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
  • 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.

        • William_C1

          So the only way to provide close air support is with guns and rockets like it is 1944?

          • JohnnyRanger

            Not the only way, no. But providing close air support with guns and rockets like it’s 1944 is nevertheless an indispensable part of providing close air support.

          • CharleyA

            Yup, the cannon and rocks used by the A-10 are nothing like the the ones used by the US in WWII. 30mm vs .50 cal, APKWS vs. 5″ HVARs. Note that the F-35 cannot fire APKWS – or any aerial rocket. Following WC1’s logic, airplanes shouldn’t be used for CAS, because they were used in that role in 1944.

        • wpnexp

          Much of the CAS mission will be done with SDB Is and SDB IIs (likely without the use of the wing attachments). It will be accomplished from around 20,000 assuming the weather is fairly good (although radar SAR maps could be used too). There is no telling what other new air to ground bombs the Air Force will come up with to add to the CAS mission.

    • 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.

      • Chuck

        And one thing everyone should take note of is that the A-10’s gun will barely scratch modern tank armor. Even a T-72 with the Russians’ modern upgrades will shrug off a burst of 30mm like it was nothing. Everyone’s getting hung up on the gun when that wasn’t the thing that makes the A-10 such a great CAS platform.

        • blight_

          Tank-busting with SDB glide-bombs is probably more productive than trying to line up for gun runs. And flying /towards/ the enemy, potentially into SHORAD? Six A-10’s lost in GW1 against the Iraqis, using export-grade Soviet surface to air systems (and perhaps some European export systems as well).

          What is the effective number of tanks an A-10 can destroy based on ammunition? And after the A-10 uses its Avenger and takes its licks, what is the turn around time to put one back into the air, versus flying bomb trucks?

          Edit: This would in turn be compared to the higher fuel costs associated with keeping aircraft nearby to drop bombs. The fuel economy of the F-135 may not be better than the A-10, thus it would require multiple F-35’s to keep a F-35 on station for bomb delivery.

        • Christopher

          Which doesn’t matter much when the 30mm gun can still take out their external sensors. There has yet to be an active protection system that would counter that strategy.

        • Negro Diente

          “Shrug off a burst of 30mm?” Have you ever seen a firepower demonstration? Maybe hits on the turret armor won’t cause catastrophic damage, but 30mm hits on tank tracks and engine compartment will cause heavy damage likely leading to a mission kill.

          • Chuck

            Sorry, but you’re falling victim to the A-10 circlejerk. Those demonstrations are done with old M60s or T-55s/T-62s lacking any sort of reactive, chobham, or DU armor. If you saw the results of an A-10 pass versus a T-90, you would be sorely disappointed.

          • Guest

            Has there ever been an A-10 pass on a T-90? Is there video showing such a thing? Inquiring minds want to know.

        • IronV

          “Barely scratch modern tank armor?” That is a gross exaggeration and means very little in terms of battlefield effectiveness.

          • Chuck

            It’s true, though. Let me guess, “just one of those 30mm rounds would be enough to knock out the tank”? Sorry, but those statements are based on tests versus relatively lightly armored tanks whose only role in modern warfare is to be targets. M60s, T-55s, T-62s lacking anything beyond steel armor. If you were to witness a 30mm burst against a T-90 or M1A2 SEP TUSK you would be sorely disappointed.

          • David Powell

            I would like to see that, but for the kinds of wars we have found the US in, it works fine.

          • Melcyna

            last i recall no tank have sufficient roof armor to withstand the 30mm API burst at 60 degree angle or so…

            most MBT, have no more than 50mm of turret roof or so, with Merkava iirc having one of the thickest turret roof armor…

            unfortunately Merkava pays for that with it’s relatively low speed… and i don’t recall any other tank design willing to sacrifice mobility and speed for thicker roof armor.

            reactive armor blocks can help improve the roof armor, but this isn’t of much use against a burst of 30mm API rounds which will perforate the blocks… then the roof in one burst, rather than a single high impulse hit of a missile or large caliber shell (in modern ERA version) that the blocks are designed to stop

        • P-1000

          D.U. 30mm shells will penetrate any modern tank armor. The toughest part of modern composite tank armor such as ‘Chaubham” IS depleted uranium. D.U. penetrates D.U at the right velocity. Besides, upgrading the shells to a composite warhead that penetrates deeper wouldn’t be difficult.

      • Jim

        It is not uncommon for an item to be designed for one use, but used for a totally different use. Engineers only solve problems they are paid to solve. Sometimes we are lucky and it solves two problems.

    • 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.

          • blight_

            They exist, but the comparison is limited to the airborne weapon systems that can be used by the jets of the air force.

          • Stan

            I was replying to the following statement :

            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

        • 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.

    • UAVGeek

      It’s called you train your pilots for air to air and air to ground gunnery. The software is in the ejection seat, not in the avionics racks.

      • Dickie Cockpit

        Fortunately it is not necessary for everyone to understand the concepts behind the F35 for it to do it’s job. It’s not 1943.

    • dave Ob

      So, what you are saying, is that all the pilots in WWII , Korea, and else where just “sprayed the air and hit nothing”? The Mark-1 human eyeball and Pilot brain configuration works pretty well if you have enough ammunition , of a sufficient caliber to do the job.
      Newer is not always better

      • David

        Quite often yes they did. They weren’t just randomly spraying, but often they hit nothing.

  • http://octopusmagnificens.blogspot.com.es/ octopusmagnificens

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

    • William A. Peterson

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

      • oblatt22

        Nonsense the F16 already had reduced stability 40 years ago with analog computers.

        The fact is that the software on the F-35 is a major disaster. Every project management decision was to made to maximize profit at the cost of increased risk.

        The F-35 is the only system to suffer a quad redundant software failure on the final testbed. It just shows what a bug ridden mess it is.

        • Tom

          That is a flawed comparison. Reduced stability is not the same as unstable flight. The F16 was the state of the art when it was designed and just like many fighter aircraft, it had reduced stability to improve maneuverability. But you can only push instability/maneuverability so far with out computer control….. and the computing technology of the day required the stability of the aircraft to still be manageable for a pilot.

    • Vpanoptes

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

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

      • d. kellogg

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

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

  • AAK

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

    • ronaldo

      AAK,

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

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

    • PolicyWonk

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

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

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

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

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

      • wpnexp

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

        • woodcutter

          Run the numbers on aircraft losses from Desert Storm through today. You’ll find the A10 has more than held it’s ground against air defense systems employed against coalition forces, especially when compared against losses of every other aircraft. Fast movers have lost at approx 5:1 ratio.
          Heli comparison is even farther apart. The A10 has been delivering with a record unmatched.

