Friday, November 14, 2014

U.S. Navy ‘Non-Receptive’ to the F-35?

 Where did that come from? 

Source of original photo: US Navy 
Where did the idea that the “Navy” has been less than enthusiastic about the F-35C come from? I think I know, and can trace it back two or so years to a single statement made by the incoming CNO in an article for the USNI ‘Proceedings’. That single article gave such hope to the anti-JSF crowd that it gained far more audience and credence that it would have ever otherwise received, certainly more than it ever deserved.

Today, with the successful-to-date F-35 sea trials of the CF-3 and CF-5 aircraft operating off the USS Nimitz these past two weeks, the story has become one of a ‘surprising’ reversal of opinion (or beginnings thereof) by the Navy—at least as far as the media would lead us to believe.

I submit, that to the contrary it can be shown that what Navy enthusiasm there is for the F-35C is probably pretty much what it has always been, with perhaps a few more opinions among Wizened within the competing NAVAIR tribes lately changed for the better.

The life cycle of the whole ‘Navy chill to the F-35’ meme can be tracked easily—all the way back to its origins. The first FIVE citations/quotes are from the same publication taken over time. I do not mention the publication’s name for a couple of reasons. One, it doesn't matter. The media followed pretty much the same path getting here no matter what the sponsor. Two, I am partial to the reporting at the source and do not want to unfairly highlight this one little misadventure among a larger body of greater work. [I've numbered the steps involved in developing the meme to make it easier to discuss and reference if needed]

Ready? We begin…. 

Published this week, our source informed us that:
1. …The Navy has been much less enthusiastic about the F-35 than its two sister services, the Air Force and Marines. That seems to be changing now that the F-35C has successfully landed and taken off repeatedly from an aircraft carrier….
There was an embedded link in the statement that took me to last year:
2. “That’s the message Orlando Carvalho, new head of Lockheed Martin’s iconic aeronautics business wants to send the US Navy, the service most skeptical of the F-35."
There was an embedded link in THAT quote that took me to earlier last year:
3. “Speaking for the Navy,” added the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, “I need the fifth-generation fighter, and that [F-35] provides it, so we’re all in — but it has to perform. It has problems; it is making progress.” 
“I do not at this point believe that it is time to look for an exit ramp, if you will, for the Navy for the F-35C,” continued Greenert, who in the past has damned the Joint Strike Fighter with similar faint praise.
This passage had an embedded link to an article with this bit:
4. By contrast, the CNO sounded more resigned than excited about the Navy piece of the $240 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the carrier-launched F-35C. We have to have it, but “the question becomes how do we buy and how does it integrate into the air wing,” Greenert said. “If we bought no Cs, I think that would be very detrimental for the overall program.”
This passage contained one link to a 2012 article presenting this passage:
5. …Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert’s recent article in Proceedings announces in public what many have already known in private: The U.S. Navy is not wholly committed to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Admiral Greenert’s controversial — and, potentially, hugely consequential — article raises several interesting points, among which is the contention that advances in sensing capabilities and electronic and cyber warfare will increasingly degrade America’s stealth arsenal. 
This is not news. What is news, however, is the head of the U.S. Navy signaling a tepid commitment to the military’s largest acquisition program, not to mention the many allied and partner country participants
There were three links embedded to sources in the above to the ‘sources’ that follow. These are the first references external to the publication we’ve been citing so far:

6. A link to Admiral Greenert’s “Limits of Stealth” script in his now infamous “Payloads Over Platforms” article in USNI’s Proceedings as incoming CNO (2012), which, I note here, does not even mention the F-35. His shtick did not impress me at the time. Still doesn’t. But as we have seen in getting back to this point in time, his later comments appear to reflect a somewhat more ‘informed’ POV now. The 'CNO' is NOT 'the Navy' BTW.

7. A link to the ‘corrected final’ copy of the 2010 “The Final Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel”, A report that a word search of finds no mention of the “F-35C”, nor just the ‘F-35”, nor the words “Stealth” or “Low Observable”. Why it was even linked, I cannot tell.

8. A link to a Heritage Foundation paper titled “Thinking About a day Without Seapower: Implications for US Defense Policy”. It also has not a single mention of the “F-35”, ‘C’ model or otherwise, or “Low Observable”. It does mention the word “Stealth” three times:
Developing a Long-Term Research and Development Plan. After numerous studies and a half-dozen shipbuilding plans, Navy leaders have correctly concluded that the United States needs a larger fleet—not simply in numbers of ships and aircraft, but also in terms of increased network capability, longer range, and increased persistence. Navy leaders recognize that the U.S. is quickly losing its monopolies on guided weapons and the ability to project power. Precision munitions (guided rockets, artillery, mortars, and missiles) and battle networks are proliferating, while advances in radar and electro-optical technology are increasingly rendering stealth less effective. Policymakers should help the Navy to take a step back and look at the big picture to inform future investment portfolios. Congress should demand and uniformed leaders should welcome the opportunity to develop long-range technology road maps, including a science and technology plan and a research and development plan for the U.S. Navy. These plans should broadly outline future investments, capabilities, and requirements. The possibilities include:
  • A next-generation surface combatant,
  • A sixth-generation fighter, and
  • Low-observable capabilities beyond stealth
Building a Modern Congress–Navy Partnership. …
...To relieve additional pressure on the already strained Navy shipbuilding budget, Congress should seriously consider funding the design and construction costs of the Navy’s new replacement ballistic missile submarine outside of Navy budget controls. These national assets are employed as part of critical strategic missions. Without additional resources, the defense industrial base and the nation’s conventional advantage at sea could be sacrificed to recapitalize the strategic force. Alternatively, Congress should consider whether this extremely expensive leg of the nuclear triad should be maintained in the face of decreasing stealth, shrinking nuclear stockpiles, and limited shipbuilding funds….
Note only two of the three ‘stealth’ references relate to low observable aircraft, and those stake out a claim similar to that which Admiral Greenert has since backed away from after he assumed the CNO responsibility. In any case, the Heritage Foundation report comes closest to representing the “Navy’s” coolness towards Low Observables in the form of one of the co-authors: a retired Navy Captain and ship driver. Not quite "The Navy' .

Strip away the journalistic overlay of 'what it all means' and there's no 'there' there. So much for the Navy being ‘cool’ towards the F-35C.

Now if you want to talk about the F-18E/F/G ‘community’ (read ‘tribe’) being cool towards the F-35, well………..DUH!

Just wait until the F-35 starts smacking the F-18 tribe around in training. It will be worse.

That’s called ‘Tradition’.


Marauder said...

Excellent article as usual. My impression was that any genuine USN coolness towards the F-35 was more of a coolness towards NAVAIR in general given the urgent, immediate and looming surface and subsurface recapitalizations. After all, if NAVAIR had priority status things like the F414 EPE ("Enhanced Engine") would have been funded and developed ages ago.

george said...

As a side note bill Sweetman has become such a joke he is fawning over the odious Alan Dershowitz

SMSgt Mac said...

Thanks Marauder. I think you are right as far as the surface-air tribe priorities go being a contributor. I also think that 'Quicksilver' over at is right about the homogenization of the CAG, creating one larger tribe out of what was once 2 tribes: 'Air to Air' and 'Strike'. They created a great constituency for the 'status quo'. The Fighter/Strike competition has been reduced to a sibling rivalry. What's been feeding, or giving cover for, whatever resistance the fleet has to the F-35 is the media perpetuating the 'stealth is dead' meme.
Russia or China claims to obviate LO, then the media is either gullible enough and/or technically deficient enough to possibly believe them, and in any case promote, the Russia/China 'dezinformatsia': elevating pretty desperate technical strategies to be somehow 'game changing'.

SMSgt Mac said...

George: If you are referring to the interview Sweetman had with Dershowitz over Israeli use of force, and Dershowitz' position on same, then I should note that the only thing odius is the fawning left's propping up and promoting the devolution of any semblance of Palestinian society into one of perpetural victimhood, and tools of, and cannon fodder for, radical Islamist thought. My first choice in solving the Palestinian problem would be to fix the Arab states themselves and promote the reformation of Islam as a whole to make them viable and compatible with the rest of humanity. That's not likely to happen in anybody's lifetime. The only other viable externally-supported alternative I see would involve the term 'enhanced radiation'. that leaves the third possibility to hope for. A Palestinian equivalent of Mustapha Kemal that would bring his people together and make them (in the style of Golda Maier's phrasing): learn to love their children more than they hate Israel.

Marauder said...

"As a side note bill Sweetman has become such a joke he is fawning over the odious Alan Dershowitz." Bill Sweetman a member of *that* tribe?
The surname might be an Anglicization of Süßmann or Süssmann which can be a Jewish surname. Just a thought...

SpudmanWP said...

I watched the latest Tailhook proceedings online and everyone that had access to the the program, from flag on down, was not only excited about the F-35C but saw it as necessary going forward.

Marauder said...

Speaking of the Navy, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Clark's proposal? One of the main takeaways, for me at least, is that SM-6 is an extremely capable missile that they want to hold in reserve for the surface and airborne cruise missile carriers.

SMSgt Mac said...

Hi Marauder. Honestly, I haven't had time to look at the paper yet, but will probably get around to is sometime. I've heard some things I don't care for but am reserving judgement until I read the whole thing.

Michael Kupari said...

Not directly related to this post, SMSgt Mac, but I wanted to direct your attention to something:

More bullshit about the A-10 and CAS myths. And, in my case, apparently a case of mistaken identity. O_o

SMSgt Mac said...

LOL. 'Major Rod', as usual, is FOS. He's yet to engage me in any substantive manner on any of my CAS points, nor ever pointed out any specific point where I was supposedly 'wrong'. We went at it at DoD Buzz once to the point 'Buzz' wasnt' letting me reply for some reason (see: and another time he accused me of being 'racist' when I didn't even know he was (supposedly) 'Hispanic' (which I then pointed out was 'ethnicity', not 'race' and my family is probably more racially diverse than his but whatever).
I'm still waiting for one of these guys to actually either 1) effectively argue where I'm 'wrong' anywhere in my CAS histories or 2) Admit the reason thy take issue with the histories is because their fragile self-identity can't withstand the look in the mirror. I've often talked about the last heroic job in the military will be the 'doorkicker' infantry, but some of those guys have the worst case of 'WIDIMITWEED' (What I Do Is More Important Than What Everyone Else Does") on the planet: They have to maintain their self-delusion that ONLY they can win wars. Its not enough that in modern times that it is now shown to be 'most often' true. It's all or nothing with those guys. I've known some 'big brains' that came out of the Army, but the 'Major Rods' of the world aren't in the same league. The 'Major Rods' are not what you would call 'deep thinkers'. I may do another short CAS post soon. Maybe one or more of the Major Rods will take a shot at it if they find the intellectual 'huevos' to branch out of their co-counseling echo chambers.