Tuesday, September 17, 2013

F-35 and the truth. Shedding capabilities to buy an overpriced, underperforming airplane.

You've all seen the news.

The Dutch are now having to reduce their buy of F-35s to LESS THAN HALF THE INTENDED BUY and additionally they're having to sell off other portions of their military to pay for it.

Who is the brave, delusional soul that will tell me that the F-35 is affordable, that it will do what it was planned to do and that its worth the price that various Ministries and Depts of Defenses will have to pay in order to see it through.

Note 1:  I continue to marvel at F-35 supporters inability to explain how the plane can supposedly be going down in price, yet key allies like the Dutch are buying even fewer of them than planned.  The wheels are coming off the lies faster and faster.  

Note:  What will be more valuable in a future allied operation.  37 more F-35s or a fully stocked Logistics Support Ship?  


  1. Yup, Netherlands F-35A purchase was 85, then 52-68, now 37, plus the two they have (stored at Eglin), apparently.

    Netherlands has budgeted 4.5 billion euros ($6.01 billion) which works out to $162m each, plus a “contingency reserve” of 10 percent. Wow. I thought the Dutch were financially smarter than that. There must be more to it.

    Also they have budgeted a further 270 million euros per year for maintenance and operating costs — "equivalent to the annual operating costs of the current F-16 fleet." But the Pentagon has estimated that the JSF will cost a third more to operate the F-35 than the aircraft it is replacing (and called that unacceptable). I've seen another estimate at 20% more than the F-16.

    Deliveries of the first planes are expected to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2023, when the F-16 fleet will be phased out.

    So this purchase is obviously contingent on the F-35 passing development and operational tests, which it hasn't done yet. (Amos they ain't.) And that high unit cost baffles me. (What did I leave out?)


    1. there is more to it than that.

      Combat jets are never bought a la carte anymore.

      The price of tech support(this can be hilarious, one time the Greeks forgot how to take their F-16 engines out), maintenance for a set period, training, miscellaneous stuff, and spare parts are included in the total contract price.

      And example is that a brand new F-16 Block 50/52 costs about $40 million today, but looking at contract prices, they end up at $46-$49 million. All that extra stuff is included in the contract.

  2. The Dutch could just increase their military budget up to the 2% of GDP required by NATO.

    It is 1.5% now. But that won't happen, as their politicians are spineless.

    Hell, the Dutch don't even operate TANKS anymore.

    Even now, the 37 number is locked in, no cuts.

    " The Netherlands said it will buy 37 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes and may order more if funds become available, in a decision that should end years of political wrangling over ballooning costs and delays."

    If then funds come along, they will buy more.

    "She said the government had the resources to order 37 fighters initially and could add more, finances permitting."

    "The decision brings the number of countries with firm commitments to purchase the F-35 to seven after Britain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Israel and Japan also placed orders."

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    The Netherlands will purchase 37 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets for about €4.5bn to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s, the Dutch defence ministry announced on Tuesday, with the new aircraft expected to enter service from 2019

    Also, to Duch politicians, who is more high profile?

    New fighter jets, or a big, boring Logistics Support Ship that will probably never be used, and would require the whole Dutch combat fleet as support if it were to sail into hostile waters.

    At least with the F-35s, the Dutch can send 1-4 to "support" the USA and France and the U.K. in another Libya style operation.

    1. also, the Dutch budgeted for 85 in pre-austerity Europe ion the early 2000s.

      Times, and budgets, change.

    2. dude. the Dutch will be operating in a coalition type warfare environment. in such an environment what will be more valuable.

      the JSS or the JSF. the answer is simple. even if its boring the Logistics Support Ship will be the thing that is most sought by combatant commanders....not 37 more fighter bombers.

    3. One last tidbit

      "The price of the jets would be around $85 million, including inflation, according to the most recent Pentagon projections.

      But actual prices for the F-35 have been coming in about 10 percent lower than that figure, one source familiar with the programme said.

