Friday, July 31, 2015

CNO Nominee Richardson Got These F-35 Questions Too?

I told them I didn't want the job, but I answered them anyway.

Hat Tip "spazinbad" @

SMSgt Mac appearing before SASC?
CNO Nominee Admiral Richardson answered some pre-confirmation hearing questions. I like his answers pretty much, but like my answers better. It comes with the freedom of being long retired (as well as never being an Admiral).

RE: Tactical Fighter Programs
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, which is the largest and most expensive acquisition program in the Department’s history, was formally initiated as a program of record in 2002 with a total planned buy of 2,443 aircraft for the U.S. At projected procurement rates, the aircraft will be procured by the Department well into the 2030 decade to reach its total quantity buy. The program has not yet completed its systems development and demonstration phase, and is not due to enter full rate production until 2019, 17 years after its inception.

The Navy’s FY16 budget request indicates a program of record of 369 F-35C, with Navy procurement continuing throughout the life of the F-35 procurement program. The overall requirement for 2,443 aircraft was established nearly 20 years ago. Since that time, however, there have been countervailing pressures to: (1) reduce force structure to conserve resources; (2) improve capability to respond to prospective adversary technological advances and increased capabilities from updated threat assessments; and (3) respond to an evolving national defense strategy.

Do you believe the Navy’s F-35C requirement is still valid?
Well Senators, that’s quite a preface to a “yes or no” question. But as it comes from such an august body as the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will use the working assumption it is offered to provide proper perspective to the questions to come, rather than an attempt to ‘poison the well’,and so the Committee’s prefacing informs my response,and I believe due diligence also requires me to to expand upon the very fine points the Committee raises, in part as an answer to this first question. 

As the Committee very well knows, the F-35 Program is as large and expensive as it is because it is really three programs in one. While there have been studies that have reviewed whether or not combining programs was worth the effort, we must note that aside from them all having contentious ground rules and assumptions embedded, that NONE of them measured the costs and benefits of the F-35 program against the typical number of programs we would have to undertake to successfully field three different aircraft. Can there be any doubt looking back at history that at least four or perhaps five programs would have to be attempted to actually field three different jets? Can we possibly fathom the procurement costs per airplane if we had attempted to field the minority F-35B and F-35C as stand-alone programs? Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, the Navy and Marine Corps budgets are very blessed to have the Air Force subsidize The Department of the Navy’s rent-seeking by absorbing a disproportionate percentage of the net development costs.

As the bulk of the development is behind us in sunk cost and schedule, and there is no indication that the way forward is too difficult, completion of the systems development and demonstration phase should not be a problem.

That it will have taken 17 years to reach full rate production would be an issue above my station if I were still on active duty: I would not be in a position to second-guess prior Congressional decisions to stretch development and delay production, trading risk for schedule and cost. It would also not be my place to pass judgement on the actions of prior Congress’ that created the three-in-one program approach in the first place. 
As a retiree who returned to civilian life over twenty years ago however, I am free to answer that the former was typical, foolish, political tinkering and/or ego-stroking on the part of Congress. The latter however, is shaping up to have been a very good idea by your predecessors.

And so the final answer to your question is therefore, of course: “Yes”--the F-35C will be a VITAL part of the future Carrier Air Wing.

Do you believe the Navy can afford and needs to procure 310 more F-35Cs with a procurement cost of over $42 billion?

As to ‘need’, the F-35C provides essential 5th generation strike fighter capability to our Carrier Air Wings. Without this capability, we cannot achieve air superiority. The Department of the Navy currently has a requirement for 340 F-35Cs. That number needed of course is always subject to revision as national strategies change and new information is made available. For example, on the one hand, the Navy doesn’t yet have any operational experience with low observable or fifth generation capabilities. As the Navy gains experience, it will probably create opportunities and incentives to not procure more of or retire older systems faster on the one hand. On the other hand, the Navy has a history of buying aircraft over long timeframes due to expected attrition, and given the F-35C’s stellar initial sea trials, we may just not lose as many jets like we have in the past and so they will not need replacement. If I were confirmed as CNO, I would work with the Chairman and other service chiefs to revalidate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires to meet the mission.

Speaking to the cost figure offered, let us note that the numbers you mention are either future inflated dollars or dollars that include developmental cost dollars that are already sunk, both, and/or are based upon presumptions of future economic factors that may or may not apply. They are also spread over how many years? I would enjoy exploring the nuances of these numbers with the SASC, numbers that should never be aired in a casual manner, as no doubt the SASC would agree.

Do you believe that the Navy will still want to buy the F-35C, an aircraft design that will be 30 years old before the Navy production is scheduled to finish?
Well let’s see, we’re flying the F-18C/Ds and F-18E/F/Gs right now. The current versions are evolutions of a design originally produced in 1975 and are still in procurement. That’s 40 years since inception. So 30 years should not be a stretch at all for the Navy and the F-35, especially considering that unlike its predecessors, the F-35B and C are designed to evolve as required over time. Right now the Navy is committed to making the F-35C the next Carrier Air Wing fighter, complementing the F/A-18E/F until the F-18 reaches the end of its lifetime in the 2030s when the basic design will be over 50 years old. I believe once the fleet gets its hands on the F-35C, the fighter/strike community will set new standards in creative thinking and divining ways to get rid of the older jets and buy more F-35Cs as the older jets obsolescence becomes more obvious.

Do you believe the Navy’s current and planned force mix of tactical aircraft is sufficient to meet current and future threats around the globe, and most especially in the Asia-Pacific theater of operations where the “tyranny of distance” is such a major factor?

Currently, I do. There are capability, inventory, and readiness aspects to delivering the required force mix. If I was ever to be confirmed as CNO, I would work with leadership to determine the best options to pace the threat in a dynamic security environment. The fiscal environment will bound the scope of our efforts, and so I would urge Congress to work harder in creating a fiscal environment that will provide for all of our Constitutionally-mandated needs.

The Secretary of the Navy recently remarked that he believed the F-35 should be and would be the nation’s last manned fighter aircraft. Do you believe this to be true?
If I were to be confirmed as CNO, I would work with the Secretary of the Navy to aggressively advance the development of unmanned systems. It is crucial that we push the boundaries of what unmanned technologies can achieve; the next generation in tactical aviation will play a large part in this transformation.

Having said the above, let me also observe that the Secretary has all of the technical knowledge and expertise in all the relevant knowledge areas and disciplines, with the liberal-arts and legal education sufficient to have once been a competent junior ship’s officer. I’m sure he was a very fine surface warfare officer, once upon a time. His thoughts and opinions on the subject of UAVs carries all the commensurate weight that comes with such an accomplished background.

I thank the Committee for their interest. Now go away.

Monday, July 27, 2015

F-35B IOC is Imminent

Prepare for all the Handwringing

Word on the street is that F-35 IOC is all done except for the signatures (which always leaves the political angle, but ya gotta have faith).

I remember all the angst when the B-2 IOC occurred. How did that work out?
Like this:
IOC is the beginning, not the end. People who think you can field a perfect airplane out the door don't know airplanes, people, or how weapon systems become operational.
Note the critics were still acting in accordance to their SOPs even after B-2 IOC. Although the GAO pretty much threw in the towel after they published the report they had already written before Allied Force in 1999 (with only a cursory nod to the reality that just smacked around their paper pushing exercise.  

By the time F-35 FOC occurs, the critics will have lost all their teeth and will be gumming it to death. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

P.W. Singer and August Cole? 'Game Show' Quality Defense Analysis

(Apologies to Game Shows Everywhere)

Ersatz sound-bite providers cum defense 'thinkers' P.W. Singer and August Cole have piled even more B.S. on the F-35 non-story that was made up out of whole cloth earlier over at 'Axe is Boring'.

