Canada’s Decision to Not Buy F-35s Will Cause Prices to Hike for Everyone

F-35 aerial refuel

The cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will increase by $1 million per plane if Canada withdraws from the multi-nation effort to field a new stealth fighter, the program executive said on Wednesday.

The move is also likely to open talks about which remaining F-35 partner countries get Canada’s share of manufacturing parts for the plane, US Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan told a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

The F-35A

Canadian Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau, who was elected on Monday, said his government will pull Canada out of the US-led air operations over Syria and Iraq and will also drop out of the F-35 program.

Prior to Trudeau’s election, the Canadian government was set to purchase 65 of the Lockheed Martin Co warplanes to replace its aging CF-18s, which were built by Boeing Co.

Without Canada – one of the nine countries that helped fund the plane’s development – production of the F-35 would drop by about 61 planes, Bogdan said. He predicted that would mean increased unit production costs of anywhere from 0.7% to 1%, “or about $1 million per plane.”

Bogdan said Canada’s withdrawal would also raise the cost of a follow-on development program for the other partners, since Canada was currently slated to cover about 2% of that cost.

The Pentagon plans to buy 2,457 F-35 for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy at a total cost of $391 billion, making it the Defense Department’s most expensive weapons acquisition program.

The F-35, which began development in 2001, is planned as the fifth-generation fighter for a nearly a dozen countries, including Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Turkey and Great Britain, among others.

The program overall has been beleaguered by malfunctions, schedule delays and cost overruns.

The National Interest: F-35 is helpless against the Su-35 fighter jets without the support of others

 

 

The Pentagon expects to use the F-35 as the super-maneuverable fighter, but was never planned that he will carry out just such a function. The F-35 has been and continues to be the only fighter-bomber with a strong system of self-defense in a dogfight. Russia at the same time making a bet on the modernized version of the Su-27 multipurpose, which make up the bulk of its fleet of fighter. The most promising development in this area is the Su-35, which has the latest avionics, engine and body, the newspaper notes.

 

 

“How would behaved group of four fighters F-35 if faced with a group of four Su-35? The most likely answer is they would have changed course and called the F-22 (Raptor, the US multi-purpose fighter of the fifth generation) and the F-15C (“Eagle,”), the purpose of which – air superiority. In doing so, the F-35 continued on their way to targets for an attack, “- it said in the article .

 

 

If the F-35 are left with the Su-35 alone, it is possible that they have managed to escape from the maximum of their best characteristics and covering flaws. In particular, F-35 could take advantage of stealth technologies to go unnoticed and avoid the battle in which American craft  are poorly protected, NI said.

‘Silly Exercise’? F-35 Fighter to Meet Face-to-Face With A-10 ‘Warthog’

An F-35 being refueled at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

 

The Pentagon is planning a series of tests between Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II and the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II; however the question remains open whether the two are comparable, US expert James Hasik notes.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), America’s newest and most expensive warplane ever, has stirred fierce debate over its quality-price ratio and become an object of ridicule in US media.

The American military news satire organization Duffel Blog has recently reported that the F-35 ingloriously lost in a mock dogfight with a Fokker Dr.I Triplane, similar to that once piloted by famous German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron.

“Meanwhile, according to a source close to the recent dogfight, the F-35 ‘turns like a garbage truck. It might be faster than the triplane, but that doesn’t matter in a stall fight’,” the satirical media outlet noted.

Earlier this year an obviously outraged Australian Federal Parliament member Dr. Dennis Jensen even went so far as to claim that “it is clear the JSF will be dead meat if it ever comes to close-range combat with decades-old fighters.”Curiously enough, the Pentagon’s Office of Test & Evaluation (OT&E) is reportedly planning a series of head-to-head close air support tests between the 1970s Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-35A, as well as other missions, including air-to-air combat, according to James Hasik, a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

“I think that would be a silly exercise,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said as quoted by the expert.

“Fairly, though, the general might have used an analogy from the 1920s. In a competitive gunnery exercise between a battleship and an aircraft carrier, the battleship will win. But that doesn’t tell us to buy the battleship — just not to wind up like HMS Glorious. Unless designed carefully, such tests may not tell us much at all,” Hasik pointed out in his article for the National Interest.