          To judge the A10 against projected first line air defenses, when we don’t have another craft that could get in and take any degree of punishment, if they get in at all, especially on CAS missions, is giving fantasy credit to an aircraft that has proven nothing except its temperamental nature. Can’t take warm fuel…do you expect our fight to be in the skies above Alaska? No gun, no CAS through 2019. Battle damage? Better pray the F35 doesn’t take a hit while providing the CAS that the Brass claims it can handle. They don’t care to discuss it in terms of Robert’s Ridge and F16s, where a plane they claimed can perform CAS, couldn’t do it close enough. More of a AS support platform, minus the ‘close’ part the troops desperately need.
          Check out reports from Apache pilots, who talk in awe of what the A10 rounds deliver vs theirs. Same to be said with the F35’s planned gun.

          • displacedjim

            A-10s got shot up a-plenty in Desert Storm:
            5 A-10s lost to short-ranged SAMs.
            5 fragile AV-8Bs lost to AAA or SAMs.
            3 F-16s lost to long-range SAMs and AAA.
            3 A-6Es lost to a SAM and AAA.
            2 F-15E lost to long-range SAM and AAA.
            A F-18 lost to a MiG-25.
            An AC-130 lost to a short-range SAM.
            A few other assorted a/c lost to SAMs and AAA.

          • David

            Put those planes missions into context. The A-10 flies in the danger zone and loiters. The others zip by at high altitude.

          • displacedjim

            Correction: It *used* to always fly into the danger zone out of necessity, because all it had for weapons were dumb bombs and guns and had to get dangerously close in order to employ them. And look what happened as a result. Since the almost-revolution in CAS TTPs that absolutely *HAS* occurred within the last 20 years, that sort of down-on-the-deck flying into the trashfire zone is no longer necessarily in order to provide effective CAS. Now that USAF upgraded the A-10 to the A-10C standard a decade ago, even it no longer needs to come down that low in most engagements, and in fact it usually does not. Instead, it like all our other USAF, USMC, and USN CAS aircraft, both loiter *and* attack at medium altitude most of the time.

        • Charles

          If the much vaunted yet completely untested/unproven F-35 hasn’t already assured air superiority over the battlefield, which includes removal of the majority of the IADS components to begin with (to remove the threats that might give our troops problems): then why pray tell, would we put our troops be where we cannot support them?

          Choppers are much more of a sitting duck than the A-10. By virtue of the logic above, the USAF needs to build a combat rescue version of the F-35, because nothing but a stealth platform can do anything over any battlefield.

      • Frank

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

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

        • sam76-99

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

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

    • IamFritz

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

  • Stan

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

    • Stan

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

    • CharleyA

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

    • ohwilleke

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

      • 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.

        • d. kellogg

          The very same SDB that can be hung on any other currently operating combat aircraft (including drones).
          Please don’t make it sound like we need a purpose-built F-35 to purposely carry the SDBs.

          All this PGM talk is only good so long as no adversary fields any sort of countermeasures systems like those optics jamming emitters some Russian tanks have been seen with.
          We can only guess their real battlefield effectiveness.
          But even the US was working on Active Protection Systems for AFVs, Israel already has them.
          They can be made to work against inbound PGMs, but no jammer is ever going to be built, no protective shell of ERA tiles, that can withstand volume cannon fire from above. All those expensive bells and whistles to protect the AFV from missiles will be wrecked right off.
          It’ll be a sad day when we ever fight a near peer adversary who has that capability and we have nothing to counter it because we saw fit to retire a perfectly useful, even if over-engineered, killing weapon.

          • Stan

            No, we just need it to carry the bombs against opponents who could take an A-10 apart from tens if not hundreds of miles away. Asymmetrical warfare is fine and good but at some point we might mix it up with someone more capable than ISIL or Talisman, or even the 1991 Iraqi army. F-35 might not be close to ideal for that possible eventuality but it’s what we are getting. Preserving the A-10 deprives the US military of funds which could be used more productively for political expediency.

          • HighlanderNH

            Stan, sorry but nothing you just said makes any sense…unless you or a relative of yours works for Lockheed Martin….and this IS coming from an ex-LM employee..ME. Retire the A-10 when there is a proven replacement and there won’t be for many years to come. Pretty simple logic. The A-10 is and has been a proven cost effective platform on the battlefield. The F-35 up until recently, wasn’t even allowed to fly near a thunderstorm. It has many, many technical problems which will take many years to resolve. Even I as an ex-LM employee can’t defend the F-35 program..it’s out of control over there. The USAF is trying it’s best to bring things under control..but it’s death by a million paper cuts. Way too many compromises made on that air frame all in the name of meeting all of it’s multi-role design specs. The real fear is that foreign countries will reduce the number of units they want. If that were to ever happen the price would be unacceptable..you think it’s expensive now..you haven’t seen anything.. My prediction..they will brute force the program similar to the B-1/B-1B/F-111 programs…in the end they will have their plane. But it will take many years to get to that point.

  • miles

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

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

    • Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

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

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

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

      • miles

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

        • ANGLICO

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

      • miles

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

        • Chirstopher

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

          • Curt

            Good point, the Roland that toasted the A-10 is definitely mot a MANPAD. And the A-10s lost in the first Gulf War were also lost to non-man pads, admittedly at a higher rate than any other aircraft. To be fair, the vast majority of the A-10 attacks in both Gulf Wars used the Maverick.

        • Woodcutter

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

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

          • displacedjim

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

    • JohnnyRanger

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

    • jossie lawless

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

    • Stephen_Paraski

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

    • Eddie

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

    • Dan Mischbuccha

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

  • Lance

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

    • The one armed man

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

    • Chuck

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

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

      • haloguy628

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

      • UAVgeek

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

  • Big-Dean

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

    • miles

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

      • 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.

          • Curt

            BS. The A-10 had to fly low and slow because it didn’t have a sensor for standoff detection! A Sniper Pod is way better than the Mk1 eyeball and a pilot flying at altitude is way more effective with a pod. in both Gulf Wars, the vast majority of tanks and other equipment were killed by Maverick, simple fact. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Maverick’s seeker, the A-10 would have been largely blind. Also, with a targeting pod, anA-10 could carry 76 APKWS which could be employed from above AAA/Manpad range. But then, so could a F-16 or an AT-6 for that matter.

