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Combat Aviation's Gloomy Future: F-35 JSF  
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 10753 times:

F-35 costs continue to soar: It's almost as if they are trying to "price" the manned fighter jet concept out of business...

Things that I do know:

* $135m F-35A's will not be able to replace 4,400 F-16's as of present that have been built, not when new F-16E/F's can still be had for around $50m and come with AESA and a GE F110-132 with 32.5k pounds of thrust

* the F-35A will not be able to replace the A-10 and it's Gatling gun/turbine engines in the CAS role

* USMC F-35B's replacing USMC F/A-18C's operating off of USN CVN's at higher costs/lower capabilities compared to the USN's F-35C's at less cost/greater capabilities will prove fruitless

* USMC attempts to make a single seat (no dual seat F-35B's are even planned as I understand it - modern sims negate the need) F-35B into the electronic attack/warfare role to replace USMC EA-6B's (compared to USN EA-18G's) will prove fruitless and overly ridiculous prices

* USMC F-35B's cannot replace the USMC F/A-18D FAC(A) role and and it's two manned crew like the F/A-18F could

* RN F-35B's operating off a brand new British carrier (down to just one now it appears) with a ski jump will be a waste when they could have bought less expensive/more capable F-35C's and just installed catapults in their new carrier from the onset

* the last time the DOD went all in on a single airframe (F-4 Phantom) for the USAF, USN, and USMC it went so well that all three broke from the concept as soon as they could and designed and procured the F-15 Eagle, F-14 Tomcat, and F/A-18 Hornet

Dare I say - the Joint Suck Fighter?

Combat Aviation's Gloomy Future
http://www.cdi.org/program/document....d&ProgramID=37&from_page=index.cfm

[Edited 2009-10-30 22:49:41]

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 10705 times:

Just another anti-F-35 thread ...


Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5714 posts, RR: 44
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 10657 times:
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Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 1):
Just another anti-F-35 thread ...

I don't see it that way.

The F-35 is likely going to turn out to be an excellent aircraft, but at what cost?

My concern is the attempt to make one type into a do everything aircraft, hasn't worked before.

A jack of all trades, master of none comes to mind.

AirRyan likely shares my concerns that trying to make all services with their very disparate missions into a single aircraft service is likely folly.

The RAAF had committed to become just such a service intending to replace all combat types with F-35A*. Not sure that will happen now as the chances of the "stopgap" F-18F being returned are so slight as to be non existant(provides the "Navigator" cadre with some kind of career path!)
Will this work for the RAAF?.. who knows maybe we will just have 2 kinds of strike fighters, one stealthy, one not so much

Cheers

* rumours are growing that there may be a few, 12 or so, F-35B mixed in there



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 10645 times:

Calling Bill Sweetman & Steve Trimble, have we got an F-35 bash for you!


"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7377 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 10624 times:

A few things, regardless of age, how much more capable is the F-35 over the F-16, does everyone need stealth? The F-16 was a successfuly program as the first mass produced 9g fighter a/c which was affordable, I sometimes think the OEM is not concerned about cost because the demand for the a/c is so high, they seem to overlook the reason why the demand exist, despite its capabilities, cost is a major factor.
The difference with the F-22 is that OEM "decided" to slow down or not pursue the attack portion of the program, if they had do we beleive the F-22 would be flying today? At the end of the day the F-22 program is a major looser because enough of the a/c could not be purchased due to its high cost, despite the need and the desire for the a/c the cost are simply too high. Does anyone believe that the F-35 will be built in the numbers of the F-16, bear in mind that a lot of smaller countries operate small fleets, these will continue to soldier on until something else which is affordable comes along, as of right now, that will not be the F-35.


User currently offlineDEVILFISH From Philippines, joined Jan 2006, 4877 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 10580 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 3):
Calling Bill Sweetman & Steve Trimble, have we got an F-35 bash for you!

Steve is right on the button.....


http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/th...ine/2009/10/f-35-hearts-seoul.html

Quote:
"To steal a contract that presumably favors Boeing's V-tailed F-15 Silent Eagle, Lockheed sales veep Steve O'Bryan made the following promises at the Seoul Air Show last week:

* Delivery slots in 2014
* Second-tier supplier deals
* Final assembly role in South Korea

Lockheed's sales pitch also appeared to get the full support of the US government. In a pre-show interview with the english-language Korean Times, top US Air Force weapons salesman (ahem, I mean, deputy undersecretary) Bruce Lemkin suggested the F-35 would be an excellent choice for the KF-X contract. If Lemkin mentioned the Boeing F-15SE, the reporter didn't note it."


Quoting Par13del (Reply 4):
Does anyone believe that the F-35 will be built in the numbers of the F-16, bear in mind that a lot of smaller countries operate small fleets, these will continue to soldier on until something else which is affordable comes along, as of right now, that will not be the F-35.

Hence the push above to involve a Far East ally (I believe that could be plural soon), in the wake of rich EU members' vacillation.

[Edited 2009-10-31 07:53:17]


"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13229 posts, RR: 77
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 10524 times:

If you want to use an uninformed quote from a dodgy, ill-informed source, which those more close to the projects rubbish, then citing the 'problems' with the CVF does your credibility no favours.

So F-35A won't replace one for one the aircraft in the USAF fleet deemed in need of replacement?
That's news?
But isn't the LO ability of F-35 an advantage in needing far less support such as SEAD and jammers, at least against a sophisticated enemy.

Hate to break it to you, but the size of the USAF tactical fleet is unsustainable, as a country you can not afford to keep those numbers with a one to one replacement.
Putting it crudely, China owns your financial arse.

It also matters not, who is in the White House or rules the roost on Capitol Hill, that debt is still there, the financial system that the US (and to our shame, the UK too), told the rest of the world, when they were not trying to force it down their throats, was the way to be, imploded like a destructive black hole last year.

The current level of US defence spending is unsustainable.

