Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Robert F. Dorr F-35 Follies

Don’t Expect Insight

I believe Robert F. Dorr, long-in-tooth aviation ‘journalist’ and ersatz ‘historian’, reached new editorial and factual lows in September’s Combat Aircraft Monthly with his ‘editorial’ THE F-35 FOLLIES: DON'T EXPECT IMPROVEMENT. I already had a ‘getaroundtoit’ project on the back-burner to deconstruct one of his slightly earlier transgressions, but I found his latest output was such an over-the-top feral rant-job, that it just deserved to be exposed even more. Piece by piece. 
It ties in well with one other post I am working on, another re-look at the mythical Military-Industrial complex, and was helpfully, but unintentionally pointed out to me by an aviation enthusiast in the comments elsewhere.
After you’ve read what he wrote, ask yourself:  how much faith should one place in anything else he’s written? Try and avoid the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect when you next read something dribbling off the page written by Robert F. Dorr.

It begins: 

WAR IS FOUGHT in bad weather, amid noise, chaos and bad smells, with people trying to kill you. Yet even in sunny weather, in the calm of an airshow venue, the Pentagon was unable to get its F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to show up and to show off.
Hmmm. Dorr opens his ‘editorial’ with a (perhaps ‘slight’?) mis-characterization of the F-35’s non-deployment and subsequent missing of its planned international airshow debut. It’s only a ‘slight’ mis-characterization, IF Dorr is criticizing the DoD and F-35 program partners for not bringing themselves to accept the risk of doing so while an investigation into the engine failure and subsequent near-immolation on 23 June was (and is) ongoing. 
But I doubt that is the case: certainly Dorr isn’t implying he would have advocated the circumvention of normal safety/accident investigation protocols just to meet an airshow deadline and, on the side, accomplish a minor F-35 ‘first’ (Trans-Atlantic, overseas deployment)?
This leaves us only two other possible reasons--that I can see anyway--for Dorr even bothering to bring this subject up. First, he might believe that the F-35 couldn’t actually physically accomplish the deployment if it had been allowed. But that meaning would fly in the face of all the evidence in hand, as the F-35 program was prepared to deploy right up until the Safety Mafia ruled it out completely (See here, and here). 

That leaves us with one last possible meaning. We can assume Dorr is just poking a stick in the F-35’s programmatic ‘eye’ because……because he can? We’ll use that reason for our working hypothesis, but we’ll keep an eye out for any real justification for his aspersion. I mean "justification" above and beyond his desire to merely poke at the program, the jet, or anything else.
The F-35 follies continue. 
This summer's on-again, off-again effort by British and American experts to display an F-35 at airshows at Fairford and Farnborough would have been laughable if it was not symptomatic of larger problems.
So now Dorr punctuates his first claim by broadening it: asserting in effect: ‘I say this was a BIG problem but there’s even BIGGER problems going on!’ Will he provide proper factual evidence and employ logical argumentation to back his accusations up.
It simply is no longer acceptable to make excuses for the F-35, as former British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond did. Hammond brushed off this summer's problems by arguing that the F-35 is 'still in its developmental stage'. Nor can the F-35’s problems be brushed under the rug with bombast, some of which accompanied US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's July 10 visit to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
No, he does more stick-poking. Perhaps Mr. Dorr will now also provide proper factual evidence and logical argumentation to support his assertion that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s truthful observation that the F-35 is “still in its developmental stage” is ‘brushing’ off the ‘problems’. Or perhaps he’ll expand on what he means about a “bombast” at Eglin? Okay Mr. Dorr. We get it. Dorr is, or is pretending to be, OUTRAGED! So then, will Dorr NOW provide some proper factual evidence and logical argumentation to justify his outrage? Or will he just keep ‘going’?
And least of all is it acceptable to shrug off F-35 woes with a platitude, as did Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, who told reporters , 'When you develop a system like this you're going to have hiccups.'
He. Kept. Going…
We should hold no hope of Dorr bothering to explain why he thinks that “when you develop a system like this you're going to have hiccups” is a “platitude”. He cannot truthfully name an advanced fighter aircraft that has been fielded in the last 50 years for which Hammond’s statement would not apply. (Nor could he do so for any endeavor where the descriptors ‘complex’ and ‘advanced technology’ can be rightfully employed.)
Feh, what the heck. We’ll probably just get more outrage without substance, but let’s ride along to the end…..

