Home » Air Force » “All-In” on F-35 (Updated)

“All-In” on F-35 (Updated)

There’s an interesting post by my colleague Phil Ewing over at our sister site DoDBuzz on what a lot of us have been saying for a while now about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: The plane pretty much has to work because, at this point, it’s the only thing going. Especially for the the U.S. Air Force, who has famously gone, “all-in” on fifth generation fighters. Or more accurately, the F-35.

For a while, the service fought hard to buy as many F-22 Raptors as possible. That fight all but ended when former Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley. After that, the Air Force put up and shut up when Gates said he was capping Raptor buys at 187 jets.

A few generals in the Air National Guard expressed interest in buying heavily updated fourth-gen fighters like Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle as a bridge between the rapidly aging fighter force of F-16s and F-15s and the trouble-plauged F-35. While that idea was also picked up by some lawmakers (including ANG-champion, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords), the Pentagon and Air Force brass were largely able to silence that idea. All attention was to be focused on equipping the service with 1,763 F-35As.

In a time of hefty budget cuts, the Air Force remains focused on getting the F-35s to its fleet. There may simply be too much institutional inertia to cancel the program, keep the soon-to-close Raptor production line open (and reopen lines for sensitive long-lead parts) and/or start buying hundreds of modified “legacy” (ugh) designs like the Silent Eagle, Boeing’s  stealthier F/A-18EF Super Hornet or Block 60 F-16s to offset delays with the F-35 or serve as a bridge to sixth-gen fighters.

The Marines are pretty much all-in on F-35, too. As for the Navy, sea service officials say they are dedicated to the JSF but some doubt these claims because of things like this or this. Now, Georgia Senator and Lockheed supporter Saxby Chambliss ® is telling Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not to buy any more Super Hornets and to focus on the F-35.

UPDATE: Just yesterday, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley was quoted in Australia’s Canberra Times newspaper as saying that cuts to the F-35 fleet or further restructuring of the delivery schedule can’t be ruled out as part of the Pentagon’s quest to save billions of dollars in the coming years. It’ll sure be interesting to see if this happens. If so, what’s the contingency plan, I’ll bet its an increased number of Service Life Extensions for the air service’s fighter fleet. This comes as Australia is considering limiting the number of F-35s it buys to 14.  Oh, and don’t forget the Navy study that’s looking into reducing buys for the sea service and Marine Corps.

Meanwhile, Lockheed and the JSF program office just confirmed that the F-35A and B-model jets’ forward wing root ribs are being redesigned to last longer. Program officials say this as a minor problem that won’t take  additional funding to fix.

Remember, the fewer planes that are sold means that costs go up. The more costs rise, the more customers rethink their purchasing plans leading to talk of the famous “acquisition death spiral.”

Here’s Phil’s post.

Readers, what do you think: Can good program management right the good ship S.S. F-35?

If costs are brought under control will the JSF be able to boost our warfighting ability significantly and serve as a knowledge base for the development of sixth-gen fighters?

{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

Weaponhead September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

The problem is that the SDD costs are still going to be $400B and the unit costs are going to be close to the F-22 and the supportability costs are again above the costs of the aircraft that it is supposed to replace. Good program management can only minimize further overruns and cost growths.
When a program doubles in schedule and costs there are major disconnects that even good program management won't be able to reverese.
Bloomberg is now reporting that the wing spar on the A & B models needs redesign and the impact of that is being determined. So again costs are still going up.
In my opinion they should scrap the A and B models, make only C models (that have longer range) and look at a mix of improved current operational aircraft production, and C models. If we want to really have air dominance over T-50 and J-20 we may need to restart the F-22 line and/or start an F/A-XX program.


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I would rather cancel the F-35 entirely and replace it with advanced F-15's and F-18's.

Imagine the money we would save, not to mention the fact that we'd be able to field more planes, perhaps by many hundreds.

For some reason, people seem to forget that we won WWII with numbers, not necessarily with quality. That doesn't mean we should build crap weapons, but we should learn from the German example: very high quality weapons, but they couldn't build them, or afford to build them, fast enough and they were utterly defeated.

If we do have a shooting war with China, we better be prepared for very high losses. Cadillac weapons will not win such a war.


ChuckL September 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Perhaps “Cadillac” weapons will not win a war, but lack of “Cadillac” weapons will surely lose one.

And then perhaps one should define what is meant by “Cadillac” weapons. The P.51, P-38, F4U, and B-29 were definitely the “Cadillac” weapons of WWII. The German jet fighters were more in the class of exotics, like Aston Martins or Bentleys.


brian September 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm

If we bought more F-22's you could make a solid case for it, but you are still left with the significant carrier stealth gap. Stealth technology is the only technology right now that could substantially increase the lethality of our carrier force until the 6th gen drones come around. right now the F-35C is the only game in town. Regardless of how you feel about the stealthiness of the Super Hornet, it is decidedly not stealthy when loaded with ordinance on its external mount points.

Right now we are left with a lot of bad choices, I don't like the F-35, since we nearly the same for that plane as were for the F-22, and it was supposed to be the chevy pickup as to the F-22's Maserati. But the generals have painted us into a corner and we have no viable choice other than the F-35 right now.


BigRick September 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Hey Brian, I agree mostly with what you said but if we don't stop this madness now
it'll only happen again and again and again and we'll lend up with (2) gold plated F-35, (1) gold plated destroyer, and (5) gold plated tanks to face hundreds of each type that our future enemies will have

We're not painted in a corner, we can stop the madness now and fire all of the incompetent generals who pushed this fraud upon the country and we can start over


Brian September 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I'm not sure why you think abandoning the platform for less capable platforms somehow punishes these corporations? Seriously, it's pretty much the same corporations selling you one plane or the other. Its not really the place of the DOD to punish corps for the poor execution of it's own procurement programs. The job of the DOD is to defend the country. Ignoring a game changing advanced fighter just to save 25% on just the procurement costs of new planes is crazy.

If you want, fix the process for the future. Just don't hurt the present in the processes.


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:26 pm

It's a case of no longer throwing good money after bad. We made a mistake with the F-35. It was supposed to be cheap and easy to build and ready now. It's none of those. We have to fix our procurement process so that we stop trying to build the GREATEST WEAPON THAT EVER WAS.

There is absolutely no need to build anything more than an evolution of our current planes, but the Pentagon and their enablers are always intent on revolutionary weapons, with inevitable results.