To summarize the authors (in sequence):
  1. Help propagate the disinformation cascade by repeating the nonsensical hit-piece-on-a-report that neither they nor the original author propagating such drivel apparently are capable of understanding. 
  2. Misrepresent the official response to said hit-piece and critique their own misrepresentation. 
  3. Repeat a tired old ‘we tried missiles only’ trope. (Only interceptors designed to engage nuclear-armed bombers at a distance were ever ‘missiles only’ armed). 
  4. Misrepresent the Navy’s actual design objective of the F-4, which was as a "Fleet Interceptor" of aforementioned bombers, and armed with A2A missiles designed to intercept those same less-than-maneuverable bombers and at very high altitudes (unlike how the ROEs shaped SEA combat). BTW: The Air Force ALWAYS wanted a gun on its F-4s in the fighter role. Robert the ’Strange’ said ‘NO’ to the AF until the F-4E. 
  5. Provide a cartoon snapshot of the fighter pilots' post-1968 experience in SEA. 
  6. Then reassert the bogus F-35 hit-piece masquerading as ‘reporting’ and analysis as if there were 'facts' involved.

So then.... 

Q: What IS there about the rest of the authors' so-called ‘analysis’ that would make their ‘blog post’ anything other than 'intellectual' booger-flicking?

A: Nothing.

By way of a palate cleanser, lets compare Singer and Cole's B.S. with some, y'know...FACTS.

Contrary to what some might believe, I try not to just point at the stupid people and their stupidity without also providing some positive and countervailing content. So in passing, let us review some information that at least provides some information as to what that 'test' Axe & Co. got their beta-boy panties in a wad over  REALLY means -- instead of what they want it to mean (apparently just because it fits their preconceived life-positions).

The Testing in Question was Described Ahead of Time Last Year 

From the 2014 AIAA paper "F-35A High Angle-of-Attack Testing"[1], authored by a Mr. Steve Baer, (Lockheed Martin "Aeronautical Engineer, Flying Qualities" at Edwards AFB), and presented to the Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference held between 16 and 20 June 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia we find that F-35 High AoA testing was designed to follow in the following progression: 
The test objectives for high angle-of-attack testing are as follows:
1) Characterize the flyqualities [sic] at AoAs from 20° to the control law limit regime with operationally representative maneuvers. 
2) Demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to recover from out of control flight and assess deep stall susceptibility 
3) Evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of the automatic pitch rocker (APR) 
4) Evaluate departure resistance at both positive and negative AoA with center of gravity (CG) positions up to the aft limit and with maximum lateral asymmetry. 
5) Assess the handling qualities of the aircraft in the High AoA flight
Now, in case a 'punk journalist' or other factually-challenged reader wanders by, we need to be clear that #5 has nothing to do with "dogfighting". We know this because Mr. Baer makes two points shortly thereafter within the paper. 

The first point is relevant to the state of the testing at the time of his writing. I observe that this paper was written during Objective #4 testing and published at about the time it concluded. This observation is supported by the passage [emphasis/brackets mine]:
With intentional departure testing [Objective #4] wrapped up, the team will soon move into departure resistance [Objective #4] and plan to remove the SRC now that these systems have been verified. In this phase of testing, the jet will test the CLAW limiters with much higher energy and rates than previous testing, fleshing out and correcting areas that may be departure prone. Lastly, select operational maneuvers [Objective #5], such as a slow down turn and a Split-S, will be used to gather handling qualities data on high AoA maneuvers. With the completion of this phase, the F-35 will be released for initial operational capability in the high AoA region.
   Note: 'CLAW' is Control Law and 'SRC' is Spin Recovery Chute.
Clearly the testing was not yet at step #5 at the time of writing but to emphasize same, the author followed the above paragraph with [emphasis mine]: 
While the flight test team will explore legacy high AoA maneuvers for handling qualities, it will be the Operational Test and Evaluation team that will truly develop high AoA maneuvers for the F-35. In the operational world, a pilot should rarely be taking the F-35 into the high angle-of-attack regime, but the ability to do so could make the difference between being the victor or the victim in air-to-air combat....
So with this paragraph, not only does the author expound on the exploring of "legacy high AoA maneuvers" (the 'legacy' part is important) that is to come, he specifically assigns the kind of testing that will "truly develop high AoA maneuvers for the F-35" (vs. 'legacy' which may be differed from) to the Operational Testers and NOT part of the Edwards AFB Developmental Test Team activities. 

In a nutshell, just within these two paragraphs that Baer wrote in early/mid 2014 is precisely what the JPO/LM stated in their official response to Axe's B.S.
Therefore the "reasonable man" may logically and confidently conclude the JPO response:
  1. WAS NOT simply something that was contrived in response to Axe's made up bullsh*t  but...
  2. WAS accurately asserting what the testing was truly about...
....debunking all and any claims to the contrary.

[1] AIAA #2014-2057

Minor changes for clarity, readability and typo corrections made 23 July 15 @ 1944 hrs.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

'That's All Brother' Update

Like most stories that come out in the mainstream media, they seem to never come out with all the important details just right. I'm following the 'That's All Brother' saga as it unfolds, and in the wake of the CAF's VERY successful 'Kickstarter' campaign, some more pieces of the backstory surrounding the rediscovery of this historic C-47 are coming to light.

Now, according to this article-- which also mentions 'That's All Brother' will be on static display at the EAA's annual Oshkosh fly-in, the aircraft company that 'found' the plane in it's turboprop conversion queue, didn't just 'find' it . 'That's All Brother' had been tracked by an individual who served in the same unit after the pilot of 'That's All Brother' in postwar service and it was this gentleman-- an Air National Guard 'boomer'--in addition to the conscientious crew at Basler Turbo Conversions was instrumental in making the right people aware through personal perseverance:
Matt Scales was serving in an Alabama Air National Guard unit when he learned one of his unit's former members — Donalson, who died in 1987 — had flown the lead plane in the D-Day invasion. In 2007 Scales tracked down the unit Donalson served in during the war and searched the unit's history. He figured it would end there because most military historians didn't bother to record tail numbers.
But Scales and fellow military historian Ken Tilley hit the jackpot. Donalson's unit historian wrote down his D-Day plane's tail number: 42-92847. On a lark, Scales looked up the tail number in the FAA's database and got a hit. It was privately owned by a man in Arizona who was excited to learn his plane had flown on D-Day.
Scales, again, figured that was the end of it. He continued working as a boom operator in an air refueling wing and as a police officer in Alabama. Three years later he decided to check the database again and learned that by then the plane had been purchased by Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, which repurposes old DC-3 and C-47 planes into modern aircraft.
Randy Myers, director of production and engineering at Basler, had seen "That's All, Brother" with its Vietnam gunship paint parked at the airport in Waupaca years ago and made an offer to the Arizona man. Myers wouldn't learn of the D-Day connection until much later.
Once Scales realized it was at Basler, he contacted museums and aviation preservation groups to see if any were interested in saving the aircraft that led the D-Day invasion. None were, and Scales figured his quest had finally come to a dead end.
But last year a blogger mentioned the combat history of the C-47 parked in the boneyard behind Basler. Smith, of the Commemorative Air Force, thought his group was the perfect fit to save it. It exchanged a C-47 in its collection for "That's All, Brother" and began fundraising for the restoration.
There's lot's more of the story at the source.

Scales' enquiries and efforts are what spread awareness of the artifact and its location. And though no group responded to his personal efforts directly, it was those efforts that allowed the chain of events to unfold as they did.

Note: I wonder how much of this was also serendipitous. Scales served in the Alabama ANG, Were the resources that Scales needed to get the right tail number perhaps more readily available at Maxwell AFB, home of the Air University, in Montgomery?


