A Tale of Two Gatling Guns: F-35 vs. A-10

F-35_sunset

The Daily Beast’s Dave Majumdar is out with another excellent story about how the gun on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s newest and most expensive fighter jet, won’t work for another four years — at the earliest.

That’s because the software that lets pilots shoot the Gatling gun, which is critical for the aircraft to provide close-air support to ground troops, isn’t expected to ship until 2019, according to the article.

As Majumdar writes:

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

What’s also interesting to note is how few rounds the General Dynamics Corp.-made weapon actually holds compared to the 1970s-era A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The GAU-22/A, a four-barrel version of the 25mm GAU-12/U Equalizer rotary cannon found on the Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II jump set, is designed to be internally mounted on the Air Force’s F-35A version of the aircraft and hold 182 rounds. It’s slated to be externally mounted on the Marine Corps’ F-35B jump-jet variant and the Navy’s F-35C aircraft carrier version and hold 220 rounds.

GAU-22

The GAU-22/A is lighter and more accurate than its predecessor, but with a reduced rate of fire of 3,300 rounds per minute. At that rate, the F-35 would be out of ammunition in about four seconds, or one or two bursts of fire.

By comparison, the 30mm, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger in the nose of the venerable Warthog attack aircraft can hold as many as 1,174 rounds. It’s configured to fire at a fixed rate of fire of 3,900 rounds per minute.

It's just a phase they're going through

The F-35, in its full configuration with the Block 3F software, is designed to carry a suite of internal and external weapons, including the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, laser-guided Paveway II bomb, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and infrared Sidewinder missile.

Still, the long wait for a functional F-35 gun is likely to raise more questions about the Air Force’s repeated push to send the A-10 to the bone yard. Lawmakers disagreed with the service’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal to retire the aircraft and authorized funding to keep the plane flying for at least another year.

Even war commanders seem sold on the merits of the A-10, which was deployed to Iraq in recent months to help U.S. and Iraqi forces fight Islamic militants. Video of the planes firing its iconic gun at suspected ISIS targets has circulated online.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to begin operational flights of the F-35 — even without the use of the gun and lingering concerns over software — this year. The F-35B is slated to reach so-called initial operational capability by the end of the year, the F-35A by late next year and the F-35C by February 2019.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • LPF

    OK seriosly has LM got pivtures of the people who signed on this, in the sack with farm animals ????

    My god its life trhe US is going out of its way to cripple its airpower just so that someone will take em on in a fight. :S

    • Dan

      Would someone please translate this post into understandable English?

      • Rob. C

        He basically saying that people who are pushing use of the F-35, retirement of the A-10 regardless of the readiness of the F-35’s ground support gun should be rounded up and fired.

        The Air Force is trying to go out its way cripple itself and it capacities supports troops on the ground with a incomplete and trouble substitute that it’s unwilling politically to admit it was mistake.

      • ccc40821

        Wish I could give you five thumbs up….

      • blight_

        “OK seriously, has LM got leverage on the people who “signed on this” (e.g leverage in the form of people in bed with farm animals)

        My god it’s like the US is going out of its way to cripple its airpower just so that someone will sense weakness and attack”

    • DPS

      Give the A-10’s to the Army. That is where they will be needed. The Army had fixed wing assets before so why not now? Let the Air Force and Navy play with their dysfunctional new toy.

    • Mark
  • UAVGeek

    Software, to fire a gun? You gotta be kidding. Wire up a button in the cockpit.

  • Joe

    The rounds fired by this gun are also smaller caliber and half the weight of the Warthog’s rounds. (Assuming Wikipedia is correct…) This might be fine for air-to-air, but not so much for air-to-ground.

  • Dickie Cockpit

    I’m assuming the software will enable the gun to hit targets with less rounds missing the target and, like using smart bombs, the required effect is achieved using far less ordnance.

    Wiring a button in the cockpit and working around all the money and engineering time spent to create this gun system I suppose could cause the gun to fire. With all rounds unaimed and striking nothing it would be as effective as spraying the air with an AK at a Mid East wedding.

  • I do not believe a word about this nonsense of the software. The software can be ready in 24 hours.

    • William A. Peterson

      What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is how MODERN fighter aircraft work, as distinguished from the relics we’ve been flying… The F35, and similar aircraft, is only designed to be stable in forward flight at Supersonic Speeds. Anything slower than the speed of sound, and it goes into unstable flight, which a human pilot cannot compensate for. When the software is fully installed, and everything works (remember the Eurofighter Typhoon? This is why THAT one took so long!), it’s going to have a crazy turning radius, but it won’t be able to fly straight without the computer… Now, what do you think firing a 25mm Gatling Gun is going to do to that computer’s input, if it’s not wired into the datastream? I’m NOT an aerospace engineer, but I’m going to guess REAL bad things!

    • Vpanoptes

      “I do not believe a word about this nonsense of the software. The software can be ready in 24 hours.”

      I’ll bet you if you paid LM enough they could do it…..

      • d. kellogg

        Doubtful.
        LM has been paid more than enough already, and they STILL can’t do it.
        Their aircraft is behind schedule, over budget, and still doesn’t work as originally advertised.

        Maybe the DoD can rewrite the requirements again, dumb it down some more and save on not having a gun at all.
        Do it British style: fitted for, but not with.

  • AAK

    Comparing this gun to the one on the A-10 is ridiculous. Or it would be if the f-35 wasn’t supposed to take over the role of the A-10. Totally different spec. The A-10 avenger gun was a cold war tank killer which also happens to tear a new one in anything it hits in current insurgent type conflicts. The F-35 has an AA cannon which can (eventually) be used for ground targets also, but with nowhere near the destructive capabilities of the avenger.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8_Avenger#mediav

    • ronaldo

      AAK,

      Did we really need to get this far into the thread before reading your common sense response ? This site truly attracts more than it’s share of wannabe engineers, defense planners, pilots ( arm chair “Mavericks”), and budgetary know nothings.

      Thanks for carefully showing the error which began with the fatuous comparison of the two gun systems ( F-35 and A-10) and lit the fire of silliness.

    • PolicyWonk

      The A-10 was designed *around* a 30mm cannon that was specifically designed to kill armored vehicles/provide direct ground support, at low altitude, under enemy fire, for an extended period of time (while being a highly effective bomb truck).

      It performs that mission brilliantly, as the most effective CAS aircraft in any inventory in history.

      The USAF has slated that aircraft for the bone yard ever since it was imposed upon them – and they were on their way to the boneyard when Desert Storm happened. The A-10’s stunning performance horrified the enemy and the USAF brass – who were shamed into accepting the A-10 for yet another horrible few decades – and despise the fact that it has become the most requested CAS aircraft by far in the inventory.

      The USAF brass is having to learn that lesson yet again as the A-10 was called in to take on ISIS, where they are having to endure yet another public humiliation regarding the poor judgment they exhibit, let alone disregard for the ground-pounders they claim to support.

      Seriously – you almost can’t make this stuff up!

      • wpnexp

        Except the A-10 would not survive a modern IADS, with systems like the 2S6, the Pantsyr-S1, the SA-15, the SA-17, and the 9M96 missiles employed with the SA-10/20 and the SA-21. China is building similar systems. The A-10 is a great system if no modern enemy air defenses are present. Helicopters might survive only if they stay behind friendly units and hide behind terrain most of the time.

      • Frank

        Read your history! The A-10 was designed by the army. The Air Force Went to congress to get the plane. Then Killed the contract. Putting the builder into bankruptcy. The AF has tried to kill the program. They been trying to boneyard the design ever since.

        They hated the plane. It wasn’t higher, faster. It was slower. flew lower, and had a titanium bathtub. Since WWII the AfF has run away from CAS.

        • sam76-99

          USAF formed the Attack Experimental (A-X) program office in 1966. Fairchild Republic designed the A-10, not the Army. USAF did not kill the contract, the last plane rolled out of Hagerstown MD in 1984.

          The Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration are what prompted USAF to retire the A-10. I don’t know how/why you made up your statements, but you’re obviously not very well informed.

    • IamFritz

      The 25mm Mauser has a new type of round to it. It may prove very effective. I’ve read accounts of F-16’s 20mm Vulcan taking out tanks in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe the leadership has simply ruled the 30mm round was overkill?

  • Stan

    It’s a completely contrived comparison. A-10 WAS CREATED for that cannon to be the Eastern Front tank buster. Arguably this doesn’t apply to the multirole F-35. And one doesn’t need armor piercing depleted uranium rounds for most things in the field.

    • Stan

      Also, if the software controls the cannon you can precisely control the number of rounds fired with each trigger press. This way those 182 rounds could go a long way.

    • CharleyA

      Usually doesn’t carry the DU ammunition, the HEI is the preferred round when not going against armor.

    • ohwilleke

      The F-35 has been given the role of replacing the A-10. If it isn’t busting tanks and is instead going after mechanized infantry that are more numerous, the problem of having 10% of the rounds to fire is even greater.

  • miles

    Why is every one making it sound like every one of the wars we have fought in since Vietnam was won single handily by the A-10 achieving Air superiority all on its own you all sound like a bunch of Babies.

    The A-10 guidance system was the pilots MK-1 eye ball and has only really had one air to air victory was during the First gulf war against a helicopter that I know of.

    • Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

      Thats because its job ISNT to achieve air superiority. You need an aircraft built at light as possible to do that. That means no significant armor, minimal redundant systems etc.
      The hog’s jobs is to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EXISTING AIR SUPERIORITY. And it does this extremely well. In most of those wars since vietnam you are refering to, it proved to be the most effective anti-vehicle weapon in most of them.

      The reason people are saying the F-35 cant do this as effectively is because at this point in a campaign, you arent fighting against big SAM sites and enemy aircraft. Those are taken care of by stealthy aircraft and cruise missiles, effectively making it a ground war for the enemy. But those arent enough to take care of every tank, truck apc, hidden bunker, manpad, mounted hmg etc….

      Any aircraft past that point is going to have to deal with most dumb projectiles and manpads…. something the a-10 is known for being able to do, while still doing its job of taking them out. Something an f-35 would be terrible at.

      • miles

        The F-35 is not a Air superiority either Bomb truck any time any one talks about a Jet fighter not having a million round for its cannon or no cannon everyone acts like the sky is falling screaming bloody murder (Vietnam)!

        • ANGLICO

          Your an idiot who has no understanding of past events. In Vietnam the original models of the phantom didn’t have a cannon because the designers thought with missiles they can engage the target before they get that close. However Vietnamese migs figured this out and close distances and shot our aircraft down because they were unarmed for close in fighting.

      • miles

        Didn’t a precious A-10 fall victim to a Man pad during the invasion of Iraq?

        • Chirstopher

          Nope. Learn to Google. It took damage from a SAM. Still flew. Most are dead after one hit.The f-16.net potentional terrorist are coming out of the Lockheed troll hurt.

        • Woodcutter

          Seriously, learn to google if you are going to argue like that. Check out loss rates for all aircraft since desert storm. The A10 isn’t even an honorable mention, although they are very honorably mentioned for their support in every conflict they have deployed to.

          F15s and F16s, designed as air superiority, have been lost at a higher rate performing their role than the A10 performing it’s role. By a lot. Do some research beyond the Lockheed Martin product brochure for the JSF.

          • displacedjim

            Really? How many F-16s have been lost to enemy fire while performing CAS? I’d say possibly one (because I don’t know what sort of mission it was on) late in DS. How many F-15Es? I’d say zero. How many F-18s? Again, zero–not counting the one that the US Army shot down in DS2. Now how many A-10s since DS? One.

    • JohnnyRanger

      Not one person who has commented on this article (other than you) has even implied a connection between the A-10 and the air superiority mission…

    • jossie lawless

      yeah I guess at 200 + million you really can only afford to send 1 aircraft… so it has to do everything.

    • Stephen_Paraski

      The A-10 is being used as ground support. It is using a couple thousand dollars worth of munition to take out a ground target versus a million dollar missile. And they do have armor around pilot. If I was in a valley in Afghanistan I would be thankful to see a few of these flying in low with that Gatling gun and be able to talk to pilot rather than a drone coming in to support me.

    • Eddie

      Yo Miles, it’s not about air superiority but supporting our troops on the ground dumb…! And it also can sustain extensive battle damage and continue to fly.

    • Dan Mischbuccha

      Help me out please: what wars have we “won” since Vietnam (except for Iraq 1991)? It is interesting that various Mildeps, branches, contractors, etc. claim victories but somehow national security goals are not met. In other words, they don’t add up. As for the F35, it seems like a major FUBAR for the MIC, despite the legions of promotions and contracts. Grossly over budget, overweight/off-spec, and many years late. Also a win for the esteemed USAF acquisition folks. They win the prize.

  • Lance

    No comparison a 30mm vs 25mm gun. 30mm can kill tanks wipe out fixed infantry positions. 25mm cannot kill all type of tanks like a 30mm can. Face it again the proof JSF sucks and is inferior to current planes it was meant to replace.

    • The one armed man

      I believe Bradleys carry a 25mm and have engaged tanks with them(not the preffered method) and most of our current fleet of fighters carry a 20mm. And our “excellent article” is wrong about the release of 3F, it’s planned fo 2017 not 2019. The question is can they keep the date?

    • Chuck

      That’s not true at all anymore. A 30mm cannot penetrate modern MBT armor. Even at the time it came out the newer Soviet tanks would have survived a pass. Nowadays, even a T-72 with modern armor upgrades will shrug off a burst like it was a hail of pebbles.

      Furthermore, the F-35 IS better than the planes it is replacing. The F-16, AV-8 Harrier, and F/A-18A/B/C/D have all seen better days.

      • haloguy628

        You don’t have to penetrate the armor. Couple rounds in the engine bay or the tracks will incapacitate tank. The resulting fire will take care of the rest.

      • UAVgeek

        What the gun can’t kill, the Maverick missiles it carries can. If it’s not carrying any, then it can mobility kill the tank and come back later.

  • Big-Dean

    220 rounds eh, that works out to be 1.4 Million per pass, all together, that’s a bargain (by Lockheed Martin’s accounting methods)

    • miles

      Harrier accomplished its job with the same gun and 300 rounds why will the F-35b not be able to do its job?

  • BlackOwl18E

    IOC for the F-35 will be a joke. None of the jets will be ready for combat. LM and the Pentagon just don’t want Russia’s PAK-FA to reach IOC before the F-35. Russia’s T-50 will be ready around 2016-2017, but their jet will be able to fight. It would be embarrassing for the Pentagon to have started a stealth fighter program before a our competition, spent well over twice as much as them, and still finish afterwards with an inferior plane.

    • Josh

      You spend so much time crowing against the F-35 (some of it is legit,) I would have expected you to know a little more about the PAK-FA. Mostly, that reports coming out are suggesting the PAKFA has serious issues of it’s own, and the likelihood of it entering service before 2017 is in doubt.

      “The best-case scenario would have seen 60 production T-50s delivered between 2016 and 2020, but this now seems a distant hope. As a result, the air force is badly in need of supplementary equipment.” (https://medium.com/war-is-boring/russias-new-air-force-is-a-mystery-af28abb0be7d)

      And another article.. .https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-indians-hate-their-new-russian-made-stealth-fighter-d89b9ce721de

      What’s embarrassing is you constantly on here touting the PAK-FA and J-20/31 as better platforms when the information doesn’t support such claims (PAKFA) or when there is insufficient public information to judge the other (J20/31)

      • BlackOwl18E

        If you had been reading anything I’ve written as closely as you think you have then you would know that I have never touted the J-20. EVER. I don’t trust Chinese engineering just yet and I’ve said before that I think the J-20 will reach IOC somewhere around 2025-2027. I have no solid evidence as to why I think that. That’s just my best guess from what I know about fighter programs.

        Also, if you had been following the PAK-FA and F-35 as long as I have then you would know that plans to make the F-35s reach IOC had been made well over a year ago when the problems with the PAK-FA weren’t as prominent. The thing is, as many problems as the PAK-FA does have the F-35’s issues are way worse and the money spent on the F-35 outpaces that spent on the T-50 by a long shot. Aside from that War is Boring is not necessarily right on everything. Don’t believe everything you read.

        • Josh

          But these issues with the PAK FA wouldn’t just surface a year ago if they were not preexisting issues for years! You are assuming the information available on the issues regarding the PAKFA is the end of it all. You are assuming that the Russians are honest brokers, they aren’t! There will never be a point where the Russians will ever be open about all of the issues with their fighter the way we are with the serious problems with the F-35. Or the amount of money they have spent on it!

          And, how are the issues with the PAK FA not as bad as those with the F-35? In the little information we have, we know that the Russians have had to re-enforce the wings, the aircraft lacks adequate power from existing engines, it’s avionics are shit, and radar vastly under performs.

          Oh look, an engine fire on the PAKFA! (http://www.janes.com/article/42765/indian-air-force-unhappy-at-progress-of-pak-fa-fifth-gen-fighter) You jump up and down when it happens to the F-35, but it’s “not as serious” on the PAKFA?!

          This isn’t just War is Boring reporting this (see above). Even if it was, while they may not always be right, I’ll take their story over the Russians any day of the week.

          Look, we are in agreement about the serious issues regarding the F-35. But the notion that eerily similar issues on the PAKFA are somehow less serious is ridiculous!

          • William_C1

            Some here seem to think that when the Soviet Union became the Russian Federation they suddenly became just as open as the West about defense programs, but they are sadly mistaken.

          • BlackOwl18E

            You are assuming that the Russians have problems and aren’t talking about them. That’s a fair assumption. However, what we both disagree on is the scope and scale of the problems they have. That is useless to argue because it would just be your assumptions vs my assumptions. I won’t waste time on it, but I will show you facts that are readily available.

            How do you know the avionics are ****? From what I’ve read they’re actually pretty good. The Chinese want the Su-35S from Russia to copy it’s technology and the PAK-FA’s systems are a step above that. Keep in mind that China has been able to use espionage to steal data from the F-35 program and produce the J-31. The fact that they still want the Su-35S and are still trying to negotiate a purchase from Russia for the explicit reason of copying it is telling in itself. What’s even more telling is that after copying the F-35, China does not currently intend to use the J-31 for its own Air Force and will use it explicitly for export, yet they still want to buy the Su-35S. What does that tell you?

