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The Joint Strike Fighter program faces an unknown future

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, produced by Lockheed Martin, looks to assume a pivotal role in our nation's air defense, replacing the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps' F-16 and F-18 aircraft of the Eighties and Nineties.  While military officials and politicians continue to discuss the need for high-priced Joint Strike Fighter craft, General Electric's future participation in the project remains unknown.

The U.S. Pentagon's top weapons buyer, Ashton Carter, noted a GE-provided alternative F-35 JSF engine may not be as beneficial as previously thought.  If true, GE's recent offer to manufacture 100 alternate F-35 JSF engines for a set cost will not matter.

"The department has looked at and analyzed the potential benefits of a second engine of the Joint Strike Fighter for years,” Carter told Bloomberg during a recent interview.  “The crux of the analysis is that the additional upfront costs of a second engine are very clear and very real and the possible savings associated with a hypothesized competition in the future are much harder to estimate.”

Despite the concern, House and Senate negotiators have approved additional funding for the F136 engine made by GE Aviation.  Even so, the White House may veto the bill in the future, as President Barack Obama has not shown interest in investing more into the project.  If the bill passes, GE Aviation will receiver $560 million to fund the engine's development and production.

The controversy involving JSF fighter craft come at a time the U.S. military faces a wider fighter gap in part due to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to end the production of F-22 Raptor aircraft.

Military officials, politicians and private contractors will continue to work towards a resolution to ensure the military gets its next-generation aircraft.

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The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By Amiga500 on 10/20/09, Rating: 0
RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2009 9:20:21 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah well we killed the F22 so the F35 is what we've got.

Kill it and then in 20 years we'll be screwed since then the majority of our fighters will then be 70+ years old. The F15 and F16 are 1950s and 1960s era. The F18 is 1970s. Even the F22 was started in the 80s. The F35 was started in the 90s. With the rate our aircraft's airframes are aging, we need the F35.

You can say all you want "why not just build new F16s and F18s". Because other nations have better or will have better fighters. I have a few issues with the F35 myself given some of the knowledge I have, but its still what we've got. It's too late to change directions on it.

But I really don't see that stopping the idiots in Congress and Obama from killing it if they get in their head they have the ability(votes) to. They want every dime we have (and a whole lot more we don't) for pushing entitlement programs.

RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By oab on 10/20/09, Rating: 0
By jadeskye on 10/20/2009 9:45:22 AM , Rating: 2
Funny you should mention the eurofighter as ths F35 is also a joint project with britain and a number of other european countries also providing funding. I believe Britain intends to buy over 100 of these things for their new carriers among other things.

By theapparition on 10/20/2009 12:12:56 PM , Rating: 3
The F-22 is clearly ahead of the Eurofighter if it were to get in a dogfight but ... it also costs twice as much. Would each F-22 in a shooting war have a kill:loss of 2:1? I could see it.

And what pricetag would you place on the pilot and training? People who can pilot these things are not dime-a-dozen. Pilots are possibly more valuable than the aircraft itself (just pricetag, not including moral positions like human life).

But to answer your question, as far as released stats go, in military exercises, the F-22 has never even been targeted once, and has always lit the competition. Don't know what that translates into kill ratio.

RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By Amiga500 on 10/20/2009 9:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
Kill it and then in 20 years we'll be screwed since then the majority of our fighters will then be 70+ years old.

In 20 years time, I believe one of three things will have happened (we are most of the way there on the first 2, and making solid progress on the 3rd). Forget about 'stealth', its verging on obsolence already.

1. 'Fighters' will be things like the 747 ABL - anything detected within a 200mile radius of this will be fried.

2. Fighters will be suicidal UCAVs - think AAMs on steroids with much more endurance and using turbine, not rocket, engines.

3. DEWs will have become compact enough to fit on manned fighters (obliterating (2) as they can be intercepted like a phalanx/ASM situation) and sheilding will have become strong enough to prevent long range interception by (1). Then its back to heavy fighters - probably using something akin to mini rail guns and precision targeted.

Either way, things based on the operational concept of conventional anti-air missiles as we know them today will be totally obsolete. Paradigm shift my man... paradigm shift...

RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By Mitch101 on 10/20/09, Rating: -1
By Mitch101 on 10/21/2009 8:04:02 AM , Rating: 1
Looks like I posted on no sense of humor day.

RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By Gholam on 10/20/09, Rating: -1
By Master Kenobi on 10/20/2009 11:16:50 AM , Rating: 2
The technology utilized in their design is always older than when they flew. I'd be more likely to say 1960's technology however.

By Yawgm0th on 10/20/2009 11:29:16 AM , Rating: 2
Both the F-15 and F-16 were designed in the 70s, not the 50s or 60s.

RE: The US taxpayers are being taken for a ride....
By Yawgm0th on 10/20/2009 11:26:49 AM , Rating: 1
The F15 and F16 are 1950s and 1960s era. The F18 is 1970s.
All three are from the 70s.

Yeah well we killed the F22 so the F35 is what we've got.

Honestly, we should just bring the F-22 back instead of getting F-35s.

By theapparition on 10/20/2009 12:25:00 PM , Rating: 3
F-15 started life as a proposal in 1964.

F-16 secured funds in 1969, yet most of the requirements were already set forth in the mid 60's.

Considering military technology rarely uses the latest tech, it by no means is any stretch to say it uses 1960's technology.

Honestly, we should just bring the F-22 back instead of getting F-35s.

You've completely lost credibility with this response. About as useful as thinking you'll take the boat to work today rather than the car.

Two completely different aircraft, with completely different roles to fill. F-22 is an air-superiority fighter, AF only. F-35 is a multipurpose airframe used for Marine, Navy, AF, and Army use. Can't land an F-22 on a carrier, can you?

By Amiga500 on 10/20/2009 12:46:11 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah well we killed the F22 so the F35 is what we've got.

The F-22 is only certified to carry 3 (yes THREE) weapons currently.

The AIM-9, AIM-120 and GBU-31 (JDAM).

Thats it. Work is ongoing on the SDB, but no certification yet.

Conversely, it'll be 2016 before the JSF can use AAMs in anger. Pathetic, isn't it?

Lockheed are fleecing you folks.

This post is extremely misleading
By cjc1103 on 10/20/2009 10:03:54 AM , Rating: 5
This post is all about the second sourcing the F35's engine, not whether there is demand for the aircraft, as there is a real need for it to replace aging 70's era fighters. This article is really about the debate over whether an alternate engine source is needed.
The idea is to have another company compete to manufacture a second power plant for the F-35. This will result in increased pressure for technical innovation through competition, and reduce the risk of a either engine having a major design problem. this worked well enough for the F-15 and F-16 fighter programs. At issue with the F-35 fighter program is whether the alternate engine will result in cost savings. The Pentagon says the Pratt and Whitney engine is reliable enough, and they can save money by single sourcing the engine, but Congress wants to protect jobs at GE, and so has kept funding for the alternate engine alive. It's all a big mess, and boils down to which numbers you believe. Ultimately Congress will probably find a way to keep the GE engine alive, even though it will cost an extra $2+ billion, according to some estimates.

By kattanna on 10/20/2009 11:08:02 AM , Rating: 2
aye exactly.

there was an article here within dailytech about the whitehouse not wanting to further fund the unneeded engine.

did find this article though

Specifically, President Obama opposes the inclusion of $369 million in the bill for more F-22 fighter jets and $603 million for development and procurement of the alternative engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program .

By johnsonx on 10/20/2009 11:52:23 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I found that all quite puzzling; nothing in the article appears to have any relation at all to the headline. It's one of the rare cases where the content of the article led me to assume it was written by Jason Mick, only to find it was Barkoviak instead. Maybe Mick wrote the headline?

RE: This post is extremely misleading
By HotFoot on 10/20/2009 12:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
Strategically, $2B might be a good investment. The issue isn't just what's a good deal within the isolation of the JSF programme, but the technical capacity for the next generation down the road. Already there are so few players capable of producing current-generation military technology. It's a disturbing trend when down the road you might have only one company your country can turn to to supply defence equipment.

RE: This post is extremely misleading
By SPOOFE on 10/21/2009 4:46:41 AM , Rating: 2
Good point; maintaining the traditional competition has a probability, apparently low (or at least the Pentagon thinks so), of enhancing the project or improving its costs somewhat... but perhaps a higher probability of maintaining competition in other, future projects?

