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More Bad News For the F-35

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the flights-of-fancy dept.

The Military 401

schwit1 sends this news from Aviation Week: "A new U.S. Defense Department report warns that ongoing software, maintenance and reliability problems with Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighter could delay the Marine Corps' plans to start using its F-35 jets by mid-2015. It said Lockheed had delivered F-35 jets with 50 percent or less of the software capabilities required by its production contracts with the Pentagon. The computer-based logistics system known as ALIS was fielded with 'serious deficiencies' and remained behind schedule, which affected servicing of existing jets needed for flight testing, the report said. It said the ALIS diagnostic system failed to meet even basic requirements. The F35 program, which began in 2001, is 70 percent over initial cost estimates, and years behind schedule, but top U.S. officials say it is now making progress. They have vowed to safeguard funding for the program to keep it on track. Earlier this week, the nonprofit Center for International Policy said Lockheed had greatly exaggerated its estimate (PDF) that the F-35 program sustained 125,000 U.S. jobs to shore up support for the program."

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What's left of the UK Navy (5, Funny)

shortscruffydave (638529) | about 10 months ago | (#46055853)

At least the UK's carrier building programme is running slow...it'd just be embarrassing if we had carriers but no planes to put on them....

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46055905)

Who cares, the UK doesn't piss off the rest of the world like the USA does.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 10 months ago | (#46056085)

Uh, I hate to break it to you, but the English have a whole lot more experience pissing on and pissing off the rest of the world. Theirs started in the Age of Exploration and ended in the fifties. By contrast, ours didn't really start until the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, and didn't commit in earnest until after World War II...

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46056333)

They still can't cook.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056511)

fuck you, the English could cook until WW2

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056531)

In Heaven:
the cooks are French,
the policemen are English,
the mechanics are German,
the lovers are Italian
and
the bankers are Swiss.

In Hell:
the cooks are English,
the policemen are German,
the mechanics are French,
the lovers are Swiss
and
the bankers are Italian.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056391)

Uh, I hate to break it to you, but the English have a whole lot more experience pissing on and pissing off the rest of the world. Theirs started in the Age of Exploration and ended in the fifties. By contrast, ours didn't really start until the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, and didn't commit in earnest until after World War II...

Uh, I hate to break it to you, but no-one cares about what happened several generations ago. There were Germans that did really bad things to others more than half a century ago but neither they or their victims are alive.
Your parents or grandparents might have treated African Americans in a bad way. I will not judge you for that because you were not in a position to prevent that.
I will however dislike you if you do not speak out against what the NSA does to the rest of the world because they do it with the taxes you pay and if you don't show anything but apathy and consent then I must assume that your are OK with that.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#46056427)

Ended in the 50's? Did you forget what the Falkland Islands are? There was a lot of pissed off people there as well.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 10 months ago | (#46056549)

The only Argentinians anyone care about play football (not hand egg).

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 10 months ago | (#46056283)

Who cares, the UK doesn't piss off the rest of the world like the USA does.

Really out of all the countries in the world doing terrible things, why does the USA piss people off so much? The only reason I can think of is the same reason we are pissed of with our own government; we expected better from them.

Re: What's left of the UK Navy (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 10 months ago | (#46056485)

My only assumption is that they see the US as having ordained itself 'World Police' and enter conflicts without prompting or without an international 'consensus'.

That said, it was the UN that determined that the US military would be responsible for maintaining order and policing the world. Sure, the US military took the power, as any organization would, but I feel the real blame rests on the UN.

Re:What's left of the UK Navy (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 10 months ago | (#46055981)

Hah, it's not like they're even proper carriers anyway, what with them lacking CATOBAR setup etc.

Re:What's left of the UK Navy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056271)

What's left of the UK Navy? Rum, sodomy, and the lash.

Re:What's left of the UK Navy (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#46056451)

Can't they just divide up the budget between those 125,000 'workers' and be done with it. I can't imagine any of them will complain.

That would free everybody up to work on the drones. Which are the real future.

Waste of money (5, Insightful)

Akratist (1080775) | about 10 months ago | (#46055889)

Whatever one's political philosophy about them is, drones really are the future -- if one gets shot down, no expensive pilot lost and no embarrassing flag-draped coffins. Can hotseat pilots to allow for long loiter times. No need to have a cockpit for a pilot. Latency and jamming is an issue, but is steadily improving. It's the same way with aircraft carriers, which are steadily becoming welfare for defense contractors and an easy target for ballistic anti-ship missiles, super cavitating torpedos, etc. Defense needs to get out of the 20th century mindset, and out of the pockets of Congress, and into the business of actually building useful stuff.

