Friday, July 13, 2012

The CNO and why the Navy is shaky on the F-35C.

Remember the news that the CNO made when he talked about stealth?

I went high and to the right...initially I thought that he was stuck on stupid because of the failure of the A-12 program.  But just like everyone else I overthought the issue.

Its much simpler than that.  The US Navy and by a bit of arms twisting the USMC are the only buyers for the F-35C.  It is on track to be the most expensive, least produced model by far.  The CNO wasn't actually doubting stealth, he was outlining a plan on how to reduce the buy and justify doing so.  Its a matter of priorities.  Carrier Air must survive even if its relegated to second day of war missions only.  His proposal to concentrate on payloads over platforms is Eurocentric thinking.  Its the same bullshit that EADS uses to sell Eurofighters, Dassault uses to sell Rafales and Boeing is using to sell F-18's.  They're hoping that Meteor or AIM-120D's can keep the bad guys at bay.  They're hoping that upgrades to avionics (brought to them by the work done on the F-35) will keep their airplanes viable....

He's hoping to keep all his carriers....even if it means putting a second class fighter on their decks.

That statement was about image over substance and a hope that a war against a peer/near peer won't happen till the budget is good to go again.


  1. Short term savings offset by long term support, escort, jamming, IFR, & the cost of pilot's lives.

    You got to love short sighted leaders... :(

  2. Most of supporters of carrier aviation bemoaned the early retirement of the F-14, the loss of the A-12 (which will haunt naval aviation for another few decades), loss of the A-6F and then the loss of the entire medium attack community, not to mention the longest ranged carrier aircraft in the versatile S-3 and the entire asw patrol community, the ES-3A and of course dedicated tankers in the KA-6's. Frankly I'd argue the loss of the medium attack community was a body blow to carrier aviation.

    The USN, however, decided to go with 2/3rds full decks of almost entirely affordable F/A-18's to keep a reasonable number of carriers in the fleet long term due to the post Cold War draw down. Given scarce dollars while many of us hated what happened it's tough to argue against the overall policy.

    The USN, unlike the USAF, did not bet the farm on the F-35. The Navy has many new F/A-18E/F's and is still buying them. Besides the F-35C, which is only planned on for 2 squadrons of 10 each per carrier air wing, they also have the fighter sized UCAS program and the F/A-XX (NGAD). While the F-35A is 100% essential to the future of USAF tactical aviation the F-35C is not. The Navy could survive without, and rather easily, by buying more E/F's short term and long term investing more in F/A-XX which will share systems with the F-22 follow on.

    Certainly the F-35C brings a lot more to the table but given the 2,000 or so A and B's we'll have in the USAF and USMC, together with myriad other assets one can make a reasonable case for the Navy to skip the C.

    Which is never going to happen. The USN will get the C as a matter of DOD policy because the other services need the Navy buy to help keep the unit cost down for the program. The F-35 however wonderful does have issues with cost and schedule. The window between it's service and the UCAS-D and F/A-XX has narrowed considerably. For the carrier wing one could easily make an argument that UCAS-D will be a bigger game changer than the F-35C especially given the longer range and ISR missions. Which one is less observable is also an open question.

  3. Have you read (in AOL DEFENSE i think) that the future F/A-XX will probably be a new version of the F-35 ? I think that the U.S navy is more in to the F-35 than most people what i read of the article it will be to the F-35 what the F/A-18 E/F superhornet is to the legacy hornet

  4. i read it but don't believe it. first carrier navy isn't thrilled and they will go europes way by getting long range anti-air missiles and improving aesa to hopefully detect stealth foes. just my belief but time will tell.

  5. Do you think that the superbug can stand up to modern su-35s even whit improvements ? To be frank i dont know... if i belive the B.S.the APA site says about the super hornet vs flanker the navy is forced to put out a new fighter to assure air superioraty ...the only option is the F-35 c .I hope that politics and budget dont interfere whit the safety of America and it allies...

  6. being totally honest a super hornet plus would be awesome. its a matter of avionics over kinematics. conformal fuel tanks, much improved aesa, das and all the other bells and whistles on a super hornet plus along with aim120D's would be formidable against anything flying today or in the future. that's where i think the navy is headed

  7. The F-35 can't do F/A-XX (NGAD) and LM would have to design a derivative of the F-35 that would be in many respects an all new aircraft. That aside does the nation really want every single fighter plane built by one company? From the perspective of a healthy defense industrial base the answer is no. I'd bet any company other than LM wins that contract.

    1. That is why i i posted that the future F-35 will be like the superbug...looks the same but in fact it is a 80% new it the F-35 E if you whant...bigger plane,2 seats,more range,more payload,better sensors,new engine,etc...
      And it is not a matter of what company builds the is a matter of R and D being made in a known platform .Like the superhornet in the 90s it should reduce costs

  8. Firstly, a twin seat, twin engine, air superiority optimized aircraft with 6th generation systems to be shared with the F-22 follow on doesn't sound anything like the F-35 strike fighter and so I'd agree it would be 80+% different. As far as it not mattering which company builds it I agree to disagree. The US can not afford to have a single company build every fighter in the inventory.

    The defense industrial base doesn't get a lot of attention but it's rather critical to the nations defense. Frankly LM will be producing the F-35 for the next 30 years or so and the nation needs another company also building fighters. Competition is essential for good value, innovation, and cost control.


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