Saturday, May 09, 2015

The One DOT&E, er DoD SAR Quote You Probably Won't See Anywhere Else

Now with Don Bacon! 
(As in Corrected, Updated and Bumped with Hat Tip to Same)

Don't expect the Punk Journalists, Loyal Babblers, or Faux Reformers (abetted by Punk Journalists) to bother with putting proper perspective around all their little doomsday accounts of what is going on inside the F-35 program. Remember, its all about either trying to kill a program and/or coming up with enough rent money. "P.A.C.E." is the vehicle that they'd drive off the cliff before they'd ever move away from it.

So there is one DOT&E DoD Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) quote out of all the reports and testimonies that comes out of the unexpurgated December 2014 (for 2015) DOT&E Report DoD SAR that I don't see anyone pushing out to the uneducated masses anytime soon. It is the final paragraph of the report's Executive Summary, Page 10:
In summary, the F-35 program is showing steady progress in all areas – including development, flight test, production, maintenance, and stand-up of the global sustainment enterprise. The program is currently on the right track and will continue to deliver on the commitments that have been made to the F-35 Enterprise. As with any big, complex development program, there will be challenges and obstacles. However, we have the ability to overcome any current and future issues, and the superb capabilities of the F-35 are well within reach for all of us
Everything else in the media that surrounds the F-35/DOT&E, DoD SAR, GAO, blah ,blah, blah, reportage is about either rallying the mouth-breathers or herding the sheep.

About the Update: I had meant to identify the report I linked to as the SAR, but let myself get in a hurry and used the incorrect reference at the link that originally led me to the document instead. My 'bad', but it doesn't change the essence of the post or the point either. This update exists because I loathe inaccuracies, even mine and no matter how they are identified.
If anything, the quote is more relevant to my point coming from the SecDef Office SAR than the DOT&E annual report:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

F-35 Transonic Acceleration vs. an F-16 Block 60 'Hot Rod'

UAE's Block 60 in early livery
over the Arizona Desert (original source)
Updated (at bottom of post) and 'bumped'

'Tim A,' in the comments of my last series of posts covering F-35 KPPs and 'Transonic Acceleration', piqued my interest in doing a comparative analysis of the F-35A's transonic acceleration KPP against a hypothetical, lightweight Block 60 F-16E that LM built for UAE. We can only 'estimate' and in the case of the F-16E/F the estimates can, I believe, be regarded as fair approximations since they are based upon F-16 Block 50 data in hand. Excursions away from the F-35 KPP data will be more presumptive, but we will not venture too far away from 'firmer ground'.

To do the comparison that we want to do, will first require us to make some reasonable assumptions (and remember they are assumptions) concerning the Block 60 aircraft and how they differ from, or are materially the same as, the more well-known Block 50 aircraft.

Major Differences between Block 50 & 60 Aircraft 

There is little 'hard' data available beyond certain basic information on the Block 60 configuration. The United Arab Emirates funded the development of this version in its entirety, and there is no 'Dash 1' manual in the public domain (that I am aware of) that could provide us with the 'authoritative' source for the information we seek. In any case, the factors most important to our discussions will be the establishment of an acceptable aircraft empty weight, and evaluation on what effect the Block 60's higher thrust engine (32,500 lbs vs 29,000 lbs of thrust in afterburner) would have on overall performance.
A major factor that might warp our evaluation of the Block 60 against the F-35A KPP performance--if we let it --would be quantifying the effect of wave and other drag differences between F-16 Block 50 and Block 60. My approach will be to do so in a manner that passes the "Reasonable Man' test.
As the purpose of this exercise is to get an idea as to  how well the 'future' (i.e. F-35A) stands up in comparison to the 'present' (aka F-16 Block 60), I intend to give the Block 60 performance every reasonable benefit of the doubt in surveying the drag differences between the Block 50 and Block 60. I choose to do so in part because I expect the non-wave drag differences between the Block 50 and 60 aircraft will be seen as less important compared to the wave drag contributions. (This should be seen as reasonable, if only because of the relative contributions of the factors proportional to the drag total). I do not expect to be able to characterize the effect of the differences exactly, but we should be able to identify the differences and their effect within a comparatively narrow range with the data in hand.

Block 50 vs Block 60 F-16 Drag and Weight Differences

For our earlier F-16C Block 50 comparison to an F-35A KPP configuration we used this Block 50 configuration:
F-16C Baseline: Full Internal Fuel, 2 AMRAAMs on wingtip launchers and full 20mm load.
The table above was just for a 'baseline' configuration. The source document for the data actually provides us with a wealth of information concerning many different F-16C/D weight and drag configurations that effectively define the F-16C/D transonic performance across a wide region of weight/drag possibilities: 

F-16 Block 50 Drag Count and Weight Differences.
Note that at low drag counts the differences in weights have a greater impact on acceleration times than the differences in drag, In particular, the increases in acceleration time due to a DI below 30 are small (interpolation looks like ~5-6 secs at 32K lbs)

We'll use this information to characterize the effect of the Block 60's external configuration and weight on its total 'drag'. 

For this exploration, we have selected a slightly "better armed" F-16E Block 60 configuration: 

F-16E Block 60 Configuration: Full Internal fuel load not includng CFTs,
Empty CFTs, 4 AMRAAMs and full 20mm load 
The four AMRAAM load was suggested by 'Tim A,', though I kept the CFTs empty because I wanted to keep the Block 60 configuration reasonably light.

The drag differences between the Block 50 and Block 60 F-16 configurations are reduced to the effect of the Block 60's greater total weight and increased drag profile. For the drag numbers in the selected Block 60 configuration I'm using the HAF F-16 manual and an article on CFTs found here. The CFT article mentions specifically the CFT set as "12%" of 300 gallon tank, but that is a general statement that may be the average drag reduction for the 300 in the subsonic region. I selected using 4 as the estimated DI for the CFTs for the transonic region, but even if it is less (perhaps '2') the difference between DI totals of 22 and 24 won't be seen in any guesstimate we can do. In addition, I have elected to treat the Block 60 basic airframe drag the same as the Block 50 in spite of the fact the Block 60 is designed to use and carry sensors/systems that are specific to the type.

Block 50 and lower pods on the left, Block 60 targeting system shown
on the bottom right. Some of the extra weight of the Block 60
comes from carrying an internal infrared search and tracking system,
of which only the FLIR ball can be seen just ahead of the canopy
These Block 60 systems, while they are no doubt 'lower drag' than the Block 50's 'add on' LANTIRN pods etc, they are also not "drag free". This is especially treu of the Sniper XR-derivative targeting system installation shown above. To give the Block 60 every advantage in the quantitative analysis, I choose to ignore the drag of the Block 60's unique installations. I do so for a couple of reasons. First, I doubt it will make as much 'drag difference' as accounting for all the weights involved, and second there is photographic evidence that while the Block 60-specific targeting system installations were initially expected to be carried all the time, in practice it hasn't always the case(Google "Block 60 F-16" and check out the photos). We'll just keep the 'drag factor' of these systems in the back of our minds going forward.

