Home » Aviation » Davis: F-35B External Weapons Give Marines 4th, 5th Generation Capabilities in One Plane


Davis: F-35B External Weapons Give Marines 4th, 5th Generation Capabilities in One Plane

Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn puts F-35B test aircraft BF-02 into pre-contact position behind a US Air Force KC-135 tanker on the range near NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on 5 September 2014. Photo courtesy F-35 Lightning II Program Office.

Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn puts F-35B test aircraft BF-02 into pre-contact position behind a US Air Force KC-135 tanker on the range near NAS Patuxent River, Md., on 5 September 2014. Photo courtesy F-35 Lightning II Program Office.

The Marine Corps’ Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will have the stealth of a fifth-generation fighter and a weapons payload surpassing a fourth-generation fighter by the time a software upgrade is ready for fielding in 2017, the Marines’ top aviator said this week.

The aircraft’s ability to alternate between accessing contested areas and deliverying heavy fire power based on the needs of any given sortie “I think for our adversaries will be quite worrisome, for us should be a source of great comfort,” Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said Wednesday at an event cohosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute.

“No other airplane can go from fifth to fourth and back to fifth again. I’m buying pylons for the airplane. I get the pylons in 3F software, which comes in 2017. [With the pylons] I can load up an F-35B with about 3,000 pounds more ordnance than I can put on an F-18 right now,” Davis said.
“So I can have an airplane that does fifth-generation stuff for the opening salvo of the fight. When I have to go to level of effort, I can load the pylons on, load ordnance on there, do level of effort, come back, sail to another part of the world, take the pylons off and go do the fifth-generation thing again. … It offers us tremendous capability for the Marine Corps that’s going to have one type/model/series aircraft that can go fourth and fifth gen, give us that fighter capability, give us that attack capability that we need in the out years.”

F-35 Lightning II Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova told USNI News that the F-35 was designed to be relevant both on Day 1 of a fight and Day 365 of a fight. To that end, the services needed to leverage the stealth capability that the Air Force already had in its Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter and Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber, as well as the fire power Marines needed to support their Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).

The low-observable design of the F-35B, when left unaltered, would allow the Marines to sneak into anti-access/area-denial airspace, take out the integrated air defense system and other high-value targets with its 4,000 pounds of ordnance in the internal weapons bay, and leave. Once the pylons are ready in 2017 to be affixed to the exterior of the plane, “after you dismantle the enemy’s air defense system…then that F-35 can be loaded up like a traditional legacy fighter and become an 18,000 bomb truck, when you don’t have to rely on the low-observability any more,” DellaVedova said. The pylons optimize the F-35B for close-air support, anti-air missions and more.

DellaVedova said testing for the pylons and development of the rest of the 3F software upgrade package is ongoing. The Marines’ current 2B software allows them to carry two air-to-ground weapons and one air-to-air weapon internally: the 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb and the AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

An F-35B test aircraft flies in short takeoff/vertical landing more in external pylons and stores loaded March 20, 2013. Photo courtesy F-35 Lightning II Program Office.

An F-35B test aircraft flies in short takeoff/vertical landing mode with external pylons and stores loaded March 20, 2013. Photo courtesy F-35 Lightning II Program Office.

The 3F software upgrade will bring the external weapons pylons, 4.1 or 4.2 will bring the all-weather Small Diameter Bomb, and in the future the Marine Corps will look to adapt foreign weapons used by partners in the international JSF project, Davis told USNI News last month.

Davis made clear at Wednesday’s event that the F-35B with its current 2B software configuration can handle challenging threat environments today.

“Bottom line, [Marine Fighter Attack Squadron] VMFA 121 just did an Operational Readiness Inspection to get them ready to convince us that they were actually indeed ready to go be declared initial operational capable, and they did a fantastic job in the interdiction mission we had them do, and the defensive counter air, the offensive counter air, the close air support and the armed reconnaissance,” Davis said
“The armed reconnaissance one was the most interesting one. We gave them a really high-end threat environment to go against, and normally to go do close air support and armed reconnaissance you want to be able to get into a kind of low-threat environment to go out there and look for targets. … We gave them difficult targets to find, and we also gave them a difficult threat that in my world, as [former executive officer and commanding officer of Marine Aviation Weapons & Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1)], would be a prohibitive threat. They went out there, they found those targets, they dealt with that, and they came back.”

Now that VMFA 121 passed the ORI and Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford declared initial operational capability for the platform, the Marines will begin the slow process of standing down squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers and AV-8B Harriers, and standing up squadrons of JSFs. All active-duty squadrons will be stood up by 2031, with the Marines buying 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs.

The Marines “intend to extract maximum value and service life out of our Harriers, Hornets and Prowlers,” Davis said in a statement, but the four remaining Prowler squadrons will be short-lived, with the Marine Corps retiring one a year beginning next year. Though a final decision on Harriers and Hornets won’t be made until 2019, the service expects that the Harrier squadrons will transition by 2026 and the Hornets by 2030.

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    The question still remains, “Why, in this day & age, does the USMC still try to maintain a Fixed Wing Air Force, in spite of the fact that they do no even have the naval lift to even get them to the fight, much less the amphibious capabilities to get to the beach, starting at a somewhat safe distance from shore (100 nautical miles)?” This duplication of effort, which the USAF already performs for this country, is nothing but a huge waste of U.S. Tax Payer $$$.

    • Ctrot

      Red herring. It is not a “duplication of effort”. It is an additional capability that is useful. Do away with the USMC “Air Force” and either the US Navy or US Air Force has to fill in the void that results, therefore you have no monetary savings.

      • wawoo

        You would not have an F-35. Which would be huge savings. And just maybe a real dedicated ground attack aircraft rather than a master of nothing that costs three times as much to fly as a F/A-18 Super Hornet. And has failed at every test so far.

        • RedStatePatriot

          “costs three times as much to fly as a F/A-18 Super Hornet. And has failed at every test so far” Lie much do you?

          • wawoo

            Not at all. Public information. The F-35 has not meet a single major milestone either in meeting costs, specifications or in time frame. None. The recent Marine testing had less than 50% availability. It still has no functional weapon systems. None. It has dropped some bombs. Which WWI bi lanes did. It does cost three times as much as the F/A 18 Super Hornet to operate and maintain.
            Please advise where I have lied in any way.

          • Ctrot

            Not met a single milestone? The USMC just declared IOC with the F-35! Obviously, you don’t have a clue.

          • wawoo

            And that was very much pretend.
            You do not have a clue.

          • Ctrot

            Ah so anything positive about F-35 is made up and everything negative is unquestionable truth? I bet you’re a 9/11 truther and believe the Apollo moon landings were faked too.

          • CaptainParker

            And I bet you’re a corporate troll here to goose up favorable commentary for the plane.

          • Ctrot

            And I bet you’re an idiot.

          • RedStatePatriot

            You found us out… LM pays us all a $1000 for every positive comment we make, its a great job opportunity.

          • CaptainParker

            And if they didn’t, a lot of officers’ careers would come to a grinding halt.

          • Ctrot

            Ah so anything positive about F-35 is made up and everything negative is unquestionable truth? I bet you’re a 9/11 truther and believe the Apollo moon landings were faked too.

          • CaptainParker

            Actually I’m an Army infantry officer veteran who is quite familiar with the failings of military procurement and its decline into corporate welfare. Those moon landings were the apex of our progressive scientific achievement – what have we done since then?

          • GaryLockhart

            Well then, let’s take a look at your OQR and see how much verifiable experience you have in TACAIR. I’d wager that you’re most likely a pogue.

          • Ctrot

            Good for you, stick to the infantry because you know nothing about fighters.

          • Uniform223

            I’m prior army but even though my heart belongs on the ground my eyes always looked towards the skies. Military aviation has always been a point of interest for me. No need to bash the person for their military experience for this particular subject.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Being in the Army does not make you in anyway qualified to talk about the engineering involved in cutting edge aircraft design.

          • CaptainParker

            And what are your bona fides Goober?

          • RedStatePatriot

            Decades as an Aerospace engineer designing Military and space propulsion systems and previous involvement in the very program we are talking about.

