Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Smith has to protect Australia from the failed F-35 program

When it comes to wasting your money on faulty weapons programs, few do it better than Defence. I think Mr. Smith knows this and is trying as much as one can in his position. Even if he is being poorly advised.

Today, Business Spectator warns its viewers about the F-35 program that Australia has been dragged into on false pretense.

Over the years, Business Spectator is the only business news publication in Australia willing to take on the topic of the Just So Failed. Given the mountains of misleading information from Defence on this topic, the Spectator has done well.

They are not Defence experts but they are experts in viewing failed business plans. All well and proper when you consider the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) F-35 program office boss has come out and stated that the F-35 business plan (concurrency) is a “miscalculation”.

In scoring Business Spectator's reporting on this topic, they have had a better grasp of this trouble years before anyone else in their peer group. Business Spectator has smelled a rat for awhile.

There have been others. Ben at Plane Talking can sense faulty aviation industry behavior. While mostly a civil aviation guy, his instincts about F-35 trouble serve him well.

I hope that someday, the regular media will pick up their game. A short guide to help them is here.

There was so much hope in wondrous quantity before the F-35 program became terminally ill. Or is that not an accurate statement? There was so much hope riding on this already terminally ill idea before it came apparent to those that normally don't follow ailing defence projects.

It has been said before and it is still true: the short-take-off and vertical landing requirement for one of the 3 F-35 variants had a big part in killing the program. Today, the F-35 is the walking dead.

Add the following: a post-Cold War deskilled engineering leadership and the failed Harvard business school types in positions of power way beyond their ability. Going toward doom.

The business types didn't listen to the few engineers that had all kinds of experience. Really, how in the hell do you put a tail-hook in the wrong god damn place on the F-35C?

This 2007 F-35 program marketing video stated the following: "2007 saw the completion of the critical design review for the F-35C. The completion of CDR is a sign that each F-35 variant is "mature and ready for production."

Watch the whole video. Most of it is made up of unsupportable claims.

To illustrate, look at these samples from the video.

--Beasley, a test pilot states that the helmet mounted display worked great. Today we know this to be very wrong.

--LM employee Doug Pearson, "extrodinarily high confidence" in the flight test schedule. "Different than legacy programs".

This was the flight test schedule planned circa 2007.

--"vast and complex software proceeding on schedule".

Today, we know this to be wrong also.

--LM employee, Eric Branyan, "Software progress on the program has been impressive." 47 percent of 18 million lines of code are already developed."

This would be the software schedule we were told about years ago. See all of the misleading statements in the graphic below. Notice the location of Block 1,2 and 3 software.

Next we get this about the greatness of the flying software and avionics lab: stating that the CatBird "demonstrates all the warfighting capabilities in that same environment that the F-35 will fight in."

Facts that get in the way of that theory for the marketing department—and the volunteer marketing department--would be as follows.

One of many F-35 program risks that has been revealed for years by the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) and others is thermal build up with the F-35.

What are the thermal issues? The F-35 is attempting to be a stealth aircraft. With this kind of design you cannot just drill drain holes and air vents on the jet any where you want like a conventional aircraft. Use a push mower on your lawn in the dead of summer while wearing winter cloths. That is an example of thermal buildup that has to be cooled or shed in some way. The F-35 has an AESA radar system, a 270 volt electrical system along with flight controls that build up heat. Then there are other avionics (DAS, EOTSs and more) and the engine itself.

Much of this is tough even more modern conventional aircraft. For example, Australia's new Super Hornets have mentions in their procedure for avoiding thermal build up while on the ground with systems running. It is mitigated but it is there.

How does the F-35 shed this heat? One of the methods used is on-board jet fuel will act like a heat-sink. So far that has not been happening very well. And; get this. The F-35 is far from having all of its systems and weapons working in a go-to-war configuration.

Thank goodness the US military never fights in any hot environments. Fortunately too for Australia, the Northern part of the country is always cool.

The CatBird is not an F-35. Thermal issues and other F-35 dynamics cannot be simulated by the CatBird.

Besides software complexity, heat affects computer hardware and software performance.

The video claims CatBird and the software program is “unprecedented in other programs” and forgets--or does not know--that the F-22 had it's own 757 flying lab. “Unprecedented” for Lockheed maybe, but not for Boeing.

There is more disturbing hogwash from the 2007 video:

"We are seeing levels of process maturity and quality on JSF program that are reserved for later of the life cycle of legacy programs."

They wished in their dreams.

--"Ease of assembly".

Just don't mention that "quick-mate joints" which were supposed to make for that “ease of assembly” were removed from a 2003 weight reduction event. Add that to a host of other fixes from the infamous 2004 weight reduction event that was needed to make the STOVL have any hope of flying, and “ease of assembly” goals have been reduced.

--“We are changing the way that fighter aircraft are going to be produced into the future.”

Yes, by making this program the 5-star 5th-generation failure that it is.

So, either the people that signed off on that video were barking mad or they are part of a greater criminal conspiracy to defraud the taxpayer.

That is about the only two paths I can see at this time.

Mr. Smith needs to increase his knowledge about the F-35 disaster. In an era where the Australian government is facing over $200B in debt, stopping the procurement plan of this high-risk aircraft program should be an easy decision.

Almost all of the postive and happy information Australians have been told about the F-35 is untrue. Part of how the current Australian leadership will be judged, is how they respond to the F-35 lie.

(Source: 2004 Defence briefing. Click image to make larger)


Perplexed said...

Look at what the labour party has borrowed in four years. Remember in 2007 it was zero.Now it is $222 Billion.Maybe we should adopt the Euro just to round it out?
Jian Julia

Distiller said...

So what's Plan B? More SHornets, with Turbo Popeyes, plus certify those 600gal tanks? Or some MQ-4C and TLAM-C for the new subs?

How much of the Australian industry in involved in the F-35 programme?

Anonymous said...

I am certainly not surprised that a Lockheed produced video puts the best face it can on the progress of its major project. I am surprised that there did not seem to be any congressional, pentagon, or media objections to moderate the claims, none that had any traction, anyway.

Canuck Fighter said...

I'm surprised Australia didn't go for an F-15 slam type Eagle to replace the F-111. After all it's definitely up for the job and would have great airspace performance over Australia.
I guess the F-18SH was an "easier" choice for ops and integration.
Probably the same for Canada. I would like to see a "Northern Eagle" (F-15NE). But I don't think that will ever happen.

Perplexed said...

One problem canuck Fighter, the
F111 did not need to be retired. The reasons given for the retirement were dishonest in the extreme. Including lies given to the various Snate Committes by
serving officers.