Eagleboy
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If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:30 pm

A simple thread title says it all. I thought of this when reading the thread on the F-22 being back in the air. We see the multiple problems with the F-35 development/production process. We see the scaling back of orders causing the unit price to increase. This post from that F-22 thread prompted me to start this thread:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 8):
America has boxed herself in by going down the path of no return and betting all on the F-35. That was risky and foolish as we are now seeing more and more.

I don't want to demean the F-35 as a concept......but at what point could it become a non-viable program?
At what point could it be cancelled?
And then what alternative must the USA take?
I understand the concept of it being "too costly to cancel" but at some point this logic must be undone.

Does it require a certain number of cancelled orders?
If the B model is cancelled what does that spell for the other models?
Can the progran survive with just the A model?
Does the USMC have a viable (or any) Plan B if the B model is cancelled?
In what scenario could we see the USAF sticking with the F-35A (this seems the most stable element of the program), the F-35B being ditched and the USN sticking with the SuperHornet, the other partners going Sea Typhoon/Gripen/F-18?

Vaguely relevant quotes:
"On 6 January 2011, Gates said that the 2012 budget would call for a two year pause in F-35B production during which the aircraft may be redesigned, or canceled if unsuccessful. Gates stated, "If we cannot fix this variant during this time frame, and get it back on track in terms of performance, cost and schedule, then I believe it should be canceled."

"On 24 November 2010, Guido Crosetto said that Italy was reconsidering its purchase of the STOVL F-35B, in light of the UK's withdrawal from that variant"

"In December 2010, Defence Minister Hans Hillen said that he had "great difficulty" with a cost increase of 20% over what the Netherlands had budgeted and that he would work with the UK and Norway on the issue"

"The intention to sign a sole-sourced, untendered F-35 contract and the government's refusal to provide detailed costing became one of the major causes of a finding of contempt of Parliament and the subsequent defeat of Stephen Harper's Conservative government through a non-confidence vote on 25 March 2011. This directly lead to the F-35 purchase becoming an issue in the 2011 federal election"

"Denmark's MPs are not expected to vote on a purchase of the F-35 before 2012, and are considering alternatives such as the JAS 39 Gripen, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and Eurofighter."

"In June 2011 the Socialist Left party called for a probe into the rising costs of the jets"

"On 24 March 2011 Turkey announced it is placing its order for 100 jets on hold due to the ongoing source code refusal issue"

"According to the Jerusalem Post, IAF officers said on 31 July 2011 that they did not anticipate that the delivery date for the F-35 would slip beyond 2017. If it did, the IAF will need to consider other options for that time period,"

[Edited 2011-09-22 14:50:42]
 
cmb56
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:05 pm

I find it interesting that in nearly all the speculative articles about alternatives to the F-35 so few of them mention the F-15SE. Of the major fighter aircraft in production it is the only one that seems to have had any serious effort made to add stealth to it. And to boot it is probably still the best fighter aircraft in production.
 
FoxTwo
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:21 pm

Someone with a lot of knowledge on the topic , please update us regarding the F15SE ...... is it coming? Will it be replacing all the current eagles? Will this be a multirole airplane? What ever happened to the F/A-18 re-design?

If the F-35 is axed - you will see present day fighters hanging around that much longer. There is nothing in the works to replace it. This machine has been the be all to end all for the past many years. How will the US justify the R&D towards a new fighter?
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Dreadnought
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:16 pm

Quoting FoxTwo (Reply 2):
If the F-35 is axed - you will see present day fighters hanging around that much longer. There is nothing in the works to replace it. This machine has been the be all to end all for the past many years. How will the US justify the R&D towards a new fighter?

If the F-35 is a failure, and never even enters into service, that will be a bomb going off in the Pentagon. The complex and costly military procurement system that has been in place since the 70s was supposed to ensure that while the cost might be high and the timeframe immensely long, the end result is the one that is needed. We can't afford to spend 20 years developing something and not get anything out of it.

The Pentagon should go back to the old way of doing it. They publish a requirement (eg an air superiority fighter able to match anything now flying or in prototype), and tell Boeing, Lockheed and anyone else that we want to see flying prototypes in 3 years, and go on from there.
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Stitch
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:36 pm

If the program tanks I expect significant F/A-18 Super Hornet orders to hold things over until the UCAVs can be brought into service.
 
Oroka
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:03 pm

F/A-18E with CFTs, F-16Es, and maybe some F-15SEs. Problem is that these systems fully outfitted are not that much cheaper than the F-35.
 
PolymerPlane
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:09 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 3):
The Pentagon should go back to the old way of doing it. They publish a requirement (eg an air superiority fighter able to match anything now flying or in prototype), and tell Boeing, Lockheed and anyone else that we want to see flying prototypes in 3 years, and go on from there.

this isn't the problem with the F-35. Boeing and LM already had prototypes flying successfully during the competition. The problems are the changes implemented by AF and LM after the prototypes.
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kanban
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:05 am

Quoting polymerplane (Reply 6):
The problems are the changes implemented by AF and LM after the prototypes

Don't forget congressional idiots adding stuff at donor's request (better known as earmarks)
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:14 pm

Quoting polymerplane (Reply 6):

this isn't the problem with the F-35. Boeing and LM already had prototypes flying successfully during the competition. The problems are the changes implemented by AF and LM after the prototypes.

