US Defence Cuts Announced: F-35 program delayed AGAIN

Discussion in 'Modern' started by BombTaxi, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Pentagon Cuts: Defense Spending Expected To Save $100 Billion

    Worst news here (for a Brit like me) is that the F-35 could be delayed by two more years, leaving our new White Elephant-class megacarriers with nothing but Merlins and Lynxes until god-knows-when. Anyone fancy fitting Sidewinders to a Lynx? :rolleyes::evil: Or a £10 flutter on the F-35 going the way of Skybolt?
     
  2. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Its that damn STOVL version that the marines insist they have. Personally I think STOVL is a waste in our current non-coldwar, UCAV persistent environment. We should shitcan it immediately.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Watch what you read from Huffington - they've been known to put a real liberal spin on their articles.

    I saw the article and it actually said this;

    "The Pentagon's largest weapons program, the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is facing another restructuring that could extend the program's development phase by up to two years, said a third source familiar with the plans."

    That third source was not named.

    The F-35B is the part of the program running behind because of the complexity of the aircraft. The F-35A flight test program has been running rather smooth and been lumped into some of the bad press of its sister ship. Here's a better article on this...

    For Lockheed's F-35, 2011 may be a do-or-die year | Business | Dallas Business, Texas Bu...

    Lockheed-martin can't afford any more delays or screw ups and they know this. They already given money back to the government for some of their delays and may face more penalties if they don't comply with their current contract.
     
  4. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Agree about the Huffington and Puffington Post, it is a liberal rag. But the F-35B has been developed to fight a war that has not materialized and our means of fighting such a war has changed over the course of its development.

    It really boils down to whether an MEF needs F-35s on their light carriers. But are we really gonna send an MEF somewhere alone where we wont have Navy Carrier support nor indigenous runway assets? I think the likelihood is very low and cannot justify the huge costs and performance hit to the airplane. With these manned assets and the predator follow-on, Orion, having a 5 day loiter with 1500lb of ordnance I can't believe that there are not other alternatives.

    The cost of the F-35B is killing the Marine's budget. If they continue to choose to stick with it, they will be forced to make some rather serious cuts to other weapon systems that are equally important, if not more, to their mission.
     
  5. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Understand about the spin from HuffPo. I read it with the same neutrality/cynicism that I do Fox :lol: Still, any more delays are, from this side of the pond, an absolute nightmare. If it weren't for the political impossibilities, I would be advocating QEII and PoW sailing with Rafale's on deck...
     
  6. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    You guys gave up on the B, right? Or was that just a MoD Quadrennial Review recommendation? I thought you had already decided upon shifting to the C version and modding your carriers appropriately?
     
  7. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    I think it is a correct observation that it is the B version which is problematic, but that it unfortunately will spill over to the A and C versions. Bad press may kill the entire project.

    That said, cracking spars and having Mr. Gates to put it on probation does not instill any confidence in it.

    Maybe one of the major problems facing all the a/c developments is the very long development cycle.

    Maybe we have got into the habit of expecting this development to take 15+ years, whereas we should perhaps look at a paradigm shift here.

    Developing a new car is not 15+ years (yes, I do know there is a difference between a Ford Ka and an F-35), but why do we accept such long development times?

    I do understand the need for "joint" programmes and development of common goals, etc. But have we sacrificed effectivenes and responsivenes on the altar of the politically correct "jointnes"?

    Looking at the Super Hornet, having buyers without even a hint of a carrier, it is a more wholesome project as it was designed for a specific environment (I think). The F-35 comes across as a compromise in any way possible.

    Modern software integration is a major part of all a/c developments, but could it be cut down?

    Imagine fielding a new a/c in 2 years? 3 years? 5 years max? That would do something for fielding the right solution at the right time instad of fielding the right solution to a 15+ year old situation (which obviously has moved on anyway).

    Maybe the brits will have to go back to the Harriers or find something else to fly. The ripple effect can turn into a tsunami.

    Yours,
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    What's more impossible...having carriers without fighters or Rafales?

    The super carriers are such a nonsense in the first place I expect no joy from them. Bad ideas lead to bad ideas.
     
