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USMC’s First F-35s Arrive at Eglin

First Production Model F-35B Delivered to the Marine Corps

The Joint Strike Fighter schoolhouse at Eglin Air Force Base, Fl., recieved its first two F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variants of the JSF today. The two jets — the Marines’ first two production model F-35s — are the seventh and eighth JSFs to be sent to Eglin since last summer. No word on how long they’ll stay on the ground now that they’ve arrived. Remember, the Eglin jets have yet to be cleared to begin any sort of training flights so they’re being used as maintenance trainers.

Here’s Lockheed’s announcement on the latest delivery:

The first two Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] production model F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps today. The two jets are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla.

The aircraft, known as BF-6 and BF-8, flew separately arriving at 3:13 p.m. and 4:39 p.m. CST respectively after their approximate 90-minute ferry flights from Fort Worth, Texas. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann piloted BF-6 while U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor flew BF-8. Both 5th Generation fighter s will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era of advanced capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program executive vice president and general manager. “The F-35B’s versatility, as demonstrated onboard the USS WASP (LHD-1) last fall, will revolutionize our nation’s expeditionary combat power in all threat environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships. This aircraft will give our warfighters the ability to accomplish their mission, wherever and whenever duty calls.”

F-35 STOVLs met many critical milestones in 2011. In October, F-35Bs conducted their first set of ship trials, known as Developmental Test 1, 20 miles off the coast of Wallops Island, Va. During the 19-day testing period, BF-2 and BF-4 conducted 72 vertical landings and short takeoffs, accomplishing all test milestones during the mission. For the year, F-35Bs accomplished 333 System Development and Demonstration test flights and 268 vertical landings.

BF-6 and BF-8 are the first two F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense in 2012 and the seventh and eighth F-35 aircraft delivered to Eglin AFB since July 2011. Previously, six U.S. Air Force F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets were delivered to the base.

Click through the jump to watch a video of the first F-35B arriving at Eglin.

<iframe width=“490” height=“315” src=“http://www.youtube.com/embed/SrkZMkQ0wqY” frameborder=“0” allowfullscreen></iframe>

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{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

Black Owl January 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I will be very surprised if the USMC can keep F-35Bs in production. That model should have been cancelled since it is so problematic. It's no surprise that they haven't even been able to begin flight ops even after having nearly $100 billion dollars put into it.

For the price of every 1 F-35B ($150 million) we could make 3 Super Hornets ($53 million). What the USMC should have bought were AH-1Z Super Cobras and Super Hornets with stealthy international road map upgrades, which is nearly just as capable as the F-35B at a third of the cost: http://www.boeing.com/AeroIndia2011/pdf/Aero_Indi…

Also the STOVL capability in an aircraft is hardly ever used for the purpose it was intended. We should not waste billions of dollars designing STOVL capability into fighters since we never drop them off in hot zones due to an increase in anti-access weapons technology. The STOVL capability in a fighter is useless and expensive.

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William C. January 12, 2012 at 2:00 am

I swear you always post the same thing.

$150 million is the current LRIP cost for the F-35B. Such costs will go down as the design is stabilized and production methods improved upon. Also, an upgraded E/F Super Hornet would cost more than current Block II models do. Plus it can't operate from any sort of LHA or LHD.

A STOVL fighter is bound to be more expensive than a comparable CTOL or CV aircraft. That's the added complexity you're dealing with. But the benefits are enough where USMC leadership will fight damn hard for STOVL.

We've invested so much in the F-35B where it would be a damn shame to not see it through. It's the last, best hope for a new STOVL fighter in the foreseeable future. But the Marines will already be operating some F-35Cs anyway.

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Mike January 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

Broken record. Please explain this"International Roadmap Upgrades" you keep referring to. I would also like to know what your background is as well.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

Black Owl provided a link. Here are some more:
http://www.boeing.com/Features/2011/06/bds_pas_fu…
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=5653656
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_chan…
http://livefist.blogspot.com/2010/08/boeing-offer…

Looking at his link, the interesting bits are likely:

-Conformal fuel tank
-Next gen display
-Low RCS weapons pod
-IRST
-Enhanced GE414

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Black Owl January 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

I post it because it needs to be brought to peoples' attention that the F-35 is not the best choice for the Navy or USMC. I don't care whether or not you agree with me, but I want to bring the faults to everyone's attention since these are often not mentioned with the techno-craze that follows the F-35. The fact that this fighter is terribly flawed in its design, is extremely expensive, and is not worth the capability that it costs is what people need to at least consider.

The price of the F-35B will go down by how much? When the Super Hornet started going into production it was $57-60 million dollars and it went down by only $7-5 million even with its production methods fully matured. Is the F-35 with all its flaws going to be able to drop its value through production more than $7 million? If so at what cost? It's pretty hard to believe that it could drop its unit price more than that of the Falcon and Super Hornet.

We could upgrade our Block II aircraft to the SHIRM standard for cheap and, yes, the SHIRMs would cost more than the Block II, but not by much. The SHIRM's R&D for the most part has already been payed for, mostly by the F-35 developers. Unit cost increase would most likely go back up to $60-68 million, which is still worth it.

The mere fact that USMC leadership is fighting hard for it doesn't mean it's worth it. There hasn't been an instance when the STOVL capability in a fighter has actually made a significant difference that could not be compensated for by a full airbase of fixed wing fighters or a carrier. The Falklands don't count since we have different military capabilities than the British and we could have had a carrier there in a matter of days should we have had the need to carry out the same mission.

Yes, we've invested a lot in the F-35 and the R&D was well worth it, but it would be even more of a shame to bankrupt ourselves over this jet. How many of these do we have to buy before the cost goes down to something reasonable? That is the real question and ultimately I don't think our economy could deal with it.

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PMI January 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm

The LRIP F-22s were between $200M & $230M each. Once production was fully spooled up they were being delivered for $140M-$160M a pop. That was during a production run which was far smaller than the F-35.

Japan is paying $114M per copy for the F-35's they've ordered.

The Navy paid $81M each for 22 F/A-18E/Fs in FY11.

All of those numbers are from the actual budgets signed by Congress (the Japan numbers are of course not part of the US budget but are still documented).

Now you're claiming the (as of now completely non-existent) international road map Hornet will have a unit cost 1/3 of that of an F-35.

What on earth has possibly led you to this conclusion!? Do you believe that the IR version will magically be produced without the additional funding being necessary to design & integrate the modifications? Your claim even beyond that…that not only will it not cost a dime for the upgrades (which again don't exist as of yet) but that they will actually reduce the cost of the airframe.

Leaving out the entire misunderstanding of how the currently deployed airframe (ie the AV-8B) are utilized in an expeditionary role (they aren't sea based, they go ashore with the rest of the MAGTF) …. your actual fiscal numbers don't make any sense.

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Black Owl January 14, 2012 at 4:36 am

Which costs are you using? I was using the fly away cost only. Please translate your numbers into the fly away cost and not the NET cost.

The Super Hornet's NET cost is $81.5 million. The F-35's NET cost is $190 million. This not how you argue with numbers.

