Posts

Showing posts from October, 2013

Scary planes!

Image
Happy Halloween everybody!

What better way to celebrate than to look at some of the scariest planes ever?

It's ugly.  It carries 16,000lbs of weaponry.  It shrugs off most damage like it was nothing.  It's built around a 30mm cannon that is bigger than a VW Beetle.  The A-10 is friggin' scary.  It's also badass.  Don't just take my word for it, read the best description ever of the A-10 here:  http://www.badassoftheweek.com/warthog.html

Allied ground troops love the A-10, but insurgents have nicknamed it "whispering death" thanks to its distinctive sound and brutal effectiveness.  Yet, for some reason, the USAF wants to get rid of it.

More than anything else in the Cold War, this aircraft had us scared.  Not because it was ugly.  Not because is was the fastest turboprop aircraft ever put into service...  Or the loudest.

What made the Bear scary was that it had a crazy long range of 15,000km, allowing it to reach any point on the Northern Hemisphere (and s…

Plan B.

Image
With the continued threat of US military budget cuts, upper brass at the Pentagon is finally starting to come around to the simple truth...  Current fighter fleets are soldiering on well past their prime, and are requiring life extension programs and upgrades to remain effective.  The JSF is still years away from operational status, with all signs pointing to further delays, and there is a very real possibility of outright cancelation.

Reality is setting in...  They might need to find an alternative to the F-35.

Their simply isn't time or resources to build an all new design.  The F/A-XX is still years away from any flying prototype, and securing funding for such an undertaking may prove to be a challenge in and of itself.  Any "plan B" will have to be an existing design, or, at the very least, heavily derived from one.



USN Super, and Super Duper Hornets.

This one is easy.  It's pretty much confirmed.  The U.S. Navy is contemplating ordering more Super Hornets throu…

Sequestration and the "Death Spiral"... Oh boy...

Image
Sequestration.  Fiscal cliff.  Government shut down.  Default.  Obamacare.  Turn on a U.S. news channel and your likely to get bombarded with these terms.  It makes Canada feel smugly superior to think that all we have to worry about are spoiled senators.

Whatever.  The American military has always been well secluded from budget cuts.  Large scale projects like the JSF even more so, since they provide plenty of jobs in plenty of political ridings, and are considered "top priority" for future defense needs.  Until now, anyway.

With the recent Tea Party provided drama in the USA, it is no longer business as usual for the Pentagon.  Budgets will need to be cut.  Certain measures are already being looked at, including slowing down production of new aircraft carriers.  Then, there is that big, white elephant in the room, the F-35.


It is now looking like LRIP (low rate initial production) of the the F-35 will up to 7 jets less than initially planned next year.  If this wasn't …

Cockpits!

Image
For those who haven't seen what the fighters look like from the inside, here you go:

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
There's no doubt about it, the F-35's cockpit is the future.  A wide, full color, touchscreen is the dominant feature.  With touchscreen capability and countless features, the F-35's display will no doubt be just the thing for a generation of pilots used to iPads and smartphones.
There is no heads-up-display (HUD).  Vital information is instead relayed directly onto the pilot's visor using the helmet mounted display, simulated in green in this picture.  Using the F-35's sensors, the helmet mounted display can even allow the pilot to "look through" the aircraft.  
Future concepts for the Saab Gripen and Boeing Super Hornet show a very F-35-like cockpit layout.
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon sticks with a much more conventional layout.  Three large multifunction displays (MFDs) along the traditional HUD, buttons, and dials.  …

French taunter (and tempter).

Image
Dassault Vice-President Yves Robins spoke at the AIAC Aerospace Summit a few days ago, and had a few words directed at Canada's new Minister of Public Works and Government Services Diane Finley.

Robins mentioned RAFALE International's (the consortium of French companies responsible for the Rafale) business dealings with Canadian defense and aerospace firms to the tune of $4.3 billion.  Robins then went on about Dassault submission to Canada's National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, placing a high emphasis on Canadian economic benefits if it chooses the Rafale over the F-35.