          • Bernard

            Tank killing is only a fraction of the CAS job. Most ground forces are light vehicles and dismounted infantry. You’re not going to kill any infantry with a Maverick. A sniper pod isn’t going to find the guys in the mountain suppressing your team in the valley. If you go to high and fast you will miss the man behind the tree loading rounds in his mortar.

            When troops on the ground are under fire things change rapidly, your not going have reaction speed when you are miles in the sky looking down at dots on the ground through a pin hole.

            Most importantly, you’ve completely glossed over the issue of “danger close.” You can fire a GAU-8 with friendlies being only 15 meters away. If you try that with a Maverick or a JDAM you will kill your own people.

  • BlackOwl18E

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

    • Josh

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

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

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

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

      • BlackOwl18E

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

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

        • Josh

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

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

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

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

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

          • William_C1

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

          • BlackOwl18E

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

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

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

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

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

          • Josh

            Ok, you don’t want to talk hypotheticals, that’s fine.

            But then you rationalize the Chinese wanting the the Su35 as a signal the F-35 is garbage? Do you even know what information the Chinese got from that hack against LM? That’s a leap and one hell of a hypothetical. From my understanding and reading the biggest reason they want the Su35 is for the engines more than anything. What that tells me is you are so biased against the F35 you are making links and drawing conclusions that cannot be supported by any FACTS!

            Sure, the PAK FA has been to an airshow. One ended before it started with an embarrassing flame out and others have shown clear evidence of high g restrictions: ““It could be seen that the plane still suffers from the strict g-limits,” says Piotr Butowski on his MAKS reports published on monthly aviation magazine Magazyn Lotnictwo.”

            If you want to believe that an aircraft that requires additional support be added to it’s wings after coming off the assembly line to keep it from falling apart is “combat ready” and that the measure of a programs success is the number of airshows it’s been to then I really don’t know what to say.

            I have read about the EOTS, I am familiar with the issue of it being out dated. Again, I don’t doubt the issues of the F-35, many are embarrassing and not what we should expect from a program this expensive and this far into development and manufacture. My issue is you being adamant in the belief that the PAKFA is somehow a program that is on track when all the information out there comes no where close to proving that.

          • Josh

            Regarding China’s data on the F-35 I will also add that just because they have the information does not necessarily mean they are able to replicate it. China has copied Russian jet engines for years by purchasing the airframes then reverse engineering them. Yet it’s still understood that Chinese engines are inferior to Russian ones because they simply don’t have or understand the manufacturing process behind building very good engines. Again, you make one hell of a leap in judgement linking the Chinese not using the J-31 and wanting the SU 35.

          • P-1000

            Give them a few years. They send students here purposefully, in order to become engineers, work at our aerospace companies, then go home and pass on their knowledge. They’ll catch up sooner than you think. And besides, the sheer numbers of Russian tech Jets and Tanks they can field will overwhelm our pitifully staffed armed forces soon. We are at a PRE WORLD WAR 1 readiness level in the Army. We copy the overall strategy of the Germans in WW2. High tech, low numbers, highly trained. If we get in a serious conventional (and thats the only option) conflict with China and/or Russia in the next 10-20 years, we’d be crushed. They can rapidly churn out war materiel, while we can’t produce a fighter without purchasing Avionics flat screens from them (among thousands of other components). They have what we had in the 40’s: An ability to field a massive overwhelming fighting force of sheer numbers that our slowly produced, high tech weapons can’t keep up with. We’ve really hamstringed ourselves destroying our manufacturing base.

          • BlackOwl18E

            Again, you haven’t been reading what I write closely enough for me to take you seriously anymore. I NEVER said that I viewed the PAK-FA as on track. If you’re trying to put words in my mouth you’re not very good at it. What I said is that the PAK-FA is less problematic than the F-35, is not as expensive as the F-35, and will likely reach IOC with REAL combat capability sooner than the F-35. Because of this the Pentagon wants to officially declare the F-35 IOC early since it would be embarrassing to have started a program sooner than the enemy, spent well over twice as much money, and then finished later with an inferior aircraft or even a comparable aircraft.

            It’s true no one knows what information the Chinese got from the F-35 program in depth or scope. However, they have been able to hack nearly every other program we’ve got and Chinese parts keep sneaking into our equipment’s supply lines. To think that what they have is not significant would be foolish. Again, this is an assumption, but the idea that they didn’t take anything of value before producing a damn near identical jet is ludicrous. Also, if EOTS is almost outdated, then odds are there are other things that will need an overhaul because this jet took way too long to develop.

            Yes, these are assumptions without hard numbers or evidence, but they are assumptions with a fair amount of weight and reasoning behind them. I wasn’t questioning your assumptions. I was questioning the reasoning behind them and using some small facts as examples that you clearly took out of proportion.

            Everyone is baised. You are just as much biased as I am baised and you are proving it with this argument to downplay the problems with the F-35 in an effort to somehow equate the embarrassment of program to that of the PAK-FA. The difference between me and other people in this forum is that I was against the F-35 from the beginning because I could see what it was turning out to be long before it reached this point. Everyone gets pissed off about bias, but then they want to change flags when the wind doesn’t blow the direction they thought it was going to. I called it before anyone else saw it coming and my assumptions back then were right because my reasoning was sound.

            I’m not arguing with you about assumptions anymore though. I was pointing out facts. General Hostage is a very credible source and you only focused on my little airshow jab! I’m done debating you. You’re not even a worthy opponent for me.

          • Josh

            I am not downplaying the issues of the F-35. I have said multiple times in this debate with you the F-35 has SERIOUS PROBLEMS! And I fully believe the Air Force is making a huge mistake by replacing the A-10 with he F-35.

            You continuously state the PAKFA doesn’t have the issues the F35 does, but everything I have posted refutes that: engine fires and flame outs, underpowered (no replacement has been built yet) underperforming radar, an airframe with issues that could negatively affect its stealth and a partner nation reducing orders due to under performance and bloated costs. Does ANY of that sound familiar? You state the F35 will need components replaced because they are out of date…I AGREE! But so will the PAKFA (radar and engines to name just two!)

            You again assume the pentagon is setting IOC for ’16 because of the PAKFA. That’s BS, they already have an aircraft in inventory that is capable of combating the PAKFA should it enter service ahead of the F-35. You know, that jet called the F-22 that is in full service! If you have a source that points to that being the case, Ill be more than happy to read it.

            I also refuse to believe the Air Force is dumb enough to think the F-35 is an equal to the T-50 in air to air combat. In fact, below are some quotes that goest to show the Air Force understadns the F-35 is not as capable as some other 5th gen fighters.