Ed! January 12, 2012 at 7:32 am

They said the same thing about the AV-8A harriers when we got them. As for the "get more super hornets" line you had. Are you a rep for Boeing? I swear you sound like their cheerleader. The Super Hornet won't give the Marine Corps what they need, nor will adding more AH-1Zs to the mix. For starters, the fact that the F-35B can go magnitudes faster than any AH-1Z means you can get to the fight faster. Second, if they get more Super Hornets, then they can't use assets like the Wasp as carriers for them.

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Black Owl January 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

You obviously haven't read my other posts. No, I am not a rep for Boeing. I don't care about corporations or market sales for any arms company. I care about what is effective and is the best thing for our services.

Let me ask you this: If we put all of our money into making full bread carriers with fixed wing jets would we still have need of the light carriers with STOVL fighters? Also, what has a light carrier with STOVL fighters done that a CVN couldn't do?

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Send Marines to shore in an Amphib Operation.

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Black Owl January 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm

No, what I mean is why not just configure our light carriers specifically for the purpose of putting Marines on shore and have a CVN nearby to conduct all of the Air Ops? If we come into a situation where we are putting marines on other shores then an aircraft carrier will probably have arrived several days before hand. Light carriers should be armed with Super Cobras because that compliments their mission of getting the marines on shore.

What I am getting at is that the air capability of STOVL fighters on a light carrier is extremely expensive and doesn't provide the nearly the capability for its price. The STOVL capability in fighter has also not made any difference in the wars that we have fought.

Mike January 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

Please define anti-access weapons technology.

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Black Owl January 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

Rocket artillery, long range SAMs, terrorists with MANPADS,… you know. Those things that cause us to station our aircraft on airstrips miles away from the proposed place a fight might break out.

When we conceived the Harrier we though of it jumping out of the woods camouflaged to attack and slow down the Soviet armored fist that would have been rolling over Europe, then it would fly back to the rear where an airfield awaited it for support. Even in that capacity it doesn't deliver enough damage to be effective and the cost of moving maintenance personnel, fuel, and aircraft parts left a big footprint and was a logistics nightmare. After slowing down the Soviet armored fist all of its personnel, parts, and fuel at it's original station camouflaged in the woods would end up in the hands of the Red Army as it advanced further forward.

Now that the Cold War is over we have no specific use for the Harrier so we just use it in the exact same ways we would use a fixed wing aircraft, with the exception being the USMC and their light carriers who attempt their best to use it just the same way the US Navy uses fixed wing fighters. The only difference is that the Harrier is much less capable than any modern fixed wing aircraft because it was designed as a STOVL fighter. My question is why are we still buying STOVL fighters if we don't use their STOVL capability for anything special? Also, why not just stop paying for light carriers and Harriers and focus our money on CVNs and fixed wing-carrier based aircraft, which can do everything and more that the light carriers? What does the light carrier offer us that is so special?

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blight January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

We don't have light carriers. Those ships carry Marines first, and the fact that you think of them as light carrier speaks volumes as to the perception of the Marine amphibious mission. A standard LPD/LHD often carries 6 Harriers as part of the mix of aircraft. Six is not a potent force multiplier, and you'd have to pare away at the other aircraft to build up an interesting air wing. And as others have noted, you also ditch the full ensemble of aircraft that come with a CV: no electronic warfare aircraft, no Hawkeye. There's been no word if they there will be an EW variant of the JSF, and if there is, will it be VTOL too?

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Dumb Grunt January 13, 2012 at 3:00 am

You do not understand the mission of the AV-8B. It's purpose is to provide fixed wing air support for Marine Expeditionary Units. That means air superiority and air/ground support of the MEU; that is a mission the AH-1Z or any other helicopter in any country's inventory, CAN NOT DO. Yes, it is early 1970's tech(upgraded). The AH1Z cannot carry a 250lb bomb, let alone a 500lb, 1000lb bomb or even a cluster bomb. While the AH1Z is one the best attack helicopter in the world, it has limitations where the AV8B covers.

To eliminate the "light carriers" or the LHA's, LHD's, or LPD's is counter productive as it will severely limit the Marines ability to get ashore. Especially if they need their M1A2 Abrahm tanks, the LAV-25 is not surf quailified and what do we do with the LCAC's ? How do you launch the AAV7A1's ? How do you get get the beach set up for the logistics ? You see the well deck is an important part of how a MEU gets to shore; flying everything to shore by helicopter is impossible and not tactically sound. Besides, what you call a "light carrier"; the Navy and Marine Corps call Amphibious Assault Ships.

The F35B is a much needed improvement in abilities the Marines have been needing. The AV8B is more difficult to fly for the pilot, but many of these issues have been corrected in the F35B, giving the pilot the greater ability to concentrate more on the needs of the mission. As for having a carrier group in range to support the MEU is not always possible. Remember, everything in the MEU is there to support the Infantry. It is always better to have the capabilities and not have to use them, than not have them and desperately need them when lives are in the balance.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

Hope you know that the USMC plans to get rid of the well deck so they can add an expanded hanger for more F-35B's. That kind of defeats the purpose don't you agree?

Sorry I keep calling them "light carriers." That's what I heard them first called when I discovered them and the name stuck in my mind.

Anyway, if Gators are dropping Marines on enemy shores then they obviously wouldn't be doing it alone or by themselves. If they are in a high threat enviroment they would not perform well against an enemy air force and the F-35B simply isn't worth the price when having a CVN nearby with a bunch of fixed-wing fighters (hopefully cheap ones that are extremely reliable like the Super Hornets) would get the job done much better and at much lower risk. If the Gators were designed specifically with the purpose of putting Marines on shore and supporting them ( things like keeping the well deck) then it would be the best mix possible for accomplishing the mission.

Black Owl January 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Administrator, you don't take well to someone making a good point with some sense do you?

JRL January 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

That thing is gonna cost a whole lot more than $150M a pop. The propulsion systems alone for the 3 LRIP-V Marine jets costs in excess of $125M each.

Even if they manage to cut the price by a third for FRP, it'll be more than $90M just to make the 'B' go.

Pretty lousy close-support bang for the buck…

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Charley A January 12, 2012 at 12:07 am

The STOVL jets landed conventionally today at Eglin…..

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@Earlydawn January 12, 2012 at 1:46 am

Why wouldn't they?

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William C. January 12, 2012 at 2:01 am

Seems people are under the impression that they ought to put more wear and tear on the aircraft to please internet spectators.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

Why STOVL when you can do it the easy way?

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AlC January 12, 2012 at 12:07 am

I don't mind high startup costs as R&D is often figured in.

But this is not a replacement for the A-10 as the USAF claims.
And I bet USMC grunts would prefer an A-10 to this puff pastry.

Stealth for ground support is a pretty idiotic concept.

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@Earlydawn January 12, 2012 at 1:49 am

The stealth isn't for ground support. It's so the F-35Bs can operate in high air defense areas like the A and the C. It turns every gator into a small version of a CVN.