            As for the differences with the problems between aircraft. The PAK-FA’s problems are almost entirely related to the new engines that Russia is developing and the problems are more with the engines than the jet itself. The PAK-FA isn’t restricted to avoiding cold weather whereas the F-35 has issues with it’s battery and some liquids that have put into question its ability to operate in the arctic (PAK-FA is designed from the ground up to handle arctic weather and even had its first public flight in such temperatures). The Russians don’t have to paint their fuel trucks white to keep the fuel cool as a coolant. Sure, both stealth jets suffered an engine fire, but the PAK-FA has at least been able to make it to an international airshow on time and I have yet to see the F-35 put on an aerial display comparable to what’s been seen from the T-50 (General Hostage confirmed that’s because it can’t deliver one and admitted the F-35 has poor kinematics). The software of the PAK-FA is undoubtedly less complex than that of the F-35, but it will be battle ready and won’t take a decade to complete like the F-35’s will.

            Apart from that, some of the avionics on the F-35 are supposedly out of date before the jet will even enter service. I’m sure you’ve been reading about the EOTS on the F-35 right?

            While it’s true that we don’t have Russia’s exact spending on the PAK-FA we do know that they have a defense budget that is less than a fraction of ours, yet they aren’t making cuts to every single other service, weapon system, and personnel to feed the PAK-FA. We are gutting our own forces for the sake of the F-35 and the ridiculous spread out production line across every damn state and country in our sphere of influence. It would be absurd to think that the Russians have spent anything anywhere close to what we have spent on the F-35.

    • Araya

      The PAK FA (T50) is at first one of Putin’s prestige projects like the “Superjet 100” and as consequence, it will become “operational” them he want it and not if the airframe is really ready for War. And the PAK FA is also not comparable to the F35 but more a reskinned Su35BM them a true five Gen fighter as consequence the RCS is only from a few angles LO.

      This does not mean what the PAK FA is bad but it is inferior in term of Stealth, Avionik, available Weapon and also likely in reliability to the F35. But one the other Hand the PAK FA still far superior to any legacy fighter like F18 E/F, F16Block52+, F15C/E, EF2000, Rafale etc. and because of this (and not to forget the IADS) it is no longer an option to buy Legacy airframes.

      In addition, I believe that the A10 can only be replaced by a comparable design (how did not exists) and not by the F35 or any other available airframe.

    • Jeff

      Looks like Josh won that argument.

  • oblatt22

    After IOC there will still be 20 years of development to go. Just look at the F-22 a decade after IOC its only combat mission was only possible because the Syrians agreed to turn their air defenses off.

    The gun is hardly as issue any F-35 close enough to an enemy to need a gun is already dead.

  • jamesb101

    Wait….
    They’re putting a refrigerator and bed in the F-35….
    The Kitchen sink also….

    A Jet trying to find a mission….

    Keep the darn A-10…
    Upgrade IT for $1.98….Sure it ain’t an spped merchant…..
    If they don’t want it?
    GIVE IT to the Army…..

  • jamesb101

    speed merchant!

  • Drew

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to begin operational flights of the F-35 — even without the use of the gun and lingering concerns over software — this year.

    – Sounds like the F-4 Phantom project all over again.

  • 009

    The contractors sure knows how to dangle that carrot don’t they:)

  • William_C1

    Is this the same “unnamed USAF official” that was in Dave’s last article about EOTS, the wrong wrong on multiple counts about both the existing system and planned improvements in future blocks?

    If a F-35 (or any other modern fighter) pilot goes low to strafe a tank with their cannon chances are they’ll be spending the rest of their service days mopping latrines. The GAU-22/A is first and foremost designed to destroy other aircraft, so why isn’t it being compared to the 20mm M61A2 Vulcan rather than the monstrous 30mm GAU-8/A designed to shred Soviet tanks? This is comparing apples to oranges. Why don’t we ask why the F-35 isn’t a Mach 3 interceptor, or a strategic bomber while we’re at it?

    There is a difference between basic gun functionally (pull trigger, gun shoots) and a fully functioning air-to-air gun-director mode in which target data from your radar lock is used to automatically determine lead, etc. Chances are the Block 2B F-35 at least has the former. Full gun integration has been planned for Block 3F for years now in public documentation. Not exactly news.

    I’d love for us to keep the A-10C in service for a few more years at least, but this notion that the gun is the only useful weapon for close air-support needs to die off.

  • ucavlover

    by the time the F-35 goes into combat (2020+), enemy radars will be able to detect it at long ranges, and its super-advanced avionics suit will be a low cost add-on for the unmanned A-10’s that will still be doing most of the fighting then

  • Dan

    The gun will be obsolete in a few years as, there is plan to arm fighters with lasers for dogfighting.

  • steve

    I love the F-35 program, just when I think it can’t get any worse, they deliver more disappointment.

  • Bryan USAF ret

    The F-35 is was designed to be the replacement for all of our current combat aircraft. The focus has been and always will be for the USAF driven by fighter pilots. The A-10 then and now will out perform the CAS role hands down. It isn’t just the 22 mm vs the 30mm its also the loiter time which the F-35 will not have any where near the loiter time of the A-10. The A-10 has a definite place in the USAF but the fighter jocks think otherwise…….

    PS I won’t even mention that the F-35 is exceeding the cost of a vastly superior and proven F-22………

  • jeff

    Yeah the same F-22 that had the same development issues

  • Vitor

    The F-35 is a mess exactly because people deemed too important, specially with all the international partnership, so they know they can do all kind of bad things but the Pentagon will keep pouing money.

    Doesnt matter what Russia or China has, the whole program is such a mess, specially considering the F-35 will be inferior to the F-22. How the hell it is so hard to develop something inferior to what they already have?

  • Amateur turbo fan

    If this gun has to work with the F35’s EOTS, I’m guessing that the delay must be caused by the development of the helmet’s overall software.

    My question is, if this gun is going to be a precise weapon, what is need for an extremely high rate of fire?

    • chuckiechan

      Because you want the plane dead and the pilot to be dead incidentally. No sense letting him live to fight another day, and we don’t kill pilots in parachutes.

      So… we compromise.

    • The one armed man

      There is no delay. The 3F release date hasn’t changed. And it’s 2017 not 2019. The gun works with the radar not EOTS.

    • Dragon029

      The reason it’s being enabled in 2017 and not earlier is because Nammo has only just finished R&D of the new ammo the GAU-22/A uses. The next 2 years are being used for live fire testing and mapping the ballistics over various conditions and profiles.

  • Will L

    I really wish people would stop using the JSF’s newness as a conceptual super weapon. If you bring up any criticism or point out any short comings, youre just ignorant of MODERN warfare, stuck in the past, thinks its 1944, and would rather just throw rocks at the enemy. Its either a cheap, cynical tactic to say you’ve won an argument, or its a faith in futurism so strong that all rationality has gone out the window.

    • Uncle Bill

      That’s right and just stick with the same two arguments repeated ad nauseum on this site for years.
      1) This new thing is not as good as this old stuff we already like
      and
      2) Defense companies exist only to rip off the taxpayer and nothing they create is worth shit.

      Every story, every time.

  • jossie lawless

    not hard to be mission capable when that mission is to sit in a hanger most of the time.

  • Peter

    I’m barely an amateur when it comes to this information so bare with me on this question. I keep hearing “the F35 performs below the planes it was meant to replace”.
    Are we talking about speed and turn radius against the A10,F18 and F16?
    I would love to see the stats on performance comparisons against these jets but I can’t find any. Anyone?

    • The one armed man

      Here’s some Info.  http://www.f-16.net/forum/download/file.php?id=19
      Here’s the forum discussion with it.  http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&

      And some turning info.  http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-f
      EM info http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-bac
      http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/search?q=F-35

      ASH vs F-35 https://arcturus415.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/adva

      Comparing the A-10 performance to the F-35 is a little fruitless since the A-10 is only a CAS platform and the F-35 is multirole. 
      I’ll see if I can find more. 

    • ohwilleke

      The DOD as a matter of procurement policy decided to replace its F-15s with the F-22 and replace all of its other fighters in all services with the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. The idea was that a one size fits all fighter with minor variations would be cheaper – something that didn’t turn out to be true in 20-20 hindsight.

      The F-35A basically replaces the F-16. The F-35B replaced the Harrier (more important to our allies co-funding the F-35 who need it to keep their Harrier carrier fleets going than to the U.S. Marines who could have lived without it). The F-35C replaces the F-18 on U.S. aircraft carriers So far, so good.

      But, the F-35A was also used to replace the A-10, since the Air Force argued that there was no need for an A-10-like plane in the military. The Army doesn’t like this decision (its only alternative in the mission are attack helicopters like the AH-64), but doesn’t have the decision in its jurisdiction since large fixed wing aircraft no used by the Navy are Air Force turf. Congress has refused to allow the Air Force to scrap it mostly due to Army objections.

      But the F-35 is not designed for the mission of the A-10 and the U.S. has had a lot more A-10-like missions than F-16-like missions in Iraq and Afghanistan where our opponents have not had sophisticated anti-aircraft resources.

      • The one armed man

        The AF didn’t say there wasn’t a need for the A-10, they said they can’t afford it in the current fiscal climate. And they also said it wouldn’t survive a modern IADS and is becoming obsolete in that regard.

  • ken

    Why design a Gatling gun to blow its wad in 3 seconds?

