Thursday, October 25, 2018

F-35 news...The Army wants it? & The engine is trash?

Got a two-fer on the F-35.  The first via National Interest...
“When you are in a firefight, the first thing infantry wants to do it get on that radio to adjust fire for mortars and locate targets with close air support with planes or helicopters. You want fires. The F-35 has increased survivability and it will play a decisive role in the support of ground combat,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.

Gen. Milley’s comments are quite significant, given the historic value of close air support when it comes to ground war. His remarks also bear great relevance regarding the ongoing Pentagon evaluation assessing the F-35 and A-10 Warthog in close air support scenarios.
I'm surprised.  Milley has to know that the F-35 is competing for funds that would otherwise be available for Army modernization, so I have to assume that he's simply being politically correct. Another consideration is that he's doing a bit of horse trading.  He wants a tilt-wing and maybe he gives a little on the F-35 to get alot with his next combat aircraft.

The author of the National Interest piece did moderate a bit though.  Check out this portion...
 There are, however, some unknowns likely to be informing the current analysis. How much small arms fire could an F-35 withstand? Could it draw upon its “hovering” technology to loiter near high-value target areas? To what extent could it keep flying in the event that major components, such as engines or fuselage components, were destroyed in war? How much could A-10 weapons and targeting technology be upgraded?
Story here. 

Something has to give with the F-35 though.  Too many planes have been built that need to be upgraded.  Too many points of correction remain for it to be put into production.  As things stand if they go into full rate production now, they'll end up producing even more jets that need to be upgraded.  The spiral upgrade path is a fiction in my opinion.  Considering Trump's call to cut 5% from each dept next year it appears that the gravy train for the military is over a year earlier than predicted.  How that will jive with all the programs in the pipeline is beyond me but its obvious that eventually even the F-35 will have to take a haircut.

The second article is scathing.  Check this out via News Max.
What do you get when Pratt & Whitney or other multi-billion-dollar defense contractors ostensibly use third-party groups such as the Lexington Institute as front men for their high-powered lobbying efforts?

Pork barrel spending, taxpayer waste, and national-security threats, of course.
Last year, Dr. Loren Thompson, the Chief Operating Officer of the nonprofit group, penned an article in Real Clear Defense titled "Five Signs the F-35 Fighter Is A Smashing Success," making the case for the “triumph” of the jet.

While some of Dr. Thompson’s points are right on the money, the unfortunate truth is that chronic problems with the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney engine have prevented it from reaching its full potential blooming into the success story that everyone knows it can be.

The American people should have recognized this reality when a crash, widely believed to be caused by engine problems, occurred this month. But this problem isn’t new; it’s been ongoing for years now.
Story here. 

Why do I find these articles interesting?

Because for the first time in memory, we're seeing some mainstream articles that are daring to ask a few hard questions.  Don't get me wrong they still glow and sprinkle praise on the F-35 but at the same time they do have points where they are almost damning in their critique.

The F-35 story isn't yet finished.

As late as it is, questions are finally being asked.

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