Block 50 vs Block 60 F-16 Engine & Thrust Differences

F-16 Block 50 Engine (source)
F-16 Block 60 Engine (source)
The differences between the Block 50 F110-129 engine and the Block 60 F110-132 engine are slight, but the -132 engine yields 2600 more pounds of thrust at sea level (standard day):
The key differences between the two engines that drive the increased thrust for the -132 variant aren't relevant to our analysis but for the sake of completeness, let us observe that the -132 has a slightly higher airflow than the -119, and that is at least partly due to the ever-so-slightly lower bypass ratio (more 'fast hot' air) for the -132 design. There are also some 'efficiency' improvements in the -132, some of which can be retrofitted to -129 engines for better durability if the users want to pay for the 'goodness'.
Normally, I would be loathe to try and extrapolate what a difference in engine thrust between planes would mean to the relative transonic acceleration performance, but given we are looking at essentially the same aircraft at different weights (and thrust to weight ratios), I think we can make a reasonable accommodation for the effect (on Block 50 acceleration) of the the extra thrust based upon looking at comparable Block 50 thrust-to-weight ratios. We can-- and WILL!-- apply that analysis to arrive at a fairly narrow region of impact of the higher thrust to the Block 60's transonic acceleration performance estimates.

Deriving an Estimation of F-16 Block 60 Performance Based Upon Block 50 Performance

We'll do this in a two-step process to bracket the likely transonic performance of the Block 60 compared to the Block 50. It doesn't make a difference in what order the process is applied, but we'll start with the simplest to explain first, and we'll just keep the F-35A KPP performance in sight as a sort of benchmark for now.

Step A: The Weight/Drag Impact 

As mentioned earlier, we can use the HAF T.O. GR1F 16CJ 1 1 Change 8 document containing the max acceleration performance data for the Block 50 to derive an approximation of the effect of the Block 60's weight and drag relative to the Block 50, We've approximated the drag index of the Conformal Fuel Tanks and added the known drag index of the Block 60's launchers and extra (2) AMRAAMs to arrive at a drag index 'upper' of  24 over a baseline Block 50. As this drag index is approximately halfway between a known DI=0 and DI=50, and the Block 60's selected configuration weight of 31,503 lbs is slightly lower than the the Block 50 32K lb configuration, the effect of weight and drag differences ALONE would indicate a transonic acceleration time of about 53 seconds (plus or minus). This is a performance better than the Block 50 at 32K lbs (DI=50) but not so good as a Block 50 at 28K lbs and with a DI=50 (obviously).

Note: This step would have been a lot easier to show/follow if the Block 50's DI=0 performance at 28K and 32K lbs were 'feasible' configurations. We could have just bracketed the DI=0 and the DI=50 values for a 32K weight.         

Estimating the Effect of Block 60 Weight Drag ONLY based upon Block 50 data. 
As we observed earlier within the 'F-16 Block 50 Drag Count and Weight Differences' chart, large aircraft weight difference have more effect on acceleration times than Drag Indexes when Drag Indexes are low:

Effect of Low Drag Count at relevant weights

Step B: The Impact of the Engine Difference

This step is a little more involved than the other. We again will rely on using the Block 50 data from HAF T.O. GR1F 16CJ 1 1 Change 8, but in estimating the impact of this factor we have to normalize the data for the Block 50 before applying it to the Block 60.

In the first section of the following graphic, I have charted the relative thrust-weight values for both the Block 50 and Block 60 aircraft. Notice how close  both the absolute values and the relative step functions are for the highlighted ratios shown for each F-16's Block data. The highlighted Block 60 ratios and step functions are slightly lower than the Block 50's but still very close.

If we ignore all other differences between the ircraft and assume acceleration differences are purely a matter of thrust to weight, and  generously assume all increased thrust-to-weight for the Block 60 translates proportionally into better acceleration at every weight AND look at the acceleration times for the Block 50 configurations between weight steps, we can express those step 'time deltas' for the Block 60 as a function of the ratio of  Block 50/Block 60 thrust ratios times the time deltas for any selelcted drag index. If that sounds confusing, it is because it is...without a spreadsheet.

To simplify, for this specific example I divided the 'Raw' Block 50 Thrust-Weight Ratio for the 28K weight by the 'Raw' Block 60 thrust-Weight Ratio for the 32K weight (1.0357143/1.0156325). I then  treated the Block 50 28K DI=24 acceleration time shown in the 'Normalized for Drag' portion of the chart below as being solely a product of thrust-to-weight, multiplied the Block 50 acceleration time for the 28K weight (44 seconds) times the 'ratio of thrust ratios used.

Stated more clearly without an audit trail: We assume the heavier block 60 will accelerate like a Block 50 at the same thrust to weight ratio. 

I am giving the Block 60 further benefit of the doubt by not accounting for the higher weight, but that's OK!: we're estimating remember?

Plotting the Step B as standalone estimate on the same graph with the Part A standalone estimate we find:

Estimating the Effect of Block 60 Weight Drag ONLY (A) and Block 60 Thrust to Weight ONLY (B), based upon Block 50 data. 

Obviously the actual Block 60 performance should fall somewhere between the outcome for each as independent factors:

Block 60 Transonic Acceleration Estimate: A Near-32K pound Block 60 with 4 AIM-120s accelerates like a Block 50 F-16 DI=50 at 28K Lbs.   

So in the end, the big advantage of the Block 60 aircraft appears to be the increased range and better/equal performance at a slightly higher weight than the Block 50. Nothing to sneeze at, but nothing too surprising either.

But HEY! What about the Block 60 in comparison to the F-35A KPP performance? 

We've covered the whole F-35A configuration setup already elsewhere. The big thing we do not really 'know' still is how much fuel is aboard the F-35 for the KPP measurement. We DO however understand that the KPP was written based upon a load of two 2K Lb JDAMs and 2 AMRAAMs carried internally. If we simply swap the two JDAMs for two more AMRAAMs the F-35A's weight would be about 4,000 pounds less (Most 2K Pound JDAMS weigh more than 2K lbs with the kits).

This F-35A KPP configuration performs almost exactly the same as a 36K pound Block 50 with a DI=50, the removal of 4000 pounds of weight should yield performance approaching that of a 32K pound Block 50 with a DI=50:

If the F-35A in an A2A configuration wants to match this F-16 Block 60 A2A configuration in transonic acceleration, it can probably just dump some fuel, or more likely simply 'unload'.  Conversely, in an A2G configuration similar to the F-35A KPP setup, the F-16 Block 60 would probably fair not so well against the F-35A KPP configuration

I'm not even going to plot this one (DI=74? Yikes!)

Housekeeping: Note that the Block 50 data in hand starts the acceleration run at Mach .79 and not the Mach.8 used for the F-35 KPP performance. That's OK! At the weights we are looking at, this translates to about 1 second or less difference: well within any margin of error.


Update 29 April 15About the presumed KPP configuration

(This ‘Update’ driven by conversation in the thread, because covering all the aspects of a complex subject in a comment thread is futile)

It doesn’t really matter if the F-35A configuration for the transonic acceleration KPP includes 2 JDAMs or if the JDAMs have already been dropped. It really doesn’t matter for three fundamental reasons, only one of which we’ve discussed in any detail.

First Fundamental Reason: Ambiguity of KPP Configuration

The KPP configuration and weight ‘is what it is’, and all our analysis has been focused on the relationship between those factors that affect transonic acceleration, and how (and how much) changes to those factors affect performance.