It's worse than that. If a dog were to bite you in the butt, that would not make headlines because journalism classes teach that 'dog bites man' isn't news. If you wanted to be the lead story on the BBC evening news, you would have to bite the dog. But there are no 'man bites dog' episodes in the F-35 story because all of it is all too familiar. We've now observed several generations of people who have bungled the F-35 program, lied about it and drawn their pensions, and they are not making news because there is absolutely nothing new in the twisted, terrible tale of the F-35: it's 'dog bites man '.
Aaaannnnd I was right. We got MORE unsupported ranting. This time it was a pointless ‘journalism’ cliché (AKA ‘dog bites man’) followed by….more aspersions: against people involved in the F-35 program. 
So then. Mr. Dorr. Tell us. Tell us who the people were in those “generations” of “bunglers” and ‘liars’? What were their ‘lies’? Why were they ‘lies’? How (through ‘mistaken error’ of course) might you be misrepresenting the true history? Make your freakin’ case…. IF you can.
Here we are, about one fourth of the way through Dorr’s ‘editorial’, before his complaints got to any specificity beyond ‘F-35 is bad!’ and he tells us… ‘somebody lied’? Will Dorr ever provide any information useful to the reader in assessing whether his assertions as being ‘true’, ‘false’, or heck--even ‘remotely plausible’? Or is he just going to keep spitting venom at us through the keyboard?

The F-35 costs too much. That's not news. By my math, a US Air Force squadron could operate five Eurofighter Typhoons - a fighter that impresses many US airmen - for the price of three F-35s. The latest figures are $184 million for a land-based F-35A and $208 million for the carrierborne F-35C… 
Ah! Finally! Something falsifiable.
Dorr’s math is getting a little better (as in closer to the truth than his previous ‘misses’), but he should keep his self-qualifier of having “dumb math” skills until he can gain some ‘smart math’ skills. I won’t guess what his cost number sources are for the Eurofighters, because it doesn’t matter. Per the latest Selective Acquisition Report, for F-35As bought this year and in 2014 “Then Year” Dollars, the F-35A ‘costs’ $181.3M ‘per copy’ ONLY if you include all the support and non-recurring costs. As I doubt the Eurofighter unit costs Mr. Dorr was working with contained the support and non-recurring costs, the idea you could buy more Eurofighters than F-35As is ludicrous. As the same SAR shows the Unit Recurrng Flyaway Costs at about 63% of the $181.3M, or $114.1M  in 2014 dollars for 2014 jets, and Eurofighter costs
are not touted as 'low', I must conclude Dorr is playing as fast and loose with the 'present' as he seems to play with the 'past'. 
I'd do the definitive math if it was necessary, but again the SAR saves the day (pages 72 and 75) with the average unit costs of the F-35A (airframe and engine) equaling $77.7M in Base Year 2012 dollars over the life of the program. We will set aside the not so trivial point that a lot of the recurring costs that Dorr includes in his numbers are spent and in the past. this will avoid having to disabuse future commentary on the nuances of Sunk Cost and the Sunk Cost fallacy.
…Early in the program, the F-35 was touted as a low-cost alternative to the F-22 Raptor….
Hey! This is actually a truism….in the sense that it was ONE justification for the Joint Strike Fighter. But it was not the only one or even the primary one. It seems to be just a convenient way for Dorr to punch up the ‘cost’ message he’s trying to sell.
As to primary reasons for the F-35 instead of the F-22, why would anyone want to replace ALL the airplanes now performing a range of missions with a definite ‘strike’ emphasis with an F-22? Answer: they wouldn’t. In the spectrum of multi-role capabilities, the F-22 of course is clearly optimized more to fulfill the Air Dominance role than the Strike role, The Joint STRIKE Fighter is obviously optimized somewhat farther towards the Air-to-Mud end of the scale. So ‘cost’ of the TOTAL force capabilities was but one reason. Did it get overtaken by events? Dorr evidently assumes so:

….But the cost of rolling a single article out of the assembly plant door, to say nothing of lifetime operating expenses, has risen relentlessly until last year when it began to level off…
Dorr is mixing cost elements and cost impacts and presenting them as meaningful (to him --I guess), when without ‘context’ (the C in PACE) they are not meaningful. Actual unit production costs were increasing for delivered Low Rate Initial Production aircraft for a variety of reasons, not the least of which (and likely the ‘most of which’) were reduced size lot buys and in turn, lower production ramp-up rates and breaks in the learning curve. Blame Congress for stretching out the low-rate production effort all under the banner of avoiding modification costs by reducing production rates in fear of that bogeyman: ‘concurrency’.
This is but one of the unaccounted-for cost impacts of the ‘concurrency’ reduction scam being played out in the current budget environment. Dorr’s mention of the “lifetime operating expenses” fails to recognize that those expenses aren’t actual dollars…yet. They are only ‘estimates’, and the quality of the estimates have been horrendous. But the estimates are starting to get better. Therefore the estimate costs are also coming down. If Dorr and his fellow rant-boys were ever forced to acknowledge the fine print in the Selected Acquisition Reports, they would be doing their readers a service.
First, their readers would learn on Page 95 of the 2013 F-35 SAR that:

For the first time, in 2013, the CAPE O&S cost estimate incorporates actual information on component reliabilities obtained from the ongoing F-35 flight operations, including flight test and field operations. This program information is provided from the DoD test community, through the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and includes actual reliability information on many F-35 components based on data collected during approximately 8,500 hours of flight operations. 
The data include the F-35A and F-35B variants, and flight operations through October 2013. The reliability information has been compared to expected reliabilities for this stage of the program, for the A and B variants, based on reliability growth curves. The 2013 CAPE O&S estimate includes an increase of $15 billion (BY12 $) in DLR costs, relative to the 2012 Milestone B estimate, because component reliability information obtained from actual flight operations data is not consistent with expectations.
While this approach is generally to be commended, to attach any great value to the lifetime costs generated by these estimates this early in the fleet’s flight history is specious. “Approximately 8,500 fleet flight hours” is only about 4 ½% of the 200,000 fleet flight hours for all variants that has been identified as flight hour mark when the expected, designed, and required operational reliability is to be achieved and measured. To attach definitive meaning to reliability numbers at this time is statistical malpractice. To assert associated costs associated to those reliability numbers are worthy of consideration at this time is ludicrous.
The good news, also from Page 95 of the 2013 F-35 SAR, is:

CAPE will continue to work with the DoD operational test community to improve the processes and methods used to incorporate actual data and information on component reliabilities and removal rates, obtained from ongoing flight operations, into the CAPE life-cycle O&S cost estimate for the F-35 program. This information will be used, together with reliability improvement forecasts, to update the life cycle O&S cost estimates as the program proceeds to and beyond IOC.
So perhaps eventually, the support cost numbers will become meaningful. May we expect that the Bob Dorrs of this world will acknowledge this phenomenon when it emerges? Especially if the story ends with greatly reduced estimates? Or should we expect them to use any changes as factoids in order to continue their weaving of fabulous stories, perhaps promoting a repeat of past ‘conspiracy’ and ‘coverup’ memes in the face of positive developments?
Dorr closes out this paragraph with:

…Too many dollars have been poured into an aircraft that isn't worth this many greenbacks and no-one is being held to account….
This is just another unsupported allegation, whereby this time Dorr wrongly presumes he is qualified to make such a judgment for his readers. It is thrown out in the vein of a false ‘everybody knows’ argument. I note here, that this is the closest Dorr gets to discussing the concept of ‘value’ in regards to the F-35’s cost and performance, by simply declaring it isn’t worth the effort. Yet ‘buyers’ apparently do think the F-35 is worth the effort. Should it have occurred to Dorr that perhaps the ‘Customer’ actually does know what’s best for them?
Dorr flows into the next paragraph with a series of statements full of pointless indignation and storytelling. This time however, instead of avoiding providing a ‘context’ for his claims, he attempts to overlay a perversion of history: a fable to create a FALSE context for his readers to absorb:

The F-35 is behind schedule. That's not news. Never before in a defense program have so many examples been airworthy (102 , presumably minus the fire victim) without even one being ready to perform a mission. (In 1942, the first Bell XP-59A Airacomet was configured and equipped for combat on the day of its first flight.) Schedules have been re-written again and again as dates for delivery, the start of training, clearance for night and all-weather operation, and initial operating capability have moved to the right on the calendar. Remember that this summer, officials were not debating whether any F-35 is combat-ready because none is. They were debating whether a few airframes could find their way across the Atlantic to attend a couple of airshows. Too many delays have become embedded in the F-35 saga and no-one is being held to account.

