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  • F-35: Slowing Down Production Makes No Sense

    The transparency of some anti-defense ploys boggles the imagination. The most recent one has to do with the production rates of the new F-35 multi-role fighter.

    This aircraft will replace several of the worn-out fighters of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps that are sometimes older than the pilots who fly them. The multi-role abilities of the F-35 will benefit the readiness and war fighting capabilities of all the branches of service and will markedly improve national security at a time when threats are increasing in number and magnitude.

    The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as the F-35 is known, is designed to maximize both capability and survivability. Its production methodology was developed to allow for faster fielding of the aircraft and calls for incremental improvements in the design as early models roll of the line. Safety is not sacrificed, and the process known as “concurrency” puts the best available plane in the hands of the warfighters as soon as possible. It also allows for cuts in cost per copy as efficiencies build upon one another.

    Unfortunately, forces that never wanted the nation’s pilots to have this aircraft in the first place are now trying to pull a bait and switch. They are saying that there is too much concurrency, and they want to slow down production of the JSF. This would drive up the cost per unit of each JSF and probably force some of our allies to cut the number of planes they have ordered. These cuts would further drive up cost, creating a vicious cycle of cost increases.

    The clear goal here is to slow down production and drive up costs in a spiral that will eventually allow opponents of military modernization and proper readiness to call for killing the program altogether. Congress should not allow this to happen.

    The U.S. Air Force has already cut back its requests to the bare bones of readiness. To reduce the fleet further, slow the rate of production, and eventually kill the JSF in the name of artificially escalated cost overruns is irresponsible.

    Rather than give into this sneak attack, the Department of Defense should push up the rate of production. Congress should support them, protect the F-35 program, and give U.S. forces the aircraft they need to defend the nation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to F-35: Slowing Down Production Makes No Sense

    1. @E_L_P says:

      It would be nice if all the facts were taken into consideration.

      First–by design–the F-35 was never meant to take on high-end threats. The operational requirement depended on there being hundreds of F-22s to do that work. Once done, other aircraft like the F-35 would help out. We all know how that turned out. Not enough F-22s, The 380-some F-22s was an actual USAF requirement for 10 AEFs. Gates (andnow Panetta) et al don't know what they don't know about air power dominance. The F-22 is the only survivable airframe against emerging anti-access threats; most importantly, in the Pacific Rim.
      The development problems with the F-35 are not trival and easy to wave away. Since the F-35 is not able to take on anti-access threats, and is too expensive to use for any other kind of threat ( cost per flying hour of a legacy Hornet $18k. … F-35 $30K or more) the F-35 has no reason to exist. The sales pitch was that it would be cheaper to operate. As for the we-must-have-STOVL people, well, we do not need that capability at any price and 7 tons of gas per sortie for an unreliable aircraft from an "austere" base elimantes any logic for all that. Before waving the F-35 flag, it might actually be helpful to do some research on F-35 issues. Using all the talent involved on the F-35 project and re-routing it to start the F-22 is the only option against a rising Pacific threat.

    2. Raptor1 says:

      Steven, you say: "The clear goal here is to slow down production and drive up costs in a spiral that will eventually allow opponents of military modernization and proper readiness to call for killing the program altogether. Congress should not allow this to happen."
      There is so much wrong, and ironically, so much RIGHT with this statement, it amazes me you would use it as a crutch. Firstly, the idea that slowing down production NECESSARILY drives up costs is nearly as laughable as the very idea that the way to produce an affordable aircraft is to pursue stealth + new engine + future(literally) avionics, WHILE CONCURRENTLY designing and developing it 3 ditinct version, all the while maintaining commonality (i.e, every time you hit a snag, multiply by 3 the effects on the program)
      Secondly, there are MANY of us who believe in the F-35, and that's exactly WHY we want production slowed, so we can reign in costs that "spiral" due to the constant re-design and remanufacturing (no, NOT lower production rates) that must take place in order to bring broken, useless aircraft up-to-snuff.

