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More Bad News For the F-35 401

Posted by Soulskill
from the flights-of-fancy dept.
schwit1 sends this news from Aviation Week: "A new U.S. Defense Department report warns that ongoing software, maintenance and reliability problems with Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighter could delay the Marine Corps' plans to start using its F-35 jets by mid-2015. It said Lockheed had delivered F-35 jets with 50 percent or less of the software capabilities required by its production contracts with the Pentagon. The computer-based logistics system known as ALIS was fielded with 'serious deficiencies' and remained behind schedule, which affected servicing of existing jets needed for flight testing, the report said. It said the ALIS diagnostic system failed to meet even basic requirements. The F35 program, which began in 2001, is 70 percent over initial cost estimates, and years behind schedule, but top U.S. officials say it is now making progress. They have vowed to safeguard funding for the program to keep it on track. Earlier this week, the nonprofit Center for International Policy said Lockheed had greatly exaggerated its estimate (PDF) that the F-35 program sustained 125,000 U.S. jobs to shore up support for the program."
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More Bad News For the F-35

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  • Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akratist (1080775) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:41AM (#46055889)
    Whatever one's political philosophy about them is, drones really are the future -- if one gets shot down, no expensive pilot lost and no embarrassing flag-draped coffins. Can hotseat pilots to allow for long loiter times. No need to have a cockpit for a pilot. Latency and jamming is an issue, but is steadily improving. It's the same way with aircraft carriers, which are steadily becoming welfare for defense contractors and an easy target for ballistic anti-ship missiles, super cavitating torpedos, etc. Defense needs to get out of the 20th century mindset, and out of the pockets of Congress, and into the business of actually building useful stuff.
  • Rube Goldberg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:44AM (#46055943) Journal

    DoD has learned nothing from conflicts we've fought, have they? Why has the B-52 seen more action than the B-1 or B-2? How about the A-10? Or drones for that matter. These successful platforms have a few things in common: They're (relatively) cheap, easy to maintain, and they have a high mission capable rate contrasted with their expensive big brothers.

    There's a place for the B-2, the F-22, and even the F-35, but what does DoD have in the works to replace the reliable workhorses of the air fleet? Nothing. Not a damned thing. They've placed all their eggs in the F-35 basket, even as costs have ballooned and promised milestones/deadlines have come and gone. Maybe the naysayers (yours truly included) will be proven wrong and the F-35 will go on to be as successful as the F-16. Here's hoping. Even in that optimistic scenario they've still got a huge hole to plug with the pending retirement of platforms like the A-10 and the continued attrition of the B-52 fleet.

  • Every Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcw3 (649211) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:46AM (#46055957) Journal

    Just to be fair, can anyone name a U.S. aircraft that was delivered ontime and at or below budget since the U2 or SR71? This is SOP, not that it's right.

  • Re:Every Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:50AM (#46056015)
    I was talking to someone about the troubles we had developing and fielding an aircraft. He assumed I was talking about the F-35. I was telling him my tales of the F/A-18. People forget so fast that the old planes they like had similar problems. You really want a tale of waste and over-expenditure, look at the history of the F-111.
  • by TWX (665546) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:56AM (#46056085)
    Uh, I hate to break it to you, but the English have a whole lot more experience pissing on and pissing off the rest of the world. Theirs started in the Age of Exploration and ended in the fifties. By contrast, ours didn't really start until the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, and didn't commit in earnest until after World War II...
  • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:57AM (#46056113)

    In the mean time, where would you like to launch your drones from if there's not base nearby? Some drones are rather large.

    Many large drones are capable of aerial refueling. They can circle the globe without landing. Or they can loiter indefinitely over a critical area. Drones are the future. The people that designed the F35 are like bad hockey players: they skate towards where the puck is, rather than where it is going.

  • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Major Blud (789630) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:08AM (#46056247) Homepage

    Quite a few people on here lately have been talking about how vulnerable aircraft carriers are to anti-ship missiles, and I think that threat is somewhat overstated. Sure anti-ship missiles such as the Exocet racked up an impressive tally in the Falklands War, but they didn't sink the carriers. Why? Because naval commanders realize the risk posed by anti-ship missiles and are willing to risk the destroyer screen to protect the valuable carriers (same techniques were applied against kamikaze). If the Argentinians were able to sink both of the British carriers (or maybe just one), the chances of the British being able to retake the Falklands would have pretty much ended.

    The Iraqis also fired two Silkworm missiles at the USS Missouri during the first Gulf War and one was intercepted by a British Sea Dart missile (the other one missed). For all of the talk about the dangers posed against carriers from anti-ship missiles, not a single carrier has been sunk or damages from one, despite numerous opportunities. Naval commanders understand the risk, and have developed the necessary tactics and defenses to protect the carriers from this threat.

  • Re:Rube Goldberg (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:10AM (#46056277)

    Why would anyone want waste time designing and manufacturing a reliable workhorse that will last forever? Cheap to manufacture, expensive to buy, and prone to needing near-constant replacement is the key to success in this game. Getting the government to pay you for it means that you can raise the price from obscene to insane.