We do not ‘know’ the payload carried for the KPP values for any of the explorations we’ve made, and I’ve been comfortable in doing these parametric examinations using the assumption that the internal payload for the F-35A consisted of (2) 2K JDAMs, (2) AMRAAMs and a nose load of 25mm cannon rounds. Unlike an F-16 or any other aircraft that carries bulk fuel and weapons externally, it really didn’t matter what the F-35 was carrying internally from a drag POV except as in how whatever weight the F-35 was bearing increased the drag due to lift. While I used the assumption that the plane was carrying the JDAMs, We’ve never asserted or implied a total F-35 weight as the basis for the estimates. We have seen that at whatever the baseline weight basis is, the F-35A in its KPP configuration (whatever that is) accelerated from M.8 to M1.2 very much like an F-16 Block 50 at 36K lbs and a Drag Index =50.

I then posed a ‘what if’ scenario where the F-35A was 4K Lbs (or so) lighter to estimate performance at an “X”-4K pound F-35A. I took away the hypothetical 2k JDAMs because they were convenient to quantify. This is acceptable because, as I have mentioned many times, these analyses are about gaining an understanding of the factors involved and their impact/effects.

The data in-hand can’t be used to prove anything either way, it can only point to ‘possibilities’.

I am completely agnostic as to whether or not the F-35A KPP includes carriage of the JDAMS. If, as it has been suggested by ‘Tim A.’ in the comments that the KPP weight of the F-35 for the transonic acceleration performance does NOT include the 4K+ of JDAMs, I am good with that. BUT, I still cannot make a claim either way with certainty. If one takes at face value [1] then-Commander Bowman’s statement that
“The fuel levels and payloads at which maneuverability is calculated differs for each variant but generally focuses on a post-weapons release payload and fuel state at 50% of the required combat radius”
…do we assume that the transonic acceleration KPP falls within both the “post-weapons release” AND “50% fuel” ‘generalities’, or just one? Or the other? Or neither?
We don’t know. 

Looking at the key table in the Bowman paper….

We see two distinct CTOL (F-35A) loadouts specified for two KPPs in the footnotes. Are these the only two ‘possible’ exceptions to the “general” configuration to which Boman refers, or are they the ONLY exceptions? Are they just configurations that Bowman highlighted because he thought they were important to his arguments? We don’t know.

I’ve always been struck by the reference to the 2 empty external tanks in the first footnote, given the F-35 at this time does not carry external wing tanks and to-date they have not been seen as ‘value-added’ enough to be pursued by the program (an interesting topic for another time), but of interest to our discussion here is the second footnote as it relates to Bowman’s introduction to the table.

If it is worth mentioning in the footnote that “60% of internal fuel load” is carried as an exception to the ‘general’ rule, why would it be worth mention that the JDAMs had been “jettisoned/released” as if it were not part of the ‘general’ rule as well? I believe there is enough incongruity between the text and the table to prevent anyone from asserting the F-35A’s transonic acceleration KPP configuration MUST include or exclude JDAMs OR must be at 50% or 60% (or ‘n%’?) fuel [2] carried. This ambiguity is the primary reason I resisted establishing a baseline weight for the F-35A in doing the acceleration modeling and analysis. (Observant readers will note the only time I quantified F-35 variant weights in looking at the F-35 acceleration performance was when we examined possible discriminants between variants as drivers for variations in acceleration times.)

To go beyond the point that we have already gone can only add more uncertainty. Which leads us to Fundamental Reason #2

Second Fundamental Reason: The F-35A Baseline Design Itself is NOT Final

And the ramifications of this point are HUGE. Much of it relates to what will be the final weight/drag of the aircraft itself, but some of it relates to how the ‘books’ are being kept that prevent any definitive performance statements until SDD is complete (see Reason #3).

The weight uncertainty factor we touched upon under Reason #1 looms larger than many people might realize. We can assume all KPPs are based upon all or part of a fuel load required to achieve some unknown-to-us mission utility, objective and/or point, so weight is a factor in all KPPs.

Aircraft total weight will be driven by Aircraft Empty Weight, Fuel Weight, and Payload Weight. To meet ANY KPP objective listed, changes in the basis for Aircraft Empty Weight will have a compounding effect on total weight; creating a fuel-weight ‘spiral’ that can be positive or negative. The lighter or heavier the aircraft, the more or less fuel weight will need to be carried, and reciprocally, less or more payload can be carried. For every pound of empty weight added, how much more fuel weight is needed or how much payload weight will be affected? (Answer: “It depends”.) Whatever a percentage of fuel load weight used for each KPP, and the primary driver for specifying a max weight for each variant appears to vary [3], it can only be of importance as part of a total weight (assuming all weight is carried internally for all KPPs allowing us to ignore external drag ‘adders’), and what we do NOT know about this value and how it relates to performance parameters far outweighs what we do know. Keep this in mind going forward, as the first thing that we DO know about the F-35A’s empty weight is that it is currently below design objectives (DOT&E FY14 PDF):
Weight management of the F-35A is important for meeting air vehicle performance requirements and structural life expectations. These estimates are based on measured weights of components and subassemblies, calculated weights from approved design drawings released for build, and estimated weights of remaining components. These estimates are used to predict the weight of the first Lot 7 F-35A aircraft (AF-72), planned for delivery in August 2015, which will be the basis for evaluating contract specification compliance for aircraft weight.
-- According to these reports, the program has reduced weight by 16 pounds in CY14 (from January to October estimate). The current estimate of 29,016 pounds is 355 pounds (1.2 percent) below the planned not-to-exceed weight of 29,371 pounds.
-- The program has demonstrated positive weight management of the F-35A over the past 38 months, showing a net loss of 123 pounds in the estimates from August 2011 to October 2014. The program will need to ensure the actual aircraft weight meets predictions, as well as continue rigorous management of the actual aircraft weight beyond the technical performance measurements of contract specification in CY15 through the balance of SDD to avoid performance degradation that would affect operational capability.
An empty weight that is 355 pounds lower than the modeled KPP weight implies a much larger weight in fuel that does not to be carried to achieve the F-35A’s combat radius (or ‘60%’ mission radius/endurance distance/time). JETA-1 fuel weighs 6.71 lbs per gallon. How many pounds of fuel can be left behind by not having to carry 355 pounds of dead weight over 1200+ nautical miles out-and-back? We don't know. the uncertainties are certainly adding up.

While the AF-72 aircraft is the target point that is “the basis for evaluating contract specification compliance for [F-35A] aircraft weight”, we also do not know how much margin is in the “planned not-to-exceed weight of 29,371 pounds” target weight. I’ve seen indicators[4] that prevent me from completely assuming the weight targets are the weight assumptions used for KPPs. If the targets aren’t the limits, then there is further weight margin that the KPP model may not be accounting for in performance modeling. I personally wouldn’t assume this to be the case, but we don’t know. Time will tell.

Third Fundamental Reason: The KPP Ground Rules and Assumptions and/or their Impacts aren't fully known or accounted for either.

The ‘unknowns-unknowns’ here might outweigh any factor we have examined in trying to compare an F-35A to any legacy aircraft. The 'known-unknowns' are bad enough. Example? We know the KPPs are based upon a ‘pessimistic’ engine performance with 5% thrust and fuel efficiency degradation (Ref #8 here). We do NOT know what impact that factor has on the overall ‘standard’ aircraft weight or acceleration, but just as important, we do not yet know if that the ‘engine of record’ in the models is the original 40K Lb thrust engine, or an engine with the newer 43K Lb thrust rating. So, what else do we NOT know about the model GR&As?