            You keep quoting Gen Hostage as your go to source, how about this gem form him “The F-35 is geared to go out and take down the surface targets,” says Hostage, leaning forward. “The F-35 doesn’t have the altitude, doesn’t have the speed [of the F-22], but it can beat the F-22 in stealth.”

            Or, perhaps you prefer this quote from General Hostage “Because it can’t turn and run away, it’s got to have support from other F-35s. So I’m going to need eight F-35s to go after a target that I might only need two Raptors to go after. But the F-35s can be equally or more effective against that site than the Raptor can because of the synergistic effects of the platform.” He seems to understand some of the airframe drawbacks, but is still confident he can get the job done with it.

            Source: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/06/gen-mike-hosta

            You might want to read that, because your boy General Hostage doesn’t think the air force needs the EA 18G (a favorite airframe of yours) in the opening rounds of a war with a military as capable as ours.

            Instead of getting all worked up and acting childish, why don’t you post some links to articles that support your view? I’d be more than happy to read them.

          • Josh

            I wil add, I believe the Air Force is foolish not to develop or purchase a dedicated EW fighter platform, despite what GEN Hostage says. You and I may actually agree on that point.

          • BlackOwl18E

            Josh, you need to calm down. I still won’t debate you. You act like you’ve read my stuff, but you haven’t. You attempted to put words in my mouth, and that backfired. You dodged Gen. Hostage and are now only focusing on him because I called you out on it.

            You should go back and read my previous debates more closely because I’ve already posted articles that show my solid argument for why I think what I think. Until then, what you’ve done in this thread has shown me you’re just not worth anymore of my time.

          • Josh

            I am perfectly calm, I assure you. Please, point me to other material from Gen Hostage that supports your argument that he is concerned about he PAKFA or that the Air Force is forcing the IOC of the F35 because of the PAKFA because I can’t find any of it!

            I just posted quotes and an interview of Gen Hostage that work directly against your claims, and you called me out on it? Where is the reference material you supposedly have that have him supporting your argument? Seriously…Im interested.

          • Josh

            Even though you should be giving me the evidence that supports your argument, not me looking for it,I have gone back to review comment threads as you suggested. Searched F35 in the Defensetech bar and looked through all comment sections of f35 related articles dating back to 4 September ’14. Guess what, I saw lots of comments from you about the F35, but alas, no articles or citations to support your claims. I did find a link to a blog that supposedly had naval aviators claiming they’d rather fly the Super Hornet over the F35, but it didn’t work.

          • Josh

            Ooops, forgot this one….”But Hostage says, as do other senior Air Force and Marine officers, that an F-35 pilot who engages in a dogfight has probably made a mistake or has already broken through those IADS lanes and is facing a second wave of enemy aircraft.”

            So if General Hostage says F35 pilots that engage in air to air combat have made a mistake (indicating it is not the aircrafts primary mission set), why would the air force care when the PAKFA meets IOC as you claim and force the F35 into service too early as a result?

          • Another Guest

            @ Josh,

            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

          • crackedlenses

            Considering that most of these “leading reference threats” are either still in development or having problems of their own, get back to us when they actually become operational and then we’ll see what the situation is.

            Till then, the argument is academic, the anti-F35 crowd can’t offer a better solution, and we are still way ahead of our potential opponents…

    • 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…..

    • guest

      By law the Army is not allowed gun toting fixed wing AC.

      • JohnnyRanger

        Wrong. By agreement. Not by law.

        • jamesb101

          Thank You JohnnyRanger…..

    • Woodcutter

      The Army should just play a hand and formally state that if the AF moves to shelve the A10, then the Army will take it over and any pilots and aircrew that want to stay with the program. Force the AF to confront the disdain it has for the CAS mission, which is the only real reason that it wants out of the A10 business.

      It would be entertaining to see the AF brass face a 2-front attack on its plan to dispose of the A10. “We don’t want it, we need the F35!”. ‘fine, the Army now owns the A10 program and personnel, and the CAS mission’ “NOOO!! They can’t have it!, only the AF can fly CAS!!” yeah…? choose then…

    • pathfinder56

      I am in complete agreement with you! If the AF dosn’t want it I’m sure the Army would take it. It is a GROUND SUPPORT aircraft…..the infantry loves it.

      I sugested that the Army take the A10 when they first started to talk about grounding it but the AF is paranoid about the Army having any fixed wing combat capability and the grunts will suffer at the loss of the A10

      • jamesb101

        Yea except?

        The General stepping up to say THAT would be gone so fast he’d have a nose bleed…..

    • SGT Mike

      The army has it’s own problems and doesn’t need any more on its plate. The A-10 is a fine weapon I saw it turn an old M-48 into Swiss cheese and while I was in a M-60A3 I still shudder at what the crew dogs would look like had the track had been manned up!
      Not since the Vietnam fandango with the OV-10,20 or the old bird dog had the Aviators of the Army have any fixed wing air craft. We now have the Long Bow Apache that will ruin your career asap.

  • 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.

    • oblatt22

      There have been numerous examples where American troops have been saved from being overrun by gun runs.

      Lockheed shills are a disgrace when they say the practice needs to die off – and the troops simply left to die.

      • William_C1

        There are numerous examples where JDAMs, Hellfires, artillery, and other munitions have made the difference. Yet somehow the gun is the only tool available? The A-10 is great to have but it won’t be of much good in an environment where the enemy has modern air defense systems. So we need aircraft like the F-35. I’d say we should still keep the A-10 for the times when we can use it but I’m not determining official policy.

        Even back before the latest generation of air defenses, when we had a full 700+ A-10s in service, the USAF was also using the A-7, F-4, F-16, and other designs in a ground attack role. Why do you think this was? Maybe if all of that anti-US propaganda hadn’t eaten away at your brain you could figure out the answer.

        • UAVGeek

          Yes, because the 20mm gun was the only weapon available that had the required precision and the reduced potential collateral damage. There’s a big difference between the few grams of HE in a PGU-28 round vs even a 250lb SDB.

      • miles

        And how many where saved by A Cannon on a A-10 all US fighters other than the Harrier are armed with a 20 MM Vulcan cannon/Gun?

    • JohnnyRanger

      “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?”

      Because the F-35 isn’t intended to replace the F-22 or F-15. It IS intended to replace the A-10.

      • Josh

        You’re right, it’s not going to replace the F-22 (the f-15 is debatable). It’s going to replace the F-16 and older models of the F-18, both utilize the M61A2. His point is still valid.

