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Old 04-07-2013, 03:22 PM   #1
bimmerfan08
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Meet the F-35: The DoD's Pricey Benchwarming Plane

Should North Korea's hostile rhetoric give way to action, the U.S. military has sent F-22 fighters to defend South Korea. These fighters carry a price tag of $143 million each, making them the most expensive in use.

That could change if the F-35 Lightning II were deployed. Yet by all indications, that won't be happening anytime soon if at all.

According to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight, the F-35 program now costs approximately $200 million per craft.

Despite the princely sums spent on the fighter, the plane has never been used in a combat scenario a situation that Wheeler claims is pushing up its cost, since it missed its original 2012 deployment date.

Its convoluted design, pursued by the Department of Defense, is primarily to blame for the airplane's extended stay in the development stage, according to the analyst.

"They took vertical landing design and said, 'let's make that supersonic,'" Wheller said in an interview. "But STOVL [short take-off and vertical landing] airplanes have to be short and stumpy, and supersonic airplanes like to be twin-engine, and long and fine-looking."

The DoD then tried to make it a multi-purpose fighter and bomber, an effort that Wheeler says fell short. "Those have very different design specifications," he said.

He added that the decision to make the F-35 a multi-service vehicle further complicated matters. "The Navy version looks like the Air Force version, but it's 5,000 pounds heavier," he said. "Both are quite different from the Marine Corps' STOVL version." Additionally, the design limits pilot visibility.

"The pilots said they can't see to the rear, because of the way the cockpit meets the fuselage and the placement of the headrest," he said. "Seeing to the rear is essential for fighter aircraft."

So what will it cost to correct these problems? In June 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a report estimating that the revised development cost would exceed $55 billion, a 23 percent jump over previous estimates.

However, that figure pales in comparison to the projected total cost of $1.1 trillion for its entire 30-year service life, which Wheeler called a low-ball figure.

"The total acquisition plan cost is $396 billion," he said. "That report also cites the additional cost, $1.1 trillion. Add them together and you get the eye-popping $1.5 trillion figure, and those estimates assume that everything goes perfectly from here on in."

Wheeler also noted that there was still plenty of time for the price to go up.

"We're only 25 percent of the way through the initial testing, and this is the easy, laboratory testing," he said. "Real testing doesn't even begin until 2017. The date for it to be finished with additional operational testing is 2019."

Despite all the time and money, Wheeler said that he did not expect the completed F-35 to be much of an improvement over what the military already has patrolling the skies. In fact, he said that some of the military's existing airplanes already outperform it.

"The F-16 has more range and payload, and so does the bomber version of the F-15," he said. "In fighter mode, F-16s accelerate faster and are more agile in the air."

Ultimately, he characterized the F-35 Lightning II as an expensive, ill-conceived program, and he recommended that it be mothballed.

"The smart thing to do is put these things out of their agony and initiate a properly conceived program to design a fighter and a separate air-to-ground bomber," he said.

"You need a prototype that requires competitors to produce a combat-ready airplane," Wheeler said. "We did that with the F-16 and the F-18, and those are good, successful airplanes, very cheap and extremely effective. We need to learn the lessons of those airplanes, and the F-35 shows we've forgotten those lessons."

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100614024

Another poorly managed and ineffective DoD program.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
F-35 Lightning II
Total program cost: $331.9 billion



The F-35 Lightning II is part of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, which is meant to phase out older generations of jets. It has three variants: the F-35A, the F-35B and the F-35C. These jets have conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) capability, STOVL capability and carrier-based capability, respectively.



The Joint Strike Fighter Program has encountered numerous cost overruns. In June, the Government Accountability Office released a report called "Joint Strike Fighter: DOD Actions Needed to Further Enhance Restructuring and Address Affordability Risks," in which it stated that the program might cost over $1 trillion to operate.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
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The F-22 has been plagued by a series of problems. Not sure that is the best aircraft to deploy when trying to send a message.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:32 PM   #4
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And...
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by badfast View Post
The F-22 has been plagued by a series of problems. Not sure that is the best aircraft to deploy when trying to send a message.
you mean the oxygen/hypoxia issue? I believe that has been fixed by adjusting the flight suit (or something - can't remember).
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:58 PM   #6
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you mean the oxygen/hypoxia issue? I believe that has been fixed by adjusting the flight suit (or something - can't remember).
Yep...that is what I was referring to. Glad that they fixed them. I remember they used to host Raptor pulls on the flight line because the fleets were grounded for so long. It actually looks like they lifted all restrictions on the 4th.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/2...EG02/304040017
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:39 PM   #7
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And...
Why feel the need to push a new development that is not ready to be implemented? Better yet, why the need for a new(er) fighter when the US has fighters that outperform the F-35?
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:38 PM   #8
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The only thing the F-35 has going for it is the STOVL, which isn't even necessary in this day and age.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:03 PM   #9
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The only thing the F-35 has going for it is the STOVL, which isn't even necessary in this day and age.

please enlighten us in regards to how STOVL isn't necessary...

Some would argue, including my self, it is a valuable asset to have. Especially with an amphibious force such as the Marine Corps and other related amphibious forces around the world.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MDydinanM View Post
please enlighten us in regards to how STOVL isn't necessary...

Some would argue, including my self, it is a valuable asset to have. Especially with an amphibious force such as the Marine Corps and other related amphibious forces around the world.
It's not a requirement for the majority of the forces. Only the marines listed it as a requirement.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:27 PM   #11
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It's not a requirement for the majority of the forces. Only the marines listed it as a requirement.
true, but like you said, a requirement and therefore necessary.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:04 PM   #12
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true, but like you said, a requirement and therefore necessary.
"Requirement" from an acquisitions definition, meaning "this is what we'd like". Some acquisitions person forgot their performance/schedule trade space on some heroin binge and said "we can make this do everything everybody wants within cost!"
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by NOVAbimmer View Post
"Requirement" from an acquisitions definition, meaning "this is what we'd like". Some acquisitions person forgot their performance/schedule trade space on some heroin binge and said "we can make this do everything everybody wants within cost!"
Having spent some time in the DOD acquisition community when I was active duty, I am familiar with requirements and the relationship between cost, schedule, and performance and trade offs amongst them.

That said, as I'm sure you know, the JSF was the DOD's attempt to provide an aircraft to meet all the service's needs, including international partners. However, due to unique requirements laid forth by each of the services, namely the Navy and the Marines, different variants of the aircraft had to be produced. The Navy needed an aircraft that could perform and handle the stresses of carrier based operations. The Marines needing a VSTOL aircraft to be able to operate off of LHDs and perform in amphibious operations and be expeditionary in nature.

Do I agree with this aircraft? I don't know - especially with the cost and delays associated it with it. It seems hardly worth it anymore - maybe not even necessary. But it's continued development, as with most high priced DOD platforms, has become political and emotional with a lot of people's time and money vested in it. Additionally, politicians and their constituents have a part to play as well - especially when hundreds of jobs are on the line that depend on this aircraft.

So going back to the original comment, irregardless of this aircraft, I do think VSTOL is a capability that is necessary and is not outdated. It may not be a requirement for the rest of the US services, but from an amphibious and expeditionary perspective, it most certainly is.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:34 PM   #14
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Why feel the need to push a new development that is not ready to be implemented? Better yet, why the need for a new(er) fighter when the US has fighters that outperform the F-35?
I thought they were stealthy and had a smaller / non existent radar reflection.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MDydinanM View Post
please enlighten us in regards to how STOVL isn't necessary...

Some would argue, including my self, it is a valuable asset to have. Especially with an amphibious force such as the Marine Corps and other related amphibious forces around the world.
The marines are the only ones who could really put a use to it. They prove that with the harrier, yet theres not many in service. My main point was, that a fighter with better agility, more payload, or a higher topspeed would be much more useful than the amount of money they put in to the STOVL technology.
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:41 AM   #16
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The marines are the only ones who could really put a use to it. They prove that with the harrier, yet theres not many in service. My main point was, that a fighter with better agility, more payload, or a higher topspeed would be much more useful than the amount of money they put in to the STOVL technology.
True, there's not many in service since the Marine Corps is a small service. Not sure if the Brits still use them though. But earlier you said STOVL wasn't necessary in this day in age and just wanted to say it was since its service unique.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:15 AM   #17
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I remember when the program was first publicly announced. If it truly is an inferior and costly aircraft then the only logical thing to do would be to scrap the program. Either update the F-15, 16 and/or 18's or use what you've learned from the past to develop a new but capable aircraft.


Bro.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:34 AM   #18
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True, there's not many in service since the Marine Corps is a small service. Not sure if the Brits still use them though. But earlier you said STOVL wasn't necessary in this day in age and just wanted to say it was since its service unique.
No, all our Harriers were retired from service when we mothballed our two carriers for bugetary reasons a couple of years ago. We then sold our entire Harrier fleet to the US Marines for spares and potential conversions for c. 55m. When our two new carriers come into service in 2020 and 2022 (although the latter carrier may now be cancelled), we're buying, wait for it, F-35 STVOL's. The original designation for STVOL's was changed to the faster F-35 versions, but then changed back again when the conversion costs for the already ordered new carriers were revealed to be c.1b per carrier (catapults and all the other supporting equipment this entailed).
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:06 PM   #19
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If conservatives really want to cut some major waste, fraud and abuse, then this would be a perfect place to start and with a lot of other DoD programs to go with it, many that are essentially little more than, or have been irrevocably corrupted by becoming, federal employment programs. DoD contractors, the infamous military/industrial complex, have become masters in playing and milking the system.

The F35 program, while certainly having some merit and justification in the abstract, in reality, it has become a living caricature of a bloated weapons program that does everything, money to contractors mostly, but actual work well. That a fully capable figher can't be delivered for the princely sum of $1.5 trillion and counting, yes, with a "T" fer chrisakes, then it ought to be cancelled now and the contractors who so badly bungled this program barred from competing for its replacement.

If conservatives only addressed DoD programs with the same level of flinty miserliness that they do domestic and social programs, rather than fawning obsequiousness, then perhaps I would have greater respect for their putative budget-cutting rhetoric. If the DoD can't deliver adequate national security with a budget greater than the next 10-15 biggest militaries COMBINED, then perhaps this should be target #1 for conservative scrutiny and budget cutting.

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Old 04-08-2013, 06:24 PM   #20
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you mean the oxygen/hypoxia issue? I believe that has been fixed by adjusting the flight suit (or something - can't remember).
It's the OBOGGS system on board the aircraft. We have annual mishap binders posted at our squadron, and ton of the mishaps are due to the OBOGGS; it plagues so many other aircraft as well.
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