          • CaptainParker

            Little conflict of interest here, maybe….nah.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Doubtful, since I now work for a competitor of the company I worked for in those days. Besides, why is it that you guys actually think that everyone that does not believe the F35 sucks, is somehow corrupt, or on the take? Do you really think all the thousands of people that work these programs, don’t give a damn about trying to produce the best hardware they can…. that they are not trying to give our war-fighters the edge they will need in battle?

            It must be pretty easy going through life just writing off everyone that disagrees with you as corrupt, as if you are the only person that is honest.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Doubtful since I now work for a competitor of the company I worked for back in those days.

            Why do you guys always accuse anyone that does not believe the F35 sucks, of being corrupt? Are you really under the impression that the thousands of people working in the defense industry are all dishonest people that don’t care if our troop are killed due to their work product? You actually seem to think that all those engineers and designers are not working long hard thankless hours not trying to provide our war-fighters the best equipment they can possibly produce?

            It must be rewarding to go through life calling everyone a lying dishonest crook, that does not agree with your opinion. But, if that’s what you have to resort to, to make yourself feel justified in your World view so be it… It must be a pathetic life you live though.

          • Uniform223

            when ignorance overrides reasoning…

            When they can’t come up with an intelligent response they resort to “MIC” accusations in a weak attempt to feel good about themselves by making hippy level assumptions.

          • Refguy

            Worked in Ft Worth?

          • RedStatePatriot

            FL, and CT… back in the day. Think engines.

          • Refguy

            Did you know Bob Cea?

          • RedStatePatriot

            Program guy, right?

          • Refguy

            Yes; formerly at Grumman.

          • Tarquin42

            Only people who are very old and disconnected from the world would say ‘Those moon landings were the apex of our progressive scientific achievement’
            Also it is more an achievement in engeneering than in pure science.
            But I’ll give you something to chew on: Internet – human genome project – Completion of the standard model

          • RedStatePatriot

            I love how when you guys lose an argument you go the the Ol “every officer and contractor is a money grubbing dishonest crook, and they don’t care if America loses the next war, and thousands of our troop die because they are getting money”. argument.

            The myth that everyone is corrupt except people that hate the F35 is just a childish argument.

          • Uniform223

            bully

            are there bad officers and service members? Yes there are. Is it to the extent that so many of these conspiracy MIC looney toons claim (at least the actual Looney Tunes are funny, theses MIC conspiracy theorist are only funny in the absurd remarks and claims they make)? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

          • Refguy

            Interesting that we love the military when they are dying for us, but despise them when they get to the Pentagon and spend our money – except when they spend it in our Congressional district.

          • Refguy

            IOC for a plane that can’t drop bombs, shoot the gun or launch missiles is a fraud. And the so-called IOC is years late, so milestone NOT met.

          • Ctrot

            Except the F-35 has done all of those things. You’re just ignorant of the facts.

          • bohemond

            “can’t drop bombs, shoot the gun or launch missiles”

            Some lies never die.

          • Refguy

            Some variants have done some of those things, but the B variant that has reached IOC doesn’t have the requisite software and the gun pod isn’t ready. And you still haven’t addressed wawoo’s question. I hope it matures into a good bird, but even the general says it can be a good attack airplane OR it can be stealthy.

          • RedStatePatriot

            LOL, next you will claim it can’t fly in the rain, will explode if hit by lightning, can’t fly if the fuel is too hot, can only turn at 3 G’s or one of the other silly myths that continue to troll around the internet.

          • NavySubNuke

            Yes but how many times was IOC pushed back? i’ll agree things seem to be getting better but IOC was supposed to happen several years ago. Oh and it was supposed to have a working gun pod at IOC too — still waiting on that…..

          • Ctrot

            I never said F-35 wasn’t late or was perfect, I was simply refuting the false statements made by the previous poster.

          • NavySubNuke

            I don’t know – he said it missed every milestone and your counter was that it had IOC’d. Not exactly the best counter when it is IOCing a decade or so late. I agree things are back on track and getting better – but I still don’t think it is wrong to say it missed every milestone in development. How many N-M breaches did the program have during development – 3?

          • Uniform223

            If we were to apply that mentality to things other than the military…
            where are our flying cars? colony space stations in orbit? Lunar bases? frameless computers? Neural net works? Robots that do all the manual labor?

            Did the JSF JPO reach too far and grasp too little in the first 7 years? No one will dispute that, not even the supporters.

          • NavySubNuke

            i was just pointing out that saying the fact that it has IOC’d for the marines to refute someone saying it has missed every milestone wasn’t exactly the best counter-example.
            When I was a midshipmen they talked about people from my class being among the first to able to select F35 out of flight school —- now that I’m over halfway to retirement people finally are able to do that.
            The F35 has made up a lot of ground – but it still has yet to prove itself a worthy successor of the planes it is replacing — especially considering its cost in comparison to them. Time will tell and the jury is definitely still out – but the fact that the marines have ioc’d it without most of its parts isn’t exactly great.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Its cost in comparison to them is about the same. Block production aircraft when the buying really starts in a couple of years is expected to be around $84 million. That is about $75 in today’s dollars. A block 60 F16 is about the same in the full up American configuration.

          • James B.

            “Expected to be around $84 million”?

            Can you cite a (recent) source that identifies which FY dollars that projection is in?

          • NavySubNuke

            Do you have a source for those fancy numbers? Last I saw Kendell refused to comment on what the block buy would actually cost per jet. It is pretty easy for LM to promise $84 million now while the block buy is still “a couple of years away” (side note: It has been a couple of years away for about the last 10 years or so) —- it is another thing for them to actually write that cost down and submit it as an official cost proposal to the government.
            Also, which version will be $84M? It is hard to believe all 3 will be that cheap!

          • Uniform223

            “The F35 has made up a lot of ground – but it still has yet to prove itself a worthy successor of the planes it is replacing — especially considering its cost in comparison to them. Time will tell and the jury is definitely still out – but the fact that the marines have ioc’d it without most of its parts isn’t exactly great.”

            It seems for the critics and haters have already come to their conclusion. Its hard to truly prove something that has just barely come out of gestation. The fact that the USMC has enough faith and confidence in the F-35B says plenty given their needs even though the F-35B currently flies with 2b software. Just looking at the comments of the people who fly and test the aircraft, I moving more towards confidently optimistic from cautiously optimistic. This doesn’t mean however that they should rush the program.

          • NavySubNuke

            True – though it will be a loooonnnnggg time before DOD starts buying platforms they haven’t tested fully after their experience with the F35. Turns out all those fancy models weren’t as good as expected and a few hundred million later the planes are actually flying well!

          • Daniel Shenise

            Just come out of gestation! You realize the U.S. fought WWII in less than half the time this program has been in gestation. That we went to the moon (from announcement of intention to boots on the lunar surface) in less time. Yet you don’t want to rush things. Way to celebrate mediocrity.

          • Uniform223

            Here lets put things into perspective…
            By the time WW2 came about prop driven aircraft have pretty much reaching their zenith in performance and capability. Exactly how long did it take for the prototype P-51 to become the P-51D? Even with jet engine technology there are still breakthroughs and new horizons to explore. Things like USAF’s push for the ADVENT program. Hypersonic cruising using SCRAM jet technology.

            The whole analogy of going to the moon is such a misinterpretation and so overly used its borderline stupid to even bring it up. There were two driving factors to go to the moon. The most important reason was the beat Russia. If going to the moon is so easy (as so many critics like to use the analogy) why aren’t we doing it now? Look how long its taking us just to go to Mars. If Russia and China teamed up and said, “We’re going to make the first manned mission to Mars by 2025”, the US would would probably make the statement, “We’ll have the first manned mission by 2022”. The race to the moon was purely competitive. The second reason was more of a political reason. The US wanted to keep the promise made by President John F Kennedy.

            Yes there are programs and projects that reach too far and grab too little. They have a design but no clear view of the concept. Then there is motivation. What is motivating the military to go and to things this way than to do it that way. Look how quickly it took the US military to come up with the MRAP. Look how long its taking us to push the F-35. See the difference? There was more motivation and necessity to put out things like MRAPs and modular armor kits then there was to develop a stealth aircraft. There was a clear need and motivation to develop the SR-71… satellite technology and imaging at the time was too expensive and not as good as dedicated reconnaissance aircraft at the time.