Re:Waste of money (2)

dcw3 (649211) | about 10 months ago | (#46055999)

Easy target? Tell us when one gets hit. In the mean time, where would you like to launch your drones from if there's not base nearby? Some drones are rather large.

Re:Waste of money (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#46056113)

In the mean time, where would you like to launch your drones from if there's not base nearby? Some drones are rather large.

Many large drones are capable of aerial refueling. They can circle the globe without landing. Or they can loiter indefinitely over a critical area. Drones are the future. The people that designed the F35 are like bad hockey players: they skate towards where the puck is, rather than where it is going.

Re: Waste of money (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 10 months ago | (#46056173)

They are also easily disabled by jamming and there is latency in controlling them.

Re: Waste of money (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 10 months ago | (#46056345)

With all the electronics on a human-in-cockpit fighter plane, I wonder if it's not possible to jam those as well. You may not be able to completely disable the aircraft, but with the right technologies, you could certain hinder their effectiveness.

Re: Waste of money (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#46056353)

They are also easily disabled by jamming and there is latency in controlling them.

If the drone has been assigned a target, then when jammed it will continue its mission.
If the drone hasn't been assigned a target, then the jammer's radiation source becomes the target.

Re: Waste of money (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#46056487)

A lot of people forget that there are AWACS way up there that will identify a jamming source and relay to another aircraft to smoke them. We utterly owned IRAQ's "best military in the world" because every time the lit up the radar on their anti aircraft installs, we send a nice big present to them automatically.

and if someone thinks that a soldier on the ground is going to have a shoulder mounted jammer, well they are funny as hell. I dare them to just keep a laser pointer aimed at a dime on the top of a stick that is 300 yards away, because that is a lot easier than doing the same to a fighter jet in the sky.

Re: Waste of money (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#46056521)

Citation needed about the jamming. Specifically the "easily" part. Seems like there are a lot of dead terrorists who would have been very motivated to figure it out if it were "easy."

Perhaps you mean "Easily for a real threat to national security," IE an actual country who can use technology beyond a pipe bomb or a 40 year old soviet rifle. That would actually be a good point as to why we'd need piloted planes. Potentially anyway, citation still needed.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056339)

Many large drones are capable of aerial refueling.

Name one.

No current drones are capable of aerial refueling: RQ-4 (Global Hawk) flew in trail, but never executed a plug and never passed gas [nasa.gov] , and X-47B isn't on contract to fly the demonstration yet [usni.org]

Please don't conflate unproven plans and desires with demonstrated capability

Re:Waste of money (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#46056525)

X-47B Tankers can refuel them.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056469)

Many large drones are capable of aerial refueling. They can circle the globe without landing.

Even if that's true (and it's not, at least yet) how long does it take to fly around the globe vs. taking off from a nearby airfield or CV? What does the flight time do to your sortie rate? How long do the troops on the ground who need CAS have to wait for it to arrive?

Re:Waste of money (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 10 months ago | (#46056513)

The people that put out the RFPs (the government) are those bad hockey players. The people that designed and built the F-35 (contractors) are just doing what they're contracted to do. Government sets the requirements, industry meets them.

Re:Waste of money (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#46056619)

Government sets the requirements, industry meets them.

They are all part of the same organization [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Waste of money (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 10 months ago | (#46056651)

I'm not an expert on drone tech. However, the drones you speak of sound more like your standard surveillance variety. For predator drones and ones that carry heavy munitions, I don't think they can circle the globe. In fact, those might still require an aircraft carrier to launch from. BTW, aircraft carriers if anything is a method of projecting both military and political power. They're not obsolete yet. If those get sunk, I'd wager the ante has been bumped up to using tactical nukes. By then, it be a really bad day for everyone.

Re:Waste of money (1, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#46056121)

Tell us when one gets hit.

Tell us when one gets attacked by a force with more than rudimentary abilities.

There are two kinds of naval vessels: submarines ... and targets.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056251)

There are two kinds of naval vessels: submarines ... and targets.

