Monday, December 19, 2011

Hard path ahead

How do we avoid disaster with the F-35 and not let it be cancelled with a complete halt on work? It will be difficult and maybe even impossible given that it was poor and limited thinking that got us into the tac-air disaster in the first place.

I suggest the following:

Stop LRIP production of the F-35. The F-35A, B and C will become X-35A, X-35B and X-35C falling into an open-ended test program that will use these airframes to learn what works and what does not over the long term.

Jobs will be lost. But not as many as the outcome of the pending program failure as we see it now.

Lessons learned will spill over into USAF and Navy requirements for a new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. There will be a CV variant and a CTOL variant. No STOVL.

The requirement should include the following:

2x1000lb internal carry of weapons. The F-22 main weapons bay will be used for this design. There will be a gun on both variants. Again, the F-22 configuration with lots (compared to the F-35) of ammo. There will be a HUD and JHMCS system. There will be a bubble canopy for better rear visibility. It will have two motors on it. The same ones used in the F-18 Super Hornet. It will have an internal self-defense jammer and towed decoy. Low observable quality will be robust and maintenance friendly over ultimate-stealth.

The end joint strike fighter could be a mixed vendor deal where Boeing and LM work together. Any foreign sales will be traditional FMS. It will not be an ultimate fighter but a good strike fighter that should work well with the F-22.

F-22 production will be started up. This could take a few years just to get the supply chain restarted. This means that refurbs on old fighter aircraft continue.


1. Upgrade path
2. Training
3. Test
4. Long term sustainability initiatives


- US and export for ABC's (Australia, Britain, Canada).


- Export version of B, for non-ABC's (Israel, Japan)


- Technology demonstrators (D-1,D-2, D-3 and so on) for a variety of F-22 initiatives: IRST, Cheek AESA, LO external storage, 2 aircrew, etc.


1. Follow on of B from what was learned from D model


- Follow-on of C from what was learned from D model

All of this will be very hard to do to pick up the pieces left from a raft of poor air power leadership since the end of the Cold War. However, it beats the alternative of faith-based insanity sponsored by the failed F-35 team.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a sound and viable TACAIR plan.

My vote; put Eric in charge of strategic planning and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

Might need to teach him a few TTPs for context first....

fleet management software said...

Is this how a report from a Fleet maintenance software looks like? I am anxious on how does it looks like, if it's like this, then I think I found what I am looking for. Thanks.

Distiller said...

The F-22 is dead. But proper upgrades (new radar, IRST, HMD/S, navcom, &c) to a common standard are vital to make the best of the available airframes. A production re-start is neither viable, nor desirable. That thing is a quarter of a century old by now.

Focus on the Strike Eagle. That thing is still in production, so get some. And get the Eagles and Raptors as close to a common avionics standard as possible.

The F-35 should be canceled and instead a couple of hundred more SHornets ordered. The real problem is the industrial base: After this disaster LMCO should be castigated. If too big to fail it should be nationalized or parceled out between Boeing and NGCO.

And then go ahead with NGAD/FAXX pronto.

ELP said...

The F-22 may be currently "dead", but the reason for stopping production is not valid or based on any sound sense of reasoning.

Gates, Schwartz and Donley, when considering air power issues are about as dumb as a new-born chimp.

There is no valid reason for the F-35 in its present form. Just like there is no valid reason for stopping F-22 production.

Exactly how are America and its allies supposed to maintain air domination in the coming years?

Anonymous said...

I suppose , like prior to WW1.
Learn the lesson and stay home, and let the rest of them figure it out.
Everyone will still trade with them.

Bushranger 71 said...

A large percentage of world air forces would probably prefer enhanced F-16 versions to replace their existing fleets and the US will be upgrading 350 or so of their F-16 platforms.

Probably cost-effective to also enhance the 50 or so F-117 in controlled climate storage to complement existing F-22 and B-2 stealth resources.

Wiser just to can the F-35 and initiate separate requirements for new air combat and strike platforms. But this time, let the manufacturers compete and first prove their designs without suckering in other nations to subsidize development.

NGF said...

Eric, A very interesting post. If the F-35 is in as much trouble as many say it is, then describing an alternative way forward is sound and logical.

My concern is whether you think that a gap will open up while the F-35 is replaced by a twin engine aircaft and the F-22 production line is re-started and upgraded designs are developed.

How should the gap be filled by the US and its partners? Should non-US alternatives (eg Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen NG) be considered by partner countries like Australia?

Anonymous said...

Can we dig up the F111?

Anonymous said...

Only if you want a nice juicy no SA decoy for the fighters....

Anonymous said...

What is a "SA Decoy".
Excuse my igonrance?

goldeel1 said...

The SA that Anonymous #1 is referring to is "Situational Awareness" (SA) or the ability to perceive
through various means the battle space around you in terms of time and space. This can be as complex as the latest and greatest AESA type radar, or Infrared or Electro Optical (eg: high quality digital cameras), or as simple as the human eye.

Anon #1 is being rather simplistic in branding the F-111 non SA, or possibly just tongue in cheek sarcastic. Any F-111 that did get hypothetically rejuvenated would not be left with the same 1970's/80's electronic suite. It's analogous to comparing an F-15A from 1976 as a baseline while disregarding an F15K or SE as the current standard and saying the aircraft is obsolete. And there in lies one of the main problems in general with the anti F-111 crowd. Every single time this subject gets brought up they tend to studiously avoid the actual argument put forward by proponents of having kept the Pig in service. And it's extremely frustrating, it is like holding two different conversations on the same subject at once. No matter what you say they will always skew the argument around an assumptions and generalisations of what was admitted by all as an outdated electronic fit.

But irrespective of whether that was meant or not,
somehow I dont think we will ever see or hear an F-111 flying again.