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Mysterious LM CUDA Missile Update

Just gets more interesting as time goes on...

Major Hat Tip to Marauder for finding the relevant AFIT Technical thesis and passing it along

Regular readers may remember one of my most popular posts on LM’s CUDA missile concept. In that post, I hypothesized some about the CUDA’s weight and resultant performance by using a comparative analysis of what little was known about the CUDA and existing missiles with known physical characteristics. Key assumptions were that the same kind of propellant characteristics and relative scaling of the different components of existing missiles would apply to the CUDA.

Based upon a recent AFIT paper I no longer believe that approach is sufficient.

Employment of a CUDA missile ‘concept’ was used in a thesis written by Army Major Casey D. Connor, and published earlier this year. In his paper “AGENT-BASED MODELING METHODOLOGY FOR ANALYZING WEAPONS SYSTEMS”, Major Connor modeled and examined the relative effectiveness of different missile loadout combinations for a very specific A2A mission using two methods of attack: 'straight-in' and ‘pincer’.
The paper was exploratory in nature, and there’s not enough in the paper to come to any more conclusions than Major Connor did -- but I’m sure someone will read more ‘findings’ into it than he did. In fact, I'd expect 'some' to leap to all kinds of ‘conclusions’ about a lot of different sub-topics because the paper really does raise some very interesting questions that someone else will probably/hopefully pick up and follow-up on going forward.
The value of the paper to us in this instance is that it gives us an indication of some key performance—shall we say—“possibilities” for a CUDA-like weapon system. The paper uses the terms CUDA-like and SACM (Small Advanced Capability Missile) interchangeably. Given the rumblings on the web and in aero media since the CUDA concept’s existence went public, the relationship of the CUDA (a Lockheed Martin concept) to SACM (the programmatic objective of CUDA) is now better known. No surprises there.

What is Surprising?

What IS surprising (to me at least) are the characteristics used for the CUDA/SACM in Major Connor’s thesis. Specifically, Connor provides the CUDA/SACM weight used in his simulations as 49Kg (108 lbs). This has HUGE implications. 

If by my original speculation where I extrapolated known data about existing technology, I had arrived at a weight estimate that was 45.5 lbs higher (153.5 lbs) than the 108lb weight Connor uses, then it almost certainly speaks of significantly more advanced/miniaturized technology than simply scaling down 'more of the same' from existing systems.

I had toyed with putting a wedge in my original estimate for a reverse-weight spiral (less structural weight is needed the lower the non-structural weight), but thought that would have been pushing all the ‘estimating’ a little too far. As it turns out I would have come closer, but still nowhere near a mere 108 lbs for a CUDA weight estimate by my using current weapons for baseline info. I think now that ‘Next generation’ guidance, control, structure, and maybe  propulsion technology breakthroughs almost certainly permeate that CUDA/SACM design concept. As the scaling of RM propellant weight probably still applies (harder to make lighter propellant than other components), I don't think there's much weight change per cubic inch of volume there. But even so, this new lower weight could potentially drive the CUDA/CACM higher in the ‘Delta V’ performance than what I had previously estimated.

What Changed?

If only the weight is lower, with the other factors such as the ratio between pre-launch and expended rocket motor weights, and propellant/rocket factors, etc., then the CUDA potential top speed would not necessarily be higher than my first estimate (~24% higher than AMRAAM using existing missiles as guides). But I don’t think that at this new lighter weight, the same ratio CAN still hold true: a larger percentage of the total CUDA/SACM weight is now more likely found in the rocket motor -- if only just because everything else got lighter.
This shift in weight contribution, in turn, would mean a larger percentage of pre-launch weight is propellant that will be expended in acceleration. The scope of the impact of such a change is unknown, but here is a parametric exploration of the impact of various possible RM weight ratios from no change (54.53%) and up to a little more than 5% increase (60%):
What if the CUDA has a higher percentage of propellant weight than the AMRAAM?
(updated verbiage for more clarity less obfuscation)
As you can see, very little increases in the ratio of propellant weight to total weight yields significantly higher potential Delta V that could be tapped into to:

  1. increase range, 
  2. enable shaping complex flyouts, and/or 
  3. increase end-game dynamics. 
That this improved performance is likely a ‘truism’ in the CUDA/SACM design concept is reflected in Major Connor’s findings.

Connor’s modeling of the engagements he selected resulted in outcomes where the ‘pure’ CUDA/SACM loadout successfully engaging the RED AIR targets at significantly greater distances (32%-38% greater, depending on attack method used) than the Medium Range Missile Model (AMRAAM-basis) used (see Fig. 43 below from the source). That kind of range advantage would be consistent with a higher Delta V for the CUDA/SACM weapon.

[Note: Read the paper for information on the mixed loads of a short range missile (AIM-9X ‘like’), medium range missile (MRM) and the CUDA/SACM weapons]

The higher performance of the CUDA/SACM also shows up in the higher 'effectiveness' ratings of the pure CUDA/SACM loadout over the pure MRM loadout. As Figure 42 from the paper below illustrates, the pure CUDA/SACM missile loadout kills targets at better than a 2 to 1 advantage over the MRM’s kill rate as well as doing so at ranges farther than the MRM. 

This increased effectiveness suggests perhaps an even better end-game kinematic CUDA/SACM design performance than the MRMs due to a higher percentage of propellant design weight, working with the hit-to-kill Attitude Control Motors (ACMs) in the front-end. 

Connor’s focus in the paper isn’t on getting into the nuances of the CUDA/SACM’s capabilities, but the higher performance of the CUDA concept indicated by the data is supported by his observations within the text as well:
The main characteristics of the new missile technology examined in our research include hit-to-kill technology in which the missile uses a kinetic warhead to attack the target, agility in that the missile’s guidance, propulsion, and control surfaces allow it to maneuver more flexibly towards a target, and a smaller size allowing each fighter to carry more missiles. These new weapons have the potential for dramatically changing the range of possible tactics and mission roles allowed. (p.1)
Tactics best suited to the new missile are ones that maintain BVR to take advantage of the increased engagement ranges and possibly combined tactics that allow the flexible maneuvering characteristics of the new missiles to engage enemy aircraft at angles that the enemy aircraft will be unable to counter. (p.102)
There’s a lot of other ‘food for thought’ on many air combat topics in the paper. Connor was meticulous in documenting what he could of the methodology that he used including the limitations, ground-rules and assumptions. There’s also some excellent sources listed for further reading in the list of references.

Time will tell if the SACM concept will be developed into a full-up weapon system. But I must say that if it doesn’t go forward in some iteration or another I will be even more surprised than I have been so far in following the CUDA/SACM story.

Note: minor edits for readability and clarity made 16 July @ 1945 CST.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

David Axe is More Boring Than Ever (Bless His Heart)

And still practicing Punk Journalism 

Bumped! Axe Doubles Down

*******Update 2 at End of Original Post******* 

Gawd. Saw this at work today and am only posting a short comment because somebody (surer than sh*t) will read something into any non-comment on my part, considering how I've already provided input (17 March 2015) on this subject:
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.
First, I'm certain that whatever the test pilot report being cited by Axe may bear some faint resemblance to Axe's representation of same. Axe's perversions of the facts, per his usual modus operandi come via his bizarro assertions-stated-as-fact  and their complete disconnect from any reality as to the purpose and goals of the first A2A scenarios that were flown.