      • William_C1

        The F-35 was designed to replace the F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8. It’s replacing the A-10 because the A-10 isn’t going to get a dedicated replacement. That’s the truth regardless of if we retire it tomorrow or 10 years from now.

        It’s no different from when they wanted to cut A-10s in favor of F-16s. The F-16 wasn’t designed to be the A-10 and nobody would claim otherwise. Yet the USAF was convinced the A-10 wasn’t survivable enough. And the truth is it isn’t very survivable against an enemy with access to modern air defenses.

        There are two questions to consider in all of this:

        “Is the A-10 useful enough the rest of the time to justify keeping it?”
        and
        “If so how do we work out the budget to pay for it?”

        In my opinion the answers are “Yes.” and “With all of the spending our government does they ought to be able to find the money somewhere.” I’ll admit the second answer is lacking but that’s my view on it.

        • ohwilleke

          The real problem is that the USAF has a duty to provide CAS and a lot of other fixed wing aircraft support to the Army, yet makes supporting its sister service its lowest priority, so lots of jobs that would be better performed by fixed wing aircraft are being performed by helicopters that are far less capable in that role than a next generation A-10 would be. The logistics side is no better. The Air Force undermined efforts to allow a sub-C-130 intratheater transport that was better than the helicopters it replaced to enter service, and has also not permitted a replacement to the AC-130 gunship to go forward.

          • William_C1

            I don’t understand this notion that the USAF makes supporting its sister services a low priority. What’s this based on? Vietnam? Both the Army and Air Force had to work out the issue of helicopter jurisdiction and they sort-of did that in a messy way.

            The whole C-27J thing dates back to Vietnam-era arguments over fixed wing transport that were never fully settled it seems. In this case the Air Force was definitely being petty and defensive. The C-27J isn’t a valid replacement for any existing Army helicopter however. Helicopters and fixed-wing complement each other. The A-10 doesn’t negate the uses of the AH-64 and vice versa.

            As for the AC-130, they should just put the guns in a newer C-130J. Considering how much pull SOCOM seems to have at the moment and how useful the AC-130 is to them hopefully they’ll pressure the Air Force into doing just that.

          • MAJ.D

            Problem being that the C-27J wasn’t supposed to replace helicopters, it was supposed to replace the Sherpa. And now all the Sherpas are going to smoke jumpers and the Army has no replacement airframe for this mission other than Chinooks.

          • ohwilleke

            “I don’t understand this notion that the USAF makes supporting its sister services a low priority. What’s this based on? Vietnam?’

            Seriously? Air Force “fighter mafia” disdain for supporting the Army has been a constant theme of military procurement politics almost as long as the Air Force has been in existence as a separate service. (FWIW, the Navy has also not been a big fan of providing littoral firepower support for Army troops or making Army logistics a priority.)

            The Army uses helicopters to accomplish all sorts of missions where fixed wing aircraft would be more appropriate, because they want to be in control and are willing to devote resources to the missions that the Air Force is not.

    • ohwilleke

      The notion that some successor to the A-10 ought to offer a gun suitable for air to ground fire in a CAS role is really not that unreasonable. The comparison to the A-10 is appropriate because the F-35 is replacing it.

      The F-35A is a decent enough replacement for the F-16. But, the Air Force is pretty blatantly shirking its CAS support duties, while not allowing the Army to do it itself with appropriate air power. The Army wants a dedicated CAS plane and has been basically told to screw itself.

      • William_C1

        Using the gun in an air-to-ground role exposes an aircraft to all forms of SHORAD. Not a problem when the enemy lacks this or it is outdated. Yet when that isn’t the case the A-10 won’t be any good until something else destroys most of that threat.

        Keeping the A-10s in service beyond the near-term will require them to be re-winged, a process started but halted as the accountants and politicians battle it out. New engines would be nice to have. Both things cost money though.

        If this happened it would be great, but by 2030 or whatever the date is these efforts extend the A-10’s service life out to, what then? Will Congress foot the bill for a new design of limited utility against a modern near-peer opponent? I think the A-10 is the last of the breed.

        • CharleyA

          Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely,) the USAF is continuing to buy the wing upgrade kits whether or not they are being installed, that I cannot comment on. This is yet another indication that the USAF doesn’t believe its own rhetoric about the obsolescence of the A-10. Nothing has changed in the enemy AD arena to support this notion. The aircraft was intended to be in the inventory until 2030 until very recently when the USAF was forced to make choices about what systems to buy. Congress, soldiers and citizens are rightly criticising USAF plans because of the service’s historical bias against the A-10, and the ability of the USAF to retain the aircraft by deferring a few F-35s per year until the more capable Block 4/5 version become available in the mid 2020’s.

      • xXTomcatXx

        What do you think the most prominent CAS aircraft US allies use? Hint: It’s the F-16! No one else is operating the A-10 (or similar tank buster). The Air Force will be just fine.

        • haloguy628

          What do you think the US allies in most cases get when requesting CAS in TO?

          Hint: Sometimes it’s F-16’s, sometimes it’s F/A-18s and sometimes it’s A-10s (to the loud cheers of the allied ground pounders). And 99% of the time CAS is requested, it has USAF markings on the birds sent.

    • The one armed man

      He did get the 3f release date wrong.

    • Gerardo Rodriguez

      The saab gripen has an advanced gun control software ince the viggen,shoul ask for a copy and try it,its incredible what a piece of crap this plane is….

    • Mastro

      Good post- the reason for this article- of course is- click bait.

      I’ve already read way too many posts about how perfect the A-10 is blah. blah.

    • Robert Peavey

      Finally! Someone with half a brain and gets it!

    • P-1000

      You’ve clearly never needed a gun run to save your life. Let me tell you, they can get a lot closer than bombs, and communicating targets to the pilots is much easier when you’re flying low and slow, rather than a high altitude aircraft carrying bombs of any sort. CAS can’t go away or soldiers will die. You’d know this if your ass had ever depended on it.

  • 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.

      • CharleyA

        The Ponce system was rushed into service, and is only effective against small boats at this time. These LASER systems are in their infancy, and have a substantial electrical plant and physical space requirement. Fitment on the F-35 is a long ways away.

        • wpnexp

          I suspect the LaWS system on the Ponce would be useful against UAVs and might have some capability to shoot down some missiles.

    • 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….

      • steve

        Sadly, I agree.

    • 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.

        • The one armed man

          Shut up christopher you have repeatedly shown your ignorance and wild conspiratorial nature.  You bring nothing to the argument. The burden of proof is on you to prove that the release date is 2019.  

