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.

      • Reg Manwaring

        Don’t get rid of A-10 until
        F35 is fully functional. Then give
        A10 to the U S Army because it is
        Still an effective plane. PROVEN!

    • Mark

      http://www.asiaeu.com/breaking/lockheed-martin-no…

      Read link

  • UAVGeek

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

    • xXTomcatXx

      From what I understand, it’s not quite that simple. The onboard computer does targeting and timing. Making sure bullets aren’t wasted. The pilot might pull the trigger, but that gun doesn’t fire until the computer knows it’s leading the aircraft enough. The gun itself is done, and apparently works great. General Dynamics is doing all the work there.

    • guest

      Its really software to target the gun as well as fire it.
      The F22 and the F18E/F used the M61A2 Vulcan ( 20mm) and its interesting the USAF didnt go for this version as well.
      The Marines and Navy could have gone for the 25mm GAU12 in a bigger pod than used by the Harrier or the the GAU 22 which is similar but with one less barrel (4)

      • PAUL

        This is the price we pay for modernization the software is always the last part of the development process to get completed ironed out and implimented into the product to make it complete and operational when it should be one of the first projects started at the beginning of the build process so that everything comes together at the end

        • displacedjim

          Ummm, it *was* started at the beginning. It’s just that there is so much to write and verify that it takes a long time.

    • chuckiechan

      And software is moderating the words on this site. What could possibly go wrong in battle?

      • d. kellogg

        I’m surprised people haven’t realized that modern air to air combat gunnery utilizes rounds counting per burst: we don’t shoot continuous stream of bullets like we did in WW2, walking them into a target.

        When it’s all said and done, we might as well have opted for the BK27 gun, which was a contender armament for the JSF and would’ve been license-built in the US for US use aircraft.
        In the Tornado aircraft, he BK27s had 180 rounds in the magazine for each gun, but again, nowadays the guns aren’t fired in continuous bursts, but in x-number of rounds per trigger.
        Rounds counting depending on the target is probably one of the F-35’s software hurdles.
        I can’t imagine issues with corrective rudder: that’s been implemented in every fire control in every US fighter aircraft with an offset mounted gun (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-22), surely they already know those algorithms (Lockheed’s own F-104 probably had some means of rudder correction to compensate when the M61 in it was fired as well, even in analog control days).

    • Stephen_Paraski

      That is why Sen. Stabenow lobbied to keep MI Air Guard A-10s in action. What else does Air Force have for close air support of our ground troops? The F-35 is a debacle that gets worse and more expensive every day. That’s what you get when you try to design something that will do every thing. You get a product that does nothing. Can you imagine if they had this kind of doctrine during WW2? We must have multiple airframes for multiple tasks. The Joint Strike Concept is a money pit and the defense industry knows it but keeps pushing and changing it.

      • displacedjim

        What else does DoD have for fire support of ground troops? Let’s see (with approximate current inventories):
        B-1 (60)
        B-52 (60+)
        AC/KC/MC-130 (40)
        F-15 (200)
        F-16 (900)
        F-18 (600)
        AV-8 (100)
        A-10 (200)
        MQ-9 (>100+)
        MQ-1 (>200+)
        AH-64 (1000?)
        AH-1 (>100?)
        MLRS (many hundreds?)
        M109A6 (many hundreds/thousands?)
        Towed Arty (hundreds?)
        Mortars (many hundreds/thousands?)

    • IamFritz

      On the F-35A, the gun barrels are covered by a little door to preserve its stealth signature. You need to open that door before the gun fires. Also, as noted above, this is like the MiG guns- the pilot designates a target, holds the trigger down, but the gun doesn’t fire until the pipper is on the target.

  • 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.

    • The_Hand

      If you’re flying a $50M stealth aircraft within gun range of the bad guys on the ground, you’re doing it wrong.

      • Nadnerbus

        If only it was 50 mil…

        Considering the Air Forces says the F 35 is going to take the place of the A 10 among other aircraft, it will be flying within gun range of bad guys. Or they are talking out of their ass to get the A 10 retired so they can stop bothering with CAS, take your pick.