      That is interesting right there.

      The Dutch government has budgeted 4.5 billion euros ($6.01 billion) for the warplanes and an additional 270 million euros per year in operating costs."

      "It's a boost to the program to have the Netherlands back in the fold," Aboulafia said, noting that the real threat had been that the Netherlands would follow Denmark's lead and launch a fresh competition."

      Even with the reduced number, its still a win. No competition, just a signed contract for a set number of jets. As for the cost being 167 million a jet, you all forget to factor in that almost NO ON buys jets by themselves. The Dutch are also paying for maintenance contracts, training, support, and upgrades.

    4. well all you're doing is pointing to the next shoe to drop. this automated logistics and maintenance system. its a mess and it ain't gonna work. i can't wait to see how that crash happens.

      lets face it dude. this thing is trash and you're actually trying to defend it? my only question is why? why are you spinning so hard for this drain on the federal budget and this totally inadequate warplane for USMC needs.

    5. Actually, according to aviationweek, ALIS has been coming along quite well. I do find it funny that it will only transition to Windows 7 in a year, off of Win XP. ALIS is completely software based, so rollout of new features should smooth.

      ALIS simply combines a host of other pieces of software into one unified unit.


      I defend the jet because it is literally the ONLY thing the West has that can reasonably be expected to counter the newest Russian and Chinese SAMS and Stealth systems.

      The new Russian SAMs are light years beyond the crap they gave Iraq in the 80s. Even Israel has to use long range standoff weapons due to Assad's new Russian toys.

      The Gripen NG is about the same as a Block 50 F-16 with AESA, except it carries less. Single mission jets are DEAD unless they are REALLY cheap. AF procurment guys simply cannot justify them anymore.

      The Typhoon is 100 million a pop, and isn't even stealthy. plus, it is JUST NOW getting Block 3 ground attack capability, that requires millions in refits to older jets.

      The Rafale is 80 million a jet, and allegedly costs ALOT to maintain.

      So, the Euros have an almost F-16, a F-15 with canards, and an F-18 Super Hornet with Canards. None of them are stealthy, none of them have EO-DAS, none have a built in targeting pod, and one of them doesn't even have a Helmet mounted sight(the Rafale)

      As for operation needs, those should have been discussed in more detail back in 1996 and 2002, when the JSF program cam along/ was won.

      If the F-35 is canceled tomorrow, it will be a MINIMUM of 10 years (think of 3 separate competitions for new fighters, lawsuits, ect.) before the USAF, USMC, and USN get new, 5th generation jets.

      All the while, the legacy hornets, F-16s, and F-15s get older and older and more expensive to keep in service and other nations bring BRAND NEW 4.5 gen jets into service.

      Now, I know you like the idea of just buying new 4.5 gen jets while waiting, but then you just eat into the new jet's budget. Plus, i don't see any 4.5 gen VSTOL jets out there.

      Also, how will the USAF, USN, USMC explain to congress the need for brand new platforms when they buy upgraded teen series jets? All the while Russia and China induct stealth fighters.

    6. the Harrier can fly till 2030.

      its 2013. that means we have 17 years to get a new VSTOL jet into service. additionally the Navy has already started preliminary work on a 6th gen jet.

      additionally the F-35 is woefully inadequate against those threats and the vaunted weapon systems that you're talking about are simply a fusion of systems already in service. updated SNIPER PODS will eventually give the same capability.

      long story short. no person or weapon system is indispensable.

    7. 17 years flies by in aircraft procurement.

      Just look at the saga of the V-22.

      I would be willing to bet that a 3 different jet F-35 replacement programs would take on average, 20 years from proposal, to IOC.

      That means the teen series would have to soldier on until 2033.

      And how would a Harrier (Or a Super Hornet) do against an Su-30?

      Or a J-10B? or a J-11?

      Now, I know you may think the F-22 will counter those, but 180 jets can't be everywhere at once.