    If we based our national defense purchasing on logic, that would make a lot of men in very nice suits not at all happy. And since those men own all our politicians, their happiness is the only thing that is important.

  • Re: Waste of money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:18AM (#46056353)

    They are also easily disabled by jamming and there is latency in controlling them.

    If the drone has been assigned a target, then when jammed it will continue its mission.
    If the drone hasn't been assigned a target, then the jammer's radiation source becomes the target.

  • by Sand_Man (81150) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:19AM (#46056371)

    When has this misguided notion that we can have 1 base A/C be all things to all branches EVER worked out?

    F-111 anyone?

    The F-14 was a great A/C. For the Navy. The F-15 is one of the best ever, but would be useless as a carrier based A/C.
    Anyone around fro all the fun and games that was involved in the F/A-18A rollout, and what was required for that to become a useful platform?

    This flawed paradigm is why the A-6 was around for so long, they couldn't field a suitable replacement.

    I expect that by the time the F-35 is out and working for everyone, it will cost the same as 3 well run, more narrowly scoped projects.

  • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:39AM (#46056685)

    Government sets the requirements, industry meets them.

    ...

    delivered F-35 jets with 50 percent or less of the software capabilities

    Apparently, industry cannot meet the requirements.

  • Re:Every Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jacknifetoaswan (2618987) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:48AM (#46056777)

    I used to work with his nephew. The real reason those two aircraft were so successful was that the government stayed out of Johnson's way, and just let his team do their damn jobs. The bureaucratic red tape, with dozens of 'project managers' doing the same thing, today, is absolutely ridiculous.

  • by microbox (704317) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:01PM (#46056917)
    I actually know something about the Falkland wars, and encourage your to learn something about it. Grew up hating Thatcher, and learning the history of what happened there was one of the first times that I realized how little I know about the world. It has always been the position of the UK government that the people *living* in the falkland islands should be able to decide if they want to be part of Argentina or not. The military junta that ruled Argentina didn't see it that way -- and in Argentina there is a myth that the Falkland islands were always theirs. (Please, Argentina was colonised by Spanish, and the Spanish had a rather tenuous connection to the Falklands.) When Argentinian soldiers landed on the island, they were shocked, SHOCKED, not to be greeted as liberators. That is how thoroughly propagandized they were.

    If you dole sovereignty out first-come-first served, then the Falklands should be Portuguese, and Argentina should be a nation of natives. The French were the first to colonoise the islands, *briefly* conquered by the Spanish, and then transferred to the UK towards the end of the Napoleonic era. Argentina didn't even exist.

    The British stood up to a bully. A weak, ineffectual, corrupted, delusional, but still dangerous bully.
  • Funding Crisis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gnalre (323830) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:27PM (#46057195)

    Cost of 1 F-35 $300 million
    Cost to keep Mars Rover operating 1 year $14 million

    I know where my money would go...

  • by v1 (525388) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:31PM (#46057231) Homepage Journal

    They have vowed to safeguard funding for the program to keep it on track.

    "Don't worry, even if you don't deliver what we asked for, get way behind schedule, and run way over budget, we'll still pay you." That pretty much sums up the issue right there. That's why we have debacles like the F-35. These clowns making the hardware simply can't fail. We're guaranteeing to buy whatever crap they happen to offer us. Military Contracts have been known to be "gravy" for decades now, and that needs to change. The classic "$250 toilet seat" jab is unfortunately a reality, and a persistent one at that.

    It's not jut the government that can't run like a business, it's the businesses working with the government that are having the same issue, and it's again a problem from within the government, it's a behavior that their system both allows and seems to encourage. A select few are getting rich on our tax dollars, and we're not getting what we should in exchange, be it materials or government itself. Pisses me off that there's nothing effective I can do about it. (and no, voting hasn't helped so farâ¦)

  • Re:Waste of money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:41PM (#46057335)

    That is not correct, at all. DoD and government requires different organizations to be involved at all stages, regardless of what you think about a 'military-industrial complex'.

    They are the SAME PEOPLE. They just rotate jobs periodically. Government employees and politicians responsible for managing the procurement process routinely work for a while to build their connections and then leave and go work for the contractors. So when working on the government side of the MIC, they have no incentive to go against the interests of their future employers on the industry side.

  • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 24, 2014 @12:49PM (#46057453)

    Industry can't meet requirements when the requirements are not nailed down until well in the development process.

    This is so that the contract can be low-balled (wink, wink) and pushed through congress (more wink, wink) and then the "real" requirements can be tacked on later and the price jacked up, which is exactly what everyone (especially the winkers) expected.

    There is a solution to this phony system: prediction markets [wikipedia.org]. Big government contracts should not be able to be funded unless informed investors, wagering their own money, believe that there is at least a 50% probability of it being finished on time and under budget.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:14PM (#46059425)

    Settling land is not a legitimate way to take it from another country.

    Arguable only when the other country ever had the land.

    Argentina has at least an arguable claim that the land was occupied and that the settlement is illegal.

    No, they don't. Argentina has *never* owned the Falklands. Or else identify the period when the independent country of Argentina ruled over it.

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