Pentagon: F-35 Won’t Have a Chance in Real Combat

By Veterans Today

Fatal flaws within the cockpit of the US military’s most expensive fighter jet ever are causing further problems with the Pentagon’s dubious F-35 program.

Just weeks after a fleet of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters was grounded for reasons unrelated, a new report from the Pentagon warns that any pilot that boards the pricey aircraft places himself in danger without even going into combat.

In a leaked memo from the Defense Department’s director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon official prefaces a report on the F-35 by cautioning that even training missions cannot be safely performed on board the aircraft at this time.

“The training management system lags in development compared to the rest of the Integrated Training Center and does not yet have all planned functionality,” the report reads in part.

In other sections of the lengthy DoD analysis, Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate Director J. Michael Gilmore outlines a number of flaws that jeopardize the safety of any pilot that enters the aircraft.

“The out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35A is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft,” one excerpt reads.

Elsewhere, Gilmore includes quotes from pilots commenting after test missions onboard the aircraft: “The head rest is too large and will impede aft [rear] visibility and survivability during surface and air engagements,” said one. “Aft visibility will get the pilot gunned [down] every time” in dogfights, remarked another.

“Aft visibility could turn out to be a significant problem for all F-35 pilots in the future,” the Pentagon admits.

In one chart included in the report, the Pentagon says there are eight crucial flaws with the aircraft that have raises serious red flags within the Department of Defense. The plane’s lack of maturity, reduced pilot situational awareness during an emergency and the risk of the aircraft’s fuel barriers catching fire are also cited, as is the likelihood of a pilot in distress becoming unable to escape his aircraft during an emergency — or perhaps drowning in event of an evacuation over water.

The Pilot Vehicle Interface, or PVI, is also listed as not up to snuff. Documented deficiencies regarding the F-35 pilot’s helmet-mounted display and other aspects of the PVI are named, and the result could mean grave consequences.

“There is no confidence that the pilot can perform critical tasks safely,” the report reads.

The latest news regarding the F-35s comes less than one month after a separate incident forced the Department of Defense to ground their entire arsenal of the fighter jets. In February, jet makers Lockheed Martin issued a statement acknowledging that a routine inspection on a test plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California turned up cracked turbine blade.

“Safety is always our first consideration, and the joint inspection team is focused on ensuring the integrity of the engines across the entire fleet so the F-35s can safely return to flight as soon as possible,” the manufacture told the media. In response, Joint Program Office spokeswoman Kyra Hawn confirmed that all F-35 flight operations were suspended as a precautionary measure “until the investigation is complete and the cause of the blade crack is fully understood.” Just weeks later, though, a new report is already causing fresh problems for the F-35 program.

Each F-35 fighter jet is valued at $238 million and, according to recent estimates, the entire operation will cost the country $1 trillion in order to keep the jets up and running through 2050.

SOURCE: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/03/11/243047/

Marine Corps F-35 Caught Fire During Training Flight

By Hope Hodge Seck
November 7, 2016

The Marine Corps is investigating after an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, recently caught fire in mid-air, Military.com has learned.

The incident happened Oct. 27 at Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, a fleet replacement squadron for the Marine Corps consisting of 20 F-35B aircraft. One of the aircraft experienced a fire in the weapons bay while conducting a training mission over Beaufort, 1st Lt. John Roberts, a spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, told Military.com.

“The aircraft landed safely and there were no injuries sustained,” he said. “An investigation is ongoing and we will provide updates as they are available.”

No estimate of damage caused by the fire was available. The incident was listed by the Naval Safety Center as a Class A mishap, meaning damage totalled $2 million or more on the $100 million aircraft.

[FULL ARTICLE]

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson
November 2, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

[FULL ARTICLE]

The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them

By Dan Grazier
November 18, 2016

When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed.

Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.

In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon Memo: F-35 Capabilities in Jeopardy

By Dan Grazier
November 16, 2016

When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed. Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.

In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Dr. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.

Truncating Development Breeds Further Cost Overruns

Contractors, the JPO, and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success.  Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done. Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.

Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Dr. Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 still falls short

By Anthony Capaccio
August 24, 2016

A week after the Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet ready for limited combat operations, the Pentagon’s top tester warned that the U.S. military’s costliest weapons program is still riddled with deficiencies.

“In fact the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s full capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of its development in 2018, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in an Aug. 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring before development is supposed to end and realistic combat testing begins, he said of the F-35.

[FULL ARTICLE]

The F-35 may never be ready for combat

By Dan Grazier & Mandy Smithberger
September 9, 2016

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.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force Grounds F-35s

By Ryan Browne
September 17, 2016

The US Air Force said Friday it has grounded 10 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, just over a month after they were declared “combat ready.”

The decision affecting the most expensive weapons system ever was made “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” the Air Force said in a statement, describing the action as a temporary pause in flight operations.”
The faulty cooling lines affected a total of 57 aircraft, the statement said. Only 15 of those planes had been fielded with the remainder still on the production line and will be fixed there.
The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has delivered 108 F-35As. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the jets.

Air Force halts production of 60 F-35s

September 16, 2016

The United States Air Force has halted production of nearly 60 of its F-35 fighter jets.

It comes after the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in cooling lines inside some of the planes’ fuel tanks. Most of the jets affected were still being built, only 15 had been completed, with 10 being called “combat ready.” Manufacturer Lockheed Martin says they are working to quickly return jets to flying status.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Achieving full combat capability for F-35 at risk

September 12, 2016

Barely a week after the US Air Force declared Aug. 3 that its F-35A fighter was ready for combat, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester warned the aircraft is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats.”

In an Aug. 9 memo, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), J. Michael Gilmore, detailed the aircraft’s faults, recounted the program’s lack of progress, and warned it is fast running out of money, which will compromise attempts to fix it in time for the Operational Test & Evaluation, presently scheduled to begin sometime in 2018.

The memo, first disclosed on Aug. 24 by Bloomberg News, was addressed to Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition; Deborah Lee James, the Air Force Secretary, and General David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff.

The US Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) shrugged off this latest warning as they have previous ones, by claiming the report mentions deficiencies that are, or are being, fixed.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F35 JSF stealth fails again

June 21, 2016

The American company given a contract to provide the biggest weapons purchased in
Australia’s history has launched a public relations offensive. the controversial
F35 jet fighters have been played by big costs and big delays.

Could network failure ground the F-35

By Lara Seligman
May 16, 2016

The F-35 joint program office and a top government watchdog are butting heads about a key question for the joint strike fighter: whether or not the fifth-generation plane can fly if disconnected from a key logistics system.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 bashing

March 21, 2016

In the budget proposal for fiscal 2017, the Air Force finally relented, and said it would keep the plane on board until 2022, though there are plans to retire large numbers of the aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

Welsh said he is in a difficult position, and being forced to argue for retiring the A-10 despite not wanting to do it. Yet the lack of funding and stress on airmen is forcing his hand, and the Air Force must shift resources over to newer fifth-generation planes, he told the committee.

McCain also criticized the budget proposal for the Air Force, saying that it places “an unnecessary and dangerous burden on the backs of our airmen.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Flyoff the A-10 versus the F-35

May 16, 2016

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is renewing her fight to keep the A-10 out of the boneyard. She wants to make retirement of the legacy attack plane contingent on a “flyoff” with the fifth-generation F-35.

McSally, a retired Air Force colonel with hundreds of hours flying the A-10 in Iraq and Afghanistan, spearheaded language in the House’s version of the fiscal 2017 defense policy bill that would tie the service’s A-10 retirement plan to a side-by-side comparisontest with the F-35.

“The official part of our proposal is to actually do a test, not just sit around drinking coffee saying: ‘This is what we think,’ ” McSally, R-Ariz., said in a recent interview.

“This is an important part of the official evaluation so that we can have a data-based, assessment-based discussion as to what to do next.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

One in three F-35 flights requires system reboot

By Lara Seligman
May 9, 2016

F-35 critics often point to the Pentagon’s decision to start building the fifth-generation fighter before design and testing is complete as the root of the program’s problems. Even now, as the Air Force prepares to declare its F-35A jets operational this year, so-called “concurrency” remains an obstacle.

These ongoing challenges were on full display at Edwards last week during a development test flight of an Air Force F-35A, when the jet’s team was on the ground troubleshooting for nearly two hours before the aircraft finally launched.

The problem, which revolves around a glitch in the next increment of F-35 software, is a recurring one that causes the plane’s systems to shut down and have to be rebooted – sometimes even mid-flight.

Officials say development test pilots here have trouble booting up their jets about once out of every three flights, but downplayed the problem, pointing out that the goal of test flights is indeed to test, find problems, and work to fix them.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon delays F-35 testing due to software glitch

May 25, 2016

Despite the ongoing risks that the Lockheed Martin fighter jets will crash to the earth, the Pentagon plans to spend an additional $16 billion on another batch of F-35s.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon finally acknowledged that the beleaguered F-35 fighter jet will not be ready for its final test phase until 2018 at the earliest, the latest in a series of setbacks for the expensive next-generation aircraft.

The last major test period before full-rate production, the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) examines whether an aircraft possesses the requisite combat specifics, and ensures that a jet can fly operational missions as intended.

Due to software problems in the F-35, Pentagon officials have postponed the test date for six months past the August 2017 target date, out of an abundance of concern that the jet will not be ready. This is the second major delay in flight-readiness testing, placing the fighter jet an entire year behind schedule.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Flying Public Relations Blitz? Pentagon Finds Only Good Use for F-35

March 26, 2016

With its reputation effectively flown through the mud, the F-35 will seek public approval by performing alongside WWII fighters in an air show tour.

With a price tag of over $1 trillion, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been riddled with problems that include everything from cybersecurity issues to basic flight capabilities.

“[The F-35] has already been in development for more than twenty years,” reads a report conducted by the non-profit Project on Government Oversight. “The plane is still years away from being capable of providing any real contribution to the [US] national defense if, in fact, it ever will be.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

All the ways the F-35 is screwed up, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester

By Dan Lamothe
February 4, 2016

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has condemned aspects of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in a new report, raising questions about the $1.5-trillion effort’s ability to meet its already slipped production schedule, synthesize information on the battlefield and keep aircraft available to fly.

The 82-page report was distributed to Congress last month, and released publicly this week. It was completed by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation. He reports directly to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, and carries out independent assessments for both Carter and members of Congress.

The report raises serious questions about whether the Pentagon should initiate a three-year “block buy” of up to 450 fighter jets beginning in 2018, something that was floated last year in the Defense Department as a way to save money. Doing so would drive down the cost of each single-seat, single engine aircraft and increase fielding of the jet to both the U.S. military and international partners like Australia and Britain, defense officials said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

What it’s really like to fly the F-35

By Ian Greenhalgh
April 19, 2016

You’ve heard what the critics have to say, now let’s see what the pilots think

You must have heard about the F-35 debacle by now, a sad tale of huge cost overruns and an aircraft that has been called ‘the worst thing the USA ever procured’ by some commentators.

Aside from the obvious corruption involved in the F-35’s troubled development (is anything involving John McCain ever anything other than corrupt) and the resultant incredible sums of money spent on the project, there is the very real danger that the USA mind find itself armed with an aircraft that simply doesn’t work.

Whether it’s the gun that won’t fire or the ejector seat that is lethal to pilots that aren’t overweight, the tales of woe are endless. Even before the aircraft had entered service the jokes were well known:

How many F-35s does it take to change a lightbulb?

Three: One to change the criteria of changing a lightbulb, the second to undergo maintenance, and the third to tell the press the lightbulb has been changed.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 critical software not all that critical

By Dan Grazier
April 20, 2016

Last summer, F-35 program officer Lt. Gen. Bogdan said the F-35’s logistics systemwas “the brains and blood of operating this weapons system.” Despite many fixes, the aircraft’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is so flawed that government auditors believe the computer system may not be deployable. These problems may alsodelay the Air Force’s declaration of Initial Operational Capability.  And now, in a surprising twist, General Bogdan is saying ALIS is not really critical after all, insisting the F-35 can fly without it for 30 days.

F-35 supporters enjoy telling people how the plane is a “flying computer,” as if that alone makes it worth the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far. Lockheed Martin goes one step farther, calling it a “supercomputer” in its own promotional materials.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Glitch could ground F-35

By Tyler Dumont
April 25,2016

The F-35 is called the most ambitious and expensive weapon system in the Department of Defense’s history, costing hundreds of billions.

Eighteen of the planes are set to land in Vermont in just three years.

At the core of the F-35 is a software system known as ALIS, essentially, the aircraft’s brain and just as important as the engine and airframe.