Black Owl September 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

No, the Super Hornet with upgrades has a stealthy weapons pod that it will hold the weapons inside of. It won't hold weapons externally. This will keep it stealthy and effective during combat.


ChuckL September 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

The F-22 needs a stronger landing gear and a set of folding canards to provide more lift at the front, and a tail hook to be fully carrier capable. The launch hook would be built into the stronger front gear. The added thrust of the F-22 could easily offset the weight increase of the 22 over the 14 to use the same or lower catapult load settings.
Don’t forget that both the F-15 and the F-22 can take off in less space than the length of our Enterprise carriers WITHOUT any external thrust augmentation.


JZzika September 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Historically programs that trend into cost overruns and schedule slips never recover. Thinking otherwise is generally wishful thinking.

Best alternative would be to cut and run and start looking at the next gen fighter solution. But that will never happen due to the congressional support from states with a vested interest (jobs) in the F-35.


ChuckL September 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm

And don’t forget that these same MCs, (Members of Congress) are the ones who kept increasing the cost of the F-22 by cutting the production rate.

Can we try them all as Traitors because this destruction of our defense capability is “giving aid and comfort” to the enemy.

All that was needed was an honest assessment of the design capabilities of these two aircraft to determine that the the F-35 would be a huge waste of funds.

The F-22 was specified to by the fighter to gain air superiority, and then the F-35 was to clean up. The comparison was to the F-15 and the F-16. Now they want the F-16 replacement to do the F-15 job. The heads of some MCs and former SecDefs need to roll.

The MCs used defense money to buy votes from welfare recipients and the SecDef allowed it to stand without a real fight for the equipment that we needed.


Matt September 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the huge selling point for the F-35 the fact that with the 3 variants across the Navy, Marines, and Air Force, it will make it much easier to service one plane type that has multiple roles rather than the F-15, F-16, F-18, etc? This would be similar to why Southwest only flies 737s.

I know this plane and its management (or lack thereof) should be a case study in government waste and mismanagement, but I think the hope is that 20 years from now, serious cost-savings in full lifetime cost of these planes will (hopefully) be realized.


CharleyA September 2, 2011 at 12:15 am

SW now flies 717's - albeit a different company (for now)


STemplar September 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I think the plane is going to cost a lot and nothing will change that. Even with overruns brought under control it is going to cost a lot. I also think with parts for it probably being made in like 40 states like every other big ticket item in the DoD, Congress won't bail on it because of jobs. Clearly the brass wants it no matter what, so I'm not really sure why we even talk about cancelling it on these forums because that isn't going to happen. The only thing that would cancel it at this point would be an economic collapse, which is a possibility, but it won't come from a decision to cut it.

It will boost our capabilities in certain ways, but it also is severely lacking in some pretty significant ways as well. Just like the F22 did. I think when it's all said and done we'll discover neither the F22 nor the F35 was ideally suited for what we needed next generation tacair to be, so maybe that will lead to the concepts for gen 6 being designed more suitably to the threats and campaigns they would be needed to excel in.


mpower6428 September 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

and all this from a country that turned the P-51A (a piece of crap) into the P-51D (the best fighter of ww2) in less then 2 years.

is there a larger problem here? are weapon systems as complicated as the F35 already anachronistic? are we now… DO WE… really have to wait 20 years for a system to go from concept to mass production?

the cold war is STILL over. the "tech" race doesnt seem to be doing us much good and frankly… who are we trying to impress?


crackedlenses September 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm

We're trying to stay ahead of the world because in a full-scale war against an competent military (yes, we have to remain prepared for that), we can't afford to fight numbers with numbers and take the inherent casualties. As such, we have to have weapons that are a generation or two ahead of what anyone else could possibly have….


mpower6428 September 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

im gonna go out on a limb here and say… china doesnt want a hot or cold war anymore then we do. maintaining a generational edge over our "potential" enemies is a good idea BUT, why do we have to be so bad at it? and why should we ENCOURAGE the same bad management practices. when are we gonna "fold" on a project at least once to put these corporate beaurocracies in their place? yes, its a risk, but if its between a war (hot or cold) that may or may not happen and… the HEALTH of our defense industry… i think the choice is pretty clear.

on a side note, as a total percentage… how much of the F35's technologies are already being manufactured in derivitave form, IN CHINA, as we speak…? i dont even want to guess. there go's your technological advantage.


Mark O'Connell September 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Have you heard of the A-12, RAH 66, and FCS just to name a few?


mpower6428 September 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

i have heard and read about all of them. the RAH 66 seems to be the most relevent in this case.

i wonder how far away we are from a family of very high speed semi autonomus anti-aircraft drone/missiles that can fly themselves back for recovery OR are cheap enough to be flown into the ground when their useful endurance is over? just a thought but , we all know that something like that will make the f35 obsolete, its just a question of when.

dolliot3 September 2, 2011 at 3:27 am

a british engine turned the p-51a into a good fighter but right now the pentagon wants to scrap the f136 made by rolls royce,the same people who made that engine


mpower6428 September 2, 2011 at 8:37 am

yep, the British "Merlin" inline engine turned the Mustang into a real beast. i had no idea that the current F35 was using a rolls royce engine.


cthel September 4, 2011 at 5:35 am

Um… not to start a flame war or anything, but the thing that turned the P-51 into a fighter was the fitting of a british engine, at the suggestion of a british test-pilot.

The engine was licence-built by packard on production models, but it was still a Rolls Royce Merlin


ChuckL September 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

The argument against the F-22 was that it was overkill. it had more capability than was needed. The thing is that I can not think of a single case where having more capability than I needed was a problem, but not having needed capability has always been a problem.

And just in case anyone else has not noticed, we have already wasted more money on “stimulus” and “TARP” programs that it would have cost to built the originally requested quantity of F-22s.


Morg September 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Not taking advantage of 4.5Gen fighter/bombers as a gap fill is dumb. The USAF should buy 50 F15SE and 50 F15K tomorrow. At least the USN is still buying F18EFG. And for my most controversial idea, kill off USMC fixed wing.


m-1 September 2, 2011 at 11:46 am

yes, and the old Marine F-18's are falling apart as we speak… pathetic- they need new planes yesterday- but we'll w8 till some crashes happen.
What ever happened to that "even steathier" F-18 that was suppose be made after the G models? Put in better engines & more fuel- they might be more useful…


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Yes, this is exactly right. There is no need for us to have weapons systems that are twice as good as our enemies. We should have a natural advantage in skill through our emphasis on training and our greater breadth of modern war-fighting experience.