I don’t lose any sleep over the F-35A’s transonic acceleration because in the end it still gets back to the fundamental fact that you can always just ‘unload’ the plane to shed all that wave drag due to lift… if you so desire. Using such a technique, the F-35A should be able to run away to, from, or with any current or future aircraft through the transonic region unless that other aircraft is heavier AND with a higher Thrust/Weight ratio, and there are always other ways to deal with such contingencies (TANSTAAFL). I’ll THINK about getting concerned when the JPO and users get concerned.

1. While I used the Bowman paper data, I put no weight on what was discernible as Bowman’s own analyses or observations surrounding the data. I treated the paper in this way, because I cannot divine if his positions/opinions come from ‘fact’ or from his ‘views’ on the facts: especially since I see several assertions/conclusions (unrelated to any of the KPP discussions so far) within that I know are erroneous--if only through their over-simplification. Further, Air Command and Staff papers tend to be advocacy papers and Bowman’s certainly falls into that description. I know enough about ACSC papers to know that they are just like almost all college papers, they are usually done for a ‘grade’ and not posterity. False data can get you a failing score in ACSC, but I’ve not seen evidence that faulty reasoning will-- unless you argue it ineffectively.
2. As an aside, if I HAD to pick a fuel quantity for the transonic KPP I would pick a value above 50% fuel on the assumption that the operators would desire at least 50% fuel on hand after a transonic dash, presumably to get to or get away from a fighting position.

3. For the F-35B model, the obvious weight constraint beyond those affecting range, acceleration and turning is Vertical Lift Bringback (VLBB) weight. For the F-35C, the Maximum Carrier Landing Weight is a driver as well as whatever weight will be essential to NOT bust the approach speed limitations.

4. One example is a chart online (that is marked US/FOUO, so I won’t post or link to here) shows the F-35C’s Weight Status in 2012 with a 'target' weight well below the key Carrier Landing Weight limit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

John Q. Public Making Up F-35 Stuff

Make you a bet....

Hat Tip Op-For

Op-For has a post up linking to a post at a blog called John Q. Public. The JQP post regurgitates elements of the POGO-annual-diatribe-against-something (won't link to POGO here--maybe later if I deconstruct Mandy's rather wan opening act in POGO's center ring (replacing now retired Winslow Wheeeler).

I posted a comment in response at OpFor, and wanted to post the essence of it at JQP, but JQP has that d*mn DISQUS on 'full invasive' and not anonymous enough for my taste, so I'm doing it here for posterity:
Note the usual suspects that have been against just about every weapon system since about 1970 listed in JQP's blogroll, What this particular post does is echo the annual (March) CDI/POGO diatribe against whatever weapon system they are most against this year. Now, I normally advocate arguing the data and not the source, except POGO has never (to the best of my knowledge) ever argued facts without prevarication, or presented a 'fact' that was ever without a perversion of truth applied. This time is no different. But in this case however, the most irksome part of the JQP post is the anonymous author's references to an anonymous F-35 'pilot', whose ALLEGED comments reek of somebody lying someplace. Since it is anonymity upon anonymity, it could be the pilot in question is lying and/or a weak sister. It could be the author is making up pilot quotes out of whole cloth, or adapting past JSF 'news' and 'rants' to fit what the author believes or wants the readers to believe, or it could be any combination of all the above. I have a good friend whose Sister is now retired from Journalism and who has related that in her experience most of the time 'unnamed sources' are journalists making sh*t up. I could pick apart every one of the alleged quotes and posit likely true origins for most of them before their perversion, but that could put us into a gray area where I don't care to go . So lets make a wager on something the so-called pilot claimed knowledge about: The F-35 doing poorly in 'recent' High AOA/BFM "tests". 
I will bet dollars to donuts that IF the program chooses to respond to such hooey, that we will discover the first two BFM "tests" were in the middle of January, the first two flights were on two consecutive days, the missions were flown by two different pilots, and both of them had nothing but glowing reviews about the jet's performance. If I find eventually a public source to validate this 'guess' I will be happy to also share who I 'guessed' were the pilots, which flight they flew, and which plane(s?) was/were flown.And perhaps even quote the pilots.
We shall see what develops....

Update: JQP is a blog published by a Mr. Tony Carr. I thought it was a group blog with an unsigned author.

Update II (18 Mar 15, 2134 hrs): I had posted a response to 'Xandercrews' at  (who had asked a rhetorical question in jest), where I also expanded somewhat on what I've already noted. When I came back here, I found comment from JQP's own Tony Carr responding to my first observations. My response to Xandercrews, seems apropos and so in part is repeated here:
Naw. I looked him up at lunch today. He's attending law school now. Ret. (early?) LtCol C-17 driver. Commissioned after I retired, and retired after less than 20 unless he had prior enlisted time. I would probably be most interested in almost anything he had to say on Air Mobility/Air transport topics, but on Acquisition? Fighter tech? Rank amateur.
Trust me, he has to have had something on the ball at least at once upon a time to have made it through his Freshman year at ERAU: the distractions in Daytona Beach tend to weed out the less disciplined students pretty quick. So I've filed him under "intellect held captive by ideology and inexperience".
If his pilot friend is real [we'll now assume he is], he's just another disgruntled meat-servo, perhaps having a tough time transitioning to the F-35 so... 'It's the plane!'. Little 'tells' like.... 
...Surprised he wasn't b*tchin about the number of controls on the HOTAS. In any case, the claim about BFM maneuvering was total BS and I'm willing to wait until the program talks about it.  
I would find reliance on any one operator's opinion on PVI laughable either way-- given the number of pilots that were involved in the design, development and maturation of the 'office'. There was extensive testing of the Pilot Vehicle Interfaces (perhaps hundreds of pilots' inputs; from 'mock up' to labs to simulators to flight test) and the overwhelming positive public attributable statements from the drivers taken as a whole. 
Of course, for some people it is simply much easier to apply the standard Fallacious Circumstantial Ad Hominem and cry 'disaster!' and 'cover up!' to suit their predisposed views or mood. But you'll never get to the root of their 'argument' you'll never find one that isn't just a tarted-up opinion built upon some distortion of reality. Hey! I'm now mildly curious if his 'pilot friend' was one of those "get gunned every time" guys from a couple of years ago. It would explain much.
To save time and avoid useless back and forths with the "foot-soldiers" and "loyal babblers" through the rest of the Congressional silly season, it looks like I'm just going to have to do a Know Your Reformer update on this 'Mandy Smithberger' person AND 'Fisk' her little rant that is now echoing (as designed) and kicking up this crap all over the usual corners of the web. Heck, I may do so if only to emphasize how the Faux Reform Meme Machine will attempt to keep marching on, now that the "Old Guard" are falling away and the 'echo-reformers' are taking over.
Teaser: If I do it, the post will have the best pic of Winslow Wheeler in his most natural (transactional analysis sense) state EVER captured.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The F-35 and the Infamous Transonic Acceleration Change

Part 3 : Updated and Bumped

(Part 1 here: Part 2 here, and 'Bonus' Block 60 Comparison Here)