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Lance January 12, 2012 at 12:11 am

You got it AIC a A-10 or harrier is better more designed for Close Air Support than air to air the F-35 is made for. Over all the Corps should buy C models and ditch this crappy VTOL B version.

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Rabbit January 12, 2012 at 1:34 am

If that's the case, then what's the point of having Marine aviation at all? It could just be rolled into Naval aviation. Maybe that's why they're being obstinate about this. I'm still generally supportive of the JSF, but I also think people are right to be skeptical of STOVL capability, whether or not it is needed, and whether or not it works well on the F-35B.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 7:36 am

You are in a firefight and no Carrier is currently on station off the coast, but the LHD is. You have two choices on board. The AH-1Zs which can get there around 150kph or you can get the F-35s which can go Super Sonic and go kinetic against the target faster. Tell me which you want now.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

Or the Harriers, which are faster than the Cobras (sub sonic?), are in the force now but fare poorly against modern air defense than either -35B or the AH-1.

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Josh January 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

You think we can keep the Harriers flying forever? I think you just contradicted your own point about having STOVL aircraft on ships like the Wasp.

Ben January 12, 2012 at 2:58 am

Click on most F-35B articles and the comment section always features some comment along these lines: "F-35B is overpriced, B version ought to be canceled, we really ought to buy Super Hornets or cheaper planes instead," yadda yadda yadda.

*sigh*

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Dale January 12, 2012 at 3:08 am

Yes Ben agreed, its normally that tiresome (and slightly simple) ELP fella doing it. Give it an hour or two and he'll be along.

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Bill Sweetman January 12, 2012 at 3:25 am

Hurr durr, just you wait for the runways to melt, hurr durr

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William C. January 12, 2012 at 3:35 am

You're not the real Bill Sweetman. If you were, you would also remind us how the noise of the F-35 will blow out the eardrums and brains of everybody in a 20 mile radius.

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Jeff January 12, 2012 at 6:14 am

The F35 is like the arch of the covenant at the end of Indiana Jones?

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 7:40 am

the ARK, its not a geometric shape that has great structural integrity.

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Brian Black January 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

For all the money spent, it’s still one hell of an ugly plane.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 8:28 am

So is the A-10…until the bullets start flying. Then its the most beautiful thing you have ever set your eyes upon.

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Brian Black January 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

The A-10 isn't ugly.
It may not be a classical beauty, but it has a functional beauty (like a stocky, ruddy faced farm girl… with powerful arms; but fresh teenage skin and bright, excited eyes).

F35 is just a big fat ugly truck. I wouldn't be seen dead with unsightly air support; style matters when you're fighting a war… or what the hell are we fighting for?

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

This isn't a fashion show. The B-52 is another example of not winning the fashion show either. Its nickname prooves that one. The Big Ugly Fat…Fellow.

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Knight Owl January 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm
blackavenger January 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

So, why are we building an airplane that is not qualified to fly, If they build a non flyable multimillion dollar brick. Why not just give them bricks instead of airplanes? The F35 is proving to be a goat. Lets hope it is useable in some manner. So far its ………………

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

Most aircraft in the world today cannot fly without constant corrections by their computer systems. The F-16, F-117, and the B-2 are all clear cases of this. In the fly-by-wire era, you can design the aircraft to be inherently unstable and yet still flyable. The F-16 for example has its center of gravity about 6 feet outside and underneath the aircraft, thus making it so incredibly maneuverable as a fighter. Yet I think you can see that the examples I stated have been very succesful in their combat careers.

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JRL January 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

Ed! sez: "The F-16 for example has its center of gravity about 6 feet outside and underneath the aircraft…"

Gosh! They must'a put one of them fancy new stealth centers of gravity on it, cuz I never saw anything hangin 6 feet outside and under any F-16s, and I've seen lots of 'em.

BTW, I guess that stealthy CGs must be retractable so it doesn't get ground off cuz there sure ain't no 6 feet of room under a Viper fuselage when it's sittin' on the tarmac…

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

JRL, before you go spouting off in spray and pray, do some research like I have. http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/air/fi…
Go to the part about negative stability and read. Have a nice day my friend.

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JRL January 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I'm a guessin' that English ain't your first language, Ed. Either that, or you've been so busy reading up all about aeroplanes, that you've neglected learning the art of parsing sentences.

BTW, I'm fully cognizant of subjects like FBW, relaxed stability, and modern fighter aerodynamic design. Just as I'm aware that NO airplane, FBW or otherwise, has its CoG located 6 ft *outside* or *under* the actual airframe. LOL…

blackavenger January 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

Who in thier right mind is going to land base a $125 million dollar F35 VTOL in the vicinity of a hot combat zone in unfriendly or enemy territory? Even stupidity isnt that stupid. Get real..

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

We have our multi-billion dollar carriers pass the strait of Hormuz on a fairly regular basis next to a hostile nation. So its a safe bet we can do that with an F-35 at an Air base somewhere.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 10:18 am

We base aircraft in Afghanistan itself, within rocket range of the insurgents. We did the same in Iraq, GW1 and Vietnam, and in the latter sappers were quite successful at destroying aircraft.

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William C. January 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

Didn't the USMC operate the big F-4 Phantom II from rather short dirt-airstrips in Vietnam? How they did that is beyond me, but if they can do they they can certainly operate a Harrier or F-35B in similar conditions.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

Harriers were operated near the front lines in Desert Storm and proved invaluable to the Marines for their close Air Support capability they could provide.

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CPT SP8 January 12, 2012 at 9:23 am

Look I'm not a pilot but seems folks bring up the A-10 a lot. Assuming the USMC had them just exactly how would they get in the air off a ship ? If say the Wasp had enough deck, I would think you would still never get in in the air with much of a pay load. I see the A10s flying over my gun line and think God they are on our side but i can't see them ever flying off a flat deck of any kind but what do I know.

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4FingersOfBourbon January 12, 2012 at 9:51 am

They've landed C-130's on deck before, and a u2. I'm sure you could figure out on an A10

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blight January 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

On deck of the Forrestal, a 300m carrier. Flight deck might not be long enough on an LPD/LHD for C-130's.

From http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/aurev…

"The A-10 has demonstrated a takeoff distance of 1900 feet in the high desert, with four 500-pound bombs and 750 rounds of 30mm ammunition; at lower altitudes and without bombs the distance would be less"

The upper limit would be ~600 meters, a carrier at sealevel "would be less", but does not say how much less.

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CPT SP8 January 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

My point is if you need to fly off an LHD for CAS then the A10 is not going to be a lot of help to the USMC. I love the A10 and i wish there were more of them and I hope they never go away but why compaire it in this case.

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JRL January 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

The REAL point is whether you *need* fast jets, esp advanced stealth jets, flying off Gators for Marine close-support, at all. IMO, you don't. Esp when money is tight, and the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to buy and operate each one of those highly complex jets, is money you can no longer put towards a more useful capability.