“Quite simply, if you don’t have a functioning ALIS, you really don’t have an F-35, the way it’s designed,” said Cary Russell, the director of defense capabilities and management with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Autonomic Logistics Information Systems monitors almost everything, from engine diagnostics to navigation and target data coming from servers that are not on board.

Now, a report from a federal watchdog group says there’s a chance the connection to those external servers could fail, with no backup.

[FULL ARTICLE]

McCain: F-35 is both a scandal and a tragedy

By Ryan Browne
April 27, 2016

Sen. John McCain slammed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s troubled history Tuesday, saying it “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”

The development of the Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth jet, has been beset by spiraling costs and schedule delays. The program’s price tag is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes — almost twice the initial estimate.

GAO report cites continued need for F-35 oversight

Apr 26, 2016

Development of New Capabilities Requires Continued Oversight

What GAO Found

Although the estimated F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program acquisition costs have decreased since 2014, the program continues to face significant affordability challenges. The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to begin increasing production and expects to spend more than $14 billion annually for nearly a decade on procurement of F-35 aircraft. Currently, the program has around 20 percent of development testing remaining, including complex mission systems software testing, which will be challenging. At the same time, the contractors that build the F-35 airframes and engines continue to report improved manufacturing efficiency and supply chain performance.

DOD plans to manage F-35 modernization as part of the existing program baseline and is exploring the use of a single contract to procure multiple lots of future aircraft. Both courses of action have oversight implications. DOD has begun planning and funding significant new development work to add to the F-35’s capabilities. Known as Block 4, the funding needed for this effort is projected to be nearly $3 billion over the next 6 years (see figure below), which would qualify it as a major defense acquisition program in its own right.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 Fails Testing

By Clay Dillow
April 28, 2016

Software glitches continue to dog the nation’s newest fighter jet.

Five of six Air Force F-35 fighter jets were unable to take off during a recent exercise due to software bugs that continue to hamstring the world’s most sophisticated—and most expensive—warplane.

During a mock deployment at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, just one of the $100 million Lockheed Martin LMT 0.63% 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.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Military Admits Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is F**ked

By David Axe
March 17, 2016

Officials are finally admitting the F-35 fighter has turned into a nightmare—but it’s too late to stop the $400 billion program now.

Way back in the early 2000s, the U.S. military had a dream. To develop a new “universal” jet fighter that could do, well, pretty much everything that the military asks its different fighters to do.

But the dream of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter turned into a nightmare. The program is six years behind schedule and tens of billions of dollars over budget. And now, 16 years after the JSF prototypes took off for their first flights, top officials are finally owning up to the trauma the $400 billion fighter program has inflicted on America’s finances and war readiness.

In a remarkable period, beginning in February and lasting several weeks, senior officers and high-ranking bureaucrats finally publicly copped to the warplane program’s fundamental failures.

[FULL ARTICLE]

U.S. military officials consider alternatives if troubled F-35 program can’t move forward

March 23, 2016

U.S. military officials reportedly are considering alternatives that include restarting the F-22 advanced tactical fighter line or developing advanced versions of the F-15 or F/A-18 combat aircraft if the F-35 joint strike fighter program fails. The National Interest reports.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 engines have recurring flaws

By Anthony Capaccio
March 31, 2016

United Technologies Corp.’s performance building engines for the F-35 fighter has been beset by “recurring manufacturing quality issues,” according to the Defense Department’s annual report on its costliest weapons program.

The contractor’s Pratt & Whitney military aircraft unit met the goal for delivering engines last year, but quality deficiencies in “turbine blades and electronic control systems resulted in maintenance activity to remove suspect hardware from the operational fleet,” according to the latest Selected Acquisition Report sent to Congress and obtained by Bloomberg News.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 is still a shocking disaster

By Charles P. Pierce
March 30, 2016

It’s been a while since we checked in with the F-35 Flying Swiss Army Knife, the airplane that ate the federal budget. Let’s see if they’ve gotten all the bugs out of the system yet.

Nope.

“While Pratt & Whitney has implemented a number of design changes that have resulted in significant reliability improvements, the F-35A and F-35B engines are still at about 55 percent and 63 percent, respectively, of where the program expected them to be at this point,” said the report by the Government Accountability Office. The F-35A is the Air Force version of the plane, and the F-35B is the Marine Corps version, which is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings. There is also an F-35C Navy version designed for carrier operations.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 radar software fails in the air

By Richard Chirgwin
March 8, 2016

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has run into yet another software bug, according to a report in IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

The glitch is in the software that operates the fighter’s radar. During flight, Jane’s reckons, the radar software becomes unstable.

The report quotes US Air Force Major General Jeffrey Harrigian as saying “What would happen is [pilots would] get a signal that says either a radar degrade or a radar fail – something that would force us to restart the radar”.

He said the problem was discovered in 2015, and that Lockheed-Martin is now running a fix through its test labs, with a patch due this month.

The USAF believes the glitch won’t get in the way of it reaching “initial operational capability” for the F-35 between August and December this year.

The F-35’s software has been raised again in Australia courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Background Briefing program over the weekend.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 remains plagued by deficiencies

By Jim W. Dean
Feb. 5, 2016

[ Jim Dean’s Note: Yes, I know this is an old story, but with an important new twist, in that the continued deficiencies of the F-35 are detailed by the Pentagon’s own testing expert. This is no anti-war, America haters bashing the program. For the program to be stopped from more billions being wasted on this disaster, it will take a coalition of inside and outside people to do it.

And work needs to get started, scrapping what we have, and frankly trying to copy what the Russian have, if they can do it — a modular build where upgrades, especially hardware, can be added later without a ground-up rebuild, which the defense contractors prefer, as it is hugely more expensiveJim W. Dean ]

_____________

– First published  …  February 05,  2016 –

The US Defense Department has warned that the highly advanced F-35 fighter jet remains plagued by dangerous problems that will further complicate the most expensive weapons project in history.

The report, which was prepared by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, raises serious questions about whether the US military should risk committing itself to buying billions of dollars of the F-35s before they have demonstrated they are fit for combat.

The fifth-generation stealth warplanes, which are being built in three different versions by Lockheed Martin Corp, will form the backbone of the us military’s future fighter fleet.

In the latest blow to the program, engineers uncovered numerous technical problems during extensive testing of the newest versions of the F-35, the Pentagon report found, adding to a list of issues including software bugs, technical glitches and cost overruns.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 still failing to impress

By Dan Grazier & Mandy Smithberger
March 7, 2016

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) recently released a scathing assessment of the F-35 program as part of his annual report. Buried inside 48 pages of highly technical language is a gripping story of mismanagement, delayed tests, serious safety issues, a software nightmare, and maintenance problems crippling half the fleet at any given time.

The report makes clear just how far the F-35 program still has to go in the development process. Some of the technical challenges facing the program will take yea
rs to correct, and as a result, the F-35’s operationally demonstrated suitability for combat will not be known until 2022 at the earliest. While rumors that the program office would ask for a block buy of nearly 500 aircraft in the FY 2017 budget proposal did not pan out, officials have indicated they may make such a request next year. The DOT&E report clearly shows any such block commitments before 2022 are premature.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Australian Investigative Report on JSF F35

by Jonathan Green
Mar. 6, 2016

Is the Joint Strike Fighter the right plane for Australia?

The JSF is not terribly fast and it’s not terribly agile, and the high tech helmet could take the pilots head off if there is a mishap. Sarah Dingle investigates the over budget and over due Joint Strike Fighter

[FULL ARTICLE]

Danish pilots talk about the F-35

By Solomon
Feb. 25, 2016

Listen to what the pilots say about the F-35? How about this retired LTCol from the Danish Air Force!

via Australian Senate Submission on the F-35 (Link and item 35).

“We also simulated Joint Strike Fighter against Russian fighter aircraft where we flew two against two.
In the forenoon I and the Danish test pilot was flying Joint Strike Fighters against two Russian fighters. Inthe afternoon we swapped, so we flew Russian fighter aircraft against the Joint Strike Fighter.
In the afternoon the first thing the test pilot and I noticed was that the Russian fighters was not loaded with the best air-to-air missiles as the Russians have in real life. We therefore asked about getting some better. It was denied us. We two pilots complained but it was not changed.
My test pilot and I decided in our simulated Russian combat aircraft to fly “line abreast”, but with 25 nautical miles distance. Then at least one of us could with radar look into the side of the Joint Strike Fighter and thus view it at long distance. The one who “saw” the Joint Strike Fighter could then link the radar image to the other. Then missiles could be fired at long distance at the Joint Strike Fighter.
It was also denied us, although we protested this incomprehensible disposition.
It was now quite clear to us that with the directives and emotional limitations simulations would in no waygive a true and fair view of anything. On the other hand, it would show that the Joint Strike Fighter was a good air defense fighter, which in no way can be inferred from the simulations. We spoke loudly and clearly that this way was manipulating with the Joint Strike Fighter air defence capability.

[FULL ARTICLE]

The Comanche and the Albatross

By Col Michael W. Pietrucha, USAF
May-June 2014

The Air Force intended eventually to replace much of the post-Vietnam fighter fleet with the F-35A. This stealthy aircraft possesses advanced technology and was intended to be no more expensive than the aircraft it was designed to supplant. The Air Force sought to buy 1,763 F-35As—the number required to replace every F-16, A-10, and F-117 then in service. Rather than an affordable, capable fighter aircraft operational in large numbers by 2015, the F-35 continues to arrive late and cost more than anticipated. Program delays, unmet performance requirements, and spiraling costs have recently run full tilt into an austere budgetary environment. Budgetary realities should serve as an impetus to reexamine the Air Force’s participation in the F-35 program and the future of the fighter force.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon postpones retirement of A-10s

By John Sowell

Feb. 26, 2016

The Islamic State unwittingly forced the U.S. Air Force to continue flying one of ISIS’ fiercest enemies: the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The Air Force was all set to retire the jet, known affectionately among its crews as the Warthog. Then it was pressed into service last year against the Islamic State in the Mideast, where it drew rave reviews.

“I saw some of the A-10s that are flying bombing missions against ISIL (the Pentagon’s term for Islamic State) when I was at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey last December,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of a House appropriations subcommittee during testimony Thursday on the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

The A-10, Carter told the committee, will continue flying until at least 2022.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 still a train wreck

BY ALLAN BOURDIUS
Feb. 5, 2016

Now that votes are finally being cast, most Hot Air content is going to be revolving around the ongoing campaign, but it’s important we don’t lose sight of issue details that could wind up affecting the race, especially in areas where traditional Republican stances could leave one or more candidates very, very vulnerable.

National defense is a perennial Republican running point. More troops, more ships, more planes, more dollars is pretty much the mantra of every candidate. The worrisome story of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – a.k.a. the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – has been addressed here before by Jazz Shaw (July 1, 2015 and August 15, 2015), and since then, has gotten worse, not better. The F-35 is the most expensive defense acquisition project ever with projected costs exceeding $1.3 trillion.

[FULL ARTICLE]

FDA Nominee Califf Gave Questionable Answers to Senate

By POGO
February 4, 2016

As President Obama’s nominee for FDA Commissioner, former Duke University researcher Robert Califf has faced questions about the independence of clinical trials he conducted for drug companies.

At a confirmation hearing in November and in a written response to later questions from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Califf offered comforting answers. He said that plans for clinical trials are subject to FDA review.

But those answers omitted some history that might be less reassuring: a clinical trial Califf had co-chaired was conducted in defiance of FDA guidance.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Despite Decades of Stealth, Sticking Points Bedevil F-35 Jet

By CLYDE HABERMAN
JAN. 24, 2016

One of the earliest stealth weapons on record was a stone used by the young Israelite David to kill the Philistine giant Goliath. In the biblical account, David shunned the conventional armaments of his time: sword, helmet, armor. Instead, he went forth with a slingshot and a few stones, kept undetected in a pouch. As any schoolchild knows, one well-aimed fling was all it took to put Goliath down for good. The big guy never saw it coming.

It is not clear to what extent David tested his weapon before doing battle, but he presumably had experimented. The first Book of Samuel tells how he had earlier struck and killed a lion and a bear that menaced the sheep he tended.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 total disaster

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
January 27, 2016

The F-35 is an absolute disaster, and it needs to go. The scandals around it are legion.

The supersonic stealth plane called the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was supposed to be the greatest and best military plane the world has ever seen. While the United States’ stealthy F-22 is an “air superiority” plane, ensuring the country’s dominance over the skies, which is why exporting it is illegal, the F-35 was supposed to be able to do everything, and be the standard fighter-bomber of the U.S. and most countries with which the U.S. has friendly relations. It was supposed to be stealthy, to be able take off and land vertically, and to know everything about everything thanks to its amazing software and sensors. It can’t do any of those things so far.

