Facepalm of the Week: "Cut the JSF some slack!"

During the official rollout of Australia's first two F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters, the USA's undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics (long title) played up the international partnership that has led to the JSF's current success situation.
"In this case it takes a community of nations, it takes a community of companies, it takes a community of militaries and departments within the U.S. and around the world, and all of our partners. It takes a community of industry to come together," the undersecretary added. "This aircraft is a testimony to our ability to do that."
So...  Yeah.  Keep in mind that these first two "Australian" F-35As will remain on American soil for the indefinite future as "training" aircraft.

Kendall would go on to describe the JSF's similarity to the early microcomputers of the 1960s.  Too complex for one person (or group of people) to understand.

"The program manager, the chief designer for Data General, realized the computer he was building was too complex to be understood by a single individual," the undersecretary said. But the designer realized that no single person could possibly grasp all the complexity involved in the design they were creating, he added, and the designer had to trust many others to design their parts successfully and bring the machine together. 
"It's that complexity that led to a very successful product, and they were successful at the time," Kendall said. "It's that complexity that characterizes the product behind me," referring to a gleaming new F-35. 
What Kendall neglected to mention is that Data General, the maker of the microcomputers he makes reference to, no longer exists.

"It's complicated"
Kendall continues on as if the the F-35's overcomplicated design, manufacturing process, and software is a feature, not a bug.
"'Why is the F-35 taking so long and costing so much?'
"My answer was one word," Kendall said. "Complexity."
It would have been great if Kendall had some good news regarding the JSF program in general, but no such luck.  Flight restrictions have been lifted somewhat.  Pilots can now take the JSF supersonic, but the aircraft cannot take a turn with any more force than 3.2g.  Most fighters can turn at anywhere from 7.6g (Super Hornet) to 9g.  

What really hurts the JSF program right now is that problems with the software has lead to another delay in getting the F-35 combat ready, possibly as much as 14 months.

Cries from JSF supporters to "cut the F-35 some slack" are now falling on deaf ears.  The JSF program is already billions over budget and six years behind schedule.  To give some perspective, both the F-22 and Eurofighter Typhoon (neither a model of speedy development) were well into full production and in operational use at this point in their development.  The F-35, however, will take another 5 years...  At the very minimum.

The F-35 should no longer be treated like that "misunderstood" teenager who flunks out of high school and refuses to look for a job.  We have gone far past the point of patience and understanding.  The F-35 should be treated instead like a 30-something meth-addict who breaks into houses looking for money just so it can score its next fix.  It needs to be stopped for its own good as well as others.

The USA, as well as many other nations, have gambled their future air power on this aircraft.  Billions have been invested and there has been a deliberate attempt to exterminate any viable alternative.  The JSF has become destined to become a single point of failure for western airpower.  Worse still, the aircraft is made up of single-points-of failure:  Its engine, its HMD, and its compromised stealth design.  If none of these components works as advertised, the F-35 becomes a giant step back in capability.  How far?  Imagine the F-105 Thunderchief, only slower.

The JSF was doomed from its inception.  Repeating the ill-fated TFX program, the JSF program attempted to design a fighter for every service, and every scenario.  Unlike the TFX program, the JSF program added even more complexity by adding stealth and a STOVL requirement.

H&K G11
See that fancy assault rifle above?  That there is a Heckler and Koch G11.  It was one of the first hand-held weapons to use caseless ammo.  While caseless ammo offered plenty of promise, the G11 was ridiculously expensive, complicated, required batteries to work, and early models would heat up enough to ignite ammunition prematurely, known as "cook-off".  The G11 has pretty much disappeared, becoming little more than a footnote in the history of small arms.

Recognize this one?  Of course you do.  The AK-47 has been around so long, and has become so iconic, that its image appears on a national flag.  There is nothing fancy or high tech about the AK-47.  It is constructed out of wood and stamped steel.  Newer models use plastic.  It is known for its reliability, durability, and cheap cost.  Over 75 million AK-47 variants have been produced over the years, and it continues to be as popular as ever.

The G11 is technologically superior, but which rifle would you rather have when the zombiepocalypse comes?

At the end of the day, complexity is not always desired in a weapon.


  1. At this point it should be renamed as the Joint Steal Fighter.

  2. In WWII the Sherman tank was completely outclassed by the Panzer and Tiger. However because of its simplicity, reliability, flexibility, and the fact they were produced in large numbers meant it prevailed.

    "Even best tank in the 2nd world war was not enough to hold off Patton's large strike force.
    The number of Sherman on the battle field was overwhelming."


    How quickly we have forgotten this simple lesson? I believe this principal is as applicable today as it was 69 years ago.

  3. Not much beats a 47 for simplicity. Some modern versions are fantastic weapons.
    Still my personal favourite for the ultimate SHTF weapon, because under the worst conditions, it does the job required of it.

  4. So how about the culture card.

    Some time ago I heard in the radio about different working cultures in different countries due to some report which maybe could fit here. There was an example where a French man said it was nice to work with Swedes and he explained it like this when something goes wrong everyone is gather together and try to solve the problem but in France everyone is gather together and try to find the guilty.

