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Navy: F-35C Will Be Eyes and Ears of the Fleet

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A F-35C on June 27, 2012. US Navy Photo

A F-35C on June 27, 2012. US Navy Photo

The Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be the eyes and ears of the fleet inside highly contested airspace when it enters the U.S. Navy’s arsenal in large numbers in the 2030s.

“Let’s say we’re in an anti-access environment and we’re going to go deep, we would launch all the airplanes off, get them all set, and we would push the F-35C way inside,” Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s director of air warfare told USNI News on Dec. 20. “He would go in there using his X-band stealth technology, and go in there and he would get radar contacts and surface contacts and would ID them for us.”

Under the service’s forthcoming Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) network, Manazir said targets discovered by the F-35C’s advanced sensor suite would be passed back to a Northrop Grumman E-2D to be shared with the rest of the carrier strike group. Further, F-35Cs flying deep inside enemy territory would also play a key role in providing terminal guidance for long-range stand-off weapons launched by other platforms such as Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or a warship.

However, the F-35C will need some data-link modifications, which are expected for the jet’s Block IV configuration, to perform the role the Navy intends for it. While the current version of the Link-16 data-link does not have enough of a low probably of intercept capability that would allow it to be used inside highly contested airspace, the Navy is working on a solution.

“They’re working right now, because it is a follow-on development item, Lockheed Martin is working with other contractors to make that capability happen,” Manazir said. “We need to have that link capability that the enemy can’t find and then it can’t jam.”

In order to extend the F-35C’s range, the Navy hopes to refuel the stealthy new fighter from the service’s future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft, Manazir said. While the UCLASS would not be as stealthy as the F-35C, it could accompany the JSF into some of the more modestly contested high threat environments.

But the Navy has never operated a stealthy aircraft with the kinds of sensors found onboard the F-35C before. In order to learn how to best utilize the new fighter, one of the first units to receive the F-35C will be the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC)—which is the home of the Navy’s famous TOPGUN school.

“One of the earliest places we’re going to put Joint Strike Fighter is at NSAWC,” Manazir said. “We’ll operate them out at [Naval Air Station] Fallon [Nevada] and be able to develop those tactics real-time on the range with Block II AESA [Active Electronically Scanned Array] F/A-18Es and Fs and F-35Cs.”

Moreover, because all three F-35 variants have the same mission systems, the Navy is working very closely with the U.S. Marine Corps to develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for the JSF. Manazir noted that the USMC would operate the F-35C from the Navy’s Nimitz and Ford-class supercarriers in addition to the F-35B, which will be operated from amphibious assault ships.

“We’ll be able to exploit the advantages of both kinds of aircraft,” Manazir said.
Right now the Marines are ahead of the Navy in developing the concepts of operation for the F-35.

Manazir described a recent long-range air dominance simulation exercise in which there were Marine Corps weapons officers flying the F-35C.

“They’re kind of at the leading edge of tactics development,” Manazir said. “They’re helping us into the future.”

  • ELP

    Typical playbook of the marketeers above. Talking about Block 4 since Block 3 has been watered down significantly since 2006. Block 3 Ponzi-schemers early on talked about its advanced network above and beyond anything Link16 could do. Then, Block 3 was to deliver gobs of advanced network capability by the end of SDD. This isn’t the first time blue sky marketing has been used with the program …”hang on…x-capability will show up in Block 4, 5, and 6″ (notional)(LM brief to Norway).Impressive claims by the fan-base when the F-35 is at severe risk of not meeting many of its joint operational requirements document (JORD) items, crafted in the 1990s and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade. (“JSF Alternate Realities: …and from whence they come”, 2010, Peter Goon, BEng (Mech), FTE (USNTPS) The F-35 is no “anti-access” machine (“Assessing Joint Strike Fighter Defence Penetration Capabilities”, 2009, Carlo Kopp ). Also (“My JSF is stealthier than yours, or is it?”, 2007, Bill Sweetman). USNI would be better served with hard, honest analysis of the many risks this aircraft holds. Instead of Lockheed Martin and senior DOD talking points and platitude.