The program has cost $1.3 trillion so far. By comparison, the Apollo Program, which actually sent people to the moon, cost about $170 billion in 2005 dollars. The F-35 is literally the most expensive military project in history. By 2014, the program was $163 billion over budget, and seven years behind schedule.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Ground Hog Day: De-bugging the F-35

By BP
February 8, 2016

It seems the F-35 fighter; aka the most expensive weapons system ever, hasn’t been in the news too often lately. And most of the news out that is out there is awful, according to reports in early February. If or when the jet fighters do fly on a regular basis, at some point in the future some will be used by the Vermont Air National Guard and based at the Burlington airport. This is over objections from residents in nearby towns over possible noise levels during take-off and landings — so, here’s a heads up for Vermonters.

If you care to read more details, that can be done here. But these three descriptive headlines provide a more than adequate, quick summary: The Version That the Marines Are Using Is Very Buggy; ALIS [Autonomic Logistics Information System] Is Still Terrible, Perhaps Even Getting Worse; and my favorite, Lockouts, Confusion, etc.

[FULL ARTICLE]

DOT&E Concerns about the F-35

by Bryan Myers & Sheila MacVicar
February 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The bad news for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the most expensive weapons program in history, with an estimated price tag of $1.4 trillion – continues to pile up.

In a stark new assessment, a Pentagon report documents significant and on-going problems with the F-35 program. America Tonight has obtained a copy of that report in advance of its release.

The findings [PDF], which were made by Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), include:

[FULL ARTICLE]

Decades of Stealth Sticking Points Bedevil F-35

Despite Decades of Stealth  Sticking Points Bedevil F 35 JetBy CLYDE HABERMAN
JAN. 24, 2016

One of the earliest stealth weapons on record was a stone used by the young Israelite David to kill the Philistine giant Goliath. In the biblical account, David shunned the conventional armaments of his time: sword, helmet, armor. Instead, he went forth with a slingshot and a few stones, kept undetected in a pouch. As any schoolchild knows, one well-aimed fling was all it took to put Goliath down for good. The big guy never saw it coming.

It is not clear to what extent David tested his weapon before doing battle, but he presumably had experimented. The first Book of Samuel tells how he had earlier struck and killed a lion and a bear that menaced the sheep he tended.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-22 and F-35 can’t share data

By Phillip Swarts
December 14, 2015

If the Air Force wants to be effective in future conflicts, it must rethink the way it handles electronic warfare, a retired general said Dec. 1.

“Currently there’s no data link between the F-22 and F-35 that would allow them to share targeting data,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula. “Instead, these two fifth-gen aircraft — built by the same company, I might add — operate separate networks riding on proprietary links.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

US considers purchasing more F-15s or F-16s

By Bill Sweetman
November 19, 2015

LONDON — The U.S. Air Force may solicit bids for 72 new Boeing F-15s, Lockheed Martin F-16s or even Boeing F/A-18E/Fs as budget issues put planned production rates for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter out of reach, according to senior service and industry officials at the Defense IQ International Fighter Conference …

[FULL ARTICLE]

A-10 Retirement Could be Delayed

By Phillip Swarts
November 23, 2015

The Air Force could delay retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II by a few years to meet demand for close-air support missions, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, said Nov. 10.

“I think we would probably move the retirement slightly to the right,” he said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “Eventually we will have to get there. We have to retire airplanes. But I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later and keeping the airplane a bit longer is something to consider, based on things as they are today and what we see in the future.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Navy to continue buying F-18 because F-35 is delayed

BY: JAMES DREW
NOVEMBER 5, 2015

US Navy officials have reaffirmed plans to procure an additional 24 to 36 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets through fiscal year 2018 while also boosting F/A-18C life-extension rates, primarily due to delays in fielding the carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C.

Boeing has been trying desperately to shore up Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler production in St Louis, Missouri, but the company’s difficulty in securing international sales has raised doubts.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Trump wants to fire F-35

By Tyler Rogoway
October 30, 2015

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is finally offering some specifics when it comes to defense policy, and on conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt’s program today he floated the possibility of cancelling the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program if he gets elected.

According to the Air Force Times, Trump said: “When they say that this cannot perform as well as the planes we already have, what are [we] doing, and spending so much more money?” He continued, “I do hear that it’s not very good… I’m hearing that our existing planes are better. And one of the pilots came out of the plane, one of the test pilots, and said this isn’t as good as what we already have.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Trump wants to Fire the F-35

By Phillip Swarts
October 30, 2015

Donald Trump wants to tell the F-35 that it’s fired.

The businessman and Republican presidential candidate questioned the wisdom of purchasing the joint strike fighter during an appearance on a conservative radio talk show Oct. 22.

“When they say that this cannot perform as well as the planes we already have, what are [we] doing, and spending so much more money?” Trump said during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 Helmet is Too Heavy

By Phillip Swarts
November 2, 2015

The F-35 helmet is back in the news again, after Defense News, sister publication of Air Force Times, reported that F-35 pilots weighing under 136 pounds have been grounded due to concerns with the plane’s ejection seat.

Tests showed that a lighterweight pilot’s neck could snap during an ejection at slow speeds. While the ejection-seat issue is separate from the helmet, there are concerns that the heavy headgear is contributing to the problem of neck injuries during ejections.

“What we found was if the pilot has a helmet on his head or her head and that helmet weighs more than 4.8 pounds, then the neck loads on that light-weight pilot — by a very little bit — exceed what we would consider to be perfectly safe,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office. “Today our helmets weigh about 5.4 pounds, so we’re talking about six ounces of weight to get out of the helmet,” Bogdan told the HouseArmed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces Oct. 21. “We need a lighter helmet, it’s as simple as that.

[FULL ARTICLE]

AF tests ways to help F-35 survive in dogfights

By Phillip Swarts
October 5, 2015

Though designed for long-range engagements, there may be times when the F-35 Lightning II will be forced to get visual confirmation of a target, said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command.

“Will there ever be a time where you’ll have to put your eyeball on somebody to make sure he’s what you think he is? There may well be,” Carlisle said during a Sept.18 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 ejection seat fears ground lightweight pilots

By Lara Seligman
October 12, 2015

Concerns about increased risk of injury to F-35 pilots during lowspeed ejections have prompted the military services to temporarily restrict pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds from flying the aircraft, Defense News, a sister publication of Air Force Times, has learned.

During August tests of the ejection seat, built by Martin-Baker, testers discovered an increased risk of neck injury when a lightweight pilot is flying at slower speeds. Until the problem is fixed, the services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, F-35 integration office director, told Defense News in a Sept. 29 interview.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon Testing Office Calls Foul on F-35B “Operational Test”

By: Mandy Smithberger and Dan Grazier
September 14, 2015

The Marine Corps triumphantly declared its variant of the F-35 combat ready in late July. In the public relations build-up, the recent demonstration of its performance on the USS Wasp was heralded as a rebuttal to the program’s critics. But a complete copy of a recent memo from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)—obtained by the Project On Government Oversight through the Freedom of Information Act—reveals that a number of maintenance and reliability problems “are likely to present significant near-term challenges for the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps named this demonstration “Operational Test One,” but it turns out it wasn’t actually an operational test, “in either a formal or an informal sense of the term.” To count as an operational test, conditions should closely match realistic combat conditions. But DOT&E found the demonstration “did not—and could not—demonstrate that Block 2B F-35B is operationally effective or suitable for use in any type of limited combat operation, or that it was ready for real-world operational deployments, given the way the event was structured.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Comparison tests to pit A-10 Warthog vs. new F-35 fighter

One of the biggest battles between Congress and the Pentagon during the past year has been over a snub-nosed grunt of an airplane, a jet so ugly (and fierce) it’s nicknamed the “Warthog.”

It is beloved by the troops, particularly those who have been saved when the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and its huge 30mm cannon, swooped in to save them in combat.

[FULL ARTICLE]

 

Carlisle: F-35s won’t dogfight, F-22s will

By Phillip Swarts
September 16, 2015

The F-35 Lightning II will excel at air interdiction, but was not created to engage in visual dogfights, according to Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command.

The general’s comments at the annual Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference came in response to a series of reports that have criticized the F-35’s inability to win dogfights with current fourth-generation aircraft.

[FULL ARTICLE]

China’s Copycat Jet Raises Questions About F-35

BY MARCUS WEISGERBER
SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

New technical specs about China’s new J-31 fighter, a plane designed to rival the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, popped up on a Chinese blog last week. So who has the advantage — the U.S. or China?

[FULL ARTICLE]

The F-35 Is Still the Worst Military Investment Ever

BY CHARLES P. PIERCE
October 1, 2015

​It’s been a while since we checked in on the F-35, the Flying Swiss Army Knife, which may be a floor wax or a dessert topping, but which sure as hell isn’t an viable aircraft, but is one of the epic money pits of all time, even by Pentagon standards, which are higher than the plane thus far has been able to get off the ground. How are things going, anyway?

China’s twin-engine design bears a striking resemblance to the single-jet F-35. Still, the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to fly slightly farther and carry a heavier load of weapons, according to the data, which was first reported by Jane’s.

[FULL ARTICLE]

More Bad News for the F-35, the Plane That Ate the Pentagon

BY JONATHAN BRODER
September 30, 2015

The warplanes took off vertically, dipping and diving as they intercepted enemy aircraft, suppressed enemy fire and supported troops on the ground. Then they landed on the deck of an amphibious assault ship, in the same way they took off: vertically.

For 10 days in May off the coast of Virginia, a half dozen F-35 fighter jets tested their capabilities under what military officials called real world combat conditions. The Pentagon was trying to see if the Marine Corps’ version of the next-generation fighter plane—its most expensive weapons project ever—was ready for battle. In July, after analyzing the test results, Marine Commandant General Joseph Dunsford triumphantly declared that it was.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Ten Things You Should Know About the Air Force’s F-35 Propaganda Effort

By Tony Carr
Sept 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — Recently, the Air Force’s F-35 program has been facing fresh skepticism and new scrutiny. Interestingly, it’s not the program’s trillion-dollar price tag, dubious design, or stunted development raising new doubts, but something more fundamental: senior officials speaking for the program are hemorrhaging public credibility with transparently desperate misrepresentations aimed at putting a positive face on a failing program.

Media, members of Congress, thought leaders, and even airmen themselves are growing uncomfortable with the risks lurking in the program, notwithstanding endless streams of reassuring propaganda, much of it paid for with public funds.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 Fatal Ejection Fear Riles Congress

By Lara Seligman
October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON — Concern is mounting on Capitol Hill after recent tests revealed a lightweight F-35 pilot’s neck could snap when ejecting at certain speeds.

The fears focus on the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat. During testing of the new Generation 3 helmet this summer, testers discovered the risk of fatal neck injury when a lighter pilot ejects during slower-speed flights, according to a source with knowledge of the program. Testers discovered the ejection snapped the necks of lighter-weight test dummies, the source said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Newsweek and Washington Post Pick Up POGO’s F-35B Story

By: Daniel Van Schooten
October 5, 2015

Newsweek has followed The Washington Post in picking up our important story regarding the operational readiness of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Though declared to be operational, the plane was not tested in real-world combat scenarios. The deck had been cleared, critical onboard systems had not been installed, and various other factors combined to make the test easier to pass. Used as more of a publicity stunt than any confirmation of actual combat readiness, the declaration of operational readiness is misleading.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 Fatal Ejection Fear Riles Congress

By Lara Seligman
October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON — Concern is mounting on Capitol Hill after recent tests revealed a lightweight F-35 pilot’s neck could snap when ejecting at certain speeds.

The fears focus on the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat. During testing of the new Generation 3 helmet this summer, testers discovered the risk of fatal neck injury when a lighter pilot ejects during slower-speed flights, according to a source with knowledge of the program. Testers discovered the ejection snapped the necks of lighter-weight test dummies, the source said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

USAF: Expanded Risk of Neck Damage to F-35 Pilots

By Lara Seligman
October 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — Weeks after Defense News revealed that the military services had restricted lightweight pilots from flying the F-35 joint strike fighter, the US Air Force officially acknowledged an increased risk of neck damage during ejection to middleweight pilots as well.

In a news release issued Oct. 16, the Air Force confirmed a Defense News report that pilots under 136 pounds are currently barred from flying the fifth-generation aircraft, expected to be the backbone of American airpower for decades to come. It also acknowledged an “elevated level of risk” for pilots between 136 and 165 pounds.

