The only order in place for the AT-6 is the armed forces of Iraq. I'm not sure how having a light attack plane in place for a small number of units is a step backwards, as it should be cheaper than a helo gunship, with more payload, and a faster response time as well as in flight loiter time.
                That's what I gathered, too, from reading up on both of them; also looks like the Super Taco has more room for expansion/improvement, especially since it has approximately 50% greater installed thrust.
                Last edited by Stitch; 06 Jan 12,, 01:12. Reason: Nomenclature
                "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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                • Originally posted by Stitch View Post
                  Actually, I was thinking they could pull some of the better (low hour) "A" airframes out of AMARC, and upgrade them to A-10C's; I know there won't be any new-build airframes, but we could possibly re-build some of the older A's with the TLPS.
                  If those jets are being treated the same as some others, they're stripped of all sorts of parts for spares.

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                  • Originally posted by gf0012-aust View Post
                    some of the alphabet agencies have been using them in combo. ie rotors as the stand off spotters and controllers, lights as the shooters

                    What works in small numbers for an alphabet agency, may not (probably will not) work on a wider scale for a military branch. This becomes even less likely if you think about the rotor gunships being in one ranch (army/marine) and the fixed wing in another. I'm not saying its not a great idea to have a slow stable platform on over-watch providing command and control while fixed wings make attack runs. I'm just saying that as currently constructed the us military has a hard time setting it up.

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                    • Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                      If those jets are being treated the same as some others, they're stripped of all sorts of parts for spares.
                      Agreed.

                      After looking into it, it appears there's not much left of the A-10's out at AMARC, except maybe the airframes themselves; sounds like every usable part has already been stripped off of them to keep the rest of the fleet flying.
                      "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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                      • Originally posted by Maxor View Post
                        I'm not sure how having a light attack plane in place for a small number of units is a step backwards, as it should be cheaper than a helo gunship, with more payload, and a faster response time as well as in flight loiter time.
                        Not to mention cheaper to operate/maintain?

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                        • Yes it should/would be cheaper to operate and (probably to maintain) than a helo of similar firepower. (To a point there is something to be said for having a whole bunch of something and having training and parts costs go way way down.) I think that would definitely for 200 turbo props divided into 8 to 10 squadrons.... now weather or not it would save money for a lone squadron of 20, I doubt it as the stand up costs and training of those people would be extremely pricey.

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                          • Joint Strike Fighter may miss acceleration goal
                            By Dave Majumdar - Staff writer
                            Posted : Wednesday Jan 18, 2012 19:07:16 EST
                            The F-35 Lightning II’s transonic acceleration may not meet the requirements originally set forth for the program, a top Lockheed Martin official said.

                            “Based on the original spec, all three of the airplanes are challenged by that spec,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s program manager for the F-35. “The cross-sectional area of the airplane with the internal weapons bays is quite a bit bigger than the airplanes we’re replacing.”

                            The sharp rise in wave drag at speeds between Mach 0.8 and Mach 1.2 is one of the most challenging areas for engineers to conquer. And the F-35’s relatively large cross-sectional area means, that as a simple matter of physics, the jet can’t quite match its predecessors.

                            “We’re dealing with the laws of physics. You have an airplane that’s a certain size, you have a wing that’s a certain size, you have an engine that’s a certain size, and that basically determines your acceleration characteristics,” Burbage said. “I think the biggest question is: are the acceleration characteristics of the airplane operationally suitable?”

                            A recent report by the Defense Department’s top tester, J. Michael Gilmore, says that the Navy’s F-35C model aircraft, which has larger wing and tail surfaces, is not meeting requirements for acceleration.

                            The report doesn’t say whether the F-35A and F-35B have hit similar snags.

                            Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va., said that the revelation was not particularly surprising.

                            “It’s a strike fighter,” Aboulafia said. “It’s not an interceptor; it’s not an F-22.”

                            Aboulafia said it was unclear whether additional engine power could boost acceleration in the difficult transonic regime. So far, doubts about the aircraft’s aerodynamic performance haven’t diminished Lockheed’s sales prospects, he said.

                            The F-35 transonic acceleration specifications were written based on clean-configuration F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet fighter, Burbage said.

                            But unlike the Hornet or the F-16, the F-35 has the same configuration unloaded as it does loaded with weapons and fuel, Burbage said. When an F/A-18 or F-16 is encumbered with weapons, pylons and fuel tanks, those jets are robbed of much of their performance.

                            “What is different is that this airplane has accelerational characteristics with a combat load that no other airplane has, because we carry a combat load internally,” Burbage said, the F-22 Raptor notwithstanding.

                            Even fully loaded, the F-35’s performance doesn’t change from its unencumbered configuration, he said.

                            In the high subsonic range between Mach 0.6 to Mach 0.9 where the majority of air combat occurs, the F-35’s acceleration is better than almost anything flying.

                            Thus far, Lockheed has not had issues with the plane’s acceleration, Burbage said. There are top level Key Performance Parameters from which lower level detailed engineering specification are derived and Lockheed’s job is to meet as many of those specifications as possible within the laws of physics, he said. Discussions are underway about if those original specifications are relevant given the jet’s acceleration in a combat configuration, Burbage added.

                            U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Smith, director of operations at the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and F-35 test pilot, said that flying the aircraft is a thrilling experience.

                            “I can’t even explain the adrenaline rush you get when you light the afterburner on that thing,” Smith said. “The acceleration is much better than an F-16.”

                            But the F-35’s aerodynamic performance is not what makes the jet special, Smith said. The F-35 powerful sensors and data-links and how that information is fused into a single coherent and easy to use display are what will make the jet an effective warplane.

                            Burbage added that while the F-35 is designed as a supersonic fighter, it’s not optimized for the extremely high supersonic speeds that the Raptor was designed to operate at.

                            “This is not a supercruising airplane like the F-22,” Burbage said.

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                            • The F-35B is no longer on probation.
                              Panetta Lifts F-35B Probation | AVIATION WEEK

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                              • Good. As much as I bash it, I'd like to see it actually work as advertised. God knows it's cost us enough to get this far.

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