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

Japan’s Air Force Will Include 100 Stealth Fighters

https://i1.wp.com/www.popsci.com/sites/popsci.com/files/styles/large_1x_/public/japanx2.jpg

Japan Air Self-Defense Force | X-2 In Flight | Stealthy, for everything but eyeballs.

 

A small fleet, growing below the radar

Only a few nations have ever built stealth fighters. The United States dominates in that arena, with the retired F-117, the in-service F-22, and the soon-to-be-in-service F-35, but it’s not alone. Russia and China are both developing stealthy fighters of their own, and several nations, including Israel and the United Kingdom, joined with the United States to develop and field the F-35. Japan is slowly joining the exclusive stealth club, and it might turn to an indigenously designed plane to do it. Continue reading

Only One of Six Air Force F-35s Could Actually Take Off During Testing

During a mock deployment at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, just one of the $100 million Lockheed Martin F-35s was able to boot its software successfully and get itself airborne during an exercise designed to test the readiness of the F-35, FlightGlobal reports. Nonetheless, the Air Force plans to declare its F-35s combat-ready later this year.

Details surrounding the failed exercise were disclosed earlier this week in written testimony presented to Congress by J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester. Continue reading

Japan can’t outgun China’s J-20 with F-35A purchase

As the US is refusing to sell Japan the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will have to settle for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II instead, according to an analysis piece posted on Sina’s military news web portal.

The F-35 will still allow the JASDF entry into the stealth fighter club, however. China is likely to respond to the Japanese fighter upgrade with appropriate measures of its own, said the website. Continue reading

Computer glitch prevents US’ most advanced F-35 fighter jet from firing until 2019 – report

Another day, another ‘glitch’.

 

Reuters / U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago / Handout

 

The Pentagon’s fighter jet F-35 may not be fully operational until 2019 due to a newly discovered computer glitch. The $400 billion ultra-sophisticated jet, the most expensive in US history, was expected to enter service in 2015.

However, the most awaited plane’s main weapon will not be able to fire due to a computer glitch. The four-barreled rotary cannon for the Air Force version of the F-35 cannot function until new software is elaborated, despite jet scheduled to join the army this year.

“There will be no gun until [the Joint Strike Fighter’s Block] 3F [software], there is no software to support it now or for the next four-ish years,” an Air Force official affiliated with the F-35 program told the Daily Beast. “Block 3F is slated for release in 2019, but who knows how much that will slip?” Continue reading