Gators simply cannot operate on their own in a high threat environment. And in low threat environments, there is no need for stealth and advanced A2A capabilities. So, why pay big bucks for them when you could get the same tactical results from attack helicopters or a simple STOL close-support jet or turboprop?

If the F-35B was going to be as cheap to own and operate as had been promised when the JSF program began, it would be a bargain, albeit a bargain burdened under the weight of largely useless extras, but it's now very clear it will never be able to fulfill those promises. It deserves to be axed, and the resources put towards more cost-effective solutions to the USMC's CAS requirements.

@Patrick79x January 12, 2012 at 10:47 am

I just love how all of you keyboard warriors know SO much more than our military planners. Who knows what the armed forces need more than the armed forces themselves??

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@Patrick79x January 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

The F-35 will be more survivable than an F-18. It's at least as maneuverable as an F-18, and it's stealth and sensor suite cannot be touched by any teen series fighter.

So why exactly would we procure F-18s and cancel the F-35? Just because the f-35 isn't an acrobatic airshow queen doesn't mean it won't get the job done.

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Michael January 12, 2012 at 10:50 am

Honestly, the B looks like a nice replacement to the Harrier. I don't really care for the A version due to the stubby looking wings (reminds me of the F-104's wings). I like the C model due to the longer wingspan. I'm a little concerned though that due to the cost of the 5th generation fighters that there will be fewer piloted aircraft to go around, and we're going to see more drones going into combat zones. -And this problem will be worse with the dozen or so 6th generation fighters we're going to buy many years down the road.

Also, due to the "attack" role of the F-35B, shouldn't the designation be A-35? Afterall, it's replacing the AV-8B Harrier.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Designations are fast and loose. The Strike Eagle is still the -E, and carries no attack designation.

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Riceball January 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

A better example of this is the F-117, an aircraft designed and optimized for the ground attack with no air to air capability what so ever but got an F designation to make it seem sexier to prospective pilots. This way F-117 pilots could still consider themselves to be fighter jocks even though they fly a plane that's really much more of a light bomber than a fighter.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

It is a multi-role fighter and as such should have the F designation. Perhaps they will change the name to F/A-35 in the near future.

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Brian January 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

Getting a new bird on the flight line was like getting a new car!

Ah, that new airplane smell!

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Occam's Elec Trimmer January 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

I think we're going about this whole STOVL all wrong - just engineer all of our carriers/amphibious assault ships to accelerate to 130 knots and every plane becomes STOVL. Just fly them off the decks like kites!

(Hopefully no one in the Pentagon reads this and starts a feasibility study. Ha ha ha)

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Yar Yar January 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

The problem -or maybe not- is that if we could create a carrier traveling at 130 knots, we probably don't need them planes protecting it. It would just be the badass mother ship. :)

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm

It is theoretically possible to do so if you reduce the drag on the ship. If you can get a torpedo to do in excess of 300 knots using Super Cavitation, then perhaps you could get a larger vessel to those speeds. Also look into Wing in Ground Effect aircraft. The Soviets had a pretty good design going for a few years.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

You're not suggesting massive ekranoplanes that launch planes?

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

No I am just saying it is theoretically possible.

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crackedlenses January 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Best idea yet!…..

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Dumb Grunt January 13, 2012 at 3:14 am

Only one small problem with that. How do you get the flight deck crew to be able to work safely without being blown overboard ?

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 13, 2012 at 4:23 am

Duct tape.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Guest A January 13, 2012 at 7:25 am

Magnetic footwear…?

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

Boots with really strong grip.

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Dumb Grunt January 14, 2012 at 5:41 am

Ever work on a flight deck during flight ops ? I have, and add the 130kt pace; you would not have much of a flight deck crew after the first time you try it. It is a long fall from the flight deck to the water.

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Taylor January 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

It would be interesting to see if the F35B is cheaper overall if the proportionate cost of the vessel that is delivering it is taken into account. The cost of one aircraft carrier divided by so many jets versus the cost of a Wasp type carrier divided by the jets it carries. You could do the same calculations for a land base built near a fight but possibly with much shorter runways. The basing cost reductions might make up for the increased cost of the jet.? Just a thought.

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Commisar12 January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm

another F-35 post, another Black owl post trying to sell a 25 year old fighter

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Black Owl January 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Another person rolling his eyes, but not willing to make a point. What else is new?

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Commisar12 January 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm

alright here is my point. The F/A-18 Super Hornet has inferior sensors, inferior stealth capability, and inferior expandability to the F-35. You may say, “well they can just upgrade the radar.” Well, the F-18 only has so much power available and its nose is smaller. As for sensors, the F-18 has no DAS and for laser targeting and video imaging it needs an external pod that WILL impact aerodynamic performance. As for stealth, it all comes down to shaping. The F-18 is maxed out as far as stealth goes, you really can't do much more with it other than radical design changes. As for expandability, the F-35 is a clean slate for upgrades, while you really can't keep adding stuff onto a F-18 without making it overweight or even less maneuverable than it already is. Lastly, fuel costs. As a single engined jet, the F-35 will burn less fuel than a F-18. Sure, you may scream that a single engined carrier jet is dangerous, but wasn't a F-8 Corsair singled engined? How about the Royal navy harriers? or the French navy Entards? I can't understand why you think that stealth, better sensors, greater expandability, and better fuel economy are all negatives and that you want to keep a 25+ year old jet in service.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 3:21 am

Okay, the Super Hornet's sensors aren't that inferior to the F-35. The difference is marginal. We don't really need the better sensors. What we need are sensors that are good enough to get the job done which the Super Hornet, Falcon, and Eagle series still have. Those sensors are also very easy to upgrade without increasing the size of the nose, btw. The F/A-18E/F hasn't reached anywhere near its maximum expandability and neither has the F-15SE or the F-16.

The F/A-18E/F still has excess cooling, extra space, and spare power for further upgrades. In fact, it has more expandability than the F-35's since the latter has been filled with major design flaws. It is not a clean slate for upgrades because it's nearly been maxed out already in trying to fix the flaws. The F-35 is also less maneuverable than the Super Hornet just so you know. Since when is the Super Hornet overweight? None of the upgrades have hindered its performance significantly and Boeing also made upgraded engines that increase the thrust by 20% so there's no chance of that happening anytime soon.

You don't know what the SHIRM is do you? Here's a link: http://www.boeing.com/AeroIndia2011/pdf/Aero_Indi…

It has an internal IRST, glass cockpit display, conformal fuel tanks, and a stealthy weapons pod that can hold 2 AMRAAMs and 2 bombs just like the F-35. Also, Boeing proved that with no external stores the F-15SE had a frontal radar cross section that was equal to that of the F-35. The Super Hornet airframe has more RCS reduction features than the F-15 and the removal of external stores and the addition of the stealthy weapons pod should have a similar effect. It also has spherical IR and laser scanners to keep the pilot aware about the entire aircraft. Basically the SHIRM has all the tech an F-35 has.