    • xXTomcatXx

      The A-10’s gun is used for CAS, but it wasn’t designed for CAS. It was designed to bust through tank armor. Some may say that’s a bit excessive for a CAS mission. Even if it is literally terrifyingly effective.

    • wpnexp

      The APEX round is supposed to be superior to regular rounds, with armor piercing capability for use against ground vehicles, as well as explosive and incendiary effects inside an aircraft. It appears to be an excellent all around munition.

      • d. kellogg

        to any and all posts above,
        WRT 30mm vs 25mm shells:
        it’s no contest an A-10 strafing run outdamages all other gun contenders. No armored vehicle anywhere is protected sufficiently across its upperworks to withstand firepower of that magnitude: turret roof, hatches, optics, ENGINE DECKING.

        Will 25mm do it? If there were a dedicated DU cored API round like the A-10 has? Most likely high volume 25mm gunfire would sufficiently mission kill the vehicle. But A-10s aren’t firing the depleted uranium anymore, that’s been relegated to war stocks (as in Russia or China hot war), everyday use the last decade has been mostly HE types, even the Target Practice rounds composed of aluminum and steel have proven effective downrange for what the A-10s have been used for.
        USMC Harrier pilots never cried their 5-barrel 25mm gun was insufficient against ground targets.
        25mm shells will strip off ERA tiles and any sort of jammers and decoyers the Russians and Chinese like developing just as quickly as 30mm.
        The F-35 just doesn’t have the rounds to do it. Better hope those AFV-mounted countermeasures DON’T work as advertised against PGMs.

        • Stan

          You are forgetting the C-130 gunships sporting the 105 mm cannons.

        • Negro Diente

          A-10 circlejerk lol? Show me a tank w chobham or DU armor engine compartment. I was a grunt who spent some time around tanks, unless they’ve magically upgraded them since I ETS’ed

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        Supposedly, the APEX is a “product improved” version of the well-known pyrotechnically fuzed Multi-Purpose (MP) round (sometimes known, in 12,7x99mm, as the “Raufoss” round). See e.g. page 75 in the NAMMO Ammunition Handbook: https://www.nammo.com/globalassets/pdfs/ammobook/…

        The original MP round (and, by extension, the APEX) is an excellent multipurpose ammunition combining, as you say, armor penetration with explosive, fragmentation and incendiary effects.

        But although superior to standard HE or HEI against a broad range of targets, the MP/APEX’s s armor penetration capability is still inferior to dedicated AP rounds.

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen
        Luxembourg

    • derrick

      having seen the test footage back in 1982 or ’83? of 25mm rounds that were proposed to be retrofitted for our F-15’s (and 14’s and 16’s I think?)to enable them to be able to do a little close support in a pinch , if needed,,, the rounds went right through the test tanks like a hot knife through butter ! ,
      but ,in the end , too few rounds to be carried to be really useful ,,,

      • d. kellogg

        In the 25mm gun originally slated for the F-15, the ammunition was some early form of either caseless (combustible cylinder) or CTA-type ammunition that proved too unreliable for service in the temperature extremes the F-15 was slated for operation, so the 20mm M61 was fitted instead.

        Again though, as I mentioned before, USMC Harrier pilots never seemed to be crying foul on any perceived impotence of their GAU-12s. Strange with the F-35 getting a 25mm gun, but not the F-22 nor any refit in the works to upgun other US aircraft: the 4- or 5-barrel 25mm should surely fit,
        but perhaps the biggest hurdle would be the cylindrical ammunition drums would need to be some inches in diameter larger because the 25x137mm rounds are longer than the US 20mm shells. Then again, the AV-8B Harrier’s GAU-12 gets by with, what, 300 or so rounds, in a non-cylinder magazine system?
        If the F-35 ammunition system is to be believed, it doesn’t use a drum for its magazine, either.
        Curious how Rutan designed the feed/ammo mag for his ARES.

