F-35 grounded - again

Discussion in 'Modern' started by ivanotter, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    BBC:

    The US has grounded its entire fleet of 51 F-35 fighter jets after the discovery of a cracked engine blade.

    The fault was detected during a routine inspection of an air force version of the jet (F-35A) at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said the Pentagon.

    Different versions are flown by the navy and the marine corps. All have been grounded.

    The F-35 is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons programme. with a cost of nearly $400bn (£260bn).

    The Pentagon said flight operations would remain suspended until the root cause is established.

    Friday's order was the second time in two months planes from the F-35 range have been grounded


    -->> Again!

    Ivan
     
  2. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Yeah... no more tri-service procurements in the future when the individual service requirements are so disparate.
     
  3. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Such things become inevitable as you make something more and more complicated. Fortunately the problem was found before pilots were killed
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Cracked turbine blade - happens all the time. This is a propulsion system issue and may be an isolated case. It also was found on a test bird that is probably seeing some pretty extreme flying. The aircraft still and will continue to have teething pains - just more hype for the media. Beaupower32 works at EDW, if he could talk about it I'm sure we will hear first hand how serious this is.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Flyboy is correct in pointing out this is an engine problem that will be quickly resolved.

    But the main issue is with the reported less than desired performance, and the out of control costs; should this be outright cancelled?

    What we want and what we can afford is mutually exclusive. And I for one, say to cancel this and regroup.
     
  6. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Are you fooking serious? Cancel a program over these many years and this progress costing almost half a trillion dollars. That would be foolish!

    Certainly this program is a poster child for procurement eff-ups, but we should not throw away the baby with the bath water. That would be just plain stoopid.

    Rather, the gov't should learn a lesson that requirement creep is a truly punishable offense. And Lockheed should pay for their lack of meeting milestones. Both parties are at fault.

    And if you ask me, the marine corps cannot justify a STOVL platform. They should have eaten the USAF or USN version and been done with the rivalry. Plain silly in concept.

    I will say that the tir-service end result will be phenomenal. But at what cost?
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I am serious. 500 billion spent so far to build an aircraft that is a sub performer and grossly over priced.

    We cant afford it. All of it wasted money.
     
  8. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    So your recommendation is to kill the program. Really.

    Say no more.
     
  9. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Well, yes no well fine -

    Hurl more money at something just because you have already spent a fortune on it might not be a good idea. Something like hurling good money after bad money.

    Even if it is an engine problem more than a structural problem of the air frame (phew, no more cracked spars, please), it does set the whole project back.

    It might be the time to start seriously looking at it again. Is it affordable? time over-runs? The buyers might start to look at having carriers with no aircraft and so on. Is it so late in time and so expensive that it is now impossible?

    On that note: alternatives?

    1) Dust of the Harriers? it seems going too far back in time
    2) Upgrade Super Hornets? end of life for the hornets?
    3) Buy Rafale? wow, that would be a new
    4) Chuck the A version and go for Eurofighter? Inclusive of USAF?

    There are few alternatives, as I see it. It is as though we have painted ourselves into a corner. This project now HAS TO succeed, despite anything. And that is never a good strategy.

    Just a thought.

    Ivan.
     
  10. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    It's not just the US guys, this program is providing a fifth generation aircraft to no less than 11 other countries, who have all poured money into the program and many of the countries are hanging out for the Lightning and have had to upgrade current fleets to accommodate this shortfall.

    The WORLD NEEDS the F-35………….
     
  11. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Well, maybe. But can the world afford the F-35?

    Just because money has been spent does not entail that more money has to be used IF the project is a dead-end.

    Are there any alternatives at this late stage? should alternatives have been found years back?

    Ivan
     
  12. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    If you look back at other military aircraft programs over the years, this same theme has been repeated many times...Too expensive, too many problems, we don't need it, etc. Too many people suffer from short term memory loss. The F-16 had very similar questions about it, yet they continued to "throw money" at the program and the results speak for themselves.

    F-15s had engine troubles during development that continued into the first aircraft introduced.:
    It should be noted that there were frequent groundings of the F-15 during development and early in its deployment because of engine troubles.

    Here is an interesting GAO report from 1977 on the progress of the F-16 program:
    U.S. GAO - National Defense: Status of the F-16 Aircraft Program


    F-16 vs F-35 development article
    Why the F-35?: Comparing the F-16's development with the F-35

    So again, we are looking at some similarities with current, great aircraft. A problem like this with the powerplant can likely be resolved the same way the F100 engine troubles in the F-15 were.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The bolded part is what it's all about. For the customers involved, both in the USA and abroad, there is no alternative to the F-35. So the F-35 will be produced, even if that means fielding them in penny packets, and solving the issues not when those needed to be addressed, but when the plane is in service.