    And in US we have the short sighted which only allows things which he will gain credit of in his career meaning that if the result is not coming on his watch i.e. if the credit will fall on the next person responsible he will not allow the proposed solution. As he is career minded and he will only stay at his post a short time before he moves to the next post, as a result he will only allow solutions that can be done during the time he gains the credit of the result and not the person after him. So what is good for the individual is not the same as what is good for the company.

  5. So why not looking into the proprietary and closed source code issue in the fighter competition also, now UK will require odf-format http://www.techrepublic.com/article/major-win-for-open-document-format-in-the-uk/ addressing Microsoft closed code so the next natural case would be open up the military area and address LM.

    You could hope others would put the source code issue into the requirements and then we would see what the US will do.

  6. As noted in the article on stealth linked to above, there's an arms race going on between designers of stealthy airframes and designers of sensors. Sensors can be retrofitted, stealth cannot. Typhoon's IRST can reportedly see the F-22 from 50+ miles away (although no-one's commented on whether that's anough for a missile launch) and we've known for a while that low frequency radars could be used to detect objects which X-band radars struggle with. I remember discussing the latter technique with a friend of mine while I was in college, so that must be almost 20 years ago now (talking about finding F-117A's IIRC).

    It's perhaps no surprise then that as well as the usual IRST system, the PAK-FA will apparently have two L-band radars in the wing leading edges. It looks like the designers see low observability as just one part of a balanced package, rather than the aircraft's sole selling point. Render the JSF's stealth useless and the aircraft suddenly becomes nothing very special at all. Do the same to the PAK-FA and what's left is still a very capable Gen 4+ fighter.

  7. The Pakfa in reality is a low observable 4+Gen fighter that the Russian call 5Gen and L.Martin takes advantage to justify the necessity of its Turkey.

  8. I'm not convinced the F-35 is 5th Gen either.

  9. You're still way too kind Rhino. Call it the Joint Stalled Failure.

  10. The best option by far.


  11. A community of nations...right....One nation the USA will design and build this aircraft to the spec of our three flying armed services and you countries have to fund the development and buy it as is. Where is the "PlaneFax" on this plane before we buy it?
    Some time basic equipment is the right way to go. Good aircraft with a few options that fly well, have two engines, carry a good amount of weapons, are flexible and have a lot of mission options
    This is why my favorites are the Super Hornet or Rafale.

  12. If the F-35 was not complex enough, they just decided to add a new feature and make it float. Thus, for the future, in case it cannot fly or be grounded, it could make it could cross the ocean for combat. Or simply be delivered to UK or Australia. ;)


  13. Joint- have to be smoking one.
    Stealth-not with that huge tail pipe.
    Fighter- it is an attach plane at best.

  14. http://static.squarespace.com/static/51b1938de4b097e29e196fd3/t/5254388ee4b0843ea38885c3/1381251215241/airplane-joint-get-high-thcfinder.jpg

  15. http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-debates-future-fighter-requirement-402243/

  16. Generalisations are difficult I think. Also, remember there are almost always two sides to every coin. What is perceived as a negative trait in one situation can be a great quality in the next.

    But sure, different working cultures exist but one needs to be extremely careful with drawing conclusions from them.

  17. If you are going after fighters in the big Canadian territory this is a better weapon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiinNwfNi1w and then the indicated fighter is not the requested one.

    Fighters have a tendency to fly in the sky rather than sitting on the ground.

  18. Better to go with a low observable fighter like the advanced super hornet with 2 way data linkf missiles with 120km to 180km range like the AIM-120D or IRST missiles with BVR like the Aim-9X2

  19. ...why can't the United States purchase the Saab Gripen (E/F or NG) as a trainer (with Boeing's stamp of approval) and disguise it a little bit and then use it for the US Air National Guard! It is a an excellent fighter and cheaper to operate than most other planes! There is nothing to be ashamed by purchasing someone else's planes, but have them assembled in the Boeing factories in America and change the name to Boeing Gripen? ...............any ideas?

  20. Guys
    Whatever fighter Canada gets, the great engineers that we have here will develop whatever software is require for any weapon Canada wants.

  21. That's probably due to the classic answer, as it is not invented here it is no good.

  22. As the Meteor is a new generation of missiles with a new principle it will reign http://www.mbda-systems.com/e-catalogue/#/solutions/air/26/performance and the old obsolete missiles belong on the scrap yard.

    What is the NEZ and PK in the obsolete generation of missiles compared with Meteor.

    The Meteor range is 320+ km and is air breathing and can accelerat at hit.

    Hopefully clear the Norwegian rocket-motor the cold temperature problem with the missile.

  23. Now this is a definition of fifth generation that seems accurate and honest.

    Note that for the F-22, one of the single point of failure is the pilote's lungs.

  24. AK-FA haven't got some Stealth basics correct
    SU30's non-stealth features http://i.imgur.com/o8lKM.jpg
    PAK's non-stealth features http://i.imgur.com/Xs31G.jpg

    In an interesting coincidence, the T-50/Pak-Fa shares all ten Su-30 non-stealth features.



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