Anonymous said...

F-111 could never be brought up to a relevant modern platform because of weaknesses in its design. The F-15E is a relevant platform due to its fighter pedigree. It can detect threats with its radar and has options besides turning tail and running for home. An F-111 with all the sensors in the world could never hope to merge with even a Hawk 200.

Anonymous said...

The F-111's modern role was that of a bomb truck. It could carry a load to a target but would require a screen of fighters. This is the same modern role of a B-52 (except if you're going to the trouble off coordinated escort, you'd rather the buff with the better payload).

Anonymous said...

As the crippled reality comes due in 2012-13, where US defence budgets are cut and LM could build more than 30-40 F-35's a years. Defence depts will have to start purchasing interim/replacement aircraft. By then Boeing will have some very good practical options available. The F-18 SH will be in it's block iii format and the F-15SE should be in production for ROKAF.

In 2013 after the US election, watch for major changes. Until then, the band plays on. However, most countries will not commit to the F-35 with real P.O.'s because it's not ready.

Anonymous said...

As the crippled reality comes due in 2012-13, where US defence budgets are cut and LM can't build more than 30-40 F-35's per year on a good day.
Defence depts will have to start purchasing interim/replacement aircraft. By then Boeing will have some very good practical options available. The F-18 SH will be in it's block iii format and the F-15SE should be in production for ROKAF.

In 2013 after the US election, watch for major changes. Until then, the band plays on. However, most countries will not commit to the F-35 with real P.O.'s because it's not ready.

Anonymous said...

What will escort the SH and F35?

ELP said...

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ our Savoir.

Although there are heaps of prayers for pending negative outcomes too.

Anonymous said...

At this point and time I'm pretty much in the camp of that which Distiller outlined.

Basically, suck it up, cancel F-35, write it off to experience.

Upgrade existing F-22 and F-15E.

Procure stopgap alternatives which are currently in production and are in process of being evolved: SH, F-15E derivatives and even F-16 mods.

Shift saved F-35 budgets to develop a more sustainable and viable 5.5 gen NGAD (perhaps a common navalized platform) with an IOC target of mid-20s.

Supplement future manned TACAIR procurement with UCAV.

With respect to the last Anon question: "What will escort SH and F-35"?? The most plausible escort would be a modified and upgraded F-15E class platform. They will apparently also escort F-22 (adding tactical flexibility). I'd contemplate a clean CFT configuration (e.g. aerodynamically enhanced FASTPack concept), enhanced LW IRST/Sniper SE and APG-82 for improved BVR SA and a next-gen Elta/Rafael or Thales AEA/SoJ pod on the centerline.

Anonymous said...

AESA radars and AMRAAMS will escort SH and F-35. Plane spotters are the only ones with concerns for their air-air performance.

ELP said...

The Super Hornet anyway.

The F-35 has no credible combat performance to show this time or in the near future.

Anonymous said...

APG-81, AMRAAM, AIM-9X, DAS, Gun, JHMCS equivelant until the HMD is ready,VLO, huge on station time.....

9G rate performance (ie, can outrate a flanker by default)

Yeah, no capability at all!!!

ELP said...

Not much of that working as a system.

Tough luck for the faith-based marketing crew.

nico said...

Too many Anons, for my taste!

Anyways, I am in Distiller's camp. Just nurse the remaining F22s we have left. That production line is done.

Use what is best and can be salvaged from F35 program and install it in new batches of F15SEs and SH block IV. Maybe take what you can from F135 and use that knowledge for uprated F110/100 and F414.

I would let F16 just go to export market, if LMT wants to spend some money on it, they can. USAF shouldn't buy any, screw LMT. I think USAF should just standardize on "heavies" a la F22, F15C/E/SE.It will be a smaller fleet but at least it would be survivable.

Start working on 6th gen FXX, now that we have a good idea about PAKFA and J20, we can develop something that can REALLY take them on.

Locum said...

No more F-22 Raptors.
F-35 ThudII, stop it!!! Just use some F-35's as testbed for the avionics.
Build some F-15(S)E's and F-18E Superbugs and upgrade F-16C's as an interim solution. Start developing new 7,5 - 9 ton (16,500 - 20,000lbs) empty weight fighter with 50 sq meter wings. 1 F-119 or F-120 engine option. Just like the Rafale available in a land and carrier borne version. Stealth? Yes, in a balanced way please. So, no weapon bays, but 4 - 6 semi-recessed wep stations. Supercruise? Yes! Super agile? Yes.
Avionics: take that stunning stuff from the SuperBug blockII.
Later: newer avionics from the JSF project. Develop this F-24A SabreTiger in 20 years? No, do it in 5 years!
Take a look at the car / Formula One industry.

Canuck Fighter said...

There is plenty of life left in the base F15/16/18 designs. The latest versions are very modern with great avionics, engines, cockpits, and added sensors, conformal weapons bays/pods and fuel tanks.

To say a 1980 F15/18 is old is like saying a 2010 BMW 3 series is old. The 3 series is the same "basic design" as it was decades. That's because cars are generally evolutionally designs. Yet a 2010 is state of the art and we would all frolic to one.

Somehow with Military aircraft people get caught up with how old it is (lack of critical thinking).

Yes the F-22/Pak-FA or J-20 are the top line predators. But they are few in number and the later two are not yet in production nor proven. With the Global financial crisis, it's questionable whether they ever will be.

The biggest issue here is what is the order of battle for 2020 or 2030. Anyone who says they know, is lying. No one knows, just like WW1, WW2 and everything. Generals always prepare for the last war. Only the very, very few prepare for the next one, and they are always few and far between as history shows.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Canuck Fighter:

Just build more of the latest, proven F-15/18 versions to replace the old, cracking, corroding platforms being retired.