  • Justin

    How do people complain that the f-35 is a horrible plane because it try’s to fill to many roles, then complain that it doesn’t have a tank busting chain gun on it.

    • d. kellogg

      Mr. Technical says,
      Vulcan-type rotary cannons (gatlings) are NOT Chain guns.
      The chain gun principle was designed by Hughes and actually was called such because it uses a loop of industrial grade chain around a series of gears to operate the feed, fire, and extract cycles.
      Wish I still had that website that showed computer animation of various guns operating: rotary, chain gun, even the revolver type aircraft cannon (kudos to France: the 7-chambered cylinder on their single-barrel 30mm M791 guns arming Rafale take the rate of fire record at 2500rpm (maximum burst).

  • Justin

    How do people complain that the f-35 is a horrible plane because it designed as a multi roll fighter, thus having to make design compromises. Then later on complain that it doesn’t have a tank busting chain gun on it.

  • citanon

    A great discussion about this issue over at the F-16.net forums.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6217/78.ful

    Bottom line: the gun is lower priority than missile and bomb integration. It’s also going to be a significant development task because the new CONOPS is to allow the F-35 to do 3 passes at steep angles from 9000 ft. This means:

    – The gun will be significantly more accurate than either the A-10 or the F-16 gun, allowing greater standoff range.
    – A new round will be developed to fit the CONOPS and ensure anti-infantry effectiveness.
    – Significant software development will have to go into the gun to allow highly automated operation to ensure accuracy.

    Bad news: it’s not going to be ready for a while.
    Good news: when it gets here, it will be safer to operate for the pilots, safer for friendly troops (better accuracy, no overshooting from the higher angle shooting down vs low flat strafe), and more effective against enemy forces (top down attack profile, new shells that allow anti-infantry effects).

    It all takes time, but that’s why it’s called _development_ not _magic_.

  • citanon

    I love how we’re buying over 2000 stealth fighters and some people here think that it’s going to cripple air power because it’s tertiary backup weapon won’t be operational for a few years?

    Over 100 development aircraft and fly-away cost and technical issues dropping like anchors year after year and apparently it will never be developed.

    Meanwhile, Russia has a grand total of 5 “stealthy” Pak-FA without so much as a sheet of stealth coating, exposed underbellies taken straight from the Su-27, engines and avionics that so far only exist on paper but somehow that aircraft will kick the F-35’s ass.

    Not only that, but after building 360 degree staring all seeing eye IR cameras, secure internet connectivity to ground pounders and a helmet that allows the pilot to look through the floor of his cockpit into its latest plane, the Air Force is going to abandon troops on the ground because they don’t want to keep flying a 40 year old airplane that can no longer survive against MANPADs.

    Does any of the above sound rational to you guys? Because they sure don’t to me.

    IMHO at the present time there are three valid reasons to worry about the F-35 force:
    1: Missiles – what we have now are not good enough to capitalize on this plane’s sensors and that’s going to place them at greater risk.
    2: Speed and altitude – the F-35 doesn’t have it and we don’t have enough of the F-22s. That means they will be at greater risk vs. IADs and have less capability vs infiltrating stealthy aircraft.
    3: Range: The lack of range on the aircraft is going to place our carriers and supporting assets at greater risk.

    These are long term issues that are going to require serious thinking and investment dollars to solve. All this focus on the minutiae of development, on the other hand, is ridiculous. 10 years from now, no one will remember any of the “failures” that people talk about here as force wrecking, sky is falling, program killing issues.

    • Josh

      Hold the press, a reasonable argument for the f-35?!

      I’m with you on most of the points regarding the F35. I would add that a capability that is not advertised and must be dug for a little on the internet is the potential offensive cyber capabilities the F35 will supposedly bring to the fight; very interesting stuff if true!

      To your points 1-3:
      1) Agreed, the Air Force and Navy are way short of capable air to air missiles, they need to address this for the F22 and F35 immediately to leverage their powerful radar and sensors.
      2) I fully acknowledge–more importantly so does the Air Force– the F35 lacks the speed and altitude of the F22. However, the Air Force seems to believe the F35 will be more capable of taking on modern IADs. If you haven’t already, read the interview in the article below, very interesting stuff. http://breakingdefense.com/2014/06/a-gods-eye-vie
      3) Id have to look back at it, but Im pretty sure the F35 has greater range on internal fuel with basic A2A and A2G loudest than the F16, and I believe near to if not equal to the F18 on the C model. Who knows, maybe they figure out conformal fuel tanks for the F35 in the future similar to the latest F16s and F18s.

  • nearoffutt

    US Army Cavalry tankers and Scouts have training with, been protected by, and did the forward observations for A10 for decades. Personally, my last actions in training were 1979 and the A10 has been the grunts choice since. Tankers, scouts, supporting infantry, and those others cost a $1 million each, for training, equipment, support and that $500,000 insurance policy each. A10s save money for those who do not care about army people’s lives.

  • Dan

    Two each two second bursts and you’re done. That’s really useful in ground support missions, or air-to-air for that matter. What a boondoggle the F-35 is.

  • Dan

    Two each two second bursts and you’re done. That’s really not very useful in ground support missions, much less air-to-air. We learned long ago that air-to-air missiles were not always the best weapon in a dogfight.

    • blight_

      It’s probable the F-35 will use many of the electronic advances that revolutionized tank gunnery. Identify target, fire only when a fire control computer is reasonably confident of hitting the target. Whether or not this will increase accuracy/precision and reduce ammunition consumption is debateable.

      If we are to return to the age of the gun, external gunpods where the gun can traverse and elevate for accurate targeting independent of aircraft flight may be useful. And with more accurate weapons resulting in reduced ammunition usage, the caveats of sustained fire resulting in accuracy and vibration problems are greatly mitigated.

      However, for suppression purposes you’ll still need plenty of rounds.

    • ohwilleke

      There have been so few dogfights in the last 30 years that we can’t say definitively that much of anything we know about dogfights is still valid in light of modern technology.

  • Rob C.

    Software can help accuracy stay on target, but unfortunately i think the automatic budget cuts maybe partially to blame. Personally know people who been let go from defense companies due to instituted self cuts by government. Not enough money to pay the people keep things moving along, you end up with higher costs and big delays. Shock and surprise.

    Air force move to keep pushing for retirement and redirect money to finish a project that having problems seems be someone’s idea of remedy the situation. Stupidally it from program well needed in today environment. Multiple mission aircraft are wonderful when they’re not trying do a specialist job. You can do multiple things, but you can be master at anyone of them. That’s why u have mission specific aircraft. Bomber = Drops Bombs and launches cruise missiles attack stuff on ground. Attack Aircraft = Attack ground-support missions that requires to get up close support troops on ground for long durations. F-35 is suppose to be Attack Aircaft, with anti-air ability. But its doing too much. Too many people changing their minds what they want to do with this. This should have been a “LIGHT” Attack plane, with some anti-air capacities.

    A-10 is specialist, damn well better built and less rushed to finish than F-35.

  • bbabbitt

    The F-35 is a sad, sad story. It may physically replace the A-10, but can never compare to the ability of the Warthog.

  • GI dude

    They can always just dive into the opposing troops, kami-kaze style.

  • rat

    Anyone who thinks that because this fighter can’t turn as well, or accelerate as well, or cruise as well as existing and future (opponent) aircraft is living in 1944. Don’t you know its invisible?

    • Another Guest

      @ rat

      Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

      • d. kellogg

        Only ~invisible~ to SOME radars.
        Stealth means lower observability (less chance to detect until much closer) from certain angles,
        NOT invisibility.

        The biggest flaw is STILL going to be that heat plume from that engine: highest thrust engine of any tactical fighter aircraft, that means thermal signature.
        Passive seekers on IR homing missiles and in those optical search and track systems modern aircraft have will still find an F-35 against the background sky.
        God forbid an F-35 pilot lights the afterburner.

        And don’t let these “LPI” (Low Probability of Intercept”) radar gurus fool you: modern LPI claims are made using the most modern radar types against antiquated RWR receiver systems that very few near-peer threats still utilize (DOT&E already called out the USN on that years ago).
        If an aircraft like the F-22 of F-35 is radiating enough RF power to ping an aircraft dozens of miles away and send a strong enough return to the fighter’s radar to interpret what it’s seeing, that emission can be detected at the target end with little effort.
        And courtesy of the international defense market, everyone everywhere knows whose radars operate in which bands.
        By the time all the F-35 partner nations have received all their aircraft, there will be plenty of threat air defense systems in service around the globe that can find them just as sufficiently as today’s systems can track an F-16 or A-10.

  • blight_

    The ideal modern CAS platform is something that doesn’t need to fly towards its target with a gun. If it weren’t for the SHORAD/MANPAD problem, the AC-130 and gunships like it would be the ideal CAS platform. Helicopters are agile and don’t need to fly at their targets, but lack the speed to evade enemy fire or missiles.

    I would be interested if they figured out a way for a faster business jet to present broadsides and fire 30mm reasonably precisely at ground targets. Even a ball turret like old times would make jets that much more flexible in delivering fires.

  • Lenard Jaderlund

    It’s Time to let the Army have the old out of date slow mover A-10 so it can cover its own ass in combat. This system has saved many a Soldiers life and need to be up-dated and given to a service that can and will deploy it. Save the A-10 System!!!