  9. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    There is some truth to that. Poor programmatic oversight is surely an issue that DoD is fully aware of. But another is that aircraft integration (both military and civil) are taking on a different mantra wrt development lifecycle timelines. F-35, A400M, A380, B787, A350, Sukhoi Superjet, etc. There are discussions that the typical 5yr "approval" cycle needs to be 7-10 in the future generations. And that does not include the engineering development and prototype phases.
     
  10. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    ...and that may be our undoing.

    We may have to look at a paradigm shift in development cycles. otherwise we may design equipment now, which we ASSUME will be ok for the changed world situation in 15+ years. Who can predict the world 15+ years from now? and get it right?

    Maybe we have become too obsessed with a goal of 100% where less could do?

    An analogy is the building of the Liberty ships. Maybe not 100% but who could have imagined that a ship could be built in days? ...and they did the job there and then, not two years down the line.

    The moon programme is another example (at least to a layman). Going through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo in a decade was an achievement.

    Compared to that, why must the F-35 be a total of closer to 20+ years?

    Another example is the German MP40 machien gun (the Schmeisser). fantastic and good, but the AK47 is still around, becuase it works, can be operated by novices and is cheap and moderately effective.

    The nation to cut development cycles by a magnitude may be the winner in having equipment solving the issues NOW rather than solving the CURRENT issues in 10 years time. Maybe at a lower cost and at less functionality than desired but still within reason?

    It also touches on all the "jointnes" of all programmes. If everything has to be designed by committee, have we then sacrificed other things on altar of the correctnes of the jointnes?

    Just more thought into it.

    Yours
    Ivan
     
  11. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I think joint programs are about much more than politics. The UK does not possess the infrastructure to develop a combat aircraft alone, thanks to disastrous government interference in the aviation industry during the 60s and 70s. The raw skill may or may not be there, but we lack the factories to build the finished product in, and what private company will invest in new plant unless it is guaranteed a large, multi-national order pool? The current government will not foot the bill, for both financial and (sorry mods) ideological reasons.
     
  12. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    I think that joint development will make more sense IF we have users with very similar requirements.

    The entire F-35 comes across as disparate requirements (USN, USAF, USMC, RN) pooled together because it MUST be "joint" for political reasons.

    As a layman looking into the "tent", the Super Hornet comes across as a more "wholesome" a/c, not because it is not "joint" but because it had to fulfil requirements form users with similar wishes (I think that is fair to say).

    My entire point is as well, as you also stipulated: Nobody can go it alone--> and my addition: AT THE CURRENT PRICE LEVELS.

    If the heavy pricing is also because of the long development cycle and trying to perfect systems (beyond what is really clled for), no wonder nobody can do it alone.

    Now, I am not saying the F-35 can be turned into a low-cost machine, but have we gone too far in perfecting things?

    The development of the Harrier did not take 15-20 years, and i don't thnk the cost was as high as the F-35, so where did we go wrong (if we did go wrng indeed).
     
  13. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    All good points gents, but we are comparing disparate animals.

    The Harrier was a phenomenal leap in airframe and propulsion integration. And it was a success.

    But nowadays, airframe and propulsion integration is passe'. Virtually anybody can do that. Compound that with airframe, propulsion, sensor fusion, avionic, LPI data link, and ISR. The engineering complexity is magnitudes greater.

    We can argue that such integration is not necessary, but we are not fighting the cold war wherein one side might throw masses against the other (with the exception of China perhaps in 25-30yrs). We are talking about nation states with relatively sophisticated anti-air defenses networked into their command/control supported by 4th gen air assets.

    So should we build the modern version of the F-5 or MiG-21? In my opinion, no. Not with the foreseeable threats. But I do question the need for a $$$$$ STOVL airplane given the ability to establish air dominance for virtually any theater of war we car imagine in the near future. Especially if that same airframe will sacrifice the ability to field other airframes or warfighter weapons due to budget constraints.
     
  14. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    The term is "putting one's eggs in one basket" I believe.

    So, certain things have become "run of the mill" stuff in terms of airframe intrgation, etc, and other things have evolved and become more complex. That cannot be surprising.

    The key question is still: why do we accept such long development cycles where equipment is near obsolete when finished?

    Has it got something to do with utilising non-industry standard components, where everything has to be developed from scratch? That will typically push any development cost through the roof.

    I am thinking specifically in terms of software development and this I don't know.