What this means is for all it's compromises, in a tri service aircraft, it is very fortunate that the JSF program was started.
Since individually aircraft for the USAF, USN, USMC, are not affordable, were not after the Cold War ended.
That is why the JSF was started in the first place, whatever the individual services thought, since as, in the words of the senior Pentagon Air Force General who oversaw this program, they had a great enabler, they had no choice.

Neither did US industry, the only way a new aircraft beyond the previous generation was going to happen, was with JSF.
The alternative would be to end up like the Russians, just upgrading and upgrading older aircraft, which might be OK for the short or even medium term, but as McDonnell Douglas found with airliners (and with military too after they lost the first round of JSF), the road to extinction.

This was in the late 1990's, which of course was a time when the US was reducing it's debt.

F-35 has a lot of export customers, think F-22 ever would?
And F-16 & F-18E/F would do OK in the short term, before the market went to the newer European designs.

In the 1970's, many in the USAF and later the USN, were unhappy with having to take the F-16 and F-18 respectively.
Not capable enough, not big and mean like a F-15 or F-14, only good for 'lesser' nations.
Didn't get that one right did they.
F-35 looks to me, like a 21st Century F-16/F-18.
It's the only game in town for the US.


User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7377 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 10503 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
The current level of US defence spending is unsustainable.

Some tend to look at the percentage of GDP that is assigned to the military budget.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
F-35 has a lot of export customers, think F-22 ever would?

At the outset, as the cost increase look for the actual numbers of frames and customers to decline, if the US budget is not sustainable imagine the budgets for smaller countries who don't need stealth capabilites.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
F-35 looks to me, like a 21st Century F-16/F-18.
It's the only game in town for the US.

And at the rate they are going, they will be the only ones who can afford it, the question is, is there someone else who can or wants to build a more affordable a/c that can be exported, if the French stay the course, the Rafale could pick up orders, even the Saab, US political pressue would probably kill off the F-16.


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15780 posts, RR: 27
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 10474 times:

The F-35 is a fine plane, and it can do many things. What it can't do is replace all of the things it is supposed to be replacing without losing some capability. There is certainly a place for the F-35, but not as large a place as our politicians would like. To me, it is much better to design a plane that can do one role very well and then see what else it can do rather than trying to design one airframe to do everything. It didn't work with the F-111 in the 1960s and it is a really rough road now.


Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 10401 times:



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 1):
Just another anti-F-35 thread ...

Quite to the contrary, actually. I'm a huge F-16 fan and so to see LM succeed it with something successful is well within all of our advantage, but not being critical of the platform doesn't mean I don't want it to succeed. The Navy Super Hornets are great and all, but the F-35C will bring the CVW's back to a level where they not only dominate by superioor quality of the aircrews, but also that of the performance of their aircraft.

Let's face it - the entire JSF was designed around, and winner selected by the VSTOL version alone, or in the JSF's case, STOVL. Why would the Air Force want a fighter jet based off a STOVL aircraft? And what would the Navy want an aircraft based off the Air Force version? We've been down this road before, and we all know the definition of insane is to continue to repeat past mistakes but to keep expecting different results.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
What this means is for all it's compromises, in a tri service aircraft, it is very fortunate that the JSF program was started.
Since individually aircraft for the USAF, USN, USMC, are not affordable, were not after the Cold War ended.
That is why the JSF was started in the first place, whatever the individual services thought, since as, in the words of the senior Pentagon Air Force General who oversaw this program, they had a great enabler, they had no choice.

That's great and all in a fantasy world, but the entire premise of your argument is baed on the logic that the JSF will be available for purchase at prices similar to that of the present F-16/F-18 levels, which at this point looks anything but the case.

With AESA radars, upgraded AMRAAMs, AIM-9X/JHMCS, even an F-4 suddenly becomes a potent A/A adversary. Throw in precision munitions from LGB's to JDAM's, and even UCAV's, there is only so much we can expect out of aircraft, shy of alien technology like hypersonic acceleration and a cloaking device that is.

My point is simple - the entire premise of the JSF as you point out, is based on cost. So if the JSF is still going to be two to three times as expensive as a late model F-16 or Super Hornet, I'd rather buy two of them versus one JSF, or say a far less percentage of JSF's than many governments (as well as LM) are banking on.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13229 posts, RR: 77
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 10230 times:



Quoting AirRyan (Reply 9):
That's great and all in a fantasy world, but the entire premise of your argument is baed on the logic that the JSF will be available for purchase at prices similar to that of the present F-16/F-18 levels, which at this point looks anything but the case.

But how did the projects which preceded JSF do? The A-12? The USN's AF/X? F-22 made it but though it's huge capability is obvious, at that price it should be.
And it seems cost of ownership of the F-22 is getting to be a real issue.

No one is doubting the F-35 is increasing in price, can we remember any other military aircraft program that did not?
But it's all relative, the F-35 is still looking to be rather more affordable than the US alternatives that immediately preceded the JSF program would ever have been, including the one that made it.
JSF was in part, a reaction to those programs.

The only other alternative was to keep upgrading previous generation aircraft.

F-35 is in development, this is when the main cost escalations happen, the judgment should be when it's in full scale production, including that crucial cost of ownership.

F-111 (TFX) was a sound idea but executed with the wrong design, however the concept was already being proved by default, in the F-4, the A-7, both naval aircraft that had long careers with land based AF's, in the F-4's case which far outlived it's naval career, if you count the Greek AF, same is true with the A-7.

Maybe the USMC could bear the costs easier of the F-35B if around 25 years ago, they'd built versions of the UH-60 and AH-64.
Instead of continually upgrading the UH-1 and AH-1, the latest upgrade having turned into a cost/delay clusterfu**.
With no similarity with similar role machines in the US Army, that alone would have saved some bucks.