Correct. There seems to be an assumption that each plane under development might be the ONLY plane for the next 20 years, so every time a new requirement shows up they throw it in.

How about assuming that each plane will only be in production 5-10 years? That it would be the front-line choice for 5 years, before it gets relegated to National Guard and reserve formations and it is replaced on the front line by a successor? Every plane doesn't have to be a 20 year leap in technology. You can use more off-the-shelf parts, depend more on evolutionary improvements rather than revolutionary experimentation. That will make them cheaper and faster to develop.
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ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:18 am

Quoting Oroka (Reply 5):
F/A-18E with CFTs, F-16Es, and maybe some F-15SEs. Problem is that these systems fully outfitted are not that much cheaper than the F-35.

Actually, more expensive than any worst case cost overrun scenario F-35.
 
NASCARAirforce
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:29 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
If the program tanks I expect significant F/A-18 Super Hornet orders to hold things over until the UCAVs can be brought into service.

For the US Airforce too?
 
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par13del
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:25 pm

Quoting NASCARAirforce (Reply 10):
For the US Airforce too?

Introducing a new type to the Air Force would not be economic when there is no reason why additional F-16's and F-15's can be procured, if they push the F-15SE is also an option, but if the need is for the lowest cost then C model Eagle production coudl be re-started, I never checked how production of the C and E's were done, same line or seperate.
 
rfields5421
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:54 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 3):
We can't afford to spend 20 years developing something and not get anything out of it.

The problem in my opinion is the timeframe. No way that mission requirements stay static for 20 years.

The system has developed into a completely inflexible system which designs an aircraft to solve the needs of 10 years ago.
 
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kanban
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:10 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
The system has developed into a completely inflexible system which designs an aircraft to solve the needs of 10 years ago.

Leads us to design or only enter conflicts that fit the equipment. Heaven help us if we need horses and sabers again.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:25 am

Quoting par13del (Reply 11):
Introducing a new type to the Air Force would not be economic when there is no reason why additional F-16's and F-15's can be procured, if they push the F-15SE is also an option, but if the need is for the lowest cost then C model Eagle production coudl be re-started, I never checked how production of the C and E's were done, same line or seperate.

McDD discontinued production of single seat F-15's... the only ones being produced are the dual seat Strike Eagle variants.

And F-15SE costs a lot more than F-35; Boeing quotes a price $100 million dollars a bare bones copy for a F-15SE (no engines, no government furnished equipment, no weapons or stores), and that is for an aircraft that is still technically a paper airplane.
 
Eagleboy
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:47 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 14):
And F-15SE costs a lot more than F-35; Boeing quotes a price $100 million dollars a bare bones copy for a F-15SE (no engines, no government furnished equipment, no weapons or stores), and that is for an aircraft that is still technically a paper airplane.

Agreed, how much will the F-15SE actually cost in the end? Afterall unit cost is dependant on the number of orders,as we have seen with the F-35.
I have read (Combat Aircraft Sep 2011) that the unit cost of the F-35 has crept up to $120M? (F-22 is $150M)
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:46 pm

I am not convinced that there is enough will power to axe the F-35, although I do think that as a political issue, th F-35B is getting its last rites. w.r.t. to BAe's announcement re Typhoon production slowdown, this after the amount of a/c the RAF were to receive was also cut:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...to-typhoon-production-rate-362594/

I think a cut in the buy for the F-35 is inevitable. No way the USAF/USN will get about 2,400 of them. I'd say not 2,000, not even 1,500. Which of course amortises the R&D over a much shorter production run, hence the program cost fo each a/c, whether Amercian or foreign, gets a lot higher.

IMHO this will ripple across other US military programs as well.
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wvsuperhornet
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:13 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 14):
And F-15SE costs a lot more than F-35; Boeing quotes a price $100 million dollars a bare bones copy for a F-15SE (no engines, no government furnished equipment, no weapons or stores), and that is for an aircraft that is still technically a paper airplane.

There is a F-15 silent eagle prototype that has flown that and singapores and the F-15K's for korea are on a very simular format so there would be no problems there.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 5):
F/A-18E with CFTs, F-16Es, and maybe some F-15SEs. Problem is that these systems fully outfitted are not that much cheaper than the F-35.

The F-18 superhornet and the F-16 block 60 or 62 are significantly cheaper than the F-35's The F-15 SE is cheaper but not signifanctly cheaper. Since the airforce is unlikely to order a navy plane my guess is an upgraded F-15C could be produced for alot cheaper and quicker than the silent eagle which would be enough to hold us over for a while anyway.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:06 am

Quoting wvsuperhornet (Reply 17):
There is a F-15 silent eagle prototype that has flown that and singapores and the F-15K's for korea are on a very simular format so there would be no problems there.

It was not a prototype, it was a demonstrator. A new F-15SE will be radically different than any F-15 in existence.

Quoting wvsuperhornet (Reply 17):
The F-18 superhornet and the F-16 block 60 or 62 are significantly cheaper than the F-35's The F-15 SE is cheaper but not signifanctly cheaper. Since the airforce is unlikely to order a navy plane my guess is an upgraded F-15C could be produced for alot cheaper and quicker than the silent eagle which would be enough to hold us over for a while anyway.