[FULL ARTICLE]

 

Vago’s Notebook: F-35 Progress

The challenges tend to obscure progress for major programs like the joint strike fighter, but the JSF has been on a winning streak.

[FULL VIDEO]

A-10 Standoff commentary

By John Michael Loh
August 10, 2015

The best way to resolve the interminable A-10 retirement debate is to satisfy both sides with a solution that eliminates the operational and economic arguments driving it.

The primary vocal critics of the Air Force decision to retire the A-10 close-support aircraft are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and freshman Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. All three have strong ties to the A-10. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, is home to the largest A-10 base. Closure of the base would have serious economic impact. Ayotte’s husband is a formerA-10 pilot. McSally flew A-10s in the Air Force.

[Full Article]

Leaked F-35 Report Confirms Deficiencies

By: Mandy Smithberger and Dan Grazier
July 27, 2015

A new leaked test, which was first exposed by War is Boring, provides more evidence that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the report finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

An F-35A test pilot with extensive dogfighting experience in F-16s and F-15s wrote the report, detailing his cockpit observations during the January 2015 maneuvering combat tests of the F-35 against a 30-year-old F-16 at Edwards Flight Test Center in California. The report, marked for official use only (FOUO), highlighted serious concerns about the plane’s performance in this key mission.

[Full Article]

Congress must re-evaluate F-35 in light of deficiencies

By: Iulia Gheorghiu
July 28, 2015

A Project On Government Oversight (POGO) analysis of the F-35’s capabilities describes how the fighter can’t perform one of its key advertised missions—a failure that POGO says should prompt Congress and the Pentagon to conduct a complete re-evaluation of the $1.4 trillion program.

POGO’s analysis, which relied on a recent report by an F-35 test pilot, provides more evidence that the F-35’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the test pilot’s report, which was first cited by War is Boring, finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

[Full Article]

A-10 versus the F-35

By Anthony Capaccio
August 27, 2015

Opponents of U.S. Air Force efforts to retire its A-10 have said the 40-year-old close-air support plane can outperform the Pentagon’s most advanced aircraft.

It turns out the lumbering old plane, nicknamed the Warthog, will get a chance to prove it.

The Air Force’s top general and the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester confirmed Thursday that Lockheed Martin Corp.’s new F-35 fighter, equipped with its most modern software, will be tested against the A-10 in 2018 in a comparative evaluation of their capabilities for close-air support, as well as other missions such as air-to-air combat.

[Full Article]

F-35 vs. the A-10

By Christian Davenport
August 27, 2015

One of the biggest battles between Congress and the Pentagon over the past year has been over a snub-nosed grunt of an airplane, a jet so ugly (and fierce) it’s nicknamed the “Warthog.” It is beloved by the troops, particularly those who have been saved when the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and its huge 30 mm cannon, swooped in to save them in combat.

But despite the aircraft’s revered status, the Air Force has said it has no choice but to retire the fleet at a time of budget constraints. The A-10, officials have said, is designed for a single purpose—taking out enemy ground troops at such close range—a mission that could be taken over by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s $400 billion next-generation fighter jet.

[Full Article]

Serious Air Combat Deficiencies in F-35

By Dan Grazier and Mandy Smithberger
July 27, 2015

A new leaked test, which was first exposed by War is Boring, provides more evidence that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the report finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16.

An F-35A test pilot with extensive dogfighting experience in F-16s and F-15s wrote the report, detailing his cockpit observations during the January 2015 maneuvering combat tests of the F-35 against a 30-year-old F-16 at Edwards Flight Test Center in California. The report, marked for official use only (FOUO), highlighted serious concerns about the plane’s performance in this key mission.

[Full Article]

Last manned fighter

By Gareth Jennings
July 27, 2015

With the US Marine Corps set to declare initial operating capability for its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) before the end of July, many are again asking if there will ever be another manned fighter, or if the JSF truly is the last of its kind.

The history of military aviation is littered with false predictions pertaining to the demise of the traditional notion of the fighter aircraft. In the United States the Vought F-8 Crusader developed in the mid-1950s was nicknamed ‘the last gunslinger’ in the mistaken belief that all fighters to follow would carry missiles only.

[Full Article]

F-35 Reliability Found Wanting

by Anthony Capaccio
July 28, 2015

The Marine Corps’ version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter demonstrated poor reliability in a 12-day exercise at sea, according to the U.S. military’s top testing officer.

Six F-35Bs, the most complex version of the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system, were available for flights only half of the time needed, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. A Marine Corps spokesman said the readiness rate was more than 65 percent.

[Full Article]

China and Russia could destroy F-35 battle

By Malcolm Davis
July 26, 2015

After the leaking of a report about the recent failure of an F-35 to win in a dogfight against an F-16D, debate has intensified about the future nature of air to air combat. In a recent Strategist post, Andrew Davies identifies the importance of combining long-range air-to-air engagement using ‘Beyond-Visual Range Air to Air Missiles’ (BVRAAMs), with the advantage bestowed by stealth technology to reduce detectability of the aircraft, as well as exploiting superior sensors, information processing and electronic warfare capability.

Davies also notes that it is yet to be demonstrated how effective these capabilities will be in a future operational environment, stating “…there are reasons to wonder how effective the F-35’s bag of tricks will be into the future, especially as counter-stealth systems evolve, and I’d like to see it carry more and longer-ranged weapons…” Clearly the F-35 was designed to undertake a particular approach to air-to-air combat in mind (long-range attacks) rather than close-in dogfighting. This highlights a key question that is now generating significant debate: “Are our current assumptions about future air combat—that BVR engagement will dominate and ‘dogfights’ have had their day
“—correct?

[Full Article]

Secretary of the Air Force acknowledges wide range of problems with the F-35

By Richard Sisk
Jul 28, 2015

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has admitted to a wide range of past and present problems with the F-35 while maintaining that the fifth-general will eventually guarantee the U.S. continued air supremacy over rivals.

“The biggest lesson I have learned from the F-35 is never again should we be flying an aircraft while we’re building it,” James said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last week.

[Full Article]

New F-35 Radar

By Joe Zieja
July 19, 2015

EGLIN AFB, Fla. — Lockheed Martin has announced a new, cutting-edge technology that will be outfitted in future iterations of the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter. The new technology, code-named “radar” may allow the fifth-generation fighter to spot other objects in the sky.

“It’s like, these beams, see?” Lauren Ramirez, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin said during a press conference that announced the space-age technology. “And they shoot out of an invisible cannon at the nose of the aircraft. And they bounce back, and then something catches them and reads them — like two guys throwing a paper airplane back and forth, but the paper airplane has the locations of stuff in the sky on them. It’s really neat.”

[Full Article]

F-35 Flight Test Failure

By Eric Pianin
July 10, 2015

For more than a dozen years, the Pentagon has steadfastly stood behind the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as the next generation of jet fighters for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, despite nightmarish development problems and daunting cost overruns.

The overall cost of developing and purchasing the jets currently is projected at $400 billion, while operating and maintenance costs could boost the overall price tag to nearly $1.5 trillion in the coming years. Lockheed Martin has weathered a vast array of design problems, most recently concerns over software and its computer system’s vulnerability.

[Full Article]

F-35 pilot unimpressed

By Tyler Rogoway
July 13, 2015

F-35 pilot Maj. John Wilson is back in the second part of his interview with our friends at Krigeren.dk. This time the conversation moved from the F-35’s capabilities, especially those as a close air support platform, to the jet’s much-touted half a million dollar helmet with quasi-X-Ray vision, a feature the Major seems less than impressed with.

The Major’s lackluster enthusiasm for the technology is understandable. Clearly, it still has a long way to go to be fully integrated into the F-35’s concept of operations and the clarity of the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System, which has been a major sticking point in the past, along with the aircraft’s Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS), remains a major issue.

[Full Article]

F-35 Can’t Dogfight Well

By LEE FERRAN
July 1, 2015

The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive today, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”

The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace. Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting — whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its sights or trying to evade the F-16’s mock weapons.

[Full Article]

House Panel punts on A-10, Wants F-35 engine study

By Brian Everstine
April 30, 2014

The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill ignores the biggest budget fight of the year: the Air Force’s proposal to retire the A-10 attack jet and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.

The tactical air and land subcommittee’s markup of the bill, released Wednesday, does not mention A-10 or U-2 retirement. The Air Force recommends retiring the fleets to save money, but a group of lawmakers has vowed to block the move.

[Full Article]

Keeping A-10 means F-35 delays, F-16 cuts

By Brian Everstine
April 28, 2015

If not allowed to retire the A-10, the Air Force says it will have to send F-16s to the boneyard and delay plans for the F-35 because there aren’t enough airmen to maintain both fighters.

If lawmakers succeed in passing a bill requiring the Air Force to keep the A-10 in its fleet for another year, too few maintenance personnel would available to stand up the first operating unit of the F-35 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and even fewer to continue maintenance of the F-16, the service told congressional staff in a recent briefing. The base is expected to begin receiving F-35s later this year.

[Full Article]

New Red Alert for Billions-Over-Budget F-35 Fighter

By Brianna Ehley
April 27, 2015

Federal auditors are once again sounding alarms over the Pentagon’s embattled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has soared hundreds of billions of dollars over budget.

Besides being the Defense Department’s most expensive weapons program ever, countless problems with the F-35, including design and systematic issues, have continually pushed back the ready-for-combat date. It is now years behind schedule.

[Full Article]

David Axe Summarizes the F-35 Experience

By David Axe
April 25, 2015

From all the recent sounds of celebrating coming out of Washington, D.C., you might think the Pentagon’s biggest, priciest and most controversial warplane development had accelerated right past all its problems.

The price tag —currently an estimated $1 trillion to design, build and operate 2,400 copies—is steadily going down. Production of dozens of the planes a year for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps is getting easier. Daily flight tests increasingly are hitting all the right marks.

[Full Article]

F-35 Maintenance Software Comes Under Fire

By Sandra I. Erwin
April 24, 2015

The subpar performance of the F-35 logistics information system has been a concern for years. But it has now drawn the attention of key lawmakers who got an earful from Joint Strike Fighter maintenance crews during a recent visit to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

“The committee received numerous complaints and concerns by F-35 maintenance and operational personnel regarding the limitations, poor performance, poor design, and overall unsuitability of the ALIS software in its current form,” said the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on tactical air and land forces in its markup of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

[Full Article]

F-35 Engines Unreliable

by Anthony Capaccio
April 27, 2015

F-35 engines from United Technologies Corp. are proving so unreliable that U.S. plans to increase production of the fighter jet may be slowed, according to congressional auditors.

Data from flight tests evaluated by the Government Accountability Office show the reliability of engines from the company’s Pratt & Whitney unit is “very poor (less than half of what it should be) and has limited” progress for the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, the watchdog agency said in a report sent to lawmakers this month.

[Full Article]

F-35 exec’s plea to critics: look at jet’s full mission

By Brian Everstine
April 15, 2015

Decision-makers on Capitol Hill have lost sight of the full mission set of the F-35, and instead have focused on its inability to fully replicate the A-10 in close air support, the head of the Joint Strike Fighter program said Tuesday.

The F-35 cannot do close air support as well as the A-10, acknowledged Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program executive officer. It doesn’t have the time on station in a battle, or a gun as venerable as the Warthog’s GAU-8 Avenger. But it flies other missions, and it will improve, he said.

[Full Article]

Another F-35 Delay? Highly touted maintenance software doesn’t deliver

By Brian Everstine
April 15, 2015

The F-35’s highly touted, next-generation software system designed to detail maintenance issues on the jet is plagued with problems that could lead to more delays with the jet’s development.

The F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System is a program that a maintainer plugs into the jet, and it is expected to outline what is wrong and what is working, and to streamline the process of identifying replacement parts. It has been a touted as a game-changing technology to simplify the maintenance process for the new jet.

[Full Article]

Ship built by Navy for F35 needs significant upgrades

By Tyler Rogoway
April 13, 2015

The Navy’s USS America, the first of her class, was controversially optimized to handle the F-35, leaving out the multi-purpose well deck traditionally found on ‘Gator Navy’ flattops. Now, just months after her commissioning, she already needs 40 weeks of upgrades just to handle the very aircraft she was designed for.

The F-35 program has become something of a dark comedy. Yes, it has huge fiscal and national security implications, but sometimes you just have to laugh at how big of a fumbling mess it really is.