First, even if it were ‘true’, the relevance of decrying that 102 F-35s were airworthy without “even one being ready to perform a mission” would be a ‘red herring’ argument employing misleading vividness: an over the top yet irrelevant argument against the worth or status of the F-35’s performance or program.

It is, however, hyperbolic nonsense on its own: a gross exaggeration. It extrapolates the fact that the F-35 has not yet been ‘cleared’ to do certain things nor been declared operational’ into the mistaken (or malicious) assertion that none of the F-35s could go out tomorrow and actually “perform a mission”. Dorr conveniently leaps past the fact that the administratively prohibited does not preclude the physically possible, and that a full capability yet to be reached does not preclude some capability already being extant in the current fleet. F-35’s are flying and launching weapons that are hitting their intended targets. If it were today’s wartime equivalent of 1942, when the XP-59 emerged, would there be any doubt that the F-35 would be pushed into combat and matured along the way? NO. Because the capability to deploy with reduced capability exists today with existing aircraft and software that exist today.
So as it turns out, the XP-59A analogy is a one of monumental overstatement and epic irrelevance. That is, it would be IF it were actually true. First let us observe that what it took to get a ‘first article’ to first flight in 1942 has little relationship to what it takes to field a modern weapon system, even ignoring the wartime urgency of the jet programs during WW2.
As to whether or not the XP-59A was truly “configured and equipped for combat” on the day of its first flight? Dorr is not even close to being right. Ever see any pictures or videos of the first XP-59A before or after it was modified to carry an open air ‘observer’ ahead of the pilot?

See any guns? 

Even Wikipedia knows guns were installed first in the later YP-59As. Unless Dorr can convincingly argue the XP-59’s ‘day one’ combat capability involved ramming relatively slow airplanes from behind, he is selling snake oil.
To drive home the point that even IF the XP-59A had been armed, it would not have been combat capable, consider how the later YP-59s versions were stomped by P-47s and P-38s in an air combat evaluation trial two years later (Wooldridge, pp13-15). The XP-59A would have been cannon-fodder in 1942. One would then have to ask what would have been the point to claim it was ‘combat ready’ when one knew it was also most likely ‘combat toast’? As the history played out, the limited run of P-59s were deemed unsuitable for combat (Wooldridge) and were relegated to the important, but far less challenging role of America’s first jet trainers.
Dorr now launches into a fairly standard litany of the anti-JSF crowd’s pet ‘stories’:
The F-35 doesn't work. That's not news. The stealth coating is finicky and requires ground crews to perform labor-intensive maintenance with toxic materials. 
Doesn’t ‘work’? He needs to define what he means by ‘work’. Does he mean it isn’t finished with its development or that it can't or won’t work when its development is done? Next he needs to identify in what ways the F-35 doesn’t ‘work’. If it doesn’t work in some way now, why is that a problem now, before development is complete? Specify. Specify. Specify. Dorr never does.
Evidence of the “stealth coating” being “finicky”? We see none. In fact we’ve seen quite the opposite.
As to “toxic materials”, would that be significantly more toxic than most high quality paint used on high-performance aircraft? Too toxic to use safely? Hardly. Is Dorr trying to get Greenpeace in on his side? Even if the F-35 coatings are like other aircraft coatings, Dorr obviously isn’t aware of what the F-35 program is now working on to bring to fruition, and how structural fiber mat is already used to reduce the LO coating stack-up now.

Also, wouldn’t total environmental impact be more important than just focusing on coatings? Does Dorr give the F-35 any credit for being the 'greenest’ jet possible?