No it isn't. The GAO calculated the F/A-18E/F's price as being $106.1 million. The quoted fly away price that is often bandied about does not include government furnished equipment, weapons (such as the gun), stores, etc.
 
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par13del
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:49 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 18):
It was not a prototype, it was a demonstrator. A new F-15SE will be radically different than any F-15 in existence.

If they are talking about lowest cost option it would have to be based primarilly on the demonstrator, if it is radically different then that project is not onboard with the cost saving being looked at.
How much difference is there between the two seat frame and the single seat that would make restarting production of the F-15C so much more expensive than a F-35?
 
wvsuperhornet
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:39 pm

Quoting par13del (Reply 19):
If they are talking about lowest cost option it would have to be based primarilly on the demonstrator, if it is radically different then that project is not onboard with the cost saving being looked at.
How much difference is there between the two seat frame and the single seat that would make restarting production of the F-15C so much more expensive than a F-35?

The F-15C in a single seat aicraft the on 2 seat version are the F-15D and the F-15E and maybe japans and korea's F-15's.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 18):
No it isn't. The GAO calculated the F/A-18E/F's price as being $106.1 million. The quoted fly away price that is often bandied about does not include government furnished equipment, weapons (such as the gun), stores, etc.

The airframe cost of an F-35 airframe is around 140 miliion at last count and rising I still would put 106.1 million armed as substantially cheaper.
 
wvsuperhornet
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:41 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 18):
It was not a prototype, it was a demonstrator. A new F-15SE will be radically different than any F-15 in existence.

Other than some low observability and stealth added and upgraded electronics and radar how is it much different?
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:14 am

Quoting par13del (Reply 19):
If they are talking about lowest cost option it would have to be based primarilly on the demonstrator, if it is radically different then that project is not onboard with the cost saving being looked at.
How much difference is there between the two seat frame and the single seat that would make restarting production of the F-15C so much more expensive than a F-35?

Major differences. The supply chain to produce the single seat F-15's are long gone. We would have to start from scratch setting up the supply chain.

Quoting wvsuperhornet (Reply 20):
The F-15C in a single seat aicraft the on 2 seat version are the F-15D and the F-15E and maybe japans and korea's F-15's.

The last single seat F-15 was delivered in the late 1980's. Since then, it is only the F-15E and its variants that are still in production.

Quoting wvsuperhornet (Reply 20):
The airframe cost of an F-35 airframe is around 140 miliion at last count and rising I still would put 106.1 million armed as substantially cheaper.

For a LRIP aircraft, yes. For a full-rate production aircraft, no. LRIP aircraft are traditionally more expensive due to the general inefficiencies of low rate production.

Quoting wvsuperhornet (Reply 21):
Other than some low observability and stealth added and upgraded electronics and radar how is it much different?

A complete redesign of the fly-by-wire system is proposed for the F-15SE. Plus, there will be major structural changes to lighten the F-15SE to regain range, as a lot of fuel is being lost in the new CFT's. Not to mention the entire electronic warfare system has to be redesigned.
 
wvsuperhornet
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Oct 07, 2011 4:05 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 22):
A complete redesign of the fly-by-wire system is proposed for the F-15SE. Plus, there will be major structural changes to lighten the F-15SE to regain range, as a lot of fuel is being lost in the new CFT's. Not to mention the entire electronic warfare system has to be redesigned.

I was under the impression that is the version that singapore had ordered so it should have already been done. If i am wrng and thats a possibility I thought those issues were already worked on the singapore version is suppose to be the most advanced F-15 flying.

The last single seat F-15 was delivered in the late 1980's. Since then, it is only the F-15E and its variants that are still in production.

I was aware of that he specifically refered to the F-15C which is a single seat version.

[Edited 2011-10-06 21:08:02]
 
Devilfish
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:58 pm

My post in the other thread notwithstanding, it seems Boeing is keeping faith with their old stock- in-trade Eagle...

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...ediction-for-f-15-shutdown-363003/

Quote:
"Boeing has backed off from previous forecasts that the 40-year-old F-15 production line would shut down next year in the absence of new orders, adding that there are a 'number of pending' orders for the type.

'It is premature and inappropriate for us to even speculate on when the production line might close,' Boeing said in a statement responding to questions from Flightglobal.

On 21 October last year, the Obama administration notified the US Congress of a possible sale of 72 F-15Es to Riyadh, but the deal with Saudi Arabia has now been pending for almost a year.

The proposed deal included significant capability upgrades for the nation's existing F-15SAs.

[.....]

The company is scheduled to deliver the last of 21 F-15Ks to South Korea in March 2012 (one pictured below), and Singapore's order for 24 F-15SGs is scheduled to be completed next year.

For now, the US airframer does not appear to be panicking about the possibility of a break in production.

In addition to the pending Saudi Arabian deal, the F-15SE Silent Eagle variant is competing for a follow-on contract in South Korea for 40 to 60 aircraft.

The competition includes the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Sukhoi's PAK-FA.

However, Seoul is not planning to award a contract until at least October 2012."



It's tough to call a favorite here. The Eurofighter, with low RCS, relatively advanced systems and very good performance could be the dark horse, but it's also a tad pricey and lacks an established Korean presence. Both US OEM's have provided fighters to the ROKAF. LockMart has the most advanced stealth offering that SK desires, though fraught with birth pangs and wild costs. Boeing has commonality, a bit of stealth and most recent work experience and requisite network going for them.