What we cannot do is continue to buy systems that are so expensive that they prevent us from fielding the NUMBERS that we need to fight a real war with a real opponent (as opposed to a piss-ant dictator and his paper army).


SMSgt Mac September 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm

No, this is exactly wrong. In discussing 'numbers' what you are really dealing with is Lanchester's Square Law. The ratio has changed somewhat since it was first conceived, but needless to say while you must always be careful not to field too few systems, it is easier and cheaper overall to field fewer quality units than more of a lesser quality. As an example, the number mix of F-15s and F-16s was not in the least bit arbitrary, but as a product of applying Lanchester to gain the best mix.


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

But if the JSF is twice as expensive as an upgraded F-15/F-18 but NOT twice as lethal/survivable? Then you've got yourself a problem, bub.


Musson September 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Who are you going to fly them against? China? Egypt:? Iran?

You will not defeat China with convention weapons- anyway.

So, what do you need to beat Egypt and Iran?


Huff September 1, 2011 at 10:25 pm

"You will not defeat China with convention weapons- anyway."



Guest September 2, 2011 at 3:52 am

^ about to say the same.


STemplar September 2, 2011 at 4:05 am

Feh, a few hundred well placed TLAMs and JASSMs on the coast would eviscerate the Chinese industrial machine. Their petroleum industry and export dependent economy would crumble. It of course would cause a world wide economic collapse, but spare me the mighty Chinese rhetoric, geography and natural resources don't change regardless of what systems China fields.


Hale September 3, 2011 at 2:06 am

They have nukes too, maybe not in the thousands, but certainly enough to punch a few holes in the US. It'd me more than a large economic collapse. It would be the end of the world.


STemplar September 3, 2011 at 6:23 am

So what? We just let them conquer and do whatever they like because they have nukes? Maybe we should just stop funding the DoD since they have nukes we're helpless.


adem September 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

We have nukes too, so China's not going to come rolling up the Pacific coast any time soon. Any talk of conventional warfare with China is as silly as talking about picking a fight with the USSR 40 years ago. If there's conflict, it'll be Cold War style.

Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Of course you can defeat China with conventional weapons. But you can't if you don't have enough of them and that's what we're setting ourselves up for by buying these Cadillac weapons systems that prevent us from fielding the numbers we will need to take down a worthy foe such as China.


STemplar September 3, 2011 at 12:22 am

We have plenty of TLAMs and JASSMs.


BigRick September 5, 2011 at 1:12 am

We just "wasted" 2000 TLAMS on Libya.


Joe Schmoe September 5, 2011 at 3:06 am

Those were going to expire anyways. Hell, we might have saved money using them instead of trying to dispose of them in other ways.

Stan September 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

China is a grave threat to the US but not in the military arena. It is doing a fine job of burying us economically while using our policital system against us, I might add. An arms race would only accelerate this. That said, F-35 is the only game in town so that's the game we have to play.


gues September 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

China, long-term is more of a threat to itself. Eventually, it's corrupt government and its increasingly upper class/government officials will eventually piss off the 98 percent of other Chinese who will once again revolt and overthrow the government. Emerging from this will be a Chinese population that will be more interested in getting everyone Netflix streaming, tablets and smart phones rather than flushing money down the toilet making faux stealth planes and buying outdated Soviet carriers.


dave September 2, 2011 at 4:39 am

And then, because they won't buy T-bills like it's going out of fashion any more, the US will go bankrupt. It's not exactly win-win, is it?


STemplar September 2, 2011 at 4:49 am

Then where do they put their cash reserves? Euros? Not a real safe bet since it's kind of an open question at the moment whether they will even survive? Their own yuan? Also not a great option, since that would spike the value of their own currency and gut their export cost effectiveness.


Sev September 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Aww hell. The entire world economy is gonna collapse. Thats whats gonna happen. Welcome to the new dark ages boys! Ammo up

Andrew M September 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm

If the F-35 didn't cost as much as a F-22 that has 3x the flight capability outside of sensor development I could argue for it.

But right now we are basically paying F-22 prices for a F-105 Phantom with a sensor ball on the bottom.

To compete with a world full of Su-35S, Su-37s and PAK FAs, we need to take a step back and hug our real 5th gen in the F-22. Sure it has problems but at least we've built 150 of them at the projected cost and their flight characteristics make them VIABLE in the next few decades of combat.


Andrew M September 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm

F-105 Thunderchief*


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Yes, the F-22 has the advantage of being a mature product line and being the most capable plane in the world, something the F-35 cannot claim.

I could see a high-low mix of F-22's on top and F-15SEs on the bottom. We probably do need more than 187 F-22s, but they are awfully expensive. If we do buy more, we'll have to cut in other places (let's start with the JSF!).


ChuckL September 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Looking at survivability, we will be buying 10 F-35s for each F-22. and maybe getting, if we are lucky, only 2 times the capability.

The IR search and track capability can be added to the F-22 along with the helmet mounted weapons control.


Belesari September 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

New F-18 super hornet sounds like the best bet. Atleast for the Navy. The Marines MUST have the B-model or something like a modernized harrier design.

Airforce……..airforce Needs the Updated F-15s. It WANTS the F-35. The push for this program is amazing. Nothing i've ever seen has this much support from politicans and so little from the average joe in the military.


Black Owl September 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Cancel the JSF. Buy more F-15SE and upgraded F/A-18E/Fs. The Super Hornet can do everything and has stealth that can rival the JSF from the front. We can risk losing a Super Hornet or a Silent Eagle over enemy territory. If we lose a JSF all it's advanced tech is at the risk of falling into the hands of Russians or Chinese depending on where we might lose it. In all likelihood no JSF or F-22 will be allowed to fly below 30,000 feet in combat for that reason (That's my guess anyway, it might be lower or higher). It's a simple and logical choice to make, but the services are too obsessed with the high techno-whiz bang effect that the JSF has to think clearly.


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I love the way you think, sir!


SMSgt Mac September 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hilarious. I had a classmate in Grad school who was an F-18E/F test pilot at China Lake who also operated under the misconception that his chariot was 'stealthy' until I disabused him of the notion. there's a difference between Low Observable and 'reduced signature'. And let's not mention that the F-15SE is a contractor development half-measure from a company trying to stay relevant in the fighter game. It has a longer road ahead to an end-state 'maturity' that has a pittance of the payoff compared to the F-35. BTW: Yes, we should have bought about 500 more F-22s. Ain't gonna happen.