What next Mr. Dorr?
The helmet-mounted cueing system has been pronounced cured of its teething troubles not once but twice, and pilots say they still get vibration in certain flight regimes.
The helmet mounted display system is a man-machine interface far more complex than anything that I can remember, made more complex by the fact it has to work over a wide range of light and acoustic environments. This is a capability that is an advanced development of what has been pursued since at least the F-15 program’s early days. Did Dorr expect one of the most advanced features in the F-35 to be ‘easy’? Does he realize everything will “get vibration in certain flight regimes”? 
 The real question is: Is there a problem when and where it does happen? The program says ‘not really’ and Dorr offers no counter. He apparently assumes the worst and expects his readers to take his word for it at face value. I note here that the Gen 3 helmet (the ‘twice’ in Dorr’s ‘fixed twice’) development, in the normal course of its development, is just now being introduced. Dorr therefore can’t provide any answers –only old complaints about old problems. 
Personally, I think there will be more tweaks to the helmet simply because it involves ‘pilots’ and ‘vision’ and relearning how to operate and best use the new capability. Note my statement is as an opinion versus absolute fact: something one would have thought Dorr would have learned how to do a long time ago.
The cannon is not yet cleared for operation and may need to be replaced.
Having a cannon ’cleared for operation’ has everything to do with integrating weapons to a schedule and sequence, and even after anything is 'final' as in 'baseline' it ‘may be replaced’. We know having a gun can be important, if only to keep someone from maneuvering inside your other weapon minimums, but that is about it (Read the “Red Baron” report on the early Air War in SEA). We don’t know how important the gun’s performance will be in the overall scheme of things for the F-35’s overall weapon system effectiveness. 
Dorr’s point here is pretty pointless. IMHO, using a gun to strafe ground targets is a technique with diminishing returns as the battlefield threat situation evolves and increases over time. For that purpose, I think the gun will soon seem to only be there as a ‘just in case’ weapon.
The carrier-based F-35C may or may not have a working tailhook, after years of trial and error.
Pretty condescending dismissal of the C model development, but of course Dorr is wrong again.  
A. It is not trial and error. It is Find–Fix–Fly. A little thing we do within another thing we call ‘development’.
B. Dorr must not have been at Tailhook ’13 where it came out the Navy Customer gave the contractor a faulty wire model the first time around. The contractor needed a good one to develop a viable arresting system design in the first place. Does Dorr assert that is a problem with the F-35 Program or plane instead?
C. Dorr of course also ignores the successes the F-35C has had in catching the wire on land as the graduation to pending sea trials. He also ‘appears’ unaware that there should be further tweaks until development is complete.

The short take-off/vertical landing F-35B emits too much downward jet blast for routine operation aboard assault ships.
Dorr is alluding to changes being made to SOME ships in order to ensure the F-35Bs CAN operate routinely from their decks. BTW: It’s not actually ‘blast’ (‘X’ air mass at a ‘Y’ velocity) per se, so much as it is localized heat with the ‘blast’. My NAVAIR friends find this unremarkable: All new aircraft generate new ship requirements when they are first brought into the fleet.
Hint: The ships are there for the airplanes and the airplanes are the ships’ weapon systems-- not vice versa. Requirements writers make the planes as complementary to carrier designs as they can within the design trade space and change/modify the ship’s design no more than neccessary. Again…so what?

The Pentagon and industry conspired to continue building an aircraft that doesn’t function and no-one is being held to account.
Oooooh! Dorr thinks he can now claim a ‘conspiracy’ is afoot because he’s managed to ‘harrumph’ and ‘humbug’ his way through two thirds of a lame editorial? ‘Doesn’t function’? Get back to us when the F-35 is fielded in baseline Block 3F configuration, or even if it doesn’t look like it WILL get to block 3F. Until then, and again, so what?

What’s left for Dorr to rant about? Oh…apparently LOTS of things.He does go on....

The F-35 has 'an issue with the engine'. That's not news. It dates back to at least 2006, maybe earlier. Decades in development, the F-35 has a long history of problems with its Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine that resulted in two groundings in recent years. Now, investigators are eyeing a further engine problem that occurred in the June 23 engine fire at Eglin on take-off and inflicted major damage to an F-35A (serial 10-5015, c/n AF-27). The pilot successfully shut down the aircraft and escaped unharmed. Even Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin's anointed apologist for the F-35, acknowledges that the fire is linked to 'an issue with the engine'. Years ago, for purely political reasons, the Pentagon nixed plans for an alternate engine, the more advanced and innovative General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136. Planning and installation of propulsion for the F-35 has been badly mismanaged and no-one is being held to account.
If Dorr was half the aviation writer he pretends to be, he’d have to acknowledge the F135’s development has been rather pedestrian all things considered and as compared with others in the long history of jet engine development. If this stuff was easy, everybody would be building them in their back yard. The only difference between the F135 engine and prior generations of effort is that the predecessors didn’t have a microscope and video cameras on them while they tried to do the little things that people who produce advanced technology call ‘development’.

