|F-35 (top) with the plane it was supposed to replace, the F-16 (bottom).|
New information has become available that arrives at rather blunt conclusions regarding the F-35 program.
Here is an excerpt:
"As new roles are being considered for non-stealthy jets, a long-standing frustration with the costs of operating the military’s stealth fighter fleet is being exposed at the highest levels of the Pentagon. Asked by a reporter on Jan. 14 for his thoughts about the F-35, then-Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller referred to his department’s largest weapon system program as a “piece of shit.”"
Conclusions we predicted back in 2015. We remained underwhelmed with the F-22A going back to 2011 as least. Now the USAF appears to have had enough of the F-22 as well. Frankly, we are tired of spilling ink on stealth fighters. And the F-35 in particular.
It is all too easy to watch stealth fighter proponents stumble over their own hyperbole. If stealth fighters are force multipliers - then by [their own] definition we do not need very many of them. This is surely what happened to the F-22A.
"During the F-22’s first Operational Readiness Inspection the aircraft was rated excellent in all categories with a 221-0 kill ratio against opposing aircraft." Source
Stealth fighter proponents are about to repeat the same myopic exaggerations for the F-35.
So be it.
Then purchasing more F-35s is unnecessary. We agree.
The truth is, with their over-hyped narrow x-band RCS and LPI radar, vulnerability to long-wave VHF/UHF/L-band air defense, exotic high acquisition/operating cost, poor mission-capable rate, carriage restrictions, uneven capability, and common weapons use with 4th gen fighters so susceptible to the same countermeasure ---- stealth fighters operate more like money pits --- than any real all-around capability - regardless of national origin. Maybe the Russians and Chinese can make them work? We're not holding our breath. New the US Air Force is openly discussing developing a new F-16 like aircraft in addition to the F-16V buy. These were all the missions the F-35 was supposed to do. But F-35 has no internal AIM-9 station - so the designers and the Pentagon could never figure out what their jet really was.
The real issue is eventually whatever advantages stealth enjoys will be mitigated rapidly especially once other nations start building them - which is precisely what is occurring. Today or in the near future stealth fighters will be resigned to behaving like non-stealth aircraft; that being having to maneuver, use ECM, use expendables, require dedicated electronic attack/suppression support, and fly high-speed nap of the earth for terrain masking. See here.
Sensor design cycles will always outpace stealth airframe design cycles - so it simply makes more sense to jam enemy radar rather than the nail-biting involved in trying to defy them. High-speed stealth has no advantages in the infrared spectrum regardless due to the laws of thermodynamics. Source
So what happens is you come full circle back to the traditional power projection airpower employment environment - regardless of stealth. The difference is - you squandered massive amounts of money on stealth on the way - just to end up back where you started.
|The F-16CJ Block 50|
Stealth should be repurposed to low-cost subsonic disposable platforms like drones, 'loyal wingman', loitering munitions, and cruise missiles. Especially as defensive maneuvering when attacked is not recommended by Lockheed stealth designers.
The USAF plan to buy new and F-15EX and F-16V Block 70/72 also calls into question the efficacy of the F-22A. Americans were told the F-22A and F-35 series - would dominate all conceivable missions. The F-22A is now over 24 years old. The American public is being fleeced by stealth marketeers?
Effectively the only virtue in building and fielding stealth fighters is to have your opponent(s) waste money developing them, while you detect them with your AN/APY-9 UHF radar-equipped Advanced Hawkeye E-2D.
Stealth proponents (like the Heritage Foundation) are not fooling the US-Navy. Never underestimate interservice rivalries.
|Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye with new 22 channel UHF-band APY-9 AEW radar|
It turns out that Pentagon reformers like Pierre Sprey were right the whole time. US defense planners need to get their 'blank' together and stop this one-size-fits-all TFX nonsense with a price tags upwards of $1.5 trillion dollars:
The Air Force has - for decades - confounded what fighter pilots require with what stealth requires.
The images here are not in/from the original article. Below is the original article link:
- Fighter portfolio decisions in fiscal 2023 budget
- Review follows ABMS and NGAD strategy decisions
|F-16V Block 70/72 illustration|