    As for he blog entry Eric is pointing at:
    Having objectives is one thing, meeting them is all another ball game. The F-35 was suposed to use the off-the-shelf 'nuts bolts', in order to develope it produce fast - how come the 'incorporation of new and decisive technologies' is one of the objective? The F-16A was using the engine that was being developed for F-15, was it not, along the simple radar - so, old, not new technology? The F-16 succeeded in the 'implementation of the the rapid production ramp-up', we have yet to see that to happen for the F-35.
     
  14. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    The point is that these kinds of concerns have propped up on most military aircraft projects. Keep in mind that the grounding for the cracked blade is precautionary. It's better to stand down to understand and correct an issue. It may be no big deal, it may be. The question is, are you willing to risk an airframe and a pilot on conjecture? The is a powerplant problem, not an F-35 problem.

    Has the F-35 had development problems? Yes, but so have a lot of other aircraft that are now in use by multiple countries around the world. Can all the countries that are interested in the F-35 replace it with something else? Yes and no. They could probably find something else to do the job, but with less capability and with an older airframe.

    Saying that prospective buyers might start to look at having carriers with no aircraft is not really going to happen. There would be no point deploying a ship that large, whose mission is to project power and provide a base of operations for aircraft to just go float around.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The problem child is the F-35B, the "A" and "C" models are doing quite well considering they are the most advanced combat aircraft flying today.
     
  16. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Yes, I would also ground it before we are losing pilots.

    The B model is problematic. That I think all agree upon. It should be chucked before more money is hurled in the bin for this.

    The view I have is that it might be the very best but who can afford it? I would love to drive a Maseratti, but alas, can't afford it. But it is surely the best.

    If time and budget over-runs will continue, the cost per copy might be more than what the different countries can carry. THAT I think is the bottom line now.

    I don't think anybody has got any problems with the ambition level, but if the ambition level becomes non-affordable, that is where the problem comes in.

    Whether Martin has managed the project properly is something else again. Forcing them to pay a few billions back might just bank-rupt them instead and then what?

    I think the problem is that some of the countries may bail and then US might be sitting with impossible numbers to fill for the project to be profitable. and that might not be possible?

    Will there be an even worse problem soon: If the thing is not getting out of development and into squadron service, will there be a contender? after all, time is running and the competition is not just sitting and twidling their thumbs, are they?

    Ivan
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    15 years too late to make this decision but why didn't late 1990s DoD opt for a ground attack variant of F-22?
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #18 FLYBOYJ, Feb 24, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
    Understand a few things here. This aircraft has been under development for over 15 years, to totally kill it now is foolish. Its one of the most advanced weapons system ever built. Problems on this program have been magnified thanks to the media who tends to demonize and large military defense program during peacetime. LMCO is not blameless with regards to some of the problems encountered, but that's to be expected during the development of any advanced weapons system. A larger piece of the pie that is missing is interference from "the customer." I've been in the aviation business full time 33 years. Most of that time was spent working on government contracts. I worked on the P-3, F-117A, B-2 and a few drone and several aircraft maintenance contracts and I could tell you that many of these programs suffered delays and cost over runs based on continual changes and interference by the customer, and most of the time this is never reported.

    As Eric pointed out, the last large fighter procurement in the US also had its share of issues and cost concerns. I'd like someone to tell me that the F-15 turned out to be a lemon! But if this was 1977, you'd hear the same whine from the news media about the F-15 and F-16 as being said about the F-35 today - as a matter of fact, being old enough to remember when the F-15 and F-16 went into service, it almost like déjà vu.

    The F-35B has issues but they can be overcome. Personally my only issue with the program is the cost, especially during these hard economic times. Be advised folks that the contractor is demonized because of the cost of these programs, but many if not all the time; the cost is driven by customer intervention and even agreed upon during negotiations.

    For many years we hear stories about the "Military Industrial Complex" as if there's some Howard Hughes or Tony Stark (Iron Man) type character driving the US defense industry. In my experience, it's the exact opposite. It's the internal structure of the US DoD and the legions of civil servants who are continually attempting to justify their jobs who are creating a great part of the problem. Defense contracts are just there to give these folks what they are asking for!!!

    A final note - remember the $600 toilet seat? I was actually involved in that debacle many years ago. In reality the US government was actually overcharged about $40 at the end of the day, but you never hear about that one. And you also never heard that the toilet seat AND cover were MIL-Spec manufactured and was constructed from a fire resistant type plastic that was similar in size and construction to a large plastic fender used on a sport’s car. Go on Google and price what a front fender cost for say a corvette, then multiply by 2 that pays for the paperwork and contract people overseeing the whole thing! In the end I think the cost was justified.
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    It was designed as an air to air combat aircraft from the start and the "JSF" (which eventually was won by LMCO) was part of a two-aircraft equation, air-to-air and air-to-ground made by the DoD in the early 90s. It's weapons bay was not initially designed to deploy air to ground ordnance.
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    There's been nothing publicly encountered on the F-35 program that has jeopardized any pilot and this grounding shows the DoD is taken steps to mitigate any risks to those who are flying this aircraft.
     
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