Bushranger 71 said...

Good posts by Locum and Canuck Fighter. John Boyd had it right with his distaste for multi-role combat aircraft and existing types in service can be reasonably enhanced for air combat OR strike roles. Lots of R&D has already been done in this regard; the F-16XL for instance.

As I see it, the primary goal should always be to maintain continuous adequate and credible military capacity through progressive optimisation of in-service types, where cost-effective. Involvement in conflicts is unpredictable and assets in service will inevitably have to suffice. Australia has made the calamitous mistake of focusing on some mythical Force 2030 structure creating compounding capability gaps through forsaking aircraft types adequate for continued service.

The affordable way forward is enhance the existing platforms as far as practical and initiate new design competitions for more advanced air combat and strike platforms.

Horde said...

Legacy fighters as well as SH are not competitive with the Su-35S, let alone the T-50 PAK-FA or the Chengdu J-20.

The F-35 Lightning II is not even worth mentioning till its manufacturer makes good on its promises and undertakings.

Wishing them luck and all the very best of British with that!

Anonymous said...

SU-35 only carries a PESA, AA-10 and AA-12... No competition to legacy fighters.... It's also not being produced in appreciable numbers yet...

goldeel1 said...

I would dearly love to know what the weaknesses in the F-11 design eluded by one of the far too many "Anonymous" contributers here were?

I dont agree that the F-22 is a loss. The production line and supply chain are still warm and if a decision to re-activate it were made in the next 6-18 months I dont envisage it being as hard as some people think it would be. The plan of the shutdown has taken into account a restart with fairly short lead time. The stupidity is this situation should never have happened in the first place. LM and Burbage should be publicly hung for deliberately initiating this process solely to keep the F-35 gravy train wreck breathing.

All the obvious alternatives have already been stated by various posters. But I will add that what needs to happen is study of a series of dedicated airframes for the future fighter and strike roles. Where possible major subsystems can be shared ie; engines, basic radar modules, IRST, and flight management systems. The key failing of the F-35 program is they tried jamming all the equipment for 3 very different roles into one basic airframe with all the inevitable compromises. What they should have done was design 2 or 3 different airframes and built in the relevant equipment in each. But we all know why it was done the way it was. It was easier to sell a 3 aircraft program to clueless Congressmen and Senators by making them all look the same to the ignorant eye.

Anonymous said...

F-111's primary weaknesses:

No air-air radar, and

Very poor E-M in both rate and radius, sustained and instantaneous.

Perplexed said...

Anon crap.
I can not believe the anonymous comments and posts like this.

From now on, identify yourself, and most importantly reference your comments with evidence.
Otherwise go back to the kiddies sites.
Your comments are not worth pi***g on.
No intellectual input at all.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the F-111 had good EM?

Anonymous said...

Kiddies site?

As opposed to the site of armchair strategists frothing over cool grey aeroplanes?

Perplexed said...

Exactly, you remain anon, make stupid comments and cannnot refernece, argue or enter into a proper debate.
Kiddies site indeed, you have just outed yourself.
Apart from yourself, who are the armchair strategists?
If you have any facts on the F111 I await same,but you do not.Follow the pack.No evidence, no references, just crap picked up from the morons on kiddies sites.
Back you go.

Anonymous said...

The F-111 had no Air-Air Radar, it had rubbish E-M.

Reference: F-111 flight manual, supported by "Boyd" (Roger Coram).

there you go

Perplexed said...

Refer my previous comments anon, you show your ignorance like no other. No refernces, no intellectual capability, just quoting something from a blog.
This will also surprise you, however you can upgrade avionics.Wonderous is it not.
On some aircraft, ie the F35, you cannot upgrade the aerodynamics.

Anonymous said...

That you can't change aerodynamics is exactly why F-111 EM is so flawed. Ref: Perplexed and F-111 flight manual.

F-35 however has been flight tested to 9g. This is an airframe that can have internal stores and 14k internal fuel with one 40k+lbs donk. Stick two jugs and equivalent armament on a classic hornet and you're limited to 5.5g. It's been quoted numerous times that the F-35 is designed to rate no less than a Viper. How its alpha handling turns out will be very interesting. References: Hornet flight manual, that open source release recently on F-35 flight testing, Isaac Newton & circular motion.

Perplexed said...

Anon, you are a dill. Since when did anyone say the F111 was a fighter?It has another purpose, perfectly suited to the Pacific.
The other point is that the F111 works, and the other does not and has an IOC of about 2022.
It is already obsolete. The Wirraway Mk2.Suggest you bone up on your history,although I doubt that you find much in comic books or LM marketing materials.
back to your kiddies sites and blogs.

Anonymous said...

The F-111's EM is a major reason why It couldn't be upgraded to be a modern relevant strike platform on par with the F-15E that didn't require a dedicated F-18 screen.

The f-111 doesn't work due to its requirement for escort limiting it to the role of Mach 0.85 30k' bomb carrier. In its latter days the 1-2 AGM-142's it could pop off from the back of the package behind the OCA fighters are now better carried as JASSMs on self-aware Hornets that can detect, disrupt and destroy the bad persons DCA.

References: F-111 EM chart, AAP1000, USAF 3-1, Airborne Radar Theory 2nd Edition (Stimson).

Anonymous said...

Btw: F-35 IOC is 2018 for RAAF and USAF

Reference: Director NACC (Nov 2011)

Canuck Fighter said...

