Pentagon Calms Rhetoric Against Lockheed Over F-35

The U.S. Defense Department has significantly scaled back its criticism against Lockheed Martin Corp. over development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisitions program.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the general overseeing the effort, said the relationship between the service and Lockheed — the plane’s manufacturer and the world’s biggest defense contractor — along with engine-maker Pratt & Whitney, part of United Technologies Corp., is “orders of magnitude” better than it was a year ago.

“I’m encouraged by where we are today,” he said Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition at National Harbor, Md. “I’d like to be a little further along.”

The comments were a stark contrast to those Bogdan made at the same forum last year, when he called the relationship the “worst I’ve ever seen.” On Tuesday, Bogdan indicated his previous remarks were deliberate. “I threw a hand grenade into the crowd … that was intended,” he said.

Over the past year, the service and the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor have successfully negotiated contracts for two batches of aircraft known as Lots 6 and Lots 7, Bogdan said. Moreover, the terms of the agreements stipulate that Lockheed will have to pay for any cost overruns, he said.

Still, Bogdan didn’t rule out that the military may have to reduce the number of aircraft it ultimately intends to buy because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

The estimated price tag to develop and build 2,457 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets includes $326.9 billion for air frames and $64.3 billion for engines, according to Pentagon figures released earlier this year. The combined amount is $4.5 billion, or 1.1 percent, less than an estimate of $395.7 billion released in March 2012. The decline was attributed in part to revised labor rates charged by the prime contractor and its subcontractors.

The Defense Department in fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1, plans to spend $8.4 billion to buy 29 F-35 Lightning IIs, including 19 for the Air Force, six for the Marine Corps and four for the Navy, according to the budget request released last month. The plane is designed to replace such aircraft as the F-16, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B.

Across-the-board budget reductions may force the military to decrease the quantity of aircraft it plans to purchase, Bogdan said. Even so, the plane more affordable is still the program’s priority, he said.

“We can have the best airplane in the world, but if no one can afford it, then it does us no good,” he said.

Bogdan said he is confident the Marine Corps will be able to begin operational flights of its version of the F-35 in 2015, followed by the Air Force in 2016 and the Navy in 2019. Test pilot Lt. Col. C.R. “Jimi” Clift on Aug. 14 completed the first ever vertical night landing aboard the USS Wasp at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

Software problems are still the biggest risk for the program, Bogdan said. Lockheed this summer said it boosted its software workforce by 200 engineers and invested $100 million to build a second laboratory to write, test and verify the code.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • BlackOwl18E

    Read the Vanity Fair article. It confirms that Lockheed payed off nearly every congressman and a vast majority of the Senate in “campaign funds” to keep the F-35 alive, which is not illegal by law, but definitely is corrupt. Lockheed then sourced jobs to as many states and countries that it could so that it would lock them in and make sure they all had a stake in the game. They purposefully built this so that it could eat up money and not get canceled. It also confirms that the military can declare the aircraft at IOC before their operational testing is completed and they can even do it regardless of the OP testing results. When the F-35 reaches IOC it will be nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

    What’s worse is that none of these planes are affordable nor can they out perform the aircraft they are replacing. The Navy is now saying that they may need to drop to 8 or 7 carriers to pay for the F-35C. The Air Force is considering grounding its A-10s, KC-10 tankers, and possibly F-15Cs to afford the F-35A. The Marines have already hinted at retiring their Legacy Hornets and making many other cuts in much needed armored vehicles to buy the F-35B. The Dutch recently halved their order of F-35As and they needed to drop a lot of their capabilities to do it.

    The F-35 program was built on a corrupt process that was a total win for the Military Industrial Complex and a complete loss for the armed services and taxpayers of all nations involved. It sucks up funds in the budget like a black hole while delivering virtually nothing.

    To all those that argued with me in these hallowed discussion boards: Turns out I was right the entire time, but you are going to get the F-35 anyway. I hope you’re happy….

    • Beltway Bandit

      Cool story bro

    • blight_…

    • blight_

      “The original plan was that about 70 percent of all the parts on the airplanes would be common; the actual figure today is about 25 percent. Commonality, even at this reduced level, has unintended consequences. When a crack in a low-pressure turbine blade was discovered in an air-force F-35A engine earlier this year, Pentagon officials took the only responsible course, given that the part is used in all models: they grounded the entire fleet of F-35s, not just the ones flown by the air force. In his June testimony, the Pentagon’s Dr. Gilmore revealed another, less public grounding of the entire F-35 test fleet, which occurred in March 2013 after the discovery of “excessive wear on the rudder hinge attachments.””