            “Way to celebrate mediocrity.”

            If you want to blame that mentality go yell at little league couches for giving participation trophies to kids. Go yell at teachers who intentionally pass under performing students just to make quota. I believe in meeting the set standards then motivating the individual in finding ways to exceed it.

            In the military there is a saying…
            “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. I’ve heard others say it this way, “slow is smooth and then smooth becomes fast”.

          • Bobd06

            Keep up

          • GaryLockhart

            Please provide verifiable data as to the number of hours you’ve logged in any variant of the F-35 as opposed to the time you’ve spent parroting what the DLEMM – Dominant Liberal Establishment Mass Media – selectively “reports”.

          • RedStatePatriot

            As typical for you guys, you try and quote early production number versus block production… the current Large Block proposal from LM sets the price for F35A in the mid 80s.. A Block 60 F16 is about the same for a US configuration.. The aircraft has done quite a lot of weapons testing and it is just fine in weapon availability. Also, you try and use current flight support numbers for development as if they are production. So maybe you are not a lying, maybe you are just dim.

          • Refguy

            But the large block proposal is only a proposal; the Falcon number is real.

          • wawoo

            See Real Clear Defense about what an abject failure the F-35 is by any and all measures. The damn thing needs to be stopped dead in its tracks before it gets a bunch of US pilots stopped dead in their tracks.

          • Tarquin42

            too late
            Imagine 30 years of 4000 to 8000 F-35 flying all over the world, the amount of maintanence costs that will bring and they created this plane so maintanence could come down for allies who signed up in this project. haha

          • wawoo

            Ain’t gonna happen.
            If there are 500 I will be shocked.
            If there are more than a thousand there will be no more aerial war as no one will be able to afford to fly them.

          • Tarquin42

            You my friend are awesome, what you are actualy saying that this is an expensive peace project :-)!
            I had not looked at it from this perspective and it is intriguing.

          • Tarquin42

            quite a lot? just fine?
            Did you know that most people cannot think beyond their own intelligence and presume everybody to be as or less intelligent as they are?

          • rlrapp

            You mean they hope it’ll be in the 80s. At this point its just a guess.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Well since they have officially offered that price for the Big Block Buy, that’s what they will be contractually held to, so they better hope they are right.

          • rlrapp

            Yes, like they’ve held to all their earlier quotes.

          • RedStatePatriot

            An official quote for a block buy is a far different thing than a multi year R&D number. Give me an example of a signed contractual quote for a block sale that LM did not live up too. I will be waiting.

          • Secundius

            @ RedStatePatriot.

            Never seen a Super Hornet Take-Off in 450-feet under it own power, or Hover, or Even make a Vertical Landing, unless it got Shot Down…

          • Tarquin42

            Well he is not far off.
            But then again you as a red state Patriot rely on truthiness to lead you 🙂
            How is Jade Helm going are you all annexed by the dictatorial Barry military?

          • RedStatePatriot

            he is not far off… really, he is off by around 170 million dollars… sounds pretty far off to me. Maybe math is not your strong suit.

            as far as conspiracy theories go I will leave that to people living in their mom’s basement like you.

    • Bobd06

      The USMC has their aircraft carriers, much smaller, hence the SVTOL requirements.

      • GaryLockhart

        The LHAs and LHDs belong to the squids and the correct acronym is STOVL not “SVTOL”(sic).

        • Bobd06

          Thanks for the correction.

    • GaryLockhart

      The question only remains in the minds of the obtuse.

      I suggest you seek to repeal the National Security Act of 1947 after first reading it.

      The Marine Corps provides 25% of the Republic’s defense on only about 7% of the DoD budget. If only those prima donnas in the chair force – which is the last resort for CAS – were as competent, efficient and frugal as the Corps is. Then you could be ignorantly whining about something else.

      • Navyjag907

        Amen, brother. Well stated. Wherever we put the Marines, we know they’re going to fight like furies. They’re the best at what they do. Just leave them alone to get on with it.

    • Navyjag907

      because they know as does the army that the usaf cannot be counted on to provide adequate close air support. The Marines are not limited by the key west agreement and they’re not going to give up their cas for their infantry. the army is limited by key west which is why they’ve put so much effort into attack helicopters; if the army had its own fixed wing cas, attack helos would not be so prominent in the army’s weaponry.//Institutionally, cas is not a mission which has ever ranked high in the USAF and the result has been a lot dead infantry over the years. Current prime example is the USAF’s effort to scrap the A-10 which is probably the best CAS aircraft the US has ever had. USAF’s generals have repeatedly lied in their efforts to get rid of the aircraft
      and it’s clear that these efforts are going to continue. The USMC would have to be nuts to rely on USAF CAS.

      • Uniform223

        I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic…

        • Navyjag907

          I’m not being sarcastic; i’m commenting on a long term problem.

          • Uniform223

            Well there is always the belief and fear that when the USAF gets rid of the A-10 the capability/ability to perform effective CAS for the the Army will drop. That simply isn’t true by any means. If anything the USAF is currently more committed to CAS than ever before. Also as you stated…

            “Institutionally, cas is not a mission which has ever ranked high in the USAF and the result has been a lot dead infantry over the years.”

            Again another false claim constantly perpetuated but not held in actual fact. This myth came about during the late 50’s and early 60’s when the USAF was developing super sonic aircraft and long range bombers to counter Soviet threats and designs.
            Yet ever since the USAF formation, the USAF has always performed CAS missions for ground forces ever since the Korean War. In Vietnam CAS was carried out by the USAF by the A-1, A-37, OV-10, F-100, and F-4s. First Gulf War (largely seen as a strike and interdiction mission oriented air campaign), Afghanistan, and Iraqi Freedom. In every major conflict in which US ground forces were involved the USAF has provided CAS.

            For 15+ years majority if not all operations in supporting ground troops have been in someways connected to CAS. The fact that even though A-10s have contributed to about 20-25% while the majority of CAS is handled by F-16 and F-15E in recent years is worth noting. CAS capabilities are much broader to the fleet then ever before thanks to things like targeting pods and PGMs. The whole concept of “low and slow” CAS for fixed wing aircraft is no longer a operational necessity but an operational exception. There are F-16s and A-10s doing their strafing runs in Iraq and Afghanistan but those events are few and far in between now.

            When the USAF eventually retires the A-10, the F-16 will pick up the slack (much like what they are doing now). F-16s not only train for strike and interdiction but also CAS. Now that there are more pilots experience in CAS in platforms other than the A-10, that knowledge and experience can be passed onto future pilots.

            Also the differences in doctrine between the USMC and US Army and how they field and use their attack helicopters. From my understanding (I could be wrong) the USMC sees their Harriers and Cobras as an organic part of the ground forces. The US Army on the other hand sees their attack helicopters as a separate entity but can be still be used in close coordination with ground units.

            As I am seeing the A-10 is now becoming a luxury than an actual operational necessity. There are other platforms that currently fill any role the A-10 currently handles.

          • Navyjag907

            I never said the USAF didn’t perform CAS; I’ve always said it didn’t perform it as well as the USMC did it for their troops. I’ve also pointed out that CAS has never ranked very high in the USAF as a mission. I’m aware of the aircraft used by the USAF for the CAS mission. Recitation of them is proof of what? And there’s no myth about the USAF’s placing of CAS at the bottom of its priorities. That’s a fact which started to become really evident in Korea when the Army could see what it didn’t have by looking at what the Marines were getting. And even with the limited resources made available for ground support the USAF devoted much of those resources to BAI vice the CAS the Army wanted.

            A lot of this goes back to the days when first Air Corps and AAF and then USAF officers were stating that only they understood Air Power which usually meant Air Power meant strategic bombing and any other use of airplanes was probably a waste of time and resources

            I argue that much if not all of that is still alive today and the A-10 controversy is the best current example. Many in the Army and many in Congress want the A-10 to keep flying but the USAF does its best to ignore these groups, again assuming that only the opinions of certain USAF generals and groups have any validity. I’m a former infantry officer and we on the ground have been treated by the USAF as if we were clueless about Air Power and ungrateful for what a munificent Air Force was giving us. Particularly, when we get lectured about our misunderstandings of what air support of ground troops should be.