Assuming (however unlikely) the thread's premise come to pass, there would only be these two...plus their Russian and Chinese counterparts to select from. With prospects for the F-15 Silent Eagle improving markedly as the USAF struggle to fill the gap that would be left by the JSF, and the Raptor being out of production.

So, it may just be delaying the inevitable, or there might be some substance yet in Boeing's reluctance to shutdown its F-15 production line.
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ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:09 am

A podcast interview with Lockheed Martin's Tom Burbage on why he thinks F-35 is better than any other teen series fighter and their derivatives:

http://defense.aol.com/2011/11/03/wh...ed-thinks-f-35-beats-boeings-f-18/

Of course Lockheed Martin's spokesperson will be tooting his own horn, but it is a very long discussion as to why he thinks F-35 is better and the applications and implications.
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:02 am

Reported in AIR International October issue (Vol 81 No 4, pg 13) "Australia Questions JSF Purchase".

Fair use quote:
"The Australian Government has raised the possibility of reducing or even abandoning its purchase of the Lockheed Martin F35A..."

Article goes on to discuss possible alternatives, most likely another batch of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets, or more if F-35A is abandoned. Some like the current fleet would be wired to be converted to EA-18G standard.
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tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:22 am

UAVs, missiles (cruise and otherwise) and long range stand off weapons are the way to go. Much cheaper, effective and faster.

I recently saw a 1 hour long promo for the F-35, depicting a mission to Iran. using B-2s, F-22s and F-35s. Even there, the F-35s were only useful in the Wild Weasel role (anti radar) and to protect the B-2s in an imaginary dog fight situation (like the F-22s couldn't do that).

Why wouldn't we just launch a barrage of missiles at those sites? Do B-2s really have to be brought in that close and need F-35s as escorts? I thought the B-2s were stealth all by themselves anyway and could carry stand off cruise missiles. If these close in bombing runs are really needed, and the F-35 is axed, the new UAVs could fill the role of a bombing platform as well as newer long range stand off weapons. IMHO.

The US Marines need close in support and what better plane than an A-10 or similar? F-18s can also handle that role, while covered by the F-22s.

Even at this stage, I would axe the F-35 and develop alternative systems instead, because they will be far cheaper and more effective, especially to operate. If you think the F-35 is getting expensive to acquire, wait till you have to pay to operate them. The projected operating costs have gone way up too.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...mark-for-maintenance-bills-357560/
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:02 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 27):
UAVs, missiles (cruise and otherwise) and long range stand off weapons are the way to go. Much cheaper, effective and faster.

I recently saw a 1 hour long promo for the F-35, depicting a mission to Iran. using B-2s, F-22s and F-35s. Even there, the F-35s were only useful in the Wild Weasel role (anti radar) and to protect the B-2s in an imaginary dog fight situation (like the F-22s couldn't do that).

Why wouldn't we just launch a barrage of missiles at those sites? Do B-2s really have to be brought in that close and need F-35s as escorts? I thought the B-2s were stealth all by themselves anyway and could carry stand off cruise missiles. If these close in bombing runs are really needed, and the F-35 is axed, the new UAVs could fill the role of a bombing platform as well as newer long range stand off weapons. IMHO.

The US Marines need close in support and what better plane than an A-10 or similar? F-18s can also handle that role, while covered by the F-22s.

Even at this stage, I would axe the F-35 and develop alternative systems instead, because they will be far cheaper and more effective, especially to operate. If you think the F-35 is getting expensive to acquire, wait till you have to pay to operate them. The projected operating costs have gone way up too.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...mark-for-maintenance-bills-357560/

However, UAV's and cruise missiles will never be able to intercept aircraft and achieve air superiority.

Plus, such platforms are payload limited; the 450 kg warhead on JASSM or Tomahawk isn't very big, especially against heavily hardened targets. Only weapons in the USAF inventory can will be able to defeat such heavily hardened targets are the GBU-28, and the GBU-57A/B, and of course the only stealthy platform that can carry such large weapons is the B-2.

F-35 is meant to replace or supplement a whole swath of aircraft, from F-16's, F/A-18's to even the B-2. We are seeing a proliferation of very advanced air defence systems that will eventually make it increasingly difficult, perhaps even impossible to fly conventional, non-stealthy aircraft without significant risks. Furthermore, fighter aircraft are carrying more powerful radar sets coupled to longer range weapons which increases the engagement distance.

Low observability is fast becoming a major requirement for fighter aircraft because of the two reasons mentioned earlier. Low observability allows us to penetrate what was previously denied airspace at a manageable risk to hunt down and destroy enemy air defence assets. Against enemy fighters, you reduce the detectability range, meaning that you can either sneak past the enemy fighters, or throw them on the defensive before they can even fire a shot; while you read stories like the new CAPTOR-E on the Eurofighter being able to detect a F-35 at 59km, remember that the F-35 will detect the Eurofighter with its radar 120km away or farther. That means the F-35 can dictate the terms of a fight as F-35 will see the enemy first, and a pilot that can dictate the terms of the fight usually wins.
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:36 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
However, UAV's and cruise missiles will never be able to intercept aircraft and achieve air superiority.