First thing about costs with the F-35, its unit cost and maintenance cost far exceed any savings you would get from fuel economy. By the way the fuel economy increase is not that much seeing as how the 1 engine on the F-35 burns a lot more fuel than 1 F414 on the Super Hornet. Yes, single engined jets have been used on carriers before and then we switched to using dual engined jets for a really good reason: engine flame out.

The bottom line is that 1 F-35 costs as much as 3 Super Hornets and it does not provide that much of an increase in performance to justify its worth. It was designed to be cheap in the first place and that failed terribly.

Also, the age of weapon's design doesn't mean anything if it is still effective and able to be kept up to date.

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Gunner January 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I wish they would buy more A-10's instead of trying to replace them. They sure won't find anything better for the job!

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Oli January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Black owl think small get small results think big get big results. Sometimes by pushing yourself technologically regardless of cost has advantages that can’t really be measured in cost.

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tiger January 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Or just use Viagra….

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superraptor January 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

The F-35 is an engineering disaster. If there are no good news forthcoming this year such expanded flight envelope and effective thermal management, the whole f-35 program will inch closer to cancelaltion

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Uranium238 January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I agree and disagree with this post. We do need a multirole stealth fighter to replace the legacy aircraft, but the handling of the F-35 is going terribly wrong. There are too many issues with poltics right now to actually let Lockheed take some time and introduce more opinions and alternatives to resolve problems. I do however strongly advocate that we need both the F-22 and F-35 in large quantities to replace the aircraft we are using developed in the 1970s.

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tiger January 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

"Engineering Disaster?" Space Shuttles burning to a crisp, Is a Disaster. There is nothing that bad about the F35.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 8:13 am

The JSF program is not an engineering disaster. What made all the cost overruns and delays were all the added features that kept getting added to the final product. The JSF was intended originally as a fighter to replace the F-16 and at some point, the F/A-18. They then wanted to add replacing the A-10, the AV-8B, and to some extent the F-15E since there will not be enough F-22s to go around. Each added mission and role adds more to the Airframe and more to overcome.

Making a baseline Air Superiority fighter is pretty cut and dry. Make it somewhat unstable to fly to start with and then add a powerful engine and a good avionics suite and some nice air to air weapons and a gun. Now add stealth to it. Next add air to ground. Next add Net-centric warfare. All of this takes time to fit and work into the final production line. Just be glad they didn't want a coffee maker in this or Lockheed would still be trying to figure out how to put a cappucino machine and a barista in the aircraft.

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superraptor January 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

well, if you are correct that it is not an engineering disaster we should see a very expanded flight envelope this year such as high g maneuvers and high AOA testing and no flight restrictions because of thermal management issues and no IPP problems and no stealth coating issues at high mach speeds and no tailhook issue. Remember it is 2012 already. We are 6 years behind compared to where the F-35 should be. If by the end of 2012 there are no good news or only bad news, the F-35 would have to considered unfixable and the whole program should be cancelled.
Under those circumstances the USN and the USAF actually could make due with upgraded block 3 SHs supplemented with new upgraded F-22s and nothing would been lost except 60 billion dollars.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 10:12 am

I think they are out of the woods on that with the first production models coming into service. Remember that the STOVLs did admirably on the Wasp for the Near-shore tests and the A and C models have progressed just as well. That being said…I still want more F-22s because it is the better plane in my book.

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tiger January 14, 2012 at 5:29 am

For chasing Migs that are not there. We have not had a real Air to air fight since 1991.

StrumPanzer January 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I still think the X-32 may have been a better choice, even though it looked like the ugly stick was used to design it. Did find a cool picture of the X-32. http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4c1b4b7f7…

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Anlushac11 January 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Cancel the F-35B and what do you expect Marines to fly into combat off the LHA's?

Harriers have been out of production for years and the USMC is getting hard pressed to find parts to keep them flying. In fact the USMC just negotiated a deal to buy all the FAA and RAF Harriers parts and aircraft to keep the USMC Harriers flying.

F-18 cant operate off the Gators, neither can the F-35A or C model

I remember when the Super Hornet came out and all the magazines and "experts" criticized the Super Hornet as a dog. "It cant turn, it cant climb, it cant do anything well." Seems those complaints were before the software engineers fine tuned and optimized the fly by wire system and suddenly the Super Hornet wasnt such a dog anymore, in fact its a pretty potent fighter.

The Engineers have several years to fine tune and optimize the F-35B and its being criticized, I suspect by many of the same "experts" who criticized the Super Hornet, when the aircraft has not even become operational yet.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 12:48 am

F-18 and F-35C cannot fly off Gators? True. But last I heard the Navy has these boats that planes can take off and comeback and land on. I know alot of Marines do not know of this, but these "brand new" aircraft carrier thingys can sail almost everywhere the Gator boats can. Love the aircraft, but don't know if it will or should survive the budget cuts.

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PMI January 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

You may be shocked to learn that most Amphibious Ready Groups don't have a CVN at their disposal.

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@Earlydawn January 14, 2012 at 12:47 am

Seems like somebody doesn't know the difference between an ARG and CSG.

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tiger January 14, 2012 at 5:31 am

Those CVN's are getting fewer in number. They can not be everyplace.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

I think its great that the aircraft are being delivered. If you give a 60 day window for flight clearance maybe they can fly on the 25th anniversary of the Yak-41 Freestyle's first flight. We could have funded Yak , bought the airframes, plumbed them with US spec avionics and fire control systems, tested them and fielded them 15 years ago. The USMC could have had a Harrier replacement that flew supersonic, had twice the payload and twice the range of the AV-8B, and saved the taxpayer a GGGazillion dollars.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 2:43 am

American pride would never allow us to use Russian tech.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Read the history of the F-35B and the JSF project. LockMart is using Russian tech or Russian inspired tech(that they designed but could not pull off) today on all of the JSF variants.

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William C. January 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

The idea of the vectoring rear nozzle dates back to the Convair 200 which lost out to the Rockwell XFV-12.

Lockheed saw an opportunity to get some experience with that configuration so they funded the Yak-41 for awhile (at the time Yakolev was out of cash and looking for foreign partners).

The biggest difference is the two lift engines on the Yak-41 (and Convair 200) vs the single shaft-driven lift fan on the F-35B.

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William C. January 13, 2012 at 3:23 am

The Yak-41 wasn't all that perfect. It still had a lot of bugs to work out before being ready for action. Plus the engine configuration on the thing was actually more complicated than the F135-PW-600 and lift-fan combination.

Lockheed actually funded and worked jointly with Yakovlev for some time to get experience with the vectoring nozzle concept. Yet there were no customers and work on the aircraft was dropped.