I'm still working on the F-35A vs Block 60 F-16 comparison, but wanted to add a reference to a comment I made at Breaking Defense in response to one 'Peter Goon': a former FTE (best known as a talking head for Air Power Australia ). I'm repeating it here because for some reason, the graphics accompanying my response did not post, and one is an update of a chart shown already in this series.  Mr Goon dropped a series of snarky comments, any of which can be discarded, but none so readily as this one:
RE: Q: How does an aircraft that takes over 60 seconds to accelerate from 0.8M to 1.2M at 30k ft ISA have "at least" the maneouvrability of a Block 50 F-16C which does this in less than 30 seconds, with 4 missiles on board?
My response reads thusly:
Well Skippy, your first big problem is that the only F-16C Block 50 that can go from M.8 to M1.2 in "30 seconds" can only carry two missiles and....its about out of fuel.
Your second big problem is that you are comparing your infeasible F-16 loadout with an F-35 KPP configuration that is carrying 60% (of a much larger capacity than the F-16) fuel load AND 2 tons of bombs.
To answer your question more fully, and as a object lesson to others that it is YOU who are really pedaling the "indifference to reality" with hyperbolic nonsense, the F-35A at KPP weights and loadouts SPANKS the Block 50 F-16 in transonic acceleration for all but at the very lightest weight/drag combinations identified in the F-16's operating manual.
I dropped two graphics with data extracted from the Hellenic AF Block 50/52 Change 8 Operators manual, but they didn't 'take' for some reason. First, the F-16 Block 50 basic weight/drag data:
This is the heaviest a Block 50 F-16 can get without adding drag by hanging stuff off the outside 
...and then an updated table (data and comment added for clarity only: no existing data changed) of the Block 50's transonic acceleration times:
Only at the lowest weight/drag combinations can a Block 50 transonic performance best the F-35A KPP configuration. Remember the F-35A is carrying 60% internal fuel AND two 2K Lb JDAMs. 

YES, the F-35A has:
  "at least" the maneouvrability of a Block 50 F-16C. 
Deal with it.

Original Post, as posted on 1 March below this point...... 

KPP Requirement or no, ‘What If’ the F-35 will someday really need to get rid of all or part of extra seconds in the new KPP enroute to Mach 1.2?

(Part 1 here: Part 2 here, and 'Bonus' Block 60 Comparison Here)
The F-35 Transonic Acceleration KPPs were ‘changed’. This change was almost immediately decried far and wide as a failure by the ill-informed and self-serving critics. I’m certain some have forgotten or missed the discussion in Part 1 where I referenced the DoD documentation describing the process by which KPPs are established, and changes are made, and that they are only changed if the changes are validated as being operationally acceptable. I’m certain others will miss the references in Part 2 where it was highlighted that they changes were always going to happen, if only because you cannot violate the laws of physics. (Those people may be sputtering at their computer screen soon if they aren't already). That the F-35 KPP changes were implemented at all proves the changes were acceptable by those responsible for the integrity of the requirements and supporting system engineering process.

This post and series is not for those people.

It has been for people who want to understand more about the changes and their ramifications. Agreement or approval by me or anyone else as to the acceptability of these KPP changes is irrelevant. The agencies to which they are relevant have already decided.(Right about here those ‘other people’ would mentally register a need to utter a Circumstantial Ad Hominem against those responsible that when you strip away all the unsupported assertions, logically translates into little more than “those people are the experts, what do they know?...oh and “they must be lying!” or “what are they hiding?”)

BUT!... probably, someday, someone flying one of the F-35 variants is going to REALLY need to accelerate M.8 to M1.2 as quick as the original KPP specified or even more quickly (just not often enough to pursue it as a KPP). Truth be told, there’s probably going to be a time or twelve where somebody is going to wish ‘instantaneous’ translation to Mach 10, but you have to draw the line someplace within the laws of physics.

IF there is some operational need to shave all or part of 8 seconds (or the longer times for the other variants) going from .8M to 1.2M, can it be accomplished? If so, HOW would it be done, and is the remedy needed so onerous that it will adversely impact the F-35’s viability or operational utility? With the F-35A needing only to overcome 8 seconds, the program office could have easily just specified a lower weight to accomplish the feat, and a checklist item added to the effect of “if you want to do ‘this’, then ensure fuel and weapons on board do not exceed X lbs”. But as fuel on board at a mid-mission point tends to be a valuable commodity, and weapons carriage is a fighter aircraft’s reason for being, I presume everyone can see why the users, JROC and program office didn’t take that route.

“One Weird Trick”

If, by chance, “8 seconds” is a big deal, even for an aircraft with a ‘greater initial acceleration than an F-16’ and it still means those 8 seconds crossed some breakpoint minimum needed operationally, then the good news is it is rather easy to accommodate. In fact, fighter pilots have been using ‘this one weird trick’ (Man, I hate those ads) for decades to squeeze extra acceleration out of the transonic region.

It’s called ‘Unloading’

Hat tip to Pat ‘Gums’ McAdoo, USAF Lt Col (Ret), at for first reminding me of this ‘way back when’:
“RE: transonic accel....... I'll bet that the profile was st-and-level and then gofor it. We who have done it know that all ya gotta do is reduce AoA by lowering the nose a tiny amount and shazaam!”
You can also bet any future opponent that the F-35 runs into WILL also be doing the same thing. Sometimes ‘unloading’ will be the best thing for a pilot to employ, sometimes something else will be the best thing to do. Aeronautics has advanced to exploit the medium to its maximum. There is no magic airplane that does everything better than any other airplane within each generation or two: there's always a 'catch'.

Unloading the wing during an acceleration run through the transonic region pays off in increased acceleration (or reduces the decline of acceleration if that is all that is desired) immediately. It is also the key part of employing the Rutowski Profile (Ref #10 in Part 2) in reducing climb times for the same reasons. When a pilot completely 'unloads' the wing, all of the wing wave drag coefficient contribuion due to lift goes to zero, and the aircraft ‘sinks’ (altitude decreases). This is a relatively slower rate of descent compared to an actual ‘dive’, by the way. But a dive is also an option for even greater acceleration, and as Shaw observes (Fighter Combat, p. 407) it is even more effective the heavier and ‘cleaner’ an aircraft is-- assuming the dive does not take the aircraft past its structural limits. When that much wave drag suddenly disappears, the acceleration rate increases dramatically (Shaw recommends a “sharp pull-down” to a dive attitude then an ‘unload’ as particularly effective). Higher acceleration rates are like compound interest: the more you have earlier, the more the distance you cover and the more speed you have at the end: If the wing is unloaded early in a run when acceleration rate is already high but late enough that the aircraft is near Critical Mach, the time the plane would need to be unloaded might be exceedingly small for an F-35A to achieve 1.2M those eight seconds faster. It might help people to be able to visualize how little difference there is between M.8 and M1.2 at 30K feet if we use a graphic (we're keeping the numbering of figures as beginning in Part 1):
Figure 20: Every tenth of a Mach is about 40KIAS at 30K ft Altitude
An eight second difference for the F-35A in all probability translated into achieving something like Mach 1,1-Mach 1.18 in the original 55 seconds. That's small potatoes as far as overall speed goes. 

Here’s the example of a straight wing drag profile shown earlier:

Figure 21: Typical Drag Curve for a 'Loaded' Straight Wing 
Now, here’s a representation of what the ‘straight wing’ drag curve looks like if unloading the wing reduces the wing wave contribution by a conservative 40%:

Figure 22: Typical Drag Curve for an 'Unloaded' Straight Wing 
The total peak drag coefficient in this instance is reduced by 25%. Observe in the next figure that the peak drag coefficient ‘unloaded’ at around M1.1 is about the same as just before Mach 1 ‘loaded’, and that even in the typical Critical Mach range for fighter aircraft between M.8 to M.9 (Shaw, “Fighter Combat”, Pg. 399) the drag coefficient is reduced. 