Submarines only claimed two of the five fleet carriers the United States lost during WW2, and one of those (USS Yorktown at Midway) was crippled and dead in the water at the time she was torpedoed. USS Wasp was the only carrier outright sunk by a submarine, owing to a combination of bad luck (she caught at flight quarters with her fuel systems in use) and design compromises made to keep her tonnage within the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty. Wasp should never have been deployed to the Pacific in the first place, she just wasn't built with that kind of threat environment in mind, but the Navy didn't have a whole lot of choice given the attrition of the fleet engagements in 1942.

Modern submarines are more effective of course, but a fast moving CV is still a tough target for them.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056403)

While what you are saying is true, it's not really a reply to the parent. All he's saying is that surface ships make wonderful targets for pretty much everyone with sufficiently advanced weaponry. Most probably long range anti-ship missiles launched from aircraft or drones, something that is far less dangerous to submarines.

Re:Waste of money (1)

alen (225700) | about 10 months ago | (#46056483)

in WW2, the last time we had mass deployment of submarines, almost 90% of them were lost at sea. for the US and the Germans

submarines are the targets

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056647)

almost 90% of them were lost at sea. for the US and the Germans

Umm, the US didn't lose nearly that many submarines, though it is true that that submarine force had the highest casualty rate out of any American service. The Germans lost a ton of U-Boats, at least 75% of them as I recall. 90% seems overstated though, even for them.

Re:Waste of money (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#46056439)

Easy target? Tell us when one gets hit. In the mean time, where would you like to launch your drones from if there's not base nearby? Some drones are rather large.

Has anybody actually had a vaguely serious go at an aircraft carrier since WWII? I couldn't think of any; but I could definitely be forgetting something.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056035)

no embarrassing flag-draped coffins.

There will be plenty, the only difference is that there will be civilians in them instead of pilots.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056063)

if one gets shot down, no expensive pilot lost and no embarrassing flag-draped coffins

There's going to be embarrassing flag-draped coffins regardless. Drones can't HOLD ground any better than manned aircraft. Boots on the ground == flag-draped coffins.

It's the same way with aircraft carriers, which are steadily becoming welfare for defense contractors and an easy target for ballistic anti-ship missiles, super cavitating torpedos, etc.

The demise of the CV is overstated. They've still got compelling arguments in their favor, defense systems continue to evolve, and neither of the offensive weapons you mention have successfully engaged a warship of any kind on the high seas. A full thesis on modern naval warfare is beyond the scope of a /. comment, suffice it to say a CVBG is a very tough nut to crack.

Boots on the ground? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056177)

Re:Waste of money (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#46056217)

neither of the offensive weapons you mention have successfully engaged a warship of any kind on the high seas

Nor has anybody tried to use them that way.

The truth is that we don't know how a carrier or it's battle group would fare against these weapons. History is full of offensive weapons that didn't work as planned, and likewise with defensive systems. No matter how many realistic weapons tests you perform, you don't know how these things will work in combat.

There USN hasn't been in a major battle in the almost 70 years since WWII. We just don't know what will happen.

Re:Waste of money (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46056385)

Hey, we have computers now. We don't need reality.

Re:Waste of money (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 10 months ago | (#46056157)

Whatever one's political philosophy about them is, drones really are the future

The opposing army casts "Anti-Drone defense technologies".

It's Super-Effective.

Re:Waste of money (4, Insightful)

Major Blud (789630) | about 10 months ago | (#46056247)

Quite a few people on here lately have been talking about how vulnerable aircraft carriers are to anti-ship missiles, and I think that threat is somewhat overstated. Sure anti-ship missiles such as the Exocet racked up an impressive tally in the Falklands War, but they didn't sink the carriers. Why? Because naval commanders realize the risk posed by anti-ship missiles and are willing to risk the destroyer screen to protect the valuable carriers (same techniques were applied against kamikaze). If the Argentinians were able to sink both of the British carriers (or maybe just one), the chances of the British being able to retake the Falklands would have pretty much ended.

The Iraqis also fired two Silkworm missiles at the USS Missouri during the first Gulf War and one was intercepted by a British Sea Dart missile (the other one missed). For all of the talk about the dangers posed against carriers from anti-ship missiles, not a single carrier has been sunk or damages from one, despite numerous opportunities. Naval commanders understand the risk, and have developed the necessary tactics and defenses to protect the carriers from this threat.

Re:Waste of money (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#46056377)

For all of the talk about the dangers posed against carriers from anti-ship missiles, not a single carrier has been sunk or damages from one, despite numerous opportunities. Naval commanders understand the risk, and have developed the necessary tactics and defenses to protect the carriers from this threat.