          Citing anonymous sources that don’t get the FACTS right isn’t good journalism. 

          The date hasn’t changed. FACT. Page 4 of this PDF shows its been planned for 2017 for years. http://www.f-16.net/forum/download/file.php?id=18

          • blight_

            From DefenseNews:

            “Since 2005, DellaVedova said, the GAU-22 was planned to go operational with the block 3F software. That software is scheduled to go online in 2017, with low-rate initial production lot 9.”

            From DailyBeast:
            “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. ”

            It’s still pretty far in the future for something that seems so mundane. Is the F-35 gun supposed to target-recognizing and only fires when it has a clear shot…some kind of fancyness?

          • Another Guest

            @ The one armed man,

            No you shut the hell up, you are the one that repeatedly shown your ignorance and wild conspiratorial nature.

            Anonymous sources get the FACTS right is certainly a good journalism.

            BTW, how is the gun going to be on track?

            What it is really due to is two things: one, the disaster of ridiculously over-complex computer software system; and two, the fact that the gun itself is mainly for the purpose of close support and close in the air combat and the air force does not think that either of those are important.

            In fact they think that close support is so unimportant that they are willing to cancel their present A-10 aeroplane. They’d like to wipe it out immediately, as soon as possible. And it is the best close air-support plane in the world. And they’ll promise that “well, later, sometime later the F-35 will replace it, we don’t know quite exactly when.”

            But the problem with the gun is real. And it is very much a part of the overall problem of the software disaster. The software is so complicated that the air force has planned it in five different blocks. And right now, they are simply flying the first block. And still having trouble with that one.

            They are struggling to get the second block to work by the end of this for a kind of phony demonstration of the first operational squadron for the Marines. They may well not even be able to get the second block working.

            The third block is supposed to come in 2016 for another phony demonstration of the first squadron of the Air Force.

            And then the fourth block, which the first block that even provides for the gun, that even allows you to shoot the gun, is not due until 2019. And we won’t know whether that block of software is working till the end of that year.

          • Another Guest

            @ The one armed man,

            So for now, for the next four years, we have no possibility of shooting the gun, and it is the single most important weapon for close support and for close in-air combat. Needless to say the aeroplane is incapable of doing either one of them at all without the gun. And even after the gun works, if it does, which we don’t know, the airplane will be hopelessly incapable of close support and probably worse at close-in dogfight than the MiG-21, MiG-29, Su-27 and other aircraft.

            The only reason you are not hearing about the Navy problem with the software, is the Navy does not even have the gun. Two versions – the Air Force F-35A and the F-35B for the Marines have a gun – very important to both if they could do those missions.

            But it is not that it is a glitch that has suddenly arrived and said, “Oh, we were going to have a gun, we won’t have one till 2019” – they never even planned to have software to have the gun work until 2019.

            And they are so far behind schedule, it is amazing. Since the beginning of the software engineering every year they’ve been losing six months of schedule. So they are supposed to advance a year – every year they lose six more months.

            So when they promise 2019 for the fourth version of this software that might be able to shoot the gun, it is very likely that it will be another year or two later than that. This is a promise simply based on the current schedule which they’ve never held.

            The guns are absolutely essential for two reasons. In close support it is the single most important weapon because when your troops are in the most trouble, when they are about to be overrun by enemies that are 131, 98, 65 or even 31 feet away – there is no other weapon that works. If you tried to drop laser guided bomb in that situation you are as likely to kill your friends as the enemies.

          • Another Guest

            @ The one armed man,

            Only the gun can be brought in that close to friendly troops to get them out of trouble. So in the deepest emergencies, the gun is the most important thing. But the air force has no interest in supporting troops. It has no interest in close support. So that is why they have scheduled the software that couldn’t even possibly shoot the gun so late in the program – because they are struggling with other enormous problems and they don’t care for close support.

            Whether this aeroplane does it or not – does not matter. They’ll just promise it will do it and let’s cancel the A-10 that does it today superbly. Let’s cancel that right away and we’ll wait for a while, the F 35 won’t work.

            Not unless there are some enormous embarrassment. So far they are spending as much effort on public relations to try to smooth the overall problems they’ve been having in actually engineering and designing the aeroplane. So unless there is some terrific series of crashes, I think, for the meanwhile, there is no chance that they will cancel the program.

            I do predict that they will have that much trouble within the next few years, and that we will never see them build more than 500 of these aeroplanes. That the aeroplane will become technically such an embarrassment that they’ll pretend they did not really need it anyhow, and that “it’s alright we have a better idea, we are working on a new aeroplane and forget about the F-35.”

            To save the air power I’ll shove this POS to Lockheed Martin’s backsides.

  • 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.

        • Christopher

          Good luck in getting the USAF to ever fund A-10Ds.
          Army will have already upgraded Apaches and Blackhawks into compound helicopters by the time that happens. While testing their replacements.

    • 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?

    • miles

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

      Not a X-wing/Star fury/AI drone from “stealth” or air superiority fighter !!!!!

    • Geardo Rodriguez

      its like when mcnamara wanted a plane for all the services (f-111),don’t forget hitory as it will repeat itself but even worse…,the plane its a piece of crap,even in videogames äce combat”…..

  • 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.

        • miles

          This Troll shills for no one but my OCD!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jossie lawless

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

  • Peter

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

    • The one armed man

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

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

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

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

    • ohwilleke

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

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

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

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

      • The one armed man

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

  • ken

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

    • 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.

        • d. kellogg

          The F-35A that will have the gun internally isn’t plagued by weight concerns. The weight concerns are focused primarily on the STOVL -B model, and to a lesser extent the naval -C model, which will, IF they do ever, carry them podded externally.

          On that note, it is interesting the USAF DID indeed opt for such a small ammunition capacity.
          Even at nearly twice the rate of fire, every M61 installation in any aircraft carried more than twice the F-35’s ammo capacity.

  • 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_.

