Saturday, February 6, 2016

JSF: Just Science Fiction

Meanwhile, the F-35 is still a train wreck
More troops, more ships, more planes, more dollars is pretty much the mantra of every candidate. The worrisome story of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – a.k.a. the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – has been addressed here before by Jazz Shaw (July 1, 2015 and August 15, 2015), and since then, has gotten worse, not better. The F-35 is the most expensive defense acquisition project ever with projected costs exceeding $1.3 trillion.

Aviation Week and Space Technology obtained a leaked copy of the 48-page F-35 section (PDF file) of the Department of Defense’s FY2015 Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) Annual Report in late January. The report was released to Congress on Monday, February 1, 2016 but is yet to be publicly published in full. To quote from the AW&ST article by Bill Sweetman:
The Block 2B version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the Marine Corps declared operational in July last year, is not capable of unsupported combat against any serious threat, according to Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E).

Digging deeper into the actual report, the F-35’s problems are extensive and span across all three variants of the aircraft: the “A” model for the Air Force, the “B” for the Marines (it can take off and land vertically, like the AV-8 Harrier), and the “C” for the Navy (carrier-capable). Particularly troubling are the admissions that weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) – can you fire or drop a weapon and have it hit what you’re aiming at – tests had to have their constraints altered to allow the aircraft to pass. . . .
A fishing friend of mine is a engineer of some importance at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, where among many other things, they test the Navy and Marine versions of the JSF. We saw one of the VTOL version out on a trip a few months ago with its air collector vertical take offs and landings, like the one in the picture (which has the Bay in the background).

He told me that the engineers called it Just Science Fiction, and said he and his friends did not expect to see it combat ready within their careers. He's thinking of retiring soon, and it still sounds like a good bet.

He said it was more of a wish list than an airplane.

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