    • Rod

      You do know a 20mm is what’s on all our ground attack planes EXCEPT the A-10, right?
      You do know a 20mm is MUCH LARGER than a .50cal BMG, right?
      You do know a 20mm is the gun of choice on the AC-130, right?

  • 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.

  • octopusmagnificens

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

  • 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!

    • 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.

      • Stan

        I give you the SDBs which will probably wind up the F-35’s most important weapon system anyway given the tiny internal space.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

      • Curt

        And 200 hundreds rounds is more than the Eurofighter, Rafale, SU-27, SU-35, MiG-29, MiG-35, and Gripen. Not seeing the problem, here.

        • LPF

          Because those aircraft are doing air to air and precision strike missions. The F35 is expected to take on the A10 ‘s Role, which means it will be in a knife fight with Triple AA

          • xXTomcatXx

            You realize the US is the only country operating the A-10, right? Every other country performs CAS with above aircraft (with F-16’s as well). In addition to the F-35, I think you’ll see an increased rotary wing CAS role in the future.

          • haloguy628

            I was not aware that Suchoi SU-25 was a nuclear strategic bomber with tactical air superiority capabilities.

          • Curt

            OK, that is just wrong. First, the F-35 won’t do CAS the same way the A-10 did even if it has tha same mission. Just like the A-10 did CAS different than the A-7 and the AV-8B and F-18 does CAS different that the A-10. Second the other Cold War NATO CAS aircraft was the AlphaJet, still less cannon ammo than a F-35. And what aircraft replaced it? The Typhoon. Getting in a knife fight with AAA is just idiotic, which is why everyone, including the A-10 avoids it like the plague. The Maverick is a way better tank killer than the cannon, and the reason the A-10 got retrofitted with a targeting pod was so it could employ other precision weapons from altitude!

          • t1oracle

            The Avenger is cheaper than Mavericks and the A10 can carry way more ammo with the Avenger than it can in Mavericks. The Avenger can also be operated in much closer range to friendly troops with low risks of fratricide. Furthermore, identifying targets of opportunity from altitude is difficult. That’s why CAS flies low and slow. They can spot targets before ground personnel do.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • BlackOwl18E

        Really? Seems you have more information on the PAK-FA than most people know is available to the public. Tell me, how did you acquire such knowledge?

    • 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.

    • John_C

      Or the F14A with an engine too small for the plane, had to wait for the B model before it had enough power.

      • William_C1

        You mean the F-14B with the F401 which was cancelled leaving the F-14? Or the later one with the F110 that didn’t show up until a decade later?

    • Batou

      And also F-111. Only operational after millions spent after it was deployed!

    • Lyall

      No, when the Navy issued the change from AH-1 attack jet to F4H-1 interceptor they specified no guns - this situation is the same as the early Lockheed F-104 that designed with the M-61 Gatling gun as the principle weapon; however, was delivered with only two Sidewinder missiles in the early F-104A as the M-61 ran into early test problems. It took a couple of years before they were able to iron out the problems and rearm the F-104A’s with the M-61. Lockheed is just keeping up their usual traditions.

  • 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

    • Stan

      Enemy radars could always detect the A-10. At some point the US might have to deal with symmetrical opponents.

    • William_C1

      Even if we presume that somehow enemy radars bypass the laws of physics so the shaping of the target has no effect how exactly will these unmanned A-10s avoid being shot down?

      In reality UHF and VHF perform better than other bands against stealth aircraft, yet they necessitate large radar arrays emitting a lot of power that will be made a priority of SEAD efforts. They are not the sort of thing you can fit inside the nose of a fighter.

      Obviously it’s better when only a small number of large, easy to detect radar systems can see you versus every radar system the enemy has. That stealth also makes jamming and ECM far more effective.

      Also those VHF radars are going to detect a conventional (high RCS) target at a greater range than a stealthy (low RCS) target.

      • citanon

        Plus UHF and VHF are much easier to jam. There is no single magic bullet against stealth. The best counter flying in the 2020s will be a swarm of networked F-35 and F-22s.