[Full Article]

USAF Plans for Radical F-35 Upgrade Reveal Obsolescence

By Giovanni de Briganti
April 8, 2015

PARIS — US Air Force plans to replace the F-35 fighter’s avionics, radar and engines are an implicit admission that the current aircraft is already obsolete and that, despite a unit cost of over $250 million, it cannot match the latest foreign fighters coming into service.

This is the first time a customer acknowledges that the obsolescence of the F-35’s sensors has degraded the aircraft’s still unproven nominal capabilities to the point that a radical upgrade is necessary, more than a year before it enters service.

[Full Article]

F-35 needs a bigger, more powerful engine

Dave Majumdar, Chris Kjelgaard
March 27, 2015

Upgraded future versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could replace the stealthy jet’s Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan with a new adaptive cycle engine. The current F135 engine is at the limits of its capabilities and can’t push the jet out to the outer edges of its airframes capabilities—especially at low speeds.

“Our adaptive cycle design architecture is designed around F-35, and we’re designing it somewhat more aggressively than today’s standard F-35 requirements,” Dan McCormick, general manager of General Electric Aviation’s Advanced Combat Engine program, told The National Interest. “They want higher speeds and they just can’t get the heat off the airplane. They’ve told us they want unrestricted flight envelope operation.”

[Full Article]

F-35 still years away from being ready for combat

By: Mandy Smithberger
March 12, 2015

The F-35 continues to fail the most basic requirements for combat aircraft and commonsense. Despite reforms, the F-35 continues to be unaffordable, its engines continue to be susceptible to fire, and the Pentagon continues to misrepresent its performance. Below are just a few of the issues identified in a recent report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E)

[Full Article]

The F-35 is Still FUBAR

By AJ Vicens
Mar. 17, 2015

Originally slated to cost $233 billion, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could end up being costing more than $1.5 trillion. Which might not be so bad if the super-sophisticated next-generation jet fighter lives up to its hype. A recent report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation paints a pretty damning picture of the plane’s already well documented problems. The report makes for some pretty dense reading, but the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group that’s long criticized the F-35 program, has boiled down the major issues.

[Full Article]

Not Ready for Prime Time DOT&E Report: The F-35 is not ready for IOC and won’t be any time soon

March 12, 2015

Inside-the-Beltway wisdom holds that the $1.4 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is too big to cancel and on the road to recovery. But the latest report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) provides a litany of reasons that conventional wisdom should be considered politically driven propaganda. The press has already reported flawed software that hinders the ability of the plane to employ weapons, communicate information, and detect threats; maintenance problems so severe that the F-35 has an “overdependence” on contractor maintainers and “unacceptable workarounds” (behind paywall) and is only able to fly twice a week; and a high-rate, premature production schedule that ignores whether the program has demonstrated essential combat capabilities or proven it’s safe to fly. All of these problems are increasing costs and risks to the program. Yet rather than slow down production to focus resources on fixing these critical problems, Congress used the year-end continuing resolution omnibus appropriations bill—termed the “cromnibus”—to add 4 additional planes to the 34 Department of Defense (DoD) budgeted for Fiscal Year 2015. The original FY2016 plan significantly increased the buy to 55, and now the program office is further accelerating its purchase of these troubled planes to buy 57 instead.

[full article]

Little “Fighter” That Couldn’t: Moral Hazard and the F-35

By Tony Carr
March 16, 2015

As Air Force senior officials prepare for posture hearings this week with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the subject of modernization promises to be front and center. Core to that discussion will almost certainly be the limping, $1.4 trillion F-35 program.

Belying the conventional wisdom, which touts the Joint Strike Fighter as something of a futuristic aerial Swiss army knife, the F-35 is proving to be little more than a dull, bent, and unwieldy butter knife — a jack of no trades, master of only one: burning through taxpayer dollars at a rate that would embarrass Croesus.

[full article]

Marine Corp to put flawed F-35 into service

SANDRA I. ERWIN, NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE
MAR. 27, 2015

The biggest story this year so far in the F-35 joint strike fighter world is not the soaring cost of the aircraft — a problem that appears to have been contained, according to the program manager — but the determination of the Marine Corps to put the aircraft into service even though its mission software is unfinished and cracks surfaced in one of its main bulkheads.

[full article]

 

F-35 pilots are seeing double, but it’s the plane that’s drunk

by Daniel Cooper
March 25th 2015

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be stealthy, powerful and expensive, but the plane’s greatest threat isn’t the enemy. Instead, engineers have discovered a software glitch that gives these new super fighters the technological equivalent of double vision. F-35s are equipped with Advanced Sensor Fusion, a system that’s designed to collate sensor data from all of the planes and combine them into one big picture. If you have 10 jets zooming around, all of the allied pilots and commanders will, theoretically, be able to see everything that’s going on.

[Full Article]

Government watchdog group wants delay in Vermont F-35 basing decision

An independent government watchdog group in Washington D.C. has asked the Air Force to put off a decision to base a squadron of F-35s in Vermont because of ongoing safety concerns regard about the fledgling fighter jet.

“It is irresponsible for you to rush to beddown this immature aircraft in a residential zone,” Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, wrote in a Nov. 6 letter to the acting Air Force secretary and chief of staff. “If you believe there is indeed some urgency, then you should not endanger the local population and should follow past precedent and place the F-35A in a less dangerous location,” Brian said in the letter. One of the group’s founding advisers is Pierre Sprey, a former designer of military aircraft who has made two appearances in Burlington on behalf of foes of the F-35. The Air Force has designated the Vermont Air National Guard facility at Burlington International Airport in South Burlington as the preferred Air Guard site over Guard bases in South Carolina and Florida. A final basing decision by the Air Force is expected shortly.

Brian’s letter said her organization obtained information from an Air Force official indicating the F-35 will have logged only 300,000 hours of training and operational flight time by 2020, when the basing in Vermont would begin. Vermont Air National Guard officials have said they believe the plane will have flown 750,000 hours by 2020. “We strongly urge you to delay selecting a location for the F-35A’s operational beddown until the aircraft has logged a significant number of flying hours and until its safety record has been demonstrated,” Brian wrote.

Full article: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131125/NEWS02/311250033/Government-watchdog-group-wants-delay-in-Vt-F-35-basing

F35: “Loads up like a bomb truck”

“It loads up like a bomb truck with the world’s deadliest air to ground weapons.”

As F-16 designer Pierre Sprey said in 2013, the F-35 will be used as a high altitude bomber.

Watch this 3 minute F-35 promotion video to learn more.

Watchdog report deals another blow to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News

Hundreds of problems continue to plague the troubled Joint Strike Fighter, potentially calling into question the basic performance and reliability of the costliest weapons program in U.S. history, the Defense Department’s inspector general charges in a new report.

In a 16-month investigation that began in February 2012, the inspector general’s office — an agency within the Pentagon responsible for investigating allegations of waste, fraud, security lapses and other misconduct — identified more than 360 quality “issues” with the F-35 Lightning II — with 147 of them classified as “major.”

Read full article:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/01/20777728-watchdog-report-deals-another-blow-to-f-35-joint-strike-fighter?lite

Will It Fly?

The Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons system ever developed. It is plagued by design flaws and cost overruns. It flies only in good weather. The computers that run it lack the software they need for combat. No one can say for certain when the plane will work as advertised. Until recently, the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, was operating with a free hand—paid handsomely for its own mistakes. Looking back, even the general now in charge of the program can’t believe how we got to this point. In sum: all systems go!

 

VT Digger: F-35’s in Vermont 10 Reasons to say no

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

South Burlington VT

In his Op-Ed, Steve Allen writes, “The Air Force recently released a revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement, relating to proposed basing of the F-35s in Vermont, and are soliciting input from the public until July 15. There are passionate advocates on both sides of this debate and everyone is encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to express their views. I oppose the basing. Here are 10 reasons why.”

Click here to read Mr. Allen’s complete article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

stop the F-35 documentary Movie excerpt: Vermont F-35 Sound Demonstration

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Burlington VT

Film documentarian, Corey Hendrickson, released this short 3 minute 12 second excerpt which details the recent F-35 Sound Demonstration directed at Burlington Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin respective offices in Vermont’s largest city and the state capitol.

Click here to watch the video excerpt.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Vermont Commons: Citizens’ Hearing on F-35 draws hundreds

Citizens Hearing (Burlington, Dylan Kelley, 2013)011-420x280

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Burlington VT

(sorry folks I missed this earlier but very well crafted article by journalist Dylan Kelley)

Vermont Commons Dylan Kelley reports on the recent Citizens’ Hearing held to a capacity crowd at Burlington’s Unitarian Universalist Church (atop Church Street) on May 30th, 2013.

Click here for the complete article.

An excerpt: “Most compelling of the speakers on Friday evening was “Gramma” Carmine Sargent, a resident of the South Burlington and emerging leader of the growing movement to stop the expensive aircraft so near to affected communities. “There could’ve been a better way to do this” said Carmine as she acknowledged the false logic of the aircraft’s property de-valuing affect in a region already stressed by low housing availability and homelessness. Emotionally recalling the slow decline of her neighborhood on the 41st anniversary of moving into her home, Carmine recalled the feeling of a community hollowed out “I felt like my little area of the world became little Detroit. I felt like I was a bystander in my own life. The F-35 feels like the final act of bringing the wrecking ball to our neighborhood: Our homes are our greatest assets, we deserve a say in what happens.” In closing, Sargent set a new bar for both the tone of the movement to oppose the F-35 as well as those passionately taking stances on other issues around the Green Mountain State, underscoring the point of the growing movement was not about being anti-military or anti-development, but pro-community: “It’s time to talk about what we’re for, not just what we’re against” she said, drawing enormous cheers and a standing ovation from the packed sanctuary of the U.U.”

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Breaking Defense: Top Official Admits F-35 Stealth Fighter Secrets Stolen

marine-corps-f-35b-vertical-landing-at-night-sddf35testb193

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Washington DC

Journalist Sydney J Freedberg Jr. reports “Yesterday, at a subcommittee hearing attended by just half a dozen Senators, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer made a blunt admission: The military’s most expensive program, the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been hacked and the stolen data used by America’s adversaries. Under Secretary Frank Kendall didn’t say by whom, but the answer is almost certainly China,

“So what does this mean for a future conflict? The nightmare — raised by a recent Defense Science Board report – is what you might call the Battlestar Galactica scenario: Our fighters close in on the enemy, the bad guys push a button, and all our systems shut down, crippled by cyber-attacks via “back doors” previous hacks created in the security software. In this case, thankfully, that seems unlikely. Kendall made clear that classified data has remained secure (so far, we think): It’s unclassified data in contractors’ computers that has been stolen, not the military’s secret codes.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now

Breaking Defense: Senator Dick Durbin wanted to hear “if any alternative (to the F-35) is being considered for a less costly fighter.”

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Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Washington, DC

Journalist Otto Kreisher reports, “In his first major initiative as chairman of the crucial subcommittee Sen. Dick Durbin noted that the F-35 “has had more than its share of problems” and served as “a text book example” of the Pentagon’s procurement woes. Durbin challenged the witnesses to tell him what they have learned from this experience and what they were doing to ensure it would not be repeated. He also wanted to hear “if any alternative is being considered for a less costly fighter.”

He received a mixed answer to the first set of questions. But on the second, there was agreement even among the program critics that it would be impractical and wasteful to start over again after investing more than 12 years and $44 billion on the Lockheed-built jet.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now

VTDigger: F-35 To Vastly Increase Crash Risk

images-3

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Montpelier, VT

South Burlington Attorney, Jimmy Leas, states, “the much higher crash rate expectation for the F-35, if more clearly presented, obviously militates against a site like Burlington — with 1,400 homes in the crash zones — accepting the F-35 in the first basing round when anticipate crash risk is at its absolute highest level.”

Click her to read the article

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now

BFP: More Errors Found in the Recently Revised Environmental Impact Statement (REIS)

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Burlington VT

Journalist, John Briggs, reports that the revised Environmental Impact Statement released on May 30th, 2013 contains more errors.

The Air Force said that an updated “public comment response matrix and alphabetized list of public commenters” were not included in the updated print and CD versions of the reportreleased in May. Those versions were distributed across the country to “local libraries and citizens who asked to be placed on the mailing list at public meetings.”

“The response matrix allows recipients to view public comments made during the original public comment period,” the Air Force said.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now

Seven Days: F-35 Air Force Number Crunchers added as “Losers” in its weekly scoreboard for botching that,in fact, opponents of the F-35 being based in Vermont far outweigh supporters

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Burlington VT

In Seven Days popular column entitled, ‘This Week’s Scoreboard Winners and Losers” journalist Paul Heintz notes under the “Losers” column reports “Air Force number crunchers — Honest mistake or not, now’s a bad time for the the Air Force to bungle the numbers of how many people sent supportive comments about basing the F-35 in South Burlington. Credibility gap much?”