It's also sad that $2 billion looks so small compared to some of the deficits we have or, worse, entitlements some are whispering about. Maybe they can wave their Magic Beaurocratic Accounting Wand and make the cash disappear down a Blackhole Of Incompetence and wind up in GE's laps? Then the Prez gets to keep his "tough on spending" talking point to appeal to his crowd, the senators and legislators don't have upset constituents to distract them from following the party line, and We The People remain blissfully unaware, as usual, of how our money is spent. Weeee.

RE: This post is extremely misleading
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2009 12:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
The GE/Rolls Royce engine is also to please European nations buying the plane.

By kattanna on 10/20/2009 2:40:07 PM , Rating: 3
if there is truth to that, and i can believe it so, then let THEM pay for it.

not being an isolationist or anything, but if our military doesnt want it, and they do, ok, let them pay for it and we willnt stand in the way, but work with them.

RE: This post is extremely misleading
By jhb116 on 10/20/2009 8:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
The second engine needs to be canceled. The only real reason it exists is because some congress person's district (s) are getting business as a result. Its Fraud at the highest levels....

BTW - Like to know where you got your info on the 15 and 16. I don't believe either had an engine funded for the life of the development program; in particular, I seem to remember that the 16 started out with the 15's engine (or close variant of) as a means of cost savings.

By scrapsma54 on 10/20/2009 8:42:59 AM , Rating: 2
Sure the F-35 is like a fricken sci-fi movies wet dream.

But we need to do is get rid of this president who's intentions for change are just showing that a president owns a blackberry like the rest of us, and get a president that wants to start putting money into more rocks floating in space.

By pcfxer on 10/20/2009 10:05:39 AM , Rating: 4
I'd be damned if "they" cancel another terrific plane. The same people attacking the viability of the F-35 are the same folks who damned the Avro Arrow.

Lay off, you are 99% completed your investment so finish it and don't make the same mistake that us Canadians did when in the SAME situation. Just FINISH it, I don't care how much it costs!

By eddieroolz on 10/20/2009 4:19:35 PM , Rating: 3
I can't agree more with you. It was a shame how they killed the Arrow.

By scrapsma54 on 10/20/2009 11:13:10 PM , Rating: 1
Well, unfortunately we have a bunch of bureaucrats in our system. Obama, is beginning to look like one.

What we need to do is drop the capitalist crap, create a system for aerospace activity, and privatize nasa otherwise we can officially deem it a waste of our tax dollars since they have not taken another step for humanity other than float in a shiny satellite.

Manned Fighters
By btc909 on 10/20/2009 11:10:24 AM , Rating: 2
You figure the F22 & F35 will be the last of manned fighter aircraft of the US. The cost of a non-manned fighter aircraft should drop dramatically. The F22 & F35 are just hold outs to work out the non-manned fighter kinks.

A fighter that has no G force issues on the pilot controlling the aircraft. Limiters already prevent the pilot from over flying the aircraft.

RE: Manned Fighters
By rcc on 10/20/2009 4:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
So we get rid of G force limits and put in data link limits.

Break the data link, it's done. At least with an person in the cockpit you have options, regardless of jamming or other limitations.

I like UAVs, but they will never be ready for a high-tech battlefield. Fortunately we don't have one, at the moment.

This argument is sounding like ...
By grebe925 on 10/20/2009 9:51:10 PM , Rating: 2
someone defending the importance of cavalry at the turn of the 19th century. I am sure the loss of what was considered an indispensable part of fighting a war would have been traumatic in defense circles but the world moved on.

Who cares
By Mithan on 10/21/2009 9:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
The US will collapse by 2020, so who cares.

Fighter gap?
By slash196 on 10/20/09, Rating: -1
RE: Fighter gap?
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2009 9:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
The UAV industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. No it doesn't cost tens of millions to build one (yet) but still. They are not cheap.

And while our aircraft needs are met TODAY, tomorrow is another story. The Air Force says we'll have a fighter gap. Fact is our F16s and F15s are nearly worn out. And 130 F22s aren't really enough to position an adequate number of them around the US much less around the world. And what happens when we lose one due to an accident or something like that? You can't replace it.