Number of carriers hit by anti-ship missiles: 0
Number of anti-ship missiles fired at carriers: 0
Number of serious adversaries fought by America since Vietnam: 0

In a relatively evenly-matched fight like the Falklands, ships were regularly damaged and sunk on both sides despite what were state of the art defences at the time. If China and America get into a war, you can be pretty sure there'll be rather less carriers on both sides by the end of the first week.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056579)

ships were regularly damaged and sunk on both sides despite what were state of the art defences at the time.

State of the art is debatable. No offense to my friends in Britain, but the US Navy was way ahead of the Royal Navy in anti-war warfare at the time. US ships could engage more aerial targets simultaneously than the Type 42s deployed by the British, and this was before AEGIS. Of course, this was a purposeful decision made as a consequence of the Cold War, wherein the Royal Navy was primarily intended to operate as an ASW force to keep the Atlantic sea lanes open.

If the UK had retained a real aircraft carrier with a real airborne early warning platform (the E-2 Hawkeye) they would likely have retaken the Falklands without losing a single ship. Put a US Navy CVBG of the 1980s in place of the British Task Force and the whole affair becomes rather one-sided.

Re:Waste of money (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 10 months ago | (#46056631)

First, China has one carrier, and it is not operational, just a testing hulk used to develop the plans, procedures, and capabilities that the US developed in the 1920s. Second, the US has a dozen aircraft carriers, and they're protected in a battle group by many picket ships, including attack submarines, frigates, destroyers, cruisers, as well as an entire air wing. Force projection means that each of those picket ships stays well away from the carrier, but keep her within their protection envelope. The subs and frigates are very adept at anti-submarine warfare (ASW), while destroyers do both that and anti-air warfare (AAW). Cruisers do a bang-up job of AAW. On top of that, you have sentry aircraft that stay hundreds of miles in front of the carrier, all the time, and are always monitoring for enemy ships, aircraft, and submarines. Once they've spotted something, the two (or more) aircraft flying interdiction screens can move to intercept.

China has a military that is still working on things that the US developed in the 1970s. The difference is that they've got a lot more people.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056395)

Adult military commanders aren't capable of fighting a serious war against innovative tactics and they're are completely fixed in their ways.

Of so i learned while reading Ender's game.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46056401)

Sure anti-ship missiles such as the Exocet racked up an impressive tally in the Falklands War, but they didn't sink the carriers.

The Exocet (and its American cousin the Harpoon) is a poor choice to take on a carrier. They were originally designed to engage small patrol craft, though they proved fairly effective at taking on larger combatants (the Type 42s the UK lost in the South Atlantic) Against a 100,000 ton carrier though? Or even one of the smaller British carriers sent to the South Atlantic? They'll do damage, but they can't be counted on to get a mission kill (i.e., rendering the carrier unable to engage in flight operations) much less actually sink such a target.

The Russians built supersonic heavyweight missiles with three to four times the explosive power as Exocet and Harpoon for the purpose of taking on aircraft carriers. A US Admiral (I think the Commander of Pacific Command?) recently came out and lamented the fact that the US isn't trying to develop similar missiles for the much ballyhooed "pivot" to Asia. Exocet and Harpoon remain effective in their original roles of taking out patrol craft/small missile boats, but they're outdated if you need to engage a modern warship (never mind a carrier) with modern air defenses.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Major Blud (789630) | about 10 months ago | (#46056625)

These are all valid arguments. There are too many factors to consider in a potential conflict, such as the stockpile of anti-ship missiles, the type used, range, defensive measures, and tactical considerations, that you just can't rule out carriers as an obsolete relic from the 20th century.

Re:Waste of money (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 10 months ago | (#46056649)

Well, their air defenses are AEGIS ships, equipped with SM-2 and SM-6 missiles, the latter of which are designed to take on those supersonic cruise missiles. It's the offensive capabilities you're more concerned with, upgrading Harpoon.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 10 months ago | (#46056613)

It's not an either/or situation: drones are probably at least 10-15 years away from being able to replace fighters, possibly longer (given there are still many technical issues to work out). Even then, drones might not completely replace manned aircraft: there are simply too many easy ways to take out drones.

Drones will take on most of the roles of aircraft (and already are), but they're not an adequate replacement right now, not by a long shot.

Ha! (0)

The Cat (19816) | about 10 months ago | (#46055891)

The U.S. can't build a web site! We have no business building aircraft.