    Maybe the solution is not to have the F-35 running Windows 7 and TCP/IP, but it will surely cut down on costs (It is TCP/IP now?).

    Yours
     
  15. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    If any airplane were running Windows, it'd be in serious trouble. You don't use a consumer grade OS on a complex machine. Most likely it is a stripped down version of BSD or something similar. I would venture to guess it is some kind of hybrid UNIX OS that is set up with only the functionality it needs. THEN the software is developed for the needs of the aircraft.

    Is there "out of the box" software for it? I doubt it. Besides, each generation of aircraft has newer and more complex systems that demand more programming and processing power.

    Maybe a more modular approach to the software is the key. Once you have basic building blocks that all work, adding a module is less labor and time intensive.
     
  16. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    But if the development of a new a/c is more a matter of software (and i can imagine that is more and more key) then integration issues will be the hardest job.

    Storm Shadow could be an example as I would imagine that MBDA would develop it according to their goals and THEN offer the right API's for integration purposes. Anything else woud not make sense.

    Now, if each vendor for the F-35 systems (and I realise of course that there must be quite a few systems) will come with standard API's, sure, there is work to do.

    If every interface must be written from new, I wouldn't even consider buying the equipment but go somewhere else. In the example of the Storm Shadow, I could buy something else which is easier to integrate to.

    Now, surely the software engineers must have software tools, API's, OS's etc to choose from and be building in a modular approach, anything else would not make sense. Then it still remains: Software development measured in years and billions cannot even be compared to any other industrial commercial development, so have we got it wrong (insofar as military development, although unique, must still have the same elements as any other industry).

    Airbus A-380 started development in 1994, but probably 2000 was a better start date for the "real" work to begin. It flew first time in 2007.

    Of course it is different, but is the amount of software integration of different supplier's systems very different?

    It is probably still "paradigm shift". If we expect it to take 15+ years, it will take 15+ years. But what if we try something else?

    We have another thread "how would you design a better (WWII) a/c".

    well, if it could be a modern demonstrator only (agree, I would not like to see Windows 7 in F-35. "blue screen" in the middle of a dog fight would be outright boring, really).

    Imagine that we TELL the sub-suppliers to use TCP/IP, NETBios, standard API's, 100MBIT/s network, etc etc. Basing it on Linux, Oracle DB, or ipod interfaces, etc,etc. As a demonstrator (in terms of integration only), what would be the advantages? lessons to be learned?

    There must be reasons for not having gone down this route somehow (as the engineers would be pretty bright).

    Ivan
     
  17. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Because structural testing would be nightmare, development assurance would be impossible to determine and ensuring protection from security/malicious intrusion (a modern threat that is being exploited by even the least technical nations) would leave the airplane a deathtrap.
     
  18. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I believe the program language for military aircraft is ADA. It is designed for reliability and lack of errors. I believe the programming is already typically modular. A major effort and cost of aircraft software is testing. It has to be intensive. Every variable value, every combination, possible or impossible, has to be tested.

    Here is an example of how a simple software glitch can get you. I was responsible for the Avionic Controls and Displays on the B-2. I was pushing to remove the standby instrument because I had proven that my quad interconnected computer system and eight multifunctional displays was far more reliable than any other aircraft flying including their standby instruments. I lost that argument to the AF. One day I got a report. The B-2 on a test flight had lost all of its displays and had to return to base on the standbys. I was in the hot seat. After analysis, it turned out to be in the main processors (not my responsibility). It turned out that one part of my system did fail, an electromechanical display select switch, which selected the display the cursor was to operate on. The main operating system, the flight management operational flight program (FMOFP) had growth, per contract, for a third crew station, which was not activated. The failed signal the main computers received from the display system was a selection for a display that did not exist, one for the third crew station. The main computer, on receiving this false signal, could not find the non-existent display. With faulty programming, it decided it must have failed and shut itself down. The back up computer immediately recognized the main processor had shut down and took over. Unfortunately it went through the same logic, and it also shut itself down, which turned off all avionics except the flight controls and emergency systems, which include those backup instruments. The software was not tested completely enough. I thought and still do, that it was incompetence. It should have tested out of normal range performance. No normal operating avionics on a two billion dollar aircraft because of simple switch failure. It was fortunate that I had lost that argument.

    I would not nor do I think anyone else would bet there life on Windows working flawlessly, or any other commercial operating system.