Figure 23: Straight Wing Drag, Loaded vs Unloaded
IMHO, the F-35 Critical Mach Speed, like most advanced fighters, should be well into the upper half of that range IF the performance measures in the Bowman paper are to be believed (We’ll get to that in a moment). 

The actual amount of drag reduction will vary depending upon the total aircraft design (and remember it will also vary by airspeed and altitude). Shaw’s “Fighter Combat” provides a convenient graph highlighting the increases in acceleration that can be expected at different altitudes over a wide speed range for legacy aircraft. It is modified here to illustrate the altitude and Mach range of interest:

Figure 24: Typical Benefits of Unloading on Acceleration (Original source as noted, modified by Elements of Power)
We see in Shaw’s chart that for legacy fighter designs flying from .8 Mach to Mach 1.2, unloading increases the acceleration rates between ~17% at M1.0 to as much as ~20% at Mach 1.2 and ~25% at .8 Mach at the 30K ft KPP altitude (Ref #9). This appears consistent with what we would expect from the differences in the drag curves shown in our examples. It should also be readily apparent that both the F-35B and F-35C could employ the ‘unload’ technique in the same manner as the F-35A. Obviously, the F-35B would only need a small ‘bump’ compared to the F-35C. The smaller the time/speed difference needing to be closed, the more flexibility on timing and duration is available for the pilot to choose when and how long to ‘unload’.
Figure 25: Unloading and/or Diving to Achieve Original KPP times.
The F-35C’s obviously much greater wave drag due to lift than the other two variants (expanded upon in Part 2) also means it would just as obviously benefit MOST OF ALL from the unloading technique. If a dive would be necessary for the F-35C (as the ‘worst case’) to meet the old transonic acceleration standard, it could be able to carry that acceleration beyond 1.2 to perhaps even M1.6  (F-35 Max Speed in level flight. We do not know what the 'never exceed' speed is, so we’ll stick with what we know the F-35C can do. If ending the acceleration run at the same altitude (30K feet in the KPP) is important, the F-35 pilot can accelerate beyond M1.2 and so after climbing at the end of the run, trading smash for altitude, the plane is still flying M1.2 or better.

This might be a good time to interject the observation that if there was ever evidence the original KPPs were established before the aircraft design was even undertaken, it is the original common KPP of 65 seconds for the F-35B and F-35C: two airplanes with vastly different weights and wing areas. This tells me the trade space for the F-35C design might not have been fully understood when the Navy laid down the requirements or the KPP really was a 'let's see what we can get' figure.
We should also note here that the KPPs were/are against a predicted weight standard and that all indicators are that the predicted weights are being beaten, with all variants coming in (for now) below the modeled weights used for the KPPs.  Those lower weights mean lower wave drag to begin with, and in turn better transonic acceleration.   
Shaw asserts that unloading for best transonic acceleration is done close to ‘Critical Mach’. Bowman (Part 2 Ref #9) identifies the F-35A KPP threshold for max speed at 30K ft altitude without afterburner at >.96 Mach. This speed cannot be too far above or below F-35A Critical Mach because “at speeds faster than the Critical Mach number the drag coefficient increases suddenly, causing dramatically increased drag”. Afterburners (and/or unloading) would soon be required to go any faster once Critical Mach is reached.
Bowman BTW, is now a Navy Captain, and as far as I know continues to NOT be an F-35 'fan'. I'm still hoping for some karma backlash that will tie him to the F-35 program as a developer or operator, just for the entertainment value alone.   


Other than changing the KPPS evidently was not a 'big deal', there's not much to conclude: just a lot of open questions remain.
That the program was warning far ahead of the KPP change that the spec was unrealistic (Ref #3 and #4 in Part 2), makes the initial acceleration KPP looks more like it was a ‘show us what you can do and we’ll revisit the issue later’ placeholder. An entirely likely possibility is that as the program matured, different advantages were seen in areas of aircraft capabilities that shifted design emphasis to 'someplace else'. A KPP may be set based upon an assumption of X capability would require KPP X to be one thing, and then as the design matures, and operational concepts evolve or even threat perceptions shift, it becomes apparent that X capability isn't as important as Y capability, which if is addressed would require more or less out of the KPP X.  

Examples? Program news over the years seemed to talk a lot about range and carrier approach handling as being 'big deals'. Did range become more important than acceleration? If so, fuel could have been added which increased weight and that reduced acceleration. For the C model, did the Navy decide a bigger, higher drag wing meant fewer carrier landing mishaps? It is also entirely possible one or more of the variant KPPs started simply as a wish-list item.

We've heard before about he F-35 KPPs being based upon aerodynamically 'clean'  legacy aircraft specs. Was that a 'miss' where the initial KPP-setters failed to recognize the physics involved, or they did recognize it but since there was no design to evaluate at the time, they let it go: leaving it as an admirable goal but also knowing the KPP could always be changed later? That last explanation makes most sense to me. I've dealt with the acquisition system bureaucracies for decades, and that kind of development  seems totally in character for how the system works. But whatever the reason, we can only 'guess'. We don’t really know 'why', and I wouldn't be surprised if no one is still around within the program who remembers the 'why'. It would make a terrific question for some politico to enquire about, especially if there was some dark secret behind the change as F-35 detractors seem to often insinuate.  

The Bottom Line, Again

For the F-35A model, the 8 second difference between new and old KPP appears to be trivial. The F-35B would probably have to unload a few seconds earlier or for a few seconds longer to meet the old KPP and the F-35C may have to unload a lot earlier and for a few more seconds to do the same.

But it is hard to say for certain, because the B and C early acceleration profiles may be just as good as pilots flying the F-35A assert about the CTOL version. The F-35C might have the toughest time making up the acceleration difference because it has a much larger non-lift contributor to wing wave drag to go with the larger lift contribution. But as it is also slightly longer overall and especially longer in the wing and tail surface areas, the F-35C shape in its entirety may (I don't think so but I can't rule it out) be lower drag than the others above Mach 1.1+. Or the F-35C may have other lower drag advantages due to something like its ‘cleaner’ wing attachment transition on the bottom surface. Who knows?

The newer 'changed' KPPs are as far as we know, still based upon modeled F-35 performance using “end-of-life, worst-case” scenario relative to the F135 engine’s power capacity” (Ref #7 Part 2) and “two per cent thrust” penalty (Ref #8 in Part 2). These ‘wedges’ against the F-35's performance could also be the difference between meeting the old KPP and needing the new KPP in the case of the F-35A, and part of the difference for the F-35B and C. 

The changes might also (almost certainly for the F-35C) have been due to encountering an ever-so-slightly higher than planned/predicted peak transonic drag coefficient, or some combination of the above. Contrary to what some might think, computational fluid dynamics and wind-tunnel testing do not prevent small surprises when the aircraft finally flies, they just lower the chances and severity. Sometimes those surprises go undiscovered for years (Bitburg Roll anyone?), and frankly I'm STILL surprised at how little difficulty the F-35 has had in some performance areas compared to legacy aircraft.  Beginning at about .8 Mach, even the tiniest drag [design] differences affect an aircraft’s [drag] performance out of proportion to the differences. The ability to cruise in military power at Mach 1.2 for some distance (Part 2, Ref#2) indicates that for the A and the B model at least, that ‘peak’ in the Drag Coefficient around Mach 1.1 is a fairly narrow one. 