I'd be cautious about making a statement along those lines. UCAV technology is advancing pretty rapidly, and the F-35 may well represent the last iteration of manned combat a/c in the West. That said, an LM UCAV will still likely carry the same price as an F-35: extortionate
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kc135topboom
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:44 pm

I would expect orders for Gen 4.5 fighters, no Gen 4 fighters for the biggest Air Forces.

Also, the USAF may reopen the F-22 line and begin producing a F-22B/C, but no F-22Ns or FB-22s.

That just leaves the following (western fighters);
F-15SE
F-16E/F
F/A-18E/F
Typhoon Tranche 3+, a more advanced version of the Tranche 3
Rafale-D/M, a more advanced version of each
EA-18G/H
Mitsubishi F-2A/B
Mirage 2000N/D
F-CK-1 C/D
JAS-39C/D/NG

There are others.
 
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:37 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 30):
EA-18G/H

H? Seems Boeing has not been keeping me up to date on the Hornet program again  


I dont see the F-22 line getting reopened. Cancel a program for a $100m+ fighter, spend alot of money reopening the line for a $150m fighter? I would love to see it, even a downrated F-22, but it is not realistic, especially with the deep looming cuts in defense spending. IMO, best thing to do is downsize, and have a smaller silver bullet force.
 
TheSonntag
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:26 am

I heard Germany is intending to phase out some F-4s in 2 years, maybe thats an option   
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:55 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
However, UAV's and cruise missiles will never be able to intercept aircraft and achieve air superiority.

Plus, such platforms are payload limited; the 450 kg warhead on JASSM or Tomahawk isn't very big, especially against heavily hardened targets. Only weapons in the USAF inventory can will be able to defeat such heavily hardened targets are the GBU-28, and the GBU-57A/B, and of course the only stealthy platform that can carry such large weapons is the B-2.

Appreciate your informative post. However, a few things came to mind;

1. Missiles have no need to intercept other aircraft or achieve air superiority. They just hit need to hit their ground targets.
2. Development of long range missiles and UAVs able to carry the larger warheads is certainly doable at a fraction of the budget of the F-35 program.
3. Enemy air defenses can be suppressed with wild weasel (anti radar) missiles or the threat of them, patrolling on UAVs.

It was interesting that in the F-35 promo movie, unstealthy UAVs were used to trip the air defense radars so that the stealthy F-35 wild weasels could target the ground radars unseen and fire wild weasel missiles at them. I wonder, why couldn't the UAVs themselves get a shot off onto the tracking and firing ground radar stations, before they're blown out of the sky? By the time a separate wild Weasel aircraft (F-35) gets there, the ground radars might have been turned off or moved already. The UAVs are toast in any case. Current (F-16, F-4) wild weasel aircraft sometimes use themselves to trigger the radars.

After the first wave of attacks on the ground radars, patrolling the skies with cheap, unstealthy wild weasel UAVs makes a ton of sense as it is cheaper than operating a manned aircraft and only dares the enemy to turn on their radar. And if they do, they would have an anti radar missile inbound in no time.

With the ground radar suppressed, the F-22s/ AWACS would get anything they dare put up into the sky, if the airbases have not already been annihilated by the advanced missiles.

Thinking about this, air superiority is achieved by destroying their ability to fly at all, by quickly destroying their bases within range. Missiles can be built far cheaper and more numerous than any enemy can build air bases.

[Edited 2011-11-07 18:10:44]
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:47 am

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 29):
I'd be cautious about making a statement along those lines. UCAV technology is advancing pretty rapidly, and the F-35 may well represent the last iteration of manned combat a/c in the West. That said, an LM UCAV will still likely carry the same price as an F-35: extortionate

UCAV technology has yet to advance to the level where a UCAV can independently intercept and make a independent decision as to how to intercept, and if it should open fire. You still need a man in the loop for that, even with today's UAV technology. With the potential for the data links and very long range comms being jammed, all you have is a expensive dart in the air that can't make a decision. Even with the man in the loop, situational awareness for the operator is still very poor; many UAV operators liken the situation as looking through a straw.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 33):
Missiles have no need to intercept other aircraft or achieve air superiority. They just hit need to hit their ground targets.

You still need to intercept enemy aircraft, especially enemy fighters. That requirement hasn't changed.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 33):
2. Development of long range missiles and UAVs able to carry the larger warheads is certainly doable at a fraction of the budget of the F-35 program.

But at what expense? The big weapons I'm talking weapons that about are 5000lbs or more, more than 10 times the size of a regular cruise missile warhead. You will be looking at a very big UAV or missile to carry such a load, and it will be very expensive; a regular Tomahawk cruise missile is already $1.5 million dollars each, and it is a one-time use weapon. How much will a cruise missile cost that can carry a 5000+ lbs weapon? Even our ICBM's (Minuteman, Peacekeeper, and Trident) don't have that capability of carrying such heavy weapons, and they cost $30 million bucks each, or more.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 33):
3. Enemy air defenses can be suppressed with wild weasel (anti radar) missiles or the threat of them, patrolling on UAVs.

