Thursday, August 21, 2014

Refusing To Follow The American Model


From the start, the F-35 was a testosterone fuelled dream. Jonathan Manthorpe writes:

The F-35 concept was born of fantasy fertilized by hubris. The idea was to design and build a single plane that could perform a multitude of air warfare tasks, and which also would incorporate all the technological wizardry of stealth, sensor fusion and manoeuvrability. The F-35 was intended to be an aerial combat fighter, equally at home on land or aircraft carrier bases, also capable of performing the very different role of close air support for ground troops. And there are to be three versions: one for the Navy, a conventional Air Force model and a short takeoff and landing version for the Marine Corps.

To cover the costs, the United States assumed that its NATO partners would buy into the dream. However, things have not worked out that way. Canada has put a hold on its purchase of the jet. So have a host of other NATO countries:

While Canada has put the purchase of the F-35s on hold pending reports from a National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, Italy and the Netherlands already have announced sharp cutbacks in the number of the planes they plan to buy. Denmark is holding a competition that will test the F-35 against other fighters, such as Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet. Canada may well take the same route.

The U.K., Norway, Turkey and Israel also are tempering their initial enthusiasm for the F-35 project and have cut back on the numbers they planned to order a decade ago.

And the cost of the jets keeps rising:

When the programme was started in 2001, the Pentagon signed on for 2,852 planes at a cost of $233 billion. But as design problems mounted and costly delays continued, the Pentagon reduced its order by 409 fighters. Just to hold the lifetime cost of the programme to the gargantuan $1.5 trillion now forecast, 3,000 of the F-35s will have to be built and sold.

The United States may fly the F-35. But the country's deficit will rise. And NATO countries do not wish to follow the American model.


Anonymous said...

Alas, Lockheed has screwed the pouch with their F-35 project. And the last thing Canada needs is an under performing singled engine bomb truck (as the Mound might say). The twin engined Boeing Super Hornet would be a better alternative for Canada compared with the single engined F-35.

Lockheed has developed some impressive flying machines in the past, for example the skunk works U-2 and SR-71. However, the F-35 is not in that league.

In the mid 1950s my father spent three months training on the Lockheed Neptune in California, and then spent a year training RCAF pilots (I have Lockheed publicity photographs of him posing, in the company of prototype playboy bunnies, in front of Canadian bound Neptunes - way to go, Dad!). The Lockheed Neptune proved to be a competent design that performed well, unlike the F-35.

I'm sure that Lockheed can do better in their next design iteration. But the F-35, it just ain't there. As it stands, it's kind of like the 21st century Stuka.

The Mound of Sound said...

The writing was on the wall for stealth when Obama canceled the F-22 production run at just over 170 of the planned 800. Keeping the F-35 project going despite continual delays, performance shortfalls and cost-overruns has been Washington's sop to Lockheed.

Recently the head of the USAF Air Combat Command, general Hostage, came grousing for a new warplane arguing that the F-35 can't carry enough ordinance. The US Naval Institute is also challenging the 35's survivability with its limited, frontal-aspect only stealth cloaking. The Navy has figured out only all-aspect stealth is acceptable.

With both the USAF and USN now clamoring for a "6th Generation" warplane to make good the 5th Gen, F-35's shortcomings, buying this thing is more a political than a military decision.

Owen Gray said...

The whole program is a textbook case of what Eisenhower warned his nation about in his last speech, Mound.

Owen Gray said...

It makes no sense to buy a plane or a car until you've kicked the tires, Anon.

Toby said...

Last year there was a suspect airliner off our West Coast and the USAF had to scramble a couple of fighters to escort it into Vancouver because Canada doesn't have any aircraft suited for protection of our own borders, at least none out here. Successive federal governments have pinched and squandered Canada's defensive abilities. I suspect that this is because the US likes it this way. If Canadians want to be treated as more than the 51st state we will have to disengage from American ambitions and defend our own borders.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Toby. We're big boys and girls. We should be able to make our own decisions.

Toby said...

As I understand it, the F35 is primarily a first strike weapon; thus the stealth. So, which targets does Canada need to strike first? Why?

Owen Gray said...

Good question, Toby. The F-35 was developed by the Bush administration to fit its doctrine of preventative war.

Is that our government's doctrine?

Steve said...

The best plane for Canada may be a drone Dash 8. The F35 is all about over the horizon missiles and nothing about fight. A Dash 8 could do this better. In both cases launch without visual confirmation is almost unheard of. MH17 a case in point.

Owen Gray said...

Of course, Steve, these folks are mesmerized by the latest technology. The Dash 8 may be superior technology, but it is old technology.

mogs moglio said...

F-35 as you have stated Owen is a testosterone project, why do you think Harper's Imperium is attached to it?

I'll answer my own question: because he has none: a drunk teenager was found in his own driveway: 24 Sussex drive;'s+driveway

What kind of example is Steve the droll boy exactly setting here?

The man wants to burden us with his crap; short shift scientists and listen to his preaching "drunken" rants:

"True, Stephen Harper was never an accountant. His father was an accountant, his two brothers are accountants; and, in what has been described as young Stephen’s first and most radical act of rebellion, he rose up and announced, Gee, Dad, sorry, but I’d rather be…wait for it…an economist."

"Some people try to say that the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an economist, has finally woken up to the economic crisis that has gripped the planet, and It took him long enough. During this fall’s election, he had falsely downplayed disastrous economic news around the globe by telling Canadians the fundamentals of our economy were sound and by insensitively offering really bad stock market advice. ” Instead of taking action, the Conservatives delivered the now-infamous non-economic statement that included no stimulus for the economy. Instead, it was like a poke in the eye to those Canadians being handed pink slips or watching their retirement savings vanish before their eyes.” And the Canadian public must rightfully also now decide if the Conservative change of heart is genuine or a clever optical illusion, and what all should Canadians now do? All Canadians have a right to be skeptical with Harper’s future standing now too after a firestorm of criticism and a near-death experience for his Conservative government..."

Now Steve you have been weighed and measured and you are not fit to be Prime Minister.


Owen Gray said...

We can only hope that the majority of Canadians have -- when they go the the polls -- reached the same conclusion, Mogs.