Re:Ha! (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#46055947)

That web site failed on the back end with the 3rd party and there data format needs maybe if we where to have less subcontracts / contracts things will work better as well less people in the mix who get kickbacks / no bid contracts.

Re:Ha! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#46056261)

failed on the back end with the 3rd party

Sounds like defense contracting.

less subcontracts / contracts things will work better as well less people in the mix who get kickbacks / no bid contracts

Does not sound like defense contracting.

Re:Ha! (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 10 months ago | (#46055963)

Yea, websites like slashdot.org

I was (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#46055913)

I'm going to wait for the F-35 with service pack 1, at least.

Re: I was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056073)

The F-35 is good, but the F-36 will be dumbed down, built by Fisher-Price, and most people won't know how to turn it off.

Re: I was (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 10 months ago | (#46056315)

The F-35 is good, but the F-36 will be dumbed down, built by Fisher-Price, and most people won't know how to turn it off.

It will have helpful pop-ups "Are you trying to evade that heat-seeking missile?"

Locmart's problem (0)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 10 months ago | (#46055923)

is Embry Riddle pin heads

Rube Goldberg (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 10 months ago | (#46055943)

DoD has learned nothing from conflicts we've fought, have they? Why has the B-52 seen more action than the B-1 or B-2? How about the A-10? Or drones for that matter. These successful platforms have a few things in common: They're (relatively) cheap, easy to maintain, and they have a high mission capable rate contrasted with their expensive big brothers.

There's a place for the B-2, the F-22, and even the F-35, but what does DoD have in the works to replace the reliable workhorses of the air fleet? Nothing. Not a damned thing. They've placed all their eggs in the F-35 basket, even as costs have ballooned and promised milestones/deadlines have come and gone. Maybe the naysayers (yours truly included) will be proven wrong and the F-35 will go on to be as successful as the F-16. Here's hoping. Even in that optimistic scenario they've still got a huge hole to plug with the pending retirement of platforms like the A-10 and the continued attrition of the B-52 fleet.

Re:Rube Goldberg (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 10 months ago | (#46056233)

The workhorse of many of the USAF is probably the C-17 or the C-130, considering how cargo transport and logistics is the lifeblood of any military. Plans were attempted to replace both, and nothing came of them, either.

As far as strike craft go, the USAF still wants to convert solely to precision bombing. Sending fighter aircraft like the F-35 in with a single bomb, instead of a B-52 with dozens of them, or the constant blacksheep of the airforce, the A-10 with its old-school up and close gun or a drone that costs a tenth as much. All of these options would do a strike mission better than the F-35. Fighter jocks still run the USAF, and they will get their fighter craft come hell or highwater.

I would love for us to reach a point where a single 500lb precision bomb can do the job of mass cluster bombing or raining down DU shells (which are highly toxic to anyone that breathes in the dust). It has been a dream of the USAF and more importantly the politicians since the 80's. I just don't think it is realistic. Sometimes you just need to send the ugly plane in to get the job done.

Re:Rube Goldberg (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 10 months ago | (#46056415)

....As far as strike craft go, the USAF still wants to convert solely to precision bombing. Sending fighter aircraft like the F-35 in with a single bomb, instead of a B-52 with dozens of them, or the constant blacksheep of the airforce, the A-10 with its old-school up and close gun or a drone that costs a tenth as much....p>

Both the B-52 and the A-10 can carry modern GPS-guided precision bombs. As long as you have air superiority, a B-52 maxed out with JDAM and full tanks of gas, is really all you need to go on a bombing safari and is probably one of the best CAS platforms out there.

The reason both platforms have endured is that they are relatively easy to adapt and upgrade to carry newer weapons systems. Less-adaptable aircraft of the era, such as the F-111, aren't around anymore. Even if they were more technologically advanced in their time.

Re:Rube Goldberg (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056277)

Why would anyone want waste time designing and manufacturing a reliable workhorse that will last forever? Cheap to manufacture, expensive to buy, and prone to needing near-constant replacement is the key to success in this game. Getting the government to pay you for it means that you can raise the price from obscene to insane.

If we based our national defense purchasing on logic, that would make a lot of men in very nice suits not at all happy. And since those men own all our politicians, their happiness is the only thing that is important.

Every Time (4, Insightful)

dcw3 (649211) | about 10 months ago | (#46055957)

Just to be fair, can anyone name a U.S. aircraft that was delivered ontime and at or below budget since the U2 or SR71? This is SOP, not that it's right.