Dassault has promised a guaranteed 100% economic offset on the purchase price, common for most large-scale military purchases.  There is no offset guarantee with the F-35 however, merely the opportunity for Canadian companies to bid on JSF contracts; this means we can win big, lose big, or make even...  Depending on the whims of the market.

Dassault also has offered something completely different fro…

What is "interoperability" anyway?

Image
I went off on a comment made by Billie Flynn the other day.  My first reaction was that he was making light of deadly war action, and likening combat action to "play".  As someone who has family injured in military action, as well as seeing the effects of PTSD, let me tell you; war isn't playing.

The comment itself describes one of the major buzzwords of the F-35 and Canada's next fighter acquisition program:  "INTEROPERABILITY".  It's commonly bandied about along with the terms "STEALTH" and "5th GENERATION".  I've discussed stealth at length before, and the "5th gen" argument has been done to death as well.  The interoperability discussion seems to have been put off, however, for one very simple reason...  It's a bit unclear what INTEROPERABILITY actually means.

The word sounds impressive.  It's easy enough to find definitions of it both in a general sense and as it pertains to military forces.  One can also f…

[RANT] Hey, Billie Flynn, war isn't playtime.

Image
[WARNING:  THIS IS A RANT.  STRONG LANGUAGE TO FOLLOW.]

One of the most predominant people in the Canadian F-35 saga is Lockheed Martin test pilot William (Billie) Flynn.  Flynn's resume certainly is impressive.  Before working for Lockheed Martin he was a CF-18 pilot and commanding officer for 441 Squadron at CFB Cold Lake.  He's flown combat missions over Kosovo, and has seat time with some of today's most impressive fighter jets, including the F-18, F-16, Typhoon, Tornado, and of course, the F-35.  He's even married to real-life astronaut.

Without a doubt, Billie Flynn knows much more about the fighter jet business than I do.

But why does he say so many stupid and ridiculous things?

Flynn claimed that the F-35's kinematics were better than a Super Hornet or a Typhoon.  He was immediately called out by a fellow test pilot.  The F-35 has nowhere near the thrust-to-weight, nor the wing-loading of a Typhoon.  Downgrades to the F-35's performance specs don't…

In defense of a South Korean F-35

Image
Much has been made about South Korea's confusing F-X III fighter acquisition project.  After considering the F-35, F-15SE, and Typhoon, all three options have been deemed unsuitable based on price or capability.  The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has made their desire for the F-35 quite clear, despite the fact that is was the first fighter eliminated due to its uncertain cost.

Now, the contest has been restarted, and the JSF looks to be the leading contender, again.

I've been plenty hard on the F-35 in the past, and I certainly don't agree with the way the F-X III competition is being done, but you know what?  I actually think the F-35 will be a pretty good fit for the ROKAF.

Why?

North Korea
South Korea's rowdy northern neighbor has a comparatively large military force, but their equipment is old, outdated, and sometimes fake.  The F-35's stealth design will likely have little trouble slipping through North Korean defenses, if need be.  American B-2's s…

Turkey day leftovers.

Image
I had a hard time narrowing down some of the turkey aircraft yesterday, so here's some leftovers!

Little more than a V-1 flying bomb with a cockpit added, the Reichenberg served a similar purpose as the Japanese Ohka kamikaze plane.  The only real difference was that the German pilot was encouraged to bail out after placing the aircraft into its final descent.  Yeah...  Good luck with that.



If the picture above looks like a F-16 Fighting Falcon...  That's understandable, as the Mitsubishi F-2 is highly based on the "Agile Falcon" concept proposed but rejected in favor of the JSF project.  It does utilize a different wing design, and it's a heavier aircraft capable of carrying heavier payloads.  It's actually a pretty decent fighter, but what makes it a turkey is that, at a $127 million unit cost, the F-2 is roughly 4 times the cost of a comparable F-16 Block 50/52.  It's as expensive as Japan's F-15J fighter, but nowhere near as capable.  Even more pa…