The British Army is incrementally modifying it's WAH-64D's for maritime use, recently some operated off HMS Ocean .
But MDD back in the 80's proposed maritime suitable Apaches.
(Tempting to bracket V-22 here, though to be fair that was at the start much more of a tri service platform, including the US Army for a time. And whatever we think of it, the idea did fit in which the main USMC mission).

The need for USMC VSTOL is a sound one, quite frankly without it why have a USMC fast jet force at all?
You want F-18's? Since the Marines will be supported by a CVBG, the USN already operates that type, aside for some FAC specialist USMC aviators attached to USN F-18D's of F-18F's, why a separate USMC force, which without VSTOL duplicates the USN?
As cost pressures increase, a non VSTOL USMC would be an obvious target to reduce costs, duplication.


User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 913 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 10126 times:

Sigh.

The F-35 is not designed to do EXACTLY what its forerunners did. Tatics will change, some for better, some for worse.

You honestly think that you know every spec and capability of the F-35? Dont blame the F-35 for doing what the buyers want it to do. The USMC handed LM some specs it wanted eairly in the program, as did the USN, and USAF. LM will meet those specs. So, if the F-35 is a lemon, it was requested to be that way, blame the buyer, not the builder.


User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7377 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 9982 times:



Quoting Oroka (Reply 12):
You honestly think that you know every spec and capability of the F-35? Dont blame the F-35 for doing what the buyers want it to do. The USMC handed LM some specs it wanted eairly in the program, as did the USN, and USAF. LM will meet those specs. So, if the F-35 is a lemon, it was requested to be that way, blame the buyer, not the builder.

And that will probably be the undoing of the a/c in the long run, one OEM trying to take it's product and make it the jack of all trades. Yes the US military tactics may have to change to match the a/c that they purchase, and that's also a problem, don't expect an opponent to fight you based on the capability of your a/c, they will do all in their power to exploit your weakness. Some military planners tend to be shocked when in a compabt situation the enemy does something unexpected, the real question is usually unexpected by whom?


User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 913 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 9862 times:

If it can perform on par with the majority of the fighters out there, the F-35 will be a success. You will not send a F-35 into a area heavily defended by air superiority fighters, that is the F-22s job. Performance wise, if it can fly and fight as well as say late block F-16s and MiG-29s, stealth will be what tips the scale in favor of the F-35.

Where the USMC, USN, and USAF really wins is commonality. Cheaper parts, cheaper maintenance, and easier joint operations.

The DoD didn't need another F-22 class fighter (though they do need more F-22s). Used in the right combination, the F-22 and F-35 will be a lethal pair in any situation against any opponent.


Considering that the public still doesn't really know what the F-22 can do, how can we really judge the F-35 as a lemon already?


User currently offlineSpudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 301 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 9729 times:



Quoting Oroka (Reply 15):
You will not send a F-35 into a area heavily defended by air superiority fighters, that is the F-22s job.

Thats the crux of the issue for the entire JSF programme for foreign buyers.

Its all very well for US forces to call on big bro F22 to clear the sky of the Su-27's and Mig 29's (maybe even F-16's, who knows) etc in a conflict but nobody else has that capability. So while this aspect of the argument will not mean as much to US posters it also means that you are again dependant on land based fighters to establish that air superiority as the USN will lack such a dominant fighter.

The above quoted jack-of-all-trades F4 (and I'm a big fan of the F4) had its ass handed to it for a while by mig 17/19/21's in Vietnam, no foreign buyer of the JSF will be able to sustain any attrition losses if it finds itself in a conflict.

Australia is a country I would fear for in particular with several overcowded countries armed with late Su-27's within striking distance who, with a change in politics, will look at 20 million people on the largest land mass in the region with jealous eyes. Their F18E/F F35 combo will do well to come out much above parity on an exchange with indian/chinese Su-27's. They might be wise to have another look at a few Typhoons to do point defence if there is any shift in political balance in the area.


User currently offlineKingairta From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 458 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 9285 times:

The stealth aspect will give the -35 the edge in the first look first shot aspect. It doesn't have to be a knife fighter to win.

The only reason the F-4 got it's butt handed to it early on was because of the poor quality of the missiles, the lack of a gun and poor pilot training.

One other thing the 35 isn't meant to be a 1:1 replacement of existing airframes.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13229 posts, RR: 77
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9237 times:

F-35 should be able to cope well enough with any upgraded SU-27, in the areas of Low Observability, weapon systems and it's no slouch in the air either, despite what detractors claim.
Anyway, we have been here before, in some areas of performance, neither F-16 nor F-18 matched many of the aircraft they replaced, in speed, acceleration, ceiling to name obvious ones.
Though important in themselves, they are far from the whole story, F-104 was faster than F-16 which replaced many of them, but which has the far more capability in agility, range, endurance, payload?

As stated, tactics and requirements change, this shapes aircraft design.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 9214 times:



Quoting Spudh (Reply 14):
The above quoted jack-of-all-trades F4 (and I'm a big fan of the F4) had its ass handed to it for a while by mig 17/19/21's in Vietnam, no foreign buyer of the JSF will be able to sustain any attrition losses if it finds itself in a conflict.

The F-4 actually had quite a stellar record against North Vietnamese MiG's, (something like 3:1) even despite poor ROE's and underperforming Sparrow missiles. Still, the USAF wanted more in the F-15 and the USN wanted more in the F-14.

Here’s my argument: if I could only have one (or maybe two) aircraft carriers and had to operate just one aircraft type on it, would I want ski jumps and STOVL F-35B's or catapults and F-35C's? Obviously in this case there are two very real examples of each direction, but try as the RN might to convince everyone that STOVL and ski jumps are yet again the wave of the future, I think they aren’t terribly convinced themselves when they say that they will design it to be able to later be outfitted with catapults should they decide to change their minds.

And it’s not so much the ski jump/catapult argument, either – it’s mainly just the STOVL aircraft deployed on it. The Russian carriers now making their way down to India and China use ski jumps, but they all still use conventional navalized variant aircraft as opposed to STOVL.

