F-35 May Never Be Ready for Combat

The F-35’s cannon door causes the plane to pull to one side, reducing the accuracy of the gun. (Photo by http://www.jsf.mil)

 

Testing Report Contradicts Air Force Leadership’s Rosy Pronouncements

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s latest memorandum is damning. The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.” The 16-page memo, first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.

The Pentagon’s top testing office warns that the F-35 is in no way ready for combat since it is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats.” (Emphasis added) As it stands now, the F-35 would need to run away from combat and have other planes come to its rescue, since it “will need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two bombs and two air-to-air missiles).” In several instances, the memo rated the F-35A less capable than the aircraft we already have. Continue reading

US loses Simulated Air War with China

The Rand Corporation, one of the Defense Department’s most trusted and longest running contractors, was hired by the Pentagon to carry out a computerized and simulated war between China and the US. The results were so horrifying, they were deemed classified, but were leaked to the press. What the computer models showed was that in the most likely scenario for a US-China war, the United States was soundly defeated by the Chinese military.

Most Americans will immediately and arrogantly close their ears to any suggestion that the US could lose a war to anyone. So, it’s a good thing that war correspondent David Axe and War Is Boring published the step-by-step actions each military takes to show readers exactly how and why America loses. The account, leaked to the media and published by Medium.com, shows how the blame lies squarely on one thing – the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s abysmal failure in combat.

According to the Rand war scenario developed for the Pentagon, the most expensive military weapon in the history of mankind is a complete and utter failure. The futuristic warplane is supposed to replace all other jet fighters in the US arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion and climbing. As one critic published a few weeks ago, that’s enough money to buy a $100,000 home for every homeless family in America for the next six generations.

The F-35 didn’t fail because of its recurring engine fires or the problems it’s still having with vertical landings and take-offs. It failed because it was designed to do too many things. And sometimes, especially in war, quantity beats quality. We used to joke as teens that you could line up the Chinese and machinegun them down all day and night and they would still reproduce faster than we could eliminate them. Ironically enough, that’s basically the tactic that leads to America’s defeat to the Chinese military in Pentagon simulations. Continue reading

US Military Could Not Handle One Major Theater Operation If Sequester Sticks

“You gentlemen make life and death decisions in the Tank almost every day,” a somber Cooper said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, looking straight at Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh and Marine Gen. James Amos. “We are unwilling to even come up with a budget for America.”

Even the usually partisan HASC Chairman Buck McKeon, after offering a very short defense of the House and GOP’s actions on sequestration, spoke the truth to the Joint Chiefs and the packed hearing room: ”It’s not your fault. It is us.”

How bad will it get if the United States Congress does not reverse the Budget Control Act, the foundation of sequestration?

Three of the four Joint Chiefs told the HASC that they would not be able to execute the most basic strategic requirement of the US military: defeating an enemy in a single major theater operation. Only Gen. Amos, Marine Commandant, said his self-sufficient force could handle one MTO, but could not handle more than that. Continue reading

Past inattention, present budget woes mean US Air Force must keep its aging warhorses flying

As the US Air Force technology becomes outdated, it becomes more expensive to maintain. Ironically and unfortunately, cuts have been made mostly in newer tech which only further compounds the problem of an aging military power.

For decades, the U.S. Air Force has grown accustomed to such superlatives as unrivaled and unbeatable. These days, some of its key combat aircraft are being described with terms like geriatric, or decrepit.

The aging of the U.S. Air Force, a long-simmering topic in defense circles, made a brief appearance in the presidential debates when Republican nominee Mitt Romney cited it as evidence of the decline of U.S. military readiness. His contention that the Navy is the smallest it’s been since 1917 got more attention, thanks to President Barack Obama’s quip that the Navy also has fewer “horses and bayonets.” Continue reading

How to Defeat the Air Force’s Powerful Stealth Fighter

Day by day, America is losing its edge in military superiority. Alarm bells should be ringing.

The fast, stealthy F-22 Raptor is “unquestionably” the best air-to-air fighter in the arsenal of the world’s leading air force. That’s what outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wrote in 2009.

Three years later, a contingent of German pilots flying their latest Typhoon fighter have figured out how to shoot down the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 in mock combat. The Germans’ tactics, revealed in the latest Combat Aircraft magazine, represent the latest reality check for the $400-million-a-copy F-22, following dozens of pilot blackouts, and possibly a crash, reportedly related to problems with the unique g-force-defying vests worn by Raptor pilots.

The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 … and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”

Gruene said the Raptor excels at fighting from beyond visual range with its high speed and altitude, sophisticated radar and long-range AMRAAM missiles. But in a slower, close-range tangle — which pilots call a “merge” — the bigger and heavier F-22 is at a disadvantage. “As soon as you get to the merge … the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22,” Gruene said.

It remains to be seen whether the Raptor and its AMRAAM missiles can reverse these trends. If long-range tactics fail, the F-22 force could very well find itself fighting up close with the latest fighters from China, Russia and other rival nations. And if the Germans’ experience is any indication, that’s the kind of battle the vaunted F-22s just might lose.

Full article: How to Defeat the Air Force’s Powerful Stealth Fighter (Danger Room)