Even the ‘groundings’ have been fairly few, usually precautionary, and short in comparison to a lot of others. I’d say that’s not too bad, considering the program is developing the biggest most powerful jet fighter turbofan ever, with the most raucous peanut gallery booing them ever. I would also assert these kinds of things occur far more often with mature, fielded jet engine technology than Dorr would be willing to let on, if he knew about them that is. Even civilian jet airliner engines have safety restrictions, stand downs for inspections, etc. from time to time. Example? 

How about the CFM56? One of the most widely used and successful engines in the world. Just the ‘active’ Airworthiness Directives open on the CFM56s can be found here. Continuous safety concern and monitoring is a fact of life, and Dorr should appreciate the value in that concern and monitoring.
If Dorr had also paid closer attention before the F136 engine was cancelled,  he would have also known that ‘Cost’ was the driver that overrode the ‘Risk’ of going to a single engine type. If he knew but still insisted on typing what he did….well, draw your own conclusions.
And of course, there simply had to be SOME politics in play at time. It was a Congressional topic of interest wasn’t it? 

From Dorr’s wilda** claim about a “more advanced and innovative General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136” I’d say politics (or marketing) was STILL in play. The F136 had the same kinds of difficulties the F135 had at a similar stage of development, but was rightfully considered immature compared to the F135 at the time of cancellation. In the spring of 2010, the F136 was only 700 hours into a 10,000 hour test program and had not been flight tested. No one knows what problems it would have encountered had it been fully developed. But in its cancellation, the F136 has become the mythical 'success-that-could-have-been-but-never-was' to the proverbial ‘some’ in the backbenches.

Dorr Goes 'All In'

Now, no matter how outrageous you might have found Dorr’s rant so far, in closing he’s about to go all ‘fundamentalist preacher’ on us. He’s casting his gaze beyond the F-35 program to identify what he apparently sees as the font of all defense acquisition ills. (Say Halleluiah!).
The F-35 is now the biggest, costliest aircraft program in history, yet its vicissitudes are only an emblem for a larger issue. In this capital on my side of the Atlantic, from the Air Staff (in the Pentagon Building) to K Street (where lobbyists hang their hats), the feeling is growing that the entire system for acquisition of military equipment has broken down
One former Pentagon analyst said, 'Industry now produces overpriced junk for our men and women in uniform and' - guess what? - 'no-one is being held to account'….
Ahhhh. The ubiquitous unnamed ‘former Pentagon analyst ‘. Was it Chuck Spinney or Pierre Sprey? Or was it someone else in the Faux-Reform Old Guard? Whoever it was, why not name them—unless the name itself would open the statement to doubt and dismissal? I’m looking for the source of this quote, but have been unable to find it so far. I’ll keep it in mind for a later revisit. Oh, and 'So What?
Critics often quote a January 17, 1961 speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower in which the 34th US President - one of history's great military commanders - warned of the dangers of a 'military industrial complex'. 'Ike' had intended to sound the alarm about a 'Congressional military industrial complex' but, in a rare lapse of judgment, deleted the first word before delivering the speech.
Here Dorr begins an argumentative ‘run home to Mama’ in the form of the mythical Military-Industrial Complex, but he once again creates a false context, an overreach, by simply getting the history ‘wrong’. 
IMHO the major problem with ‘Pop Historians’ like Dorr (or worse, as professional post-modern revisionist historians do) is that they tend to glom on to anything that supports their narrative and nothing that doesn’t. By doing so, they tend to propagate lies, half-truths, and rumors along with only carefully selected facts. Here Dorr promotes the discredited story that there was a draft of Eisenhower’s farewell speech with the word ‘Congressional’ linked to the MI terminology. As James Ledbetter has clearly observed and cogently summarized, there is no real evidence such a draft EVER existed. 
Again, even Wikipedia gets this one right, so one has to wonder how much of a ‘Pop Historian’ Dorr really is if he goes 0-2 up against Wikipedia within the confines one little ol' editorial.