Indeed, are the F-35 and the A-10 really comparable?According to the expert, the truth of the matter is that even a well-designed test may leave a lot of questions open regarding which aircraft — drone, fighter-bomber or fixed wing gunship — can be considered a worthy opponent to a “dedicated, armored, manned, fixed-wing attack plane in different scenarios.”

“So choose your test carefully, OT&E. Like the USMC, the USAF needs to fill the squadrons with planes that won’t leave the guys on the ground in the doghouse, or leave General Welsh to shake a fist skyward,” Hasik concluded and added with a touch of humor: “Curse you Red Baron!”

Lightning lacks shield against Flanker thunder

 

A new report by the US-based National Security Network confirms the F-35 stealth fighter is no match for Russia’s Su-27 series aircraft or even the much older MiG-29.
Su-27
Su-27. Source:Sukhoi.org
America’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter may end up becoming cannon fodder for Russian Sukhois, suggests an August 2015 report by the US-based National Security Network (NSN).

In ‘Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35 Program’, the think tank’s policy analyst Bill French and researcher Daniel Edgren say the F-35 is likely to be “outmaneuvered” and “outgunned” by its “near peers” such as the Russian Su-27 series Flanker fighter jets.

The report backs what a number of independent aviation experts have been saying all along – the F-35 is a truly useless aircraft that will be a sitting duck if it comes up against a serious air force.

“The F-35’s performance characteristics compare unfavourably with already deployed foreign 4th Generation fighters such as the Russian designed MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker in service with air forces around the world,” the report says.

“These are the kinds of aircraft the F-35 would most likely face in air-to-air engagements against a high-end opponent. Compared with both the Su-27 and MiG-29, the F-35 is grossly inferior in terms of wing loading (except for the F-35C), transonic acceleration, and thrust-to-weight. All F-35 variants also have significantly lower maximum speeds, Mach 1.6 for the F-35 compared to Mach 2.2 for the Su-27 and Mach 2.3 for the MiG-29.”

Air-to-air simulations paint a grimmer picture. “In 2009, US Air Force and Lockheed Martin analysts indicated the F-35 could be expected to achieve only a 3-to-1 kill ratio against the decades-old MiG-29 and Su-27 despite its advantages in stealth and avionics.”

The results of other simulations have been far worse. “In one simulation subcontracted by the RAND Corporation, the F-35 incurred a loss exchange ratio of 2.4-to-1 against (Chinese air force) Su-35s. That is, more than two F-35s were lost for eachSu-35 shot down.

“While these simulations take into account a host of other factors and include assumptions about the context in which the engagements take place, they nevertheless underscore the need for scepticism regarding the F-35’s air-to-air capabilities.”

Dogfight disadvantage

The report agrees with the philosophy of Russian air combat where pilots prepare for close-up dogfights rather than rely entirely on beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles to achieve kills. “To succeed in air-to-air roles, the F-35 will very likely have to defeat enemy aircraft in within-visual-range (WVR) engagements, i.e. dogfighting,” the report says. However, the F-35 will be severely handicapped in close quarters with enemy aircraft. Dogfighting requires agility and maneuverability.”

But the F-35 lacks these characteristics and in testing has demonstrated maneuverability inferior to that of American 4thGeneration fighter aircraft – such as the F-16, F-15 and F-18 – it will replace. “The available data indicate the F-35 will be less maneuverable than advanced foreign fighters as well. While the F-35 was designed with a preference for BVR combat, in which maneuverability is supposedly less significant, history shows dogfighting is a persistent feature of air-to-air combat. Despite the F-35’s designers’ preference for long-range combat, avoiding dogfights may prove difficult.”

The Indian military summed it up beautifully after an air combat exercise with English air force pilots in Waddington in 2007: According to India’s Ministry of Defence, because there are plenty of counter and counter-counter measures available to make “modern missiles with claims of inescapable parameters redundant by using ‘chaff’ and other active/passive measures, a ‘gun kill’ is invariably a most certain kill”.

Western pilots who do not hone their close combat skills are in for a nasty surprise if they face a capable air force such as those of Russia, India or China.