Still have to deal with enemy fighters, and of course, the occasional SAM site that was never knocked out in the first place. And of course, there are some areas of airspace in a conflict that remain completely off limits to non-stealthy aircraft, despite all of the SEAD missions you undertake. For example, during Gulf War I, Baghdad was made completely off limits to conventional aircraft after the the Package Q Strike, where 3 F-16's were lost, with 2 pilots captured, many more were damaged, and we nearly lost more due to the numerous SAM launches, AAA, and enemy fighters intercepted the package over Baghdad. Compare that to the many F-117 strikes on Baghdad, with no Coalition losses.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:36 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 34):
You still need to intercept enemy aircraft, especially enemy fighters. That requirement hasn't changed.
Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 34):
Still have to deal with enemy fighters

Um why? A missile heading to its target needs not engage in a dog fight. It can be made stealthy and is far cheaper then a manned aircraft and a;ll it needs to do is have a high probability of striking its target. How much cheaper - I can't say, but for sure much cheaper to acquire and almost infinitely cheaper to "operate" than a manned aerial strike force. The ICBMs are ballistic missiles carrying multiple nuclear warheads, much more expensive than what I am talking about. The missiles don't have to be ballistic ones fired 9,000 miles from their targets.

But as an analogy, the ICBMs do prove a point I am making - that they provide a deterrent, without their capability of intercepting fighters or dealing with them at all. They just have to strike their targets, that's all. We don't have to dog fight for the sake of it.

[Edited 2011-11-08 01:37:24]

[Edited 2011-11-08 01:38:39]
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:50 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 34):
UCAV technology has yet to advance to the level where a UCAV can independently intercept and make a independent decision as to how to intercept, and if it should open fire. You still need a man in the loop for that, even with today's UAV technology. With the potential for the data links and very long range comms being jammed, all you have is a expensive dart in the air that can't make a decision. Even with the man in the loop, situational awareness for the operator is still very poor; many UAV operators liken the situation as looking through a straw.

You're talking about what exists now. I'm talking about the 'NexGen' for UCAVs -- 15-20 years out. AI is advancing rapidly, and i think when you see UCAVs actually deployed, they will be capable of independent action, therefore no huge requirement for a continuous data link.

Much of the drive on this is from the space program.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 34):
Even our ICBM's (Minuteman, Peacekeeper, and Trident)

'our ICBMS' ? I was so unaware that Canada had any.  Wow!
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:06 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
Against enemy fighters, you reduce the detectability range, meaning that you can either sneak past the enemy fighters, or throw them on the defensive before they can even fire a shot; while you read stories like the new CAPTOR-E on the Eurofighter being able to detect a F-35 at 59km, remember that the F-35 will detect the Eurofighter with its radar 120km away or farther. That means the F-35 can dictate the terms of a fight as F-35 will see the enemy first, and a pilot that can dictate the terms of the fight usually wins.

I did some thinking on this, as it is usualy put forward as an argument for all this expensive new Stealth and Radar technology:

How is all this and similar scenarios true, if the enemy has AWACS type aircraft directing their fighters via datalink without the others having to turn on their radars? The AWACS would detect the F-35s well before the F-35 detects the enemy fighters and the AWACS would be too far away for any fighters to get to. Secondly, isn't it true that when the F-35 or other aircraft have their radars turned on full, that they give away their positions?

For the near future, I would argue to develop and send in an AWACS UAV - or several - along with any current fighters to light up the way clear as day, without the fighter/bombers having to use theirs and positioning them well out of range of enemy fighters or directing the F-22s to intercept them while the F-22s Radar remain passive. All thanks to datalinks.

With data links, missile technology becomes much more important than the aircraft itself. Who ever has the longest range missiles has the advantage. And these missiles can be carried by UAVs. IMHO.

For the future, I would drop the F-35, save the money as use the advanced satellite, communications, data link, UAV and missile technology the USA has. We should use that to our advantage, and field a much more effective strike force - and cheaper too. This is very hard to replicate by any other country. But developing a strategy where manned Iron is flown over the target to carry bombs there and duke it with their defenses along the way, is WWII thinking.

Even in the Iraq war, the first and most accurate strikes where by cruise missiles. And in places like Lybia, all the expensive stealth and radar is overkill.

[Edited 2011-11-08 08:12:46]

[Edited 2011-11-08 08:13:53]
 
TheCol
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:43 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 37):
advanced satellite, communications, data link

Most of the major players now have the ability to infiltrate, disable, and destroy individual satellites, and satellite based tactical and surveillance networks. Even the Taliban has demonstrated the ability to hack into our UAV data up-links. Obviously we would find ourselves at a tactical disadvantage if we didn't have air assets with independent radar coverage and tactical capabilities. Nations that have sovereign territory north of 60 already have significant challenges establishing communications with air assets in that region, therefore independent tactical assets are critical to operations in the arctic.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 35):
But as an analogy, the ICBMs do prove a point I am making - that they provide a deterrent

A deterrent, but not an effective means of projecting power. Nobody wins when nuclear weapons are in play, which is the entire point of having them in a tactical arsenal.
No matter how random things may appear, there's always a plan.
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:20 pm

Quoting TheCol (Reply 38):
Most of the major players now have the ability to infiltrate, disable, and destroy individual satellites, and satellite based tactical and surveillance networks. Even the Taliban has demonstrated the ability to hack into our UAV data up-links.