What the objectives were came out shortly after I made my first comments. From Av Week online (2 Apr 15)and with important bits in bold/EMPHASIS:
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been flown in air-to-air combat maneuvers against F-16s for the first time and, based on the results of these and earlier flight-envelope evaluations, test pilots say the aircraft can be cleared for greater agility as a growth option. 
Although the F-35 is designed primarily for attack rather than air combat, U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin test pilots say the availability of potential margin for additional maneuverability is a testament to the aircraft’s recently proven overall handling qualities and basic flying performance. “The door is open to provide a little more maneuverability,” says Lockheed Martin F-35 site lead test pilot David “Doc” Nelson..... 
..... “When we did the first dogfight in January, they said, ‘you have no limits,’” says Nelson. “It was loads monitoring, so they could tell if we ever broke something. It was a confidence builder for the rest of the fleet because there is no real difference structurally between AF-2 and the rest of the airplanes.” AF-2 was the first F-35 to be flown to 9g+ and -3g, and to roll at design-load factor. The aircraft, which was also the first Joint Strike Fighter to be intentionally flown in significant airframe buffet at all angles of attack, was calibrated for inflight loads measurements prior to ferrying to Edwards in 2010.

The operational maneuver tests were conducted to see “how it would look like against an F-16 in the airspace,” says Col. Rod “Trash” Cregier, F-35 program director. “It was an EARLY look at any control laws that may need to be tweaked to enable it to fly better in future. You can definitely tweak it—that’s the option.”
The expectation of the tests was to see how the airplane behaved when slung about in a A2A engagement using the current control laws within the current G-limit design, and they found they can open them up the laws for more. Let's ignore the fact we don't know AF-2's empty weight and that the program was delivering the SDD baseline weight aircraft about the time the engagement occurred.

Let's pretend it doesn't matter that we don't know the weight of the F-16 or the altitudes and speeds the engagements occurred either. Let's also ignore the fact that ALL jets need to have many such engagements before the aircrew really know how to best exploit their advantages. Even without all that, Axe is STILL  just laying down a nice pile of fertilizer for the rest of the Punk Journalists and Faux Reformers to spread and nurture yet another disinformation cascade.

Sit back and watch the fun. Any bets on who cites this weak-a** hit-piece first?

Update: I see is on the case.

Update 2(1 July 15)

Wow. A lot can happen in a day, and I can't even go into the kind of detail I'd love to go into for some of it. (I'll have to stay 'hypothetical' about the now-out-in-the-open Test Report, given the caveats plastered at the top and bottom of every page of the report.)

First. A former fighter driver with experience in both the F-16 and F-18 chimed in with some thoughts that fit pretty much hand-in-glove with what I've stated so far in his post: Why The “F-35 v F-16″ Article Is Garbage.
Second. The global disinformation cascade Axe set off (and I predicted) was gathering a lot steam until the former fighter driver posted his thoughts.

Third. The F-35 program office and LM then added some information that was also consistent with my posts on the topic. (I'm not claiming any special insight here, just an experienced one that appears to be consistent with other experienced viewpoints.)

Fourth. Axe appears to have felt enough sting in the criticism he's received so far to now have gone a step further and posted a lightly-sanitized copy of the report. If he cared a whit versus just playing a gadfly, I would love to explain to him the cognitive dissonance between what the report says and means in contrast to what he asserts it means. I suspect the JPO or LM will have to go through the process of releasing some of the leaked information for export just so they can spell it out for the low-information crowd.

Until they do, I won't be linking to or addressing anything directly mentioned in the report because doing so could constitute an 'export'. I like my current digs and income status and look terrible in orange or broad stripes, so NO.
Axe better hope he's as insignificant a pissant as I think he is, because the caveats on those pages obviously leave him and his employer open to criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. It would take a lot of political capital to be spent by the anti-defense crowd to keep Axe and Co. out of the grinder if Uncle Sugar or Lockmart decide to call them out on this. BTW: May whoever leaked the report be far less connected and may the scum twist in wind over this leak.

Given I won't be discussing the contents of the report, I WILL say that Axe's doubling-down on this stupidity gives me some inkling as to how Forest Rangers must feel when some life-long urbanite visits the park and keeps pointing at some small woodland creature insisting it is a 'bear' no matter how many times the Ranger points out the differences. I can't believe he offered the report as if it supported his position. Is he THAT clueless, or is he 'whistling past the graveyard' hoping nobody will call him out further on his peddling crap?

Maybe he wouldn't have made this mistake of misreading things into the report that aren't there, if he read more widely.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Open Letter to Ed Driscoll: Power of CAS Myths

Guest 'Pundit' at Instapundit, Ed Driscolllinks to a craptastic "Save the A-10" editorial (unattributed) at Investors Business Daily.... SIX MONTHS after it was published?

I thought the editorial at the link was so bad at the time it came out (along with a bunch of similar A-10 puff pieces), I don't remember paying it much heed.  But Driscoll's resurrection of this poorly 'informed' op-ed illustrates--- once again-- the power of the CAS Mythology and "narrative". Just look at the comment thread at Instapundit. Yikes!

Normally, I like what Ed Driscoll writes, and writes about, but he's waaay out of his area of expertise this time.

Dear Ed: That IBD Op Ed could have been written by one or more squirrels.  

No, the A-10 wasn’t designed to stop Soviet Tanks. This is a common misconception I've heard General Officers utter. We are so ahistorical.

The A-10 was conceived as a weapon that could attack “hard targets” and cooperate with Army Airmobile forces in SEA. After Vietnam, the Air Force HOPED it could be survivable in the NATO order of battle and did all kinds of things to make/keep it relevant. In Europe, its main advantage was the ability to get below typical rotten Euro-weather that would keep fast-movers off the target. We have sensors and communications now that remove the weather restriction for fast movers. the F-35's The weapons the A-10 was designed to survive against predated MANPADs, Integrated Air Defense Systems and even radar controlled AAA that even the NVA were pushing into the South at the end of the Vietnam War. (Google Lam Son 719).

The A-10 wasn't fielded in 1972. It first flew, in a fly-off, in 1972. (I was there) It didn’t hit IOC until 1976 or FOC until 1978.  Core operational concepts for Europe weren't developed until 1979 (I was there too).

The A-10 HAS to fly low and slow because it doesn’t have the kinds of sensors (SNIPER pods are an improvement, but not enough) and communications capabilities to sort out the battlefield well prior to the attack. It often HAS to loiter longer just because it takes longer to set up an attack.

The cockpit armor and other design features make it harder to shoot down that it would be otherwise, but having bits and pieces shot off you is not a long term survival strategy. A-10s in Desert Storm saw the most intense air defense environment they have seen before or since. They did not do well. A-10s were pulled off the Iraqi Republican Guard units and tasked against weaker units as a consequence.

Yes “A supersonic fighter pilot flying miles above the battlefield will not see enemy forces the way a Warthog pilot can” – They will see it better. I’m always fascinated by people who cite 'low and slow" as an advantage: as if flying there gives one more time to view the ground. That maybe true at Piper Cub speeds. But I’ve 'done' low and 'A-10 slow' a the same time and the scenery is whizzing by pretty fast. It ain't that great for picking up and following specific specs out of all the other specs.

A fast mover may cost more $ up front, but if the attrition rate is even a few percentage points lower, the savings, not to mention the ability to sustain operations, far outweighs the operating costs—even if you don’t factor in the fewer 'dead aircrew' part. THAT is the proper context for framing a statement like “Force requirements should be dictated by battlefield requirements, not budget restraints.”

The F-35 will provide CAS in its own way and not in the manner the A-10 provides it, so the open question is not whether or not the F-35 “can take the punishment the A-10 can”. The open question is:
Why do people think you have to take punishment like an A-10 to fly CAS?
The Warthog is still a low-intensity-conflict “hammer”: A Completely appropriate design (ignoring they are worn out) solution if ALL you are going to do is flatten insects. It is NOT so appropriate if you have to also be ready to face  Thor who is swinging his own hammer. Unless you have the extra dollars to buy and support both kinds of weapons systems to deal with bugs and Old Norse deities, you want the one that can beat the gods without getting beat yourself.