    • harvest

      As far as the authors you have cited, Peter Goon and Carlo Kopp are well-known authors of a pseudo-aero engineering web site, ‘Austrlian Air Power’ which has been repeatedly discredited for their insistence that the RAAF accept nothing less than the F-22 (alluded to in your post). Reference: “To comprehensively rebut many of APA’s assertions in regard to F-35 performance would require release of highly sensitive U.S. data. As neither APA nor RepSim have access to the detailed classified F-35 data, their analysis is basically flawed through incorrect assumptions and lack of knowledge of classified F-35 performance information. Without this knowledge, APA and RepSim can only speculate on the F-35’s capabilities and its ability to counter extant and evolving threat.” The previous was written here: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/JointStrikeFighter with a reference of here: http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/publications/review_JSF.pdf The most junior engineering staff at LM, Boeing or NG has more credibility than these two guys.

      As far as ‘Marketeers above’? Please reference RADM Manazir’s bio: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=525 if you think of him as a ‘marketeer.’ I think that his credibility in the realm of defense aviation is hard to beat. Do you really assert that he is more in the pocket of LM than the USN / USMC warfighter? I challenge you to prove your assertion of ‘marketeer’ by an active Flag.

    • Charles Haas

      And yet, you are perfectly happy with the less capable unstealthy F/A-18? Was the F/A-18A the perfect Navy solution when the Navy first bought it? Should the Navy have waited twenty years until the Super Hornet came out becuase the ealier Hornets were everything the Navy needed? Maybe you would have us flying Super Tomcats? Is your argument that we need to keep with the status quo or that we need to go retro?

      • ELP

        No one said anything about going “retro”. Take all the talent building the right wrong aircraft (the F-35) had have them build the right aircraft. Or, continue on and pour on the coal for the massive train-wreck around the bend. Tell me exactly how a F-18 is less capable? We will use the Super Hornet. Block II got most of the avionics that would have gone into a Boeing JSF. The F-35C has to actually bring something useful to the fleet: Anti-access. Which by virtue of its design, it will be unable to take on emerging threats. For example, we have two aircraft in the West that can represent analog threats for the F-35. The Typhoon as the SU-35 and the F-22 as the PAK/FA. It is unlikely the F-35 will survive against these aircraft in a mock battle (that isn’t rigged). The F-35 won’t fire internal rail-mounted missiles like the AIM-9 and ASRAAM. (Note how the F-22 deals with rail mounted missiles). The F-35B and C will more time than not, leave the deck without a gun. The AMRAAM is jammable which means at the merge, the F-35C (in an alleged “stealth” configuration) doesn’t have much. The surface-to-air threats look just as bad. Narrow-nose-on limited band stealth in the X-band/Ku band of less quality than the F-22 isn’t much help. The F-35 is not a true all-aspect stealth aircraft. Where, the red force planners for the F-22 knew that you had to have extreme performance to reduce enemy no-escape-zones firing solutions. In any event, the U.S. Navy’s claims (from the same people that brought us LCS and DDX) that they are looking for “day-one stealth” from the aircraft carrier are not credible. Interesting as the Joint Operational Requirement Document for the F-35 always assumed there would be plenty of F-22s to take out the big threats. We all know how that turned out. While both the Super and the F-35 are unable to take on emerging threats, for every other threat, the Super brings something today and into the future that an operational commander actually needs. Including Harpoon, SLAM-ER (working on the weapons clearance now for the Super) along with HARM and its derivatives.