    While we developed the B-2, I always felt that the initial emphasis should be on the airframe and the avionics should be delayed to a later date. Avionics for the B-2 was designed in the early 80s with now, very primitive, avionics. You can develop the requirements, develop the software, and test the software (except hardware integration), and then buy the hardware. Indeed, by the time the B-2 was fielded, in 1993, several generations of computers had elapsed. We wanted to upgrade the computers with basically off-the-shelf computers but the software was not compatible with commercial processors. We spent lots of money trying to transfer the software. Redoing software was prohibitively expensive. An example of the changes in avionics occurred in the late 90s. We had communications upgrade that required an upper antenna and a lower antenna. These had to be selectable so we had to have a switch. The aircraft had a multiplex data bus (mil-std-1553) that provided communications. This switch needed a small processor with some memory that would read the bus and command a switch of the antennas. We soon found out that this simple processor and memory to do this simple task would have, IIRC, ten times the throughput and fifteen times the memory of the rest of the thirteen main processors of the avionics system combined. We started downloading task to the antenna switching unit:).

    Sorry for the rambling. I probably have posted some of this before.
     
  19. looney

    looney Member

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    #19 looney, Jan 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
    Tactical Aircraft Force Structure

    The committee will continue to focus on the size and composition of the tactical aircraft force structure. Continued delays in the initial operational capability of the F-35 aircraft have the potential to result in future tactical aircraft force structure shortfalls if service life extensions for legacy aircraft cannot be accomplished.
    With an operational requirement of 1,056 strike fighters, the Department of the Navy projects it can manage a peak strike fighter shortfall of 100 aircraft in 2018. The committee will focus on inventory objectives of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G procurement, the effect of delays in the procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 A through D service life limits, and mission capability of the AV-8B aircraft.

    The Air Force has stated a strike fighter operational requirement of 2,000 aircraft, and, under current procurement and retirement plans, the Air Force does not project a strike fighter shortfall. However, delays in deliveries of the F-35A aircraft will affect the Air Force fighter aircraft inventory. In the 112th Congress, the committee will continue its oversight of: aircraft retirement plans; the F-22 and F-35 aircraft programs; and life extension and modernization programs for the F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft.

    F-35/Joint Strike Fighter

    During the 112th Congress, the committee will continue oversight of the F-35/Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, particularly issues related to the propulsion system. The committee will also continue to exercise oversight of program cost, schedule, and performance of the program.
    With the JSF approximately two-thirds through a 14-year development process, the committee believes that there is still risk in completing JSF development within currently projected cost, schedule, and performance parameters. In the 112th Congress, the committee will continue to receive JSF annual reports and receive testimony and briefings from both the Department of Defense and the Government Accountability Office.

    Bron: Armed Services Committee/Buck McKeon

    Thought it was a good idea to post the text. I found this on a dutch site JSF Nieuws.nl the site keeps track of my countries interest (our airforce wants the JSF) on the JSF.

    Even for the non dutch reading people here, the scource text is useally in there.
     
  20. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Good point.

    I worked in a software company where a small piece of the shuttle software was developed. If you recall, the first shuttle launch was delayed at approx 20 minutes before take-off. More or less as our software was supposed to kick in and run for 5 minutes. The entire space division (I did payroll software ok) hit their knees, and the usual prayer of software developers: "pleaseeee, not in my code".

    It wasn't by the way, but it was a software fault where something wanted to divide by "0".

    These things will happen. I think I remember ADA. Developed in the 70's. Based on a Pascal compiler if my memory serves me right (we wrote compilers ourselves in those days, even OS and micro-code). Probably just as fault prone as anything else, really. Not too many users.

    My point is that if you have a sufficient amount of developers of the tools, the OS, etc, etc (in essence commercially available software) the less faulty the thing will be and the less faults your software will encounter.

    "blue screen" in the middle of a dog fight would be boring, no doubt. Not really time for ctrl-alt-del.

    But there must be some middle ground. Developing even tools from scratch seems to be too much work.

    I would also imagine that the component manufacturers would sell on ease of integration--> standard tools?

    I will still contend that unless we get into a paradigm shift instead of meakly accepting 15+ years of development, we may still have a/c developed for a world that does not exist anymore.
    Ivan
     
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