I've got no problem with the Marines upgrading their Harrier fleet with F-35B's, but I remain unconvinced to the premise of F-35B's as opposed F-35C's replacing Marine Hornets who for the most part, will still operate off of USN CVN's. The Marines want to replace 175 AV-8B Harriers with 350 F-35B's - their not all going to fit on the LHA/D's in the Gator Navy.

As a former Marine Air Winger, I've worked side-by-side with Harriers, in combat action, on the boat, dropping real ordinance (or trying to at least,) I even saw one fly into the water when it failed to be able to establish a hover while trying to land on the boat, and so my opinions of the Marine Harriers are based on first hand perspectives. I've heard their growl at full throttle while just a few meters away, and I've felt the heat of their ported exhaust as they vertically landed on the boat.

Harriers are cool, the Marine AV-8B+ with their radars and modern cockpits are fairly appealing, but they are far from the "TOP GUN" like reputation that many espouse. A fully loaded Apache carries more grunt and can get you every bit as close to the front line as one dare move such an aviation asset.


User currently offlineJackonicko From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2008, 472 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9200 times:

There are lots of reasons to be a ‘JSF sceptic’.

The uncertainty as to cost is perhaps the most important such reason, closely followed by the question marks as to what you actually get (in terms of capability, technology and technology transfer) if you buy it as an export customer.

Then there’s the slow progress being made in particular areas and the massive risk being stored up by the decision to accept the overlap between development/IOT&E and production.

But the reasons outlined by the OP above are of secondary importance, or represent an incomplete understanding of the issue.

Yes, JSF is not a dedicated CAS platform – no fast jet will ever be as good at CAS as a slower platform, but there is still a place for BAI, Interdiction and all the other traditional FJ roles.

I get fed up with the apparently bottomless resevoir of enthusiast advocacy for the supposedly greater utility and cost effectiveness of F-35C compared to F-35B.

It's a misconception and it demonstrates a depressingly simplistic grasp of modern air power operations.

It’s simply wrong to assume that “RN F-35B's operating off a brand new British carrier (down to just one now it appears) with a ski jump will be a waste” or that it would have been a better idea to buy “less expensive/more capable F-35C's and just installed catapults in their new carrier from the onset”. The F-35C isn’t cheaper, for starters, and it’s less versatile, and thus much less cost effective. We need aircraft that can operate with equal facility from ship or shore, without a massive training burden or infrastructure demands.

Yes, the F-35C can carry more, and can carry it further, but it’s a very much less versatile and flexible aircraft.

CTOL carrier aircraft impose a massive training burden, and in order to keep pilots current in carrier ops, squadrons cannot do anything else. Of course carrier squadrons can go ashore, but if they do so for any extended period their pilots very quickly lose their carrier currency, and if this currency is maintained, they can do nothing else. That’s fact, and it’s acknowledged by both the USN and the RN. Full time, non STOVL carrier squadrons do what they do very well, but the need to maintain CV currency means that they can do nothing else. That’s fine for the US Navy, but not for the USMC, nor for any of those customers who have signed up for F-35B.

Whereas a STOVL pilot can take off and land on a carrier almost as easily as from a land runway, with only the most modest specific carrier training and currency penalty. STOVL aircraft and STOVL carriers are a better choice for nations who cannot afford to dedicate assets full time to carrier operations, because they are more flexible and more versatile. (They also encounter significantly lower loads on landing – increasing structural life and reducing life cycle costs, and do not require expensive and maintenance intensive steam catapaults and hydraulic arrester gear).

For the UK this is vitally important. If we buy F-35C and configure our carrier as a CTOL vessel, we have an asset which will effectively be confined to carrier ops only, whereas if we buy F-35B, we have an asset which can be used as easily in (say) Afghanistan. And we have an aircraft which is not necessarily tied to a full length concrete runway.

And it is EXACTLY this flexibility that is important to the operators who have signed up for F-35B, and who are not buying F-35s to use them only on a conventional aircraft carrier.

You say that: “If I could only have one (or maybe two) aircraft carriers and had to operate just one aircraft type on it, would I want ski jumps and STOVL F-35B's or catapults and F-35C's?”

The question you’re actually asking is multi faceted:

1) Do I want two carriers that are of equal use as commando helicopter carriers or for deploying strike power, or do I want conventional cat and trap carriers whose wires and cats get in the way of intensive helicopter ops, and whose machinery eats into available hangar deck volume? If you're the US Navy, you can afford the less flexible option.

2) Do I want 66 aircraft that I can use for ops in land-locked Afghanistan for an extended period, and whose pilots won’t lose carrier currency when doing so, or do I want 66 aircraft for which the carrier training and currency requirements will be such that they won’t be useable for anything but carrier ops. If you're the US Navy, you can afford the less flexible more specialised option. Not everyone can.

The RN are not wedded to STOVL and ski jumps (they wouldn’t mind an asset that was tied, full time, to their boats) but the RAF and the UK MoD know that we need something more flexible, versatile and cost effective than that, and that’s why we need F-35B, if we’re going to have carriers at all.

What’s right for the US Navy with it’s dozen carriers is not necessarily right for the USMC, the UK, Italy, Spain, et al. And the compromise of operating AEW helicopters from a carrier without cats and arrester gear is worthwhile for some customers, because it gives them the added flexibility conferred by the STOVL fast jets. And indeed the recent operations by RN AEW Sea Kings in land-locked Afghanistan demonstrates that they have at least one advantage over the supposedly ‘superior’ Hawkeye.


The F-35C is just right for the USN, who can afford assets which do nothing more than operate from aircraft carriers, but not for operators for whom shipboard ops are just one of many operating options.

It has been claimed that: ”the entire JSF was designed around, and winner selected by the VSTOL version alone, or in the JSF's case, STOVL.”

Not strictly accurate, but in any case the penalty imposed by STOVL is remarkably small.