        • Charles Haas

          Yes, but the Super Bug is long in the tooth, and offers less growth than the F-35. The F-35 will certainly last longer against the Typhoons, Su-35 and PAK/FA that the Bug would also. The EO/DAS and HMD is a significant advantage over the Bug. Can’t see thru the floor of a Bug. Maintaining a clean extrerior also allows the F-35 to fly with less drag, and better maneuverability. The F-35 built in numbers will do well against all comers, using its stealth in numbers to its advantage. Only an adversary that can build stealth in similar numbers will compete against it. The Bug is already fixed in its form and will not allow for the growth needed that the F-35 will bring.

    • harvest

      The old saying goes: “Those who don’t know, speculate.”

      Any suggestion that the APA authors (Goon and Kopp) are more reputable sources on the performance of the F-35 than Manazir should be met with some skepticism. They’ve been countered fairly comprehensively and repeatedly. The following was released by the Aussie Defen(c)se Department after an APA presentation (which several member of parliament walked out of after several minutes): “To comprehensively rebut many of APA’s assertions in regard to F-35 performance would require release of highly sensitive U.S. data. As neither APA nor RepSim have access to the detailed classified F-35 data, their analysis is basically flawed through incorrect assumptions and lack of knowledge of classified F-35 performance information. Without this knowledge, APA and RepSim can only speculate on the F-35’s capabilities and its ability to counter extant and evolving threats”

      I don’t think that the name-calling of ‘marketeers’ and ‘Ponzi-schemers’ serves for a constructive debate at USNI, either.

      • ELP

        Those who troll do so with an anonymous name. Interesting how those with all the alleged program knowledge that are actually on the program have run it into the ditch. Long ago. Classified data doesn’t allow one to ignore the laws of physics.

        • harvest

          Enough with the name-calling. I wasn’t aware of a requirement to use a non-anonymous name on the USNI site. If you have hard data that counters what those in the program have, please share it. Otherwise, you have assumptions based on incomplete or inaccurate data.

          The F-22 was 14 years from ATF winner to IOC (1991 to 2005) with an ORD that was finalized in 1991. Do you consider it a failure for the long development process and dated ORD? Were those program managers failures as well? Was the fact that capability updates existed or slipped in that program an indication of its failure?

          What laws of physics are being ignored?

          • ELP

            Interesting that you start out bringing two engineers reputation into question. Two-people that have real qualifications on the topic.
            “Assumptions based on incomplete or inaccurate data” , based on history, is the hallmark of the F-35 program.
            You may want to consider this: the F-35 is in far worse shape than the F-22. Note that there are some interesting problems with the F-22 that haven’t been made public. Like for example: Ask a F-22 program manager or maintenance officer about “dog-year” credits on ISO/Phase maintenance that an F-22 gets while stationed in a dry climate vs. wet. Or even worse, air frame stress which means extending the life of the jet past 20 years will be much more of a challenge than any other aircraft. If it ever happens without severe flight-restriction. (They are complaining about doing warm up-G turns for BFM now to reduce airframe stress. Warm up turns are a safety prevention measure).And many more things. With that, the F-22 is a killer that should have gone on to the B model with lessons learned….from the same vendor that gave us the F-35. There is little evidence that LM learned much from the F-22 team. Again, the F-35 is in a significant more amount of trouble than the F-22. Over 3 times the software code being of one example.
            Ignored physics?As already mentioned: reality about software. Software assumptions; that simulation would mean much less flight testing (this was strongly worded beyond the pale early in the program before reality kicked in). Aircraft weight assumptions: Before the much publicized 2004 SWAT weight reduction event there was another one in 2003 that got rid of quick-mate joints. These were a critical assumption to production speed and aircraft commonality which was on the order of 80 percent give or take. A program official said at the time; it was the only way we could keep the weight down. Now, interesting about the YF-22; engineers reached such a point with aircraft weight, that they made a bold decision to start over again with a clean sheet of paper. F-15? Until Boyd came in and told many what they didn’t want to hear about weight, the concept for the F-15 would have never flown. Yet with weight and the F-35 shows a continuous coffin corner approach in that because of the STOVL B design requirement polluting the A and C, there is still much unresolved weight penalty. For example: the F135 motor sub-variant for the A and C have dead weight in them that are part of the B needs. And some other various things through out the airframe. And to date: Over 12 years after program award, there is no known operational empty weight. Critical if you want to do Ops testing. Hint: to build a carrier capable aircraft, start with that as the baseline and no STOVL family requirement. The oulier hook placement on the C is part of that STOVL herpes from the B. Thermal assumptions. You can’t put drain holes and air scoops anywhere you want on a low-observable aircraft design. Thermal shedding issues are a big problem with all the systems packed into the jet far beyond other stealth aircraft. Use a push-mower on a hot summer day wearing a snowmobile-suit, gloves, boots, facemask and helmet to appreciate this. There are many other examples of ignoring the laws of physics. One being that the F-35 can replace an A-10. The helmet-cueing system, gun and lack of battle-damage capacity show this. Note, a Super E/F always carries a gun, and can strafe and take battle damage. Hint, strafing is not going away just because some wish it to be so.

