UPDATED 13 Oct 08 – see below the “More” line… – SJS

No military service currently demonstrates that it has leaders that can create affordable procurement programs. Every service has, to some extent, mortgaged its future by failing to contain equipment costs, and by trading existing equipment and force elements for developing new system that it may never be able to procure in the numbers planned.
Instead of rigorous leadership at the level of Secretary and Chief of Staff, there is an ill-concealed struggle to solve the problems in a failed procurement system by either raising the defense budget or somehow getting more funding at the expense of other services and programs. The US defense procurement system has effectively become a liar‘s contest in terms of projected costs, risk, performance, and delivery schedules. Effective leadership is lacking in any of these areas. In both shipbuilding and military aircraft manufacturing, the services have become their own peer threats…

So begins a sharp report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, titled “America’s Self-Destroying Air Power – Becoming Your Own Peer Threat.”   And here’s your reading assignment – review the document below and the next few in the series of posts, “Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals” that will follow later today (next in the series – “Stealth”) and be prepared to discuss the question posed above and its corollary, “Should the F-35 be cancelled?” later this week. Let’s make this an informed discussion and check emotions at the door.  This is every bit a concern for the future of US aviation – shore and sea-based, as the DDG-1000 is/was for the future of US naval forces.  We’ll shoot for Wednesday, Thursday at the latest to kick-off the discussion.

h/t: DEW Line

More docments/discussion/refutations for consideration (look below the fold):

From a recent Inside the Air Force article comes an assertion by one of the subs that the F-35 doesn’t need to turn and fight, but rather it’s new all aspect sensors will provide the ability to “shoot while scooting” – or words to that effect:


Northrop Grumman officials last week sounded off on the F-35 Lightning II¹s ability to survive in air-to-air combat against enemy jets when they claimed the fifth-generation fighter¹s advanced technology will trump any speed and maneuverability advantages of adversaries.

Northrop delivered this claim to reporters amidst numerous reports in the Australian and domestic press that the Lockheed Martin-built fighter was mauled by Russian Su-35 fighters in dogfights during a U.S. war gaming simulation — called Pacific Vision 2008 — at Hickam Air Force Base, HI, this summer.  Northrop claimed their AN/AAQ-37 Electro Optical Distributed Aperture System — known simply as DAS — will silence concerns about the jet¹s maneuverability by giving pilots the ability to detect and kill threats from nearly any angle and situation.

And as applied in the air-to-air environment?

This will be particularly useful in air-to-air combat, according to Northrop. With DAS, a pilot will no longer need to turn into an enemy in order to get off the critical first shot. Instead, the F-35 can simply accelerate away from the enemy while firing a missile that will hunt down the bandit, Pete Bartos — marketing director for Northrop¹s combat avionics systems division — told reporters during a Sept. 16 briefing at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference in Washington.

“When you get in close to each other, the guy who can shoot first wins and so this changes that paradigm by saying; ‘We’re not going to play that game, we¹re just going to get our speed up and get away from you’,”Bartos said after the presentation.

Of course when RWR was introduced, when Sparrow and then Sidewinder were introduced, when Shrike, STARM and HARM were introduced; when the ALQ-(fill-in-the-blank) was introduced, the thoughts then were similar.  Color us skeptical until DAS is actually seen in action.

Lockheed has weighed in with its counterstrike as well since the initial press reports:

And the Center for Defense Information, ever the curmudgeon, provides its two-pence worth:

Discussion continues here and in the “Of Wargames, JSF and baby Seals” posts…

Some thoughts on filling the gap with an additional buy of Super Hornets from the President and Chairman of ANA via the Tailhook Association’s site…


  1. And of course you know I don’t like the USN and USMC versions because …. it doesn’t have a gun 👿

  2. irtusk

    they do have a gun, it’s just ‘optional’

    straight ahead gun pack now, but in the future they could make it rotating and then you could see F-35s doing pylon turns as super-mini spookys :mrgreen:

    (ok so i just made that last part up, but it’s fun to dream)

  3. Moose

    They should can, or indefinitely postpone, the C model. The A and B have a fair amount of commonality in airframe and fnal components, mostly differing around the B’s lift system and gun pod. But the C is increasingly becoming distinct from the other two, and its driving costs up without a comparable (or any) increase in capability. Bigger wings, heavier gear, bigger tail, different structural members, etc. The A and B are also better export options, as most customers with carriers use or want to use STOVL. Buy more Super Hornets for the Navy, look into UCAV options as a supplement, and make the -35 a AF-USMC thing.

  4. Thomas Barton, J.D.

    👿 I just read the paper, America’s Self-Destroying Air Power. The costs of the F-35 are absurd in the extreme. I recall all the talk a decade ago how it would be a near one to one replacement for the F-16..It is indeed the best example of the Liars Contest raging like a California Santa Ana wildfire. The chart indicates a procurement year where you could buy nearly 3 SuperBugs for one bloated LightningBulb2.0. This is beyond comprehension. The cancellation of the F-35 should be priority one for the next budget Appropriations. This thing makes TFX look like a mere mortal Turkey, while this is nothing short of Mount Olympus TurkeyMegalomania.. If the marketing boys at Boeing have any brains at all they will hit the Hill hard come JAN 20 and by acting in their self-interest do the Nation a favor and drive a stake through the heart of this MONSTROSITY. Other than these objections I am a REAL DEAL LIGHTNINGBULB2.O FAN !!

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals (II) | Steeljaw Scribe

Comments are closed.