You have a real downer on the AV-8B, don’t you? I’ve flown a Harrier, and I’ve flown one onto a ship in the sim, and (thanks to VAAC) F-35B will be even easier to fly, and with even more performance margin. The AV-8 days of accidents and poor margins are history.

It’s not accurate to say that “A fully loaded Apache carries more grunt and can get you every bit as close to the front line as one dare move such an aviation asset.”

No Apache can carry Paveway IV. Nor anything like the weaponload that the Harrier can. Nor is it anything like as survivable.

And your comments about the F-4 are just as far off base “the last time the DOD went all in on a single airframe (F-4 Phantom) for the USAF, USN, and USMC” it proved pretty successful – remaining in service for decades and proving to be one of the most successful fighters of all time.

There may be legitimate concerns about Jack of all Trades fighters, but the F-4 is a singularly poor example to illustrate the potential pitfalls. The Phantom was enthusiastically embraced by all three of its US customers, and it outsold and out-lasted most of its contemporaries. The idea that they ”got out from underneath it…. soon after getting into it” is simply wrong. Nonsense, in fact.

Yes, ”the USAF wanted more in the F-15 and the USN wanted more in the F-14”, but only after the F-4 had enjoyed what was (by the standards of the day) a long and successful career, and only after a revolution in fighter technologies allowed new designs to do even more.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8847 times:



Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):

I get fed up with the apparently bottomless resevoir of enthusiast advocacy for the supposedly greater utility and cost effectiveness of F-35C compared to F-35B.

It's a misconception and it demonstrates a depressingly simplistic grasp of modern air power operations.

Because you apparently have the patent on the "correct" perspective?

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
The F-35C isn’t cheaper, for starters, and it’s less versatile, and thus much less cost effective. We need aircraft that can operate with equal facility from ship or shore, without a massive training burden or infrastructure demands.

For starters, the F-35C will indeed be cheaper than the F-35B, but more expensive than the F-35A. Now of course as of this point in time, the exact number of aircraft to be built is not even settled, and so flyaway costs are the subject of the very debate as JSF unit costs for all variants continue to escalate. But unless they build two times as many F-35B's as they do F-35C's, obviously a turbo-shaft lift fan is going to cost more than a slightly larger wing and a tail hook on the F-35C.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_HETiM0rPm6U/R27zmqiJCUI/AAAAAAAABXg/9ebj_uE1T-4/s720/PICT1370.jpg

The continued assertions that carrier aircraft suffer a "massive training burden" is simply unfounded. Navy aircraft can operate from ashore as well as they can at sea, and every foreign Nation to operate F/A-18 Hornets in their Air Forces because they do not own aircraft carriers, readily proves this point. US Marine Hornets and Prowlers routinely operated from either location.

Carrier qualification is a measure of currency (once you've earned your initial Naval Aviator wings via it's requisite training of course,) and just because a Navy or Marine pilot takes their plane ashore does not mean they lose their ability to return to sea on-board an aircraft carrier.

In fact, the only way a pilot can obtain/regain currency is to actually land on board that carrier at sea. Also in fact, this applies to not just aircraft with an arresting hook, but all aircraft as they go to sea, including every Marine helicopter and Harrier in a US Marine ACE deployed in a MEU(SOC) onboard LHA/D's.

A little known fact from the Iraq War was that the US Navy even operated ground based F-14's in support of Navy SeALs.

All carrier qualification requires is a set number of "traps" in both day and night within an allotted period of time. That's it. I believe Argentine A-4's used to practice traps on USN carriers when they went around the Cape of Horn when they got a chance, and even French Navy Rafale's have even recently conducted traps on US carriers.



The assertion that carrier borne aircraft suffer some sort of debilitating handicap because of the "massive training burden" incurred by operating off of an aircraft carrier is of a greatly exaggerated "misconception and it demonstrates a depressingly simplistic grasp of modern" US Navy carrier-borne operations.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
Yes, the F-35C can carry more, and can carry it further, but it’s a very much less versatile and flexible aircraft.

"Versatility and flexibility" appears to be of a subjective nature when it comes to describing the merits of the F-35B.

Unlike the Harrier who was originally championed as a VTOL aircraft, the F-35B is only being advertised as a STOVL platform. If you intend to operate even an F-35B from a small FARP alongside say that of a rotary winged attack helicopter, you suffer a significant reduction in payload and/or consumption of a disproportionate amount of fuel to get that aircraft in the air with any sort of practical combat load via a vertical takeoff.

And it is only in this example does an F-35B offer you an advantage over that of an F-35C. Unless you are operating on a short field insufficient in length for an F-35C, but still long enough for the F-35B, the point is moot because both aircraft could operate from either field, at sea or inland, with equal ability.

US Marines readily practice combined arms exercises (CAX) on unimproved runways at Camp Wilson Expeditionary Airfield (EAF) on MCB Camp Pendleton, California, where there literally build improvised unimproved runways sufficient just enough for even their Hornets. The argument for what the F-35B can do and where it can go as opposed to an F-35C continues to only narrow.

The F-35C affords a greater ordinance "bring-back" amount than the F-35B, so if you load out an F-35B but cannot drop that ordinance for whatever reason, that money down the drain as it will have to be jettisoned before coming back aboard the ship.

When given the proposition to construct from the ground up an all new class of aircraft carrier, I remain unconvinced that the F-35B's performance, financial, and maintenance penalties outweigh that of the F-35C and a conventional carrier deck configuration. Actually, no problem with the ski jump and absence of a catapult, just that of the arresting cables - the French, Russians, Chinese, and Indians all appear to be headed in the same direction that of the USN in that regard, opposite of the sole British direction.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
CTOL carrier aircraft impose a massive training burden, and in order to keep pilots current in carrier ops, squadrons cannot do anything else. Of course carrier squadrons can go ashore, but if they do so for any extended period their pilots very quickly lose their carrier currency, and if this currency is maintained, they can do nothing else. That’s fact, and it’s acknowledged by both the USN and the RN. Full time, non STOVL carrier squadrons do what they do very well, but the need to maintain CV currency means that they can do nothing else. That’s fine for the US Navy, but not for the USMC, nor for any of those customers who have signed up for F-35B.