    • gerardo rodriguez

      imagine that you seven targets….,gonna destroy seven targets with a 200 round supply,…imagine that you are able to destroy the seven targets,then all of a sudden two more targets appears,but you already have spent your 200 smart ass rounds,and thr grunts in the ground are saying..”F 35,the fighter of the future…” please

      • d. kellogg

        Looking at the projected all-up weight of the GAU-22 gunpack (including drives, feed chutes, magazine), and the great modular upgradability that the F-16 has consistently demonstrated, I’m wagering fairly that, by the time the F-35A FINALLY has its software shooting where you tell it to, the F-16 could just as easily have a GAU-22 gunpack refitted in place of its M61, and with a larger capacity of rounds (over 500 20mm shells).
        I find it odd no mention as to why not upgrade F-15s, -16s, and -18s with 25mm gun systems if it is seen as superior to the point the F-35 is worthy of them (but NOT the F-22? say it isn’t so, joe!).
        Can’t be so difficult: Israel swapped out the 2 20mm guns on numerous Skyhawks and replaced them with harder-hitting DEFA 30mm guns.
        If Burt Rutan could put a 5-barrel GAU-12 into his little ARES, it should easily replace any M61 gun system.

    • Groundgrunt

      So they design the offensive weapons after the aircraft and that is good? F-35 is a bad joke trying to do too many roles. That is why you specialize aircraft for overmatch areas and layering rather than stretch it thin and fail or half mission capable for CAS.

  • citanon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Josh

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

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

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

      • citanon

        Josh,

        I believe you are correct regarding the range. The F-35 has longer legs than its predecessors. The question in my mind is whether this is sufficient given new emphasis and advancements in the area denial arena by China, Russia and their customers, is this increase in range sufficient or do we need to start rethinking our force mix of tactical aircraft vs. intermediate range strike bombers, vs longer range strike assets plus now UCAVs.

        A loaded question I think, and IMHO one we might be wrestling with for a long time.

      • citanon

        Also, regarding point two, I’m with you on F-35’s ability to take on IADs and stealthy 5th gen adversaries and win. The question in my mind, though, is how many assets you are going to assign to that mission, the rate at which you can attrit those enemy assets, and the tradeoff in the amount of time and resources you devote to that mission vs others such as tactical strike, etc.

        The longer and the more aircraft a future enemy can tie up for those missions, the less their ground and naval components will feel the impact of our air power advantages in future conflict scenarios.

        In a future conflict where an enemy is seeking to play digital hide and seek with our air assets, the lack of fast high flying F-22s means we will probably have to devote disproportionately larger numbers of F-35s to that mission, and their effects per asset is going to be less, and that’s going to buy the enemy more time, and make our logistics tail longer and more vulnerable, etc. I think you can partially fix that by giving the F-35s better weapons (eg longer range MRAAMs), but it will be a weakness.

        • Josh

          Citanon,

          Regarding your second post, you are correct. I have read interviews stating that it would take 8 F35s to take on certain targets that 2 F22s could handle. Now, that certainly isn’t the number that will be needed all the time; obviously that depends heavily on the target. But to further your point, the Air Force is adamant it needs every last one of the F35s it has requested to fill the gap the F22s they didn’t get has left and take on the original mission set they had in mind for the F35.

          I suspect the LRSB will– assuming they get the numbers they want– will go a long way in helping to solve that issue of needing a long range strike capability. UCAVs, and to a greater extent, stand off weapons will no doubt be needed to clear out the majority of the longer range threats possessed by an adversary in order to clear the way for the air craft carriers and short range fighters staged at closer air bases.

          • Josh

            I read your post below regarding the blog that discussed utilizing the gun in a new way that has not been available with the F16 and A10. However, I can’t access it with out a subscription. Are you familiar with another site I might be able to find that information?

          • citanon

            Josh, I posted the wrong link. This is the right one:
            http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=54&

            Whole thread worth a read. Actually there are two opposing points of view on the tactics. Some think the high altitude strafing tactics are new, some think it’s just regular gun development. Either way, looks like quite a bit of work to do on the gun but the results should be nice.

          • citanon

            Yes, agreed LRSB will be a must have for the Air Force and UCAVs and long range strike weapons will need to do perhaps even more heavy lifting than they are today.

          • Josh

            Thanks, Ill read it.

            To the point of this article and the gun: I fully believe the Air Force needs a low cost, flying tank like the A10. Ive been on the ground in Afghanistan with A10s over head and have seen the gun in action, the Army needs that over their heads. Back during the development of the A10, the Air Force wanted nothing to do with it. Congress– in one of the good things they’ve done– recognized that existing platforms like the F16 and F15 didn’t have the capability to provide CAS to the extent it was needed at low altitude and speed. I don’t care if its an A10 or a future variant of the same capability, it’s needed.

            On multiple occasions I remember having an A10 flying below cloud cover very slowly on routine patrols in Afghanistan. The only time I saw an aircraft as low in Afghanistan was a B1 on a show of force (which was damn awesome). I don’t see the F35 EVER being allowed to do that sort of low level, low speed flight to show the enemy “here I am, I dare you…”

            The F35 will capably fill many needs of the Air Force, and by extension the Army and other services. CAS as the A10 does it is not one of them.

          • citanon

            Josh, I believe the A-10 did great things for our ground troops in the WoT, but I’m not sure you can ever have a manned craft do something like that against a well trained and equip enemy.

            Look at the attrition rage of the Su-25s against MANPADs in the Eastern Ukraine conflict. How do we stop that from happening to an A-10 replacement? And what if MANPADs continue to improve? DIRCMs could address some of the threats, but you have radars and stereo cameras being mounted on road cars today for adaptive cruise control. What if the MANPADs go multi-sensor and incorporate radio frequency and visible wavelength guidance?

            Maybe a UCAV is more appropriate than a manned plane, or maybe the launch platform is the wrong way to think about CAS over the coming decades. Maybe the thinking needs to shift to better systems and better munitions.

            When you had the A-10 cover, what was the most important element of that for you? Was it the psychological effect on enemy forces? The persistence? The ability by the pilot to understand what was happening on the ground? The way that the A-10 was able to employ its munitions?

          • Josh

            No doubt the Su25 has suffered due to MANPADs. However, were MANPADs also not a risk when the A10s were originally developed and fielded? They were designed and planned to go against the Russian “hordes” in the Fulda Gap where they no doubt would have faced mobile SAM units in addition to MAPADs; a risky proposition, but one that was seen as needed to support US units in their fight against massive formations of armor.

            Additionally, while performing one of it’s many roles, the F-35 will have to provide air support in the same air as an A10, or future A10 replacement. Is an F35 conducting a gun run at several thousand feet not as susceptible to the same MANPAD threat as an A10? Certainly any advanced features on the F35 that can defend against such threats can also be placed on an A10 or replacement aircraft (except stealth). In fact, there is an argument to be made that the A10 would be far more likely to survive in such an environment due to being a twin engine jet and heavily protected with a titanium bathtub for the pilot.