          • harvest

            No one’s reputation is being questioned. I simply stated that the APA authors are not in the best position to speak about the program and had been countered fairly effectively. I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, but I real find your threads of logic difficult to follow. All programs deserve a critical eye and critical voices are needed. It’s when ideas aren’t clearly stated and arguments are reduced to name-calling that anyone that matters quits listening.

            Is it poor programmatics or performance with which you take issue? When queried on one, you seem to answer with the other.

            Re: ‘Laws of physics ignored’, Price is not physics, it is economics.

            The replacement of the A-10 is a tactical consideration with potentially strategic implications, but certainly not a problem of physics.

            The thermal issues are not unique to the F-35. Any platform that involves electronic components on this scale would involve thermal issues. I’m sure the PAK-FA and SU-35 that you mention in another post would have these issues as well.

            Weight is certainly an issue. This is all out in the open. Has anyone argued to the contrary?

            The hook issue: “Lockheed and the Joint Strike Fighter program office ultimately traced the problem back to the shape of the hook and a faulty wire dynamics model supplied by the Naval Air Systems Command.” -Posted about a week and a half ago on this same site. Hardly a ‘herpes’ problem from the STOVL that you reference. Again with the dramatic language / name-calling.

            Interesting aside on the F-22 issues. Thanks for that.

            I’m really not trying to pick a fight here, The dramatic overstatements and language and misrepresentations have just become a bit much.

          • qwerty

            ELP doesn’t understand S-n curves. I can also tell he does not know the finer details of the airframe to reliably comment on its weight.

          • Scarlet Pimpernel

            Must be frustrating for you Eric…not to be able to censor any comments critical of Kopp or Goon as you do on your own joke of a forum.

        • Scarlet Pimpernel

          Classified data does however allow one to know the truth of what is occurring rather than speculating over photos and making things up…as Kopp, Goon, Sweetman, Wheeler, etc do…oh, and you of course Eric! Of course I think we could trust Snowden with more classified info before we gave you any such access Eric!

    • Scarlet Pimpernel

      Typical Eric Palmer…as soon as someone writes something positive about the F-35 he jumps in with the name calling and vitriol not to mention rubbish claims. Mind you, it is better than his own forum where he just hides anything that doesn’t match his little limited worldview…

      • ELP

        Probably not the place for you and your team to do the nameless Internet troll act.

  • me109g4

    ROTFL,,, right.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    This is beginning to remind me of the fiasco of the Tornado F1. Capabilities were one after another deferred to ‘future versions’ until it reached the point where the aircraft entered service with a block of concrete in place of its radar set! The time has come and passed for contractors to face penalties totalling percentage points of the total contract value for serious schedule slips. It will train them not to over-promise in the future.

    • Charles Haas

      Name the aircraft that wasn’t upgraded as it was placed in service. Actually, as the F-35 is designed to accept software upgrades more seemlessly than previous aircraft, it actually will get better as it gets older. Newer plug and play electronics will also make it easier to accept new hardware.