  • Stephen Davies

    In 10 years we all be sitting around and talking about what a tremendous aircraft the F35 is or what a huge boondoggle it turned out to be. My concern is the Gen 3 flight helmet, custom made for each pilot/aviator (at a price tag of $400,000 a piece), and the fact we already have pilots on record saying they won’t wear it (too big, too heavy, prevents head movement in the cockpit).

    • RedStatePatriot

      False on every count, first off the cost of the helmet is included with the aircraft. Second the Gen 3 helmet from Rockwell Collins is smaller and the issues are all pretty much fixed. The final design is smaller than the test rig helmets used until now. Next, the pilot will not have to turn around all the way to try and see out the rear like previous versions, in cockpit maneuverability is a non issue. Also, the helmet is not custom made for each pilot, the liner is a custom fit… so what. So are football helmets.

      • James B.

        Flight helmets aren’t custom made, but they are generally issued to individual aviators, so there will be many more helmets bought than aircraft.

        • RedStatePatriot

          And aircraft are assigned to a pilot and a maintenance crew, it will be a rare thing for any F35 to be flown by more than any one pilot while he is assigned to a wing. On top of that, if another pilot needs to fly it he will simple put on his custom helmet liner and then climb in the aircraft and put on the ONE helmet that will be assigned to the aircraft, and away he will fly.

          Of course there will be some spares, but that will not be a lot.

          • James B.

            No, they aren’t. Aircraft are assigned to the maintenance department, and often pilots won’t know which aircraft are assigned to them until the brief, sometimes not until they stop by maintenance control before walking on the mission.

            Where did you come up with such a notion of personal aircraft?

          • The_Usual_Suspect61

            Pilots only “borrow” the aircraft from the crew chief. The Chief always tells them to bring it back in one piece.

          • RedStatePatriot

            not personal aircraft, but it is not like pilots are “hotswaping” planes like bunks on a submarine. Pilots and planes kinda go together… but that aside, you did your best to avoid the issue of the helmet in your reply I see…. So do you still think every pilot needs a helmet… or just a liner?

          • James B.

            Yes, pilots do hotswap aircraft; the hot-pump/crew-swap is a familiar experience in most aviation communities. Bear in mind that there are plenty of actual aviators on this thread, so your BS won’t fly.

            As for removable liners in helmets, it probably won’t work. Either the helmets will be painfully oversized to fit a substantially liner, or they will need substantial adjustment before every mission, or there will be a high number of helmet-maintenance issues.

          • RedStatePatriot

            So you are going to have me believe that the US is flying the same aircraft 24/7 and hot swapping pilots out (other than a readiness drill)? Sorry I don’t believe you. We have no reason to be taxing aircraft to that level. Second, you are going to have me believe the dimensions of the helmet are going to change on the helmet for each pilot (other than the liner)…. that is so ridiculous I don’t even know why I am responding to it. The helmet need to be produced which means they are not going to make individual displays and circuit boards to make different sized helmets. the only thing that will change is the liner.
            As far as actual aviators on this thread… yeah you get em Maverick.

          • James B.

            And just when I didn’t think you could get any dumber…

            Where did you get the idea that we fly our planes 24/7? Absent very serious combat, we never fly that much. As for what can fly longer, the plane or the pilot–we do commonly have jets running for 10-12 hours during certain operations, switching crews in and out. Hotswapping for CQ is very normal.

            As for your helmets idea: the only reason you started this is because you thought liners would be removable and helmets would be swappable, which is a terrible idea: it would cause constant problems with fit and probably the electronics too.

            All helmets, even when the base comes in multiple sizes, have adjustable liners, but no aviator wants to mess with their liner, earcups, microphone, etc. every time they fly. That is why everyone gets their own helmet.

            There are hundreds of books and documentaries that could tell you more about military flight operations than you think you know. I am frankly perplexed at where you even get your idiotic notions, and why you persist with them.

          • RedStatePatriot

            OK nit wit maybe you don’t read so well but I never said we flew our planes 24/7 YOU DID…. you said we have too hot swap planes. I said we are not doing that. SO tell me brainiac, if we are not using our aircraft that hard (like you now claim, unlike yesterday). then why would we ever hot/swap a pilot for any reason other than a readiness drill? You also keep referring to flight “crews” with your hot/swapping claims. You realize the F35 does not have a crew right. If you were suggesting it was a P8 I might think your argument made sense. I find it funny that you are now trying to put your own argument on ME like I am the one that said we have to hot/swap crews.

            I have been trying to post a link to the Rockwell Collins website to prove how the helmet is fitted, but this silly web sight does not want to allow a link so my post keeps waiting for a “moderator” to approve it. So rather then wait for the sleeping moderators to post it. SO how about this go to the Rockwell Collins website and search on F35, then click on the power point presentation on the helmet… second page, bullet point number 9, will tell you the helmet is custom fitted with liners individualized for the pilots. After that shut your pie hole.

            As far as where I get my knowledge… unlike you I don’t get it from the interment and reading book, I get it from being an Aerospace engineer and working within the F35 program for a part of my career. Where exactly do you get yours? I am guessing from the internet correct?

          • James B.

            I got my experience from actual flight experience with the Navy.

            I have seen and participated in hot-pump/crew-swap evolutions; because of the time it takes to start a jet, it is more efficient to keep one running for back-to-back missions. We hot-switch into both single-piloted and multi-crew aircraft.

            I am well aware that helmets have customized liners, but you don’t take the liner out after every flight. Since every squadron has more pilots than aircraft, that means more helmets than airplanes. That defeats your idiotic suggestion that started this whole thing.

            If you’re an aerospace engineer, stick to what you’re good at. Just about everything you’ve ever said about actual operational flying has been wrong.

          • RedStatePatriot

            “you don’t take the liner out after every flight” You mean in the past when helmets were just that…. helmets and didn’t cost a half a million each right?… with helmets not designed with exactly that in mind.. right?. This is a new helmet, it is essentially a shell that rides on top of a smaller fitted unit. Maybe you know flight operations like you say, so why don’t you stick to what you know then…. flight operations. What do you know about the design of the Helmet, or even the aircraft for that matter…. Are you under the impression that every helmet from the beginning of time until the future has to be the same? You really can not conceive of a shell designed to lock onto a smaller internal liner.

            You really think that they are going to custom build different sized optics and screens and circuit boards for every pilot in the US military?

            I am sure that there will be spare helmets, I seriously doubt every pilot will have his own, just as you suggest every pilot does not have his own plane. There would be no reason for that.

            So I am supposed to believe you are a big time Navy fighter pilot huh… like I said yeah you get em Maverick! You and Iceman show em how its done.

          • James B.

            Your credentials are as valid as mine, so if you can’t believe I’m a naval aviator, I needn’t believe you’ve ever been an aerospace engineer on aircraft not made of balsa. Given you poorly you write, I’m having my doubts.

            As for removing parts of the helmet between flights; I’ve never seen or heard of it being done. To pull a custom liner would require removing or altering the fit of the ear cups inside, and there are few things aircrew hate more than a helmet that crushes their ears.

            As for sizes of helmets; they already come in different sizes, but the external dimensions are still compatible with all external hardware. The F-35 helmets would be no different.

            You’re problem appears to be that you have predetermined notions, unsupported by fact, and you can’t stand to let facts intrude. Aircraft operations and maintenance, which encompass personal survival gear, ground operations, and flight scheduling, all happen for reasons born of years of experience. I couldn’t explain to you exactly why every procedure is as it is, but I do know them, and you don’t.

          • RedStatePatriot

            “Given you poorly you write”,,, errrr, ok.

            “As for removing parts of the helmet between flights” I never said anything about removing “parts” of the helmet, I said there is an internal shell (with the ear cups ect) and an external snap on part with the electronics and screens. Funy how you make stuff up and then project it onto me… like the part about hot/swapping, then you claim they don’t do it, then back to claiming they do do it…. funny.

