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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

- we have NORAD commitments. NORAD, for all of you morons who have never watched the news, is a bi-lateral agreement with the USA to safeguard US & Canadian airways and seaways. When those pesky Russians practice their skills near our airspace, we practice our skills at interception. (We have this magical, unspoken agreement where we help each other train without much warning.)
If we don't procure a fighter that is acceptable to the US for the NORAD mission (to provide defence against [American help] we can look forward to the US insisting on USAF bases, with their basing costs paid by us, at Cold Lake, Yellowknife, Goose Bay and a US Navy one at St. John’s.

If we don't procure a fighter that is acceptable to the US for the NORAD mission (to provide defence against [American help] we can look forward to the US insisting on USAF bases, with their basing costs paid by us, at Cold Lake, Yellowknife, Goose Bay and a US Navy one at St. John’s.

Thank you for this. I'd like someone in DND to call these celebrities out and remind them they are NOT experts in any subject but the one they are successful in. If I want a hit record produced I'll call Waters or Young. They should STFU. Just my opinion and maybe I should STFU as well.
Here's some quotes from 1944 Normandy that I think all the people who don't want us to buy new fighters should read:

“In the face of the total enemy air superiority, we can adopt no tactics to compensate for the annihilating power of air except to retire from the battlefield.” - von Kluge

“[German Field Marshal Walter Model] did not immediately grasp the full gravity of the situation in France and hoped that he might yet restore it. But he was soon to realize the unimaginable effects of the enemy’s air supremacy, the massive destruction in the rear area, the impossibility of traveling along any major road in daylight without great peril-in fact, the full significance of the invasion.” - Zimmerman

“The long duration of the bombing, without any possibility for opposition, created depressions and a feeling of helplessness, weakness, and inferiority. Therefore the morale attitude of a great number of men grew so bad that they, feeling the uselessness of fighting, surrendered, deserted to the enemy, or escaped to the rear, as far as they survived the bombing. … The shock effect was nearly as strong as the physical effect. … For me, who, during this war, was in every theater committed at the points of the main efforts, this was the worst I ever saw. The well-dug-in infantry was smashed by the heavy bombs in their foxholes and dugouts or killed and buried by blast. The positions of infantry and artillery were blown up. The whole bombed area was transformed into fields covered with craters, in which no human being was alive. Tanks and guns were destroyed and overturned and could not be recovered, because all roads and passages were blocked.” - Bayerlein
I bet you Trudeau pays more heed to these folks than those who are already “asking too much” in the Defence of Canada…

The American GAO says the cost per flight hour of the F35 is US $38,000.
While I have no idea what the cost of the CF18 is per flight hour, apparently the F16 is US $25,000.
That's a significant difference, no wonder the USofA is concerned.
Should we be concerned?

Our climate Barbie lost $182B of our tax dollars in a 12 year period. No one cares. $38,000 per hour to fly an F35, people lose their minds.
Apparently, engines are overrated. Fifteen percent of USAF F35s do not have working engines.

I've heard those engine things are useful. Especially when it comes to keeping things in the air...but I'm not an air force type, I'm just going off of Hollywood.

So just to summarize some articles released over the last few weeks;

- The USAF has concerns about the operating and sustainment costs of the F-35. It's expensive to operate (I'm guessing primarily because of the stealth coatings), and the engines - while quite impressive - are maintenance intensive.

- Approximately 15% of USAF F-35's do not currently have working engines due to the need for major repair or replacement.

If the USAF is expressing concerns about the long term operating and maintenance/sustainment costs of the F-35, it absolutely is something we need to be paying attention to. Their budget was approximately $165.6 Billion last year. So if they are expressing concerns, we need to be following those communications & making the proper inquiries. (I have a feeling we are...)

Is the engine issue due to maintenance intensive engines? Or is this an issue with the USAF not ordering enough spares to be put in planes while the broken ones get fixed? This is an important distinction to make, and either answer steers the article in a different direction.

Personally, I support the purchase of whatever jet the fighter pilots want. They understand the dynamics of modern air combat better than any of us (ranges, weapon systems, influencing weather factors, modern EW systems of both friendly and non-friendly forces, etc) - and they are the ones that are going to be driving these things into combat. So I trust their opinion.

The F-35 does need some good PR soon though. It's great that another EU country has selected it, that's a good sign. But if the USAF has concerns about costs, that's an eyebrow raiser.

I just read last night that the USN is dropping the number of F-35s required on it's carriers by 6 jets. The USN will be implementing a change from requiring 2 F-35C squadrons of 10 jets each, on it's deployed carriers, to only one squadron of 14 jets. The reason? Not enough F-35C's available.

Very good Finnish blogger Corporal Frisk on why Rafale's nuclear mission is relevant to capabilities needed for new Finnish fighter, and lots of good technical details on the Dassault plane at this post--also interesting discussion of French nuclear weapons doctrine including their version of "escalate to de-escalate":

The Art of Dissuasion​

From a practical perspective - how much of a pain is ITAR??

Zero experience dealing with it. Just wondering. Is that bureaucracy a hassle to deal with in acquisition or regular maintenance?
From a practical perspective - how much of a pain is ITAR??