Despite the fact that I believe the teen series (15/16/18 aircraft) have plenty of life left in then with modern advances. It puzzles me why the US would not consider selling the F-22 to ABC countries. Or in different terms, the "Anglo Axis". How can their be any serious concerns that Britain, Canada or Australia could be security risks. The US-Britain relationship has been a stellar one since WW2. Canada just signed a historic Border/Continental security agreement with the US which will intertwine the countries for decades. Not to mention the US/Canada NORAD pact of 1957, i.e. US or Canadian forces to defend the airspace or either. I believe the US and Aus are now in the process or executed a recent defence agreement.
With all this, 70 years of allied participation in major/minor wars. It makes no sense not to encourage the deployment of F-22 to ABC countries.

I have an idea for the Canadian program. I will call the "Oil for fighters" program. Canada has hundreds of billions of barrels of oil. We ship them some "extra" oil by pipeline. They fly some F-22's north, land at our airbases and toss us the keys. Sounds like a deal to me.

goldeel1 said...

Anon (whoever you are?),

Perplexed has a point, at no stage did I suggest that the F-111 be used in the fighter role, where did you get that idea from? That kind of misdirection intended or not is EXACTLY what I was referring to when I said this, "Every single time this subject gets brought up they tend to studiously avoid the actual argument put forward by proponents of having kept the Pig in service.." Reading that and then doing as described doesnt do your argument any good. The F-111 would act as the strike component of a two airframe force, the other being an F-22 or as more likely an evolved F-15 variant as you(?) suggested. The Eagle is there to sweep the sky, the Pig is there to sweep the ground with limited overlap by each.

Any modern AESA fit on the F-111 would allow with weapon clearance for long range A to A missiles should you want or need to take potshots at distance (opposing AWACS or tankers come to mind) or any other munition you care to plug in. It would also offer a vastly better picture and greater interrogation at distance not to mention a greater mapping capability for going "down amongst the weeds" should it be called for. Coupled with an IRST this would allow the crew much more time to decide on whether to fight or withdraw and call in a CAP to deal with the threat. Of course the whole point of having a dedicated Air superiority/dominance jet as part of the mix is to stop stupid situations like this from happening in the first place. In addition if we extend your argument further that means that no tactical transport is safe as it doesn't have the EM to deal with opposing fighters either and I dont think you are suggesting that. As for the EM issue, no practical method short of a re-winging would fully solve the issue but as repeatedly stated this is not an aircraft to "turn and burn" in. You would however partially solve this issue via a re-engining with up-rated power in the F-100/F-110 class. These engines are also lighter and shorter than the legacy TF-30's and have better fuel burn. So during transit you could nock the throttles back a notch and maintain a high cruise speed while gaining a range increase.

goldeel1 said...

Part 2:

..As for the F-35 claims, hmmm,... I dont think taking what is essentially a preproduction prototype to 9G really shows much,... other than the fact that it can help crack bulkheads. having the manufacturer claim it will rate as good as an F-16 particularly at such an early stage sounds very misleading There is absolutely no way that whale will ever have the roll rate of a Falcon. This aircraft is going to get heavier not lighter for one thing. And that 40+klbs engine gets there but at a price of high fuel burn and a big IR signature that even an F-111 at distance would have little trouble cueing an IR head long range AIM at. Oh and lets not forget that the QLR report detailed the following issues:
1)The Helmet mounted display system does not work properly.
2)The fuel dump subsystem poses a fire hazard.
3)The Integrated Power Package is unreliable and difficult to service.
4)The F-35C's arresting hook does not work.
5)There are classified "survivability issues", which have been speculated to be about stealth.
6)The wing buffet is worse than previously reported.
7)The airframe is unlikely to last through the required lifespan.
8)The flight test program has yet to explore the most challenging areas. (hows that 9G rating figure in here?)
9)The software development is behind schedule.
10)The aircraft is in danger of going overweight or, for the F-35B, too nose-heavy for VTOL operations.
11)There are multiple thermal management problems. The air conditioner fails to keep the pilot and controls cool enough, the roll posts on the F-35B overheat, and using the afterburner damages the aircraft.
12)The automated logistics system does not work.
13) The lightning protection on the F-35 Lightning II is uncertified, with areas of concern.

Not such a great alternative after all it seems.
Source: Pentagon Nov 2011 Concurrency Quick Look Review.

Perplexed said...

Anon, no wonder you stay that way.
'Btw: F-35 IOC is 2018 for RAAF and USAF

Reference: Director NACC (Nov 2011) '
Nonsense, Smith said several months ago, 2020 at the earliest, and going on the information Goldeel quoted from the said report, which seems to be ignored by some, 2018 is a dream.(Rememeber only a few years ago it was 2012)
What will we do with the classic Hornet by then.

Once again the nonsense information on the F111 seems to come from less reputable sites inhabited by anonymous wannabes.
Guess what, everything you read on the internet is not always accurate, unless it comes from a reputable source.
It was after all retired on a lie,as witnessed by the information/evidence given by senior staff at various Senate Hearings not bearing any resemblance to the truth.

For some well referenced material on F111 upgrades please consult APA.The authors are professional and well credentialed, and IDENTIFY themselves and qualifications.
In addition, the evidence given to a Senate Enquiry at Ipswich in 2006 from the engineering firms involved, advised that they could maintain the F111 for many years to come, and in fact with relevant machinery make any part required.

APA has published numerous articles, referenced and perr reviewed that will also show you why the F35 is obsolete now.
One wonders what will escort the Wirraway Mk2?

Bushranger 71 said...

Anonymous(?), modern helmets have a bunch of stuff attached/inbuilt, significantly increasing their weight. RAAF F-18 drivers advise difficulty in holding a normal head position under moderate 'G', ergo impossible at 9G when probably blacked out. Neck soreness/injury is pretty common in the fighter world.

ELP said...

goldeel1 - The F-35 is an awesome platform. Any argument that goes against that is invalid.