            There are thousands of Aero Engineers, there are few Naval Aviators… I am doubting you are one of them. What carrier, aircraft, and cruses did you serve on, quick, you should be able to list that right now.

          • James B.

            Wow, you get really defensive when someone calls you out!

            A simple question: what happens to your two-piece helmet when a pilot has to eject?

            Answer: the solid part on the outside comes loose and impacts the pilots knees, breaking them. You don’t hang heavy parts on snap-on connections for a good reason.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Yeah I am sure they are using snaps like on a cheap jacket. I notice you didn’t list what aircraft, ship, or tour…. not enough time to go search the internet and make all that up and get the numbers lined up huh…. later Maverick, I think I will quit here… I have my answer.

          • James B.

            Done? I can’t imagine you would ever admit defeat, no matter how wrong you were.

            During ejection: If there is any movement in the helmet, bad things happen. If the helmet weighs to much, it will cause fatal spinal compression. If it is too big and prevents the pilots from getting their head into the right position, snapped neck.

            I don’t care if you think I’m an aviator or not; I know the others on this post will know you are an idiot.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Gezzzz, this is what I mean about you hearing voices in your head… you really must, because once again you make stuff up and claim I said it…. when did I ever counter claim anything you said about helmets and ejection? Quote me ever saying anything counter to that… you literally just make crap up.

            You are a real piece of work, I doubt you ever flew fighter aircraft for the Navy other than on a Xbox in your Moms basement.

            Also, like I said… if you were a Naval Aviator you would of happily named a ship, an Aircraft, and a Voyage…. but since you could not fake all those credentials fast enough and get it all correct you didn’t did you.

            Now go ask your mom for your Meds, really its for your own good.

          • James B.

            Your certainty comes from long experience, or clueless bravado, and I know you don’t have the experience.

            As for exactly who I am and exactly what I’ve done: I’m still active, so I keep details close to the vest. It’s a habit from SERE.

            If I had named a ship, squadron, cruise, whatever, it’s not like you’d know if I’m bluffing, so why do you care? It’s not like you were based on the other coast and we know a bunch of the same people.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Yeah but if you tossed out some names and numbers, you know I would be able to do some Googling and snoop out any lies. There is no operational reason you could not provide a ship and deployment, there is nothing classified about that after the fact… its not like every nation in the World does not know what ships sailed and what ports they visited.

            As far as experience many years designing Military Jet engines and being involved in military programs.

          • James B.

            You’ll have to forgive me, but you’re a random dude on the internet. Your claims of aerospace engineering and engine design have been consistent, I’ll give you that, but you’re not even a random dude in person.

            Like I said earlier, stick to engines. You don’t know beans about actually flying the airplanes, although, with your Googling skills, you could have learned about how gear is issued and planes are assigned. It would have saved you some trouble.

          • RedStatePatriot

            “everything you’ve ever said about actual operational flying has been wrong” Well since I haven’t said anything about operational flying, I guess that was just the voices in your own head.

        • Daniel Shenise

          Actually they are custom calibrated to the individual pilot, therefore if Lt. Doe’s helmet has an issue, he can’t fly until it’s fixed and re-calibrated stateside. But I’m sure there are never issues with equipment in the field.

          • James B.

            Just like I’ve never had systems quit airborne…

  • Ronsoppinion

    What we are forgetting is this, ever since the Marine’s obtained the Harrier and the AV8B they could see that the Marine’s could have there own air support right next to them possibly in a Jungle clearing, inside a building, under tree’s, almost anywhere, the VTOL’s could go into action immediately, the F35B is the latest VTOL with a lot of weaponry, more is coming, no other country posses such an aircraft so whatever money has been spent it would seem good value so far.

    • GaryLockhart

      STOVL not VTOL.

    • Refguy

      But, is an F-35 supportable in a jungle clearing? And will there ever be another Henderson Field?

      • Ronsoppinion

        To Refguy, as you say is the F-35B supportable in the jungle, I would say not at present due to heaps of bugs the pervade any new aircraft, I would say Marine engineer’s will address these problems, also the Marine’s are the best people to get the F-35B to get this particular variant of the F35 operation -able, the F35 is a different ball game, as for Henderson field in Guadalcanal this was a must for fixed wing aircraft requiring an airstrip.

        • Refguy

          I agree that we should never underestimate the Marines, after all, they sold the B to Congress. The point I intended to make is that the some of the sorties from Henderson had pilots bombing and strafing as soon as the wheels were in the wells to repel attacks on the field. There was no support from Naval gunfire or carrier-based aircraft because the Navy had pulled it ships out. The Marines want STOVL so they can keep their planes close and out of the hands of the ACC. The question is whether that’s necessary and realistic. I was impressed by the way the RAF operated Harriers from dispersed sites in Germany in the ’80’s, but they were operating from preselected sites and had logistic and maintenance support from Gutersloh and planned to disperse in response to Soviet armor coming through the Fulda Gap. That’s a far cry from the Marines’ expeditionary airfield concept and the Harrier is a much simpler airplane than the F-35.

          • Ronsoppinion

            To Refguy, thanks for your input, all your points are valid, the Harrier is a much simpler aircraft than the F-35B, the battle for Henderson Field was so courageous it should always be remembered, as to the F-35B we are where we are, it is the only STOVL in production in the world, the Marines are sold on STOVL, so this is the state of play, I have written a lot on the F35 not the B and I have it on good authority that there are things about the F35 so secret the cannot be mentioned, so we will wait and see, until then we will see how the Marines fair, also I wish the fitting a cannon should be a priority.

          • Tarquin42

            yes the unmentionables of the F-35

          • Refguy

            Voldemort? But not everyone is getting all of goodies that will be part of the U.S. airplanes. U.S. – less for UK and Australia – less for non-anglophone NATO – less for non-NATO – unique configuration if Israel ever buys them.

    • Tarquin42

      haha sorry but you know that there are millions in the US that don’t have health insurance and millions who live under the poverty level?
      You’d think that if you were a patriot you’d try to do something about that. I am dutch and I try to make my country a better place by helping my society.

      Ah the subject – no the F-35 is way way to vulnerable to just place anywhere. Maybe that will improve in time, but I don’t think so because of the weight requirments

      • Ronsoppinion

        For all your bluster Mr Dutchman, the Netherlands Parliament has ordered a purchase of 37 of the F-35A conventional-take-off-and-landing variants to replace the F16s, as for millions of Americans without heath insurance ( what on earth has this to do with the F35) I can assure you most Americans work to keep the U.S. a great country, go visit the U.S and stop listening to Radio Moscow.

        • Tarquin42

          A great country would not have >2 milion people in jail, and millions of people living in poverty if they could prevent it rather easily. In my opinion everybody in the states is working for their own and to few conservatives are working for the country, for the constitution, for the social-contract that is the United States.

        • Tarquin42

          I know we will be flying the dreadfull expensive plane to 🙁
          But I just learned that it is possibly the most expensive peace project in the world! Because you can not wage war when air superiority is to expensive 🙂

          • Ronsoppinion

            I rather think you would be flying everything you’ve got if the Russians were all over Holland, and who knows the F35 may be the aircraft that responsible for “Saving your bacon”, better dead than Red.

  • JB

    I wish they could pretty this bird up. It is one ugly duck.

    • Uniform223

      So does the A-10 but that doesn’t stop me from loving it…
      So its not as beautiful as the Raptor but at certain angles its easy on the eyes.

      • JB

        I just wish we could build a better looking bird. Tanks and helicopters and aircraft carriers are ugly. Face it- they aren’t meant to be pretty. But a fighter plane should look cool. The French, Swedish , Russians and Brits have cool looking planes. The F-15, 16, and 18 are all cool looking. Here we are spending a bunch of money on an ugly duck with too many moving parts. Which is another thing-fighter planes shouldn’t have many moving parts.