  • NeoConVet

    So steel on target is not a design use issue? Ability to loiter in the CAS arena not an issue? Is rock throwing from the aircraft the only option? I have to wonder who had a brain in this fiasco?

  • Cliffa

    Such a small payload seems pointless to me. I don’t know why they can’t just use what works and has always worked and is already tooled up for- duh? It really is like they want to cripple their own abilities. It makes no sense at all to move to a smaller gun, less capacity, slower and needs software that won’t be available for 4 years. That’s not a weapon it’s a pile of metal waiting for a purpose.

  • GroundGrunt

    If I remember correctly, also in Vietnam they designed aircraft without guns and the Mig’s tore them apart. So you are replacing ground support with JDAM’s? That is a Bomber! F-35 is a bad joke and CAS reminds me of the Army ACU testing. By comparison, the only ones that chose poorer camo was the Airforce who has to ditch their Service Uniform to enter Afghanistan for Army Multicam. Why am I not surprised the guns were though of, “it isn’t needed for CAS”. How many “retired Generals” are cashing in on this Rubber Chicken?

    • miles

      I thought it was just the F-4 that had no Gun and it was the younger pilots that did not have any comprehensive air combat training and did not have any previous combat experience that allowed the N Vietnam air force to have a number of A2A victories.

      The pilots that served in WW2 and Korea flying older century series fighters where able to hold their own against Mig-17 with the high failure rates of the Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles negated the F-4 effectiveness.

      I may have watched too many episodes of History Chanel’s “Dog Fights”.

      • d. kellogg

        There’re some videos out there (youtube, etc) of the gun project to equip F-106s with the M61 Vulcan (SixShooter)
        I find it impressive those designers achieved what they did,
        with mechanical, mostly analog systems,
        and created the gun pack and fire control solutions,
        WITH HARDWARE,
        much more capably than what LM has done in the F-35 with all its troubled software.

        The greatest travesty of modern aircraft development is that we have become so over-dependent on software to govern every single thing in the aircraft, when there surely are mechanical hardware systems that don’t need that level of “software micromanagement” to function effectively.

  • GroundGrunt

    So 2 seconds x 2 of fire support for a CAS mission? So basically 2 vehicle targets and that is it? What if they just eject and crash the $100 Million+ aircraft into enemy tanks and use a HAHO parachute to glide down to friendly forces instead? What a joke. This is what happens when the Airforce says “We don’t care about the CAS mission; Army has AH64’s for that.” Just give up the A10’s to the Marines and Army so they have proven guns and helfire / JDAM’s that work to cover their own. Then the Army won’t need the Chairforce for CAS, they can take care of their own and Chairforce can just to Air to Air and drink caffè latte’s at the Green Bean off the flightline. Give the Marines and Army Grunts the A10 and their own pilots can take care of the guys on the ground. Chairforce failed this and so did the Generals at the Pentagon who must own stock in a Corporation.

  • oblatt22

    The F-35 is a big downgrade.

    In every mission it does a worse job than the the aircraft its supposed to replace. CAS is no different.

    You have to go back to aircraft of the 50s and 60s to see F-35 levels of performance. Can you imagine the Lockheed shills arguments 20 years from now when the F-35 is finally operational. It would be like comparing the F-16 favorably to biplanes

  • Dragon029

    Can we please see some better journalism, such as not repeating incorrect data? For instance, the fact that the gun will be operational with 3F, which is to be completed in 2017, not 2019?

  • eskodas

    Block 3F is in 2017/2018. Not 2019, the source article is rubbish.

    “At that rate, the F-35 would be out of ammunition in about four seconds, or one or two bursts of fire”

    They place artificial burst limiters on the gun which could give 3-5 employment opportunities based on pilot discretion. All non-american aircraft carry this many rounds and work just fine, case in point the Su-25, the Russian version of the A-10 carries 250 rounds.

    This article is bullshit. An actual journalist would have done his homework, explained that Block 2B is AMRAAMs and GBU-31/32 BLU-109s and Block 3F is JDAMs with Mark 84s, SDBs, JSOW, AIM-9X, ASRAAM and Guns.

    They would also have explained the new High Explosive Armor Penetrating round being developed for the GAU-22.

    They would also have explained that to achieve a higher pk to offset reduced rounds that they would leverage the F-35s sensors and fusion to enable greater accuracy through fast target locking, wind, vector and bullet drop correction.

  • LIAM

    nothing can replace the A-10!

  • Brett Weeks

    “The GAU-22/A, a four-barrel version of the 25mm GAU-12/U Equalizer rotary cannon found on the Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II jump set, is designed to be internally mounted on the Air Force’s F-35A version of the aircraft and hold 182 rounds. It’s slated to be externally mounted on the Marine Corps’ F-35B jump-jet variant and the Navy’s F-35C aircraft carrier version and hold 220 rounds.”

    So much for the F-35B’s stealth- a lot of $ paid for a capability that is nullified by the external gun.

    • Seewherethetechgoes

      Here is what they can do. Each of their 180 rounds can seek out it’s individual target. So for anti personel CAS you can have upto 180 targets hit before bingo.

      • blight_

        You might be excessively optimistic about the accuracy and the firepower of the projectile assuring a one-shot one-kill. You also wouldn’t need a rotary barrel for one shot…

      • Mark
  • Brett Weeks

    And the F-35C

  • Mike

    In the history of the military the Air Force has typically seen ground support as a secondary or tertiary roll. Maybe the Army can pay the Marines to protect their troops? The first version of the F-4 was deployed without a gun. It was believed (erroneously) that all battles would be fought with missiles. Ask some of the pilots about missile fails and fighting MIGS with guns on them. Overpriced weapons systems? Anyone really surprised? Maybe they should get video game developers to introduce the software. At least they can put out something in less than 4 years.

  • Caesar

    what is the difference between 0bummercare and a F35?: NONE at all, both are krap!

  • Rocky A

    A 350 million dollar close air support aircraft. How flippin idiotic is that!

  • Mystick

    How many more delays to having a fully-functional aircraft? There was a time when development was measured in months and cost less than the aggregate salary of those working on one of these “super-modern-rapid-draft-to-production” defense industry welfare projects.

  • CORedleg

    Thats funny I swore that the article said that the F-35’s cannon will have 182 rounds. I mean, that cant be true otherwise you might as well not even have the cannon.

  • BenB

    When the F-22 was initially developed it was assessed that the cannon would not be necessary, largely because of the long stand-off range of missiles as well as the additional costs incurred by adding a gun. Pilots did not like not having a gun and simulations demonstrated that pilots were more likely to use all of their missiles in an air to air engagement if they have a gun to fall back on (didn’t matter whether or not they could get anywhere close to use the darn thing!), Thus the USAF wanted a gun and LM delivered. This, I assume, is largely the same argument for the JSF, though instead of using older refurb guns off of F-15s (like for the F-22), someone has decided there’s more money in a new gun system.

    The number of rounds onboard the JSF isn’t going to be sufficient for proper CAS, but then it is not supposed to be. The payoff is in dropped ordnance. That the A-10 can carry more ordnance, loiter longer, has demonstrated survivability, can operate from relatively austere sites, *and* use its gun in a proper CAS role…well, I won’t mention that.

  • Brad

    The real reason why they need a more accurate gun is because they know that the plane is not as good as the A-10: the F-35 can not hope to get as close to the ground to provide support the way the A-10 does. They need to keep the F-35 as far away from the ground as possible. Therefore they for the need a more accurate gun to compensate for the higher altitude.

  • Paul

    The F-35 is a POS compared to the A-10 in the field of close air support. Scrap this beast and build and update the A-10.

  • Robert Kuurstra

    Politics and special interest groups send our warriors out with no advantage and fight by the international rules what a bummer

  • Gordon

    There’s no argueing we need a new modern combat fighter air craft that’ll dominate any airspace…regardless, this is offensive and vulgar to us lowly grunts and a testament to the F&%$^&ing logic behind the minds that sold this crap to us… in that it’s taking a gozzilion dollar software system x-number of years to come on line just so the aircraft it was designed to operate in and the aviator pulling the trigger on a system that contains less ammo then I carry on a routine perimeter patrol around the FOB….is for the most part worthless after the first gun run on an enemy position or armor…Dang! you can’t even make this shit-up….To the contractors that sells this crap ^%$&^$ and to the politicians who allowed this crap to come on line %$%$# to…and to the Generals Admirals, and other’s out there willing to scrap an excellent combat platform so they can have their shiny new fast airoplane…I have utter contempt……

  • doctordave777

    In my opinion, this project is still a disaster. It should be cancelled and the F22 production line opened back up – I don’t think that the F35 will ever work properly when we need it. This POTUS should never have closed the F22 production line. Furthermore, he should have sold them to the Israeli AF when they asked for them 5 years ago. If he had done so, there would be no need for nuclear limitation meetings with the Iranian govt – the program wouldn’t exist today.

    If you wanted to develop policies to destroy the USA as world power, then you would do just as our POTUS has done up until today. Unfortunately, we still have 18 months until he’s replaced. I’m not sure that our country will make it to 2017.