But seriously, the F-111 was not upgraded to carry J-series weapons simply because Defence was lazy.

Based on their poor performance; quoting the NACC will always be a losing play.

The mission of the NACC is also mentioned here:


Page 261. a "major challenge" facing NACC is to "appropriately manage JSF misinformation in the media".

Anonymous said...

No problems with necks and jhmcs. After a break in period learning to deal with the extra weight, there are now no more neck injuries than with legacy helmets.

Source: williamtown physio

Perplexed said...

A physio is not a Specialist.
You keep quoting unreferenced opinion and hearsay.Does not cut it.
No doubt that does not go unoticed. By the way anon what are your qualifications?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bushranger, that was rebuttal for rebuttal's sake. Bad habit. Appreciate you're the only person here with relevant qualifications having flown jets.

Perplexed, have given a few references now which is much more than the standard here, including your own points. When APA is endorsed by one fighter pilot, I'll pay closer attention.

Anonymous said...

I'll also qualify that with 1 current fighter pilot. Bomber pilots don't count either.

Perplexed said...

Interesting.No substance , nothing to add apart from opinion.Intellectually bereft.
Like others , you criticise others opinions, however are totally unable to provide any counter argument, references, or even identify yourself.
Quoting a "Physio from Williamstown" is just made up, like the Caribou being a death trap.
You have no idea of the maintainence program of the Caribou.
Suggest you also check the CV of the contributors to APA.
AS others have mentioned a stooge for DOD and DMO.
Love to read your properly constructed criticisms one day, but I do not live in hope.

Anonymous said...

Have had a look at the apa bunch's background. The William's Foundation CV list is much more impressive.

Not made up.

ELP said...


and Williams Foundation:

Two different things.

Perplexed said...

Anon,amazing, you get the point.
Start quoting instead of making things up, or getting rubbish from kiddies blogs.Then proper discussion can take place. Congratulations.

Perplexed said...

Ah, did not get the other part, what was made up?

Bushranger 71 said...

Anonyous; apology accepted. But I drink beer periodically with current F-18 pilots and several of us oldies have played with newer helmets in squadron crewrooms. 'Tis just physics that they would present difficulties at moderate 'G' and serving pilots are not going to admit neck problems to politically correct medicos for fear of compromising aircrew medical category. But the truth comes out over beers.

Anonymous said...

Cheers bushranger. Out of genuine interest, in the crewroom, what do the experts say of APA and F-111 upgrades?

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Anonymous; an interesting question. I felt privileged to be invited by APA to participate in a team submission for the New Air Combat Capability study; although I never flew the F-111 and my fighter experience was dated. I think there were 10 involved including 2 test pilots, other former fighter and bomber pilots and engineers who had been intimately involved with managing F-111 issues and studies during the service life of that platform. There was unanimous agreement that the Pig could have been cost-effectively enhanced and time in service extended towards 2030, perhaps saving around $4billion in lieu of Super Hornet acquisition. That would have allowed breathing space for operational proving of evolutionary types like the F-35, conceptual FB-22 and UCAS.

My learned friends at APA draw the crabs in one respect, that being insistence that only the F-22 will be able to compete in high end air combat (see Horde's post 21/12 at 10.59AM). While probably theoretically correct at this point in time, the reality is most nations cannot afford that capability, even if it were made available to foreign military. So; as has always been the case, the average air force will have to make best use of affordable assets not having pure stealth characteristics in any unpredictable near-term conflicts. That is why the current generation of platforms should be progressively optimised as far as practicable.

The material on the APA website is an invaluable wonderful research resource and the scientific analysis of military hardware provided by Carlo Kopp is pretty unique. The site also includes a broad range of reference material originated by others and not just the 2 Principals of APA. Like any source of military-related information, it should be considered with open minds; yet there is anti-APA brainwashing within the Australian DoD. Recently, a neighbour introduced a young relative Able Seaman who had just completed Navy recruit training at HMAS Cerberus. He had no awareness of my military background and over a beer launched into an unprompted tirade about APA. And the younger Air Force pilots of today have also apparently been somewhat influenced in that regard, which I consider appalling. It really reflects the unwilling 'group think' of defence planners, including military chiefs, to think laterally and objectively re cost-effective options concerning capability issues.

A final bit re the F-111. Nothing compared with an enhanced version for long range maritime strike and the escort requirements seen by some are over-stated. Australia's most obvious priority defence need is to deter interference with trade corridors, which could have been achieved much more cost-effectively employing the F-111 than the Super Hornet/MRTT combination.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bushranger for the very thoughtful reply.

I find the anti-APA stance of current fighter pilots (and former F-111 pilots now flying Super Hornets) very interesting. Not least because they more than any others in the country understand their own capabilities and those of the threat they face. Not only is it their full time profession and they havebitter more access to data than joe blow on the street, but their lives depend on it. I just couldn't imagine the brainwashing coming from higher-up as the corporate knowledge of air power resides exclusively with Squadron CO's, FCI's and below.

Bushranger 71 said...

Anonymous, the higher levels of the Defence bureaucracy are very unreceptive to constructive criticism as reflected by the defensive comments of their disciples in various forums. I should have added earlier that about half of the APA 10 man group that contributed to the NACC study were recently retired 1 and 2 Star rankers so we are pretty aware of attitudes within DoD.

The plethora of dubious merit hardware acquisition decisions have devolved from the interface of military chiefs with the politico/Public Service organisational structure as evidenced by testimonies in Hansard to Senate Estimates committees. The former CAF/CDF was complicit in some very bad decisions.