The Taliban were hacking into early UAV up-links that were using COTS technology -- not so now. I feel pretty confident in saying Global Hawk has pretty secure comm links.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:47 pm

Quoting TheCol (Reply 38):
Obviously we would find ourselves at a tactical disadvantage if we didn't have air assets with independent radar coverage and tactical capabilities.

We have all this right now. The F-35 does not add to this.

Quoting TheCol (Reply 38):
therefore independent tactical assets are critical to operations in the arctic.

We have this capability right now and we can improve the datalink coverage in the future fairly cheaply by launching satellites that do cover that area, if needed.

Quoting TheCol (Reply 38):

Most of the major players now have the ability to infiltrate, disable, and destroy individual satellites, and satellite based tactical and surveillance networks

Disabling a satellite is no easy task. Disabling an entire network of satellites even harder. I am sure datalinks can be established/developed that are secure.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:11 pm

Thinking about the tactical capability and missions:

Even manned aircraft follow a battle and flight plan. They have to if fleets are involved. A UAV can be programmed to do that too without even a pilot on the ground. Developing the capabilities into the UAVs to react to threats, like firing missiles at enemy aircraft, doesn't seem hard to do. Dogfighting skills are no longer required with off bore sight Mach 4 missiles firing at targets even to the rear or straight above.

I think the human airman is a limiting factor. While AA missiles travel at Mach 4 and pull God only knows how many Gs, no human piloted aircraft even comes close to these capabilities - and the UAVs are cheaper too. A UAV suddenly pulling 20Gs at the right moment to avoid a missile has a better chance of evading it than a F-35 at 10Gs piloted by a human inside.

That's why I think continuing on the F-35 path is a waste of money. Not a total waste, but there are more effective ways and newer technologies to get the job done more effective and cheaper to boot.

That's my personal opinion anyway. We will always need manned aircraft for many reasons, but no matter how advanced a manned fighter/bomber is - it is still limited by the human inside and having to carry that human. UAVs do not have to deal with this.
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:42 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 41):
A UAV suddenly pulling 20Gs at the right moment to avoid a missile has a better chance of evading it than a F-35 at 10Gs piloted by a human inside.

I think you'd find that a UCAV pulling a 20G turn would most likely disintegrate. Not many structures designed to fly (practically) are that strong.

But I agree about the off boresight high G muissiles. The dogfighting days are largely past.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:06 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 35):

Um why? A missile heading to its target needs not engage in a dog fight. It can be made stealthy and is far cheaper then a manned aircraft and a;ll it needs to do is have a high probability of striking its target. How much cheaper - I can't say, but for sure much cheaper to acquire and almost infinitely cheaper to "operate" than a manned aerial strike force. The ICBMs are ballistic missiles carrying multiple nuclear warheads, much more expensive than what I am talking about. The missiles don't have to be ballistic ones fired 9,000 miles from their targets.

But as an analogy, the ICBMs do prove a point I am making - that they provide a deterrent, without their capability of intercepting fighters or dealing with them at all. They just have to strike their targets, that's all. We don't have to dog fight for the sake of it.

Ok, how big will your missile be? What will be the launch platform? A 5000+ lb warhead is a VERY big warhead to be carrying, by any standard. I used the ICBM as a comparison because even the ICBM's don't even have that capability. You will essentially be building a cruise missile the size of a fighter jet with all of the attendant costs. Not to mention, there will be major restrictions on the type of launch platform as such a missile won't fit in any of our current and future assets. And I would have to ask, how expensive would such a missile be? (hint: not cheap!)

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 36):

You're talking about what exists now. I'm talking about the 'NexGen' for UCAVs -- 15-20 years out. AI is advancing rapidly, and i think when you see UCAVs actually deployed, they will be capable of independent action, therefore no huge requirement for a continuous data link.

Much of the drive on this is from the space program.

AI does not have the ability to 'think' on its own today, nor in the future. The amount of processing power required to even start that level of decision making is massive, and would require the level of modern super computers to achieve. This is not technology that will appear 20-30 years out. You are looking at least for another half century for that level of advancement.

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 39):
The Taliban were hacking into early UAV up-links that were using COTS technology -- not so now. I feel pretty confident in saying Global Hawk has pretty secure comm links.

Problem is that comm links can still be jammed pretty easily, especially the long range ones. And there has been instances where we have either temporarily or permanently lost communication with UAV's, necessitating a fighter jet to go up and shoot it down.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):

We have all this right now. The F-35 does not add to this.

F-35 adds to this by making the picture much easier to see. It's not just about stealth; its also about sensor fusion. Lockheed Martin talks very heavily about sensor fusion in the interview I linked to earlier. F-35 has the ability to process information coming in from the radar, datalinks, EO-DAS, EW systems, etc, and present one picture that's easy to interpret for the pilot to make a decision due to the extremely high level of situational awareness, and share that with other F-35's. One system can cue the other sensors and cue weapons on a target. Today's 4th gen fighters don't have that level of integration.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):

We have this capability right now and we can improve the datalink coverage in the future fairly cheaply by launching satellites that do cover that area, if needed.

Satellites and their launches aren't cheap. You are talking about multi-billion dollar satellites with multi-billion dollar launches. That's a very big expense.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):

Disabling a satellite is no easy task. Disabling an entire network of satellites even harder. I am sure datalinks can be established/developed that are secure.

