Friday, February 22, 2019

F-35 news. Be wary of any military officer (including pilots) singing the praises of the F-35...did you all forget this???

via Popular Mechanics (2015).
It's no secret that Lockheed-Martin's development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been, to put it very kindly, difficult. Cost overruns, delayed timelines, engine failures, and poor performance have plagued the fifth-generation stealth aircraft. For instance, Lockheed promised the F-35 would at least match the maneuverability of current jet fighters—but test dogfights between the the F-35 and F-16  have proven otherwise.

Now, War Is Boring's David Axe has found an 8-page document full of talking points from the U.S. Air Force, directing airmen on exactly how to say what a wonderful aircraft the F-35 really is.

"Articulate the capabilities of the aircraft and explain it is a capability warfighters must have (explain why we need the F-35)," states one part of the document.

It also provides detailed answers to potential questions such as "Isn't this aircraft too expensive?" or "The helmet has a price tag of $400,000 per unit. Why is it so expensive, and what does it do?"

In response to the potential question "I heard this aircraft can't dogfight, and it's not maneuverable. Is that true?" the document blasts reports about the F-16 versus F-35 dogfights.

"The F-35 is designed to be comparable to current tactical fighters in terms of maneuverability, but the design is optimized for stealth and sensor superiority. News reports on the F-35's performance against an F-16 was an early look at the F-35's flight control authority software logic, and not an assessment of its ability in a dogfight situation [...] There have been numerous occasions where a four-ship of F-35s has engaged a
four-ship of F-16s in simulated combat scenarios and the F-35s won each of those 4 v 4 encounters because of
its sensors, weapons, and stealth technology."

To be fair, these "guidance documents" are not uncommon in the military, and mainly meant for PR flacks. Still, the document states that "wings will also identify pilots and maintainers who are proficient at telling the F-35 story and are willing to lend their name and image to the effort." 
Story here. 

Drink that in guys.  Some of you might have forgotten this but I haven't!  I was stunned, amazed and a bit disturbed by this piece of news.

I advocate for systems because I think they're good to go.  I once thought the same of the F-35.  But a little thinking and dumping the "appeal to authority" mindset, opened my eyes.

The F-35 is mostly a public relations exercise now.  Any military officer/pilot and/or maintainer in uniform is UNFORTUNATELY not to be trusted on this topic.

They've gotten their marching orders, will salute smartly and get it done.

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