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

But the F18E/F was not designed to be stealthy, right? As to the F-15SE, let's see some actual testing done to compare it to the JSF.

I don't think anyone is saying that the F-15SE or any other 4th-gen jet can match the stealth capabilities of the JSF. What everyone is saying is that they're equal in fighting capacity, range and weapons-carrying ability. And they're also far, far cheaper.

Put all those things together and losing some stealth doesn't seem like such a big deal.


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I meant to say that 4th-gen jets are "equal or better" in fighting capacity, range, and weapons-carrying ability to the JSF.


SMSgt Mac September 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Low observability is the price of admission on the modern battlefield. Has been since about 1988. Without it and against it, you are a target. Unless one assumes the entire US defense infrastructure is wrong on that point. BTW: even WVR and no LO my money would be on the F-35 force.

SMSgt Mac September 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

The F-18E/F has signature reduction applied. The Navy (foolishly) first tried to field it without telling their maintainers and it bit them in funny ways. The F-15SE is no way close to being as low observable as an F-35 and probably approaches a slick F-18E/F. The clever repurposing of the CFT concept for carrying stores internally would have been a big deal in the mid 1980s. The F-15SE 'show' bird doesn't have the canted verticals so that would still have to be worked out, and as a semi-famous aerodynamicist likes to say: there's no such thing as a small change on an airplane. That is just for starters. systems integration to bring the SE internals into the 21st Century would be huge and is just at square one. You've obviously bought in to the inflated cost numbers thrown around so carelessly by F-35 skeptics so for shorthand just Google "Army of JSF-Haters STILL Short of Logicians" or "Deliver Us From Beancounters" on that little topic.


Roy Smith September 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

We need to work to develop “Active Stealth Technology(Plasma Stealth Technology).” That is apparently what the Russians are doing. If we can [also] perfect the cloaking technology that The British are testing right now with their tanks & apply it to our aircraft in a practical,functional manner,we wouldn’t need to invest billions of dollars into new UNPROVEN aircraft like the F-35. How do we know that salt from ocean & sea water won’t erode the stealth material on the F-35B & F-35C. Wasn’t that what killed the A-12 back in the early nineties? I read on strategypage.com that the Russians are building their MiG-35D to counter the F-35. They are counting on Active Stealth Technology to cloak their Su-35′s & MiG-35D’s. The same probably goes for their PAK FA’s.


Matt Dowd September 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I can tell you right now Russia is playing smoke and mirrors and will not come near developing that sort of technology, ever. I don't know what all of you people are so grim about the F35 will crush serious box. As for its dog fighting capability, if it was as bad as critics say it is, the program wouldn't have made it as far as it did. The costs I cannot defend and as a respectable tax payer I can say I'm angry the government has allowed the program to get this out of control, you can thank the government chronies for that.


Thomas L. Nielsen September 2, 2011 at 2:40 am

"If we can [also] perfect the cloaking technology that The British are testing right now with their tanks & apply it to our aircraft in a practical,functional manner,we wouldn't need to invest billions of dollars into new UNPROVEN aircraft like the F-35".

Only one small problem: None of the technologies you mention are mature enough to actually integrate in an operational weapon system. And that's assuming they work in the first place. So instead of spending billions on unproven aircraft, you spend billions on unproven add-on subsystems for existing systems.

Oh, and "someone wrote something on this or that website" is not considered a credible source. Do you have actual statements from the Russians that the MiG-35 is intended to counter the F-35 (sounds fishy to me).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


Cheesed September 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

God I love your comments, Thomas. Keep up the good work.


Thomas L. Nielsen September 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thank you, kind sir

As the Danish Special Forces snipers say: We aim to please :-)

I also see it as my solemn duty to inject a small note of sanity and sound scepticism in these discussions ("Why have a think tank when you can have a sceptic tank").

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg (expat Dane)


Roy Smith September 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Here is the article about the MiG-35D taking on the F-35

MiG-35D Takes On The F-35

August 28, 2011: Russia has announced that it will use its new (still in development) MiG-35D as the equivalent of the American F-35. This will be the low-end to the high end T-50 (the Russian F-22). The T-50 is no F-22, and the MiG-35D is no F-35.
The MiG-35D is a considerably redesigned MiG-29. The 29 ton MiG-35D is armed with one 30mm autocannon and can carry over (by how much is not yet clear) five tons of bombs. The big selling point for the MiG-35D is its offensive and defensive electronics, as well as sensors for finding targets on land or sea. This stuff looks very impressive on paper, but the Russians have long had problems getting performance to match promises.

The 27 ton American F-35 is armed with an internal 25mm cannon and four internal air-to-air missiles (or two missiles and two smart bombs), plus four external smart bombs and two missiles. All sensors are carried internally, and max weapon load is 6.8 tons. The aircraft is very stealthy when just carrying internal weapons. The MiG-35D has little stealth capability. The MiG-35D first flew four years ago, and there are currently about ten prototypes being used for testing and development work. The MiG-35D is expected to enter service some time before the end of the decade. The MiG-35D will sell for less than half what the F-35 goes for (currently over $120 million each).


Thomas L. Nielsen September 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Not a word on "plasma stealth" anywhere, I notice. And nowhere does it say that the MiG-35 is intended to "counter" the F-35. It says "..as the equivalent of…" - as in "doing the same job as". Hardly the same thing, is it?

I'm also amused that the article points out that "….the Russians have long had problems getting performance to match promises." Sure. Like American aviation manufacturer's haven't.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


Stratege September 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

Plasma stealth is more likely myth than practical technology. AFAIK, Russians refused the idea o plasma cloaking for their fighet jets. The experimental plasma generators were installed on Tu-160 intercontinental bomber and it not worked well with a bomber's electronics equipment.


Mastro September 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

I wondered how plasma stealth would work with a plane's avionics. Their communications must be shredded at least.

The Ruskies put out a lot of BS to cover up for the fact that they can barely do R&D anymore. And to mislead us into "countering" something that doesn't exist.


brian September 2, 2011 at 10:41 am

I am not sure how plasma stealth would work either. Plasma is just charged gas. So basically they have a spray gas in front of the plane?

