Years on, and over $50B-plus later, the F-35 is not ready to be a part of any future U.S. DOD force structure, especially with significant budget cutting where money is taken away from day-to-day operations. The Secretary of the USAF has stated that flying hours, operations, and other core capability will be cut.
Yet the huge disconnect is that they are willing to commit more money and time to a failed tac-air recap project known as the F-35. It is hard to listen to ANY DOD official talk about cutting operational hours and take them seriously when they are unwilling to cancel failed programs.
The U.S. DOD test community has released its 2012 evaluation of the F-35. You can read it at the bottom of this post. Again, like previous years, there are problems still not fixed. The aircraft is unlikely to be affordable, sustainable, lethal or survivable.
Combat survivability appliances removed to save weight some year ago are resulting in a 25pc increase in vulnerability. Yet weight margins on the A-model are just .42pc. Terrible when you consider historical weight growth of other aircraft designs. And we still have no known operational empty weight because there is nowhere close to a finished go-to-war jet to evaluate.
Just like the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Joint Operational Requirement Document (JORD),--written in the 1990s and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade stated that sortie rates should be "significantly" better than legacy aircraft, survivability was supposed to be better than legacy. A 25pc increase in vulnerability is one of many signs that the project management assumptions of this aircraft are out of control.
Yet again, the JORD stands out as a sign of what the F-35 will never be able to reach: its' core requirements; its' reason to exist. Also today, the JORD is obsolete to the threat. It assumed there would always be plenty of F-22s around to do the high threat work. That didn't happen.
In other words, the U.S. wants to do a Pacific pivot using the Brewster Buffalo as its crown jewel.
Six years after first-flight, test point goals are behind for 2012. With all the hype of things like deliveries to Yuma, there is still no credible combat capability in test or mission systems.
The "we are building mistake-jets at the cost of billions" syndrome still exists.
There are still flight envelop restrictions and even the "anything is possible if you are willing to lower your expectations", belief system:
"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35A, reducing turn performance from 5.3 to 4.6 sustained g’s and extending the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by 8 seconds. These changes were due to the results of air vehicle performance and flying qualities evaluations."
"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35B, reducing turn performance from 5.0 to 4.5 sustained g’s and extending the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by 16 seconds. These changes were due to the results of air vehicle performance and flying qualities evaluations."
"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35C, reducing turn performance from 5.1 to 5.0 sustained g’s and increasing the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by at least 43 seconds. These changes were due to the results of air vehicle performance and flying qualities evaluations."
Air-refueling issues still exist, and it looks like pointing weapons bay doors inward has a price:
"This was primarily a result of higher-than-expected loads on weapon bay doors, which prevented planned envelope expansion test points and required additional unplanned testing."
Risks like this were predicted by independent experts years ago. More importantly, that marketing people and poor management of engineers was creating a rose coloured glasses problem at the start of the program. After all, it was hyped for all to hear, that critical design review of the F-35 passed in 2007 yet things like the core F-35C need of trapping on a carrier have now become vultures circling overhead.
Significant F-35B STOVL airframe appliance problems identified a year ago, still have question marks around fixing them. There are claims of fixes in the coming years but progress is slow. (page 31-32) Yet, the DOD boss believed the lie from cheerleaders like the USMC general Amos and others and removed the F-35B from the Gates 2 year probation...a year early.
With all the hype in 2012 of doing initial stores clearance and misleading claims of weapons capability in press releases, the program has a long haul of years with software and other engineering realities. Weapon system issues include:
- Data recording shortfalls
- Deficient mission systems performance in radar,Electro‐Optical Targeting System (EOTS), fusion, and the helmet
- Lack of radar fusion support to the AIM-120 air-to-air missile
- EOTS inability to accurately track and designate targets for the air-to-ground munitions
- Deficient fused situational awareness presentation to the pilot
Structural integrity of the airframe is still an unknown yet we as the taxpayer still have to procure billions of mistake jet production lots per year. More cracks and other wear issues have shown up this last year requiring more fixes for the scores of existing mistake-jets.
Read the rest of the report below. Astonishing how the Joint Chief of Staff just had a press conference fear-mongering DOD budget cuts in that operational capability would suffer defunding, yet, refused to mention that dud programs like the F-35 and LCS--billions in waste--still get to breath air.
An industry observer commented that in order for the United States Marketing Corps to meet its' target of deploying early, the jet will need to sling a legacy electro-optical targeting Pod (seen on aircraft like the F-16 and F-18) as the F-35 EOTS field of view is OK for interdiction, but not for close air support. That the aircraft will need a HUD, with a common helmet, and any other number of fixes to help this pretend weapon system drop a precision guided bomb in a permissive-air environment.
Again, fraud. A very big fraud.