Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

I look forward to seeing what Cap Lion has to say about this one; he’s very damned knowledgable about this stuff, for reasons I won’t go into to protect his privacy.

This is the U.S.’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the next generation of American fighter jets. It has been in development since 1992. All told the program is slated to cost upwards of a trillion dollars.

And it is one of the most colossal pieces of shit ever created.

The F-35 is supposed to replace the F-16 and the A-10 (the Skydive and Powerglide planes.) Like the A-10 it’s supposed to be a fighter and a bomber, and is supposed to be able to carry a bunch more bombs than the F-22 (Starscream from the movies.)

It’s also supposed to be a single plane shared between the Marines, Air Force, and Navy. This is where the problems start.

“It famously lost in mock aerial combat within visual range (WVR), where its radar stealth is of no advantage, to an F-16 in early 2015, one of the planes the F-35 is supposed to replace as an aerial fighter. The F-35 lost repeatedly in air-to-air maneuvering”

“despite the fact that the test was rigged in its favor because the F-16 employed was the heavier two-seater version and was further loaded down with heavy, drag-inducing external fuel tanks to hinder its maneuverability.”


Now it’s true that many if not most of our successful military aircraft have been dismissed as staggering crap in the early going, only to later find their footing as flaws are identified and necessary adjustments are made. The P51 Mustang, to cite just one example, was kind of, umm, underwhelming until the D version, when the bubble canopy replaced the old razorback fuselage and the Allison engine was replaced with the Packard-built version of the Rolls Royce Merlin. It went on from there to become a true legend, and deservedly so.

That said, it’s also one of life’s across-the-board truisms—from aircraft to motorcycles to cars to tools to musical instruments to etc—that when you set out to design something capable of everything, you usually wind up with something incapable of almost anything, and excels at nothing. Too, the F35 has been kicking around since 1992; its flaws ought to have been identified and fixed by now, surely. Especially when you consider the Mustang’s first flight was in 1940, and it had been transformed into a world-beater a scant three years later. It remained in use well into the Korean war. Some countries’ air forces were still flying them in the 1980s(!).

Anyway, y’all feel free to kick this can around some yourselves in the comments. My own opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that we shouldn’t have been so quick to abandon the F22. I’d bet we’re going to be relying on our beat-up old F16s, F18s, B52s, and A10s to get the job done for a good long while yet.

(Via Weird Dave)


5 thoughts on “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

  1. The F-35 Thunderjug (named as it ought to be, after the once-ubiquitous underbed depository of nightsoil, whose lineage to the F-35 is a direct line) is a testimony to the ghost of Robert MacNamara, the last genius who foisted such a colossal piece of offal on the DoD and the American people, his crowning gold-plated turdnugget being the FB-111, an imaginarily “joint” fighter bomber so horrid it was too heavy to land and take off from the carriers it was supposed to grace, and was sh*tcanned by SecNav and CNO, back when admirals and service chiefs still had a pair. So instead, both the F-4 and A-6 soldiered on until the F-14 and F-18 took over.

    The supposed advantages of the F-35 are illusory, the compromises to produce an AF, Navy, and Marine aircraft are legion, and the best thing SecDef Mattis and Trump could do to cement the renaissance of the US military is to kill the entire boondoggle, tie it around the necks of the Obozo, Clinton, and Bush (both of them) administrations, and start all over with appropriate aircraft tailored to be world-beating fire breathers for each of those services, in the respective services’ intended roles.

    If sub-assemblies, whetrher one or many, happen to be shared in common, well and good, but the point of an aircraft is to win in the role it is designed for, and you can no more make a Marine expeditionary CAS bird, a Navy carrier-based tactical bomber, and a USAF ground-based bomber the same aircraft than you can take a surface sailor and put him in a USAF air wing or Marine grunt battalion.

    They are complementary roles, and similar, but not identical. Sandpaper and toilet paper are both useful items, but hardly interchangeable.

    And anyone in charge of the F-35 with service rank should be cashiered from the military, in any grade from O-10 down to W-1, and the entire production team punished and penalized to the legal limits of DoD’s discretion for future work. They have sold out the country for promotions and contracts, and that needs punishing.

    Instead of trying to cram everything including the kitchen sink into a mythical all-in-one A-6/A-10/F-14/F-16/F-18 replacement (and also Piper Cub/B-17/C-47/PBY/B-52/Zeppelin replacement, if you read the sales brochures), figure out what made each service’s airframe needing replacement work, and make each of those better, to the limit of 2018 technology, rather than that of 1985. It may be that they can largely share a cockpit, but everything from forward of the stick and behind the pilot’s seat to the tail should probably be hugely different in each version, for 10,000 good, sound aeronautical engineering and tactical reasons. This is why a B-2 doesn’t look anything like a C-17, or an F-22, and all of those are in the same service.

    The F-35 isn’t having teething problems; it’s a thalidomide baby. It’s not an actual human fetus, so abort that disaster, with extreme prejudice, and don’t spend another penny on the catastrophe it was always going to be, is, and will always be.

    1. Yep!
      Thanksgiving … in the parking lot as turkeys were thrown from a helicopter (and landed “like bags of wet cement”).

      Here’s another:

      Boss Hogg!
      MORE A10’s PLEASE!

  2. I don’t think the Israelis would be buying them if they were bested by the planes they already have – no? The Aussies thought the F111 was pretty good too – and are happy with the F35 as its replacement (albeit they would be happier if they were allowed to buy F22s instead).

  3. Wait a tick. One aircraft to replace the A-10 and the F-16? Perhaps I’m gravely mistaken but I thought these two air frames are extremely different for extremely different missions. But hey, if they can make it work I look forward to the BMW RV that also drives like a 3 series. Idiots.

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