      Wow, 25% commonality. If that’s true, then it’s pretty much where I had wished F-35 had aimed in the first place. Common engine? Good. Common avionics? Good. Stop there, trying too hard, possibly for diminishing marginal utility from here on out, especially for aircraft in three very different applications. But it’s a little too late now…

      “From the outset, Lockheed assured Pentagon officials that technological innovation, including heavy reliance on computer simulation, which could take the place of real-world testing, would keep costs down. The Pentagon bought those assurances and allowed the company to design, test, and produce the F-35 all at the same time, instead of insisting that Lockheed identify and fix defects before firing up its production line. Building an airplane while it is still being designed and tested is referred to as concurrency. ”

      Which is pretty much what happened to the V-22. Get deliverable aircraft in alpha testing, fix on-the-go (or use the government as your guinea pigs?). It gets some kind of product into the hands of customers sooner, but if the product is still way too immature to give to the customer, what is the plus? If product still requires a lot of exensive rework, then every new aircraft you build means another aircraft that has to be updated when changes start rolling in, or it’s some aircraft you build, park in a corner and forget about while you are rushing to roll more aircraft off the line while changing production on the fly.

      • XYZ

        I’m an aerospace engineering. Concurrency was a bad idea in the early days of NASA and the Army’s missile programs, and it’s a bad idea now. Our computer modeling and simulation capabilities aren’t ready for it yet - too many unknowns; unfortunately challenging systems engineering practices like concurrency make things even worse.

        • XYZ

          Why is there no edit button? I’m an aerospace engineer…

          • blight_

            Register an IntenseDebate account or whatnot, or live with the anonymity that comes with the loss of editing functionality.

    • blight_

      “…Total System Performance Responsibility. The idea was that government oversight was unduly burdensome and costly; the solution was to put more power in the hands of contractors. In the case of the Joint Strike Fighter, Lockheed was given near-total responsibility for design, development, testing, fielding, and production. In the old days, the Pentagon would have provided thousands of pages of minute specifications. For the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon gave Lockheed a pot of money and a general outline of what was expected.”

      This is essentially what the CIA did with the Skunk Works. They gave them a great deal of flexibility to do things at very low rate-of-production. But even when called on to increase volume production of the U-2 and SR-71, production did not suffer. F-117 was probably the first Skunk Works product that likely would have fallen under The Usual Rules of Doing Business, but even that product didn’t break too much bank.

    • tmb2

      With regards to the bribery and building it everywhere, hasn’t that been the SOP for every aircraft program since the B-2?

      The part where we agree to buy it based on powerpoint is new though.

    • Rufus Frazier

      I’m old enough to remember the articles in Playboy and other “popular” magazines of the time on what overpriced dogs the F-14 and F-15 were. How the companies were corrupt and how the price for both had skyrocketed and how they were already obsolete before they were even fielded.

      With all the changes in the last 30 years it’s good to see that one aspect of the political weltanschauung hasn’t changed a bit.

      • BlackOwl18E

        You’re missing the point. Lockheed took it to a scale never before seen in history and it is now affecting every area of the armed forces of us and our allies. Not only that, but they have basically bought off the Pentagon and have managed to use this program to suck funds out of every other area of the DoD. This has never been done before.

    • Ed C

      I don’t put too much creditin any vanity Fair article, especially when it comes to anything military related. I’m sure some of thier left wing agenda played a part in writing this article. While I’m not a big fan of this jet (I think they should’ve upgraded the F-14) I have to take what they say with a grain of salt.

      • Neogeo

        Ed the Navy was having hell maintaining the F14. Don’t get me wrong I love the Tomcat. Unfortunately, Boeing sold the Navy the F18 as the replacement, with the Super Hornet coming on board. The navy wasn’t happy being forced to buy the F35. We all know that they prefer a twin engine aircraft ad that was a major detractor for them on the F35. I wish the F14 would have came along a little later so it could have had the luxury of having more modern avionics like the F18 as well as the newer materials to be built from. The F18 is a great aircraft but it isn’t nearly as beautiful a plane the F14 has and will be forever remembered. I know looks isn’t everything But no one can say she didn’t do her job.

    • Praetorian
    • Charles James Haas

      Wow, so we’re deciding defense matters according to Vanity Fair now? Glad to see we got an expert source. Now, let’s see, you say the Navy is considering getting rid of 7 or 8 cxarriers? So you are suggesting that the Navy is going to buy hundreds of F-35Cs, not to mention the nearly 500 F-18E/F/Gs, E-2C/Ds. And of course one carrier will likely be in maintenance - how does that make sense to you? It might also have occurred to you that the KC-10s that “might” be grounded by the Air Force, might be used to pay for the KC-46 and not the F-35As. I also doubt you are aware that the Air Force has been trying to get rid of the A-10s long before the 1st F-35 took flight. Now please refrain from making outlandish statements that you can’t back up.

  • Bernard

    The F-35 needs to die. It was supposed to save costs not shoot them into the stratosphere. VTOL is a waste of money and cripples fixed wing aircraft performance. Stealth is expensive to maintain. Trying to fit the Air Force, Navy, Marine, and foreign needs all in one air frame only makes the complexity worse especially with conflicting requirements. We asked for too much and now will we get less for it while paying a whole lot more.

    This is insane.