As previously explained, the F-35B will require the same level of ship-borne "currency" as do F-35C's, just as Marine Harriers have ship borne "qualifications" onboard their LHA/D's as do their Marine Hornet brethren operating off of USN CVN's.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
Whereas a STOVL pilot can take off and land on a carrier almost as easily as from a land runway, with only the most modest specific carrier training and currency penalty. STOVL aircraft and STOVL carriers are a better choice for nations who cannot afford to dedicate assets full time to carrier operations, because they are more flexible and more versatile. (They also encounter significantly lower loads on landing – increasing structural life and reducing life cycle costs, and do not require expensive and maintenance intensive steam catapaults and hydraulic arrester gear).

Well first of all, one has to seriously consider the prospect of an aircraft carrier in foreign waters minus her compliment of combat aircraft for the validity of the argument to having your air wing be able to ditch the carrier and go inland.

Still, maintenance costs incurred with the STOVL variant F-35B and it's associated turbo shaft lift fan will readily make up for any differences when compared to F-35C airframes conducting arrested landings. As far as maintenance is concerned with carrier catapult systems, as will be the case with CVN-78, advanced electromagnetic technology readily available if the British were to so choose on their own carriers, will be employed.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
For the UK this is vitally important. If we buy F-35C and configure our carrier as a CTOL vessel, we have an asset which will effectively be confined to carrier ops only, whereas if we buy F-35B, we have an asset which can be used as easily in (say) Afghanistan. And we have an aircraft which is not necessarily tied to a full length concrete runway.

You might be able to sell that to politicians who know little about modern naval aviation carrier operations in the British Parliament, but not here in the US. Even the French know what they are doing as they appear headed in the right direction with their future aircraft carrier design complete with an angled deck, arresting wires, and catapults.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
And it is EXACTLY this flexibility that is important to the operators who have signed up for F-35B, and who are not buying F-35s to use them only on a conventional aircraft carrier.

You would appear to really only need that "flexibility" should you not be designing an entire all new aircraft carrier from the ground up, so that can be Italy and Spain's excuse, but what is that of the RN's excuse?

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
1) Do I want two carriers that are of equal use as commando helicopter carriers or for deploying strike power, or do I want conventional cat and trap carriers whose wires and cats get in the way of intensive helicopter ops, and whose machinery eats into available hangar deck volume? If you're the US Navy, you can afford the less flexible option.

Yeah, because in addition to USN CVN's and all of their supposed problems with catapults, wires, and ground flight deck equipment, the French, Russian, Chinese, and Indian designs all tend to disagree with the notion that the "wires and cats" of "conventional cat and trap carriers" impose upon efficient and effective carrier operations.

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
2) Do I want 66 aircraft that I can use for ops in land-locked Afghanistan for an extended period, and whose pilots won’t lose carrier currency when doing so, or do I want 66 aircraft for which the carrier training and currency requirements will be such that they won’t be useable for anything but carrier ops. If you're the US Navy, you can afford the less flexible more specialised option. Not everyone can.

Yeah, the Navy and Marines have that problem when they send Hornets into Afghanistan, let alone the Air Force when they send their F-16's. If they only had inferior performing STOVL aircraft...

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
What’s right for the US Navy with it’s dozen carriers is not necessarily right for the USMC, the UK, Italy, Spain, et al. And the compromise of operating AEW helicopters from a carrier without cats and arrester gear is worthwhile for some customers, because it gives them the added flexibility conferred by the STOVL fast jets. And indeed the recent operations by RN AEW Sea Kings in land-locked Afghanistan demonstrates that they have at least one advantage over the supposedly ‘superior’ Hawkeye.

The compromise with AEW helicopters as opposed to navalized E=2's for example is in the significant reduction in capabilities and not so much ramp space. Navy E-2's aren't needed in Afghanistan is because the USAF has superior E-2, E-8, and other similar such assets that can already perform the mission; (it's not like they couldn't operate in there.)

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
t has been claimed that: ”the entire JSF was designed around, and winner selected by the VSTOL version alone, or in the JSF's case, STOVL.”

Not strictly accurate, but in any case the penalty imposed by STOVL is remarkably small.

Because of reductions to the dimensions of internal weapons bay on the F-35B so as to accommodate the lift fan and all of it's associated weight, the F-35C and F-35A can also carry a more potent combination of ordinance.

Quote:
"the F-35B is no longer compatible with JSOW and 2,000-lb JDAM weapons. The largest weapon this F-35 variant can carry internally is the GBU-32 1,000-lb version of JDAM."

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-35.htm

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
You have a real downer on the AV-8B, don’t you? I’ve flown a Harrier, and I’ve flown one onto a ship in the sim, and (thanks to VAAC) F-35B will be even easier to fly, and with even more performance margin. The AV-8 days of accidents and poor margins are history.

Ah yeah, Harriers just don't crash anymore, do they? I guess the one I saw hover into the Adriatic in 1999 was before the pilots "got the memo" on how to fly them?

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 18):
nd your comments about the F-4 are just as far off base “the last time the DOD went all in on a single airframe (F-4 Phantom) for the USAF, USN, and USMC” it proved pretty successful – remaining in service for decades and proving to be one of the most successful fighters of all time.

There may be legitimate concerns about Jack of all Trades fighters, but the F-4 is a singularly poor example to illustrate the potential pitfalls. The Phantom was enthusiastically embraced by all three of its US customers, and it outsold and out-lasted most of its contemporaries. The idea that they ”got out from underneath it…. soon after getting into it” is simply wrong. Nonsense, in fact.