  • Dan

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

    • steve

      That’s what they said for the F-4, they ended up strapping a gun to it.

      • miles

        It will take at minimum a few more decades for power storage technology to advance to the point where we can pack the power for multiple one megawatt out put.

        I have no idea what the power out put for a generator on a standard fighter jet engine and LASER diode for the out put needed are huge or multiple units are need to be Daisy chained together to generate that kind of out put.

        • wpnexp

          Not really, we have lasers flying on C-130 aircraft. The aircraft engine will produce more than enough energy for a good solid state laser. Storage capacitor size and weight is likely the biggest problem for a fighter size system, but we are getting there.

          • miles

            Those are for taking out incoming surface to air missiles mostly IR guided by overloading the sensor head.

            Diode based solid state LASER can only use a few pacific wave lengths only a Free electron LASER can tailor its out put to account for different altitudes and that technology if not ready for use on any airplane be it a 747 or a 5, 6 gen air superiority fighter.

            The Airborne Laser (ABL) was barely able to knock out a target missile in the test. A Solid state/Diode LASER might be able to over come the limitations of the Chemical LASER for the role of taking out missiles by operating at high altitude.
            A LASER beam is less sensitive to the atmosphere, but Diodes of that out put are large and expensive and a Solid state LASER using cheaper smaller Diodes would make the system more prone to failure.

    • Stan

      In 2050? Notice the great fanfare accompanying the deployment of a 30 kw laser on the Ponce vs. how underpowered it is.

    • ucavlover

      and when lasers become avaiable, it’ll take a lot longer to install and integrate it onto the F-35, because it is a single-system package that needs to keep stealth in mind

      while legacy aircraft like the A-10 can simply bolt it on as an upgrade
      you can probably combine it with the F-35s helmet and EOTS, allowing the pilot to detect, see and shoot at targets with the laser without even integrating this system with the rest of the aircraft

    • Mark

      The F-35 B has interior room (if you leave out the lift fan) to house an electron accelerator with a magnetic wiggler. The actual engine can provide that power.

      • GI dude

        But can it fit a Dirk Diggler?

      • miles

        You are thinking of Future 7,8th gen fighters/drones, and a Free electron LASER requires significant coolant system Adding weight.

        A compact Free electron LASER compact enough to fit in any version of the F-35 will be a low out put comparable to the first Gen Solid State LASERS/Diode coming into experimental use in the near future.

        They will be able to take out missiles and E/O sensors IR/Multi spectral sensors/Cameras.

    • Milton Lee

      really hard to hit ground targets with a laser. the F-35 is not even close to a ground support aircraft. 30 years from now the A-10 will have a role supporting troops on the ground. The F-35 will be obsolete.

    • The_Dude

      nobody cares about dogfighting. what counts in CAS.

  • steve

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

    • Vpanoptes

      Ha ha, just wait, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet….

    • The one armed man

      I love how people bash the F-35 without knowing the facts.
      http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-spac…

      • Christopher

        Lockheed fluff pieces aren’t facts.

  • 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………

    • William_C1

      As much as I love the F-22, the F-35 hasn’t gotten more expensive than it.

      • Another Guest

        @ William_C1,

        The F-35 has gotten more expensive. The actual F-35 unit costs are today multiples of what Lockheed Martin, The Pentagon, USAF, USN and USMC says they will be. If you think it is reasonable to expect them to plummet whatever the price Lockheed Martin glibly promises (thanks to the ubiquitous “learning curve” and other manipulations), please consider a somewhat different analysis.

      • Another Guest

        @ William_C1,

        The cost estimates in the NDAA for the cheapest version of the F-35, the Air Force’s F-35A, are the following. (Note these costs as just for production and do not include R&D.)

        The 2014 procurement cost for 19 F-35As will be $2.989 billion. However, we need to add to that the “long lead” money for the 2014 buy that was appropriated in 2013; that was $293 million, making a total of $3.282 billion for 19 aircraft in 2014. The math for unit cost comes to $172.7 million for each aircraft.