      It is, but the problem is, dropping it would be more of a fiasco. As Black Owl said, the problem is, axing the F-35 would ax THOUSANDS of jobs, and spread the cost of the multi, what is it, trillion? dollar program for…….nothing. It would be even worse than the F-22 fiasco; but at least we got highly capable aircraft out of that.

      I say strike down on Lockheed; man if Kelly Johnson were to see HIS company now……

      • Charles James Haas

        Tell me what we replace the F-35 with if we cancel the program. Old aircraft are not the answer. A new aircraft would most likely cost even more, if nothing more than the additional costs inflation would add to the new program. I was not a big fan of the F-32 that is for sure. The Navy seems to have its pulse on things and has moved on to a 6th gerneration plane, that needs to be brought into development, but it is a long way off. Stick to the F-35, make it the best airplane we can afford, and build them. Otherwise, we have nothing.

    • tiger

      That is a crappy bit of advice & attitude. VTOL is not a waste. Harriers have flown for 40 years. Stealth may be pricey, but it is a asset everybody wants. Common aircraft have been done before. The F-4, A-7, UH-1As examples. You want to drop a plane while still in low production with no real alternative. Not mention screwing over other customers like the UK. That is insane….

    • blight_

      The alternative to STOVL is ski-jump, but you are severely payload limited.

      I’m curious if the Marines really used the Harrier in a VTO config, which is entirely possible but cuts into payload. If mostly in STO, then it suggests that the aircraft can also do short-landing instead of vertical landing if it wishes to return to the same place it took off from.

      • Bernard

        The Harrier’s performance is compromised by it’s VTOL. It lacks the speed and payload capacity of a non-VTOL aircraft and it is more complex to maintain. The VTOL system adds dead weight that does nothing when the plane is in normal flight and the ducting system in the Harrier reduces the power and efficiency of the engine. The lift fan system in the F-35 adds a huge dead weight that takes up space that could be used for weapons and fuel, and adds weight to the air frame compromising performance.

        A non VTOL aircraft will always have superior performance in flight than a VTOL aircraft. With present technology, that performance gap is quite substantial.

        • Riceball

          I’m not sure if you understand this or not but it’s only the Marine Corps variant (the B?) that will have the VTOL capability, neither the A or the C will be VTOL capable so your argument about VTOL being a waste is not really that relevant to the F-35 as a whole.

          • Bernard

            I am aware of that, and yes the VTOL is only affecting the Marine variant. Actually, I should be saying STOVL as vertical takeoff is not militarily useful even in the harrier. Regardless, that Marine variant also has the same stealth and super cruise requirements that the STOVL system conflicts with. Currently the F-35 is only STOVL without a weapons load and low fuel. If they had gone for STOL (not vertical) they would have saved tons of money and dead weight and maybe would have had a chance at meeting all of the requirements.

            Of course, the Marine needs are so different that it really should have been a separate plane and project, just as the Navy’s needs should have been a separate plane and project. Do the Marine’s need supercruise? Do the Marine’s need stealth? I think the Marine’s would have been happier with something closer to a modern A-10 that can take off and land on short runways. Scrap the stealth and supercruise and just give them a reliable close air support craft that can take out ground targets, loiter in controlled (maybe not dominated, but other AA assets would usually on hand) airspace, and protect the guys on the ground.

          • tiger


        • blight_

          The LiftSystem is much lighter and more efficient than the Rolls Royce Pegasus.

          Wonder if the Marines would be interested in a STO/SL config of the JSF. Not sure if a JSF could land on a LHA flight deck without arresting gear though..

          • Bernard

            It still takes up valuable space within the airframe, and no matter how light it is, once the plane is flying that “LiftSystem” is just sitting their doing nothing but adding weight and filling up valuable space. Without it, the airplane would perform better.

          • majr0d

            Landing gear aren’t used when in flight. Let’s ditch them!

          • Bernard

            Because the size and weight of a lifting fan is comparable to landing gear… :-

          • majr0d

            I’m attacking your logic. Helicopters could be made more efficiently if they didn’t have to hover. It’s like arguing planes would fly more efficiently if we didn’t put bombs on them.

            Attack the Marines requirement for STOL, then the B goes away. You’ll find that much harder to do of course. The Marines do have some unique requirements and the number of aircraft so small a unique program isn’t efficient either.

          • Bernard

            No, you’re failing to apply logic and completely missing the point. A helicopter that cannot hover cannot fly. Fixed wing aircraft are severely compromised by VTO VL requirements to the point of limiting combat effectiveness. Helicopters are optimal for that task, while they trade speed for it their ability to perform at low speeds grants the ability for fill other needs of the military (ie air assault, search & rescue).

          • majr0d

            Nope dude. I’m applying logic flawlessly.

            Helicopters fly all the time without hovering. In fact a heavily loaded helicopter can’t hover (e.g. the hind under full combat load). When heavily loaded helicopters need a running start. They aren’t hovering.

            Helicopters bring something unique to the fight and as part of the deal give up something. Fixed wing are exponentially more efficient at providing CAS than attack helicopters yet we use helicopters because of their unique capabilities (and services can own them without the Air Force feeling threatened).