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now

wptz nbc affiliate reports: F-35 opponents receive blank scoring sheets from the United States Air Force

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Burlington VT

WPTZ-TV, our local NBC affiliate, is reporting that opponents request for scoring sheets comparing Burlington to 205 other basing sites around the country were denied under a Frredom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Opponents subsequently received the 205 scoring sheets but upon arrival all information was whited out.

And journalist, David Charns, further reports on deepening opposition emanating from 16 local religious leaders.

See Mr. Charns’s report here.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

VT Digger: F-35 Supporter, Frank Cioffi President of the GBIC, believes petitions should be included in gauging public opinion

Thursday, 13th, 2013

South Burlington, VT

VTDigger journalist, John Herrick reports:

Nicholas Germanos, a civilian project manager at Langley AFB in Virginia who worked on the environmental impact statement, said that signatures attached to petitions, pro or con, submitted during the public comment period are not used to calculate public support for the project. Mr. Germanos,  said the wording on Cioffi’s petition inaccurately assumed that the F-35 is necessary for the survival of the Air National Guard. He said petitions often make general or inaccurate statements.

“That was an incorrect assumption to be stated in the petition. There was never an Air Force statement that the F-35 was necessary to save the Guard, as the title of the petition indicated,” Germanos said.

He said some petitions were circulated throughout New England and are not representative of those who may be affected by the project.

“It really wasn’t an accurate portrayal of the public’s views on the possible beddown,” Germanos said.

Click here to read the complete article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

 

 

 

Film Excerpt: F-16 and A-10 Co-Designer, Pierre Sprey, speaks out in Burlington Vermont about the F-35 Warplane for an upcoming documentary

images-3

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

South Burlington, VT

On his recent visit to Burlington VT, Warplane Designer , Pierre Sprey, speaks out against the F-35.

Click here to see this short excerpt of what will be a full length film soon to be released called the F-35 Movie.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

 

BFP Letters To The Editor: “The Six Minute” Myth by Steve Allen

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Burlington VT

The ‘six minute’ myth

One of the most troubling examples of misinformation, repeated over and over by supporters of the F-35 basing, including Gov. Shumlin, is that it’s only “six minutes a day, four days a week.” This false and misleading statement is then used to demonstrate the impact of the F-35’s as a minor inconvenience.

Here are the facts. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) states that the basing would involve up to 7,296 operations per year, over 260 flying days. The damaging noise levels would be repeated up to 28 times every day the F-35s fly; during their operational schedule between 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

The EIS does not state that operations are “only six minutes a day, four days a week.” The excessive noise will be a repeated, aggravating presence because of both the frequency of operations and the much higher noise levels. How loud are the F-35s? Over three times louder than the F-16s.

On an equivalent decibel level, the noise produced by these jets is in the range of a jackhammer and a loud rock concert — noise levels so high that both the Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration have policies that state that residential uses are “not compatible” in these zones.

An honest debate about the F-35s needs to be based on facts, not misinformation. Don’t accept the myth of “it’s just six minutes a day.”

STEVE ALLEN

Winooski

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Breaking News!!!!!!!!!!!! BFP: Air Force: We Overstated F-35 Support For Burlington Vermont

bilde

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Burlington VT

News Outlets across Vermont are reporting that the United States Air Force now acknowledges that opponents to the basing of the F-35’s in Vermont out number supporters of the warplanes.

BFP journalist John Briggs reports that the Air Force’s revised and updated Environmental Impact Statement just released (May 31st, 2013) incorrectly reported that supporters for basing the F-35 Warplanes at the Burlington International Airport outnumbered opponents by a wide margin of 8-2.

Nicholas Germanos, case study officer, at Langley Air Force base in Virginia admitted today that, “opponents of the F-35 basing at the Burlington Air Guard Station far outnumber supporters: “65 percent of the comments collected during the 2012 public-comment period are opposed to the F-35 basing decision for Burlington.”

Germanos states, “(he)was unclear how the error had occurred”. Germanos goes on to say, “the document was reviewed by the Air Force prior to publication and the error was discovered and was supposed to be corrected, but it wasn’t”.

Click here to read the article

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Center for Media & Democracy: F-35: A Citizens’ Hearing Recorded in Burlington Vermont

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Burlington VT

The Center for Media & Democracy (Channel 17) recorded the recent public gathering at The Unitarian Universalist Church on May 30th, 2013 in Burlington Vermont entitled, “F-35: A Citizens’ Hearing”

Click to watch the program here.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Vermont Digger: Vermont Air Guard Offers Its Side of the Story. Colonel Greco (ret.) Disputes Their Claims

f-35

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Burlington Vermont

“Basing the F-35 fighter jet at Burlington International Airport will enable the Vermont Air National Guard to continue to serve national and state emergency needs”, Guard officials said Thursday.

Click here to read Vermont Digger journalist, John Herrick’s, article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

WPTZ: Chris Hurd and Ernie Pomerleau speak out on opposite sides of Andrew Cockburn’s article in Harper’s Magazine

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Burlington VT

NBC Affiliate WPTZ-TV journalist, David Charns, reports on the magnitude of today’s Harper’s Magazine article by Andrew Cockburn about the basing of the F-35 Warplanes in Burlington Vermont.

Watch the video feed here

A portion of the article reads, “The Air Force and the FAA later acknowledged that the consequent noise rendered nearby areas ‘unfit for residential use,’ which led to a federally funded program for the voluntary buyout and subsequent demolition of almost 200 homes beginning in 2008. The relevant properties were then eligible to be rezoned for commercial use — a most desirable development for such paragons of the local commercial real-estate fraternity as Ernie Pomerleau, president of Pomerleau Realty and uncle to the spouse of fifty-one years of Patrick Leahy.”

“How they connected the dots of Sen. Patrick Leahy and myself doing a thing about building at the airport? I’m actively involved at the airport,” Pomerleau said.

Pomerleau sits on the Airport’s Strategic Planning Commission.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Harper’s Magazine: Flight of the Discords by Andrew Cockburn

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Washington DC

Journalist, Andrew Cockburn, reports in a national level article on the deepening opposition to the basing of F-35 Warplanes in Burlington Vermont.

Please read Mr. Cockburn’s article, Flight of the Discords here:

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Time Magazine: F-35 Price Fixing – On Final Approach to Fighter Fiscal Sanity (Part 5 of 5)

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Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Washington DC

Time Magazine is publishing a 5 part series on the F-35 this week. The journalist, Winslow Wheeler, is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington, DC. He has authored two books: The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages National Security (US Naval Institute Press) and Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press).

Here is part 5 in this 5 part series.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Time Magazine: F-35 Price Fixing – Different Planes, Common Problems (Part 4 of 5)

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Thursday June 6th, 2013

Washington DC

Time Magazine is publishing a 5 part series on the F-35 this week. The journalist, Winslow Wheeler, is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington, DC. He has authored two books: The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages National Security (US Naval Institute Press) and Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press).

Here is part 4 in this 5 part series.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

America’s War Games: People & Power

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Washington DC

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a textbook case of a Pentagon procurement project that reveals why it is difficult to cut the defence budget. Three versions of the F-35 are being built for the Air Force, Navy and Marines by Lockheed Martin, the largest defence contractor in the US. The F-35 is the most expensive military weapons programme in US history, bigger than the Manhattan Project that produced nuclear weapons.

The F-35 was sold as a programme that would cost $226bn for about 2,900 aircrafts. It is now seven years behind schedule, and the price has increased almost 100 percent to $400bn for only 2,400 fighters. At least another $1 trillion will be required for operations and maintenance of the F-35 over its lifetime.

Pierre Sprey, an aircraft engineer and analyst who was one of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s ‘whizz kids’ in the 1960s, believes that the project should be cancelled or “there will be so little money left over for anything that’s needed, it’ll be unbelievable. They’ll be cutting people, pilots, training, everything just to pay for this thing.”

Click here to watch this 25 minute video.

Chuck Spinney, who worked as an analyst in the US secretary of defence’s office for 26 years, believes it is difficult for the United States to reap the benefits of a peace dividend because of the workings of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his final 1961 address.

“It’s what in Washington we call an iron triangle,” Spinney says, ” you have an alliance between the private sector, the defence contractors, the executive branch, in this case the Pentagon, and the legislative branch.”

Everyone benefits from expensive procurement projects – the Pentagon gets weapons, defence companies get to make profits, and politicians get re-elected by funding armaments that generate jobs for constituents and campaign contributions from defence companies.

The result, according to Spinney, is a defence budget “that is packed to the gills with weapons we don’t need, with weapons that are underestimated in their future costs”.

The Pentagon and defence contractors low-ball costs and exaggerate performance in the early stages of a project to “turn on the money spigot”. Then the companies engage in “political engineering,” they spread the contracts and employment for a weapon around to as many Congressional districts as possible. They do that, Spinney says, so that once cost-overruns and performance problems become apparent, “you can’t do anything about it [because] there’s too much political support”.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

F-35 News From Around The World: Canada’s CBC-TV’s The Runaway Fighter

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Toronto, Canada

Investigative Journalist, Gillian Findlay, reports in this brilliant 45 minute exposè on the F-35 troubles in Canada. Notice the parallels with our struggles…

Click here to watch this investigative report.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

F-35 News From Around The World: Canada’s CBC-TV Interviews Pierre Sprey Co-Designer of The F-16 and A-10 Warplanes

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Toronto, Canada

Investigative Journalist, Gillian Findlay, interviews F-16 and A-10 Warplane Designer Pierre Sprey in this 10 minute interview.

Click here to watch the interview

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Time Magazine: F-35 Price Fixing – The Deadly Empirical Data (Part 3 of 5)

Cruisin’

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Washington DC

Time Magazine is publishing a 5 part series on the F-35 this week. The journalist, Winslow Wheeler, is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington, DC. He has authored two books: The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages National Security (US Naval Institute Press) and Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press).

Here is Part 3 in the series.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Time Magazine: F-35 Price Fixing – Alphabet Soup: PAUCs, APUCs, URFs, Cost Variances and Other Pricing Dodges (part 2 of 5)

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Tuesday June 4th, 2013

Washington DC

Time Magazine is publishing a 5 part series on the F-35 this week. The journalist, Winslow Wheeler, is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington, DC. He has authored two books: The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages National Security (US Naval Institute Press) and Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press).

Here is Part 2 in the series

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Time Magazine: F-35 Price Fixing – The New Era of Good F-35 Feelings (part 1 of 5)

AF-7 Flight 185

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Washington DC

Time Magazine is publishing a 5 part series on the F-35 this week. The journalist, Winslow Wheeler, is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington, DC. He has authored two books: The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages National Security (US Naval Institute Press) and Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press).

Here is Part 1 in his series

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Way To Go BFP: Asks Tough Questions of Vermont Delegation, Governor and Burlington’s Mayor on F-35

images-2

Tuesday June 4th, 2013

Burlington, VT

Journalist, John Briggs reports that the Burlington Free Press has sent numerous detailed and specific questions to Senators Patrick Leahy, Bernard Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, and Burlington Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger emanating from a meeting with aviation designer Pierre Sprey, USAF Col. Rosanne Greco (ret.) and Chris Hurd and from Friday’s revised Air Force Environmental Impact Statement. The Free Press has specifically asked for individual responses from Vermont’s top political leadership rather than their unified joint comments with a June 12th deadline for responses.

We wholeheartedly applaud the journalists and leadership at the Burlington Free Press. This is a shining star example of the important role a FREE press plays in our democracy!

Click here to read the entire list of questions the Burlington Free Press sent to Vermont’s Political Elite Leadership all steadfast supporters for bringing the F-35’s to Vermont.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately. We need you to become involved right now!

Reader Supported News RSN: Air Force Admits F-35 Errors

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Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Burlington VT

he Air Force has admitted that its critics in Vermont have been right all along – that basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in Burlington, the state’s only area with population at urban-concentration levels, will render thousands more homes “unsuitable for residential use” than originally estimated.

Journalist, William Boardman, reports in this article.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Associated Press: Opponents in Vermont F-35 Debate Ready and Willing For Discussion

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Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Burlington VT

Opponents are ready to meet with Senators Patrick Leahy, Bernard Sanders, Congressman Welch, Vermont Governor Shumlin, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien (supporters all) anywhere, anytime about the basing of F-35 Warplanes at BTV.

