Dave Scott, Lockheed Martin's "director of international customer engagement" for the JSF, recently had an interview in Japan where he discussed the F-35, PAK FA, and J-20. He dismissed both the J-20 and PAK FA as true "Fifth Generation" fighters.
"Scott said the essential element of fifth-generation fighter aircraft lies not only in their stealth capability but also in the integration of the sensor fusion that allows a boost of 5%-10% to its thrust, 5% to its military rating and 25% to its fuel efficiency. These factors combine to increase its combat radius by 25%-30% and durability by 30%-40%."Okay. First of all... How the hell does "sensor fusion" improve the F-35's engine power and fuel efficiency? The sensors are supposed to monitor what is happening outside the aircraft and present it to the pilot in easy to understand icons on either the HMD or MFD.
Second of all... Where does he get those numbers from? Did they test a F-35 without sensor fusion as a baseline? How can they say it improves durability "30%-40%"? Have they torn down two separate F-35s to find that the one with "sensor fusion" has a lot less stress fractures? Are F-35s developing cracks in the bulkheads due to a software issue? Was the engine fire caused by accidentally downloading malware?
Mr. Scott does come up with a surefire way of improving the F-35's controversial air-to-air performance. His suggestion is mind-boggingly simple: Since fuel is heavy, simply put less of it into the aircraft!
"Scott referred to a report by AFRL that claimed the F-35 is able to outperform its rivals effortlessly by reducing 30%-70% of the fuel load"
|"$10 bucks worth? You can forget about me checking the oil or wiping the windows."|
After over 100 years of aviation, I find it amazing that someone finally came to the realization that aircraft perform better when they are carrying less fuel.
Then again, there is the fact that aircraft need that fuel to fly to their destination, maneuver, and then fly back home... But that's just fancy technical stuff. A F-35 carrying 30% of its total fuel capacity should have just enough fuel to take off and maybe land afterwards. Who cares about range, loiter time, or hitting that afterburner?
Just imagine how well the F-35 would do without any fuel at all!