Yes, ”the USAF wanted more in the F-15 and the USN wanted more in the F-14”, but only after the F-4 had enjoyed what was (by the standards of the day) a long and successful career, and only after a revolution in fighter technologies allowed new designs to do even more.

But the point is clear, the "jack of all trades" fighter concept that the DOD imposed on the USAF and USN in the F-4 did not meet all their needs, forcing them to pursue additional designs by as early as the late 1960's. Sure the F-4 was a great fighter, and it served a lot of various roles, but the USAF and USN still wanted more and that's why many accept that the F-4 philosophy didn't accomplish all that it set out to do. I wonder how that lift-fan centered JSF will pan out for the USN and USAF?


User currently offlineJackonicko From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2008, 472 posts, RR: 11
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 8817 times:

Cost: Lockheed are giving the same cost for F-35B and C

Training burden: “The continued assertions that carrier aircraft suffer a "massive training burden" is NOT “simply unfounded”. It’s absolutely accurate. Conventional cat and trap ops require currency to be maintained and demand that pilots remain in current practise operating on the boat. Both the USN and the RN acknowledge that CV based carrier aircraft cannot hack from ship-based to shore based operations in the way that STOVL aircraft can. This is because it’s easier to ‘stop and then land’ than it is to ‘land and then stop’. As a result, a CV squadron that has been shore based for a year or two will require a massive and intensive work up to regain operational carrier capability. A Harrier unit will not.

Payload: No-one operates Harriers as VTOL aircraft. They always use a short take off and usually use a rolling vertical landing. As such they have far more firepower than an AH-64.

Versatility: It’s a function of training burden as well as STOVL capabilities. Argue all you like, but its proven, and has been demonstrated by the RAF’s Harriers, which can switch from ship to shore with far greater agility than any USN F/A-18 squadron. And yes, the USN have had exactly that problem when they have sent Hornets into Afghanistan. It’s much easier.

That means that for the UK, it can send its Harriers (and will be able to send its F-35Bs) to (say) Afghanistan without the carrier, which can stay at home, holding cocktail parties or being roled as a helicopter carrier. If an Air Wing has to stay with the carrier, then that carrier’s just a bit too much of a self licking lollipop for my liking.

“Still, maintenance costs incurred with the STOVL variant F-35B and it's associated turbo shaft lift fan will readily make up for any differences when compared to F-35C airframes conducting arrested landings.”

Rubbish! You’re clearly not a structural engineer.

”You might be able to sell that to politicians who know little about modern naval aviation carrier operations in the British Parliament, but not here in the US. Even the French know what they are doing as they appear headed in the right direction with their future aircraft carrier design complete with an angled deck, arresting wires, and catapults.”

1) Only the most blinkered, dyed in the wool carrier fans would fail to see the benefits of flexibility that a STOVL JSF gives us. We cannot afford dedicated carrier air wings in the way that the USN can. It's simply offensive patronising nonsense to suggest that the ill-informed favour STOVL and it's an exact inversion of the truth.

2) The French have no option, as they have no STOVL aircraft, and no STOVL design expertise to create one.

Depending how you marshal it, sarcasm can be the lowest form of wit.

“Ah yeah, Harriers just don't crash anymore, do they?”

Yes, they do, of course, but conventional carrier ops are even more costly in terms of accidents, according to all the statistics. There is little difference in accident rates between Harriers operating onshore or on the boat (unlike the F/A-18 when ship-based and shore based accident rates are compared), and ship based CV ops are far more costly than ship based STOVL.

Moreover you should be aware that the flying controls of the F-35B are much more pilot friendly and intuitive (thanks to the work on VAAC) and thanks to this, and the greater performance margins, the safety differential between conventional and STOVL will be further eroded.

” the "jack of all trades" fighter concept that the DOD imposed on the USAF and USN in the F-4 did not meet all their needs, forcing them to pursue additional designs by as early as the late 1960's.”

Rubbish, again. The F-4 outlasted its contemporaries and the replacement cycle was far more rapid in those days.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 8434 times:

Quoting Jackonicko (Reply 20):
Cost: Lockheed are giving the same cost for F-35B and C

That's not correct. First of all, the F-35B lift fan will most certainly cost money and it will not be "free." But we all know the final number will depend upon the total number/composition that the initial parties agree to purchase.

The most recent USAF price estimate on their CTOL F-35A variant shows an estimated fly-away cost of about $83m "Then-Year" dollars, and that number is only able to be brought down under the premise that the USAF will still be purchasing 1,763 of them.

http://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-080204-081.pdf

The speculation that the MOD is dropping the F-35B in favor of the F-35C is because they realize that the later combination will reap greater capability and flexibility over a longer period of service, and at a lower price.

Quote:
...the huge costs of developing and building the "B" version, , with each aircraft coming with a price tag of a projected £105 million with technological issues still to be resolved. The CV version is expected to cost an estimated £90 million leading to a saving of £2.2 billion.



Quote:
In a significant about turn the MoD has indicated that it will ditch the jump-jet version of Joint Strike Fighter in favour of the conventional model, as the planes for its two new aircraft carriers.

The move, welcomed by many defence analysts and the Royal Navy, will mean that the MoD has wasted £500 million of taxpayers' money paid to Rolls Royce to develop the highly complex engine to allow vertical take-off similar to the Harrier jump jet.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...drops-jump-jet-fighter-engine.html

US President Obama just signed a bill two weeks ago funding the GE/RR alternative engine for the JSF, and that engine is an alternative available for all variants, and not just the F-35B. So if the RN can still buy GE/RR based F-35C's, it looks like the days of the British "jump jet" will indeed be limited.

http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/ci...ti/stories/2009/10/26/daily43.html

Hey, I'm a still a big swing-wing F-14 fan so I know how you must feel, but it like the RN Harrier's STVOL, are just a ting of the past. But hey, you can't let the French design and sail a superior carrier!



