Monday, March 14, 2016

Stoned on Joint

We should always strive to be a learning institution. It would be even better if we were a learning institution that had a better memory.

Is this Step-1 of a 12 step program; acknowledge the problem?
“I’m not saying they’re bad. I’m not saying they’re good. I’m just saying they’re hard,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Thursday. “You ought to think really hard about what you really need out of the sixth-generation fighter and how much overlap is there between what the Navy and the Air Force really need.”

When the F-35 was conceived in the 1990s, the goal was to buy a common plane for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and even America’s allies. The Air Force version would fly from traditional runways, the Navy version would operate from aircraft carriers, and the Marine version would be built to take off from short runways and land vertically. The goal was to have all three have 70 percent of their parts in common, which was meant to save billions of dollars in development and logistics costs.

But engineering changes have produced three variants that have only 20 percent of their parts in common, Bogdan said at a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse.
From day one, people warned that the F-35 as a joint program was not going to work, that it would make the F-111 program look like a success.

Of course, they were right. There are successful joint programs, C-130, F-4, A-1, OV-10, etc - but they did not start out that way. Other services just adopted what another built.

The F-35 is what many critics warned it would be - an over-compromised aircraft that won't make anyone happy. Not only does it suffer from compounding technology risk from trying to do everything and be everything to everyone. It never works, and it won't work.

Classic example, despite all our combat experience of the last century, we have build the Navy and USMC version without an internal gun. All done because of weight issues. Amazing.

Though initial moves towards FA-XX were heading in the right directions, the DC crowd with a unblemished record of failure is trying to bend the program. From Mabus's fantasy unmanned concept to the Lucy vs Charlie Brown "Joint" thinking, we are in danger of building and flying FA-18 in to the 22nd Century.

As we continue to move forward with this, I beg, I beg on my knees that we go with an evolutionary product, we ignore the PPT sirens call for the revolutionary, we produce the possible and good as opposed to have to cancel the perfect future-imperfect.

We are on the edge of making the right call, or repeating the same mistakes;
Asked Thursday whether the Navy would work with the Air Force to buy a new sixth-generation aircraft, Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said, “It’s really too early to make a conclusive statement in that regard.”

Richardson said the two services, which are already discussing the key capabilities of a fighter that might first see combat in the 2030s, will keep talking with one another.

“Even in the early stages, [the Navy is] committed to working with the Air Force on that so that we kind of learn from each other as effectively as we can,” the admiral said at the conference.
In the meantime, defense firms have been pitching concepts of their own for nearly a decade: planes armed with lasers, special engines that don’t give off heat, and more. Now if they can just come up with a way to help keep the program itself on track.
Just say "No." Wish the USAF well, but go our own way. Let them create the unaffordable with lasers and no-heat engines that might fly by 2045 - but lets move forward on something that we can afford more than one squadron of and start production in 2020. Something that actually meets the needs of the Fleet and Marines ashore.

We fought WWII in less time, we can do this.

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