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Terry January 13, 2012 at 6:40 am

Lol, Good luck taking a fourship of Yak-41's into a sophisticated IADS environment.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Yes William, the Yak-41 Freestyle had many problems and glitches(sounds like a JSF) but as the JSF proponents on these same pages state it takes awhile for the normal development to work out the bugs. Then again the total cost of developement, production(5 aircraft) and operations for the Freestyle over a 6 year life span was almost as much as we here at the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB spent on tires the last five years. Imagine what Yak could have done with 1/100 of the money we have put into the F-35B? Drop the stealth, drop the Star-Wars computers and sensors, keep what we know works and give the USMC a useful attack (A not F or F/A) aircraft.
Should be availible in 2015 when Obama folds the 1 remaining Marine Division and the 30,000 remaining Marines under the 18th Airborne Corps colors. And yes the documents produced by the Whitehouse on Wednesday(and endorsed by SecDef Panetta) claim the President as commander in chief has the power to bypass Congress and set the composition and size of the armed forces by executive order. Making the 1950s Congressional act setting the size of the USMC at 3 Divisions and 3 Airwings, null and void. Thats what the folks on these pages should really be concerned about.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

As for american pride and industry not letting us use Russian or other foreign technology and design for our major projects, you are right. We would never do that.
Its not like American Engineers would build full scale replicas of a Horton H-229 bomber in California in the 1980s to test the Horton Brothers claims of achieving stealth when they started developement of the B-2. Oh wait thats exactly what they did!
http://greatsatansgirlfriend.blogspot.com/2009/07…

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JRL January 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Here's yet another in a long line of troubling reviews of the JSF program - the 2011 DOT & E Report. Take special note of the section on the 'Bee'. You know, the CAS jet whose still-problematic propulsion system alone is currently costing over $125M., but isn't allowed to push it beyond 400 knots when below 18,000 ft…
http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/283239/sect…

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WarlordGirl January 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

USMC aviation has kicked ass for so long with legacy platforms, so it makes me sick to hear all these negative comments, USMC Aviation has been doing so much with so little WITH OLD F-18"s AND AV-8B's. The Corps needs F-35B, it's long over due. It's time to upgrade. All these negative comments must be coming form Navy or Air force Aviation because the USMC will eventually put them out of commission! Ooh-Rah! Quit your whining!

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Dumb Grunt January 14, 2012 at 5:50 am

The reason is they do not understand how unique the needs of the Corps is. None of them know that the Corps pioneered Close Air Support in the US military.

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JRL January 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

Cheerleaders and fairy-tale tellers - So durn precious that you just gotta love 'em!

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Dumb Grunt January 16, 2012 at 1:37 am

This supposed to be a discussion. If you have something constructive to say, then please do. This childish response shows a great lack of maturity with a closed mindedness which refuses to learn; let alone teach with wisdom.

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JRL January 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

Spare me your sanctimonious lectures on chat room etiquette, and pompous pseudo-psychoanalyzing of my presumed character defects. My response to both Warlord Girl and yourself was entirely appropriate.

Warlord Girl was hardly having a 'discussion'. Rather, it was a partisan rant whose essential message was that anyone who disagreed with her and her precious Corps, just ought'a shut the hell up.

As for you and your sweeping blanket judgement of our lamentable ignorance, that also fails to fit the criterion of a discussion. Not to mention that your first assertion is false, and your second, utterly irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

There is nothing 'unique' about the CAS needs of the USMC. What they require from CAS is exactly the same as any other infantry and/or armoured forces. As is demonstrated by the fact that they have for the past decade been well served CAS-wise not by only the USAF and USN, but by the air forces of other nations as well. It doesn't take a gold-plated VMA pogo stick to deliver a JDAM, or make a strafing run.

The little history lesson from between-the -wars is neither esp esoteric, nor relevant in any meaningful way. The USMC has contributed no significant tactical innovations to the CAS domain in the intervening 75 years whatsoever. And when was the last time you saw the introduction of a dedicated dive-bomber, anyway?

If you don't like ridicule, don't be ridiculous.

Papi1960R January 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I know its so unique of a need that nobody else asks to use. Not really that unique is that after spending over 2year in Iraq and 6 years in Afghanistan with 1st, 3rd, and 5th SFGs I know it is rarely and poorly utilized. Our TacAir NCOs would almost always Dutch, Norwiegen, British and even the French air support, if availible, before calling US air assets(the exception is AC-130 and B-1Bone support). The order in which US assets were prefered were USN then USAF. Even with when Marine assets were readily availible(Pantomm Fury) they are the last resort for CAS, but actually not far behind the other two. I have routinely observed Dutch and partically French aircrews complete support missions which all of the American branches, including Marine Air have aborted out of(too dangerous).

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Dumb Grunt January 16, 2012 at 2:12 am

My apologies to your TacAIr friends. That is unfortunate that those TacAir NCO's would choose so. As for Marine Air it seems to have gotten away from the core mission. When I served the pilots I've had the pleasure of working with were either old Nam pilots or were commanded by such. They believed in CAS is flown at 5,000 ft. (relative to the ground) or below and if possible below 1,000 ft. the best almost always did. It is on official record of pilots flying CAS missions at altitudes of less than 100ft. This was before the JDAM and such; "Snake eyes" and Napalm were still part of the inventory. Unfortunately, the only true CAS fixed wing is the A-10 and the AC-130 in US inventory and the last one the Corps used was the A-4M Skyhawk, which was retired years ago. Although, They have been using their C-130's with the Harvest Hawk package and that is only part-time. While the F-18 can do the job, it does not do it as well as desired. The same for the F-35B. This happens when you attempt to have a design do everything. What other option does the Corps have to fit their needs?

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E2C Cockeye January 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I cannot believe the lack of common sense in the majority of these comments…

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

We only have so many CVNs. Having the ability to utilize another vessel as a strike platform becomes a powerful force multiplier. If the enemy knows there is no CVN out there and we have no strike asset on the vessels like the Wasp, then they have little worry of a fast mover hitting their position in a hurry. This also means we can surprise an enemy by coming from a direction they were not expecting.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

And in response to the STOVL capability not being of use to us in combat? See Desert Storm Harrier usage and the Sea Harriers used by the Royal Navy in the Falklands. Also see what happens when you don't have the ability in the Libya operations and the usage of WAH-64s off of a flat-top.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

A troll is always a troll.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

JRL,

I am stating from memory what was stated on a documentary about the F-16. I remembered the figure they stated. They stated it was outside the Aircraft and beneath it, near its Aerodynamic Center.

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crackedlenses January 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

-1 for being a jerk…..

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

But my point is still correct either way. The aircraft without the computers is inherently unstable and cannot fly without their constant flight corrections.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Trying to recall the last time we flew multiples of aircraft off of a LHD or LPD. Whenever the mission called for air strikes to subjugate countries (Operation El Dorado Canyon and onwards), the mission has been done with land-based bombers with aerial refuelling, land-based fighters with air refuelling and CVNs. Maybe it's because Harriers sucked.

In any case, most LHD/LPDs are unlikely to carry a large number of -B's unless they cut into their helicopter loads. And what's the point of having a large gator transport packed with Marines, a full welldeck but compromised airlift because of the need to pack in more -B's? The first two America-class LHDs (or are they LPDs) ditch the well deck, and they can deploy up to 30 JSF-B's. However, they also carry a lot of Marines: and what is the point of that if you have left so much of your rotary lift at home?

Specialization isn't just for bugs. Our carriers don't mix surface strike (eg cruise missiles like the Soviet Kiev and Kuznetsov classes) and aircraft carry capability.