BTW sea water corrodes just about everything


Roy Smith September 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

The big problem with plasma stealth is the heat that it puts out. You hear anecdotal stories(& not from supermarket tabloids) of people seeing a ball of light flying across the sky(not the lights that zig zag & defy the laws of aerodynamics,those are just a projector light show). Could the ball of light be from the plasma gases? Before you pooh pooh the idea,how many of you knew that we had stealth helicopters before the Bin Laden raid? We all know that our government is testing new top secret aircraft & a lot of the “ufo’s” reported are more than likely these new (human built terrestrial) aircraft flown by us.


Thomas L. Nielsen September 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

"The big problem with plasma stealth is the heat that it puts out."

That, and the fact that it hasn't actually been proven to work in any practical form.

"You hear anecdotal stories….". Anecdotal. There's your problem, right there.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen

Roy Smith September 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Russian plasma stealth fighters

First developed by the Russians, plasma stealth technology is also known as “Active Stealth Technology”. Plasma stealth is a proposed process that uses ionized gas (plasma) to reduce the radar cross section (RCS) of an aircraft. A plasma stream is injected in front of the aircraft covering the entire body of the aircraft and absorbing most of the electromagnetic energy of the radar waves, thus making the aircraft difficult to detect.

There are few experimental studies of plasma’s effect on RCS. One of the most interesting articles was published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1963 and described the effect of plasma on the RCS of aircraft. The article entitled “Radar cross sections of dielectric or plasma coated conducting spheres and circular cylinders” was based on the data offered by Sputnik, the first artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957.

While trying to track Sputnik it was noticed that its electromagnetic scattering properties were different from what was expected for a conductive sphere. This was due to the satellite traveling inside of a plasma shell.While Sputnik was flying at high velocity through the ionosphere it was surrounded by a naturally-occuring plasma shell and because of it there were two separate radar reflections: the first from the surface of the satellite itself and the second from the plasma shell. If one of the reflections is greater the other one will not contribute much to the overall effect. When the two reflections have the same order of magnitude and are out of phase relative to each other cancellation occurs and the RCS becomes null. The aircraft becomes invisible to radar.

In January 1999, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS published an interview with Doctor Anatoliy Koroteyev who talked about the plasma stealth device developed by his organization. Doctor Koroteyev was the director of the Keldysh Research Center. There have also been claims that in 2002 the Russians tested a plasma stealth device on board a Su-27 and RCS was reduced by a factor of 100.

The Keldysh Research Center has created a plasma generator that weights no more than 100 kilos, thus making it possible to be fitted on board most tactical aircraft. Current stealth technology uses radar absorbent materials (RAM) and angled surfaces that don’t reflect radar waves back. This constitutes as a main drawback, since an alteration of the airframe has negative effects on the flight characteristics of these aircraft. The third generation stealth technology F-22 Raptor seems however to be an exception since it is both a fast aicraft and very maneuverable.

By using a plasma generator the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft do not suffer which in term means that the payload is increased making it more effective. The use of this technology offers the benefit of not having to carry the payload internally to be able to fool enemy radar. The Sukhoi Su-35 and the MiG-35 (both upgrades of Su-27 and MiG-29) are the first to benefit from this technology.

One of the most interesting russian fighters to benefit from the plasma stealth technology is the MiG 1.42/1.44 also known as the MFI (Mnogofunktsionalny Frontovoi Istrebitel – Multifunctional Frontline Fighter). This new aircraft is a fifth generation air-superiority fighter, a rival for the american F-22 Raptor. Both aircraft have the same supercruise capability as well as thrust vectoring for supermaneuverability (a capability to fly at supercritical angles of attack, at increased level of sustained and

available g-loads and high turn-angle rate, which require a greater thrust-to-weight ratio and improved wing aerodynamic efficiency). This aircraft may prove to be a milestone in aviation, as so many russian aircraft were before.

Melcyna September 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

technically we ‘knew’ that there has to be a working model for stealth chopper since the resources spent on the cancelled RAH-66 was enormous, and while it was cancelled the stealth feature of it did WORK with it’s RCS being incredibly tiny compared to any other **** in service.

incorporating plasma stealth on fighter jet on the other hand have so far not been showing much success for practical use of the fighter.

Lance September 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I agree to update the F-15 and F-16 just like they just updated the A-10 to A-10C. But I wouldn't put all in the F-35 it was designed to just be a small fighter bomber and NOT meant to replace the F-15 or F-22. The design isn't made for high speed air superiority mission and I don't think a F-35 would come up well one on one with a SU-PK and be equal with the MiG-29 and Su-27 in maneuverability not what Id want for a main USAF fighter. Upgrade F-15s but I think a new post Obama president well reopen F-22s like the B-1B took President Regan to restart that project.


Ripberger September 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I'm still skeptical about the F-35 replacing the A-10 Warthog. The F-35 is designed as a multi-role fighter with strike capability. It is not a dedicated close air support platform. Can it loiter for a long time for troop support during and after a firefight? Once a fighter like the F-15 or F-16 comes and bombs, they usually cannot stay around for long for re-fueling (and there is not always an air refueler around). I understand that the idea of a "Swiss-army knife"-style plane seems economically and logistically sound, but Robert McNamara tried that during the '60s with the F-4 Phantom. It was a fine plane (and still is in some countries), though I do not think it was able to do everything all the services wanted. I fear the F-35 will not meet the high expectations placed on it.

I realize that we need to keep up and remain a competitive edge over the major military powers like Russia and China. However, the current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere do not always require high performance 4th generation aircraft, let alone 5th generation. I can understand using such aircraft initially when an enemy country (like Libya or Iraq) might have a few sophisticated anti-aircraft systems and some air assets, but what about during a low-intensity conflict and/or insurgency? How do you justify the cost of those aircraft then?


Mark O'Connell September 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The A-10 will be in service till 2040.


Ripberger September 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm

True, but the Air Force has always hated the A-10 and I do not see the F-35 being a good replacement for it.


SMSgt Mac September 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm

A modest proposal. How about one of you (or all of you) working from the philosophical position that the F-35 suffers from 'bad management' actually cite an example of same?
Please post as a separate post instead of a reply. It is a long weekend and if the F-35 is as poorly managed as those aserting it is, we should be able to run up the count to a new DT record for our hosts!
There are only three criteria for a claim to warrant a response other than "Invalid Claim!":
1. Single sentence description of the "bad management" decision/action.
2. Identification of those responsible (names are best) for the "bad management" to at least a) the Government (DoD office or equivalent and higher) or Corporate/Industry leadership level responsible-for 'actors' OUTSIDE the program, and/or b) Identification of those responsible (position or name) WITHIN the program.
3. Single sentence description of WHY it was a bad management event/action.