Re:Every Time (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 10 months ago | (#46056015)

I was talking to someone about the troubles we had developing and fielding an aircraft. He assumed I was talking about the F-35. I was telling him my tales of the F/A-18. People forget so fast that the old planes they like had similar problems. You really want a tale of waste and over-expenditure, look at the history of the F-111.

Re:Every Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056119)

Anyone got any comparison of how military contractors are fairing these days in terms of delivering things on time and on budget compared to in the past? Just wondering if some of the successful aircraft of the mid/late 20th century like the F86, U2, B52, F4, F14, F15, F16 etc had these sorts of problems or if this is something that has become more common recently? Perhaps as the systems in these aircraft have got more complicated.

Re:Every Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056379)

F-111.

You mean the previous attempt to design one airframe to meet the disperate requirements of the two services?

Re:Every Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056601)

It is hard to determine if v1.0 of anything is going to be truly successful. I am not saying that we should complete every single project, but sometimes it is better just to finish that first version, because it just may become a workhorse. These are large complex and expensive things to build. With that comes great risk, but also great potential for reward.

Re:Every Time (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#46056191)

Just to be fair, can anyone name a U.S. aircraft that was delivered ontime and at or below budget since the U2 or SR71? This is SOP, not that it's right.

There is a solution to this: Public prediction markets [wikipedia.org] . No large public spending project should go forward unless informed investors, wagering their own money, believe it has at least a 50% chance of meeting the budget/schedule.

Re:Every Time (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#46056301)

can anyone name a U.S. aircraft that was delivered ontime and at or below budget since the U2 or SR71?

What do those two planes have in common? They were both designed when Kelly Johnson ran the Skunk Works. Our biggest problem is that he retired.

Re:Every Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056623)

Our second biggest problem is that as a result of some contractors bilking the government, there's massive oversight of everything.

90% of the time when you see a major military contract go into the shitter, it's not just the contractor's fault. Often the customer is involved too.

For one, while some of the methods of oversight used by the government (such as EVMS...) work great for production contracts and for service contracts, they SUCK for development contracts. When you're doing engineering development, you're either regurgitating a rehash of an existing solution (EVMS works for this) or you're pushing the envelope and exploring the unknown. EVMS sucks for the latter, because you can't *plan* for the unknown, and as soon as you start going off-plan (because you can't plan for the unknown), instead of solving the technical problems, all of the engineers are too busy in status meetings instead.

There's also scope creep and replans - often the customer makes a change after contract award that would've been FAR cheaper to implement if it had been part of the original RFP (because it would've driven a fundamental architectural change to achieve in a cost effective manner.

Look at VH-71 - As I understand it Lockheed was on schedule and within budget for Increment 1, which was a set of aircraft designed to the original proposed spec. The problem is, mere days after the contract award, the customer wanted a ton of new capabilities, and the disaster that was increment 2 was born. The new requirements drove airframe changes in a contract that was proposed to use an existing airframe with no modifications. The costs skyrocketed leading to the whole thing getting cancelled.

I recall reading some past news about the F-35 in that the government reprioritized the Marine STOVL variant to be the top priority, when in the original development plan it was supposed to be the last variant. Why was it the last variant? It was the hardest to achieve and depended upon the development of the more basic variants for its development to go smoothly. Instead, to achieve the USMC STOVL variant, they need to do everything at once without any incremental development as originally planned. Recipe for disaster...

Re:Every Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056463)

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Re:Every Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056655)

No, OP said *AFTER* the U-2 or SR-71. Wikipedia sez:
U-2 Introduction: 1957
SR-71 Introduction: 1966
A-4 Introduction: October 1956

No lollipop for you! And I'd expand that: What was the most recent defense project where the per unit cost is over $1 million that was delivered on time and under total budget?

captcha:rulers

Just to be fair, can anyone name a U.S. aircraft that was delivered ontime and at or below budget since the U2 or SR71? This is SOP, not that it's right.

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Re:Every Time (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46056499)

To be even fairer, look back at the B-52 - it took a long time to get it to the level it is today. They spent quite of bit of extra money and time [wikipedia.org] upgrading the aircraft, fixing problems / upgrading systems. Of course, compared to modern aircraft, the 1960's era B-52 was just a couple of engines, a wing and some weird controls attached by steel cables. The DOD has never purchased a plane more complex than a Piper Cub on time and under budget.

Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46055965)

Seems that politicians only look at best case scenario's in order to get projects funded.
Then when shit hits the fan they say, "we can't cancel now, that would cost more than finishing".
But they don't really know how much it costs to finish and their promises are still based on the best case scenario.

Re:Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056143)

Don't forget - we can't cancel these projects because they'd cost jobs. Warren AFB is the largest employer in Wyoming. Imagine that. We can't stop coming up with new and more expensive ways to kill brown people because we are now holding local economies around military installations hostage. Shut us down and you'll impact a lot of innocent people! Turns out we didn't pay a damn bit of attention when Eisenhower warned everyone about the military-industrial complex.

Re:Politics (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#46056527)

$392 billion spent to create 125,000 jobs (fictitious or not...)

Value for money?

Close 100 more School Districts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46055971)

1. American Way - close School Districts and move kids to sheds and trailers.
2. Saving pass on F-xx projects.
3. Call for more H1B visas because kids are now dumb.

"God Bless America"

Re:Close 100 more School Districts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056515)

You've got it a bit backward. The H1Bs are part of the gravy train, and they render our kids irrelevant, so why bother spending money on education.

In all honesty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056047)

just buy the Eurofighter already; it's a better bird. I hate the NIH syndrome the US exhibits. All in the name if cronyism with the military industrial complex.

The French and Swedes build better fixed wing and helos anyway.

Fat defense contract conundrum (3, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | about 10 months ago | (#46056051)

This is a structural problem, and seems a tough nut to crack. Ike pointed out the problem more than half a century ago, but there is no apparent solution/alternative.

Re:Fat defense contract conundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056305)

One thousand times this. Someone who remembers the warnings from history. Sadly our leaders do not.

Re:Fat defense contract conundrum (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 10 months ago | (#46056365)

Yes, there is an alternative for the US, but one that at least one major political party can't stomach:
1. Acknowledge that trying to take over the world militarily is a stupid goal. (And that's the only logical reason for a military budget basically matching the entire rest of the world combined)

2. Stop pissing off the rest of the world so much. That will involve ending US support for really nasty dictators, using diplomacy and trade negotiations rather than military threats to move foreign countries in the direction the US wants. In addition, this will probably involve convincing Israel to behave in accordance with international law, which it hasn't for a really really long time.

3. Ramp down military spending to sane levels while ramping up non-military programs that can keep the people who used to work on military applications employed. There's a lot we could have these people working on instead: Renewable energy, high-speed rail systems, space vehicles, better commercial aircraft, self-driving cars, medical technology, etc.

4. Go after fraud and corruption with a vengeance. Prosecute and jail those who are bribing government officials to get sweet sweet contracts with no penalties for failing to deliver the promised product in the promised timeline.

This isn't impossible: The UK basically made the same choice decades ago.

Giant F-ing Boondoggle (5, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | about 10 months ago | (#46056141)

The F-35 is expected to cost over a trillion dollars over ten years and that's not including the billions in cost over-runs. And then the GOP has the gall to talk about shutting down PBS and the Post Office as a waste of government money.

This plane's engine is being built in Speaker John Bohener's state of Ohio. No wonder funding for it will never, ever be cut. The plane could cost 20 trillion, bankrupt the entire United States, and they'd still continue to fund it, by cutting all healthcare, schools, welfare, social security, and foreclose on every American whether they can or not.

This is the GOP mantra. Build more planes and ships we don't need so that defense contractors can be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams... Remember the kid that ran over 4 people in his pickup truck and got off with the defense of "affluenza"? his parents are government contractors. Follow the money. We're being fleeced by the military and then told that the USA is broke if we dare ask for any social service.

The pentagon's photocopier paper budget is bigger than PBS. But what did Mitt Romney promise to cut during his (failed) campaign?

We're headed for a third-world nation banana-republic where the military has everything and the citizens live in mud huts.

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056295)

Yep, Boehner will be lead to shut down the government, even though he knew it wouldn't work out well, he knew it would be more costly, and he knew the people making him do it wouldn't be pacified.

But damn if he's going to lose out on his bacon.

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (1)

isorox (205688) | about 10 months ago | (#46056335)

Yep, Boehner will be lead to shut down the government, even though he knew it wouldn't work out well, he knew it would be more costly, and he knew the people making him do it wouldn't be pacified.

But damn if he's going to lose out on his bacon.

Is America planning on invading Denmark?

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (1)

isorox (205688) | about 10 months ago | (#46056309)

We're headed for a third-world nation banana-republic where the military has everything and the citizens live in mud huts.

