Sunday, December 04, 2011

What now Lt?

The Marine Gazette back in the day ran tactical problems in their magazine.  The problems were based on historical situations that required some out of the box thinking, inspirational leadership and a bit of risk taking.

They always ended with the question to the reader...What now Lt after presenting a seemingly impossible situation to be solved.

You had to tune in the following month to get the "Marine Corps" answer to the problem.

Well despite some thinking that I'm being hysterical in my thinking that the F-35 is in trouble not from its critics but from the military establishment...and by extension budget cutters, other airplane manufacturers etc....its time for the Marine Corps as a whole to say collectively.

What now?

A couple of things not to do...

1.  Do NOT buy Super Hornets.  An interim jet will quickly become a good enough jet if we fall into that trap.
2.  Do NOT slep F/A-18C's and D's.  Pouring good money after bad in an attempt to keep elderly airframes viable especially when spare parts will be difficult to obtain is a suckers bet.
3.  Do NOT abandon the aviation neck down campaign.

Now a couple of things TO do...

1.  Do explore the possibility of upgrading the engines on the Harriers.
2.  Do explore the possibility of avionics upgrades to the Harrier.
3.  Do explore the possibility of fitting an AESA radar on the Harrier.

A couple of things to investigate as cheaply as possible...

1.  Is it possible to mount a bigger, more aerodynamically viable wing to the Harrier?  One that will increase range and speed?
2.  Does it make sense to convert the two seat training models into FAC's?
3.  Does a stretched Harrier make sense?

I still believe the F-35B will enter service but I'm becoming more and more convinced that it will be in the 2020 time period and not 2014 or 2015 as had been hoped.

Fat chance on getting early slots on the production line too.  The USAF will be in need of replacements as much as the USMC.

So my question to you all is what now?


You can bet big bucks that some of the allies will drop out now with the excuse being that they can't wait till 2020 to replace airframes.  Gripen will be laughing all the way to the bank...Typhoon and Rafael will still be priced out of the market and Super Hornet MIGHT pick up some orders but for our European allies, you can bet that the push to buy European will be as strong there as it is for our defense department to buy US.  The most interesting ally to watch in this whole episode will be the Canadians.

That's why this is such a huge deal.  Just a couple of weeks ago the Canadian Defense Minister came out fully in support of the F-35 (as did the Australian) and not only that but so did the US SecDef.

Now the Program Manager just cut the legs from underneath not only our guy but the guys in other countries.

If this wasn't a planned announcement then we should see a walk back on Monday.  If it was planned then we should see a clarification and amplification on Monday.

Either way Monday should be interesting.