The importance of the KPP change all comes back to what Tom Burbage was quoted as saying in Ref #4:
“...the biggest question is: are the acceleration characteristics of the airplane operationally suitable?”
The people buying and flying the airplane apparently say ‘yes’. And they've got the data and required knowledge and judgement to make the call. The voices outside the program do not.

Acceleration Sidebar: Is Acceleration More Important to Offensive or Defensive capabilities?

If I had to make a guess as to whether or not F-35 transonic acceleration was more critical in the A2A arena for closing on an enemy or escaping an enemy, I would say it is more important as an offensive attribute for closing on an enemy. Why? For two main reasons. First, I seriously doubt there is a fighter in existence or on the drawing board that can be expected to consistently attempt to overtake an F-35 without hesitation: or any aircraft that will competently shoot missiles over the shoulder at their pursuers. Second. The F-35 is being fielded as an optimal pack hunter: any aircraft pursuing one F-35 will always be a little more cautious if the pilot has reason to expect there to be another F-35 or two that he has no clue as to where it or they are.

Next Up: 

Stimulated by Commenter 'Tim A.' in Part 2, I'm going to do a quick parametric examination  of transonic acceleration differences between the 'ultimate' F-16 (Block 60) and the F-35A at A2G and A2A weights and loadouts. Nothing too extensive-- just something to ponder.


Friday, March 06, 2015

The Air Force Reaffirmed "A-10 retirement decision" in a "Week"

Anyone with reasonable exposure to the 'issue' could have done the same thing. 

If I thought anyone was interested, I could lead a little online systems engineering exercise. Except we'd have to endure the "Because Big Gun!" argumentation. You already know where I stand on that 'point'.

And Ohohohohohohoho the A-10 fanboys of the U.S. Nostalgia Force are going to go ape-you-know-what over this one.
After a week of concentrated study of its close air support (CAS) role, the US Air Force essentially has decided to stick with plans to gradually retire the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II and hand the CAS mission to the Lockheed Martin F-35.
It really just took a week to run everyone involved at the top through the relevant information already in hand.

The CAS "controversy" has been studied to freakin' death leading up to this moment, and it's not exactly like ANYONE who has paid attention doesn't already know the USAF has been looking at A-10 obsolescence growing......... like, forever

The article at FlightGlobal lays out pretty much what one would expect.
1. Phase out A-10 and phase in F-35 (as planned all along
2. Look at alternatives to fill any gaps during the transition (as F-35 capabilities mature). 

That's not 'too complicated' is it? 

Some good details at the link, such as still having dedicated CAS units (Which I note did no good to appease the 'A-10 forever!' crowd the first, last, any time.

If I were to open a group SE exercise to derive requirements for a CAS aircraft, I would start by asking "What capabilities are necessary in a CAS plane?

After the dumb*sses with the 'big gun!' ,'fly slow!', derived qualities spouted off, and if we even cared, we would probably employ the 'Five Whys' approach to backing out the top-level requirements. Example: Why do we need a big gun?, and then based upon the answer, ask why that answer was valid, and etc back to the truly top-level requirements. In doing so, we would arrive at a list of characteristics: effective targeting, responsiveness, lethality, survivability, persistence, etc.
F-35 optimal attack profile with GAU-22 vs. 
A-10 Optimal Attack Profile. F-35 rounds per
square meter density is approximately double 
A-10's even at a much longer, safer range.    
There would be multiple paths that could be followed to meet a desired top-level requirement: a 'Big Gun with lots of ammo' is but one technical solution to 'lethality'.  But we also have 'effective targeting' which does not just support overall lethality objectives -- it also includes "safe to employ" as one of many sub-elements of "effectiveness". So once we got into looking at the optional material solutions we could select for 'lethality' we would then perform tradeoffs among the many desired attributes, and many of them will be contrary to each other. A balance among all of the attributes would have to be achieved. 

Done to Death

But we don't have to do this study. It's been done to death. And it wouldn't have to have been done very well at all to produce an argument that beats PFC Short Stroke's anecdotal recollections of 'that day in the 'Stan', UNLESS we can count on CAS not ever/likely needing a 'better' (as in 'survivable in a medium-high threat arena') weapon system than the A-10. If you can't guarantee a low-threat battlefield future, you have NO basis for preserving an asset that is only survivable in a low-threat environment. That's not the only reason the A-10 needs replacing, but it ought to be the easiest one to grasp.        


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

There's Legal Analysis, and then there's REAL Analysis

I usually enjoy Eugene Volokh's stuff. Though his move to the WP was disconcerting, I got over it.

But Volokh has a BIG swing and a miss in describing a 'growing' rationale for an argument that the Supreme Court should revist/reverse previous court opinions and enforce Interstate Sales Tax collection the way the greedy little state and local politicos/taxmen WANT it enforced.

The ' rationale' goes like this:
This argument has grown stronger, and the cause more urgent, with time. When the Court decided Quill, mail-order sales in the United States totaled $180 billion. 504 U.S., at 329 (White, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). But in 1992, the Internet was in its infancy. By 2008, e-commerce sales alone totaled $3.16 trillion per year in the United States.
Sorry, those are RAW numbers. What does the trend look like factoring the overall economic environment.  I'm  assuming internet sales have supplanted most catalog sales:  a pretty safe assumption I believe.  And even if it's not, if someone can compare them directly across the timeline--well then! So can I.

Here's those two numbers Volokh used, lined up against GDP figures for private and government consumption and investment:
Correction: I had fat-fingered $3.16T as $3.6T , Heh. Now my point is even 'Truer'

The big number for 2008 compared to the little number in 1992 overstates the growth in interstate sales. Complaints about 'missing revenues' from politicians reeks of unwillingness to compete, and worse a certain sense of entitlement to other people's dollars--no matter what the source--to feed the allmighty 'state'.

A rising tide lifts all boats

As the 'Barf Box' at the bottom of the chart indicates, NO ONE ever seems to ever ask the question as to what entities receiving all that internet revenue spend it on -and where? I would normally presume states with the better internet-friendly tax laws would benefit most and the local governments would be happy about it. But I realize we're dealing with people whose lives are often immune to the direct effects of the real economy, and I think more than a few resent the denial of an "opportunity for graft".

And I'm not buying any argument that the Local and State governments NEED those taxes on internet revenues: All hail the rise of the "Social Spending-Entitlement-Complex...
  State and local government is THE 'Growth Sector' of government. 

When the data is on your side, argue the data....

Sorry Eugene.