      Killing the F-35 would mean the USA would be ceding air dominance/superiority to foreign nations until at least 2030. And that WILL get people killed.

    8. so will bankrupting the nation to fill the pocket of LM and its shills. sorry but for Marine Corps needs the Harrier and a few A-10s are all we REALLY need. the Navy is happy with the SUper Hornet and it has classified features that will keep it competitive. additionally the bits and pieces from the F-35 can be applied to the F-16 and F-15.

      long story short we don't need the F-35 and it cost too damn much. time to kill that puppy. jail the leadership and to start on something new. if we will not cede airpower to our enemies and that very notion is borne of talking points gone awry.

    9. Solomon you are right, they should stick with the harriers for now, as I proposed if they had of built a slightly larger nuclear powered LPHD with CATOBAR and maybe ski jumps then they could even run the 6th gen planes from the ships by then. The larger assault ships could be paid for out of some of the savings of not laying down new CVs (using the money to retrofit the old ones).

  3. As a business owner, if a client tells me: "we are going to buy 87 XYZ gizmo's from you" and then come's back later and says:"we are only buying 37 XYZ gizmo's from you", I would take that as a cut!

    When a customer says to me, "we will think about it or budget permitting, I can tell you from experience, that means, "thank you very much", that's called the real world compared to your dream fantasy world you live in....

    I agree with Sol, most of these "small" countries like the Dutch, Norway, most of Eastern Europe would be far better off putting their money in niche areas, like logistics, support,NBC, MP's, de-mining, training!!!,etc than buying 37 F35s and sending 4 of them to Afghanistan or wherever, US DOD doesn't need your 4 more F35s but we could use a whole set of skills that don't cost that much and would be far more valuable to a coalition. The only downside is politician don't get as much PR out of logistics or training troops than they do sending 4 F16s now or 4 F35s in the future because with 37 JSF buy, after maintenance,training, alerts,etc, that's about what the Dutch could send away.....

  4. The purchase is still subject to a parliamentary vote later this year, so it's not a done deal yet.

  5. Yet the F-35 is bankrupting the Military budgets. Maybe now they can back out look for an alternative to the F-35.

  6. Or 85Grippens which are a more capable plan and have industrial offsets making them cheaper. The grippen offer for 85 planes was arround 56M each apparently (less than 5B total), whilst the F35s should cost about 180M each under the current plan. The Grippen can also come with technology transfers, and that grippen package includes literally everything you would need to run them. An airforce of 37 combat aircrafts isnt worth it for netherlands, and without tanks they may as well completely disarm.

    The F35s are bassically less than worthless, they are a complete liability because of their lack of capabilities and the things that need to be cut to get them.

  7. Forgot this:

  8. I know I never said I wanted F35 killed but the numbers aren't adding up anymore. They were always kind of border line, anyone else remember 700 F22s and we got 187? Or maybe some of the proF35 crowd thought it was an anomaly or that it would never happen again???

    I have been advocating dropping the A version, and telling USAF to buy a combined order with Navy C version or Navy drops their order, buys more SHs and upgraded SHs, Marine Corps drops B version and buys the C and operates from carriers or regular airfield. Forget the whole STOL crap, I think the Marines would be happy to trade B version for more helicopters, new APC or tank or whatever the hell Marine Corps uses to hit the beach.

    Is STOL that important? Why not instead take that F35B money and equip Marine Corps with what it needs to grab and hold any airfield within 50 miles of the sea? How often is this country going to fight a war in the future where we operate in a parking lot or some stretch of road? Seriously, the US is going to operate in such a fashion? maybe for a few days tops but PRIORITY NUMERO UNO is taking an airfield and operating fighters and the heavies from a REAL airfield....so why are we spending so much money on a niche capability???? JUST FREAKING GRAB A REAL AIRFIELD,HELLO?!??!?