      • ELP

        Even if there are significant hardware flaws…all the way across the board. In order for something to get “better”, it has to reach a base-line of operationally acceptable. That is yet to happen, over 12 years after contract award.

        • harvest

          What are the significant hardware flaws ‘all the way across the board’? In order for something to get ‘operationally better’ it needs to reach an IOC (which I believe you meant to reference as operationally ‘effective and suitable’), not ‘acceptable’ It can get better from inception.

        • Charles Haas

          Well, maybe you should then question the military pilots that are flying it, who are not related to LockMart, that tell us this it already better than current 4th gen fighters, even before its IOC?

        • Charles Haas

          Funny how those hardware flaws are disappearing. HMD problems being fixed (in fact, the HMD has been the only helmet flown with the F-35. Tail hook fixes are working. Wing drop solved with software imporovements….

          • ELP

            Outstanding LM and DOD talking points from the institute of Mr. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.

  • NavySubNuke

    Wow – Dave keep this up and Lockheed will hire you in no time! These planes are so awesome we should only need 3 or 4 right? Or is it that they are so expensive we can only afford 3 or 4?
    Between these and the Little Crappy Ships we are really going to be set for the war of the future – as long as that war doesn’t involve actual fighting against someone who can fight back…..

    • ELP

      Shack!

    • Charles Haas

      Except you ignore the fat that we are on the verge of increasing production to a substantial rate, In fact, the F-35 is likely to be produced faster and in greater numbers than any other aircraft, either 4th or 5th generation.

      • NavySubNuke

        sure – as with most of the F-35 promises (flight helmet being the best example) we are right on the verge. Don’t forget to stop by Lockheed and pick up your weekly ration of Kool Aid or whatever it takes for you to believe their promises after all these years.
        Side note: regardless of how many of each type we produce we will never arrive at the promised savings since the types are so different now verses the original goal (70% I believe) that there will be negligible life cycle cost savings. Since the promise of lifecycle cost savings was the entering argument to this debacle no matter what happens to the production cost this program is already a failure the best we can do is hope it at least delivers a quality aircraft that the services can use – and that is looking less likely

        • Charles Haas

          So you think the Air Force, Marines, and Navy would allow the second source helmet be put on hold if they weren’t happy with the HMD? What are you smoking? Have you flown with the gen 2 or gen 3 HMD? The test pilots seem to find it accepable. LockMart is not the customer, the pilots are. For the second source helmet to be dropped, the pilots must have found the HMD worthy.

          Compared to buying three separately developed and produced aircraft with no commonality, your argument is weak. Having three different production sources, logistical supply chains, training programs, different software, simulators… is not going to save money over the F-35. Additionaly, the three different planes would have trouble producing aircraft in the numbers needed to be economical. Also, conducting three completely different test programs would also not be economical. The whole process would require require three times the number of people, material, production facilities as the F-35 program, There is no way you can suggest that that would be better than the F-35.

          • NavySubNuke

            Yes I do think they would kill the second helmet even if the first isn’t working because of any combination of the following 1) they realize it isn’t going to work no matter who tries (at least in the next 10-15yrs) 2) there just isn’t enough money to do it (maybe you have heard of sequestration?) and other items were a higher priority 3) the contractor in charge of the “alt” version didn’t spread the effort out to enough states to get the proper congressional support to keep the money flowing.
            Any the argument in question isn’t mine – I haven’t done enough research to say it as my opinion – it comes from the RAND report. put the Kool-Aid down long enough to read it. BTW in defense programs like this the majority of the costs come from the life cycle – if you can’t control the life cycle costs between the variants (aka this program with 3 different avionics software programs with very little in common!) you don’t save any long term money. The R&D savings and the production savings are real money but nothing compared to what was promised when this program was created

          • Charles Haas

            As the HMD replaces the HUD, having a none working HMD would not be acceptable to any pilot. The HMD has flown on every flgith of the F-35. While there have been problems, as with most new technology, it has never been either a show stopper (latency and jitter does not mean the info is not being displayed, just not presented in the best possible manner). The Gen 2 HMD has already made improvements. The Gen 3 HMD appears to meet the requirements for the helmet, and is about to enter testing. You assume RAND knows more about the F-35 than does the Air Force or LockMartin, which is a poor assumption.