Payload problems

The F-35 is a large aircraft but most of its internal space is taken up for fuel. This is a double whammy for the Lightning. First up, there’s precious little internal space for carrying bombs and missiles. Secondly, if the missiles are carried on external hard points, it nullifies whatever little claimed stealth it has.

“In addition to lacking maneuverability, the F-35 is hampered by limited space for storing weapons in its internal bays. A deficient weapons capacity has significant consequences for the aircraft’s ability to conduct missions against air and surface targets. In air-to-air engagements, the F-35 will be outgunned by foreign fighters that can carry greater numbers of missiles and cannon rounds.

“Nor can the aircraft carry enough long-range missiles to ensure it can fight effectively and reliably in BVR engagements. In engagements against surface targets, the F-35’s small internal payload means it will be able to destroy fewer targets per sortie if maintaining a stealthy configuration. This problem will be exacerbated by the F-35’s limited ability to generate sorties, i.e., fly missions, to repeatedly deliver its weapons to targets over the duration of a campaign.”

On the other hand, Russian Flankers have 10 external hard points to carry air-to-air missiles or other ordinance. Some like the Su-35 Super Flanker have 12 external hard points. This is a huge advantage for Flanker pilots because they can fire repeated salvos to achieve an air-to-air kill.

Compared with the armoury of short-, medium- and long-range missiles that Flankers are known to carry, the F-35 has been virtually disarmed. French and Edgren quote Major Richard Koch, chief of the US Air Force Air Combat Command advanced air dominance branch, “I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of the F-35 going in with only two air-dominance weapons.” But the aircraft is still sizeably outgunned even when carrying the maximum four missiles.

Missiles that miss

According to French and Edgren, the American plan to use the F-35 as a long-range combat platform – using BVR missiles – is fatally flawed because US air-to-air missiles do not have a splendid record in war. “During the Cold War, radar-guided missiles achieved a 6.6 per cent probability of kill in BVR engagements. Of the conflicts featuring BVR engagements, the highest probability of kill was achieved by Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War, yielding a 20 per cent kill rate. In the post-Cold War era, the effectiveness of BVR missiles improved. Through 2008, the US achieved a 46 per cent probability of kill with the AIM-120AMRAAM (the mainstay of the US BVR missile inventory), though these results are based on a tiny sample size of 6 engagements.”

However, the report warns, the above gains in missile effectiveness should not be expected to apply to conflict against “near-peer competitors”, which presumably include Russia, China and India as well as countries flying advanced Russian warplanes. “According to analysis by RAND, the US AIM-120 record is weighted heavily by circumstances that favour the shooter: none of the kills was achieved against adversaries that themselves had similar BVR missiles; the downed pilots did not employ electronic countermeasures, in some cases were fleeing, non-maneuvering, or lacked radar; and one case (out of a total of six) was an instance of friendly fire. US aircraft also enjoyed quantitative parity or superiority in all cases.”

The above circumstances should not be expected to characterize BVR engagements between the US and an advanced adversary. “For example, the presence of electronic countermeasures alone would probably result in a drastically lower probability of kill as Russian and Chinese fighter aircraft presently employ electronic countermeasures that use digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jamming reported to significantly hinder radar-guided missile effectiveness.

“We, the US, haven’t been pursuing appropriate methods to counter electronic attack for years,” a senior US Air Force official with extensive experience on the F-22 (the US’s most expensive stealth fighter) told The Daily Beast. “So, while we are stealthy, we will have a hard time working our way through the electronic attack to target (aircraft such as Russian-built) Su-35s and our missiles will have a hard time killing them.”

DRFM jammers in Russian and Chinese aircraft are reported to “effectively memorise an incoming radar signal and repeat it back to the sender, seriously (hampering) the performance of friendly radars. Worse, these new jammers essentially blind the small radars found onboard air-to-air missiles like the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, which is the primary long-range weapon for all US and most allied fighter planes”.

Endgame

The report concludes: “Despite plans for the F-35 to replace most of America’s fighter and attack aircraft, the platform is ill-suited to cost-effectively counter near-peer foreign militaries. The aircraft lacks the maneuverability, payload, likely ability to generate sorties, and range to effectively compete with near-peer competitors despite its lifetime costs of $1.4 trillion.

