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’.

Monday, November 03, 2014

F-35C Makes First Carrier Traps

Hat Tip:  'Raptor_Claw' at

Today, the first two carrier landings by F-35Cs were accomplished. One more check box checked.
The first trap (landing, catching the cross deck pendant, or 'wire') caught the 3rd (of 4) wires --exactly as it is preferred.

U.S. Navy Video:

Screen captures from this event show some interesting things going on. I'd say the pilot positioned the jet about as well as any man or UAV software could have done it. The objective is to catch the '3- Wire', and the optimal touchdown area is 95%+ between the 2nd and 3rd wire. The pilot could not have bought hardly any more area to measure hook behaviors after touch down:

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 1

Notice the main wheels are not yet touching the deck (you can see the stripe in the middle still under the left main tire).

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 2
Here the wheels are just beginning to touch the deck but are not showing signs of weight on the wheels. It looks like the first curls of tire smoke are starting to come up.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 3

This screen cap is just (barely) after the previous one, A little more tire smoke, and the weight is not yet on the wheels very much. The tailhook is about even with the 2-Wire.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 4
Weight is coming on to the wheels now and it appears the hook is down on the deck as well. Notice the 2-Wire in the center where the hook went over/across. It appears the hook bottom may have hit the wire top, or at the most barely nicked the wire. I think it hit the top because of what we see in the next screen cap.

F-35C First Carrier Landing Pic 5
There is a lot going on in this picture. The hook is about to engage the 3-Wire. The nose gear is still in the air and the 'mains' have run over the 3-Wire: you can see the wave in the pendant propagating outward. Now look back at the 2-Wire. It has very a slight displacement forward that has propagated outward (compare to previous pic) , but is laying flatter than I would expect if the hook had impacted it directly. I guess we might find out someday.

A Good Day for the Program, the Navy, and the Taxpayer eh?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Lt General Bogdan: F-35 Noise “Good to Go”

F-35 No More Noisier Than Other Fighters the VANG Has Flown

Hat Tip Spazinbad @

In fact, the F-35 will very often be quieter taking off than the F-16s it is replacing because afterburners will not be required for the F-35 under more weight, operational, and environmental (density altitudes) conditions than the F-16.

From AF Magazine's website (Google cached) :
F-35 Noise “Good to Go”
—John A. Tirpak  10/31/2014 
Studies of F-35 noise relative to legacy fighters will be released Friday, and will show that “on the ground, at full military power,” which is full power without afterburner, the F-35 is “actually quieter, by a little bit” than legacy aircraft such as the F-15, F/A-18, and F-16, F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Thursday... 
...This “real noise data” should dispel rumors that the F-35 will be much louder than its predecessors. Part of the reason is that the F-35 is “very sleek in its outer mold line, without a lot of drag,” Bogdan said. Using afterburner, however, the F-35 is considerably noisier than its predecessors, as it generates 43,000 pounds of thrust. Its noise will be on a par with the old F-4 Phantom, Bogdan reported. Although its character is different, the F-4 noise is deeper than that of the F-35, he said.

That's Great News!  

The F-4 started flying out of the Burlington VT  airfield in 1982 (preceded by Canberras, Delta Daggers, Scorpions, and Starfires) and were replaced by the F-16s in 1986. That makes the F-35 the quietest jet since 1981 to operate out of Burlington. To help the 'Stop the F-35 in Vermont' crowd (website and Facebook no less!) disseminate this awesome good news faster, I've created the following graphics to drive the good news 'home':

The F-35 has a lot shorter takeoff roll than the Phantom, so it will get to higher altitude than the Phantom before getting to  the end of the runway. I also see this phenomenon regularly at Carswell JRB compared to  the JRB's F-16s and F-18s.   

When the F-35 takes off out of Carswell, only the deeper note, and the fact that the sound does not linger tells 'your ears' that an F-35 is taking off instead of an F-16 or F-18

At Burlington's 335 ft altitude and 44°28′19″N latitude, the F-35 won't need afterburner as much as the aircraft that came before it. 

 What This Means 

Overall, the residents of Winooski can expect to be more annoyed (noise times the number of airfield operations) by the airliners currently operating out of the Burlington VT airport. Just like 'now'.


When the next "bioregional decentralist", "writer/satirist" and/or "delicate flower of Yankee womanhood with a profound lack of respect for authority" starts 'going off' about the Green Mountain Boys'  new F-35s, just tell 'em:

Also, because there is NO  'Divine Right to Stagnate' (but we won't get into that).  

Update 2 November: The 'noise report' summary is now  out:

If you were too lazy to look at the notes, the blue background data is 'old' data, the white background data is 'new' data.

Looks like I'll need to do another chart for 'Approach and Go' (airfield pattern work). In the interim. an 'artist's concept' of what a 'Stop the F-35; reaction might look like:

I suppose 'some' might think I'm being a little hard on what they see as good  'civic minded citizens'. If so, that 'some' obviously never really looked at the drivel the Stop the F-35 Vermont website and Facebook page proffer. Socialists, Luddites, Aging Hippies, NIMBYers, and Opportunists --all on a bus to 'Nowheresville' man! AKA 'Rabble meets Rousers'.