May I Suggest Some Remedial Reading?
Start at Part 1 (Links for Part 2 through 8 at bottom of Part 1).

Just found out where and how Driscoll got suckered in.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

CAF Kickstarter Project: Save The Plane that Led D-Day.

The Commemorative Air Force is close to meeting their Kickstarter stretch goal of $250K to restore the C-47 that led the swarm of transports the night of D-1 that opened the D-Day invasion by dropping paratroopers behind the German defense of the 'Atlantic Wall'. The plane "That's All brother" was discovered to be in a queue to be either turned into a turboprop by a company that does those kinds of conversions for remote cargo hauling, etc. or provide parts for other planes, When they discovered what they had in their hands, the company decided to offer it to somebody who could preserve it.

If you can't contribute, spread the word about the project. The more people that hear of it, the better the chance of others pledging money too. Watch the video. The plane carried the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions on the opening day and kept 'haulin' through other memorable battles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

William Hartung: You got Yer'self a Reckoning a'Coming Boy!

I'm going to take this craptastic, yet all so formulaic and predictable op-ed piece by William Hartung apart ...... piece by piece.

William Hartung describing the most inches of column he ever wrote without perverting
reality to serve his ideological bent. 

Everybody ready? All settled in? Then without further ado let’s throw ole Hartung’s Op Ed up on the slab, drain the corpse, and do the postmortem.

Don’t rush forward on the F-35 
By William D. Hartung 
To hear Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon tell it, the myriad problems with the F-35 combat aircraft are all behind us, and it is time to dramatically ramp up production of the plane. Nothing could be further from the truth. The plane continues to have basic problems with engine performance, software development, operating costs, maintenance, and reliability that suggest the Pentagon and the military services should proceed with caution.

This is a CLASSIC ‘Hartung’ opener. He begins with a scurilous attack: calling a dehumanized Lockheed Martin and Pentagon ‘liars’ [Hartung claims “they” say ‘x’ but Hartung says it is not ‘true’!]. Hartung then follows with an intentionally over-generalized laundry list of things that he asserts are in the ‘present tense’ (“The plane continues to have basic problems”) instead of observing these things he lists have occurred (more or less--usually less than how he describes them) and are either already in the past, or are being addressed per a viable plan now in execution. In any case, his over–generalization obfuscates events and encourages the casual reader to assume all the problems are significant and peculiar to the F-35 in the first place, when for the most part, these kinds of ‘problems’ have been part and parcel with any advanced aircraft development program since…..ever.

Hartung’s opening is ‘battlefield prep’. We’ve noted before the use of P.A.C.E. by the faux ‘reformers’ and this is a Hartung-style invocation of same. Hartung employs it for the same reason(s) POGO et al employ it: It is critical to the trite and cliché polemic-to-follow that Hartung bases his pitch upon two fundamental assumptions--which the Faux Military Reform crowd unvaryingly ground the bulk of their argumentation. These bases are:

1) A ‘problem’ is something that is never overcome or overtaken by events until it is proven to the ‘reformers’ satisfaction. And one wonders if it can ever REALLY be proven to be a thing of the past to the ‘reformer’ mind.

2) Closely related to #1 is the usually inferred assertion that no weapon system should be fielded until it is ‘mature’ (as decided by the ‘reformers’) vs. ‘mature enough’ (as decided BY THE OPERATORS). I would call the assertion “a belief” except I’m not nearly naïve enough to think they really believe what they want everyone else to accept.

Neither of these bases have any logical relationship to any generic real-world problem-solving nor program management activities, much less any proximity to weapon-system specific development experience. While it is exceedingly rare for a ‘Reformer’ to openly acknowledge these tenets, they are among the pillars of their basic doctrine.
Both bases of ‘reformer’ argumentation will be seen in full display through the rest of Hartung’s bloviating, but I consider the second basis the more onerous. It is easy for the average reader to catch on when the ‘reformers’ inevitably cling to claims about a specific problem too long after it is apparent it is no longer a problem to the average person. But as Hartung and his ilk are chronic agitators and manipulators of the technologically ignorant, those whom the ‘reformers’ gull into actually believing a weapon system COULD be ‘matured’ (to some unspoken and/or poorly defined standard BTW) before it is in the hands of the operators are MORE vulnerable. After all, most people have no idea of the amount of work is behind even the most trivial technology they use every day. Without these presumptive non-truths propping up the protestations, their  hollow arguments immediately crumble and their motives become openly suspect to anyone applying the 'reasonable man test. I bring out this point upfront because just by remembering these are the key major premises, the reader is forewarned (and thus forearmed) to enjoy the rest of this ‘Fisking’ of Hartung’s yellow-press editorializing.
The ‘reformers’ chant their mantras of “risk”, “maturity”, explain their motivations, but this in spite of the fact that no one can show us such a case EVER occurring where a fully-functional weapon system emerged as a fully effective ‘whole’ coming out of the development phase. Nor has anyone ever adequately described how it could even be ‘possible’ without introducing more unspoken and equally erroneous ‘reformer’ assumptions into the equation. I’ve stated what I believe, but I leave it to the reader to decide if Hartung and his ilk are victims of their own bizarre ideology and rhetoric and therefore are of a kind with the people J.R. Pierce (I never tire of that guy!) identified in his famous dictum
Novices in mathematics, science, or engineering are forever demanding infallible, universal, mechanical methods for solving problems.
....Or not.

Let’s continue dissecting Hartung’s rant….

If the F-35 isn’t ready for prime time, what’s the rush? The answer can be summed up in one word: politics. The decision to approve the Marines’ version of the plane for Initial Operating Capability (IOC) before the end of this year and the recent proposal to fund over 450 planes in the next several years are designed to make the F-35 program “too big to fail.” Once production reaches a certain tipping point, it will become even harder for members of Congress, independent experts, or taxpayers to slow down or exert control over the program.
See how after setting up his presumptive preface (“If the F-35 isn’t ready for prime time..”) Hartung works from the assumption the reader has accepted his presumption and THEN builds a Strawman argument (or “begs the question”) :

” … what’s the rush? The answer can be summed up in one word: politics.”?

Hartung then attempts to suck the reader into his way of thinking by making more unsupported assertions up front. Hartung desires the slow-witted among us to view the F-35 program as HE says it is, not what those who are working the program say it is. And on a program that has seen its share of delays due more to preemptive programmatic decisions (risk avoidance) and external influences (stretching SDD to reduce concurrency) than from any real manifestations of technical issues (2 years), 
Hartung slimes on the idea that working on a bulk buy to lower unit costs at this time is a “rush”? Eventually Hartung will get around to listing ‘problems’ but not until (in typical Hartung fashion) he beats the jungle drums more in the effort to get the tribe lathered up and buy into his coming attempts at misdirection. 
I note that in his observation about when a program moves further down the road it becomes harder to ‘control’ he REALLY means it will be harder for the Faux Reformers to terminate it. After all, it is part of basic program and project management common knowledge that the further any project gets down the road, the fewer opportunities there are to change it, if only because there is less in the future that can be influenced as the present becomes past. So…. Freaking…. what? Even Hartung’s publisher of his execrable books knows that is even a truism for a simple book project. 
Note the reference to 'independent experts'. While there are always a few outside a program, they are never who the 'reformers' are really referring to. When a Hartung, or other 'reformer' say this kind of thing, what they are referring to is their fellow travelers in the anti-defense industry (more on this later).