Joe Como September 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm

It's bad management because it's not on time or on budget and, so far, it doesn't work! :)

I'm not sure what else you need in order to be convinced.


SMsgt Mac September 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Invalid Claim! [;-)
(and you provide no definition of , much less evidence supporting 'doesn't work')


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm

"Doesn't work" meaning it was banned from flying until recently. That fits my definition of "doesn't work"! :)

I work in software, so I'm well aware of how people tend to underestimate the time it takes to get things done. We're all very optimistic creatures at heart, I guess. I think some of that is what's going on in the F-35 program. It's also a result, as I've said before, of our Pentagon always wanting the newest, shiniest, most advanced toy instead of being satisfied with an incremental upgrade.


SMSgt Mac September 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Do you know what TRLs are? I ask because buying a weapon system isn't like buying a commercial product.
EVERY weapon system sufficiently advanced to be worth developing and fielding with an expected operational life of 20-30-40 years requires the same effort and hits pretty much the same kinds of hurdles (depending on technologies involved). the F-35 program is actually doing better than a lot of its 'successful' predecessors, especially since it is really delivering 3 weapon systems in one. The only difference here is F-35 brand sausage is being made under a spotlight and rice bowls are threatened. The decision to first launch and then develop a new weapon system has been most definitely "requirements-pull" since the end of the Cold War so if an 'incremental' advancement was all that was needed, that is all that is pursued. Biggest probelm with with the incremental over existing is that on the modern battlefield, if you aren't low observable and connected, you are dead. As to 'software development' if we developed software like the commercial sector, we'd only need half the airbases - because most planes would just make smoking holes enroute to the next base. Kinda hard on the Beta testers.

SMSgt Mac September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Valid claims will be evaluated/critiqued using only three sourcess: RAND's "Sources of Weapon Systems Cost Growth", DAU's Defense Acquisition Review Journal peer-reviewed papers, and the NIzkor Project Logical Fallacies website.


superraptor September 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

it will become self-evident within 12 months if the F-35 program can be continued. if more technical issues such as faulty helmet display and thermal management issues come into the limelight while LMT is requesting to be paid 200 mill pls per plane unless we order 3000 of them, the F-35 will become history and alternatives such as restarting the F-22 line, buying new more powerful SHs, Aesa equipped F-16s and silent Eagles and accelerating the IOC of stealthy UCAVs such as the X-47 and larger follow-on systems will be implemented by the Post-Obama administration in 2013.


Move_Forward September 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Yeah this makes sense. Let's waste billions in effective R&D over a helmet mounted display or fixable thermal management. Heck they already fixed the wing issue and saved billions in retrofits to future aircraft.

So you compare LRIP F-35 costs to F-22 full rate production and still don't get the price right or consider the cost of restarting F-22 or including costs of a second engine and higher O&S. If you could (can't) add EODAS, IRST, F-35 comms, software, and a helmet mounted display to F-22 it would cost teens of billions per aircraft.

Use X-47 and EA-18G in teams with F-35, not independent of it. Use one F-22 teamed with a pair of F-35s and some F-15C Golden Eagles bringing up the rear as AMRAAM trucks.


blight September 3, 2011 at 12:22 am

The Russians and Israelis have helmet sights.

Is Elbit (Israel) not qualified to supply JSF? Or even a licensing deal of some kind?


mpower6428 September 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm

The pentagon - Donald Rumsfeld FCS , just about every defense contractor who could sign up with something "transformational". not one of these systems worked as advertised IF THEY EVEN MADE IT TO THE FIELD, the "Stryker" comes to mind.

dont bother, ill say it. "invalid".


William C. September 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm

The Stryker worked. The problem is when people expect the Stryker to be as survivable as an Abrams or Bradley. Take the Stryker for what it is however and it is fine.


Sev September 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

What? Its an armored personnel carrier, not a tank. Jeeze people expect miracles from the most basic things.


Hunter78 September 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm

The F-35 was designed to cost as much as possible.


Ben September 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm

We should have never cut production of the F-22. Costs were becoming more manageable and it's the most lethal fighter we've ever conceived. If we'd have focused the resources we're now dumping into the F-35 just imagine what we could have made the F-22. Software upgrades, HMD's linked to high off-boresight missiles, an IRST sensor, maybe some stealthy wing pylons and you'd have the perfect fighter, hands down. Sure it'd be crazy expensive, but when you consider how incredibly effective something like that would be, would it really be that bad? I'd honestly be hard pressed to say it would.

But none of that's going to happen so I'm still on board with the F-35 because frankly, we have to be at this point. Love it or hate it, that's what we've got to work with for the next few decades. We just have to hope that it can work out it's kinks like past platforms that have risen from the ashes (ex: V-22 and B-1).


BB1984 September 2, 2011 at 12:16 am

There's two separate questions: one is whether or not the F-35 is a successful program and another is given where we are, what do we do now.

The F-35 was sold as a program to provide an affordable strike fighter and to fill the fighter gap. It has already failed at both no matter how amazing and shiny the new F-35s will be (or won't be, depending on who you believe).

In terms of where we are now, I think we have to build the F-35C to provide a "high mix" element, specializing in BVR air to air, for the US carrier force. The USMC can use some as well for much the same purpose and to provide a 'reserve' of carrier capable planes.

When the Navy can't even afford enough planes to fill its carrier decks, it makes no sense to commit to Naval VTOL aviation and the USMC has never proved a need for VTOL, though certainly STOL has proved useful. This, plus the lack of international customers for the F-35B, makes the F-35B expendable.

There is no need for the US to buy the F-35A at all. The USAF already has all the high mix, hard to maintain aircraft it can afford with B-2s and F-22s. The USAF needs numbers and planes for the wars it is actually fighting (wars like Iraq, A-stan, Vietnam, Korea).

Foreign customer can either persist with A models, if they want to absorb the costs, or buy C models in bulk buys with the USN and USMC, it's up to them. Cancelling the "A" doesn't matter because all the foreign Air Forces have painted themselves into corners with the "there is no alternative" line. If "there is no alternative" than they have to buy the C model. If there are alternatives, well why the hell were they going to buy the A?