Proposed French PA2 (Porte-Avions 2) with angled flight deck, arresting wires, and catapults.

Look, the "jump jet" is a British "crown jewel" and hence the topic is very heated and political. It was a tremendous leap in aviation technology when it first appeared in the 1960's and it will forever be in the history books for it's efforts in the Falklands war. And it's RR engine is immense source of pride as well, as well it should be.

But let's face it, those in the MOD and RN are coming to the realization that the F-35C is the more prudent way to go. The USN has perfected carrier operations to a science. You just cannot argue logic because it's rooted in reality.

An article in the May 2007 Marine Corps Times reported that the USN was none too happy with the USMC plan to operate such a large F-35B fleet, which would force them to operate sub-optimized F-35B's from their carriers as opposed to optimized F-35C's. Now this argument is slightly different than the British quandary because the RN is not talking about operating both variants, just one or the other, but the premise of the argument in favor of the F-35C over the F-35B are the same.

Quote:
“STOVL sub-optimizes CVW [carrier air wing] operations and capabilities,” Navy planners assert in the document, a copy of which was obtained by Defense News. “STOVL, while capable of CVN operations, should not be integrated into the CVW as part of a standard construct.”



Quote:
In the briefing, the Navy aviation planners list more than a dozen ways the F-35B short-takeoff-and-landing version will “sub-optimize” aircraft-carrier operations. Among other things, they say the F-35B will:

* Offer poorer capability and sustainability at a higher price than the carrier-optimized F-35C. The Marines say the STOVL aircraft outperforms the C model in all kinds of missions except carrier-based ones.

* Reduce flexibility in carrier-deck operations. Marines: That won’t be known until flight tests begin.

* Carry only 70 percent as much fuel as the F-35C. Marines: That advantage will be reduced by the F-35C’s heavier weight, by the -B’s ability to fly from forward bases, and by the fact that the STOVL version doesn’t need to carry backup fuel in case it can’t trap aboard a carrier.

* Not carry a 2,000-pound bomb in its internal bomb bay. Marines: The F-35B can carry one externally, and weapon is needed for only 15 percent of missions anyway.

* Lack an internally carried, stand-off weapon that can hit enemy radar. Marines: That could be remedied with the under-development Small Diameter Bomb.

* Lack an internally carried, stand-off weapon that can hit enemy ships. Marines: It carriers the Joint Stand-Off Weapon externally.

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news...2007/04/defense_stovl_jsf_070430m/

As for those critics who argue that the RN will have to start from the ground up on their catapult technology, the US Navy (and taxpayer) standby more than willing to share their EMAL technology which perhaps they wouldn't otherwise do for anyone other than they and perhaps the French on their new carrier, but that issue really is just not an issue.

Regardless as to what ultimately happens, let's just be clear that the argument I have been trying to make appears to also be shared by many in the British MOD and RN.

[Edited 2009-11-12 17:39:57]

User currently offlineSpudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 301 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 8158 times:

This is a great thread with very detailed posts of strong arguments from both sides.
Thank you v.much.

For my part I don't believe the RN will ever back away for vertical landing for carrier operations irrespective of take off method. The reason is pretty simple and over-rides any of the short comings in comparison to its CTOL stablemate and is based on hard won combat experience.

When you are conducting air operations from a (smaller) carrier against land based aircraft you must be able to recover all launched aircraft whatever the sea conditions. The RN learned this valuable lesson in the Indian ocean which was futher reinforced in the Falklands campaign.

If sea conditions prevent landing back on ship and you can't divert to a land base (as was the case in the Falklands) your defending aircraft are as good as shot down. Your only option is to launch additional tanking assets to get them to a safe haven. I don't know if the RN even has enough assets to effect such a recovery. This action on its own will lessen your force effectiveness for a significant period. The USN got caught like this in the Pacific (I think) where they had to launch enough tanking assets to get a flight to safety during an execise with the RN who were able to recover all their Sea Harriers in the same conditions. And consider now that a lot of tanking is proposed to be fighters with buddy tanks and you will rapidly see a force depletion due to sea conditions.
The RN were always able to defend their airspace and more importantly recover their CAP's in atrocious sea conditions which didn't affect their land based opponents.

The USN has either forgotten this or has enough assets on board for them to contend that it is an acceptable trade off for the increased cabability of the CTOL brethren. I don't know if they have experienced this phenonemon in any of the recent conflicts but I know its a lesson that has stuck with the RN.

I also believe that the principle of force dispersal away from airfields is still a strong theme in the RAF and they want to retain that capability again at the expense of range/payload. It worked for the Harrier and remains a valid wartime concept.


User currently offlineWvsuperhornet From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 517 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 7886 times:

The F-35 is not a crappy aircraft it was designed to replace the F-16,F-18's version on the market and to work in conjunction with the F-22 and the Superhornets. Now since Obama decided to cancel the F-22 and limit it to 183 aircraft the F-35's mission will of course change a little since all 183 F-22 wont be avalible all the time but it still should be able to counter the current threats it will face today and into the near future anyway. My guess is because most american aircraft builders are working on un-manned fighter concepts that is the way the US is looking to go in the distant future will there be as many F-35's sold that were orginally projected I doubt it due to the cost and everyone's economy but there are stil other aircraft avalible to these countries that cant afford the F-35's such as the Superhornet,rafale,Gripen and while almost as expensive as an F-22 the eurofighter and the newest F-15 and F-16's. So there will be no shortages of good aircraft to choose from, all of which are very capable. Is the F-22 a better air to air aircraft yes by far but its expensive and has alimited air to ground capability and most countries are looking for an everything aircraft which the F-35 fits in nicely so I wouldn't call it a piece of crap it will do its job. Also just to note the F-35 was never designed to replace the A-10 in the first place, the A-10 was suppose to be taken out of service years ago but a good thing is it keeps hanging around not sure is anything can replace the A-10.

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