What next?……
What needs to be fixed before the F-35 is determined to be adequate to join the active force? Let’s start with the engine. On June 23 of last year an F-35’s engine caught on fire while the plane was taxiing on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Now, nearly a year later, a new report from the Air Force’s Accident Investigation Board attributed the fire to a catastrophic failure of the engine. So far, no long-term solution has been found to the problems identified by the accident investigation board. An April report by the Government Accountability Office has described the reliability of the engine as “very poor (less than half of what it should be).”
Hartung often goes more than two paragraphs without making any concrete assertions before he starts introducing any specificity. I presume there was column-space limitation that curtailed his stem-winding this go-around. In any case, here he asserts, knowingly or unknowingly, two falsehoods.

In the first case, he characterizes the state of the permanent fix for the F135 engine as “no long-term solution has been found”. He would have been more accurate and far less deceptive if he had stated “no long-term solution selection has been publically announced”, as it has been ‘in all the papers’ that Pratt and Whitney had identified a number of options for the program to pick from, and that it is essentially a matter of evaluating the options and selecting the best option to follow.. But that isn’t hopeless sounding at all, certainly not as dire as Hartung’s little misdirection makes things sound does it? There is also no guarantee, because there is no need, that a detailed description of the final fix will even be announced.

In the second assertion, Hartung commits the Biased Sample (Cherry Picking) logical fallacy by holding up the GAO report as evidence and conveniently excluding uncontested Pratt and Whitney responses to same.

Hartung now proceeds to speak of the past as if 1) It matters and 2) treat the past as indicative of the present and future. This time, it is ‘ALIS’.
Problems have also plagued the plane’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which is needed to keep the F-35 up and running. As Mandy Smithberger of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight puts it, “ALIS is the core to making sure the F-35 functions.” A report last year by the Pentagon’s independent testing office noted that the system had been “fielded with deficiencies.” In April, F-35 maintainers told members of the House Armed Services committee that 80 percent of the problems identified by ALIS were “false positives.” In addition, as Smithberger has noted, the rush to deployment means that there will be no careful assessment of how changes in ALIS affect other aspects of the aircraft’s performance.
The funniest thing about this paragraph is I’m pretty sure neither Hartung nor Smithberger really know what the true scope and function of ‘ALIS’ is, but wha-ta-hay, let’s dissect some more.
First off, these guys apparently didn’t get the memo that the portable ‘ALIS’ was used in the Recent OT-1 aboard the USS Wasp. Software and hardware updates are pretty much going to plan. One exception is the 'downlink' to maintenance on inbound jets, which won’t be seen until Block 4. Personally, I don’t think that is a bad thing, as it is really evolved DoD security requirements driving the delay. The ‘false positives’ Mandy is quoted as all worried about are on their way to being overcome already. Maybe if Mandy had gone to a better school, y’know—an “Engineering College”, then advanced technology wouldn’t seem so daunting to her. That is, assuming she believes the crap she writes.

Mandy Smithberger, for those who haven’t been following the ‘reformer’ industry as closely as I have lo these many years, is the next-gen Winslow Wheeler’ at POGO. For those who don’t know what “the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight” is…it’s a long story. Bottom line, it is a jobs program for anti-defense miscreants sponsored by one Phil Strauss: an under-achieving-trust-fund-baby-cum-itinerant-‘photographer’ who is also, BTW, the Chairman of the Board of “Mother Jones”.
Chairman Phil Strauss: Intellect held hostage by Ideology
Mandy Smithberger, is a long-time POGOette who has only recently returned to the POGO sty from a finishing school of sorts. She dropped off POGO’s payroll for a while (to get her network mojo going with Congress and elsewhere I presume) spending time as a part-time “National Security Staffer” for a cheapa** Leftard Congresswoman whose main claim to fame is she didn’t get kill’t in the runup to, or climax of, the Jim Jones tragedy. Sure, Mandy looks pretty “cleaned-up’ nowadays, but just a few of years ago she was showing a more candid side:
Mandy Smithberger (2011) letting out a little more of the inner feral SJW than thse days, Nothing says 'serious defense thinker' than a little body-modification involving piercings in places prone to infection.     
So why is it important you know the relationship between these people? Because, as it has been known for quite some time, the ‘reform’ crowd collude and collaborate on their special targets, Their very tight clown network habitually use each other’s quotes and mutually cite or refer to each other as 'experts' in fields where the real experts wouldn’t let them in the door to call for a tow. It is more classic application of the P.A.C.E. approach.. 

Let's move on to the next bit of spittle on the floor shall we?
There have also been serious problems with the helmet that is supposed to serve as an F-35 pilot’s eyes in the sky. Until the helmet is working to full capacity, the ability of an F-35 to drop bombs accurately or recognize enemy fighters will be impaired. And in April, the Pentagon’s office of independent testing noted that in the event of a failure of the helmet, a pilot would not be able to see what is happening below or behind the plane.
In typical ‘Reform’ fashion, Hartung artfully ignores 1) the fact that the helmet’s capabilities are every bit under development as the rest of the plane, 2) the needed capabilities weren’t even known to be possible when the program began but were seen as desirous and worth the effort, and 3) that the capabilities are coming online in accordance with the current plan. 
He makes his unqualified and un-quantified assertion that the operators will be ‘impaired’ until the helmet is developed without acknowledging with the fact that the operators consider the initial capability sufficient for now (and some already say it is better than what it replaces) AND the Gen III helmet is planned by AF IOC next year
It IS quaint that Hartung and his fellow travelers feel qualified to presume they know better what is good for the Marine Corps than the Marine Corps does. That is if you believe THEY believe the drivel they are spreading and aren’t just trying to stop or curtail yet another program. BTW: the second option would make them lying b*stards of the worst kind…among other things.
The last assertion Hartung makes is a howler. Somebody tell him 1) no one else can even see through their plane on their BEST day and 2) the pilot doesn’t have to look behind him or use his helmet to ‘see’(eyeball) anything behind him as he can ‘see’ it on his panel if he or she desires. In any case, the rest of the F-35 systems still provide the pilot with situational awareness superior to any other candidate Hartung could imagine….if he could 'imagine' that is.
Declaring planes ready before they can actually meet basic performance standards is not a responsible approach to fielding an aircraft. Down the road, many of the problems that have yet to be resolved will require expensive retrofits of planes already in the force.
I could really pick on Hartung here and challenge him on exactly what he means by ‘basic’ performance standards, but the real problem is he’s F.O.S. about what kind of capability EVER can be initially fielded, because EVEN IF A WEAPON WAS PERFECT from the first article rolling out the door, the operators are the ones that will mature the capability over time. His claim is essentially 'not doing the impossible is irresponsible'. No. What IS irresponsible, is his penchant for making these kind of asinine assertions. It is yet another typical ‘Reformer’ tactic: ignore the real expectations set by the acquisition system and complain that the possible isn’t ‘enough’.

Hartung begins his signoff by making the now-cliché assertion that the F-35 is somehow ‘flawed’ because it is a multi-role fighter and attack aircraft:
The specific performance issues cited above don’t address a more fundamental problem with the F-35. The program is grounded in a basic conceptual flaw. Expecting variants of the same aircraft to serve as a fighter, a bomber, a close air support aircraft, and a plane that can land on Navy carriers and do vertical take off and landing for the Marines has resulted in design compromises that means it does none of these things as well as it should, given its immense cost.
Why, oddly enough, the above is EXACTLY the kind of stupid-think one would expect from a ‘journalist’ who came out years ago as a peace-at-any-price social activist and who I note STILL has NO relevant experience or knowledge base upon which to make such a judgement. If one did have the relevant qualifications, one might ask oneself why it is then that among the most produced aircraft in the post Korean-War era, nearly all of them are multi-role fighters? Hartung is just being an over-the-top idiot on this point, but he’s not alone. This has become ‘Reformer’ Canon, so expect it to persist years after FOC.
Current plans call for an average expenditure of over $12 billion per year for procurement of the F-35 through 2038, a figure that will be unsustainable unless other proposed programs like a new tanker, a new bomber, and a new generation of more capable unmanned aerial vehicles are substantially scaled back.
Gee. More Hartung-Brand pronouncements (“will be unsustainable unless X, Y, or Z”) that exclude the little point that the F-35 costs are coming down into current 4th Generation cost territory (as planned) and I think what Hartung fears most about the bulk buy is that if it happens then the costs will almost certainly continue to drop faster. I note here (again) that the only way the procurement of the F-35 goes through to 2038 is if they are successful AND the need for as many as planned continues. The most important thing for keeping total acquisition cost down is not the total number to be bought, but the rate at which they are bought: more ‘early’ equals more ‘cheaper’.