        • Uniform223

          Aesthetics do not mean jack in combat. The only thing that should be important is if it does what is required of it. How good looking a combat aircraft looks should be the last thing to look at. I believe it is purely by coincidence that aircraft like the F-22, Eagle, and Typhoon look good and can still perform. Look at the P-48 Thunderbolt (AKA “The Jug”), not as good looking as the P-51D or Spitfire but that aircraft more than held its own against the Luftwaffe. In the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the AH-64 is the most beautiful attack helicopter out there. The M1 Abrams is just one big sexy beast that can give as much as it takes all day long. People think the AK is beautiful and the M16/M4 is ugly and vice versa.

          “Which is another thing-fighter planes shouldn’t have many moving parts”

          Last I checked ALL modern fighter planes or combat aircraft (fixed and rotary winged) have plenty of moving parts. Not saying that simplicity is always the end all be all or that complexity always trumps simplicity but please explain

          • JB

            I have a small Swiss Army knife. I have no use for the larger ones with the spoon and the scissors, the magnifying glass and the file-plus its ugly.
            I really can’t “explain” but I know ugly when I see it.

    • Bill

      Did you see the Boeing entry in the JSF competition – the X-32? Now that was ugly!

      • JB

        No I didn’t.

        • Refguy

          It’s at the Pax museum

      • milomonkey

        i dont know, i rather like the boeing entry in JSF competition.. and it got better range than the F35.. that big delta wing of X32 give more room for fuel

  • MoS

    Okay, 18,000 pounds of ordinance, got it. And exactly how is that supposed to launch from a carrier? Vertical lift? You’re starting with an airplane that can’t out turn, out climb or out run its contemporaries when it’s clean. This is an airplane that, even clean, is range deficient. So, you’re going to compromise its already marginal maneuverability and compromise its already marginal range with a 9-ton bombload. I’ve got it! They’ll just have a tanker escort it all the way to the target and back. Or else it’ll just be the world’s most expensive lawn dart.

    • Ctrot

      You’re clueless as well, the F-35C has almost twice the range on internal fuel as an F-18 on internal fuel. Stop parroting mindless drivel you’re read on the web.

      • sferrin

        Are you kidding? You’re asking them to do something that’s clearly well outside their wheelhouse.

    • Uniform223

      “And exactly how is that supposed to launch from a carrier?”

      Catapult assisted launches… you know like how the USN has been doing it for a long long time now. The catapult on US aircraft carriers have put aircraft that were much bigger and heavier than the F-35 into the sky.

      “Vertical lift”

      Common misconception, the F-35B DOES NOT take off vertically, it will land vertically after missions. F-35B takes off the same way a fully loaded AV-8B does through a “jump”. I don’t know how effective a fully loaded F-35B with internal and external weapons with a full internal fuel will do but I would assume a ski-jump like on the HMS Queen Elizabeth would greatly help. I don’t know IF a full loaded USMC F-35B will do it on a flat top LHD.

      “You’re starting with an airplane that can’t out turn, out climb or out run its contemporaries when it’s clean.”

      Common misconception again and always taken out of context. The F-35’s physical performance lies somewhere between an F/A-18C/D and F-16 Block 50. Navy and Marine pilots have already remarked that the F-35 is similar to the Hornet while USAF pilots say the acceleration is comparable to a clean F-16 block 50. If the F-35 can’t turn, run, or climb than neither could the Viper or Hornet and there for; neither Hornet, Viper, and Lightning II is better or worse than the other. I would make a guess the F-35 (when all the FCL testing and tweaking is done) the F-35 will perform like a Hornet but with better acceleration.

      “This is an airplane that, even clean, is range deficient.”

      Compared to what? An F-15E with 2 EFTs? A Super Hornet with 3 EFTs? Already all F-35’s carry more internal fuel than their predecessors.

      F-35A – 18000lbs
      F-35B – 13000lbs
      F-35C – 20000lbs

      F-16C/D – 7000lbs
      F/A-18C/D – 11000lbs
      F/A-18E/F – 14500lbs
      AV-8B – 7800lbs

      So just on internal fuel capacity alone the ALL F-35 variants have range better or equal to what their predecessors will need 1 or 2 EFTs to equal.

      “So, you’re going to compromise its already marginal maneuverability and compromise its already marginal range with a 9-ton bombload.”

      Well what stick are you comparing it too? F-111? F-15E? F-22? If you’re going to compare it, compare it to the aircraft that the F-35 will eventually replace.

      “They’ll just have a tanker escort it all the way to the target and back.”

      Not how the US military air power has operated over the years. Tankers do fly on the outskirts of the edges of the battle space to top off aircraft during ingress. To say the F-35 needs tanker aircraft is just as true as any other modern aircraft currently in use.

      • GaryLockhart

        “Catapult assisted launches…”

        The Bravo cannot be launched with a catapult. They would launch from a CVN just as the AV-8As from VMA-231 did from the deck of CV-42 back in 76-77 and AV-8Bs did from CV-67 in 1988 – VMA-542, and 22 AV-8Bs in March of 1991 – 19 from VMA-231 and 3 from VMA-542; roll on takeoffs

        • Uniform223

          I was referring to the F-35C. I felt I didn’t I needed to clarify.

      • James B.

        Keep in mind with the fuel numbers that the F-35 is one of the heaviest planes on the list; so the gas won’t go quite as far.

        • Uniform223

          Compared to an F-18 Super Hornet the F-35 would have most likely have the same range in combat or perhaps slightly more.

          (Anecdotal)
          I’ve heard Raptor pilots claim they can actually fly further than what the specs tells them. This is mainly because unlike the Eagle or Viper whose airframe is affected by drag, the benefit of holding all that fuel and weapons internally is that they essentially fly clean in a combat configuration when compared to Eagles or Vipers who carry their weapons and additional fuel externally.

          If that is indeed the case the F-35 could fly out further than the Super Hornet. If an F-35 had to go out on a mission with stealthy configuration I would assume because the F-35C is only penalized by weight and not additional drag due to external stores. This would also mean that the F-35C would not have to use as much thrust from its engines to reach specific speeds or altitude because of a cleaner configuration.

          • Tarquin42

            Well I agree there is a good chance Lockheed did not think of that.

    • bohemond

      “an airplane that can’t out turn, out climb or out run its contemporaries when it’s clean. This is an airplane that, even clean, is range deficient.”

      Bollocks. Go look up the op radius of an F/A-18 and get back to me.

  • CaptainParker

    Public relations spin. The plane is, and remains, an over-engineered dog that is slower than its competition. But, it will be rammed down the services’ throats because the contracts are worth tens of billions to the connected defense contractors and adopting the plane will guarantee post-service careers for all the generals, admirals and project officers who have been involved in this fiasco.

    • JB

      …and not only that its ugly. Fighter planes should look cool and this is one ugly duck.

      • CaptainParker

        Good point…but sometimes ugly is not bad. Look at the A-10 – that is one ugly aircraft but I would be VERY unhappy being in her sights.

        • Emfourty Gasmask

          Only if you’re some towel-head with Vietnam era MANPAD weaponry. Any modern military can easily swat A-10’s out of the sky.

          • Refguy

            When was the last time we fought a modern military?

          • Ctrot

            Oh so we shouldn’t prepare for a peer fight? Talk about classic “planning for the last war” mentality. Thinking like that gets Americans killed.

          • Refguy

            Of course we should, but the A-10 is better and cheaper for the wars we ARE fighting, I think that was Captain Parker’s point. In a peer fight, it’s unlikely that we’ll be basing planes in the woods, so it’s not clear why the A and C should have been compromised to accommodate the B.

          • Tarquin42

            So how about the CAS of the T-35?
            It seems very fast and vulnerable to me for CAS

      • Tarquin42

        Wow that is a stupid remark 🙂

    • NavySubNuke

      Don’t forget spreading the jobs out to 48 states and several allied countries — what politician will go against that???

      • Uniform223

        F-22 had jobs and subcontractors across 48 states and provided up 90000 jobs, look what happened to that.

        • NavySubNuke

          Well they still got 187 air frames out of it — in a perfect world they would have cancelled all but the Marine version of the F35 and just built more F22s and Super Hornets but hey we go with what we got.

          • Uniform223

            “Well they still got 187 air frames out of it — in a perfect world they would have cancelled all but the Marine version of the F35 and just built more F22s and Super Hornets but hey we go with what we got.”