Alternatives? We could have a strike UAV to replace the F-117 role in a few years, augmenting both the F-22/B-2 from land and the F-35C from the sea. For a low mix strike plane, we could develop a long ranged F-16XL type platform in a few years leveraging existing F-16 modernization programs and maybe a couple F-35 systems. This would see both the USAF and USMC through till we can figure out if the next generation of fighters is manned or unmanned. An interesting wild card scenario would be to produce a US version of a carrier capable Gripen to provide cheap, modern strike capability for the USN and USMC, where it's STOL capability could be very useful but this may be pushing the numbers game a little too far.


Mark O'Connell September 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm

The F-35B base configuration will become the most powerful variant in that it will house an engine powered high energy FEL. Keep in mind you can coil a particle accelerator if needed.


halcyon_ September 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Well said. The burden of proof here is with the people advocating the F-35 not people who doubt it.


Full Metal Dan September 2, 2011 at 2:39 am

Being an Australian enthusiast. I think we should scale down the numbers of F 35s we are purchasing to approx 60. Invest in the F 15 SE as our primary fighter. And get our hands on 8 - 10 B 1R's.
But in a perfecrt military budget… thats just me.


J Hughes September 2, 2011 at 2:54 am

Gates is a d-bag. Love the white elephant (steaming pile of…) he left the military with!


@E_L_P September 2, 2011 at 6:07 am

The F-35 is a failed program. They are just trying to figure out how to bury it. Almost 10 years on into SDD and it hasn't dropped one weapon and is no where close to IOC. The over-hyped low price only happens if thousands are made. Guess what is not going to happen? http://goo.gl/OOyor
For years since the beginning, in briefings affordability was the number one goal. Some of those briefings even had those words in red. Buy that measure it has already failed. It is too expensive to use for medium to low end threats and can't take on high end threats that will be around over its alleged service life.
This will be the military program management equal of the global financial crisis of 2008 when it falls down hard. The biggest industry growth the F-35 will produce will be that for lawyers.


Jeffrey Clements September 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

Chalk up another one for the Silent Eagle camp. As it stands now, the SE is limited by it's export level stealth limit. Why don't we make one with the full up coatings and test it against the F35? If it is close, or better integrate the F35s sensors and buy SEs.


William C. September 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

There is simply no way you're going to make a larger fighter with two engines any cheaper than the F-35. Even if you could approach the F-35's level of stealth from the frontal aspect the RCS from the side and rear would be huge compared to the F-35.


Sanem September 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I'm in the UAV camp:

- small jet-UCAV's for air defence: basically an unmanned F-16. very light, but fast and with a good range. no radar, just optical sensors, a few missiles and a direct LoS data link (very reliable over home territory). they can be built in large numbers, sold to allies, costs could easily be as low as $10 million

combine with a minimum of manned jets as a second line defence and in-air command and control

- X-47B style UCAV's for stealth attacks: launched from carriers or air bases, they'll have an excellent reach and loiter ability. you can field them in large numbers, bringing the cost to less than $50 million each, with top notch stealth and systems. an army of mini-B-2's, if you will

- Predator class UAV's for everything else: huge numbers of these will drive down cost, allow extreme coverage in any war zone, and combined with more advanced elements destroy any air defences at a minimal cost


cthel September 4, 2011 at 5:45 am

As long as you don't come up against an opponent who has the capability to jam your command links. After all, ground forces can always communicate by phone lines, so they can get away with just blanket jamming - its not like they'll need radios or radar, since your automated airforce doesn't work anymore.


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Pre-programmed routines is how that problem is solved. Just like a Tomohawk is a fire-and-forget weapon, drones, in time, will be able to act independently once they are given their targets.

It's very inefficient to have a human pilot a drone. Much better if they pilot themselves.


chaos0xomega September 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm

So 1700 F-35s and 180 F-22s… how is the Air Force expected to meet its 2500 fighter requirement Congressional mandate?


STemplar September 3, 2011 at 12:16 am

That's A models, there's like another 6 or 7 hundred Bs and Cs. At least as originally envisioned.


William C. September 3, 2011 at 3:19 am

I think he is referring to just the USAF.

You can throw in about 200 F-15Es that are planned to stay in service for a good while longer.


mitko September 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

You will still be 400 short.


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Yep. This is exactly what I was talking about. The JSF will lead to reduced numbers of fighter wings in the USAF (and maybe the USN) with little in the way of advanced capability.

We will miss those numbers if we tussle with a country like China, which will be able to match us in numbers, if not quality, fairly soon.

Nosferatu September 4, 2011 at 8:23 am

I always wondered why the DOD didn´t go for an F-22 modification for strike missions instead of developing the F-35. Like a passage from F-15C+F-15E to F-22A+ FB-22orF/A-22. I guess building up on an existing platform must be cheaper than building a brand new airframe, the F-15E demonstrates this. Aside of this, operational costs remain low and maintainance simplified since the two aircraft share the same airframe and engines. Have a look at the Russians. They took the Su-27 and developed a various number of aircrafts with various roles on its platform. They saved a lot of money with this kind of approach.


Andrew M September 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm

When you read about the design process of the PAK-FA and how Sukhoi did much of the initial work out of pocket using their export profits, it makes you a little sad to see the state of our current aerospace acquisition processes nowadays.

I know our engineers still do a lot of the grunt work to make truly innovative products (the PAK using F-22 design principles that were thought of and tested here), but paying as much as we have for a product of the F-35 sort just due to politics and jobs is somewhat depressing.

If the PAK-FA is produced near cost and with near the operational capacity promised, it will be a game changer. It was designed for the export market, it won't just be Russia and India flying these things. Teaching your pilots how to dodge an AMRAAM isn't that hard when your supermanuverable. Close to WVR fighting, and you can eat a F-35 for lunch, even with a much worse pilot.


saberhagen September 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

"Initial work"? You meant took the design of the Su-27/30 family and adding some stealth feature?