“The aircraft’s survivability depends largely upon stealth characteristics that are already at risk for obsolescence against adversaries who over the next 50 years will only continue to upgrade their radar and infrared detection systems….Given the critical failings of the F-35 programme and its exorbitant costs, the aircraft should be regarded as a bad bet. As such, proceeding with the full programme buy of nearly 2,500 units – or any large-scale buy that approaches that number – should be avoided.”

The think tank’s findings portend grave implications for American security. “By staying fully committed to the F-35 programme, the United States is investing unprecedented resources in the wrong aircraft, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons,” it says.

If the US still proceeds with full scale production, slated for 2019, the F-35 could turn out to be the biggest dud in military history, putting at risk American, and allied, lives in danger.

‘Dead Meat’ in the Skies: F-35 Will Be Torn to Pieces by Old Fighter Jets

While the delays, malfunctions and costs of the F-35 fighter jet pile higher and higher, the main contractors for the notoriously over-budget and overdue program threw record amounts of money towards politicians in 2014.

The controversy surrounding the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is still simmering, prompting experts to pose the question: what if the United States Air Force had dropped the F-35 many years earlier?

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s newest and most expensive warplane ever, has become a great disappointment for the United States Air Force and sparked fierce criticism from Western experts and lawmakers.

“[H]ad the Pentagon foregone developing an entirely new fighter jet, the $100 billion it has spent to date on the F-35 project would have bought about 740 Eurofighter Typhoons. Euro-anything, of course, is hardly the USAF’s style, and the War Department hasn’t bought a French fighter since 1918,” US expert James Hasík, a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, noted.

“So what else might the USAF have done? As a first-order vignette in this alternative history, let’s assume that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wouldn’t have ended the F-22 program in 2009 at 187 aircraft. That said, the answer was never just a lot more F-22s,” he added.Indeed, besides the US Air Force, the Navy and Marines were hoping that the new fighter jet would provide them with new unbeatable advantage in the skies. It has turned out however that although the project was $165 billion over budget, the plane has not performed as it was widely advertised.

The main complaint is that the F-35 is less maneuverable than the F-22. In July, 2015 Australian Federal Parliament member Dr. Dennis Jensen emphasized in his Op-Ed “Time to Remember the Vietnam Air War Lesson” that the plane’s manufacturer had obviously forgotten the bitter lessons of the Vietnam War.

Referring to the US military doctrine of the 1950s, Jensen noted that it claimed the era of “dogfighting” was over. As a result, America’s F-4 Phantom planes had advanced air search and targeting radars, eight air-to-air missiles, and other sophisticated equipment. However, since the days of “dogfighting” were purportedly over, the F-4 Phantom was designed without a gun, Jensen pointed out.

“Then came the moment of truth. The might of the United States, with the highly sophisticated F-4 Phantom, was supposed to easily destroy opposing enemy fighters like the MiG-17. The obsolescent MiG-17 had no air combat radar or long-range missiles, but the aircraft had guns. In combat, the missiles did not work as advertised, and the agile MiG-17 caused the F-4 all sorts of problem,” the Australian MP underscored.

And here we go again, he noted. The F-35 is equipped with state-of-art radars and sensors but what has recently surfaced is that “the JSF was comprehensively outperformed by a 40-year-old design F-16.””[I]t is clear the JSF will be dead meat if it ever comes to close range combat with decades-old fighters,” Jensen pointed out.

Interestingly enough, in an interview with RT, famed US aerospace engineer Pierre Sprey, the co-designer of the F-16 Falcon jet and the A-10 Warthog tank buster, remarked that the infamous F-35 “would be ripped to shreds even by the antiquated MiG-21,” let alone a dogfight with Russia’s fourth-generation Su-27 and MiG-29 jets.

What makes matters even worse is that many experts consider the project an outrageous waste of money.

The RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research and analysis institution, stated that although the Pentagon has pursued numerous joint aircraft programs, including the recent F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project in order to reduce Life Cycle Cost (LCC), it has obviously failed to accomplish this mission. Moreover, the programs lead to even higher overall costs.