Wilson Ring of the Associated writes in his article released a few hours ago

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence – Citizens’ Hearing Draws Hundreds

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Burlington Vermont

Several hundred citizens of Chittenden County gathered at Burlington’s Unitarian Universalist Church Thursday evening to conduct a “citizens hearing” and express their ever-increasing opposition to the coming arrival of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. From the moment of BTV’s selection as a home base for the new aircraft, citizens from nearby Burlington; South Burlington; Winooski; and others have been passionately and diligently organizing to prevent the arrival of the world’s most expensive weapons platform at the Vermont Air Guard headquarters of Burlington International Airport.

Read the article here.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Burlington Free Press: Air Force Releases Revised F-35 Study For Burlington Vermont Basing

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Burlington VT

This important article appeared in today’s BFP written by John Briggs. In the article, the journalist reveals what opposition forces have been railing against all along. That these numbers were “fudged” using outdated census information, as the Boston Globe article pointed out, five weeks ago and that the actual numbers should, in fact, be much higher. Here is your proof!

Pierre Sprey who spoke at The Citizens’ Hearing last Thursday said actual noise will be much, much worse than what the Air Force is willing to admit to even in these revised Environmental Impact Statement numbers because of the necessary use of afterburners which will be mind bendingly and deafeningly loud.

If you have questions or concerns or want to get involved go to our HOW CAN I HELP? section at this top of this page!! WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU AND WE WANT YOU TO GET INVOLVED RIGHT NOW! WE NEED YOU!

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

F-35 Opponents Cite Safety, Health and Environmental Concerns

May 29th, 2013

South Burlington, VT

An article by journalist John Herrick of Vermont Digger:

In a neighborhood dubbed, “Little Detroit” by a resident who lives there Vermont residents voiced their opposition to bringing next-generation Air Force fighter jets to South Burlington amid the rain and echo of passing F-16s Wednesday.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Vermont Digger reports: Former Fighter Jet Designer Voices Concern Over Basing F-35 in Vermont

May 31st, 2013

Burlington VT

Vermont Digger journalist, John Herrick, reports that a former designer of Air Force fighter jets added his voice to the chorus of opposition to basing a next-generation war plane at Burlington International Airport.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

North Country Public Radio: Hundreds Gather in Burlington to Protest Against Basing F-35 Warplanes

May 30th, 2013

North Country Public Radio reports that hundreds gather in Burlington to protest against basing F-35’s in Burlington Vermont.

Once in the article click on the “Listen To This Story” button.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

WPTZ Channel 5 NBC affiliate: Military Designer, Leahy Speak Out on The F-35 in Burlington VT

On May 30th, Pierre Sprey, co-designer of the F-16 and A-10 Warplanes came to Burlington Vermont to speak at The F-35: A Citizens’ Hearing at the Unitarian Universalist Church at the top of Church Street to a packed house to the rafters.

Here is new footage from Channel 5

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb Interviews The Architect of the F-16 Warplane. Calls F-35 “A Combat Turkey”

On May 30th, 2013, Mitch Wertlieb of Vermont Public Radio’s Morning Edition interviewed Pierre Sprey, co-designer of the F-16 and A-10 Warplanes to ask him his opinions based upon his expertise and experience about the F-35 which Mr. Sprey called “a combat turkey”.

Click on this link to open and then click the “listen” button.

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Pierre Sprey and USAF Col Rosanne Greco TV Interview at Center for Media and Democracy

On May 30th, 2013 F-16 co-designer Pierre Sprey visited Burlington Vermont to speak at The Citizens’ Hearing at the Unitarian Church along with USAF Col Rosanne Greco. This interview entitled, “The F-35 Jet – Dispelling the Myths with interviewer Matt Kelly.

Please watch this important video!

The F-35 Fighter Jet – Dispelling the Myths

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

Chris Hurd’s F-35 TV Interview with Richard Kemp at The Center for Media & Democracy

Filmed on May 24th, 2013 in Burlington Vermont. Mr. Hurd discusses with Mr. Kemp F-35 Warplanes and their impact on the residents, neighborhoods, communities around Burlington Vermont, our economy and “fudging”.

Check out this TV show!

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

The Jet That Ate The Pentagon – Brave New Foundations (8 minute film)

The most expensive weapons system in the history of the United States of America!

Click here to watch the film…now run and get some popcorn!

Please call me (Chris Hurd) at 802.238.5256 so I can get your name, email address and phone number so we can be in two way communication immediately.

 

 

Fail! The $400 Billion Military Jet That Can’t Fly in Cloudy Weather

By William Boardman
AlterNet

The F-35 joint strike fighter is an unbelievable failure, and the perfect illustration of everything that’s wrong with our military industrial complex.

According to one of its supporters, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is not “what our troops need,” is “too costly” and “poorly managed,” and its “present difficulties are too numerous to detail.”

The F-35 is a case study of government failure at all levels – civilian and military, federal, state, local, even airport authority. Not one critical government agency is meeting its obligation to protect the people it presumably represents. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who wrote the F-35 critique above, is hardly unique as an illustration of how government fails, but he sees no alternative to failure.

Up for re-election in 2014 and long a supporter of basing the F-35 in Vermont, Leahy put those thoughts in a letter to a constituent made public March 13. This is Leahy’s most recent public communication since December 2012, when he refused to meet with opponents of the F-35 and his web site listed a page of “public discussion” events mostly from the spring, including private briefings with public officials, without responding to any substantive issues.

The F-35 is a nuclear-capable weapon of mass destruction that was supposed to be the “fighter of the future” when it was undertaken in 2001. Now, more than a decade overdue and more than 100% over budget, the plane is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over its useful life, of which about $400 billion has already been spent.

[…]

SOURCE

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

By MARK THOMPSON
TIME

Marine Major Aric “Walleye” Liberman was uncharacteristically modest for a Navy SEAL turned fighter pilot. He had just landed an F-35–one of the 2,457 jets the Pentagon plans to buy for $400 billion, making it the costliest weapons program in human history–at its initial operational base late last year. Amid celebratory hoopla, he declined photographers’ requests to give a thumbs-up for the cameras that sunny day in Yuma, Ariz. “No, no, no,” he demurred with a smile.

Liberman’s reticence was understandable. For while the Marines hailed his arrival as a sign that their initial F-35 squadron is now operational, there’s one sticking point. “It’s an operational squadron,” a Marine spokesman said. “The aircraft is not operational.”

The F-35, designed as the U.S. military’s lethal hunter for 21st century skies, has become the hunted, a poster child for Pentagon profligacy in a new era of tightening budgets. Instead of the stars and stripes of the U.S. Air Force emblazoned on its fuselage, it might as well have a bull’s-eye. Its pilots’ helmets are plagued with problems, it hasn’t yet dropped or fired weapons, and the software it requires to go to war remains on the drawing board.

That’s why when Liberman landed his F-35 before an appreciative crowd, including home-state Senator John McCain, he didn’t demonstrate its most amazing capability: landing like a helicopter using its precision-cast titanium thrust-vectoring nozzle. That trick remains reserved for test pilots, not operational plane drivers like him.

The price tag, meanwhile, has nearly doubled since 2001, to $396 billion. Production delays have forced the Air Force and Navy to spend at least $5 billion to extend the lives of existing planes. The Marine Corps–the cheapest service, save for its love of costly jump jets (which take off and land almost vertically) for its pet aircraft carriers–have spent $180 million on 74 used British AV-8 jets for spare parts to keep their Reagan-era Harriers flying until their version of the F-35 truly comes online. Allied governments are increasingly weighing alternatives to the F-35.

But the accounting is about to get even worse as concern over spending on the F-35 threatens other defense programs. On March 1, if lawmakers cannot reach a new budget deal, the Pentagon faces more than $500 billion in spending cuts in the form of sequestration, which translates into a 10% cut in projected budgets over the coming decade. Two years ago, the White House predicted that those cuts would be so onerous to defense-hawk Republicans that they would never happen. But the GOP is now split, with a growing number of members who are more concerned about the deficit than defense.

“We are spending maybe 45% of the world’s budget on defense. If we drop to 42% or 43%, would we be suddenly in danger of some kind of invasion?” asked Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and part of a new breed of deficit hawks who talk of spending as a bigger threat than war. “We’re bankrupting our country, and it’s going to put us in danger.”

House Republican leaders have started to speak of the military cuts as inevitable. President Obama has warned that without a new plan from Congress, there will be “tough decisions in the weeks ahead,” like the recent announcement that an aircraft-carrier deployment to the Persian Gulf will be delayed to save money.

The sad irony is that cutting the F-35 at this point won’t save much money in the near term, because the Pentagon recently pushed nearly $5 billion in F-35 contracts out the door. Yet sequester-mandated cuts will push both the purchase of additional planes and their required testing into the future with an inevitable result: the cost of each plane will rise even higher. Unfortunately, that won’t be anything new for the F-35 Lightning II.

How Did We Get Here?

The single-engine, single-seat f-35 is a real-life example of the adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Think of it as a flying Swiss Army knife, able to engage in dogfights, drop bombs and spy. Tweaking the plane’s hardware makes the F-35A stealthy enough for the Air Force, the F-35B’s vertical-landing capability lets it operate from the Marines’ amphibious ships, and the Navy F-35C’s design is beefy enough to endure punishing carrier operations.

“We’ve put all our eggs in the F-35 basket,” said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn. Given that, one might think the military would have approached the aircraft’s development conservatively. In fact, the Pentagon did just the opposite. It opted to build three versions of a single plane averaging $160 million each (challenge No. 1), agreed that the planes should be able to perform multiple missions (challenge No. 2), then started rolling them off the assembly line while the blueprints were still in flux–more than a decade before critical developmental testing was finished (challenge No. 3). The military has already spent $373 million to fix planes already bought; the ultimate repair bill for imperfect planes has been estimated at close to $8 billion.

Back in 2002, Edward Aldridge, then the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said the F-35 was “setting new standards for technological advances” and “rewriting the books on acquisition and business practices.” His successor voiced a different opinion last year. “This will make a headline if I say it, but I’m going to say it anyway,” Frank Kendall said. “Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done.”

The Pentagon and its allies say the need for the F-35 was so dire that the plane had to be built as it was being designed. (More than a decade into its development, blueprints are changing about 10 times a day, seven days a week.) “The technological edge of the American tactical air fleet is only about five years, and both Russia and China are fielding fifth-generation fighters of their own,” argues Tom Donnelly, a defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “Preserving the cumulative quantity-quality advantage requires that the United States field a full fleet of fifth-generation fighters now.”

Others suggest that no nation is close to fielding weapons in sufficient quality and quantity to challenge U.S. air dominance anytime soon and that the rush to develop the F-35 was more internal than external. “There’s always this sexual drive for a new airplane on the part of each service,” says Tom Christie, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester from 2001 to 2005. “Persistent, urgent and natural.”

The resulting bastard child was a compromise, not optimum for any one service but good enough for all three. Neither the Air Force nor the Navy liked its stubby design. The F-35C’s squat fuselage puts its tailhook close to its landing gear (7 ft., compared with 18 on the F-18 it is replacing), making it tough to grab the arresting cable on an aircraft carrier. Its short range means aircraft carriers ferrying it into battle will have to sail close to enemy shores if the F-35C is to play a role. It can fly without lumbering aerial tankers only by adding external fuel tanks, which erases the stealthiness that is its prime war-fighting asset.

Cramming the three services into the program reduced management flexibility and put the taxpayer in a fiscal headlock. Each service had the leverage generated by threatening to back out of the program, which forced cost into the backseat, behind performance. “The Air Force potentially could have adopted the Navy variant, getting significantly more range and structural durability,” says John Young Jr., a top Navy and Pentagon civilian official from 2001 to 2009. “But the Air Force leadership refused to consider such options.”

Yet if the Navy, and Young, were upset with the Air Force, the Air Force was upset with the Marines. “This is a jobs program for Marine aviation,” says retired general Merrill McPeak, Air Force chief of staff from 1990 to 1994. “The idea that we could produce a committee design that is good for everybody is fundamentally wrong.” He scoffs at the Marine demand for a plane that can land vertically, saying, “The idea of landing on a beach and supporting your troops close up from some improvised airfield, à la Guadalcanal, is not going to happen.”

Focused on waging two post-9/11 wars, the Pentagon let the F-35 program drift as costs ballooned and schedules slipped for a decade. The Marines’ F-35 was supposed to be capable of waging war in April 2010, the Air Force’s in June 2011 and the Navy’s in April 2012. In a break with Pentagon custom, there now is no such “initial operating capability” date for any of them; each is likely to be delayed several years.