        To be fully accurate, however, we should add the additional procurement money authorized for “modification of aircraft” for F-35As for 2014; that means $158 million more, bringing the total unit production cost to $181 million per copy or higher.

        None of that includes the 2014 R&D bill for the F-35A; that was $816 million; calculate that in if anyone wants to find out further costs.

        The Marine Corps and Navy versions are a little pricier.

        For the Marines F-35B, or STOVL, model, the authorized 2014 buy is six (6) aircraft for $1.267 billion in 2014 procurement, $106 million in 2013 long lead money, and $147 million in 2014 aircraft procurement modifications. That calculates to $252.3 million for each one.

        For the Navy’s F-35C, carrier-capable (but not yet), model, we get four (4) aircraft for $1.135 billion, plus $32 million in long lead, plus $31 million in modifications. That means $299.5 million for each one

    • miles

      Joint strike fighter =BOMB TRUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Another Guest

        @ miles,

        How about this.

        Joint Super Fail = air inferiority fighter, can’t perform close air support with very limited ammunition, useless bomb truck.

      • Another Guest

        @ miles,

        I also forgot to add. The F-35 is too vulnerable against Man Portable Air Defence System, .22 Rifles, Assault Rifles and AAA’s.

    • sw614

      Interesting that every time in the A-10s history when it was evaluated for potential retirement it was retained. A-16 and A-7F projects cancelled, A-7 fleet retired and A-10 retained in early 90s, etc.

      Also interesting to note the USAF is the only remaining service with a dedicated CAS acft (USN and USMC have long switched to multi-role airframes).

      The fighter pilot mafia argument really does not hold water.

      The A-10 is getting a little long and tooth and probably should be replaced. I just do not see how the F-35 will be able to do that fully.(less than 200 rnds in the F-35A variant, really?) While CAS is a mission and not an acft, IMHO CAS deserves a dedicated, purpose-designed airframe. Unfortunately in today’s budget light it will not happen.

      • TopoGigio

        If the Hog is getting a little long in the tooth, upgrade the design and build some new ones. They could probably build a dozen or more A10’s for the price of just one F35. The Hog is a tough, effective, proven aircraft. The 35 is, well, not. It’s rank (?) stupidity to mess with or drop the Warthog.

    • Paul

      The A-10 can take so much more of a pounding than the F-35, and oh by the way it has two engines.

      • Another Guest

        @ Paul,

        You got that right. The A-10 can take more punishment than the fat pregnant pig F-35.

    • Another Guest

      @ Bryan USAF ret,

      There is no 22mm for the F-35. It has 25mm. You’re absolutely right that the A-10 will easily outperform the failed F-35 and has more loiter time than the F-35.

    • Austin

      Every fighter pilot in the USAF wants to keep the A-10. Every one of us thinks the F-35 is bogus.

  • 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.

      • oblatt22

        No alternative to failure - same old story from the shills.

  • 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?

  • ken

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

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      Why? TANSTAAFL!

      The gatling gun (in its modern incarnation) was designed for air-to-air combat. For that, you want the highest possible rate of fire, since your firing window is going to be very short (especially against fast jets) - hence, the externally powered, multi-barrel gun with a 4.000 to 6.000 rpm firing rate.

      And since aircraft are, by nature, limited in payload, and therefore in the number of rounds they can carry for the gun, you can have either a high rate of fire, or be able to fire continuously for a long time. Not both.

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen
      Luxembourg

      • blight_

        The F-35A allegedly will have 180 rounds carried, and the GAU/22 will fire at ~3,300 rounds/minute. Convert to rounds per second…that is 55 rounds per second, which works out to roughly 3.2 one-second bursts, or 6.5 half-second bursts of ~27 rounds each. I begin to suspect the reason the magazine capacity is so low is the dreaded weight problem of F-35, which resulted in the removal of various bits of equipment from the F-35s to free up excess weight (with no indication that magazine size was spared from reductions). The use of these aircraft for “gun runs” seems unwise, unless used against well-defined point targets…but in that case, an SDB can be used against point targets as well. And of course, the SDB will presumably have greater range (when launched from high altitude for maximum glide), and perhaps greater destructive effects than a 25 round burst fired from the same distance as a F-35’s maximum SDB range.