    Dave

  • Joe Grimaud, Maj,ret

    Just look at the cost of the two vehicles. That alone should tell you it would be better to keep A-10’s around for the Air to Ground mission instead of risking losing a $200,000,000 plane in that environment. I was enlisted and in SAC in Intelligence at Forbes in Topeka when all of our pilots and navigators went to Offutt for a personal give and take with General Powers about planes. They were all non-plussed when they came back that Gen Powers thought the B-52 was what SAC needed and not the fancy and fast B-58 which could go fast and was pretty but could not carry much. Gen Powers made the point that the B-52 was what Sac needed because it was BIG and it had longevity. You could just keep modifying and updating it and keep on trucking. After all a truck is a truck is a truck. He was right and the B-52 has been constantly modified and is still in use over 50 years later, including having been used in 24 hour Crome dome missions during the cold war and effectively in Linebacker II in the latter phases of Viet Nam. Where is the B-58?

    I later went to OCS and became a fighter pilot. I flew F-100’s, including Fighter Weapons School then went to F-105’s and Wild Weasels and a 2d trip to Southeast Asia in the A-7.. No one loved to do air to air with other fighters more than I did but there are practicalities. MacNamara took an opposite approach from Gen Powers and tried to get an airplane designed that would replace all other (fighters?) and do all missions. He came up with the F-111. Where is it today?

    Flying Wild Weasels in Viet Nam, one of our missions was supporting B-52’s when they flew near or over North Vietnam. When you watched those B-52’s laying down their load, from 15,000 feet it looked like they were plowing a big field as all of those bombs went off below. In Linebacker II, that went a long way toward making the North Vietnamese come to terms in Paris (when B-52s started plowing those fields in the vicinity of Hano) , despite the later political ramifications of what we did and agreed to.

    It took ages to get the A-10 accepted into the inventory because we fighter pilots like to fly the fastest, hottest, air to air machine we can fly. But if your job is supporting troops on the ground all of the grunts would tell you to send in the A-10’s.

    I loved the F-105. It brought me back from North Vietnam 100 times when a lot of my buddies stayed there for six years and, at the time, it was the best thing we had to do that job, but although it had a 20mm gatlin gun and I used it in the Route Pak I of North Vietnam more than a few times, you sure would not want to use it in ground support. The speed and turning radius just did not allow you to do that job effectively like the A-10 could. The A-10 flying tank was not pretty but it could carry a bunch, could turn on a dime, and stay in close support with a superior air to ground gun while giving the pilot reasonable protection with its armor plating. That is what it was designed for and it still has the capability to do that mission well.

    I flew the A-7 also in Southeast Asia on my second trip. By that time we were only bombing with it out of Khorat Thailand over Cambodia. I have been called in by a FAC flying in an OV-10 on a tin roof command post in Phnom Penn and released my bombs from 7,000 feet (because by that time the AF didn’t want to chance losing any more planes to a war that was winding down) and pulling up and looking back after my bombing run to watch the roof cave in as the bomb went through, followed by an explosion that blew the place apart. The A-7 was the first airplane we had that could drop iron bombs with that precision from that altitude because of its fantastic systems. We nw have tand off weapons that can do most of its job, as well or better.

    My whole point is it still makes sense to build airplanes for the job you want them to do. How many A-10’s can you build for the price of one $200-300,000,000 F-35? Does the F-35 still make sense? Possibly, but not for a ground attack role and not in the quantities you need for that mission. The B-52 is still doing its job and so can the A-10, as effectively or more so than when they were first built. The F-100 and F-105 were good for their time. So was the F-4, though don’t tell any Thud drivers I said that. Just Use your head and spend our money wisely.

    I am now fortunate enough to pay considerable taxes and I sure hate to see it wasted in that shredding machine we have in DC.

  • Walt Bridge

    In the mid 90’s, F-16s were considered for the CAS role, and a configuration known unofficially as the A-16 was pressed into service testing. It was armed with six air-to-ground AGM-65 Maverick rockets and the integral M61-A1 cannon.
    The terrain in Bosnia is very mountainous and the valleys hid the Serbs very well. As the A-16 brought the E.O. Mav. on target, the time on target would run out, forcing the break to altitude or flight into terrain.
    The slower A-10 provided more loiter time, target selection time, lock-time for missles, and an armored cockpit against small arms fire, plus the high maneuverability required for engaging ground targets in steep terrain.
    The newer and better fighter was not suited to the role of CAS in Bosnia, but perhaps it would have been right at home in desert warfare – flat and treeless.
    If we can just figure out how to select our battle areas, we can get back to designing just the right plane for the mission – and do it on the first try.

    • d. kellogg

      Wasn’t the A-16 also slated for the 30mm “GEPod”, podded lighter weight (fewer barrels) derivative of the GAU-8?

      IIRC, the podded gun was dismally inaccurate, more rounds wasted that what hit the target, and PGMs like Maverick offered greater stand off and better guaranteed kill ratio.
      Demonstrating again that for a gun to be truly effective, it needs to be hard-mounted to a rigid airframe, not bolted on as an afterthought in a pod subject to much more buffeting and G-force strain than a rigidly internally mounted system.
      Even the Russians learned with Su-25 variants that the internal twin-barrel 30mm gun offered superior accuracy to the early underbelly podded ones.

  • fellow retire

    Who signed off on a piece of shit f-35 if it can’t do shit the money would be better spent on the boots on the ground in pay raises and other battle plans for troops to get more bang in their back pocket than an iffy aircraft I was all for a new f-35 at first too but when it drags ass and can’t do anything but burn a lot of gas put your toys away Generals until they work you don’t need them don’t deserve them and you sure as hell don’t deserve any pay raises on your part send it on to the men and women you put in harms way fighting Ebola which they are ill equipped to do in the first place you want to tell me your trained soldiers to fire weapon systems of every kind but the does not compute when you tell them to do thing outside their scope of knowledge I mean I hate to be rude but those people in Africa moved their to avoid white people who made them slaves so who the hell are we to play hero there now just because we have a black president sorry but that’s how it looks from the outside looking in some folks may say I am wrong but it just don’t seem right to spend the money and resources to train a solder to fight shoot a gun drive a tank and fire artilery for miles and pay them crappy wages to do it them you send them to fight a disease for which there is no cure for just plain dumb !

  • MarkE8Ret

    software to shoot the gatling gun? There’s another few million needlessly invested.

  • Robert Browning

    The F111 was also intended as a one plane for all missions and all service’s. It’s champion was Secretary of Defense McNamara who was also known for bring the world the Ford Edsel. I think the concept of one size fits all saves us millions while wasting Billions!

    • Christopher

      McNamara also bought us the POS gun that still kills our troops and has it’s own PR firm.

  • Ben Mercer

    We have parts, ordnance workers, and others trained to fly and maintain the A-10.

    Keep the A-10. It works. It works well.

  • Another Guest

    Unfortunately there is a little margin for error, the large exhaust nozzle of the F-35 will be extremely hot, enormous fuel burn and has a very big heat signature (when using its full afterburner). That is a dead give away when the Flankers, Fulcrums and the PAK-FA aircraft are equipped with an Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST) sensor to pick up the heat pluming F-35. The back end of the F-35 in full afterburner is something like 1600 degrees (Fahrenheit). In terms of temperature, aluminium combusts at 1100. You are talking about something really, really hot. If you have got a dirty big sensor on the front of your Su-35S or your PAK-FA or whatever, it lights up like Christmas lights and there is nothing you can do about it. The plume because of the symmetric exhaust, is all over the place. It is not shielded, it is not ducted in any useful way. The Sukhois or MiGs equipped with the heat seeking BVR (Beyond Visual Range) AA-12 (R-77) Adder air-to-air missiles will be able to seek and destroy the F-35. It is going to be a fire explosion and waiting to happen.

    The F-35 will also be detected by the L-Band AESA which will be equipped on the Su-35S and PAK-FA. It is used for targetting which they’ll be able to track LO/VLO stealth aircraft, as well as the F-35.

  • Another Guest

    I love how the pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase people support and defend the aircraft without looking at the facts and testing the evidence.

    They are just drinking the Kool-Aid, by believing in total to indifference to what is real.

  • Another Guest

    The Navy and Air Force version of this fat pregnant pig will not be in the Fleet now until 2021. That is 27 years after initial development. Only 11 years over schedule and Cost plus 1.5 Trillion in sustainment Cost. WHAT A WASTE… Congress is Worthless and the Warfighters continue to suffer because of this Platform and the Sequestration… Enough is Enough…Here you GO!!!!!!!!!! JSF Started in 1992!!!!!!!!!!!!! 24 Years is Long Enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mark Welsh needs to be fired. See Info and Link Below

    In 1992 the Marine Corps and Air Force agreed to jointly develop the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter, also known as Advanced Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (ASTOVL), after Paul Bevilaqua persuaded the Air Force that his team’s concept had potential as an F-22 Raptor complement, stripped of the lift system. Thus in a sense the F-35B begat the F-35A, not the other way around. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Strike_Fighter

    Lt.Gen Chris Bogdan and his staff are liars… They are on LM side. If this platform fails, they fail. The DoD brought General Bogdan in to “Fix” the issue. He has been blessed as the “Fixer and Chief”. However, the General has lied both to the DoD and the Senate on numerous occasions. Unfortunately like to the CIA there is no oversight or integrity provided by the JSF/JPO or the DoD. The Joint Super Fail (JSF) acquisition process is being done in a closet so no one will no the true status.