            The RAND report was very much influenced by historical evidence such as the F-111 and the F-4, which does not apply to the F-35. It also assumed that the full costs of trying to make three different new fighters in the place of the F-35 would automatically be less expensive, while offering no proof. There is no evidence that three separate supply chains, parts inventories, training systems, software codes, tooling costs, production facilities, et al would be cheaper somehow than the F-35.

          • NavySubNuke

            Having met and worked with a lot of people in the Air Force I can tell you that even the Air Force doesn’t know what the Air Force knows – it all depends on which part of the Air Force you are talking to. And you may trust Lockheed for an honest appraisal of the plane and where it is headed but how can you really believe anything they say about this program at this point?

        • Charles Haas

          By the way, what is your solution? Buying planes that can’t operate in a modern SAM environment is not an answer, so get the F/A-18 out of the discussion. It will not be capable against Russia, China, even India in the future (think 2040). If you think starting from scratch would be cheaper, I would love to hear how that works with inflation and developing three completely new planes from nothing over ten or more years is better.

          • NavySubNuke

            I gave a more complete answer in a different response but yes – kill the Navy version of the JSF and keep buying super hornets. We don’t need a stealth aircraft until we can actually protect the carrier long enough for it to get into range to launch them. Also, I have more faith in electronic warfare/jamming capabilities then I do in low observable air craft. I’d rather see us improve our jammers and produce aircraft that are tough enough to take a beating – not mission killed by a hail storm.

            Unless the “skin” of stealth aircraft has gotten dramatically stronger vs. F22/B2/F117 it is hard to imagine these being able to survive 6 months at sea. Though you are probably dumb enough to believe Lockheed’s promise that the skin on this aircraft will be both easier and cheaper to repair than all previous stealth aircraft before it. I HOPE that is true – for the sake of our nation – but I seriously doubt it.

          • Charles Haas

            Stealth does not preclude jammers and ECM. Stand-off jammers using UAV and makes more sense than using jammers on aircraft, as jammers actually act as a guide to the aircraft doing the jamming. The AESA radars on the F-35 are likely to evolve into high powered microwave weapons also, frying electronics of missiles as they close on the fighter.

            If you learned about the F-35, you would know that the stealth RAM is baked into the skin of the aircraft. It can’t be affected by salt water, unless salt water can melt the skin. I am pretty sure they have tested for that already, Repairig the stealth would be the same as removing a portion of the skin and replacing it with another peice of skin. As the skin is supposed to be rigged and strong enough as a metal skin, it is a pretty good bet it will survive salt water. Being a composite material, it will actually be better than a metal skin.

          • NavySubNuke

            I know quite a bit about the F35 – that is why I don’t buy your complete, utter and total optimism. The only explanation is that you work for the program – either at Lockheed or some other sub – how else could you not even question this program after all the years and billions of dollars in overruns?
            As to the skin – I’m not worried about salt water – I’m worried about the beating it will take at sea on a rolling and pitching deck along with weather such as hail and dirt/dust. Stealth aircraft – to this point – have been very fragile and difficult to repair. Lockheed claims they have solved the problem and the F35 will be different then all stealth before it for durability and repair-ability but I’m not holding my breath.

      • NavySubNuke

        Not sure why the link is being moderated but RAND just released a great report on how much the JSF will “save”. I don’t want to spoil it for you but make sure you have a full glass of Lockheed Kool-Aid on hand so you don’t lets the facts in the report distract you.
        You can find it via search just use terms: RAND joint fighter save money

        • Charles Haas

          Oh, let’s see then. You would have preferred three F-22 type separate fighter programs over the F-35? Hmmm, the F-22 produced how many aircraft before it was killed for being to expensive? 197? The F-35 is been producing over 30 aircraft a year in low rate production, which may soon double, and maybe triple, when the F-22 never produced more that 20 or so a year? Tell me how three F-22 type programs is better than the F-35?