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blight January 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Ugh, how did I forget /Desert Storm/? Hah. They were definitely used there, but considering the plan was early on to not use Marine LPD/LHDs for amphibious assault (only to lure away Iraqi forces) it's likely the Marines could load up on Harriers and ditch Hueys and Cobras.

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Ed! January 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

The reason we need an aircraft such as the F-35 with a STOVL capability is for the same reason the A-10 was created. Lessons learned included the vulnerability rotary wing assets had with ground fires and the inability for the fast movers of the time to hit their targets effectively.

The A-1 Skyraider prooved to be the most effective close air support aircraft consequently. The F-35, with its combinations of high speed and advanced sensors will help mitigate the problems associated with fast movers from the Vietnam era. They will also be less vulnerable to ground fires than a rotary wing asset due to their higher speed and altitude capabilities in addition to their stealth characteristics which will reduce their radar and thermal signatures.

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Papi1960R January 13, 2012 at 12:55 am

You are right JRL. What the Marines don't want to have to admit is that those "new fangled" Aircraft flying ships with the big flat top decks can sail everywhere the Marines can go in their slow moving Gator boats

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 8:05 am

You don't sail a CVN into the Littoral zones without concentric rings of protection. The gators may be expensive, but they are nothing compared to the cost of a CVN.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 8:06 am

Already addressed the Falklands. As for Libya, what was needed was an aircraft carrier in the area, not so much the Harrier. That's why I'm saying we should throw away the STOVL fighter all together and put our money towards the CVNs and making sure that they have plenty of versatile aircraft and can be mobile. Maybe if we stop all the funding towards STOVL fighters and make our Gators dedicated towards Marine delivery we could afford to keep our CVNs around and even add the new CVN-21 into the mix with no problems ensuring the we have plenty of Carriers around so we can be read for instability to break out.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

With the cost of a single Gerald Ford Class carrier, including R and D costing around 14 billion USD and the estimated target for the STOVL F-35B being around 135 million, by doing the math, I equated that to around 103 F-35Bs. Given that the Gerald Ford Class is designed to carry 75 aircraft, this means that if we were to spend the money on the Aircraft instead of an extra Gerald Ford Class, we would get another 28 aircraft over what could normally be held on the CVN.

Now given that they normally hold 6 AV-8Bs on the Wasp Class assault Ships, and the America Class can hold 10 F-35s with their other rotary assets, this means we almost have enough B variants for 11 America Class Assault Ships.

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JRL January 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

The new LHAs are gonna cost around $5B a pop, not to mention the billions of dollars invested in its aviation component. And don't forget the over two thousand American lives that will also be aboard…

Anyone who believes that the USN is gonna have a loaded Gator blithely swanning around within weapons range of a technologically sophisticated hostile force needs to lay off the Marine PR issue kool aid…

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

The Expanded hangar would also mean they could hold more V-22s. This means their mission for Amphibious Ops is going toward an Air Mobile Approach for the Assault Ships. With the range of the V-22s, and their speed advantage over rotary wing assets, it means that having a viable escort platform would be essential. The F-35B would provide this best as it would be an organic asset and not have to be tied up for defense of the Battle Group. It also means they can provide more effective ISR than the Rotary wing assets can and would be less vulnerable to ground fires, such as RPGs.

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Dumb Grunt January 14, 2012 at 5:18 am

The Corps is not going to get rid of the well deck for a very long time. This is due to mission requirements of the MEU and mission assets. The primary mission for those F35B's is close air support, which is extremely important to the Infantry. While the AH1Z can do many parts of the CAS mission, it CAN NOT do it all. The needs of the Marine Air are entirely unique in the US Military. While the F/A 18 Hornet can do the job as well or better, but it CAN NOT land or take off from any Amphibious Assault Ship. That is the primary concern/requirement for the F35B. The Marines know damn well if they can get away with not having it they would. It is ABSOLUTELY MISSION CRITICAL to have that capability. As I stated before the carrier battle group might not be in range in time to support the mission. We must remember the opponent may not cooperate to allow that to happen. When the Infantry needs fixed wing air, they need it NOW, not next week, not tomorrow or in a couple hours, NOW.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

That's a nice little fantasy. Key word in your response: "could."

The USMC doesn't want to use the hanger to hold more V-22s. They specifically stated it would be used to increase the total number of F-35Bs to 30. V-22s aren't cheap either, btw.

I guess the Marines are just going to have to go in without armor then? Oh, and forget the LAV-25s too. I mean they can do everything with rifles right? What you said makes no sense because it is an overall drastic decrease in the amount of support given to the guys on the ground and the equipment they will have available to them in combat.

Again, leave all air defense to the CVN and make the Gator specifically configured to support ground pounders. That would solve practically all the problems.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

So you are saying that only the Assault ships are important to the Marine Corps here. That they want to increase the amount of organic Flight resources available makes them a lesser fighting force in some way. Here's the thing. There are other ships that do carry Marines into Combat. They also would be able to move their armored assets to shore as well. But consider this. We have only 10-11 CVNs with at least one or two in dry dock for midlife upgrades, refueling, etc. If we change some of our other ships to accomodate fixed wing aircraft, then that means we can send them in, instead of sending an entire Carrier Battlegroup into a crisis zone. This means we can then keep more air assets at sea, than we could utilizing a Carrier-only fixed wing based plan such as yours.

This also means that we can have more platforms to launch from and thus making this a combat multiplyer.

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

The new LHAs having more air assets means they are a much harder target to hit. And even with the 5B figure, that is still about 1/3rd the cost of a Gerald Ford Class, plus the investiture of the 75+ aircraft that it carries, plus the larger crew that it has onboard. This also means that the Carrier killer that the Chinese have been working on? Its harder to hit the smaller sized target of the LHA than it is one of our Super-Carriers.

Now consider this, the air complement for a Kuznetsov Class Carrier is normally 17 fixed wing, with the rest being Rotary wing. If the Shi Lang is equipped the same or similar, then that means we now have an LHA with a comparable, if not larger, air wing than they do on their Carrier. This means that we will have pushed the balance of power into our favor.

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crackedlenses January 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

You are still operating under "could be"; if we need heavy amounts of air cover or fire support, why would we be deploying a Gator by itself with no support? All Black Owl is pointing out is that it would be more cost-effective to scrap the Gator's "multi-role" capabilities and focus on supporting the landing forces…..

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I don't think putting six F-35Bs on an LHD as opposed to the many AH-1Z Super Cobras is a good idea. A swarm of AH-1Z Super Cobras armed with AIM-9X Sidewinders and Hellfire missiles could be just as good if not better than six F-35s in terms of controlling air space. They could not only provide decent air cover for marines, but also provide better close air support in the long run. If we have to sacrifice tanks and LAV-25s for F-35s then we are shooting ourselves in the foot since those armored vehicles are crucial for ground combat.

The other ships don't do it as well as Gators. If we plan on having a huge operation or one with any chance of success against a heavily armed opponent we would need Gators with marines or ships like them and its preferable to have the armor hit the shore at the same time the marines do.