    After 22 years it is a waste and everyone associated with JSF know this is fact. Just like the CIA and NSA information is being withheld from the American people and Senate. If they were in fact told the truth the platform would be cancelled tomorrow

  • Another Guest

    Has anyone forgotten that the F-22 is afraid of the rain. The stealth paint gets wash off by rain and after each flight the F-22 has to be repainted. The same thing will happen to the fat pregnant pig F-35 LOL.

  • Another Guest

    Saying the F-35 is “too big to fail” and there is no alternative is a complete excuse. If you keep on going ahead with the F-35 programme you will weaken the defence. You’ll get inadequate training with enormous expense with less flying hours and extremely dangerous to fly without safety pre-cautions that will endanger the life of the pilot because of inadequacies.

    The F-35 is at best a great national scandal, unproven and at worst the biggest piece of high-tech boondoggle to ever come out of United States of America.

    If the defence acquisition was up to me, I’ll be certainly to kill the F-35 and encourage the allies to cancel this lemon too, as a way to put it into the indoor fire and watch it burn for good. Instead take business else where. Lockheed Martin are bunch of crooks, outliers and I’ll never do business with them again. They are certainly a bad bargain for any customer.

    It is time to put the F-35 into AMARC and to get them chopped into the recycle bin.

  • Another Guest

    Well, it is too impossible to design a single “do all” fighter/bomber/close air support aircraft and expect it to do ANY of those tasks well.

    Can the F-35 perform air superiority? The very clear answer is no. Gen Mike Hostage (also a staunch supporter of the F-35) claims that the F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform, it needs the F-22 or the F-15.

    Remember the F-35A was suppose to be designed primarily to support ground forces on the battlefield with some self defence capabilities and is not suitable for the developing regional environment. The aircraft is unsuited for air superiority, you can’t have an aircraft that has tiny wings with very high wing loading of 108 lb/ft² (when fully loaded) of not being able to have adequate manoeuvrability of defeating and avoiding enemy fighters, missiles and ground fire. It also unsuitable for deep interdiction bombing and cruise missile defence due to limited range/endurance, very limited weapons load and limited supersonic speed. Also the F-35 can’t do close air support mission. I reckon one of the test office’s conclusion is misleading. The vulnerability has decreased 25 percent focused on a small area “if the aircraft is hit.” The probability is actually high, classified number. This means the overall impact to aircraft’s survivability is high, higher than 0.5 percent.

    Why is the survivability higher than 0.5 percent?

    To restore a 2 lb safety valve system part of 43 lb (20 kg) equipment will increase more weight on the F-35 affecting the aircraft’s flight performance parameters, making it draggier that can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run to escape enemy fighters/guns/missiles, terrible acceleration, limited range/endurance and doesn’t have enough motor for the weight. Lockheed Martin has done very little with major safety precautions on the F-35 which is a very delicate aeroplane that makes it more vulnerable (if flown at low altitudes when performing close air support missions) from a high-explosive round such as .22 Rifle, or any form of gunfire that will disable or destroy an engine and fuel tank and the F-35 has no armour cockpit tub to protect the pilot if hit by a bullet or fragment. The F-35 doesn’t carry flame-retardant foam in its fuel tanks because the foam displaces fuel. The fuel tanks are not equipped with self-sealing membranes to plug bullet or shrapnel holes. As its limitations are inherent to the design, they cannot be altered by incremental upgrades.

    It is developed and built for a dumb idea of not be able to perform anything. It is just a super failure that is going to weaken any nations frontline of defence.

  • Another Guest

    The F-35 has a very big cross section (like a fat pregnant pig) in comparison to the wavelength. However L-band has very good resolution, and as such facilities usually need to be huge. Mounting small L-band radar on a plane, as has been implemented on the Su-35S, PAK-FA will enable both of these aircraft to lock onto F-35.

    For more information about the L-band Active Electronically Steered Array, here is the link, http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2009-06.html.

    Well, unfortunately some hostile nations could well be purchasing the Nebo M Mobile “Counter Stealth” Radar, advanced S-400 and S-500 SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) systems and a very high possibility purchasing Sukhoi Su-35S Super Flanker-E 4++ Generation and soon upcoming Sukhoi PAK-FA 5th Generation fighters which will render the F-35 obsolete.

    If you want to find out more about this counter stealth radar, here’s a description.

    Development initiated late 1990s leveraging experience in Nebo SVU VHF-Band AESA radar;

    2012-2013 IOC intended;

    Designed from the outset to detect stealth fighters and provide early warning and track data to missile batteries and fighters;

    The VHF component will provide a significant detection and tracking capability against fighter and UCAV sized stealth targets;

    High off-road capability permits placement well away from built up areas, enabling concealment;

    Rapid deploy and stow times permit evasion of air attacks by frequent movement, defeats cruise missiles like JASSM;

    Initial Nebo M builds for Russian Air Defence Forces, but expected like other “counter-stealth” radars to be marketed for global export to arbitrary clientele.

    The VHF band element in that radar will detect the F-35 at a distance of tens of miles. That is without a doubt. What that means is that the aircraft is going to be in great difficulty if it tries to deal with what I call a modern or contemporary threat. The same is also true when you deal with these newer stealth fighters, because they are designed to compete with the F-22. They fly higher; they are faster and more agile—much, much more agile. They have more powerful radars and much, much better antenna packages for other sensors. The F-35 is not meeting its specifications and its specifications are inadequate to deal with the changed environment.

  • Another Guest

    Also the Su-35S Super Flanker-E is expected to be most potent multi-role fighter and will be much more lethal in air-to-air combat against the F-35. It is now currently in operation with the Russian Air Force. Should F-35 pilots be shaking in their cockpits?

    But one Air Force official with experience on the F-35 “Joint Super Fail” said that the Su-35 could pose a serious challenge for the stealthy new American jet. The F-35 was built primarily as a strike aircraft and does not have the sheer speed or high altitude capability of the Su-35, F-15 or F-22. “The Su’s ability to go high and fast is a big concern, including for F-35,” the Air Force official said.

    “Large powerful engines, the ability to supercruise for a long time and very good avionics make this a tough platform on paper,” said one highly experienced F-22 pilot. “It’s considered a fourth gen plus-plus, as in it has more inherent capability on the aircraft. It possesses a passive [electronically-scanned array] and it has a big off boresight capability and a very good jamming suite.”

    The Su-35S as a comprehensive radiofrequency offensive/defensive suite, including Digital RF Memory wingtip RF jammers for the mid/upper bands, and an optional Low/Mid band jamming pod. The addition of the electronic attack (EA) capability complicates matters for Western fighters including the F-35, because the Su-35’s advanced digital radio frequency memory jammers can seriously degrade the performance of friendly radars. It also effectively blinds the on-board radars found on-board air-to-air missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The Su-35 can also change directions fast at high speed and high-altitude for anyone that does get a long-range no-escape-zone (NEZ) solution on it. Thus, ruining the AIM-120 NEZ for those shots.

    The new Irbis-E (Snow Leopard) X-band hybrid phased array, in development since 2004 and planned for the Su-35 block upgrade, and as a block upgrade or new build radar for other Flanker variants. The Irbis-E is an evolution of the BARS design, but significantly more powerful. While the hybrid phased array antenna is retained, the noise figure is slightly worse at 3.5 dB, but the receiver has four rather than three discrete channels. The biggest change is in the EGSP-27 transmitter, where the single 7 kiloWatt peak power rated Chelnok TWT is replaced with a pair of 10 kiloWatt peak power rated Chelnok tubes, ganged to provide a total peak power rating of 20 kiloWatts. The radar is cited at an average power rating of 5 kiloWatts, with 2 kiloWatts CW rating for illumination. NIIP claim twice the bandwidth and improved frequency agility over the BARS, and better ECCM capability. The Irbis-E has new Solo-35.01 digital signal processor hardware and Solo-35.02 data processor, but retains receiver hardware, the master oscillator and exciter of the BARS. A prototype has been in flight test since late 2005.

    The performance increase in the Irbis-E is commensurate with the increased transmitter rating, it has a passive phased array of 35 inch (900 mm) diameter scanned mechanically to give a 120 degree field of view in azimuth. NIIP claim a detection range in the air-to-air mode for a closing 32.29 square feet (3 square metre) coaltitude target of 217 – 250 miles (350-400 km), and the ability to detect a typical fighter type target and closing 0.11 square feet (0.01 square metre) target at 56 miles (90 km) for a stealthy target. In Track While Scan (TWS) mode the radar can handle 30 targets simultaneously, and provide guidance for two simultaneous shots using a semi-active missile like the R-27 series, or eight simultaneous shots using an active missile like the RVV-AE/R-77 or ramjet RVV-AE-PD/R-77M. The Irbis-E was clearly designed to support the ramjet RVV-AE-PD/R-77M missile in BVR combat against reduced signature Western fighters like the Block II Super Hornet or Eurofighter Typhoon.

    In terms of radar range performance, it falls slightly below the F-22A’s APG-77 and the intended APG-63v3 / APG-82 F-15C/E installation. The combination of a long range radar and supercruise allows the aircraft to gain up to 30 percent more kinematic range out of its intended Beyond Visual Range missile armament, in comparison with conventional fighters like the F/A-18 series or the F-35, which must shoot “uphill” if attempting to engage the higher and faster flying Su-35S.