“Unless the participating services have identical, stable requirements, the US Department of Defense should avoid future joint fighter and other complex joint aircraft development programs,” RAND’s analysts recommended, bemoaning the fact that the presence of fewer prime contractors in the US market undermines the potential for future competition and “makes costs more difficult to control.”

Newest American Weapons ‘Would not Survive Actual Battle’

F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

What the Pentagon calls state-of-the-art military hardware is actually unfit for modern warfare and was created based on best-case-scenario planning, US national security experts say.

“The Pentagon talks the talk of military innovation to deal with this new mix of threats but doggedly pursues costly weapons programs anchored in dangerous past compromises. Not only are the weapon systems unlikely to deliver well in today’s conflicts, they also could become vulnerabilities exploited by America’s adversaries during wartime,” P.W. Singer and August Cole noted.

The analysts offer specifics.

F-16 Fighting Falcons sit in a field along Miami St. at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz
F-16 Fighting Falcons sit in a field along Miami St. at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz

According to a leaked report based on a simulated combat, F-16 fighters are better in close-in dogfighting than the Pentagon’s mighty new jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-16 Fighting Falcon was introduced into service almost four decades ago, in 1978. The F-35 Lightning II stealth multirole fighter, costing some $100 million apiece, is currently undergoing testing.

While the delays, malfunctions and costs of the F-35 fighter jet pile higher and higher, the main contractors for the notoriously over-budget and overdue program threw record amounts of money towards politicians in 2014.
 
 

The F-35 was not built and is not designed to fight at close quarters. The Pentagon and the jet’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, might try to convince themselves and the people that the F-35 will not be engaged in dogfights.But the United States has been down this road before. Almost half a century ago the F-4 Phantoms were sent on missions in Vietnam without the guns needed for dogfights because the US Defense Department did not think it was necessary.

Nevertheless, they found themselves fighting at close quarters against North Vietnamese MiG-21s. The latter were introduced in 1959 but they still managed to shoot down the F-4 Phantoms proving the Pentagon wrong.

F-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II

The F-35 is by far not the only newest American weapons system unprepared for the harsh reality of a real combat, P.W. Singer and August Cole warned.

According to testers, the $479-million warships the US Navy is buying will not survive in an actual battle. The KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, costing almost $190 million apiece, is not even fitted with defensive systems to protect it from anything higher than the “medium threat” level. They are expected to enter service in 2018.

Boeing KC-46 Pegasus
Boeing KC-46 Pegasus

“Here again, the Pentagon is  crossing fingers that ships or planes won’t be in a battle different from those planned for – as if the enemy never gets a vote in the matter,” the analysts pointed out.

Planning for the best-case scenario and crossing fingers in hopes that any war scenario will ultimately play out in the US’ favor seems to be Pentagon’s favorite modus operandi. The US defense agency is not trying to imagine what the worst day of battle might look like or keep in mind that uncertainty is at the core of any conflict, especially in extreme battle conditions.

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F-35 to be easy prey for the T-50

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According to experts from different countries, the US “Future Fighter” F-35 would be an easy prey for Russian fifth generation fighter aircraft T-50 and advanced anti-aircraft missiles – such as C-400/500 or “Pantsir-C1.” We tried to figured out why.
It is expensive and slow

F-35 Lightning II was conceived as a “world plane” – that is, they must be delivered not only to the US Air Force but also its allies. This gave the opportunityfor prospective buyers to get acquainted with the aircraft in advance.
Results were not impressive. In particular, representatives of the military department of South Korea found that they could not get the F-35 to the desired time.

In addition, the American fighter does not meet Korean requirements for speed and the amount of weapons. The Americans explained that external suspension for missiles destroyed the main advantage of the F-35 stealth. And the speed of 1.2 Mach (about 1200 kilometers per hour) is quite acceptable for the aircraft invisible. Confused Korean pilots and one engine “Lightning” – it leaves no chance to hold on to the airfield in case of breakage or hit by enemy missiles.
Even more pessimistic head of the analytical agency “Air Power Australia” Carlo Kopp. In his view, F-35 does not meet the majority of requirements for the fifth generation fighter. Because of poor maneuverability, low cruising speed, low-power motor and a weak armament Dr. Kopp took the Lightning II to the 4+ generation aircraft, and not to the best of its models.