‘Dropping names’ as he does when mentioning new 'bombers' and new 'UAVs' reminds me of another favorite ‘reformer’ tactic: always promote the last program or the next program over the current program: lather, rinse, repeat.
Unless further, realistic testing can demonstrate that the F-35 can adequately perform all of its proposed missions, it’s not worth the cost. The Pentagon should slow down and make sure it knows what it’s getting before it spends tens of billions of additional taxpayer dollars on the F-35. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) should subject the program to close scrutiny during his committee’s proposed strategic review of major acquisition programs.
Ah, the final ‘pronouncement’. The DoD Customers (even the Navy) , US Partners, and FMS Customers know exactly what they are getting. Hartung just wants everyone to agree with his crap. This last paragraph does perhaps identify who his real target audience is though. I don’t think even McCain is that stupid, but maybe his constituents are?
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
No. Hartung’s a rabid anti-defense shill from within the Faux Reform Astroturf Noise Machine. He'd be a loyal babbler if he was still a journalist, and the CIP has it's toes in many things 'left', so Hartung could be considered a Stalwart operating inside a Fellow Traveler network.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

F-35 'Reporting' : A Study in Contrast

Take a look at the serious article at AIN on the effects of the latest F-35 cost reduction efforts here, and contrast it with the crap dropped to days ago over at 'David Axe Is Boring' for the low-information crowd.

Yeah, the author (Bill Carey) in the AIN piece brought up the unrelated GAO audit gripe with Pratt and Whitney, but he did so without any of the overwrought uninformed voices of 'doom' we usually have wade through -- and he included the official Program Office response (retort!) to the GAO 'report'. I thought it was a palate cleanser compared to the even-worse-than-usual-drivel that came out of  the 'collaboration' of two punk-journalistas at Axe's place titled: "The F-35 Just Catches on Fire Sometimes".

Duuuude! Heh heh. Heh. Uhhh um Heh...what was I saying?

I bet they thought it was a 'real cool' story when they wrote it. You can almost hear the snickering as they passed whatever they were 'smoking' back and forth trying to weave their contrived tale of woe:

What happened is not entirely surprising. Some personnel and testers have already raised concerns that the F-35 engine — known as the F135 — is prone to safety hazards.
As early as the 2007 fiscal year, engineers warned that a serious fire could break out if fuel leaked into the engine compartment, according to the latest annual report from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.
By Fiscal Year 2013, tests had confirmed these fears. “Engine live fire tests in FY13 and prior live fire test data and analyses demonstrated vulnerability to engine fire, either caused by cascading effects or direct damage to engine fuel lines,” the report noted.
Hey 'Duuudes'? An engine shatting about 12 feet of metal spears through a fuel tank is going to cause a fire no matter effing what else you do.

For the record, the Punk Journalism employed oversimplifies things greatly. The  FY 2013 report says:
The first test series confirmed Polyalphaolefin (PAO) coolant and fueldraulic systems fire vulnerabilities. The relevant protective systems were removed from the aircraft in 2008 as part of a weight reduction effort. A Computation of vulnerable Area Tool analysis shows that the removal of these systems results in a 25 percent increase in aircraft vulnerability. The F-35 Program Office may consider reinstalling the PAO shutoff valve feature based on a more detailed cost‑benefit assessment. Fueldraulic system protection is not being reconsidered for the F-35 design.
The program’s most recent vulnerability assessment showed that the removal of fueldraulic fuses, the PAO shutoff valve,and the dry bay fire suppression, also removed in 2008, results in the F-35 not meeting the Operational Requirements Document (ORD) requirement to have a vulnerability posture better than analogous legacy aircraft.
Later, the report also says:
In 2008, the JSF Executive Steering Board (JESB) directed the removal of PAO shutoff valves from the F-35 design to reduce the aircraft weight by 2 pounds. Given the damage observed in this test, the JESB directed the program to re-evaluate installing a PAO shutoff system through its engineering process based on a cost/benefit analysis and the design performance capabilities. The ballistic test results defined the significance of this vulnerability. However, the test also showed that a shutoff system needs  to outperform other fielded systems. To be effective, it must trigger on smaller leak rates, down to 2 gpm versus the 6 gpm typical of other aircraft designs, without causing excessive false alarms. - The program is currently working to identify a low leak rate technical solution. The Program Office will consider operational feasibility and effectiveness of the design, along with cost, to decide if PAO shutoff valves will be reinstated as part of the production aircraft configuration. 
 Translated, the above passage says 1) the Program Office is considering its options, 2) the big thing about 'fuses' that DOT&E is all hot about would require engineering and effort to improve the state of the art because 3) the thingy the DOT&E office wants doesn't exist and are 4) beyond current state-of-the-art engineering.

I predict the JPO will develop the d*mned fuses (if they don't cost TOO much) if only to give the DOT&E their (two) pound(s) of flesh. I also note here (perennially it seems) that a '25% increase in vulnerability' gives no true perspective on vulnerability (25% more than "very little" is still "very little") nor the higher impact to 'survivability'. The DOT&E still provides no budget to the programs they write-up to help comply with their whims, and does not EVER weigh the importance of "vulnerability" relative to the "susceptibility" in considering the real metric of "survivability". This is not, per usual, a case of DOT&E actually being an authority on what is best. It a conflict in opinion and judgement between two presumptive 'authorities', of which only the JPO also has the 'responsibility'.

I'll stand with the ones who have the responsibility for draining the swamp, not the ones filming the docudrama, thank you very much.

So just who is writing this junk? 

Kevin Knodell is a professional multimedia journalist and comic writer. He writes about veterans, military history, peacekeeping and refugees for War is Boring at He's the current writer of War is Boring's regular comic series with artist Blue Delliquanti, as well as the writer of the comic mini-history 'How The World Forgot Darfur' with artist Keith Badgely.
From June 2014-April 2015 he was the coordinator of War Is Boring's field team in Northern Iraq. That meant supervising an international team of contributors covering the war with Islamic State, the mounting humanitarian crisis and the ongoing political struggle. The team's work has been cited by Fox News, The New Yorker, Huffington Post, France 24, and Yahoo News. He has been interviewed by Vice Germany and Rudaw English to provide insight on military tactics and new media conflict reporting.
Writer, Comic Writer, Combat Voyeur. Gets quoted by other media every now and then - got it.
At least he's a redhead and can grow a beard:
Very Van Gogh-ish

Joseph Trevithick is a "Journalist and researcher with experience using various open source and public domain resources, as well as traditional research methods (including informational interviewing and familiarity with the IRB process). Has written pieces for print publications such as Small Arms Review, and online outlets, such as a contributor to Small Wars Journal and Tom Ricks’ The Best Defense. Is also a regular contributor to David Axe’s War is Boring, hosted by Has been interviewed for television by BBC World, CNN International, ABC News, and Al-Jazeera English, on topics ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to the situation in Afghanistan. Is currently working on a number of projects concerning various military topics for a range of audiences."
Also "He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006 with a dual BA in History and Policy and International Relations"

Summed up: Writer, likes history (small history from what I read), 'policy', and not just mediation -- international mediation . Gets quoted by other media every now and then - got it.
This article is a new low for Trevithick. Which is remarkable, because his old low isn't even a week old yet.
Well, he has access to a big map. Nothing says 'pro' like a big map... I guess.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Weird Days for the 'Death Spiral' Eh?