    3. Raptor1 says:

      Continuing to pump out F-35s that can barely fly, have nowhere near the intended capabilities promised, and which will likely never make it to combat coding due to the amount of testing still needed, is exactly what makes "NO SENSE"
      Thirdly, those of us who realize the implications to our overall battle plan because of the cancellation of the Raptor program, just so that this JSF mess could accelerate, ALSO realize that the JSF, like the Raptor, is a very high-tech machine that will require a long time to field in numbers. The reason the Raptor was cancelled is not because, just like the JSF, its production was slowed… Rather, it was cancelled because there was realization that it was more expensive than envisioned on the front end (i,.e., the unit costs are highest during the initial production, but then the price drops significantly.

    4. bbarnes says:

      Slowing down production makes all the sense in the world. The fatigue airframe failed the fatigue test. They have to redesign and manufacture a fix. Trying to do a retrofit will waste billions.

    5. Weaponhead says:

      By all means we should be building aircraft with unknown defects that with require major tear-downs and rebuild to make them suitable for any useful purpose. Obviously I'm kidding.

      The F-35 has proved that the story of modeling and simulation being so good now that little if anything would be found in testing was soundly proven wrong to the point that Frank Kendall has called it "acquisition malpractice". What we should do is stop buying them completly until the design stabilizes, they finish 90 percent of the SDD flight test program, and fixes are made and proven. The jets we are buying now are going to end up as hanger queens in the depots waiting for fixes.

    6. Guest says:

      The article should've said instead, F-35: Cancel The Lemon Makes Absolute Sense.

      Read about the article: The Jet (lemon F-35) That Ate the Pentagon. Therefore you get the idea the reason why its a wrong aircraft for any air force and navy's requirements.

    7. Barry Graff says:

      I've read the article in question (The Jet that ate the Pentagon). It is full of selective facts and lacks context (did you know that what he recommends as a solution is 4 times the cost of the F-35 over the same time period – 55 years?). It is the usual smear job from a guy with an agenda. How does one build a rep as a defense spending critic without trying to build a case against every program under the sun?. He was once as vociferous a critic of the F-16 as he is the F35. Miraculously, the F-16 is now the most wonderful jet fighter in the world.

      Spare me.

      Want economies of scale? The ramp up production. Want to see costs continue to rise? Cut production. Econ 101.

    8. Barry Graff says:

      I've read the article in question (The Jet that ate the Pentagon). It is full of selective facts and lacks context (did you know that what he recommends as a solution is 4 times the cost of the F-35 over the same time period – 55 years?). It is the usual smear job from a guy with an agenda. How does one build a rep as a defense spending critic without trying to build a case against every program under the sun?. He was once as vociferous a critic of the F-16 as he is the F35. Miraculously, the F-16 is now the most wonderful jet fighter in the world.

      Spare me.

      Want to cut production costs and benefit from economies of scale? Ramp up production. Want to see costs rise? Cut production. Econ 101.

    9. Raptor1 says:

      Barry: Not sure what economics book you learned from. but ask anyone in business what happens when you tryto "field" a product before it's ready (several cell phone andportable devices come to mind) The fixes and upgrades required are only part of the story. Falling consumer confidence limits future sales, which further increases costs; apparently lost to the SF fans is the fact that, because the airframe/avionics/weapons integration has so far to go, you get the added risk of changes which cannot be economically made to already-built aircraft, esulting in, you guessed it, airframes that are essentially of no use in combat – So what's the point in INCREASING the rate of risk? There is no point, other than so fans can further mislead the bean vounters by pointing to falling costs. .

    10. Raptor1 says:

      Look, the design is ready when it's ready… No matter how many worthless shells you have, that doesn't speed UP the process of fielding an F-35 with its promised capabilities; W hat it DOES do is increase the amount of work that has to be done, back on the line, to bring those aircraft the the then-current configuration (we're assuming it's something that CAN be re-done)… So you have to slow down production TWICE,! EACH AND EVERY TIME there's a major change Where's that in your ecomnomics 101, cuz this is basic MATH I'm talking about

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