Tyler Rogoway Sets Off a Global Disinformation Cascade

He Owes the World an Apology but Don’t Hold Your Breath: It’s His 'Job'

Rogoway opens with the little Punk Journalistic lie in the title: F-35 Can't Carry Its Most Versatile Weapon Until At Least 2022Rogoway’s ‘article’ is about the F-35 and the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDBII) , or GBU-53/B.
The BIGGEST problem with Rogoway’s hit-piece is that even within the article itself, it is recognized that all of the F-35 variants CAN carry the GBU-53/B, it is just at the moment the F-35B can’t carry as many internally as it will after 2020-22:
When it comes to the F-35B and this game-changing weapon, the problem is fairly simple. The F-35B, even with its truncated weapons bay compared to its A and C model cousins, was supposed to be able to carry eight SDB IIs internally.
The SECOND biggest problem with Rogoway’s hit-piece, is that it is written up as if it is the F-35 program’s and in particular the F-35B’s ‘fault’, when anyone who’s been following both programs for any length of time knows that the SDBII development contract was awarded to RTN in 2010, quite a few years after the ‘size’ of the F-35B’s weapon bays were set, but not before development was completed. The SDB II program went into that situation with eyes wide open.
Further, Rogoway's article (through his ignorance?) was/is written up without recognizing certain protocols of aircraft weapons design and integration. ESPECIALLY the one that requires new planes to be compatible with selected existing weapons for integration, AND that new weapons are required to be compatible with existing planes on which they are designated to be used. Normally, any conflict between the F-35B and the SDB II would be a ‘hit’ against Raytheon, but since Raytheon wasn’t being beat up for busting some Outer Mold Line envelope, it took me all of a few minutes to locate information WHY no one was pointing fingers (other than Punk Journalists that is).
The first clue is in the 2012 SAR
The SDB II program office has made considerable progress on the F-35 risk reduction effort to address the ongoing F-35 System Development and Demonstration program delays. The SDB II team successfully conducted F-35B and F-35C weapon’s bay fit checks utilizing production jets. The data collected during these fit checks will be used to finalize the modification of the F-35B weapon's bay. These efforts are on track and serve as a critical risk reduction event for both the SDB II and F-35 programs.
Talk about ‘concurrency’! This is multi-program concurrency! I'm surprised someone's not b*tchin' about that angle in this....yet. By 2012 both programs had experienced delays. More were to come. Those fit-checks referenced in the SAR 'happened' by the way.

So,,. is Rogoway spotlighting some F-35B issue not known before, not in work, or likely to ?

Rogoway doesn’t like how the SDBII deployment is ‘happening’. Is that the F-35B’s “fault”?

It’s a program decision made a while back (at least years ago: pg 117):
According to program officials, the biggest risk facing the program is integration with JSF. If JSF cannot meet its design specifications, then SDB II may not meet its requirements for weapon effectiveness or availability on that aircraft and may need design changes. The JSF is now integrating other weapons which will allow the program to determine the accuracy of its design documents. Many of these weapons have more stringent thermal and vibration requirements than SDB II. Additionally, SDB I will begin integration with JSF about 2 years prior to SDB II. By integrating with JSF after these weapons SDB II will be able to leverage data from these efforts.
Did Rogoway expect the entire F-35 program to re-jigger it’s schedule (no chance of delaying anything else is there?) JUST to put the FULL INTERNAL SDB II load on the F-35B earlier? I note here that if the program so desired, they could load 4 SDB II’s internally early and 8 later, and all the while put the full external pylon SDB II loadout on as well.

And it’s not as if the SDB II is any different than any other program. To hear Ol’ Ty tell it, the SDB is 'ready to go' and ONLY the F-35B weapons bay tweak is holding it up. Sorry, the SDBII story was still being written as of last year’s GAO rundown on selected systems (pg 119-120). I expect this year’s report will give the ‘all clear’, but it can cloud up again as well.
Writers don't always write the headlines to their stories. But I didn't hear anything about Rogoway being arrested for beating up his editor over it. Therefore either through commission or omission, Rogoway's culpable for this trash.

As an aside and IMHO, what this 'issue' looks like is a minor tweak of F-35B weapon bay content arrangements, including all the little ticky-tack pieces of suspension equipment, weapon interface busses, and stuff that is just passing through the weapons bay. I make this observation based upon the acute lack of hand-wringing in the responsible corners, the 2013 'fit check' that cleared the weapon-weapon and weapon-door clearance....and program spokesperson statements at Rogoway's source... that Rogoway didn't bother mention. Doesn't require much insight, just a lot less bias.

What's the point? 

Now, we’ll ignore all of Rogoway’s usual and lesser affronts. such as alternating between effusive awe and hellfire damnation over things that must seem to be like magic to him, use of ridiculous hyperbole (SDB II ‘A.I.’ -- ROFLMAO on that one), and all the self-referential linking to past articles where he didn’t do his research then either.

What’s important, is how Rogoway’s spew of disinformation flew around the world at the 'speed of heat' by the know-nothings. Example? First, Rogoway’s hit piece gets picked up by a New York free-lancer who got the UK Daily Mail to put out this verbose headline online at the top:
Pentagon's most expensive fighter jet which is set to be used by the Royal Navy on HMS Queen Elizabeth CAN'T carry most advanced weapons because of design flaw

Never mind, that the Brits aren’t planning on even buying the SDB II yet (even says so in the UK Mail piece), the title 'says it all'. Really?  REALLY.
90% of readers won't read the article, 90% of those who bother won't recognze the cognitive dissonance between the title and content.

But EVEN the free-lance writer, one ‘Zoe Szathmary (who may have even less consequential knowledge on just about anything 'defense' than anyone), provided more hard information than Rogoway:
Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, said in an Inside Defense interview last week that changes are being made to the jet so it can be released on schedule.
DellaVedova also said that Lockheed Martin will likely get the alterations contract down the line in 2015.
'This is not a new issue to us,' DellaVedova told Inside Defense. 'We've been working with the SDB II program office and their contractors since 2007.
'The fit issues have been known and documented and there were larger and more substantial modifications needed to support SDB II that have already been incorporated into production F-35 aircraft.
'These minor or remaining changes were put on hold until the aircraft reached a sufficient level of maturity to ensure that the needed changes would not adversely impact any ongoing SDB [II] developments.'
Inside Defense reported that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program office so far has not publicly recognized problems - and that eight internal and 16 external SDB IIs are in fact meant to go on the F-35B.
Note the part above about the last "alterations" not yet being on contract? Is that important? I'm pretty sure it is. 

 Inside Defense had this out last week, and the DellaVedova quote above was in Rogoway’s source. But Rogoway made nary a mention of it. What’s the matter Ty, it didn’t support your meme? Or are you perhaps piqued because Joe won’t give you an interview too?? 

Moving on....

The story then bounced from the UK Mail to some Italian rag, who warps the UK Mail article into a message that the UK wants to but CAN’T use the SDB II.  Some Indian defense news website in turn, now limps in with another perversion of the story.

And I know a story has pretty much reached the sub-basement when this guy picks it up .

But this story is a smashing success by Gawker Media standards: A low-brow Dis-Information Cascade.


We are being memed to death on the F-35 these days as the mass media races to  the bottom of the trough to make a headline. We’ll feel the interwebs hum for days about this crap, and then this 'non-factual factoid' will probably pop up for years--argued by the 90% who didn't read the article at the source but will remember Rogoway's lying headline.

Update: If I'd realized a thread at had already started washing Rogoway's spew overboard while I was at work I would have just pointed people there. I got this ready for publication last night, decided to check in and relax and found Rogoway's piece pretty much in tatters.

Update 2: Geez Louise. On another thread at, 'Linkomart' (Hat tip) posted an update to the original article:
(Editors Note: This story has been updated to clarify the scope of the F-35B internal weapons bay design changes.)
The internal weapons bay of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter cannot fit the required Small Diameter Bomb II weapons load, and a hydraulic line and structural bracket must be redesigned and modified ahead of the planned Block 4 release in fiscal year 2022, the joint program office confirmed this week.
So this ENTIRE exercise is over nit noi 'piece-part' changes? It will take longer to release the engineering drawings than it will to modify and install the new parts.

Looks like the F-35 program is on to a highly effective technique for exposing Punk Journalists eh? : Just let them run with their ignorance and stupidity.