RE: Fighter gap?
By BernardP on 10/20/2009 10:09:51 AM , Rating: 2
Current UAV's are only good against nations that have no air power. No UAV can replace the F-22. All it will take to revive the F-22 program is the revelation of a near-equivalent Russian fighter. Only 3 years to go in this Obama mandate: Expect some penalty-killing from the interests behing the F-22.

RE: Fighter gap?
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2009 12:46:17 PM , Rating: 2
Russia and India already have planes they've disclosed which are meant to compete with the F22. I can damn well guarantee they're going to build more than 188 of them.

RE: Fighter gap?
By Iaiken on 10/20/2009 2:39:32 PM , Rating: 1
In case you haven't been reading up on your history, actual aircraft Dogfights are a thing of the past. The last gun kill by a manned jet fighter was 06/11/82 over the Beqaa Valley as part of Operation Mole Cricket 19. Israeli F4 Phantoms engaged and destroyed 6 MIG 21's of which 5 were missile kills and one was a gun kill. The last gun kills by US airmen was back in Vietnam.

Modern fighter jets have (for better or worse) evolved into missile delivery systems. With 5th generation fighter aircraft, we have basically hit the limitation of human ability and the focus of the next generation fighter aircraft will be removing the human limitations currently being imposed.

Current military rules of engagement require humans making the decisions to fire, but who knows what the future will hold. Squadrons of UAV's accompanying AWACS or other C&C fighters? Perhaps a more oblique solution that we haven't even thought of yet. This also frees up another restriction, which is the supply of willing & qualified pilots as it costs millions to find & train just one.

ps: If you want to be pissed at Obama, I am sure you can find other, better reasons than this... The article isn't about the cancellation of the F-35, it's not even about the uncertainty of the market for them, it's about cutting the funding for the development an additional, optional, unnecessary engine which may or may never be used even if it is developed.

RE: Fighter gap?
By eldakka on 10/21/2009 3:22:37 AM , Rating: 2
In what theatre has the US been involved in since Vietnam that involved air-to-air operations with more than the odd random enemy aircraft?

Iraq is the only conflict I can recall that didn't involve a tiny (as opposed to small) country (e.g. Grenada), and even then most of the Iraqi airforce was destroyed on the ground. Was there any air-to-air combat that didn't involve overwhelming odds to the enemy aircraft?

I don't think there has been any conflict in the last 30 years that involved 2 sides that had both:

1) roughly comparable aircraft (no more than a 1-generation gap) and
2) highly trained/motivated/skilled pilots.

Therefore using statistics on air-to-air combat for the last 30 years doesn't tell you much apart from there aren't many statistics.

RE: Fighter gap?
By 91TTZ on 10/20/2009 3:06:36 PM , Rating: 2
The F-22 is fighting a war that ended a long time ago. It can't even drop bombs for crying out loud.

Where do you get the idea that the F-22 can't drop bombs? This is entirely incorrect.

RE: Fighter gap?
By albus on 10/22/2009 7:50:28 AM , Rating: 2
The F-22 is an air superiority fighter. Its main objective is to destroy the enemy air force. Once this is done, the bomb trucks (F-16, F-35) can move in and attack the ground force.

Nothing in the Raptor's mission profile says that it has to drop bombs. The F-35 has been built for that role.

RE: Fighter gap?
By FPP on 10/23/2009 4:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
Having said that, the F22 was enabled to do ground attack in full stealth mode using the Small Diameter Bomb. With this, it would become the medium range stealth bomb platform for the Air Force.

What the short sighted forget is that foreign nations can buy highly capable aircraft and build very formidable airforces very quickly. This is born out by Saudi Arabia buying the Typhoon and China doing deals with Russia on the SU series.

Our failure to finish the f22 buy will be borne out when we get stretched with a limited F22 supply. The move will be to uprate the F35 with a supercruise engine and put the plane on steroids, but it will never do the job the F22 does. if there was a plane we should not have bought, it was the F35. Once an enemies air defenses are destroyed, we can hit the at our leisure with unmanned vehicles. Given that fact, why even buy the F35?

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