    A new OLS-35 optoelectronic targeting system developed by the Urals Optomechanical Plant (UOMZ – Oorahl’skiy optikomekhanicheskiy zavod) in Yekaterinburg was also fitted. The IRST scanning an area of -/+ 90 degree in azimuth has a detection range of 30 miles (50 km) in head-on mode and 56 miles (90 km) in pursuit mode.

    The APG-81 AESA radar. The nose geometry of the F-35 limits the aperture of the radar. This makes the F-35 dependent on supporting AEW&C or AWACS aircraft which are themselves vulnerable to long range anti-radiation missiles and jamming. Opposing Sukhoi aircraft have a massive radar aperture enabling them to detect and attack at an JSF long before the JSF can detect the Sukhoi. It has Medium Power Aperture (0) (Detection range around 160 – 172 miles (259 – 277 km) at BVR. The F-35 will be a dead meat.

    For further information, here is the link, http://www.ausairpower.net/PDF-A/JSF-Issues+Probl

  • Another Guest

    The question all the pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase like Lt.Gen Chris Bogdan, Steve O’Brien, Billie Flynn, Orlando Carvalho and Marillyn Hewson all who have to ask themselves (and answer honestly) is:

    “What is America and its allies are going to do in the post-2015 ‘stealth-on stealth’/’counter-stealth’ world where all the leading reference threats, both airborne and surface based, being proliferated around the world by some of the world’s best capitalists, have the common design aim of going up against and defeating the F-22A Raptor, F-35 Joint Super Fail and B-2A Spirit stealth bomber; especially when there are so few of the latter capabilities to be a persuasive deterrent let alone an effective defence?”

  • Another Guest
  • Another Guest

    Stealth is useful only against short-wavelength radar of the kind that might be carried on an interceptor or used by a radar-guided missile. Physicists say no amount of RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) coating will protect you from 15ft to 20ft wavelength radar of the kind the Russians have had since the 1940s.

    .

  • Another Guest

    In essence, the unethical Thana Marketing strategy used to sell the JSF, along with the acquisition malpractice of concurrency in not only development, production and testing but the actual designs of the JSF variants, themselves, have resulted in the JSF marketeers writing cheques that the aircraft designs and JSF program cannot honour. Lockheed Martin is a tremendously effective marketing organisation and they acquire all kinds of political influence both through the route of politics of the country, contributing to parties, through retired officers, and through their own marketing organisation which is extremely effective. It is an amazingly good marketing organisation backed by a company that doesn’t build very good aeroplanes.

    Its thana marketing strategy which is basically designed to enable Lockheed Martin to rape any nation’s plundering taxpayers money in the western world for the next 40 to 50 years.

    Every F-35 a country buys from Lockheed Martin damages its defence, here is the link. http://rt.com/op-edge/212115-lockheed-f-35-market

    The F-35 needs to be scrapped and put Lockheed Martin out of business. Also sack Lt.Gen Chris Bogdan and his staff, pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase people and get the FBI to send some of those corporate fatcats to prison-demand all money unspent refunded to taxpayers. The Pentagon, the Congress, Lockheed Martin, pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase people and the idiotic Air Force/Navy and Marine Corps top brasses have turned the USAF, USN and USMC and the allies into a complete sorry mess.

    The F-35 will get shot down tin the Anti Access & Area Denial Threat environment and low-to medium threats as well.

  • Another Guest

    Try putting the F-35 up against the newer generation of much, much more powerful long-wave length Russian radars, as well as the P-14 Tall King family of Cold-War era radars and some of the newer Chinese radars of a ground-to-air unit.

  • The_Dude

    Not only dow the A-10 hold nearly 10 times the amount of cannon ammo as the F-35, and fire faster, each round of the A-10’s GAU-8/A is SIGNIFICANTLY more powerful than a round of the F-35’s GAU-22/A. The GAU-8/A fires the 30mmX173mm round while the GAU-22/A fires the 25mm X 137mm round.

    When it comes to cannon effectiveness, lethality, and number of targets serviceable, the A-10 is more than 10 times better than the F-35. And stealth doesn’t matter if ISIS/ISIL is your foe.

  • David Daughdrill

    I am missing why we are retiring A-10’s to bring on a more expensive and supposedly more advanced multiple purpose A-35. This newest reviliation about a close support weapon makes me wonder about the military contractor connections.

  • Keith Matsumoto

    Apples and oranges. The A-10’s magazine holds 1300 + rounds of 30mm and the article says that the various versions of the F-35 25mm magazine holds 182 to 220 rounds of ammo. The A-10 is a dedicated Close Air Support ground pounder made to take out tanks and support ground forces. The F-35 is a multi-role fighter, much like the F-15E; F/A-18; and the AV-8 Harrier, which is what it was designed to replace. Different missions, different planes, different guns and they all cost too much.

  • Ray

    I’m an old guy who served in Nam. I remember the push for Joint Fighters to save Money. The problem was NO GUN on the F4. The A10 is not sexy and new, but the war
    capability is still valid. The New fighter (F35) will have to make several trips into combat
    to accomplish what one Warthog could do. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.
    Use the F35 for Air Cover while the A10 does the job. It’s not sexy but it is reasonable.
    You cannot put all the MAGIC in one box. Sometimes simple is better.

  • Jim

    DOD just announced a new battle rifle for the troops. It will only hold enough rounds for 4 seconds of fire on full auto. Unfortunately it cannot be reloaded by the user and will have to be reloaded back at base. When DOD PAO was questioned he stated, “The troops will still have other weapons at their disposal such as hand grenades.
    Sound like a good idea.

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  • todd

    DUMP THE F 35 Can not Fight run or turn Junk at 200 mil a copy..the tax payers need a refund who is getting paid off on this pork …

  • 462

    Is it just me? I cant see the Air Forces newest $200 mill + stealth air craft at 200kt treetop level to use a whopping 186 rounds? Not happening, not today, not 2020. I currently maintain the GAU-8, there is no replacement for this cannon…. period .

  • Chris

    Wonder if anyone is considering the per barrel firing rate. About 825 per minute for the
    GAU-22A, and 557 for the wart hog. Fully 50% increase in rate of fire per barrel. High heat, rapid wear. Hmmmm

  • iamfritz

    F-14 Tomcat. F-15 Eagle. F-16 Fighting Falcon. What do these jets have in common? They were all called gold-plated junk for the first 10-15 years of their lives. Over cost, behind schedule, ineffective… it’s the same with every cutting edge technology.

    Oh, and throw the M-1 Abrams and M-2/3 Bradley into that group, too. But all five of these platforms are what we’ve used to overwhelm enemy forces since the 1980s.

    It’s as if war was expensive or something.

  • willman709

    The problem with the F35 is it cannot perform all the functions that it was never designed to perform, firstly the airframe is too small and they had to design slim-line bombs so the bomb doors close, the cannon they propose is a 25mm cannon used on the AV8B with 182 rounds weighing 220 pounds, another problem is the lift capability with fuel and armaments cannot be too heavy as it will not get off the ground as this is a heavy aircraft, The Marines take possession of some this year, it has no cannon at present but will they be happy with the firepower, the A10 Warthog has a 30mm seven barrel cannon firing 3900 rounds a minute and 1174 ammunition load, who knows what they will think.

    • Christopher

      The Air force says its also not going to get the Infrared Laser that give JTACs the ability to direct pilots to their target. Because it compromises stealth or something.
      The USAF brass is too stuffed with Fighter jocks with no JTACs, Engineers or members that flew CAS.

  • Jeffery A Frost

    Match the gun with the new DARPA target seeking rounds and it might be a serious weapon…

  • philalan73

    Close Combat support is not the pretty thing the Air Force believes. The dynamic of the ground combat change rapidly and an under loaded weapon system will cost infantry lives. If you wanted/needed stand off and shot precision then Artillery can try that but when your under rapidly attack forces a rapid, durable and hard hitting response is great.

  • Redleg_18

    The damned thing takes off winchester!

  • Paul

    4 seconds of shooting…WOW…!!! My Ruger LCP .380 in my back pocket can last longer than that…No Software needed, “I am the Software”….

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  • Michael

    I just read some dumb article in the Daily Beast, were they quote some [anonymous] source who says “I would be lying if I said there exists any plausible tactical air-to-air scenario where the F-35 will need to employ the gun. Personally, I just don’t see it ever happening and think they should have saved the weight [by getting rid of the gun altogether]”. Tactical air power theorists have been making this same argument since the 50’s (F-4, anyone?), and they have been consistently WRONG. A gun is the ONLY reliable weapon on a plane…missiles, no matter how advanced, can be spoofed…but these are STEALTH planes….what happens when ALL fighters are stealthy, and NO ONE can shoot each other down BVR? A DOGFIGHT. Russian and China both have stealth designs, and will deploy them in MASSIVE numbers when they become operational. F-35 is supposed to remain in service for DECADES…it would be a travesty (and a disaster for Western air power) for the plane to be made obsolete in its first encounter with OTHER stealth aircraft, like the T-50.

  • Jim

    Doesn’t externally mounting a gun to a 150 million dollar fighter make it just as stealthy as the old planes its replacing?