With LockMart spinning for all they are worth on the Joint Strike Fighter, let’s compare what has been put out today http://www.news.com.au/national/fighter-pilots-are-ecstatic-about-the-raafs-next-generation-joint-strike-fighter/story-fncynjr2-1226861468997 against reality.
Head of the program with the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Bogdan, says that we will be able to buy them for $90m each. This is misleading at best, a blatant lie at worst. Let’s put them to the test, offer $9 billion for a purchase of 100.
It is a complete misrepresentation, and Bogdan knows it. He is talking about the equivalent of buying a car for a certain bargain price, only to then be told, oh, but sire, the seats, carpet, air conditioning, power steering ABS brakes, battery, sound system, paint etc are all extra. Wonder what the ACCC would make of that?
There is a statement made that the only plane better than the JSF now is the F-22. This is rubbish. Today, even Phantoms, Mirages, F-5’s, MiG-21’s etc will kill the JSF. The JSF today is unable to fire weapons and guide them, cannot fly near lightning, is restricted in climb=descent etc. Misleading once again.
If they are talking about if it one day manages to reach full spec, then there are still aircraft that will fly the wings off it. In fact, the Russians and Chinese are in full development and flight test with F-22 (not JSF) competitors. They are far more advanced in terms of being able to fly the full envelope than the JSF, which is still highly restricted.
There is no “magic” with the F-22. I have had classified briefs, admittedly haven’t been told details of signatures etc, but these can be worked out (and there was a clanger that they let out at a brief at Ft Worth that gave a very good idea of what the signature wasn’t.
The fact is [that] they are reliant on stealth and networks. When JSF enters service, it will be a stealth-on-stealth world, with competitors which completely dominate in aero-propulsive performance. The Russians at least have had highly developed networking for decades.
Bogdan speaks of classified capabilities with the JSF, but ignores that the threats also have classified capabilities. LockMart need to make informed guesses as to these capabilities, just as others are entirely capable of making informed estimates as to JSF capabilities.
In fact, some critics have been spot-on about capabilities (such as acceleration and turn) 7 years ago when LockMart was swearing black and blue that those performance attributes would be met in a briefing to our Parliamentary Defence subcommittee.
Further, they misled by making claims about kill ratios, saying that these were done using their “validated and verified” man-in-the-loop simulators. Except, the US Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, the body tasked with ensuring US defence capabilities are operationally suitable, said that the simulators were not adequately validated and verified, and also that the threat libraries uses were inadequate and unrepresentative.
Bogdan said that its dogfighting capabilities were irrelevant, it would never dogfight. This is very similar to the F-4 Phantom of the 1960’s, where it didn’t have a gun, because the kills would all be done by missile. Then the ugly reality of Vietnam intervened, the missile and aircraft performance did not work as advertised, and a gun was quickly retrofitted.
Which begs the question, why does the JSF have a gun? Surely if there is to be no dogfighting, it is just so much lead, weight of gun and ammo that would be better used for fuel or additional missiles?
The fact is, performance does matter, even at longer range, where you still have “jostling” for position. You also need to be able to escape a situation where the enemy has the advantage, but as RAND stated about 6 years ago of the JSF “can’t run, can’t turn, can’t climb”. For that, one of the authors, Dr.John Stillion, was fired, reportedly with RAND under pressure from LockMart.
If the JSF is so good, why did head of USAF Air Combat Command say of the JSF recently “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform.”?
Bogdan says the aircraft is doing very well. The reality is that the DOT&E annual reports have page after page relating to significant deficiencies and problems with the JSF. Price keeps going up, schedule keeps slipping, and capabilities keep reducing.
There are significant, fundamental design flaws that cannot be fixed, they are designed in. On such problem relates to wingtip vortices, due to the design of the wing which is a compromise due to the vertical landing version. Because of this design flaw, these vortices are strong, and can be seen from huge distances, pointing to where the aircraft is. The only real way of fixing this is to design a new wing.
LockMart are trotting out supportive pilots to sell the aircraft and the “new paradigm”. For example, Lt. Col. Chip Berke, who says air combat used to be “speed is life, more is better” but is now “information is life, more is better.” Berke is obviously not too familiar with issues related to so-called “network centric warfare” where the issue of what information to present is much studied. Too much information is just as bad as too little.
For example, in a war, the technology might allow the user to be aware of the details of every single air combat that is occurring on the planet, but does that “more is better” actually assist?
LockMart are also selling the JSF in Australia by spinning the amount of work our local industry will get. The simple fact is, decisions on defence capability should not be made to in effect create a sheltered workshop for our defence industry.
Decisions made for any reason other than to provide the best capability for our fighting men and women can end up killing people, and placing at risk our national sovereignty.
For anyone thinking that the world is a reasonable place, and the political and strategic situation is either static or predictable, are deluding themselves. Crimea is an excellent case in point.
Dr Dennis Jensen is the Federal Member for Tangney in the Australian House of Representatives. He holds a PhD in Materials Science and Physics, and has worked both at Australia’s CSIRO and Defence Science and Technology Organisation.