Score -1: uncomfortable truth

However as is always the case in america, 45% of the country will blame the republicans and their supporters, 45% will blame the democrats and their supporters.

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056659)

However as is always the case in america, 45% of the country will blame the republicans and their supporters, 45% will blame the democrats and their supporters.

Yeah, but what I want to know is, who will the remaining 20% blame?

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056421)

This plane's engine is being built in Speaker John Bohener's state of Ohio. .

The F135 engine for the F-35 aircraft is a Pratt & Whitney product, from Connecticut, not a GE engine from Ohio.

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (1)

alen (225700) | about 10 months ago | (#46056555)

relax, the f22 and the f35 are designed to replace fighters that are now 40 years old
the original F16 and f18 designs are from the 1970's. we haven't had a new fighter in the air force for almost 40 years now and this is a huge leap in current capabilities

the cost is a trillion $$$$, but the old fighters also need a lot of money for maintenance and their airframes will soon need to be completely rebuilt. its not like this money will never be spent. its either new toys, or keep on fixing the old toys

Re:Giant F-ing Boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056665)

"Headed for?"

We're already there. Wake up.

Offshore SOFTWARE and you get back crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056147)

So it goes. Those asiasn-indians know software aobut as well as they can keep cattle off the streets, ride inside train cars instead of ON train cars, and just about as well as they know how to pave roadways WITH ASPHALT not dirt.

Just give it up already (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056179)

And buy it from China, its cheaper and has the exact same specifications.

I had a dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056249)

... that all engineers working for military contractors would walk away from their positions. I did - and so can you.

Depressing (1)

XilE (2952649) | about 10 months ago | (#46056307)

We could be spending this money on other issues that could do a lot of good plus you don't need an Army when everyone has nuclear bombs. Roads Schools Disease Research The Homeless Starving Kids Clean Energy

Re:Depressing (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#46056437)

We could be spending this money on other issues that could do a lot of good plus you don't need an Army when everyone has nuclear bombs.

Sure, if your first response to any kind of attack in the future is going to be nuking them until they glow. Most people would prefer a little less aggressive military policies.

Shocked! Shocked I say! (4, Insightful)

Sand_Man (81150) | about 10 months ago | (#46056371)

When has this misguided notion that we can have 1 base A/C be all things to all branches EVER worked out?

F-111 anyone?

The F-14 was a great A/C. For the Navy. The F-15 is one of the best ever, but would be useless as a carrier based A/C.
Anyone around fro all the fun and games that was involved in the F/A-18A rollout, and what was required for that to become a useful platform?

This flawed paradigm is why the A-6 was around for so long, they couldn't field a suitable replacement.

I expect that by the time the F-35 is out and working for everyone, it will cost the same as 3 well run, more narrowly scoped projects.

I thought the bad news was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056409)

that since the 3D printing revolution, we can all 3D print a fully functional F-35, with trained pilot, at home?

Complexity is not a feature, it is a bug (4, Interesting)

leandrod (17766) | about 10 months ago | (#46056413)

So many failures by trying to be all things to all people as long as the taxpayer foots it all.

My native Brazil has decided on ðe Saab JAS 39E Gripen NG, as did Switzerland where I lived. Two very different countries, very different needs, and sure enough the Gripen even in its NG version cannot do all the F-35 should be able to do — but it does not need to. It is more of a versatile aircraft, doing passably well in its intended deployments at a reasonable cost, than a do-it-all.

It is not to say the US should just ditch ðe F-35 and localise ðe Gripen just as ðey did with ðe Harrier. But it could be an strategy: to have a flexible (‘swing role’ is what Saab calls it) main aircraft, perhaps the evolution of ðe F-18, perhaps a pared down F-35 just as ðe Chinese did, and dedicated planes to do things ðe main platform cannot do, such as ðe A and B planes: ðe A-10, ðe Harrier &, yes, ðe B-52, or evolutions or replacements ðereof. Theoretically a single plane should be cheaper to keep ðan several ones, but not when its costs spiral out of control.

Glad I didn't take that job! (2)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 10 months ago | (#46056445)

I had a job offer to do systems engineering work on ALIS in Orlando. Glad I passed!

education...? (1)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about 10 months ago | (#46056477)

Maybe the result of the next gen CS programs? patching together someone else code without actually implementing almost anything from scratch....just saying...

Pentagon Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46056663)

This movie [youtube.com] always comes to mind when ever I hear about one of these big projects:

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