Judgements about the relative merits of platforms as equipped can properly be made at the operating level; but it becomes a new ball game for enhanced versions as nobody can quantify comparative merits until optimised platforms compete. The operators only have working knowledge of what exists today and not what might emerge in the future. No better example than what the JSF was supposed to be able to do, which will likely fall far short of expectations because it was not first operationally proven. They too apparently get brainwashed to some extent by the bullshit propagated by Lockheed Martin et al.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou again Bushranger.

A Hornet driver pointed out this article to me as an example why APA Analysis are invalid. If they are invalid for current equipment, how could they be valid for future equipment? Highlighted were the lack of correct performance data, references to weapons that have never existed on anything but a brochure and lack of appreciation for simple everyday tactics.

ELP said...

A more detailed outlook of Defence groupthink as it pertains to air power can be seen here.

Perplexed said...

Bushranger, I think you should give up.This bloke has an agenda.

Bushranger your input is excellent, well balanced etc.

It is also amazing that these people quote hearsay and unsubstantiated opinion, from anon sources.(probably from a blog)
They all seem to know anon servicemen, and other unamed experts.
Re APA, they critcise the site, but are never able to provide any material as well researched and by knowledgble well credentialed authors.
The intellectual part is missing.

Anonymous said...

Where to start!

The references in that article to unclass detection ranges and the range of unproven missiles that don't exist yet instantly class the article as unauthoratative. The K-100 is also a missile that is not being designed for fighter sized targets.

Who knows the real detection potential of the iRbis radar against a super hornet. The information certainly isn't available to APA.

A large argument seems to be the F-111 would have a better chance against the PMU-300... It wouldn't, but no one is claiming the Rhino would try to take one out. That's what standoff is for.

The suggestion that it would be a huge leap for pilots and would be a training liability on par with a jump to another aircraft has already been proven a fallacy. It's a 5 hour conversion for a classic pilot. The avionics are the same.

Anonymous said...


APA tries hard. But unfortunately, they don't have access to real data. All the authorative sources on the matter are undoubtedly classified.

I guess it's fun for them to try, but kind of pointless to talk as specific as they do.

Thanks for the genuine replies bushranger, I'll leave it here.

Perplexed said...

Once again you have nothing of any substance except hearsay and misguided opinion.
You are unable to secifically point to where you think APA, in specific articles are wrong.
Await you detailed dot point response, along with the appropriate academic references, for any information you think is wrong.
How long will I have to wait?
Pathetic, Caribou death traps, helmet problems, unknown physios, what next.
Regarding classified information, if you do, then someone should contact the Federal Police at once.

Anonymous said...

Perplexed, I think I've been quite specific with showing which parts of the analysis I think are a little light on, which themselves have no authorative references. Maybe we can continue this some other time as I think we've moved well beyond the scope of of a Hard Path Ahead!

Perplexed said...

You have not been specific about anything. Read my previous posts.
You are obviously not able to comprehend.
You sprout hearsay and unsubstantied opnion.
What could be clearer.You said.
"I've been quite specific with showing which parts of the analysis I think are a little light on, which themselves have no authorative references"
Which specfic parts?
A await a detailed dot point response to the unknown points with proper academic references for your conclusions, or you expose yourself as a fool.
You have not shown anyhting on an academic level at all.
Amazingly your comments seem to be parroted from other sites.

ELP said...

It is funny how some of the people with the access to the special information still get things wrong.

The waste that is the NACC being one example. You would think for all the money wasted on office furniture and junkets they could do better than LM talking points.

Bonza said...

So ex-fighter pilots have a better handle on "what is out there" than current fighter pilots?

Sorry Bushranger but that's just utter nonsense. You can read APA, defence-aerospace, Ares/DTI and Eric's blog from the DRN every bit as well as you can from the Internet, but unlike you blokes that isn't their only source of intelligence. We have people that are paid to find out this stuff for a living you know...

In addition to these sources, the current guys ARE flying their machines against the ones you and your cohorts say outmatch them so greatly. You are in reality telling these guys how to suck eggs. It's why not one of them will ever bother to publicly engage you over the issues.

You can state the grass is pink until you're blue in the face, but when I go outside and see for myself that the grass is in fact green, how many times am I going to listen to or bother to argue the point? I know it's green and all your arguments in the world to the contrary are irrelevant.

If the difference were as great as your lot would have everyone believe it would be noticed during all those exercises we have with those who fly the very machines that supposedly outmatch us so greatly.

Funnily enough, such isn't being noticed within the Squadrons...

ELP said...

Maybe those same words came about back in the day with the Brewster Buffalo.

Hardly comforting.

And, "classified" doesn't allow one to ignore the laws of physics.

Odd how all those with the special access to programs keep goofing things up.

Now we hear great news reassuring us that RAAF Hornets can last out to 2021. Given all of the delays in the F-35 program (delay is the one reliable metric), it is hardly comforting.

If the NACC was doing their job, they would be warning us that the F-35 is a boondoggle. Instead all we get is the honor to pay that silly little office for their junkets. Oh yeah, one of my favorites was where the DMO handed out little F-35 toys for the kids at air shows.

Defence needs a budget haircut. The NACC should be the first to go as an example of waste. Then focus on all of the deadwood in the DMO.

Bushranger 71 said...

Bonza; that sounds a bit like a Defence staffer rant. I did not say what you infer. What I did say/mean was that of course the current operators have the expertise in comparing the capabilities of in-service hardware. But they also have to toe the party line and believe what they are fed re assumed capabilities of 'developmental' platforms. Not so those who have had a career involvement with air power and are now not subject to censure for viewing claimed capabilities analytically (although DoD would doubtless like the incumbent Government to censor forums like this one).

Classified issues matter little when the broader shortcomings of unproven types are apparent via multiple unrestricted channels. Note this snippet from the ANAO Audit Report No. 20 DMO MPR: "The Joint Strike Fighter and Hornet Refurb projects do not have an FOC date as they do not introduce a new or complete capability." That sounds to me akin to Wedgetail, which appears unlikely to ever achieve presumed capability, according to the same report.