    I have said for long time here and other blogs the same thing, the services need to get the same deal US Army got with Comanche, you can have the Comanche and nothing else (and end up with a real old fleet) OR drop the Comanche and buy new helicopters like Apache block 2 and 3, UH60M, CH47F, etc....but YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!!

    If the USAF wants so bad F35A, KC46 and maybe some new bombers,OK, then immediately put into storage all F15C/D and pretty much all F16C block 20/30/40, get rid of B1 and A10. Mothball drones. Can half KC135s and get rid of KC10s. The money just isn't there and you can't use the argument that F35 is so vital but then all the old stuff is needed or still useful, USAF CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! USAF only wants new stuff, OK but you can't keep the old stuff at the same time.....it isn't useful anymore,right USAF?

    1. The problem with that is that the F35 cant do what the harrier A10s, F15, F16, F18s, B1s and F110s do. It doesn't have their unique performance characteristics, i.e. the powerful 30MM rattling gun, the survivability, or the maneuverability, payload, and fight characteristics of the F15/16s. It definitely doesnt have the legs and payload of the B1s and F110s, and given their extremely high costs you cant afford to field as many of them as existing systems which are better in their respective role.

      In my opinion the F35 is more of a replacement to the F110 than any of the other planes mentioned (both bombers) and even then it is a very poor one due to the lack of speed and maneuverability for penetration of airspace, along with payload and range for delivery of ordinance. As for the navy I think they would be better of running the harriers until something more suitable comes along, hell they should have considered making slightly larger nuclear powered(which is probably more cost effective IN THE LONGRUN even at present size) assault ships with catobar, ramps and more storage space for aircrafts and vehicles over the F35. Then over the like 40-50 year servicelife they will probably have they could have found money to equip it with new planes.

      There are pleanty of bad, overpriced and underperforming programs to cut to free up money for necessities, like the Zumwalt ships/Mobile Landing Platform (arsenal ships would be more usefull and vulcan ammo will provide similar capacities to all US destroyers) or the new CVs (which are about the same dimensions and capacities as existing ones which could be retrofitted for much less), or even the LCS which is garbage. Cutting some of these programs would allow the USN to focus on its core missions and fill the large missile carrying ABM gap. What I dont understand was that the Sequester was a cut in projected increases of expenditure and the winding down in iraq and Afghanistan should have freed up alot of money yet the powers that be talk of cutting us military capabilities(paying more for less?).

  9. Australia has "budgeted" 24 F35 but due to lack of long range strike assets (since the deactivation of FA-111B/C), Australian Defense was forced to purchase F/A-18 Super Hornets as an interim. Currently, Australian has little appetite with the BS LockMart is throwing. Delays, reports of flaws, ballooning costs, etc does not bode well. Y'know for a multi-billion dollar company, it sure doesn't know how to do PR work.

    Now that the Australian government has a change of government, we don't know what budget will be cut. According to the election campaign of the new PM, Defense will get ADDITIONAL budget. But then, anyone can write cheques they can't cash.

  10. Instead of the "Days-of-our-F-35-Lives" endless soap-opera shtick, perhaps analyzing the many things wrong with that pretty graphic up on top would be more interesting.

    There are enough in this forum that seem to believe this type of scenario, with the ship happily bobbing this close to the beach, with 'butch' APCs emerging from the seas biceps flexing, cute ILTIS dropped via helo, etc...

    However, this seems to be Fund-Raiser poster for the United Nations Humanitarian-Intervention Landing Team.

    So let's paint every white (helmets blue!) and start hoping that any real defense emergency will never arise.

    Why such images in a USMC-centric blog ?

    1. because the Dutch are being honest about what that ship would be used for.

      It would NEVER see combat, at best it would sail around the Indian ocean arresting pirates.

    2. A lot of dedicated ship and budget to do Corvette-duty. More 'Feel-good' effort than combat-effective ?

      So a coat of 'White-Wash' it is with magnetic UN labels for quick removal...


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