Monday, April 30, 2018

F-35 truth finally starts coming's WOEFULLY inadequate for air superiority...

via The Diplomat.
While the F-35 retains some radar evading capabilities, its radar cross section is over ten times greater than that of the F-22 making it far less survivable — leading some analysts to term it a “pseudo stealthy” fighter. The F-35 has less than half the range of the larger F-22 and lacks the Raptor’s advanced long ranged air-to-air missiles, which for an archipelago nation separated from its potential adversaries by vast seas are major shortcomings. As a single engine light platform with a small arsenal of just four air-to-air missiles, restricted to a below average speed of Mach 1.6 and a very low altitude relative to the Raptor, the F-15J, and elite twin engine Chinese fighters, the F-35 hardly presents an adequate solution to counter China’s growing fleet of J-11 fighters — let alone more advanced platforms more recently deployed by Beijing such as the Su-35 or J-20. Indeed, it was never designed for such an air superiority role.

U.S. military officials and numerous think tanks have repeatedly stressed that the F-35 is not an air superiority platform and cannot replace the F-15. Former Air Force chief of staff General Mark Welsh stated that the F-35 “was never designed to be the next dog fighting machine. It was designed to be the multipurpose, data-integration platform that could do all kinds of things in the air-to-ground arena including dismantle enemy, integrated, air defenses. It had an air-to-air capability, but it was not intended to be an air-superiority fighter. That was the F-22.” Air Combat Command chief General Mike Hostage similarly stated regarding the F-35’s lack of air superiority capabilities: “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.” Stressing the Raptor’s importance, Hostage predicted that, while the F-35 was unsuitable for an air superiority role, the F-15 would be obsolete by 2024.

With Tokyo unable to acquire the F-22 and with none of its allies producing a fighter capable of replacing its aging F-15 fleet, Japan sought to develop a fighter indigenously to fulfill an advanced air superiority role and match China’s latest heavy fighters such as the J-11D and J-20. The program, at prototype stages known as the Mitsubishi Shinshin X2, saw the fist flight of its technology demonstrator in April 2016 and appeared highly promising. The fighter featured potent active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, fly by wire fire control systems, and several other advanced features. The platform also incorporated three dimensional thrust vectoring, giving it supermaneuverable capabilities previously found only on the most advanced Russian fighters such as the Su-57. Another outstanding feature under development for the fighter was a “Self Repairing Flight Control Capability” to allow the aircraft to detect failures or damage in its flight control surfaces automatically — and use remaining control surfaces to calibrate accordingly and retain controlled flight. These features are notably absent on the F-22 as well as the Chinese J-20, and could well give the new Japanese fighter the ability to outperform all contenders for air superiority in the Pacific.

Another option for Japan to modernize its air superiority capabilities — which Tokyo appears to have been highly receptive to, possibly as a result of difficulties developing its own fighter — is for Lockheed Martin, which developed both the F-22 and the F-35, to produce a new platform specifically for the country’s needs. With the F-22 program already halted, Lockheed has recently marketed this new platform as a “hybrid” of the Raptor and its newer and lighter fighter. A heavy twin-engine variant of the F-35 specialized for air superiority, or alternatively a more modern version of the F-22 which fixes problems with the Raptor’s aging computer architecture , remain distinct possibilities.

With Japan’s F-35 unsuitable for its needs and its F-15 far too old to allow it to retain parity with its neighbors, Tokyo is highly likely to acquire such a fighter from the United States should its Shinshin X2 fail to make progress. A joint venture between Mitsubishi and Lockheed Martin to produce the elite fighter for Japan, much like that which developed the F-2 from the U.S. F-16 with significant Japanese technological inputs in the 1990s, remains a highly feasible alternative which could combine both programs to give Japan a truly lethal next generation fighter. With the capabilities of China’s elite fighters fast growing, and the J-20 threatening to surpass even the F-22 in its sophistication in the near future, such a fighter program is sorely needed by Tokyo.
Story here. 


We so needed this so long ago.

This was clearly and plainly said and everyone can wrap their brains around what the author stated.

The F-35 was never intended for the air superiority role.  It's not a TRUE stealth plane and is optimized for strike.  It's short ranged.  It's slow in comparison.  It doesn't fly high.

In short it's a dog compared to threat aircraft.

I'll leave the rest up to your interpretation but I've been of the opinion that the real "secret sauce" that the program has been hanging its hat on was the AESA array.

When the F-35 was built it wasn't widespread and was unique.

Those days are long over.

You hear about electronic attack?  They're using the AESA array to accomplish that.  You talk about sensor fusion?  Saab Griffin, Typhoon, Rafale and the Russian birds all claim that.

The F-35 isn't anything special.  It's inadequate to the stated goal of providing for the West's air defense needs going into the future.

The only part of the program that will deliver is the STOVL version operating from LHDs and even that is questionable (if you look at the history of MEU operations and when they've been used assistance for air support has always come from the Air Force or Navy...for warfare we've used land bases).

We've had serious debates about the fine print of block buys etc...but never a real discussion on the plane's capabilities.  When we've tried in the past we allowed the F-35 fanboys to glob onto irrational/silly/batshit insane talking points like sensor fusion to muddy the waters.

In the future we need more of what this guy was giving us.  Clear, plain talk about what the plane can and can't do.

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