Regardless of the plane’s merit, the lawmakers pushing for it are hardly disinterested observers. The then 48 members of the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, many of whom sit on key Pentagon-overseeing panels, pocketed twice as much as nonmembers in campaign contributions from the F-35’s top contractors in the 2012 election cycle. Those lawmakers’ constituents, in turn, hold many of the F-35 program’s 133,000 jobs spread across 45 states. (F-35 builder Lockheed Martin says jobs will double once the plane enters full production.)

Complicating matters further, the Pentagon and Lockheed have been at war with each other for years. Air Force Lieut. General Christopher Bogdan, a senior Pentagon F-35 manager, declared last summer that the relationship was “the worst I’ve ever seen–and I’ve been in some bad ones.” But the two sides insist the worst is now behind them. Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said last month that the aircraft has topped 5,000 flight hours, stepped up its flight-test schedule and is steadily pushing into new corners of its flight envelope. “Our maturing production line, operational-base stand-up and expanded pilot training are all strong indicators of the F-35 program’s positive trajectory,” she said. Deliveries of fresh F-35s more than doubled in 2012, to 30 planes.

Pilots love the F-35. There are few gauges, buttons or knobs in the cockpit. “What you have in front of you is a big touchscreen display–it’s an interface for the iPad generation,” says Marine Colonel Arthur Tomassetti, an F-35 test pilot. “You have an airplane that with very small movements of your left and right hand does what you want it to do. And if you don’t want it to do anything, it stays where you left it.” That makes it easy to fly. “I’m watching the emerald-colored sea up against the white sand,” Tomassetti says of his flights from Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. “I remember lots of flights in other airplanes where I never had time to do anything like that.”

But military technology has been moving away from manned fighters for years. Drones, standoff weapons and GPS-guided bombs have cut the utility of, and need for, such short-leg piloted planes. Their limits become even more pronounced amid the Pentagon’s pivot to the Pacific, where the tyranny of distance makes the F-35’s short combat radius (469 miles for the Marines, 584 for the Air Force, 615 for the Navy) a bigger challenge.

Computers are key to flying the plane. But instead of taking advantage of simplicity, the F-35 is heading in the other direction: its complexity can be gleaned from its 24 million lines of computer code, including 9.5 million on board the plane. That’s more than six times as much as the Navy F-18 has. The F-35 computer code, government auditors say, is “as complicated as anything on earth.”

Computers also were supposed to replace most prototyping and allow all three kinds of F-35s to roll off the Texas assembly line at the same time, just as Avalons, Camrys and Venzas are rolling out of Toyota’s huge Kentucky plant. “Advances in the technology, in our design tools and in our manufacturing processes have significantly changed the manner in which aircraft are designed and built today,” Paul Kaminski, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said in 1997.

But Lockheed is no Toyota. Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, the bible of the aerospace industry and a traditional supporter, published an editorial last fall that declared the program “already a failure” on cost and schedule and said “the jury is still out” on its capabilities. It suggested pitting the F-35 against existing fighters–Air Force F-15s and F-16s and Navy F-18s–for future U.S. fighter purchases.

J. Michael Gilmore, Christie’s successor as the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, reported in January that all three versions will be slower and less maneuverable than projected. Weight-saving efforts have made the plane 25% more vulnerable to fire. Only one of three F-35s flown by the U.S. military, he added, was ready to fly between March and October.

Such problems inevitably lead to delays, which relentlessly drive up the price. “Lockheed Martin and the F-35 program have not shown any kind of sensitivity to costs,” says Richard Aboulafia, who tracks military aviation for the Teal Group, which analyzes the defense business. “That makes for a vulnerable program.”

And dark clouds are gathering. Pentagon and Lockheed officials know they need to sell hundreds of F-35s to a dozen nations to reduce the cost of each U.S. plane. But Canada announced in December that it is considering alternatives to its planned buy of 65 F-35s after an independent analysis pegged their lifetime cost at nearly $46 billion, roughly double an earlier estimate (the estimated U.S. lifetime cost: $1.5 trillion). Australia recently suggested it wants 24 more St. Louis–built Boeing F-18s, almost guaranteeing a reduction in its planned purchase of up to 100 F-35s.

The Right Kind of Plane?

While debate swirls around how to build the F-35 right, there’s a more important question: Is it the right kind of plane for the U.S. military in the 21st century? The F-35 is a so-called fifth-generation fighter, which means it is built from the ground up to elude enemy radar that could be used to track and destroy it. Stealth was all the rage in military circles when the Pentagon conceived the F-35. But that was well before the drone explosion, which makes the idea of flying a human through flak and missiles seem quaint. “The Air Force,” Aboulafia says, “eagerly drank gallons of the fifth-generation purple liquid.”

Improved sensors and computing are eroding stealth’s value every day, says Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations. Eventually, he warns, they will give potential foes “actionable target information” on stealth platforms.

The Air Force feared “additional fourth-generation fighter acquisition as a direct threat to fifth-generation fighter programs,” Air Force Lieut. Colonel Christopher Niemi, a veteran F-22 pilot, wrote in the November-December 2012 issue of the service’s Air & Space Power Journal. Its refusal to reconsider buying new fourth-generation F-15s and F-16s in lieu of some F-35s “threatens to reduce the size of the Air Force’s fielded fighter fleet to dangerously small numbers, particularly in the current fiscal environment.”

A stealthy jet requires sacrifices in range, flying time and weapon-carrying capability–the hat trick of aerial warfare. All those factors have played a role in the fate of the Air Force’s F-22 fighter, the nation’s only other fifth-generation warplane. It has been sitting on runways around the globe for seven years, pawing at the tarmac as the nation waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet the F-22, built to fight wars against enemies that have yet to materialize, has yet to fly a single combat mission.

If sequestration happens March 1, F-35 officials have made it clear they will be forced to slow production and delay flight tests. Both steps will make each plane that is ultimately bought more expensive.

But thanks to $4.8 billion in Pentagon contracts for 31 planes pushed out the door barely 100 hours before the original Jan. 2 sequestration deadline, much of the program will continue on autopilot.

“The F-35 program has built up a good buffer by getting the most recent lot of aircraft awarded in time,” says Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “That means Lockheed and all the subcontractors have a backlog of work that won’t be affected by sequestration, so they can continue working as planned for the time being.”

Apparently the F-35 may end up being pretty stealthy after all.

SOURCE

F-35 Jets Grounded

The New York Times

 


February 22, 2013

Pentagon Orders F-35 Jets Grounded

By 

The Pentagon said on Friday that it had grounded all of its stealthy new F-35 fighter jets after an inspection found a crack in a turbine blade in the engine of one of the planes.

The suspension of flights comes at an awkward time for the military, which is facing automatic budget cuts that could slow its purchases of the planes. The Pentagon grounded all three versions of the jets — for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines — on Thursday while it investigated the problem.

Lockheed Martin, which makes the high-tech plane, said 64 of the jets would be affected. The Pentagon estimates that it could spend as much as $396 billion to buy 2,456 of the jets by the late 2030s. But the program, the most expensive in military history, has been plagued by cost overruns and delays, and it could easily become a target for budget cutters.

The Marines also had to suspend operation of their version from Jan. 18 through Feb. 13 because of a problem with a crimped hose in the fuel system.

The Pentagon office that runs the program said the crack in the turbine blade was discovered on Tuesday in a routine inspection. The crack occurred on a test plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The blade is being shipped to a plant in Connecticut, where the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, will inspect it and look for the problem’s cause.

Matthew C. Bates, a spokesman for Pratt & Whitney, said none of the other F-35s had suffered any cracks. The F-35 program office in the Pentagon said in a statement that it had suspended the flights as a precaution until the investigation was completed and the cause of the cracking was fully understood.

The turbine problem, first reported by Politico Pro, arose as the Pentagon has sought to persuade Congress to cancel the automatic cuts, which could force the military to reduce its budgets by about $500 billion over the next 10 years. The first installment of the cuts is scheduled to start on Friday, and it may force the Pentagon to delay buying three of the approximately 30 F-35 planes it had planned to order this year.

“We don’t know the severity of the problem with the turbine blade,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. “It could be a one-off or it could be something that needs more attention. But either way, given the political scrutiny and the concerns about the plane’s cost and performance, this is a very bad time to have a problem.”

The F-35 was conceived as the Pentagon’s silver bullet in the sky — a state-of-the art aircraft with advances that would easily overcome the defenses of most foes. The radar-evading jets would dodge sophisticated antiaircraft missiles and give pilots a better picture of enemy threats while enabling allies, who want the planes, too, to fight more closely with American forces.

But the ambitious aircraft instead illustrates how the Pentagon can let huge and complex programs veer out of control. The program has run into other technical problems and nearly doubled in cost as Lockheed and the military’s own bureaucracy failed to deliver on the most basic promise of a three-in-one jet that would save taxpayers money and be delivered speedily.

Behind the scenes, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin had also engaged in a conflict of their own over the costs, though both sides now say that the relationship has improved and that the program is making progress. The number of test flights had picked up, and the Marines said before the grounding this week that they were about to shift from simply testing the planes to starting to fly them operationally.

The Pentagon had also reached new contracts recently with Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney that lowered the cost of each aircraft body and engine.

Mr. Bates, the Pratt & Whitney spokesman, said a similar turbine blade in an engine built for testing purposes also cracked in 2007. But he said the blade was redesigned after that, and this week’s failure did not appear to be related.

With all the delays — full production is not expected until 2019 — the military has spent billions to extend the lives of older fighters and buy more of them to fill the gap. At the same time, the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $137 million from $69 million in 2001.

Winslow T. Wheeler, a former Senate staff member who is one of the plane’s biggest critics, said Friday that the program was still only about 30 percent through its testing. While the crack in the turbine blade may just be a minor flaw, he said, it is unlikely to pose a significant problem to continuing the program. “The Pentagon’s current management is hooked on the airplane and refuses to admit it is a failure,” he said.

 

RAND Corp: F35 Can’t Turn, Can’t Climb, Can’t Run

This video associated with the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) just came to our attention. The RAND corp has refuted some of the claims attributed to it in the video. Whether they said the F35s would be “clubbed like baby seals” by Russian and Chinese fighter planes remains unclear. It is clear that they do did dub the F35 as “double inferior” and one of their slides proclaims the F35 “Can’t Turn, Can’t Climb, Can’t Run”. For an in depth analysis of the blowback from this video see http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/

The Golden Lemon Award Winner is …

The Golden Lemon Award has three winners this year, the F-35 “Lightning” fighter,…

At $395.7 billion, the F-35 is now the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history, and the costs are still rising. It has constant problems with its engine, “unexplained” hot spots on the fuselage, and software that doesn’t function properly. Because the cost of the plane has risen 70 percent since 2001, some of our allies are beginning to back away from previous commitments to purchase the aircraft. Canadians had some sticker shock when it turned out that the price tag for buying and operating the F-35 would be $45.8 billion. Steep price rises (and mechanical problems) have forced Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia to re-think buying the plane as well. If that happens, the price of the F-35 will rise even higher, since Lockheed Martin was counting on U.S. allies to buy at least 700 F-35s as a way to lower per-unit costs. The U.S. is scheduled to purchase 2,457 F-35s at $107 million apiece (not counting weapons). The plane coast $35,200 per hour to fly.

See the full story and get a laugh at http://www.fpif.org/blog/conn_hallinans_2012_are_you_serious_awards.

Air Force Official Slams Lockheed Martin on F-35 Program

The new deputy head of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program said his office’s relationship with plane manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) is “the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan, on the job five weeks as deputy program executive officer, fired an unusual public salvo at the world’s largest defense contractor for what he described as a poor partnership in managing the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.

“We will not succeed on this program until we get past that,” Bogdan said in a discussion on the F-35 at the annual conference of the Air Force Association, a nonprofit civilian organization that promotes aerospace education. “We have to find a better place to be in this relationship. We have to.”

See the full story at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-17/air-force-official-slams-lockheed-martin-on-f-35-program.html

Air Force Preps Trillion-Dollar Jet Tests Despite Pentagon Concerns

The latest high-level Pentagon review of the trillion-dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program did not go well for the Lockheed Martin-built JSF. But don’t tell the Air Force that. The flying branch is racing ahead with its own JSF training and evaluation, regardless of the Defense Department’s hang-ups.

Last week’s Defense Acquisition Board review by senior Pentagon officials was meant to approve a comprehensive plan for completing the stealthy jet’s more than decade-long test effort, but in a “very painful” four hours, the officials could not agree on the plan, Reuters reported.

Check out the full story at http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/air-force-preps-f-35/

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