            Currently 185… remember we lost two due to accidents. At any one time there is probably about 2/3rds of the current F-22 fleet is “combat coded”. The rest is used for either testing out in Edwards AFB or school and training. So the harsh reality with having such a small fleet is that there are only 125 or so F-22s to be used for combat at any one time. Ask anyone and they will tell you that isn’t enough, even USAF says that isn’t enough. In a perfect world there wouldn’t have been sequester, massive budget cuts, force draw downs, and the USAF would have had their desired 350 F-22s.

            There was plenty of muck about the F-22’s cost and capability so they decided to put it to the chopping block. One of the biggest arguments against the F-22 was there was no need for such a complex air superiority fighter with limited air-to-ground capability (the conflict in Iraq was in full swing at the time and there was no real foreign competition to the F-22 before the PAKFA and J-20). Funny how now the same is being said about the F-35 but in almost in a reverse manner, “too complex and not enough air-to-air”. So which is it? F-22s only for the USAF becoming the only branch with 5th gen air capability? At least with the F-35 everyone gets a piece of the 5th gen pie and offers greater flexibility.

            USMC as a forward deployable force NEEDS 5th generation capability in their air fleet. In every way possible the F-35B is far superior to their current AV-8Bs. The way I see it the Super Hornet is only a stop gap. USN officials have stated the F-35s will become the “eyes and ears” of the fleet, something the Super Hornet cannot be and was never designed for. Currently with DoD funding commanders have to look long and hard about what capabilities they need now and find a way to balance it with what they need for the future.

            If USN keeps putting money into the Super Hornet they won’t have enough for the F-35. Super Hornets and Growlers going up against a comprehensive IADS and networks wont be as effective as F-35s specifically designed to work in such dangerous environments. If an F-35 could merely be detected from 100km (as so many “sources” seem to claim) how effective do you think Super Hornets and Growlers would be against such networks and systems?

          • NavySubNuke

            I agree completely that the marines need the F35 – what I am not so sure about is the Navy needing it.
            An F35 may be more effective against a comprehensive IADs but given the break through in “other” radar frequencies the F35 was not designed to be stealthy against it doesn’t appear that the F35 will be all that effective either. The navy is paying a big cost to go with the F35 — I am not sure it is better enough to justify that cost.
            Hopefully once the block buys start and the logictics tale and more understood and better defined the cost will come down – but right now it is hard to say the Navy is better off against a peer or near peer with the F35 than they are with the Super Hornet. Especially when you consider the worry of the carrier even getting in range to launch the planes in the first place.

          • Uniform223

            The other radar frequencies China, Russia, and even Iran tries to play up on capabilities of detecting stealth is often not supported by operational use or that nasty thing that limits everything we do, physics and science. Remember how Iran was publicizing their new land based radar that can detect stealth aircraft yet an F-22 was able to sneak up on one of their F-4s? Where was that new land based radar of theirs? They know we have a squadron of F-22’s based somewhere in the middle east so wouldn’t it be prudent to put those new radar systems near the Gulf?

            Stealth CAN be detected. This is completely true. Despite what so many doom and gloom naysayers believe or say, stealth platforms and tactics are designed to reduce detection (times and ranges) and disrupt the “kill chain”. Currently all LO aircraft designs are designed to defeat the most common radar used for interception and fire control, X-band. Against a proper stealth aircraft you’re always going to be forced to fight with a “shorter stick”.

            I often make the analogy of a 2 man sniper team. You know they’re out there but you don’t exactly know where. The other radar frequencies (Low Band, UHF, VHF, and so on) only let you know there is an stealth aircraft out there, they do not give enough or any information as to heading, altitude, and speed… all of which is important for sufficient interception and fire control systems. Most if not all these radar frequencies are used for early warning. These systems are more greatly effected by weather, EW, atmospheric disturbances, and are also more easily spoofed. These radars are often very large or stationary. Prudence would demand these radar sites be targeted first during the opening phases of any SHTF peer level conflict. This would also be further exacerbated if Growlers or other EW support units were supporting LO assets. What few know is that because of the lower RCS of F-22, F-35, and B-2, EW and Jamming can be used more effectively with less power needed. The F-35s have been reported to have their own EWS.

          • RedStatePatriot

            Well stated 223…. I am so tired of hearing the trolls claim stealth is dead. If it were in any way dead, why would the Russians be funding no less than 4 programs to develop it… ditto for the Chinese. The long antennae needed to observe stealth aircraft will all but guarantee that those systems will be large stationary ground based systems, and easy targets for cruise missiles.

          • Tarquin42

            Wow giving up so soon? Looking to the Russians for advice on stealh? Well if they do it we should be doing it to?
            mediocre

          • RedStatePatriot

            How is stating that everyone wishes to catch up with the US “looking to the Russians for advice” your ability to comprehend and think logically is pretty poor.

            Really bad attempt at trolling really.

          • Refguy

            Actually, some of the first papers on low RCS were published in Russia

          • Uniform223

            Petr Ufimstev’s mathematical equations of diffraction. This lead to the HAVE BLUE later to become the F-117. The information was out there but it was Lockheed Skunk Works and Alan Brown used it to make a true stealth aircraft. Before that the information wasn’t classified, it was simply over looked and obscure.
            With modern computer technology and modeling using Ufimstev’s mathematical equations, almost anyone now create a conceptual stealthy design. Though Its not just the shape that makes a difference but also the types of materials used (composites instead of metals) and the quality and RAM. Now to make the thing fly and test its air worthiness. There is a reason why an early name for the HAVE BLUE was called the “hopeless diamond”.

            As I see it the US still has a considerable edge in LO technologies, designs, and tactics over current Russian and Chinese platforms.

          • Tarquin42

            Ah yes science. You mean where a test with n=1 is no science and you can’t draw conclusions from it?
            But I agree Iran is not going to invent a radar that can see F-35’s
            What I find so strange is that if you only fly F-35 your enemy only has one plane to analyse and find a counter for. Current plans are 30 years of use, that is a long time to a solution for a very hot (hint hint) very stealthy plane 🙂

          • Refguy

            Low Band or L Band?

          • Uniform223

            from my understanding both are the same or L is a frequency in the low band category.

          • Refguy

            L is between UHF and S, was used for long-range search on cruisers prior to Aegis. Low is low; sometimes touted for beyond the horizon search. You were probably referring to Low.

        • Tarquin42

          That is an analogy not an argument

    • bohemond

      Oh, sheesh, not this nonsense again. “Slower”- is this the 1970s? You’d rather have an F-104?

      The F-35 has as much over legacy aircraft as an iPhone 6 has over an old flip-phone- and you want to complain that it doesn’t make phone calls any better.

      • Tarquin42

        you mean an iphone that does not work according to prommised specs that cannot fit extra mem cells untill 2022 and for some reason needs much more frequent and more expensive service because they only put in one chip instead of two and now the iphone becomes extremely hot after half an hour of use?
        But yes it can fly, not fast, not very manouverable and not very far, but you can get it in the air for a while

        • I died laughing. Yes, they really DO want to complain that the iPhone 6 doesn’t make phone calls any better than an old flip phone! 😀 Totally unexpected honesty there.

          • rlrapp

            Yes. Because both they are both phones that’s purpose is to make phone calls but the iphone cost 6 times as much so you can look at pretty graphics and take pictures.

        • bohemond

          “it can fly, not fast, not very manouverable and not very far”

          All false; more Sprey claptrap. It has more range than any legacy aircraft save the F-15E; is faster and more maneuverable with a meaningful combat load than an F-16C Block 50 in similar state.

        • Phil Verhey

          Everything you said is true.. a flip phone has a changable battery, external sd card slot for added storage, doesnt get hot wrapped in a case or playing the games it’s calable of entertaining you with, and it makes phone calls, does voice and data over 2 or 4G, isn’t handicapped by ios or a wacky screen dimension…. flip phone is and does all that and costs much less than an iphone.. heck, plenty of budget android phones do all that too… but the iphone is still very popular…. despite it’s hardware and software shortfalls. (Flip phone:F-16/18), (budget droid:Gripen/Rafale), (iPhone:F-35) …heck the iphone gets all these updates to catch up to what a cheaper droid could do 10years ago bi-annually… but the iphone is still as popular as ever…..