But as they say on TV 'wait! there's more!'... 
Not even Eisenhower could have foreseen a Washington that could spend billions without successfully building a Littoral Combat Ship, an Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or a Joint Strike Fighter. Just to cite one example, look at the way industry has suborned the Connecticut congressional delegation: the engine issue for the F-35 is small stuff compared to a single helicopter manufacturer's iron grip, without bidding or competing, on the next presidential helicopter and the US Air Force's combat rescue helicopter. There was no competition for any of these items because competition cuts costs and brings innovation, and no-one in Washington wants that - but that isn't news, either.
Dorr whipped up a real grab bag of misdirection and obfuscation. He rehashes the unsupported claim that the F-35 is ‘unsuccessful’ and expands the claim against the LCS (a still-ongoing Navy experiment with new strategies and new technical solutions) and the EFV (a cost vs. capability conundrum if there was one and still being sorted out). He then claims somebody (Pratt and Whitney I presume) has ‘suborned’ the Congresscritters of Connecticut without evidence, nor any mention of the activities of Congressional counterparts who pushed for the F136 (selective outrage much?). 
At least Dorr goes off the Peacenick-Leftist ‘Reformer’ reservation on this one. Perhaps he failed to get the memo that cancelling the F136 was a good thing?

Someone should also inform Mr. Dorr that competition takes many forms, as in the two LCS types with different technical approaches, winnowed down from many COMPETING solutions to compete for larger (and at one time possibly exclusive) future buys. He is also apparently unaware that sometimes competition isn’t advisable or possible (as when only one manufacturer bids on a small program like the Presidential helicopter program), or there isn’t enough money in the pot for developing a viable new alternative to an established helicopter design in meeting an existing mission shortfall (such as the AF Combat Rescue helicopter which was also stymied by requirements changes).

Dorr Drones On
If the world made sense, someone would pull the plug on the F-35 follies, squadrons waiting for a new fighter would receive other types instead, and bigwigs would be castigated, if not thrown into prison. But that's not news because – guess what? - no-one is being held to account.
No Mr. Dorr...
If the world made sense, people would stick to concerning themselves with things they actually know and understand, retire before they can no longer grasp the concepts needed to understand the world as it moves beyond their ken. In such a world, those that still insisted on making popping sounds about that which they know not, or have accused others of malfeasance without viable proof would be pointed at and continuously mocked into the oblivion they deserve. But that’s not happening because – guess what? – people who possess inconsequential knowledge constantly attempt to apply their inconsequential knowledge to consequential things to ill effect in this world and yet, are NEVER held to account.

Print Ref: The P-80 Shooting Star: Evolution of a Jet Fighter; E.T. Wooldridge; Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington DC; 1979

Update 1 November:

Recent comments in this post's thread have lead me to drop the veil a little on a post I've been working on for some time. It won't be a particularly long post, in fact it will be short compared to most that have taken this much time to prepare in the past. It is just this one requires more careful attention to the level of detail and scope to be covered, The working title of the upcoming post is

The draft of the opening paragraph of the post now reads:

How Faux Military Reform Machine works: Past and Present

This post is mostly for the folks who aren't old enough (or weren't paying attention), to have caught the 'Military Reform' crowd's act the first time the circus came to town. There's nothing really different about their 'message' this time ("complexity bad!", "costs too high!") but the machine itself has been retooled over the years in reaction to political, technical, and societal developments. To understand how the machine got to the way it is wired up now, we'll first discuss how the machine was kluged together in the first place. I won't go into great lists of who the players and the played 'were', or even 'are' . If it comes up at all it will be in context of the how the shaping of the machine itself was affected.
Mr Dorr will be shown to a "Loyal Babbler".  
Loyal Babblers play a major role
 in the Faux Military Reform Machine.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Moronic Jackjawing on B-1 CAS Friendly Fire Incident

Way to Stay 'Classy'...NOT!

Hat Tip: 'Count_to_10' over at

The results of the investigation into the June 2014 ‘friendly fire’ B-1 incident is out.  Read the summary here. I’ll wait until you get back…..

Welcome back!

If you bothered to read the comments, you saw it sure didn’t take long for the morons to start twisting the results to mesh with their own stupid little beliefs held in the vast emptiness of what outwardly appears (to the unsuspecting) to be human heads sitting on their shoulders. 