Zero experience dealing with it. Just wondering. Is that bureaucracy a hassle to deal with in acquisition or regular maintenance?
Bit of both, good example is the LAV6, you cannot look at any of the manuals on DRIMIS unless you have an open work order. RCEME techs need Secret level clearance before DP1 simplely because of ITAR restrictions on much of our kit.
Bit of both, good example is the LAV6, you cannot look at any of the manuals on DRIMIS unless you have an open work order. RCEME techs need Secret level clearance before DP1 simplely because of ITAR restrictions on much of our kit.
I utterly despise ITAR. This is an example of ITAR preventing the knowledge of how to keep these beasts running. ITAR is the best thing that the US could done to the Chinese Firearm Industry.
From a practical perspective, ITAR is such a pain that the entire HCM/FELEX project bought everything but the software from overseas to avoid dealing with it.
House Armed Services Committee getting sceptical:

HASC Defense Policy Bill Doubles Down On F-35 Oversight

HASC chides that "the majority" of GAO recommendations on how DoD could better manage the F-35's nearly $1.3 billion sustainment costs "remain open," in some cases for more than seven years.​

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) wants the Defense Department to explain how it will implement the numerous recommendations by Congress’s watchdog agency for driving down the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s astronomical sustainment costs — or, if the Pentagon won’t follow through, to explain why not.

The demand is embodied in the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill, passed by the committee late yesterday, heaping yet another reporting requirement on DoD’s somewhat embattled F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). The provision, drafted in an amendment by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., chides DoD on failure to implement the majority of the more-than-30 recommendations for managing the F-35’s ever-growing sustainment costs proffered by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) since 2013.

In a July report, GAO found that “DOD plans to acquire nearly 2,500 F-35 aircraft for about $400 billion. It projects spending another $1.27 trillion to operate and sustain them—an estimate that has steadily increased since 2012. The military services collectively face tens of billions of dollars in sustainment costs that they project will be unaffordable.”

The new HASC language states:

“Although the Department has taken positive steps to implement and eventually close out several of these recommendations, the majority of GAO’s recommendations remain open. Some of these recommendations, which focus on critical aspects of sustainment such as developing an intellectual property strategy for the program and establishing a performance-measurement process for the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), have been open for 7 years. Others, such as the June 2021 recommendations to help the Department ensure it can afford to sustain the number of F-35s it plans to purchase, are more recent and particularly time-sensitive.”
USAF getting set to try to chop F-35A numbers?

New US Air Force study asks: What’s the right number of F-35s?​

By Valerie Insinna

A new tactical aircraft study underway could make certain what has until now been a suspicion: The U.S. Air Force is unlikely to purchase all of the 1,763 F-35A jets in its program of record.

The service is undertaking the study as it readies its fiscal 2023 budget and grapples with reducing the types of fighters it flies from seven to four main platforms by 2030, as prescribed by the service’s chief of staff.

The four platforms could include:

  • The sixth-generation Next Generation Air Dominance system, or NGAD, which will supersede the F-22.
  • The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, which will make up the preponderance of the fleet.
  • The F-15EX, which will replace much of the existing F-15 inventory.
  • And either the F-16 or its replacement.
That last decision is the most significant for the F-35 program. The Air Force’s original plan was to purchase enough F-35s to supersede all of its F-16s. So if the Air Force keeps the F-16 — or develops a separate low-cost replacement for part of the F-16 fleet — does it need to buy as many F-35s [emphasis added]?

“That’s the big question,” said Todd Harrison, an aerospace and defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Quite honestly, I don’t think there is any good news that will come out for the F-35 program for this. It’s only potential downsides. That’s real risk to the program.”

The Air Force has maintained that the F-35 program of record remains unchanged, but the ongoing tactical aircraft study is set to provide alternative models of what its fighter inventory could look like, potentially including proposals with fewer F-35s...

How low can it go?

Reports vary on how low the F-35 program of record could fall.

Internal documents by the Air Force’s future war-fighting cell indicated a plan to curb orders at 1,050 jets, Aviation Week reported in December. Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition executive during the Trump administration, called for F-35 purchases to be capped at about 800 units, CNN reported in May.

Any attempt to cut the program of record will face a difficult fight in Congress — particularly from lawmakers whose districts economically benefit from the jet’s production and who have successfully increased F-35 procurement beyond the Defense Department’s budget request since 2015.

That tradition may be in jeopardy as powerful lawmakers like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., criticize the cost of operating, sustaining and upgrading the jet. But it remains to be seen whether Congress would be amenable to a cut to the overall buy [emphasis added], Harrison said.

...the Air Force has kept most information about NGAD under wraps, including what technologies will make up the family of systems, how much it will cost, how many will be purchased and when it will be fielded.

Meanwhile, [Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ] Brown said new design and manufacturing techniques, such as digital engineering, could allow the service to develop a “four-and-a-half-[generation] or fifth-gen-minus” fighter to replace early block F-16s at a lower cost than the F-35 [emphasis added].

However, Harrison is skeptical such an aircraft could be built at a cheaper price tag than the advanced F-16s rolling off Lockheed Martin’s production line in Greenville, South Carolina...

USAF getting set to try to chop F-35A numbers?
In the article it mentions the ‘idea’ of using computer assisted drafting, new materials and new manufacturing techniques to essentially create a low cost replacement for early block F-16s.

Nothing they design from scratch, test different materials, build prototypes, test, refine, test, etc etc - will be cheaper than just buying some new-build F-16s off the production line. (A production line still going strong.)

The USAF hasn’t bought a new F-16 since March of 2005. Since then, AESA radars have become more compact, avionics and sensors have improved drastically, more powerful engines have been designed, and new EW capabilities fielded. But they won’t design & field a new aircraft cheaper than just buying ones that are already top notch

If the USAF wants to refresh its tactical fighter fleet, just stick with what works and what is simple. Reducing aircraft types is a good start. Buying new-build F-16s makes sense. Upgrade the F-22 already and stop delaying it, give it as much lethality as possible.

Anything they want a new design to do, can already be done by the F-35A, new F-15EX, upgraded F-22, and new F-16s.

It would be the slowest and most expensive option they could choose.