JSFMIKE September 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

OOhhh, the people who push jets that are old, expensive to maintain, carry weapons externally, fuel inefficient, and sensor deprived need to stop their talking and look at the realities of aircraft design. An Eagle SE is not stealthy; it just has a lower signature than a reagular F-15. The lower RCS is not that much lower to justify the purchase. The F-15 is 1960's technology. The F-18 with a trapazoidal engine intake is another form of the same argument. People, the only weapon these jets carry internally is a GUN. The moment you hang a pylon and a weapon on them you create a huge radar reflector. So, does anyone really think painting either of these jets with stealth coatings is going to make the sheet metal change shape? Also these jets are not fuel efficient. The F-18 especially has a bad reputation for having short legs. The F-15 is easily defeated by F-22's so enough about F-15's being the "Wave of the Future." If you are going to risk an aircraft carrier going in harm's way in 2030, at least have stealthy jets to press the attack. Don't you realize that the F-18 will be a 60 year old by then?


JoeC September 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Again, no one's claiming an F-18 or an F-15 built today would match an F-35 in stealth capability. But in all other areas, these planes should be able to be competitive with the F-35. Since the F-35 costs twice as much as these planes, I just don't see how this is smart.

Couple that with the fact that we will increasingly be turning to pilotless drones to do our flying dirty work and it seems rather nonsensical to waste any more money on a plane that adds so little to our current capabilities.

Better to buy some advanced F-18's/F-15's and use those as a stopgap until the autonomous drones are ready.


saberhagen September 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

oh, but the 'cost' of a pilot, regardless which plane he's flying, is the same, right?


Sev September 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Doesnt the B2 Spirit incorporate some form of plasma stealth?


Thomas L. Nielsen September 3, 2011 at 10:02 am

If we discount various extremely spurious accounts in Aviation Leak & Space Treknology and assorted posts on ATS, the evidence for that is, in a word, zero.

Add to that the fact that, looking at the obvious stealth features of the B2, there's absolutely no need to posit a "plasma stealth system" to account for the B2's low radar cross section.

Taking the above into account, I'm afraid the short answer to your question is "No". The long answer is "Noooooooooooooo".

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


BigRick September 5, 2011 at 1:11 am

WWi and WWII were "unthinkable" too. Never presume to know the future, but those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.


saberhagen September 8, 2011 at 12:06 am

Dont you mom tell you not to believe everything people put on the Internet? Why Russian has to bother with the PAK-FA if they have a tech that can turn any aircraft into a stealth one?


Thomas L. Nielsen September 16, 2011 at 3:22 am

"Plasma stealth is a proposed process…". Key word "proposed".

"There are few experimental studies of plasma’s effect on RCS.". Key word: "experimental".

"There have also been claims that in 2002 the Russians tested….". Key word: "claims".

"One of the most interesting russian fighters to benefit from the plasma stealth technology is the MiG 1.42/1.44". I see no evidence anywhere that the MiG 1.42/1.44 "benefits from plasma stealth". Says who?

MIGHT plasma stealth be made to work? Possibly. Does it work now, in any practical form: No evidence of that to date.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


halcyon_ September 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

SMSgt Mac,

So are you stating that because the F-35 is doing better than a lot of it's 'successful' predecessors there is no problem here? I notice you put successful in quotes as if you don't believe these unnamed predecessors were successful. If they weren't successful than even if the F-35 is better how does that serve as an argument that everything is fine with the F-35. Sounds like you are making the argument that because bad isn't worst, than it is good. If they were successful during deployment does that justify all the problems in development? Is it possible for a bad process to still produce viable results?

I think all of this "history as a standard" and "Not worst, therefore good" argument stuff fails to take into account that the political climate is completely different today and that is the real deciding factor in this projects survival.


halcyon_ September 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

SMSgt Mac,

Your pro-F-35 arguments suffer from the following fallacies. I've included single line summaries of many of your arguments. IF you feel I am unfairly summing up your arguments please direct me to evidence that I am not being fair to you.

Appeal to Tradition - this is the way military projects always work

Biased Sample - Because the F-35 program isn't as bad as these projects it is great http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/biased-s…

Appeal to novelty — The F-35 is the greatest best thing therefore it must continue http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-t…

Burden of Proof — Detractors must prove the F-35 is not the best plane in the world for it's job http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-o…


SMSgt Mac September 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Given the space limitations on DT, I will Fisk your post at my place and let you know when it happens here (No earlier than Sunday- late). It would be earlier, but I have other pressing commitments this weekend.
Kudos for the attempt and willingness to be specific and avoid logical fallacies, but unfortunately you employed several above. As a prequel — think about the phrase 'it does not follow' as it may apply to what you've posted.


halcyon_ September 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Thanks for the reply, and I have great respect for your service, however since I am only summarizing your arguments and asking you to clarify I think you will have a very difficult time proving that my logic is not sound. Asking you to clarify your position and pointing out your logical fallacies can only be right or wrong, not a logical fallacy. I haven't even started to argue against your points. Only point out that many of your arguments don't hold up to the standard you have selected.

The only point I have made here that might be considered an argument is that you are not taking into account the current political climate which is very different from 20-30 years ago. There is no logical fallacy there- I haven't even asserted my own opinion. In fact logic will not help you in understanding the current political climate.


halcyon_ September 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm

By the way in your post can you please answer my challenge that if I have misrepresented your position you provide evidence to show this. I am a clarity over agreement kind of guy. I don't care if we agree but I really don't want to slime you.


SMSgt Mac September 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Done. Post should be updated and bumped by 9PM Central. Enjoy.


Halcyon September 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Very interesting post. You are working very hard to deny the obvious. You dismiss what you don't agree with as a straw man and yet much of your refutation required inserting your own straw man for my position which you actually don't know. Instead of just saying I am not accurately stating your position you tried to create, weakly so, a whole set of logical problems on my part.

Here is my position. the f35 is not an ideal program but it
isn't the worst in all fairness. If it were a well managed project it would already be complete as was originally planned or at least not this far over budget. Denying this is pretty much impossible unless you are part of the problem. regardless of how great the project is if congress decides it needs to go to pay for some domestic program the f35 is dead end of story. It happened to the f22 and now the situation is worse for military funding. No matter how great the f35 is it is the perception of it, which currently is quite mixed, that will
decide whether or not it is cut.

You seem to be overly caught up in the details to see this. In the end only time will tell


SMSgt Mac September 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

LOL. That it? Keep creating that "Strawman" army, little one. Aside from making two unsupported affirmations, and a non-Sequitur in your second paragraph - they're your ONLY defense.


Thomas L. Nielsen September 16, 2011 at 3:13 am

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Those who do learn from history are doomed to make new mistakes.

Those who learn only what they wish to learn from history, they are simply doomed.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


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