In the first FIVE comments, on this article reporting on the findings, only one, made by a person named ‘Joe Hardy’, managed to make a cogent, if terse observation as the second commenter:

The JTAC may not have been up to date on the latest B-1 capabilities, in part because its relatively newness and the experienced JTAC might not have worked with a B-1 with this capability before or with any frequency, but Mr. Hardy's statement at least looks towards where the problem in this chain of events was: on the ground.

The guy with ‘firsties! Honors’, one Chris Smith, managed to conflate who did what out of the gate:

Yes Chris, you do need to “get this straight”…. and fast. Re-read what you wrote and see if it makes any sense to you the second time.

The B-1 crew told the JTAC and Ground Commander they could not see the IR strobes. The guys on the ground did not process that information correctly. This wasn’t about what they did or didn’t know, this is about confusion in the heat of battle leading to someone on the ground giving direction to the B-1 to bomb the wrong spot.

The on-scene Commander makes the call, the JTAC is supposed to make sure the on-scene Commander and CAS assets get the information they need to make the call and deliver the ordnance. No doubt the splintering of the commander’s forces without his or the JTAC’s knowledge was a serious compounding factor in the confusion. It could have even been the key link in the chain of events that created the confusion, but in any case it had to have contributed to the tragedy.

The B-1 put the bombs right where it was told to put them. It wasn't the choice of aircraft, or the aircrew's fault. Got it straight now? Well if not, read on.

The third commenter was the delightfully named 'Jerry Barker':
Jerry makes unsupported assertions and allusions, implying what he apparently perceives to be a deficiency in the B-1 or any aircraft that depend on “pods”. He also apparently operates under the mistaken belief that the A-10 would not have had ANY comparable problems in performing the same mission under those same conditions.

He assumes too much.

We cannot positively state that an A-10 would have been able to even DO the job under the conditions at the time. All we can say is that perhaps an A-10 driver might have been able to see the ‘IR beacons’ once he got within the range of his NVGs, but that would only be IF he could have discerned the general battlefield.

If an A-10 wasn’t carrying a Sniper pod, he would have had more difficulty using those same NVGs (and/or other targeting pod that are nowhere near as proficient at that task as the B-1’s Sniper pod), to even get into the position to where he might have seen the IR strobes, AND be able to figure out where most of everyone else was (remember, not even the ground commander knew his guys had split up).

The sun had set just before the B-1 arrived on the scene, and over an hour before the B-1 made its pass. This can be a bad time of day for visible and IR light contrasts. Was it on this night? What was the weather like? Was there haze? Dust? Clouds?

The waxing moon was a little more than half-moon, and would have been approximately half-way to apogee. This could have meant deep shadows (mountains remember?) were present that would have created contrasts that might play more hell with NVGs or any targeting pod with less capability than a Sniper Pod. Even if the A-10 had a Sniper Pod, unless he was at the same altitudes as the B-1, the scene would have been more difficult to assess.  Since there is only one set of eyeballs in an  A-10, the pilot would have had to spit his time between flying the plane, talking to the ground, and looking at his sensors.
The B-1 crew can use the sensors more effectively and manage the workload better. All they need is for someone to give them the right coordinates.

The fourth commenter was a ‘Michael Murphy’:

Less ardent and more succinct in his stupidity than Jerry, but every bit as thoughtless.

The fifth and final dipsh*t is one ‘Mister’ Curtis Conway:

Says the guy with no CAS aircraft design, development, or employment experience. His comment is more ‘Murphy’ than ‘Barker’….he’s just more self-assured in his stupidity.

I’ve not bothered to make much effort to slap him around in response to the usual tripe he manages to post with regularity (and with that same ‘qualifier-free' declarative style seen above) at sites I frequent.

I may have to change that.


In Closing

If anyone who reads this is on Facebook, feel free to share this far and wide. Point out that these D-bags made their stupid little statements without consideration for the well-being of the survivors (those who were involved in the mistake and those who weren’t) AND without consideration for the family and loved ones of those that were lost to this tragedy within a tragedy we call ‘war’.  Tell these sad losers to go vent their misplaced ‘outrage’ on the back of something less sacrosanct than the deaths of good men in a hard war.

Just in case some of this stupidity tries to get flushed down the memory hole, here's a screen cap of the thread at the time I excised the comments presented: