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Mar 06, 2012



I think Robyn is correct in her assessment of fighter aircraft as being obsolete. They make poor ground attack vehicles because they don't carry enough weapons and they are too slow and lack the range to attack supersonic bombers. The good ground attack vehicles are strictly subsonic aircraft such as the A-10 and the AC-130. Our own Air Force refuses to buy stealthy B-70 style supersonic bombers because they know that kind of airplane can only be intercepted by other supersonic bombers outfitted with air to air missiles. As usual, our military fights today's wars with weapons that are generations out of date. After all, what matters is that their bureaucratic structure is maintained, not that they win wars.

Robyn Ryan

Fighters are obsolete. The Air Force knew that in the 1970s, when they started pushing air superiority fighters as a 'fighter/bomber/close air support/air interdiction' platform.

It goes fast. It looks sexy. Just like the Polish cavalry in WWI. About as useful.

Actually, return of a limited horse/mule mounted warfare could be advantageous. Doesn't need oil to run.


Flight testing of the required systems functionality has not progressed to that point where a judgement of the ultimate purpose of the airplane can be made. Mitigating problems with the performance of the airframe/engine may be minor compared with what will be faced when OT&E begins.


The way we buy weapons is stupid beyond belief. The very idea that some idiot in a blue suit is going to write a "requirement" that an airplane do this or that is laughable from the start. What's going to happen if the airplane doesn't meet that "requirement"? Are you going to throw the engineers in engineering jail? Not that they'd know which of them to throw in "engineering jail" anyway. No one is responsible for anything. Aircraft are designed by committees now, not people, because if we had high profile airplane designers these days, they’d never go along with this crappy way of procuring weapons.

So now you say the airplane's combat radius is 584 nm instead of the "required" 590 nm. Ok, that's it, program cancelled. We've spent $35 billion dollars already but that 6 mile straw just broke the camel's back. Uh huh, right. That's going to happen. Because the thousands upon thousands of bureaucrats you hired to watch the thieving contractors want to be out of a job in a recession (did I say "recession", I clearly meant "recovery"). "Wait just a minute," you say, "do you mean to imply our watchdogs just became the contractor's lap dogs?" Bingo!

But wait, there’s more. Do you seriously think the US taxpayer is chomping at the bit to pay billions of dollars for one more airplane program that provides little or no return along with absolutely zero accountability? Yeah, them folks love that. Seriously, if there is a more dorked up way of buying weapons, it hasn’t been thought of yet, because no doubt we’d be all over it if it had.

And yeah, the problem is program management. The system works, it’s just managed poorly. No doubt there is a brain trust somewhere that would manage it better. After all, this system has given us $46 billion in failed programs (oh wait, better add the $6 billion wasted on C-130 AMP to that to make it a whopping $52 billion) but that’s no reason to think the next program won’t be a glowing success if we manage it better. Stupid. Just damn stupid.

Peter Goon


Completely agree with your comment on the real scandal.

However, the 1% performance to which you refer is only that on the Theshold Specification which, as was stated back in 2002, is "the bare, minimum acceptable".

On the Target Objective Specification for CR which was 690 nm and part of the Thana Marketing to Governments and Ministries/Depts of Defence around the Western world, including the Americans, the performance decrement is over 15%.


Nick Schwellenbach

Agree that this program has been mismanaged from the start. While at this point it's true that it might make sense to lower the requirements, the bigger picture is we're getting a less capable aircraft than what we thought we were buying for far more money.

Andy Wagner

You're suggesting further sacrificing both schedule and cost on a complex last minute design change to salvage 1% of combat radius performance?
There's no doubt that this program has been horrifically mismanaged. Part of that mismanagement is the result of the inability of the acquisitions community to understand that complex development programs require trade-offs between requirements and between requirements, cost, and schedule.
1% performance in this characteristic is going to be lost and gained over an over again through the operation of the aircraft as different improvements, changes, and technology are incorporated.
The scandal isn't this decision, it's the poor leadership ten years ago that allowed the program to be in this position at this point.

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