            The same thing goes for S/VTOL fixed wing.

          • Bernard

            The same thing does not go for S/VTOL fixed wing.

            1) Fixed wing S/VTOL cannot match the efficiency of a helicopter in S/VTOL operation.

            2) Fixed wing S/VTOL severely compromises the performance of fixed wing flight effectively eliminating its advantage in avoiding enemy AA assets.

            3) Fixed wing S/VTOL increases maintenance costs, reduces reliability, and increases the overall cost of their aircraft making it a more expensive proposition than helicopter alternatives.

            4) Fixed wing S/VTOL cannot autorotate greatly reducing their safety in S/VTOL operation.

            Also while a “heavily loaded helicopter can’t hover,” the same helicopter with a lighter load can hover. Meanwhile a F-35 cannot even land vertically unless it is completely empty and low on fuel.

          • majr0d

            I’m sensing you aren’t going to get it because you don’t want to.

            1) “Fixed wing S/VTOL cannot match the efficiency of a helicopter in S/VTOL operation.” True but helicopters can’t match the efficiency of S/VTOL in delivering ordnance. It’s the same reason we have tractor trailers and pick up trucks.

            2) “Fixed wing S/VTOL severely compromises the performance of fixed wing flight effectively eliminating its advantage in avoiding enemy AA assets.” Besides speed how? Do you think the F35B is going to use S/VTOL when it’s being engaged by enemy AA? Silly excuse.

            3) “Fixed wing S/VTOL increases maintenance costs, reduces reliability, and increases the overall cost of their aircraft making it a more expensive proposition than helicopter alternatives.” Don’t buy that and a Corvette is always going to cost more to maintain than a Mustang and they are much more similar in function than an unnamned helicopter and the F35B. BTW the helicopter isn’t going to fly as far, as fast or with comparable ordnance load. Nor will the Helo be able to engage enemy A/C if the need arises.

            4) “Fixed wing S/VTOL cannot autorotate greatly reducing their safety in S/VTOL operation.” True and helicopters don’t glide nor can they autorotate when too close to the ground. Ref safety… Helicopters don’t have ejection seats.

            When one is looking for an excuse any will do. I get it. You’re an aviation purist. Airplanes were never made to hover or land on short runways. Too bad the Marines don’t agree with you and you won’t make the case for how the Marines are wrong and need to change.

          • Bernard

            1) If pick up trucks costs 20 times as much as tractor trailers then we would not have pick up trucks.

            2) You don’t use S/VTOL while being engaged by AA. You use flight speed, maneuverability, AAM and AGM weapons, and stealth. The S/VTOL hinders the F35B on all four of these even when it is not in use. It cannot even carry as many weapons as a Harrier.

            3) The helo is an order of magnitude cheaper. You’re comparing a Corvette to a Mustang when you should be saying Ferrari and Mustang.

            4) F35B’s don’t glide when engaging S/VTOL and the ejection seats are useless at low altitude. So again you have constructed another straw man. Helicopters in S/VTOL can autorotate.

            Also, since we are talking about the Marine needs. Which of the following do you think is more important to the guys on the ground. A jet that can take off like a Bond movie, or a jet with twice as many weapons on board to take out targets?

          • majr0d

            You were silly and getting sillier. I countered your points. Now you trying to find more.

            When it comes to comparing pick ups and tractor trailers the F35 is the tractor trailer and check out costs. TT’s are 20 times the price of a pick up.

            The F35 may not carry as much as a harrier. The Harrier is subsonic and not stealth. There’s no evidence the F35B will be significantly more vulnerable than other F35s. You are making stuff up.

            Ferrari to Mustang? Fine. Is that what you got from my previous comment? Sheesh!

            A fixed wing’s ejection seats are much more effective than a helicopters ability to autorotate at low altitude with forward speed. Google H/V curve.

            Having been one of those guys on the ground for a couple of decades. I frankly don’t care how a plane takes off or how many bombs it carries as long as it’s there when I need it. Which is pretty key to the Marines’ requirement. The F35 is far from unarmed.

          • Bernard

            1) The F35 is way more expensive than a helicopter and it carries less than a helicopter. It cost way more than traditional aircraft, and it carries way less. That is why I called it a pick up. It has a tiny payload and is over priced.

            2) When the F35B runs out of ammo the guys it is supporting are screwed.

            “The Harrier is subsonic and not stealth.”
            The Marines don’t need supersonic speed or stealth. An A-10 like aircraft that can take off from short runways/ships, and land on short runways/ships would be ideal. It would be cheap, easy to maintain, reliable, durable enough to take multiple hits from small arms, carry tons of weapons, fly low and slow enough to engage ground targets, can loiter for long periods of time, and have enough weapons to keep pounding targets for as long as the guys on the ground need it.

            That’s a way better idea than the F-35B.

          • majr0d

            “The F35 is way more expensive than a helicopter” Welcome to the 20th & 21st century. Planes are always more expensive that their counterpart helo.

            “carries less than a helicopter.” You are factually incorrect. Do you have any idea what a Cobra or Apache carries?

            “When the F35B runs out of ammo the guys it is supporting are screwed.” What aircraft doesn’t run out of ammo?

            Disagree that the Marines don’t have a need for speed or stealth. They doctrinally don’t rely on the Air Force nor can they if they are to be true to their expeditionary role. You clearly don’t understand the differences between the services.

          • Bernard

            1) $325 million is not an acceptable price. The total cost of the F-35 is $400 billion, it is the most expensive weapon system the US has ever built and it is supposed to be cost effective. It costs so much that it is preventing us from being able to support any of our other military needs. New does necessitate absurd spending.

            2) The F-35B’s vertical landing payload is zero, way less than an Apache in vertical landing.The payload in standard flight is only 20,000 lbs, way less than an A-10 warthog’s 30,000 lbs in standard flight. The F-35 has 6 external hardpoints and 2 internal, the A-20 has 11 external hardpoints.

            3) Every aircraft runs out of ammo, the F35 just does that a whole lot faster making less useful.

            4) Marines have a greater need for survivability, endurance, ammo, and low level flight performance. Supersonic speed and stealth are way lower priorities.

          • majr0d

            Bernie - The Marines don’t agree w/you and based on your numerous strikes, you’re out :)

          • Bernard

            You’ve asked them? Exactly…

            An A-10 like aircraft that can take off from short runways/ships, and land on short runways/ships would be world’s better and cheaper than an F-35B.

          • Praetorian
          • tiger

            Not till we get the USS Akron & USS Macon back from the deep……….

          • tiger

            You make the the F-35B sound like a Yak-38. As for valuable space & dead weight? How about we go UCAV & ditch that Pilot, cockpit, eject seat, OBGAS, etc.? That is that next step of evolution. The X47B is just that step. STOVL ability will follow.

        • tiger

          Bernard, your Superior Non VTOL has no place to land at sea. Most navies use non Cat/ trap designs. That dead weight makes for a simpler ship design & less crew required to run a flight deck. Nor is the course guided by wind over the deck. A friendly 10,000 runway is not a sure thing in most of the world. With STVOL they can base from woods to mountain tops to road ways.

          • Bernard

            That’s why you use STO/SL and helicopters. The cost savings will allow you to field a substantially larger and more capable fleet.

          • tiger

            Your asking to go backward rather than forward. Till you present a better 5th Gen fighter prototype, the F-35 stays.

          • Bernard

            The F-35 is not an air-superiority aircraft. An F-16 could shoot it down. 5th-gen is meaningless in the context of ground support roles. That’s why planes like the A-10 and Su-25 exist in the first place.

            I could give your pizza shop 10 Lamborghini or 100 Corolla’s. The Corolla sounds like a step backwards but the pizza shops that choose Lambo’s over Corolla’s aren’t going to be in business long. You have to consider the actual requirements to determine what is the most effective solution.

          • tiger

            Uh, yes that is part of it’s mission. The F-16 will not shoot it down. Why? They average 20 years old & worse have used up airframe hours from a decade of war. The bird is over due to be replaced. 5th generation is not meaningless. Pizza delivery??? Actually My 1979 Datsun 280ZX Was the coolest & fastest car At my Dominoes. Plenty of heatwave bag space under the hatch of a Z car. Damn, I miss that first ride………………

  • Menzie

    I love when people say “I told you so Shows a lot of maturity. I wasn’t even aware of Defense Tech tll a few months ago and never saw your arguments against it. IO would even have joined in with you but never to say “I told you so” I grew up a few years ago.

    • BlackOwl18E

      Oh you weren’t here? Let fill you in real fast. For the past three years I have argued with anyone who was willing that the F-35B and F-35C were too expensive, would never get fixed in time to be relevant, didn’t deliver enough capability, and were a bad deal for the USMC and USN. I also argued that the Advanced Super Hornet with better ordnance would do the job better. No one was on my side and I took on seemingly an army of pro-F-35 advocates. For presenting my point of view I was mocked, ridiculed, and insulted.

      Guess what? You telling me that you would have joined with me now after the truth is revealed doesn’t mean jack shit to anyone.

      Also, use proper grammar and spelling next time you post. You type like a 4th grader.

      • tiger

        All your offering is the same girl that was so-so; now with a new dress & hair. Not to mention does nothing for the Fleet Air Arm & other customers.

      • Pilgrimman

        You have a severe case of Unwarranted Self Importance.

  • bret



    One thing people keep forgetting is that the F-35 is a program of 3 jets as aft of the cockpit, there’s very few common components with the 3 variants and the Government simply don’t have any option at this stage of the game as it’s too late to start a GEN6 program and keep flying the jets in inventory and the F-35 wasn’t a Black Program developed in secrecy as the Pentagon has had Lockheed Martin make hundreds of changes to the jets and with each change comes delays and added cost.

    • blight_

      “Lockheed Martin make hundreds of changes to the jets”

      I’m sure they have, but this is the part where the chief designer says no, we cannot ethically guarantee you a working product. Sometimes companies have to deal with a tough client, but it’s better to set the working relationship /early/ instead of letting the customer lead you down Reckless Road and lose hundreds of billions of dollars in orders for a few billion in R&D.

  • blight_

    What’s worse is that the F-35 was chosen based on a demonstrator flyoff using OTS systems, not the new fancy that we are twiddling our thumbs in development hell for.

    We are doing the equivalent of buying a computer based on the coolest looking box. Bad idea. If it’s the systems that are supposed to make the -35, then the demonstration should be based on proven systems. We are not ready for 5G yet…we weren’t ready when it was Boeing vs Lockheed and we might not even be ready now.

    Amusingly, many of JSF’s 5G electronics should have been pushed forward as next gen avionics, backported first into the existing fleet and then integrated into “the new jet”. Yes, it’s expensive to rip out old stuff and upgrade old airframes, but the way the F-35 is rigged, the fancy avionics are bundled in the expensive jet, so you have to get both together.

    • Atomic Walrus

      I think you need to remember what the demonstrators were meant to accomplish: evaluate design concepts for a family of aircraft capable of performing CTOL, VSTOL, and CATOBAR operations. If DOD had simply down-selected on the basis of proposals, they might have ended up with the Boeing X-32 concept. It looked great on paper, but it turned out to have a number of serious technical problems when turned into a demonstrator. As I recall from the Discovery documentary ca. 2002, the vectored thrust system couldn’t deliver enough thrust, the tail had to be redesigned due to control issues (introducing further weight problems) and some of the proposed composite construction methods didn’t pan out. Avionics are a big part of a combat aircraft, but they’re not terribly useful if the aircraft can’t fly.

      • blight_

        Which suggests the deep flaw of the demonstrator process, in which the prototype has very little relationship to the final product. If anything, it only proves that Lockheed could build a F-35 using 4G present-day electronics.

        Indeed, Boeing got roasted by using a conventional thrust-vector system instead of the LiftSystem on the -B, and that spelled the end of their program. But at the moment it seems that the systems are contributing to a weight problem, one that didn’t exist at the demonstrator level.

        Rolling out demonstrator-style F-35’s and keeping the “real” F-35 in beta-testing would’ve put a relatively cheap and low-tech product out there to directly replace the F-16 (perhaps competing with Lockheed’s bottom line?).

        • Atomic Walrus

          The demonstrator process showed that there was more capability in the Lockheed V/STOL approach than the Boeing approach. You can’t assume that Boeing would’ve been immune to the systems issues encountered during F-35 development. There’s also a world of difference between the level of engineering that has to go into a demonstrator and a production aircraft meant for use by actual operators. That’s one of the reasons that the Skunk Works can produce aircraft like the F-117 with a lean team on a tight timeline vs. the McDonnell-Douglas/Northrop team it took to deliver the F-18. The demonstrators were X-planes that did what they were supposed to do: identify the better aerodynamic & propulsion approach for a family of jets including a V/STOL variant.

    • Charles James Haas

      So you want to make a 4th generation plane cost as much as a 5th generation plane with new electronics, but an old engine, an aging airframe (remember thet F-15 that tore its self apart in half), and is not stealthy? Of course, then you have to take it through an extensive flight test program. And, you would be lucky to have the propper electrical generation and cooling needed to run the new systems. Who knows what sort of buldges and bumps will be needed to make all that fit. Why should we do all that?

  • Justin H

    I said this a couple years ago that they needed to kill the program. They could have and should have then, its way too late now. It was a nifty idea on paper back in the Clinton military downsizing era of the 90s. Lockheed execs are laughing all the way to their cayman island bank accounts.

    • Vaporhead

      Careful there……many folks who visit this site are obsessed with the F-35 and they don’t care how much tax dollars are wasted, or how the F35 actually performs. Their hearts are broken whenever you say anything negative about the program.

  • Justin H
  • Justin H
  • Big-Dean

    The “good?” Gen must’ve been promised a “good?” job at Lockhead after he retires.

  • Tallgrass05

    Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against the military-industrial complex. Perhaps now it’s more properly called the industrial-political-military complex.

    • blight_

      He also warned us of the dangers of government monopolizing research, and of any one thing monopolizing government budgets in the long-term, not just the military. If anything, he correctly anticipated the present day fight between guns and butter and how much of a role government must have in society.

      • tiger
      • tiger
  • Rubio K…

    • blight_

      …have you actually read the thing? smsgt mac, attack!

  • tmb2

    “We can have the best airplane in the world, but if no one can afford it, then it does us no good,” he said.

    Great advice. Package it up and mail it to 2006.

  • Thomas

    They killed the F22, because it was too expensive, even though it kicked butt, and replaced it with this turkey, which ended up being just as expensive, and not half as good, one plane fr all three services? WHY, the Air Force should have gotten F22’s, the navy a next gen super Hornet, and the Marines, re vamped A-10s and Harriers. It would have saved boat loads of money, and got the job done better.

    • tiger

      1, Your F-22 has had its own problems. The only butt it has kicked, is it’s own pilots.
      2. Does not meet the fighter attack role.
      3. Substandard solutions to the USN & USMC air needs. Does nothing for others buyers.
      4. Compettion not standing still.
      5. Subs & contractors left in the cold.

      • Charles James Haas

        Well, actually, the flight suit was the pilot problem, not the F-22. It does have an attack role, although not a truly robust one. Meeting the USN and USMC need was not a good reason to stop production of the F-22. In fact, having a warm production line is the best way to bring improvements to a plane. The F-22 is stufixed in its design now, but a warm production line could have allowed for several variants to emerge. I think the F-35 will perform nicely, but sadly, I think the F-22 should still be in production.

  • Meph

    This is also worth a ready on the subject.

  • James T. York

    Remember the last “jack of all trades” airplane, the F-111? Failed in every mission except medium-low altitude light SCRAM attack. Promoted as a carrier airplane, air defense, strategic bomber, tanker and RAVEN. Not only did it lack the range and altitude to complete missions, it lacked load carrying and, like the F-35, had so many systems built-in and was so “dense” that upgrades were nearly impossible. The expected 3,000 plus planes were cut to only a few hundred that spent their entire airframe lives looking for someone to give them a mission-an operational orphan. The development of this aircraft was problematic and very much delayed just like the F-35. History repeats itself. I am showing my age but does anyone remember the ” Colossal weight reduction program” and other Aardvark issues?

    • Bernard

      Perfect analogy. It is the F-111 all over again just tremendously more expensive. What’s also upsetting is that I’ve seen projects to apply this same failed multi-role concept to UAV’s. UAV’s are the last thing to need multi-role, they are cheap and you can make a number of specialized ones for the cost of a single multi-role one. It’s nonsense.

      Multi-role has always been a compromise and in this age of cheap UAV’s it’s a dead concept, we don’t need it anymore. Any task the plane can’t do can be picked up by a cheap special purpose UAV.

      • oblatt1

        The difference was the F-111 didnt eat up so much of the budget that it made the F-14, F-15 and F-16 impossible to build.

        A better analogy with the JSF is the Warsaw Pact achieving complete air superiority over Germany after a F-111 turkey shoot.

    • Charles James Haas

      Well, the F-111 actualy never became a jack of all trades, but I doubt there are many people that flre it that thought it was a bad plane. Had a great reputation in Vietnam, Libya, and in the 1st Guld War. In fact, during Desert Storm, the F-111 was at its best, killing tanks, stopping the oil spill into the Gulf, and much more. Of course, the F-111 spawned the FB-111 (which thankfully never needed to be used in a strategic bomber role), and as the very useful Spark Vark EF-111 variant. In fact, that the Soviet Union copied its concept with the Su-24 Fencer should tell you a lot. The F-111 also was the first swing wing and fly by wire plane in the world. The plane wasn’t perfect, but it did the job for many years and I don’t think anyone would consider it a wasted program. Actually, it was likely a little ahead of its time, as the engineering at the time wasn’t really ready for the swing wing design.

  • Voice-of-Reason

    It’s funny how people will believe everything they read, even when they have no real insight into the true story. When will people learn that the media paints the picture that will “sell” or that will draw the most attention? The F-35 is the most advanced aircraft ever built. From an overall capabilities perspective, no one else in the world has anything like it. This aircraft is a workhorse and a very formidable weapon system. Anyone that thinks otherwise is just believing the negative hype.

    • tnr3

      Bankrupting the armed forces is negative hype?

    • oblatt1

      What dose it matter if it the most advanced if it “cant turn, cant fight , cant run”

  • hibeam

    It’s a POS. We have dropped the word total.

  • hibeam

    It could have been a decent jet if the Marines had not demanded it also be a jeep.

  • Michael Shatto

    “We can have the best airplane in the world, but if no one can afford it, then it does us no good,” he said.

    I heard this exact quote, on exactly the same subject…. 40 years ago.

  • kickstarter
  • oblatt1

    When your business plans are based on betraying your country buying another Airforce general is pretty small beans

  • Jess

    Quoting Benard:

    Currently the F-35 is only STOVL without a weapons load and low fuel. If they had gone for STOL (not vertical)

    1:30 and after in the video. GASP is that plane being loaded with weapons?
    How did the plane land without melting the deck?
    This is a perfect example of people being led astray with regards to information concerning this plane. I could point out other things in this video that are contrary to your opinion but I will not. If we are going to light up the internet with vitriol, then lets try to be informed ok.

    • blight_

      Re deck melt:…

      • Jess

        Thats says that the deck received a new coat for the wear. If I’m not mistaken, the F-35 haters made quite a bit of a fuss over how the thrust would actually spall the deck! There is a picture some place where the plane landed near the border of the newer coat. STILL NO DECK BURN through. I wax my floor to make it last longer. But If i don’t wax it I dont expect it to spall when I run across it. You slyly ignored my 1st point about the F-35B taking off in STO mode with a weapons load.

