(But it's just too much fun watching him flail around)
Bill Sweetman has his spleen vent set to ‘Full Snark Mode’ in an ongoing series of posts that tail-twist the F-35 program over the F-35 Quick Look Report and what (he thinks) 'it all means’ from the Ragin’ Hedge Baby from the Shires© perspective. I noticed that in the manner of Brave Sir Robin said gadfly decided to go deep (as in shovel ready) on this topic while the Aerospace industry in general is in its ‘end of year’ hiatus. I have had more important things to do (and kill) than negative memes over the Christmas break, so I haven’t given too much attention to the uninformed ruminations of itinerant journolistas, their codependent Non-State-Actor friends, or the rest of the merry Anti-JSF tribe until tonight.
I hit the ARES blog looking for details on the latest Saudi/F-15 deal before I head back to work tomorrow and what do I find? Yeah…. another Sweetman ‘piece’ taking a swipe at the F-35 and ‘its supporters’ titled: “F-35 Proponents Say The Darndest Things”. No snark there eh?
The article is as full of the simplton-ian analysis we’ve come to expect from the source, but what really caught my eye was the closer:
So where do all these tales come from? Check out an Australian government audit report, released on December 20. In its discussion of Australia's JSF program (p261), it notes that one of 11 "major challenges" to the project, on the same level as dealing with schedule and cost changes, is to
"appropriately manage JSF misinformation in the media".
Do they mean correcting misinformation, or maintaining misinformation at an appropriate level?Since Mr. Sweetman is apparently at a loss (in more ways than one) as to what the Australian GOVERNMENT AUDIT (i.e. outside the JSF program) report means, let us use a suitable example of media misinformation to help correct misinformation and perhaps clarify for Mr. Sweetman to what the Australian Government seems to be referring.
Let’s see. How about a corrective rewrite of of Bill Sweetman’s “Why the QLR is News” piece, so that it is a little less ‘misinformative’? (Corrections and new content in Blue)
There is no faster way for an adept flack to
A typical story might use a report that quotes an unattributed analyst as saying that:
"the F-35 was turning out to have the same schedule, cost and technical issues suffered by most aircraft programs, including Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner. 'It's not a pleasant picture, but it's far from a terminal one either'."and diminish the impact of said quote by adding something like:
If "most programs" had the Dreamliner's issues, this would be one depressingly incompetent industry to work in. And the 787's problems so far have translated into strategic failure: The goal was to bury Airbus in the mid-market, but the old-school A330 is still alive and kicking, while Airbus outmaneuvered a distracted Boeing in the narrow-body segment.Notice the overt obfuscation of the main “same schedule, cost and technical issues suffered by most aircraft programs” point by focusing on an alleged Dreamliner failure? So what if the final Dreamliner story is yet to be written? It would appear that it is apparently within “someone’s” journalistic license to ‘beg the question’ even when employing misdirection.
Using evidence in hand, and avoiding unsubstantiated speculation, a disinterested observer would have to conclude that the JSF problems are not
For the F-35, it's
If one desired to build a narrative around the meaning of the QLR supporting a ‘negative’ POV, they might focus on the report’s concerns that
"a high risk that rework and retrofit costs... will continue to be realized across the entire LRIP production flow" - including LRIP-9 deliveries in 2017. Those aircraft are due to be ordered just after high-angle-of-attack flight tests are completed, and while second-lifetime fatigue tests are still under way.”While the previous is 'true' (to a point), informed and balanced reporting would also note that the QLR does not take into consideration the risks and associated costs of NOT proceeding as planned and the threats those risks pose to the program. It is not as if the fact that the technical aspects of a program pose far less total cost risk to a program than programmatic aspects is not well known. The largest drivers have been shown to be #1: quantity changes (22 percent), #2: requirements growth (13 percent), and #3: schedule changes (9 percent).
Competent reportage would take into consideration what is missing from the QLR and what the impacts of following the recommendations might afflict on the program. The QLR recommends changing quantities and schedule, two of the three largest cost drivers? Where is the reportage asking the hard questions on that apparent conflict?
A cynical member of the press might attempt to counter the fact that the
That's the good-news story? "Hi, dear, how was the check-up?" "Fantastic! I don't have Ebola yet!"When a truer, albeit far less entertaining, one might read:
“That's the good-news story? "Hi, dear, how was the check-up?" "Doc says I have to work on things but nothing that we don't think we can work out."Of course, why bring up the allegory at all if it doesn’t support the negative meme drivng a story in the first place?
Let's look at
They didn't find any, but those with bias, or insufficient technical backgrounds and experience might brush this point off by asserting something akin to:
"it would have been a damning indictment of program management if they had. For a team of outsiders to walk in and, in 30 days, discover an unfixable problem sufficient to terminate the program on the spot would point to ineptitude at best."When in reality, a problem of that magnitude on a program as far along as the F-35 is more often as plainly obvious to an experienced program manager as the nose on any obdurate journalist’s face.
As noted above, the categories were set by the QLR team on the basis of what they found. Also, the team's original charter was not to determine whether the program should be whacked, but to investigate concerns about testing delays, and concurrency costs.
It would be beyond the pale, but alas I fear not beyond the limits of some in the aerospace trade press to read into the QLR something that is not there: to create a ‘absence of evidence is evidence of something’ argument. Perhaps by contriving a question similar to:
So if they didn't find any Category I issues, why is there a Category I at all - except to provide the program's defenders with a soundbite? If anyone has a brilliant alternative answer to that question, I'm all ears.But you may ask “Certainly, no journalist, not even one apparently having an axe to grind on this particular topic, would fail to grasp that when one organizes information, the FIRST step is to create the categories for what you MIGHT find and THEN categorize what is found, as it is found, by the predetermined categories?”
"Happy New Year" indeed