Radiated signals can still be easily jammed.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 41):
Even manned aircraft follow a battle and flight plan. They have to if fleets are involved. A UAV can be programmed to do that too without even a pilot on the ground. Developing the capabilities into the UAVs to react to threats, like firing missiles at enemy aircraft, doesn't seem hard to do. Dogfighting skills are no longer required with off bore sight Mach 4 missiles firing at targets even to the rear or straight above.

I think the human airman is a limiting factor. While AA missiles travel at Mach 4 and pull God only knows how many Gs, no human piloted aircraft even comes close to these capabilities - and the UAVs are cheaper too. A UAV suddenly pulling 20Gs at the right moment to avoid a missile has a better chance of evading it than a F-35 at 10Gs piloted by a human inside.

UAV's don't have the situational awareness of a manned platform. A pilot can look around and make a decision based upon what his sensors are saying, and by what's going on around him visually. A pilot can change his mission plan based upon what's going on around him; say the primary target is obscured, or cannot be targeted because of collateral damage. A cruise missile or a UAV can't determine that; a pilot there at the scene can.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 41):
That's why I think continuing on the F-35 path is a waste of money. Not a total waste, but there are more effective ways and newer technologies to get the job done more effective and cheaper to boot.

No there isn't. The technology isn't there yet, and won't be there until for many decades. F-35 represents state of the art today.
 
connies4ever
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:28 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 43):
AI does not have the ability to 'think' on its own today, nor in the future. The amount of processing power required to even start that level of decision making is massive, and would require the level of modern super computers to achieve. This is not technology that will appear 20-30 years out. You are looking at least for another half century for that level of advancement.

Real AI is a lot closer than you might think, particularly with the fusion of fuzzy logic and heuristic (and self-modifying) programming. As for supercomputers, I guess you missed the piece a few months back about the USAF making a supercomputer from a whack of Playstation 3s. 20 years from now, with multiple processors on the same motherboard, I would bet that you could have a supercomputer in a box the size of a small form factor desktop.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
TheCol
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:59 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):
We have all this right now. The F-35 does not add to this.

Yes, with the F-22, which is more expensive. Even though I agree that the F-35 needs to be shelved, that doesn't mean we should put all our eggs in one basket with remote air assets.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):
We have this capability right now and we can improve the datalink coverage in the future fairly cheaply by launching satellites that do cover that area, if needed.

Which brings us back to...

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 40):
Disabling a satellite is no easy task. Disabling an entire network of satellites even harder. I am sure datalinks can be established/developed that are secure.

That is a naive train of thought. The Chinese have already demonstrated their ability to disable satellites and hack into secure networks. It's time to face the unfortunate fact that the tactical superiority of the West is coming to an end. Over the next two decades we will eventually find ourselves on a level playing field with China and our enemies they do business with. At that point it's all going to come down to superior training and battlefield tactics.
No matter how random things may appear, there's always a plan.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:36 pm

Quoting TheCol (Reply 45):
The Chinese have already demonstrated their ability to disable satellites

Yes, good point. This would bring us to the battle planning, that if we do ever go against China, to target the satellite killing capability in the first strike - with missiles. In any case, if it escalates to that point, satellite killing etc..it's WW III.

This talk about the vulnerability of datalinks also brings to mind, that the datalinks the F-35 relies on are also fragile and jammable. How do F-22 and F-35 fare, without datalinks? I think this has not been discussed by LM or the USAF.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:44 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 46):
Yes, good point. This would bring us to the battle planning, that if we do ever go against China, to target the satellite killing capability in the first strike - with missiles. In any case, if it escalates to that point, satellite killing etc..it's WW III.

This talk about the vulnerability of datalinks also brings to mind, that the datalinks the F-35 relies on are also fragile and jammable. How do F-22 and F-35 fare, without datalinks? I think this has not been discussed by LM or the USAF.

They are short range datalinks. If you are bouncing data from a UAV flying over in say, Afghanistan to an operator in Texas, that datalink can be easily jammed. Shorter ranged systems are more difficult to jam, beyond the fact that for F-35 and F-22, there is a guy in the cockpit that can make a independent decision based upon the information available.

Furthermore, disabling satellites is not just about destroying them; it could also mean using systems to block signals reaching to and from the satellite at critical moments, or even trying to mimic signals to confuse systems.
 
Flighty
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:55 am

Quoting Eagleboy (Thread starter):
I don't want to demean the F-35 as a concept......but at what point could it become a non-viable program?
At what point could it be cancelled?
And then what alternative must the USA take?

From the beginning, this was conceived as a wealth and jobs program, not a weapons program. The incentives are to stretch failure out as long as possible, never deliver the product, never let the gravy train end.

If Apple dealt with its suppliers that way, an iPad would not work and it would cost $400,000, to enter service in 2019. And its suppliers would be smart to aim for that type of result. DoD program manufacturers are not stupid either.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: If The F35 Gets The Axe What Are The Options?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:15 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 47):
They are short range datalinks.
Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 47):
there is a guy in the cockpit that can make a independent decision based upon the information available.

Are the datalinks jammable or not? How short is short? If they are jammable, the information available is no better than for any other fighter. If the F-35 then turns on it's radar, it gives itself away.

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