Hope you had a pleasant day.

Horde said...

Eric, Bushranger and others:

Very well said.

Unfortunately, Bonza and the anonymites posting here demonstrate little knowledge when it comes to techo/strategic thinking, let alone the Laws of Physics, Engineering, Economics or even Common Sense.

Take what Bonza states as but one example:

"We have people that are paid to find out this stuff for a living you know..."

These being the same people who claimed the unit price for the F-35A JSF would be "around 40 Million Dollars per aircraft"!

At the same time, the founders of APA were saying the unit price would be more than US$100 Million per and likely be comparable to that of the F-22A, if not more.

"In addition to these sources, the current guys ARE flying their machines against the ones you and your cohorts say outmatch them so greatly."

This is an incorrect statement.

The Reference Threats are those that will be available and in the region from 2015 onwards.

These include the Su-35S, Su-30MKs with the BM upgrades, the T-50 PAK-FA and, now, the Chengdu J-20.

The 'Appeals to Authority' and other logical fallacies upon which these people rely to frame their arguments are classic examples of Dunning-Kruger behaviours.

Clearly they have not studied the material provided on the APA website.

If they had, they would not be making such silly claims or be allowing themselves to be misled by the LM marketing.

A close read of the QLR Report by David Ahern et al just might bring them to their senses.

This report acknowledges and confirms much of what APA (and others) have been saying for years about the just-so-flawed JSF designs.

Horde said...

BTW - one of the many things the extensive data in the Annex to the QLR Report show is, as predicted, the F-35A JSF design is not a 9g aircraft, operationally, due to NzW limits....these are structural and, thus, are inherent in the airframe design....

....and, moreover, it hasn't been since around the time of its CDR!

So much for LM and others telling the truth!

Bonza said...


The 2011 MPR comments in relation to JSF to "never introducing a FOC" at the current time, refer to Phase 2B and 3C being currently unapproved.

AIR-6000 encompasses the purchase of up to 4 Squadrons, of these only the initial 14x aircraft tranche has yet been approved via 2nd pass approval. It wouldn't be much of a strict, authoritative auditor who nominated an FOC date for multiple unapproved phases within the same project...

Why would they nominate FOC to a project currently under review as advised by the current Defence Minister?

Eric, no security classifications don't change the laws of physics true enough, but they do effect the calculations those laws of physics have developed, because the numbers you need just aren't publicly available.

I'm sure you agree that if you add the wrong numbers up, you're more likely than not to get the wrong answer, no?

Bonza said...

Hey Horde, nice to see you on the site here. I hope you had a nice Christmas?

I see you're sticking to that 2015 figure for the "refence threats" you speak of?

Does it not concern you at all that the first LRIP SU-35 aircraft for Russia only rolled off the production line in September this year (2011) and that the SU-35 project still has nearly 2 years to run in it's development schedule?

Russia is the only country that has signed an acquisition contract for the SU-35 (though there was some talk Libya was going to, I think that has pretty much fallen by the wayside for the time being) and has 48 aircraft on order.

That contract was signed in August 2009, so we are seeing a roughly two year window for production and delivery of these aircraft. I've not heard of the yearly build rate for these aircraft nor that Russia will be doing much in the way of concurrent development and production, so I wonder when we will begin to see significant numbers of these aircraft rolling off the production line?

Given the development isn't even planned to finish much before 2014 (and not even allowing for any delays, making a rather large assumption that development will proceed perfectly) and given a substantial IOT&E period will come afterwards, does that 2015 figure not look slightly suspect?

To me it seems that the build process will probably be extended pending further aircraft orders and the production rate will be something like the Rafale with one aircraft per month or so actually delivered.

Without orders, there certainly won't be SU-35's "flooding" the region and beyond Russia we haven't seen any at all yet.

J-20 and the PAK-FA are even further behind the SU-35 in terms of development and are much greater engineering challenges, if they are to be as capable as suggested. Neither project even has a publicly known confirmed order yet, so again, 2015 seems highly optimistic at best?

Anonymous said...

Still a lot better than 2020 for the JSF ?

Ely said...

JSF is not my game but I try to follow the bouncing ball because I believe the management and capability themes teased out in the discussion are important and arguably consistent across the general subject matter that gets aired here.
In defence of BR 71's statement(251427DEC) re figure 9 on p 61 of ANAO MPR 2011-12 the JSF's FOC is not conditioned as you state in your comment of 271225 re 6000 2B/2C. Note 2 footnote on MPR p61 does not include the qualification you introduce-unless I missed it. And contrary to what you seem to be suggesting (and as you well know), Stage 1 of 6000 Phase 2a/2b was approved in NOV09). So it appears fair to be talking about a FOC in that context as figure 9 of MPR seems to be. And the conditions stated by the Auditor General at the "notice to reader" bottom of MPR p259 appear to be relevant to your comment about what the Auditor General might or might not be seeking to achieve with MPR comment on 6000
Then again the import of comment on p265 of MPR re 6000 which states "Achievement of IMR and subsequent Material Release and Capability Milestones (IOC/FOC is dependent on Phase 2A/2B Stage 2 approval in 2012" is unclear in how it applies to stage 1 aircraft (and the footnote on p61). But it seems to be reinforcing BR71's point I think.
Your question re "why would they specify a FOC etc" implies that we should plan to procure equipment without specifying (before approval) when ADF should field the proven capability. I know this is what we customarily do. But is this what you intended to mean for the purposes of this discussion?

Bonza said...