          • NavySubNuke

            considering how much more capable the F22 is than the F35 yes – would have gladly cancelled the Air Force version of the F35 and procured 400 – 600 of them (I’ve never really done a detailed enough study on it – need to dig in more to see what China’s future fighter buying plans are to get a more exact number) and then done a study on which to keep an updated F16 or F15 – and then retired the other. The all-stealth air force is unaffordable and unneeded.

            Also would cancel the navy version of the F35 and replace with super hornets – anyone sophisticated enough to take out the super hornets is going to be able to hit the carrier before it gets into F35 range anyway.
            The marines are the odd ball – the harrier has been out of production for too long and I think we do need to keep a VSTOL capability so at this point it is probably cheaper to just build their version.

          • Charles Haas

            Except the F-22 isn’t designed to be an attack plane nor is it designed for CAS missions, so buying them would not actually meet the need. The F-35 is not supposed to be a high end fighter, and that is not why USAF is buying them.

            I am sure you don’t speak for the Navy, so not much chance the Navy version would be cancelled. We are basing the discussion on the requirements that the F-35 was designed for. As stated elsewhere, the F/A-18 is not capable of meeting the threats coming in the next 20 or 30 years, so it is not acceptable either.

            Buying the F-35B model only would be the worst thing to do, as the numbers to be bought by the Marines would mean we would still be buying something you don’t like, yet at even higher prices. And still having to build new planes from scratch to meet future needs.

          • NavySubNuke

            That is why you retain another – none stealth and affordable – fighter to supplement the F22. F22 kicks in the door and the F15/F16 cleans up whats left.
            I’m interested to hear what threats you think the F/A18 will not meet in the next 20 – 30 yrs. And don’t say china unless you can explain how the carrier survives long enough to get in position to launch and recover.

      • NavySubNuke

        FYI – your claim that it will be “produced faster and in greater numbers than any other aircraft, either 4th or 5th generation” has about a 90% chance of being total bull. Over 4400 F-16s have been produced to date. Given how quickly the US is dropping their planned orders and how quickly the allies are dropping out I would be shocked if that many (or more) F35s were produced. Also, for several years during the 80s and 90s we produced over 200 F16’s per year. What do you think are the chances that we will make 200 F35s in a year – including international production?

        • Charles Haas

          My answer was based on future production, not already built aircraft. Everyone already concedes that the F-16 will not be able to compete with the F-35, which is why it is being replaced with the F-35. I was talking about serious competetors, like the Typhoon, Su-35 and PAK-FA. Even the Silent Eagle and Advanced Super Hornet are no longer considered for purchase in the countries around the world. The Rafale is dead in the water. The Gripen will get a few buys, but nothing compared to the F-35. The JF-17 isn’t even a true 4th gen fighter, nor is the J-10 so I an not counting them either.

  • Teri Farley

    Just cancel the whole POS! I used to love the stuff Lockheed came up with but its such a corupt entity now. All the contractors are corrupt, or under the boot of corrupt politicians, or both instances, but LM is now the main milker of public funds! Boeing should sell their new navy stealth attack to the navy in place of the F-35! Let the Navy have more super hornets and a new Boeing stealth, The Airforce can buy the same Boeing stealth attack for their use, cancel the whole f-35 program! LM should be banned from all future contracts!

    • Charles Haas

      Yeah, just eliminate the largest defense contractor in the country. That will not affect the other companies any. They will fill in the gaps and never do anything wrong. Actually, corruption is countered by increasing competition, not decreasing it. Getting rid of LockMart would not solve any corruption problems, just move them to another company, probably a less capable one.