If we had a CVN in the area taking care of all air ops then everything on the Gators would be free to focus on supporting marines as they do what they do best.

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JRL January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The LHA's extra 'air assets' won't make them harder to hit unless the assets are the right ones for the job. And they ain't. They can't operate Hawkeyes, and they certainly don't carry the fuel or sustainment supplies that would be required to maintain and operate a 24/7 CAP of F-35's. BTW, check out the F-35B section in the latest DOT & E JSF report. Talk about a JSFiasco…
http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/283239/sect…

Oh, and as for that amusing "we will have pushed the balance of power into our favor" - are you saying that the *balance of power* is any doubt whatsoever? No sane naval tactician is even gonna consider the idea of confronting USN aviation and SSN forces with those 3rd-rate Kuznetsov-types. Those things are OK for bullying the weak, or maybe making the Chicken(Little)hawks pee their pants, but that's about it.

Get a grip.

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PMI January 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

"A swarm of AH-1Z Super Cobras armed with AIM-9X Sidewinders and Hellfire missiles could be just as good if not better than six F-35s in terms of controlling air space"

—-And our trip into crazyland is now complete.

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JRL January 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

@Black Owl

I'm generally in broad agreement with your views, but when it comes to AIM-9 armed AH-1s providing A2A defense, I gotta agree with PMI. It's nuts..

Helicopters, by their very nature, simply cannot compete in the air combat arena with high performance fixed wing aircraft. Their intrinsic inability to manouver at high Gs, and their lack of speed, acceleration, and climb make them easy meat for even slow movers like the A-10. Not to mention that attack helicopters lack the powerful radars and sensor systems required to detect, track, and target supersonic aircraft. The jet fighter is always gonna spot you and shoot you down before you even know he's there…

Still, that doesn't mean that marines need Gator-launched fast jets for air defence. In any scenario where the Marines might be facing hostile fighter attack, you can be sure that the E-2s and eager USN and Marine fighters from big CVNs are gonna be swarming the beach head, and beyond.

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tiger January 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Now this thread is getting silly. Attack helicopters to control airspace?

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Ed! January 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Once a troll, always a troll.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Take those numbers and translate them into Super Hornets and heavy aircraft weapons. Then take those Super Hornets, put them on aircraft carriers and several air bases we have around the world and you will understand what I mean.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Of course I'm not talking in terms of range, but in terms of the over all strategy to keep the marines covered from air attacks and provide close air support as they take ground.

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PMI January 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Cobras would have had trouble giving top cover during the Korean war. Insinuating they would be a better air to air solution today is ludicrous.

Furthermore their survivability is very low even facing a moderate anti-air threat.

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JRL January 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Calling me a troll might make you feel better, but when the childish name-calling is over, your feeble arguments are still dead in the water…

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Wow, the stupidity of your statement just shows how little you know. I'm not even going to reply to you anymore.

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Black Owl January 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Looking at it now I guess your right. six F-35Bs would be better at providing air cover than several Cobras.

I meant PMI's statement about them having trouble providing top cover in the Korean War. Modern AIM-9X missiles vs MiG-15s would be a turkey shoot hands down and the night fighting capability with IR sensors and precision weapons would make Super Cobras lethal if by some tear in the fabric of space-time they were brought back to the Korean War.

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PMI January 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Do what you have to do, but the last thing anyone who believes that Sidewinder armed Cobras are a credible anti-air threat should be doing is questioning the knowledge of others.

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PMI January 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The Cobra is a 200knot platform, has poor pitch/yaw performance, has no radar and carries only 2 'winders.

Yes it would have a hell of a time defending against 500 knot fighters that could dictate the terms of any engagement. Could a Viper nail a Mig if one was right in front of it? Absolutely… but warfare isn't that simple. The shortcomings of the Cobra would be taken advantage of in short order.

That leaves out the issue of their A2G capabilities would be wasted since they'd be spending most of their time providing top cover.

@JRL - No we can't be sure that a MEU will have carrier or ground launched fast movers available to counter moderate air threats in the future. Fewer CVNs & fewer air wings means forces are going to be spread thinner in the future. ARGs don't have the luxury of non STOVL fixed wing assets during many operations. It's not the Iran/North Korea/Chinas of the world that are the issue, it's the smaller operations where the MAGTF may have to operate entirely on it's own.

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Riceball January 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

And the reason for that is due, in large part, to our qualitative edge in aircraft technology as well our superior training. If we continue to rely on our legacy aircraft and lose our edge then we'll almost certainly find ourselves engaged in more air to air combat and we may not come out ahead or as ahead as we are used to. Remember, a lot of our ground combat strategy is built around the idea that we will have at least air superiority if not air supremacy, if we have anything less than a lot of troops on the ground are going to get killed because we don't have as robust of an AA capability as we used to have.

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Black Owl January 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

You have still proven that you have no idea what you are talking about.

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Black Owl January 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Administrator, you suck.

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Black Owl January 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Dumb Grunt, I would love to reply back to you and continue this debate, but the Administrator keeps deleting my post whenever I try to put it up, which proves my original point about why I post this information on the F-35 and bring its faults to the table: people are willing to hide the weaknesses of the F-35.

If anything, it has been great arguing with you. You have made some good points and have giving me plenty to think about. If anything I have decided to write a paper on the faults of the F-35 and publish it thanks to this thread. If I am going to be censored for this I might as well up the intensity.

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Dumb Grunt January 17, 2012 at 1:54 am

Black Owl, Thank you, I have enjoyed this as well. My support for the F35B is marginal due to it not being as good at Close Air Support as it should be. Now that said, unfortunately combining CAS and Air Superiority does not mix well. There is nothing even on the horizon that will fill either role well. What needs to be done is TWO separate platforms, one for Air Superiority, one for Close Air Support, and neither of the TWO should be mixed. Especially, with the unique needs of the Corps.

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Black Owl January 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Something tells me that you read my comment already…

You wouldn't happen to be a close and personal friend of the Administrator would you?

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Black Owl January 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Administrator, you still suck.

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Dumb Grunt January 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

No I am not. In fact I have no idea who it is.

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Black Owl January 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

That's interesting. I still can't post my comment, but it was going to mention that the F-35B is a complete failure in terms of CAS since it can only hold 2 bombs and 2 AMRAAMs in the stealth configuration, when it has weapons mounted externally it basically becomes a really expensive F-16, and it can't even handle small arms fire. Not only that, but if one was shot down we would need to worry about its advanced tech falling into enemy hands and need to waste more resources getting to the crash site before the enemy does.

Also the USMC has no plans for a new well deck. Once they get rid of the ones on the Gators it will be gone for good.

If the Marines wanted an aircraft that would have been good for the role they would have made a bigger Harrier with stealth shaping, more weapons, more fuel, upgraded engines, and added some armor to it. This "Super Harrier" would have been perfect for the mission.

The Super Hornet could do CAS better than the AH-1Z and we'd have a lot more of them if we chose not to buy the F-35B

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