Saturday, 9 February 2013

The F-35, one-trick-pony or a dead horse?

F-35 program management.

Well, it looks like Lockheed Martin's PR department is on the full offensive in Canada.  After a year of criticism, controversy, and "reset buttons", LockMart has is now extolling the virtues of its so far under-performing Lightning II.

LockMart's F-35 Vice-President Stephen O'Bryan went on the record as saying:

"I read in places that the cost is increasing, dramatically increasing," O'Bryan said. "The truth of the matter is the F-35 cost is dramatically decreasing. From the first year of production to the fifth year of production we have reduced the cost by over 50 per cent. Every single year, we have reduced the cost of the aircraft."

Read more:
Good to know that costs have come down somewhat compared to the early hand built prototypes.  He doesn't really do into much detail about the projects numerous delays, cost overruns, and projected performance downgrades however.

O'Bryan goes on to say that the F-35 will cost an unbelievable $67 million a copy by the time Canada is ready to take procurement, this, despite recent estimates that it will cost $100-150 million each and probably won't be ready for prime-time in 2020.

Meanwhile, former RCAF CF-18 pilot, and current LockMart PR hack Billie Flynn states that the F-35's radar and other sensor will allow it to act as a "battle space commander" to support other units.  With all due respect to Mr. Flynn, there are already aircraft that allow allied forces to have a god's eye view of the battle space, they are called AWACS.  What those AWACS need are actual fighter aircraft capable of keeping them safe.

Possible future threats like the PAK FA, J-20, and J-31 all look like capable fighters that also happen to be stealthy.  They will also have the advantage of being supported by current "generation 4++" fighters like the Su-35 and J-10B.

Maybe it's time for Canada to adapt a similar strategy.  Procure a capable and affordable "workhorse" fighters while getting to work on new "uber-fighter" for high level threats.


  1. "The US Department of Defense's decision to relax the sustained turn performance of all three variants of the F-35 was revealed earlier this month in the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation 2012 report. Turn performance for the US Air Force's F-35A was reduced from 5.3 sustained g's to 4.6 sustained g's. The F-35B had its sustained g's cut from five to 4.5 g's, while the US Navy variant had its turn performance truncated from 5.1 to five sustained g's"

    A turn rate equivalent to 5 g acceleration? That's ridiculous. Modern fighters accelerate with around 9 g. In a turning fight this means that the enemy fighter needs around 2 to 3 turns in order to be right on the tail of the F-35. So in any dogfight any mig, any sukhoi and any chinese aircraft is going to run rings around the F-35.

    This figure is so extremely bad that the F-35 should be excluded from any competition to replace Canada's fighter aircraft. You've got to be bribed or insane if you think that this donkey can defend any country's airspace.

    1. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it almost makes you wonder why the "partner nations" were encouraged to pay money into the program upfront, before the aircraft was developed or tested as a prototype.

      I guess "partners" are much less likely to bail out when troubles arise.