            I don’t believe we are at the point that a UCAV can provide situational awareness similar to a pilot in the cockpit. The idea of distinguishing between friend or foe being left to a pilot half a world away just doesn’t sound appealing at this stage. Plus, in order to talk to an A10 pilot I just need a radio. To talk to a UCAV pilot as the leader of the patrol I have to talk to my company CP who then relay to the battalion TOC where the Air Force controller talks directly to the pilot stateside. In some instances we at the company CP talked directly to the Air Force controller which removed a step. Either way, a lot of room for things to be lost in translation and tons of delay.

            Then, lets not forget the cost differences concerning flight hours. Obviously there is a good chance that as maintenance becomes more routine and more aircraft are fielded the cost per flight hour for the F35 will fall. However, there is little to no chance it falls to the point it is competitive with the A10. Loitering and CAS missions are timely operations the A10 is ideally suited for.

            Again, not saying it has to be an A10. I just believe the aircraft filled a crucial role that F35s will struggle to compete with.

            The A10 mostly flew loiter missions, as did most aircraft. Essentially, they fly in circles until they are needed and dispatched to support the troops on the ground. To all of your questions, I would simply state “yes”. I know of a few instances where the A10s intervened with their cannons to support Soldiers from my unit and did so very effectively. Other times, the mere sight of the aircraft was enough to cause the enemy to disengage. Having air support above meant a good deal to the Soldiers. However, having a pair of A10s above felt so much better and safe.

          • citanon

            You are absolutely right that the A-10’s original mission was to slow down the Soviet advance at Fulda Gap. The key phrase, though, is slow down, not stop. The requirements were drawn up back in the 70s when NATO was so outmatched that it planned and trained to use tactical nukes from day 1. The planned attrition rates for the A-10, from what I understand, were eye watering. It was a plane that was meant to do as much damage as it could before its inevitable loss.

            Also, I think you are right on about the F-35 also not being survivable below 10000 feet. This is why, I think the requirements call for strafing at 45 degrees from 9000 ft. The way it will survive, is to barely break into the engagement envelop of MANPADs, take a shot, and then immediately use its speed to get out of that envelop again, with countermeasures and DIRCM helping to take care of what ever missiles get launched. There simply may not be a manned fixed wing aircraft that can survive an A-10 type mission profile as the battlespace gets more and more lethal no matter what kind of countermeasures you put on.

            You point out a crucial issue with UCAVs and I think that also applies to precision dropped munitions from high altitude aircraft, but I think there are going to be solutions as the network connectivity gets better. We have $5000 drones today that you can fly with a VR goggle on your head giving excellent situation awareness. You’ve got the DAS on the F-35 that allows the pilot to look 360 degrees around his plane. Ok, an UAV operator back in the States will always have problems because of the communication latency, but what if you can share what the UAV is seeing with someone who is on the ground or at a forward operations center? What if that person can take control temporarily.

            Same thing with a munition. What if you build an air dropped submunition dispensing cruise missile that can fly low and slow and drop cluster munitions under guidance by ground elements?

            Those ideas bring up a whole new can of worms with network security, network bandwidth and jamming resistance, etc, but I think we may get pushed towards those directions anyways because the alternative might be routinely losing manned aircraft.

          • displacedjim

            “There simply may not be a manned fixed wing aircraft that can survive an A-10 type mission profile as the battlespace gets more and more lethal no matter what kind of countermeasures you put on.”

            Agreed, and to which I’d add/emphasize, “including the A-10.”

          • citanon

            You might also be interested in:
            http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense-news/blo

          • Josh

            Thanks, Ill read it and the other link provided last night in the next 24hours.

      • wpnexp

        While I will grant that better AAM are needed, the AIM-120 is the most capable and the most produced AAM around. Meteors and other AAMs that don’t exist or haven’t been integrated onto aircraft are useless.

        I think much of the range issue might be solved by a stealthy UAV designed to refuel aircraft over enemy airspace. We are already at the point of testing refueling of one UAV by another UAV at this time, so refueling a piloted plan by a UAV seems very possible soon.

        Of course, the altitude, range and bomb load issue should be the priority of the next gen bomber.

  • 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”.

      • d. kellogg

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

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

  • GroundGrunt

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

  • oblatt22

    The F-35 is a big downgrade.

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

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

  • Dragon029

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

  • eskodas

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 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.

    • Seewherethetechgoes

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

      • blight_

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

      • Mark
  • Brett Weeks

    And the F-35C

  • Mike

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

  • Caesar

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

  • Rocky A

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

  • Mystick

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

  • CORedleg

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

  • BenB

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

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

  • Brad

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

  • Paul

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

  • Robert Kuurstra

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

  • Gordon

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

  • doctordave777

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

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

    Dave

  • Joe Grimaud, Maj,ret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • 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?

        • blight_

          I feel that many aircraft of the Cold War had longer range or larger payloads, but the move to multi-role aircraft has caused a decrease in range and payload, with little to show for it.

  • Walt Bridge

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

    • d. kellogg

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

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

  • fellow retire

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

  • MarkE8Ret

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

  • Robert Browning

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

    • Christopher

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

      • blight_

        Are you going to blame Mac the knife for the FG-42/MG-42 hybrid madness that was the M-60 too?

        We should’ve just gone with the British .280 or went with a modified .30 carbine round (spitzer instead of rounded), and went through the cold war with a 7.62×33 rifle round. That is the past.

        • d. kellogg

          But for the cost of, what, all of 2 F-35s, the US could finally adopt an intermediate caliber today that technology allows to equal or surpass 7.62mm weapons at weights nearer to 5.56mm weapons, and equip all 5 service branches with it with both individual rifle and crew served variants.

          A lot more would achieved for it in the long run than just those 2 aircraft would ever contribute.

          But that’s for another discussion elsewhere.

  • Ben Mercer

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

    Why is the survivability higher than 0.5 percent?

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

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

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

    2012-2013 IOC intended;

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

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

  • Another Guest
  • Another Guest

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

    .

  • Another Guest

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

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

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

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

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

  • Another Guest

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

  • The_Dude

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

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

  • David Daughdrill

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

  • Keith Matsumoto

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

  • Ray

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

  • Jim

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

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  • todd

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

  • 462

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

  • Chris

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

  • iamfritz

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

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

    It’s as if war was expensive or something.

  • willman709

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

    • Christopher

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

  • Jeffery A Frost

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

  • philalan73

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

  • Redleg_18

    The damned thing takes off winchester!

  • Paul

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

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  • Michael

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

  • Jim

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