Not really Ely. That section of the MPR refers to the fact that AIR-6000 as a whole does not introduce a complete capability because the majority of it is unapproved and like the Hornet Upgrade program and BACC (Super Hornets) the project won't be "closed down" once the current phases are complete, because new phases (through life support, mid-life update, additional weapons / enhanced capability programs etc) will be added later on down the track. The project as a whole therefore won't ever be said to be "complete" as such. That doesn't mean that individual phases of the project won't ever be complete.

Stage 2 of Phase 2B (acquisition of 58 aircraft) is currently unapproved and there are significant components of it that haven't even reached First Pass approval stage (NACC air to air weapons, NACC next generation weapons and NACC maritime strike weapon principally).

Phase 2A/B as a part of AIR-6000 (acquisition of 14+58 aircraft) however DOES have a planned FOC of 2021 and that date IS listed on page 258 of the 2010/11 MPR where it states, "AIR6000 Phase 2A/B Stage 2 will acquire at least 58 CTOL JSF aircraft and enabling elements to achieve a proposed IOC in 2018 and Final Operational Capability (FOC) in 2021."

The FOC date, much like the "funding band" however has to be flexible. It depends not only on timely development of a particular platform, but delivery of all the elements of capability, the training, support, infrastructure, weapons and spares inventory and all the myriad of items beyond just the platforms themselves that go together to generate capability. I am sure you appreciate the idea that an aircraft in of itself, isn't a capability?

That footnote was in relation to overall project maturity scores and JSF - NACC wasn't even listed in figure 9 on page 61. If you shoot forwards to page 250 in the JSF section, you will see however that Phase 2A/B does have an FOC date, it's just the overall AIR-6000 is still too immature and will be continually roled over to develop new phases to warrant ever providing an OVERALL FOC date.

A much different situation to B71's rather unfounded suggestion that "like Wedgetail" JSF won't ever deliver a capability. The MPR doesn't support such a viewpoint but then I guess if you read into the report what you want it to say, rather than what it does say, then anything is possible.

We see that with his comments on Wedgetail. It seems he has confused delivery of some capability with incremental growth towards final capability with a project which has delivered "no" capability.

Such an idea is demonstrably untrue as Wedgetail's performance at RIMPAC, Trident Fury and now Bersama Lima has demonstrated.

Wedgetail now meets it's training, national peacetime and limited operational performance requirements, as agreed under the April 2011 remediation plan signed with Boeing.

There are 4 technical solutions identified that will bring Wedgetail up to 98% of specified contracted performance. Further development is required (and already planned for) to bring it up to and beyond contracted performance, but again this is a LONG way from providing the "no" capability that B71 asserted.

Cocidius said...


I'm afraid I don't agree with your statement that the J-20 and the PAK-FA are farther behind in development then the Su-35.

First of all on the J-20 there are a number of troubling questions that remain unanswered.

1. How long has the aircraft actually been in development? I find it a little hard to believe that the first flights of a new class of secret stealth fighters would occur in the middle of a crowded city in full view of thousands of people who were allowed to film the ground and flight testing.

2. How much secret technical information has been hacked from US/Western sources that might be flying in the J-20? We know as much as the US government has told us, that multiple terabytes of information was stolen from the JSF Program; and there have been documented Chinese intrusions dating back over a decade into classified installations/computer systems all over the world.

3. That the US and the west have consistently underestimated how advanced Chinese weapons systems are, with the now operational D-21D ASBM and the J-20 being the latest examples.

I'm a little troubled that China went from building and designing 4+ generation aircraft (J-10/J-11) flying with early 90's technology to the J-20 in one huge technological jump.

Moving onto the PAK-FA, comparing Flanker development and the T-50 is a huge mistake. The PAK-FA enjoys "special status" and has has free and uninterrupted funding from the beginning of the program. In fact I don't know of another Russian fighter that's has this much support even dating back to the cold war USSR days.

They just flew T-30-3 which is the first mission systems aircraft. That means that the program has gone from flying the initial test prototypes to a fully outfitted systems aircraft in 2 years from the first flight.

How long did it take the JSF Program to fly its first mission systems aircraft?

Finally I would also remind you that the India is providing serious financial support for the PAK-FA which gives it additional support not seen before with a Russian fighter program.

Ely said...

Thank you for your further explanation. But I am afraid for me that the MPR still says what it says in chapter 2. And no offence is intended.
Regarding your point about FOC I was referring to the definition of FOC as a planning point in terms of time and performance. I was not asking whether the achievement of FOC should be a sliding and/or undefined variable. But of course one leads to other.

Bushranger 71 said...

Bonza; you are misrepresenting again.

I did not say that Wedgetail has no operational capability; but on present indications, it may not achieve presumed capabilities. ANAO Audit Report No. 20, Page 81, Para 2.55: “The projects that are not expected to deliver all their key capability requirements are Wedgetail, MRH90 Helicopters and 155mm Howitzer.” Pages 197 to 206 of the referenced document embrace Wedgetail issues.

Australia unwisely committed to being a launch customer for an unproven product. Considering the RAAF had no prior experience operating AEW&C capability, it would have been far wiser to go for the proven E-2 Hawkeye in service with multiple nations. The enhanced E-2D is now interesting new customers.

Deals for defence industry took precedence over a proven military capability. A similar story for the JSF project.

Bumble said...

Interesting idea about E-2 COTS Bushranger. Rest assured though, having been provided ABM by E-2C and Wedgetail, I can say Wedgetail is vastly more capable already. No idea of the relative costs, though not sure it matters considering our requirements.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Bumble; somewhat off thread and a bit academic now, but the E-2D seems pretty capable with around 70 being built for the US Navy. An interesting overview here:

There may have been potential cost savings and inter-operability pluses compared with Wedgetail but that's hindsight.