Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aviation Dystopia

After starting off Monday with such a negative-Nimrod theme, I really wanted to bring up something positive up today ... but alas - DC won't let me.

Where to start? Well, let's go to one of my favorite places; the USAF.

Think of the one plane that the USAF has been trying to kill for well over three decades - but whenever there is a no kidding conflict, the Soldiers and Marines on the ground can't get enough of? Remember - everything every service does boils down to helping that Soldier or Marine stand on a street corner holding a gun.

One would think that even in a time of decline - you would want to keep some of that valuable support handy, right?
Senator Jeff Flake is making the customary rounds of Arizona during D.C.’s summer recess, and on a rare trip to Southern Arizona, he dropped a bomb on the residents of the 6th poorest metropolitan area in the country. In one of the few free opportunities to hear from their senator, Tucsonans were told that the Air Force plans to phase out the A-10, which will result in an estimated loss of 5,000 jobs.

In one of the few opportunities to hear from the Senator without paying a cover charge, Flake confirmed for listeners of the James T. Harris radio show that one of their worst fears was true: the A-10 has been marked for elimination in the next 1 to 2 years.
The F-35 can do many things - but that China Doll of an aircraft simply cannot take a hit like the A-10. The cost of a loss or damage repair? Child please.

Speaking of the F-35, David Axe has a must read for those - like me - who have been closing their eyes and hoping for the best on the F-35.
“Inferior acceleration, inferior climb [rate], inferior sustained turn capability,” they wrote. “Also has lower top speed. Can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.” Once missiles and guns had been fired and avoiding detection was no longer an option — in all but the first few seconds of combat, in other words — the F-35 was unable to keep pace with rival planes.

And partly as a result, the U.S. lost the simulated war. Hundreds of computer-code American air crew perished. Taiwan fell to the 1s and 0s representing Chinese troops in Stillion and Perdue’s virtual world. Nearly a century of American air superiority ended among the wreckage of simulated warplanes, scattered across the Pacific.

In a September 2008 statement Lockheed shot back against the war game’s results, insisting the F-35 was capable of “effectively meeting” the “aggressive operational challenges” presented in the Taiwan scenario. RAND backed away from the report, claiming it was never about jet-to-jet comparisons, and Stillion and Perdue soon left the think tank. Stillion is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C. Perdue currently works for Northrop Grumman.

Steve O’Bryan, a Lockheed vice president and former fighter pilot, targeted the war game analysis and its authors. “It was policy people who did that report, [people] with no airplane experience,” O’Bryan said, adding that many critics of the F-35 “are people who are self-proclaimed experts who live in their mom’s basement and wear slippers to work.”

But Stillion and Perdue are both veteran aviators. Stillion flew in RF-4 recon planes and Perdue in F-15s during the Gulf War. “I don’t live in my mom’s basement,” Perdue said.
Engineering compromises forced on the F-35 by this unprecedented need for versatility have taken their toll on the new jet’s performance. Largely because of the wide vertical-takeoff fan the Marines demanded, the JSF is wide, heavy and has high drag, and is neither as quick as an F-16 nor as toughly constructed as an A-10. The jack-of-all-trades JSF has become the master of none.

And since the F-35 was purposely set up as a monopoly, replacing almost every other warplane in the Pentagon’s inventory, there are fewer and fewer true alternatives. In winning the 2001 competition to build the multipurpose JSF, Lockheed set a course to eventually becoming America’s sole active builder of new-generation jet fighters, leaving competitors such as Boeing pushing older warplane designs.

Which means that arguably the worst new jet fighter in the world, which one Australian military analyst-turned-politician claimed would be “clubbed like baby seals” in combat, could soon also be America’s only new jet fighter.
Sorry about that readers. Is it too early to start drinking?

Wait, this will perk you up. What can I find uplifting from navy.mil?

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 16, 2013) Chief Hospital Corpsman Efrain Chaidez, assigned to the aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), places a dessert onto Chief Ship's Serviceman Lisa Jones' plate during a bake-off sponsored by the command's chapter of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions. Gerald R. Ford is being built in the Newport News Shipyard in Newport News, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Davis Anderson/Released)

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