        The A-10 carries ~1000 rounds and fires at ~4000 rpm, translating to ~66 rounds per second. 15 one-second bursts, or 30 half-second bursts. I don’t know if this sounds particularly great for a gun run, but it does sound more promising than trying to use an F-35 for gun runs.

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • displacedjim

        However, there have been something like 200+ a/c lost in air-to-air engagements since c.1975. Guess how many have been gun kills? I’d bet no more than about five. A gun on a US fighter is a 1000lb insurance policy against that 1-in-100 chance it will be a life-saver.

  • 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”.

  • 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.

    • Another Guest

      @ eskodas,

      Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

      The statement is, at best, misleading. While the so-called “Block 3F” software that powers the gun will be in the hands of operational test pilots by 2017, everyday fighter pilots won’t get the new software until late 2018 at the very earliest, according to Air Force operational test and evaluation officials. The previous Daily Beast article specifically refers to the delivery of the Block 3F software to “frontline squadrons” flying “operational missions”—which is quite different from delivering the software to weapons testers.

      The frontline squadrons won’t receive the new software until 2019. And that’s only if the software works properly, and is recommended for everyday use by frontline squadrons. Passing that test is not a foregone conclusion—the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor failed its operational evaluation the first couple of times. In fact, the F-35 cannot be cleared for full rate production until the end of operational testing—which runs through 2019, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

      “If the F-35 IMS Version 7 executes according to plan, Navy F-35C IOC criteria could be met between August 2018 (Objective) and February 2019 (Threshold),” reads one such report, delivered in June, 2013. “Should capability delivery experience additional changes, this estimate will be revised appropriately.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      Thank you for your service. It is worth noting that in your previous anecdote that you mention that Powers selected the B-52 on price and lonegivity, due to the ability to continuously “modify and update”. The F-111 and F-35 were meant to be similarly versatile…but fell flat on their faces.

      That said, at least the B-52 was cheaper and reliable: two critical things to long-lived aircraft. I wonder what would have happened if we had used Hustlers in Vietnam…

      • d. kellogg

        Wouldn’t say the F-111 “fell flat on its face.”

        As an anecdote of the day said about it, “Not enough thrust in all of Christiandom” for it ever to be the “F” in fighter, but eventually it proved to be one of our finest strike aircraft ( Libya, Desert Storm), and its replacement, the F-15E, never achieved its payload, nor range without help along the way (IFR).
        Also, it was a suitable long range strategic asset in the B-52, B-1B, FB-111 nuclear triad the USAF had prior to numerous SALT agreements.
        There was also the EF-111 RAVEN electronic warfare variant.
        Had it not been for the development of the F-15E, the F-111 being upgraded would’ve given the US one of the world’s best payload-to-airframe-weight maritime strike aircraft (since we seem to be so Pacific-minded today) and tactical bombers (on par with Tupolev Backfire variants for range and payload).
        What was its payload again, over 40,000 pounds for a two-engine aircraft?
        Australia even reluctantly retired its F-111s for the F/A-18, knowing well and all the payload-to-range could not be matched.

        One of the conceptual “FB-111H” designs looked very attractive (F-110 engines and improved internal and external carriage, in pre-stealth days) and certainly could’ve been a consideration for allies like UK, Israel, Australia, maybe even Japan. Almost 50,000 pounds of long range precision cruise missiles, who needs stealth when you have no need to even approach a threat’s air defense range?

  • 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!

  • 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

    For more information about counter stealth systems, here are the links.
    http://defense-update.com/20141111_jy-26-chinas-n…
    http://defense-update.com/20141113_the-chinese-gr…
    http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.a…
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/28/…

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-f-35-wont-fire…

  • 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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    Thank you!

  • 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.

  • 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?