          … now that the analogy is over with…. time to research military power/fuel consumption/station time/acceleration rates…. then bow to the f-35 and eat your shorts

          • Tarquin42

            or maybe we research training $ / hour
            fly hour / service
            or flight hours per engine damage due to overheating
            Or amount 0 because that is the amount of CAS it will do

    • Strongly agree. In my humble opinion, this albatross is an example of contractor-centered abuse of process and taxpayers, completely inept govt oversight, Congressional pork-barrel politics and why Lockheed should be training their engineers to speak Chinese.
      The article on realcleardefense from war is boring website nails the fatal design flaw in the F35, a flaw, coincidentally, the Chinese didn’t copy after they hacked the design.

      • Uniform223

        If you really want to complain about abuse of process and waste of taxpayers money… (by the way how much of YOUR actual taxes goes to defense spending? ) look at that long circle jerk debacle of the US Army’s Camouflage Improvement Program.

        BTW the articles from War is Boring have no real professional or technical insight into ANY military program much less the F-35. What they write and put up is dribble equal to the stuff that is put out by some middle aged wannabe operator airsofter that hasn’t served or done time in LE trying to tell me how squad level tactics are done and how my kit should be set up. So their opinions are as valuable as the lint I find in my pockets. The fact that anyone takes them seriously grinds my gears.

        • sferrin

          The scary part is they consider themselves informed and educated after reading that dribble. Brain trusts they aren’t.

        • Tarquin42

          Typical American you mix really with what you want, you should align these two every once in a while.
          The F16 – F35 dogfight happened, and you could for example make a little effort and look up if what they say is true. And please don’t get your information from lockheed martin etc 🙂

          • USNVO

            Wow, you know if you keep repeating a lie, it is still a lie, right? It doesn’t matter at all what you really really want it to say. Look up the report. Read the paragraph about the purpose of the test. If you still think a dogfight occurred, please take a remedial reading course. Just because David Axe doubles down on stupid doesn’t mean the rest of us should believe him.

          • Uniform223

            bully

          • Phil Verhey

            And 4x fully equipped 1b F-35 smoked flight of F-16s.. but you seem to focus on the flight characteristics test of a prototype f-35 test aircraft

    • sferrin

      The F-16 and F/A-18 are slower than the F-104. So are the Typhoon, Rafale, and Gripen for that matter. I guess they all suck too right?

    • RedStatePatriot

      ” slower than its competition” Slower if what way? An F16 can do Mach 2.1 on paper, while an F35 can only do Mach 1.6 (published)…. but that is a “clean” configuration. If the F16 has to carry any weapons, which are external on F16s, its maximum speed is 1.2 to maybe 1.4 due to form drag. However, since a F35 carries its weapons internal there is no difference in form drag between carrying weapons and not carrying weapons… Therefore a F35 with weapons can still fly at Mach 1.6.

      So, in actuality an F35 can fly faster than both a F16 or F18 with a bomb load. If by competition you mean SU35’s and such, those are twin engine fighters, not attack aircraft.

      • Tarquin42

        Attack aircraft? That is funny.

        • RedStatePatriot

          Do you have any useful comments… yes the JSF is a Strike/Fighter.

          • Uniform223

            having read the individuals comments here so far all I have to say is, “please don’t feed the troll”.

      • Refguy

        Number of engines is not an indicator of speed. F-104 was faster than its twin-engine contemporaries.

        • Uniform223

          Hehe… the B-52 has 8 engines and is sub sonic but the SR-71 has two engines and still holds the worlds sustained speed record for a manned aircraft.

      • Uniform223

        Also just because a F-16 and F-15 are capable of mach 2+ speeds isn’t really an operational reality. Those speeds listed are often maximum speeds at which is achieved in the most optimal conditions. How often do the Viper and Eagle fly at mach 2+ let alone mach 1? Is there an actual operational need for a fighter aircraft to fly above mach 2 when most fights are done at subsonic and transonic speed?

        Even though a Viper is capable of mach 2 in an operational load (fuel, jammer pod, targeting pod, missiles or bombs) that aircraft struggles to reach mach 1.4.

        • RedStatePatriot

          You won’t get any argument from me 🙂 I am so tired of explaining form drag to the “it can’t go as fast as (insert aircraft name here)” crowd, that I am getting carpal tunnel.

      • Refguy

        If memory serves correctly, the export version (J79 engine, no one wanted it because the term export made the potential customers feel like second-class citizens) could top Mach 2, but the original USAF version (F100 engine) couldn’t; the DFE may have fixed that. In any event, just about any US fighter other than the F-22 will use up all of its fuel accelerating to Mach 2

        • RedStatePatriot

          Yes F119 in the F22 does have “super cruise” and can get above Mach 1.8ish without afterburners. F135 is the F119 core wrapped with a new larger bypass low pressure spool. F135 in the F35 can also “super cruise” (depending on who’s definition you wish to use) but only to around Mach 1.3ish.

          • Secundius

            @ RedStatePatriot.

            Actual “Super Cruise” capabilities of the F/A-35, is ~Mach 1.2 without External Stores…

          • RedStatePatriot

            Well we can quibble about if 1.2ish is close to 1.3ish Mach like I said, but since I was one of the people heavily involved in the design of the Hot-section of the F135 and owned the performance across numerous iterations of the engine’s design for both LM and Boeing versions, I am reasonably sure I know what the engine can and can not do. I am glad you were able to google the published numbers though.

  • Don Bacon

    Pipe dreams. There is little chance that Block 3F will be ready for fielding in 2017.
    Gilmore, OT&E, March 5:
    “…The test centers and contractor are completing detailed planning of Block 3F flight test. The test plan currently has approximately 7,000 test points. Plans completed after the 2012 rebaselining of the program showed the start of Block 3F flight testing in May 2014 and completion in February 2017, a span of 33 months. However, current program plans are to start Block 3F flight test in March 2015, simultaneous with the restart of Block 3i flight testing. If historical capacity to achieve test points remains consistent through the completion of Block 3F, and no additional testing is needed, Block 3F developmental testing would complete no earlier than October 2017, which represents at least eight months of schedule pressure.”

    • Uniform223

      *sarcasm on*
      Hey look everyone!! the worlds foremost expert in military aviation, tactics, and platforms is here! We should all feel so lucky that he will grace us with his expert insight into the JSF program…
      *sarcasm off*

      are you going tell us how the F-35C couldn’t land on the USS Nimitz again because the tail hook geometry was so off? are you going to tell us how the F-35A participation in this years Green Flag exercise at Ft Irwin NTC was a publicity stunt and a hoax? Will you explain to us how those weren’t F-35Bs on the USS Wasp for it’s Sea test and eval for the USMC and were actually new models of the Harrier… AV-8C/D Super Harrier III. Are you going to tell us the USAF did not recently receive their first two combat coded (USAF considers IOC to be 3i software) F-35s to the 34th Fighter Squadron in Utah that will become the USAF’s first operational F-35 squadron and that those “F-35s” are actually F-16 block 52+. Please tell us the truth because apparently the rest of us are being spoon fed lies by the US Military…

      • Tarquin42

        A plane that can land on a ship does not a fighter plane make.

        • Uniform223

          No it doesn’t but Donny Boy up there for the longest time kept harking how the F-35 couldn’t land on a carrier because of its tail hook geometry. Then came along initial sea worthiness tests last year on the USS Nimitz and Donny boy was proven wrong. I never said anything how an aircraft landing on a ship qualifies it as a fighter aircraft, you’re misconstruing my comment and the intent behind it.

  • Tarquin42

    Haha Americans are trying to build an STOVL plane, but that means it has strict weight requirments….

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  • rlrapp

    Maybe they can add an internal gun and gain 2nd Generation fighter capabilities!!!

  • Secundius

    Use a 12(deg) Ski-Jump, you can Reduce the STOL Take-Off Run for the F/AV-35B’s, to ~450-feet. As opposed to the current 820-feet for a STOL Take-Off Run…

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