While there's really no question as to how the "Who's Death Spiral is It?" game is going to be inevitably played out from where I'm sitting, it looks like The Borg and their F-18E/F are going to get at least one more year without too much loss of altitude via the generosity of Congress. But that generosity is not being granted exclusively to just the F-18:

The vote was 278-149 in favor of the bill, which drew stiff opposition from Democrats because it uses a war-fighting account to raise defense spending next year. The measure provides $8.4 billion for 65 next-generation F-35 fighters, eight more than requested by the Pentagon, as well as $16.9 billion toward nine Navy ships.
In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee approved a $576 billion defense bill that also boosts spending on the F-35 program and adds funds to speed replacement of a Russian-made engine used to launch U.S. satellites.
The Senate bill would increase the number of F-35s made by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth to 67 from the 57 requested in fiscal 2016. It would shift $730.3 million to buy six additional Marine models of the F-35 and add $97.6 million that, when combined with other previously approved but unspent funds, would buy four additional Air Force models, according to the bill report.
The Senate measure for the year that begins Oct. 1 would also add about $978 million for 12 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet jets made by Boeing Co., rejecting the Pentagon’s plan to end Navy purchases of the plane.

Everyone's a winner!

The F-18 buy doesn't bug me all that much. Yeah the Taxpayer pays (again), but it may be worth it, if only as a wedge to help keep LM's F-35 on the cost reduction slope, And its not as if the Navy isn't going to use up the F-18E/Fs they already anyway even after they field the F-35C. Once the Navy catches up to the AF in fully exploiting LO aircraft however, those new F-18s may last years longer than planned: because they just won't be used all that much once it happens.

Speaking of Cost Reductions. 

Evidently the F-35 unit cost is ALREADY dropping due to LM's  ‘Blueprint’ To Drive Down F-35 Costs proactively, instead of just relying on Economic Order Quantities to survive Congress' penchant for micro-management and irrational change:
Initially, the manufacturer expected that it would see the first cost savings during F-35 low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 9, which Lockheed Martin and the DOD were negotiating at the time of [Lorraine] Martin’s presentation in mid-February. But it realized early benefits while producing LRIP 8 airframes, cutting about $260,000 from the cost of each of 43 fighters that it will begin delivering in 2016. “So that’s not chump change,” Martin declared. “I rolled that cost savings into the offer I made to the government when I negotiated the contract,” which the parties signed last November...

...At the time of the LRIP 8 contract award, Lockheed Martin said the average unit price of airframes for the three F-35 variants was 3.6 percent lower than the LRIP 7 price. The company reports that the LRIP 8 cost of an F-35A for the U.S. Air Force without its F135-PW-100 engine was $94.7 million. The price of an F-35A with its engine was $108 million, which was $4 million lower than Lot 7 prices, according to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO).
Martin said the manufacturing improvements her company is implementing could knock another $780,000 from the price of LRIP 9 jets. Ultimately, the blueprint’s goal is to deliver an F-35 with an engine for $80 million in then-year dollars, accounting for inflation. Martin has generated news by saying the price could be even less. “If this works, and we have confidence that it will, [the government is] potentially willing to invest on the tail end $300 million. With these two sets of investments, that’s what gets us down to under an $80 million aircraft,” she said.


Norway's First F-35 Leving 'Major Mate' for Final Assembly
Let's see what the URF cost of the 2016 F-18E/F buy is going to be in then-year dollars is when the next SAR covering the buy is  released. Should make an interesting comparison. At some point in time the mouth-breathers are going to have deal with the reality and stop amortizing F-35 sunk costs over future buys, but it won't be soon. I think they will want to pretend a little longer, if only because there isn't anything else big to b*tch about.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Stupid Journalist Tricks: Gun Control Edition

A 'Pulitzer-Prize Winning' journalist named Cynthia Tucker  has commited an 'EPIC fail' in trying to  'Shame' Texas legislators and citizens over the soon-to-be-signed  'campus-carry' law just passed in Texas.

You see, the old Prog' made the mistake of invoking the 1966 UT Tower Shooting tragedy as her vehicle for the shaming attampt. It has been said that the mass murderer who did the shooting  “introduced the nation to the idea of mass murder in a public space” . Ms. Tucker ignorantly and arrogantly opens her rant with the title:
"With campus gun vote, Texas lawmakers trample the memory of 1966 shooting victims"
And then offends again by closing her opinion 'piece' with:
"...the Texas Legislature has trampled the memory of the dead"
In-between is nothing but the usual gun-control drivel.

How Ignorant Can this Crone Be?

But the problem with Ms. Tucker's screed is that there were several private citizens, gun owners, who sprang into action to suppress the shooter (I won't repeat his name, he doesn't deserve it) and with their own rifles. One was a student who kept a gun in his (gasp) own room on campus. These Citizens took the gunman under fire to keep him from continuing to shoot at will any innocents  he could see over an area spanning several city blocks. Until the citizens started shooting back, the shooter was killing people at a high frequency. When the first law enforcement officer arrived on the scene, he took one of the civilians up the Tower with him thinking he was a lawman at first. Three men went up the tower but many if not most press accounts these days only mention the two lawmen and never mention the civilians who were involved.

At first, the press reported only one of the lawmen as having assaulted the gunman's perch. While the civilians below kept the gunman's head down, the lawmen who reached the roof had to be careful to keep theirs down as well, but there is no doubt the civilian;s suppressive fire from below, and the civilian who held a flank in the top of the tower helped the lawmen make the successful final assault on and the killing of the gunman.

So the story isn't quite what Cynthia thinks it is, but thanks 'Cyndi' for pointing out how private gun ownership can stop criminals on campus.

'Journalist', 'Professor', 'Prog'.
Hmmm. She left out 'Moron'.
(Probably got distracted by a butterfly or something shiny.)  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Believe the First Hit Piece Against the LRS-B Has Been Written

It looks like the 'Faux Reform' crowd has begun the long campaign with a 'retrospective'-themed hit piece on he B-2 as part of the wind-up.

It's typical 'Bloomberg' garbage. With a title like: "Almost Nobody Believes the U.S. Air Force Can Build an Affordable Bomber" * , how could it not be? I notice that those non-believers visited in the article have zilch long-range strike credentials. You don't often see the 'bandwagon' fallacious argument brazenly (stupidly?) combined with a fallacious appeal to authority right up front in the title, but there it is... 

*Note, 1 June 15: Craptastic Bloomberg site changed the links and memory-holed the comments since post was put up. Link changed to go to the Bloomberg piece again...for now. 

There's only a few non-misleading bits, such as... 
“There’s already the usual suspects out there telling us that we don’t need this or it won’t work,” Major General Garrett Harencak, assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, said at an Air Force Association breakfast in January. The new bomber “will be affordable and it’s desperately needed,” he said.
...buried at random amid the otherwise unrelenting drivel oozing from old and new "usual suspects",

Here's the 'B-2 history' graphic found at the link with corrections to make it 'true', or at least a hell of a lot truer than the 'B.S.' concocted by the article's 'author' David Lerman.

The Bloomberg 'piece' is "Punk Journalism" at it's finest.

And of course, it's all part of the plan:

Lerman's new enough to the game that I would probably categorize him as a "Grubber". If he wakes up to how he's been 'played' and resists from here on out, then he can be seen as a 'Former Pawn'. Otherwise we could be seeing an emerging Loyal Babbler.