    • hibeam

      Like I said. Build a jet or build a jeep. Don’t try to build both in one. You end up with neither.

  • 45K20E4

    I know I will get crucified for this….

    But tell me again why, in this day and age of inter-service operation, does the USMC need their own air force? It’s not WWII, where having a Marine in the cockpit was a distinct advantage to close air support.

    VTOL/STOVL should be totally scrapped. Build the AF version and let the Navy do whatever it is that will work best for them (Super Hornets?)

    • blight_

      …then the Navy will fly from LHA’s and LHD’s. At the end of the day, someone will fly STOVL or STOL aircraft from them. What is the cost savings of moving this functionality from the Marines to the Navy?

      • oblatt1

        Nonsense, the whole STVOL fleet is a waste of effort that contributes nothing to the mission.

    • majr0d

      The USMC will never have the Air Force say the target isn’t important enough to send a fighter or the supply plane won’t fly because it’s not full enough.

      The Army has more aircraft than the Air Force exactly for those reasons. I love attack helos but they aren’t as efficient as fixed wing but I know they’ll always come in the end because they can’t say no to an Army officer that is commanding them.

      Check out what happened to the C27J that was supposed to be an Army aircraft that the Army relented and believed the Air Force would fly it for them.

    • tiger

      I’ll bring my nailgun…..

  • Peter

    I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again. I’m from the UK and I really wish we weren’t buying this plane (the VTOL version) for our new carriers! We should have had cats and traps on the carriers and bought Super Hornets, or maybe a marinised version of the Typhoon?

    Also the carriers should have been nuclear powered, but that’s just another gripe!

  • Hefe

    Japan tested it against the Typhoon and other 4th generation jets, it wiped the floor with them. Also, it can scan passively for incredible distances. The russian and chinese jets scan actively which will make them easy for an f-35 pilot to detect. The price is set to lower with every production lot. It’s expensive now but it will be cheap and affordable as more come on line. Think of the U.S. and our allies having 3,000 + of these bad boys.

    • blight_

      In terms of passive radar, I assume you don’t mean bistatic radar, but are referring to the AN/ASQ-239?

      • Jess

        The APG-81 is an AESA radar with Lo probability of intercept modes. The radar is designed to use, Freq Hopping, Low, power settings and algorithms to avoid detection. This + the passive ECM+ The 360 degrees of IR are digitally fused.

        • blight_

          AESA is /active/ radar, even if it is LPI.

          • Atomic Walrus

            And it has a passive mode. Radiate if necessary, but don’t necessarily radiate.

          • Jess

            So LPI Mode works, on the F-22, T-50 and J-20, but will not work on the F-35? If Lo observables as a strategy doesn’t work in any way what so ever, then why will 1/2 the modern world have them by 2025?

            Lockheed is building LO designs.
            The Sukhoi has come up with a Lo design (5th gen)
            Mitsubishi In japan have built a prototype
            The Europeans though reluctant at 1st have started to design LO Type UAVs
            Saabs new griffin will have Lo features
            The Chinese have settled on Lo designs
            Boeing, Northrop, In fact I cant think of 1 fighter jet manufacturer who doesn’t have a LO design somewhere ( well the French).
            And Now you people are telling us that the entire world is wrong, the earth is Flat, and that STEALTH is not the future of aviation.

    • Rest Pal

      quote: “Japan tested it against the Typhoon and other 4th generation jets, it wiped the floor with them”

      That’s BS / fabrication.

      • Hefe

        You can read about it in a myriad of articles they held an open competition the f-35 was the clean winner.

  • hunter76

    Bogdan has been returned from the woodshed.

  • now2node

    I wonder if Pentagon got a memo from the Commerce/State Department? And Lockheed Martin?

    That potential foreign buyers may not buy F35 due to the criticism from Pentagon itself…

    • tiger

      Those same buyers have Harriers to replace. The B model is the only game in town right now.

  • tiger

    How many years has it been since the USS Wasp made a deployment? 10 years?

  • @PanikaFalcon

    To alll: here my propaosal :
    In 90s navy should bought Super Tomcat and wait for UCAS-D. For VTOl stick with upgraded Harier and buy sea version of RAH-66. Buy either yf22 or 23 developt it in to fighter bomber. And go for naval version too.

    Forget yf 22 and yf 23 Buy N-ATF and then turned to version for air force or stick with same one so in case of war Naval loses could be replenished from airforce stock.

    With produrment of electornics implemnt tic tock strategy. So First you will develop engines and avinics in on round and in second airframe. So their will be Silent eagles for semostrationg NATF and ATF engines and avionics first and then just stick it to new plane.
    Buy VTOL dorne for Marines. Problem solved saved 150 bilions more airframe with better capability.

    Hey guys did you forget about x-36? MDD propousal for JSF?

    • tiger

      Ok….. You & Mr Peabody jump into the Wayback machine and make that happen. Meanwhile buy some Apple stock for me before the Timecops chase you down.