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F-35A previously conducted a live fire external weapons test

Lockheed Martin has announced that the F-35A fighter jet has conducted its first live fire weapons test. Test pilot Air Force Captain Logan Lamping fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM
 radar-seeking missile from the F-35’s internal weapons bay. The aircraft had previously conducted a successful external weapons test.

The target the missile was fired against was a drone in restricted military sea test range airspace. The test was able to confirm that the F-35 identified and targeted the drone with its sensors and successfully passed the track information to the missile allowing the weapon to engage the drone.

Lockheed Martin says that after launch, the missile was able to successfully acquire the target and follow the target using an intercept flight profile. Moments before the missile was going to impact and destroy the drone, officials sent a self-destruct signal to the missile to allow the drone to be used in future tests.

"This successful missile launch marks the first live-fire weapons test and is an initial demonstration of the air-to-air combat capability the F-35 will bring to the U.S. Military and our International Partners" said Charlie Wagner, weapons team lead for the F-35 Joint Program Office. "This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams.  It is one test, with many more to come, to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely."

The first successful air weapons test with the F-35A came only a day after the F-35B version of the aircraft conducted a successful air-to-ground weapons test by dropping a 500-pound Guided Bomb Unit-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb over the test range at Edwards Air Force Base.

Source: F-35

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long process
By chromal on 11/1/2013 10:57:30 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder where the F-35 project ranks in terms of amount of time and money taken to put out a US fighter plane. It seems pretty feeble compared to some of the programs in the 1960s and 1970s, which were cranking out innovative platforms achieving new aviation heights with many.

RE: long process
By jabber on 11/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: long process
By conq on 11/1/2013 12:39:22 PM , Rating: 4
Sure a different level of tech but it was still cutting edge back then.

C'mon! You have to admit that's quite the whopper of an understatement. The more complex a system gets, the more difficult it is to design, the more people you need, the more difficult it is to find the right people, the more points of failure are introduced, and the more difficult it is test.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're not blowing away wads of money. I'm just saying it's a totally different beast these days, with completely different levels of expectations. Not to mention, military technology in that time period gets "tested in production" if you get my meaning :( The sad face is because there's nothing fun about testing weapons of destruction on anything but dummy targets.

RE: long process
By jabber on 11/1/2013 12:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
To a degree yes...but 20 years? Managed to get Apollo going in less than 10 years. That was pretty complex.

Doesn't anyone think to put a clause in the contract that states "must be delivered and operational by ****!"?

We are dealing with professionals after all.

Aren't we?

It takes that long and costs that much because they can.

That has to stop.

RE: long process
By Jeffk464 on 11/1/2013 1:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, professionals with vast experience soaking the government for every last penny. :) It seems to me all these delays and over runs just means more money for the company.

RE: long process
By jimbojimbo on 11/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: long process
By Keeir on 11/1/2013 1:40:37 PM , Rating: 3
Thank all the petty people within companies and government. Without a hard deadline there is always time to slide or squeeze more testing or features in.

Here is how it typically goes

Government thinks to wants something
Companies spend years trying to figure out how to accomplish requirements at least cost
Government changes requirements
Companies slide late and spend years trying to figure out how to accomplish new requirements at least cost
Government changes requirements
Companies slide late and spend years trying to figure out how to accomplish new requirements at least cost


After all, meeting 90% of requirements is usually considered failure unless your already late and overbudget...

RE: long process
By Hammer1024 on 11/1/2013 2:18:06 PM , Rating: 3
And we have a WINNER!!!!

I deal with this all the time. I as a contractor get 90% of the way there and the customer (Government) changes requirements which render 50% of my design scrap!

And this doesn't need to be a big change at all. Example, a requirement change to increase the loiter time of an air vehicle from 10 hours to 12 hours.

Doesn't sound like much right... So, where do I put the extra fuel? Why, make the fusalage bigger since I can't hang it in a pod.

So the structure changes and the air vehicle gets heavier... So now I have to increase the wing to get more lift, which adds more structure, which changes the design, which changes the S/W control laws, which... snowballs to hell and gone.

Pretty soon I've got an entierly different air vehicle that can no longer fit in the hanger bay on the intended ship!


And I get to eat a s@#t sandwitch because of 2 lousy hours...

Yeah... It's ALL MY FAULT!

Bit me customer....

RE: long process
By Spuke on 11/1/2013 4:00:37 PM , Rating: 3
Bit me customer....
He's just kidding NSA!!!

RE: long process
By 91TTZ on 11/1/2013 6:20:57 PM , Rating: 2
We were able to progress from barely putting a guy in space to landing on the moon in less than 10 years because a directive was given to produce results. The motivation was delivered from the top down. Failure wasn't an option. If you couldn't perform and get the job done you'd probably get replaced by someone who could get the job done. The program was strictly driven to produce results.

But in times of peace there's no rush. The program has no direction and it just becomes a cash cow. No president is going to be pushing the issue because his reputation isn't on the line. If it was, you'd see results being produced very quickly.

RE: long process
By 91TTZ on 11/1/2013 5:51:51 PM , Rating: 2
C'mon! You have to admit that's quite the whopper of an understatement. The more complex a system gets, the more difficult it is to design, the more people you need, the more difficult it is to find the right people, the more points of failure are introduced, and the more difficult it is test.

The primary reason is that in peacetime a defense contractor gets to milk the system. There's no rush.

If there was a war going on you would see new systems being developed in only months, just as you did in WWII. Remember, back in the SR-71's day all the math was done by slide rule and all the machining was done manually. Now computers can do those calculations in a fraction of a second. CNC machines can produce parts quickly and around the clock. Files can be quickly shared around the office. All the tools for rapid prototyping now exist.

RE: long process
By XZerg on 11/1/2013 4:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
the thing to note here is that there is too much at play here. But i think this summarizes it better: idiots and greed defining requirements and jerks agreeing to delivery fully knowing of impossibility.

The entire military related operations, from manufacturing to operating to supporting it, should only be at the hands of military. There is no company involvement aside from maybe providing basic simple parts that can be done by any manufacturer. The rest should be in the hands of the military - design, testing, ... At no time should unavailability of expertise in something block the developing any projects as there are plenty of expert citizens that should be sourced to help.

When you involve companies you pretty much open the doors for greed of the contract givers and takers to f**k with the project and money. Yes this is a bit communism but what good is the military if it cannot support itself and is held hostages by third parties?

RE: long process
By OoklaTheMok on 11/1/2013 4:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's called complexity. Nothing from those days had anything close to this level of complexity. They were innovative, but overall they had much fewer "moving parts", which made their planning and development much more predictable.

If we waited for each component to be individually planned, designed and developed completely, by the time it was ready to be implemented, it would already be obsolete.

If ultimately comes down to, if these things were easy to do, everyone would be doing it.

RE: long process
By 91TTZ on 11/1/2013 5:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's called complexity. Nothing from those days had anything close to this level of complexity. They were innovative, but overall they had much fewer "moving parts", which made their planning and development much more predictable.


That is not the reason. Even things which people consider complex are easy for a computer running a CAD program. Parts which are difficult to machine are easy for a CNC machine.

If ultimately comes down to, if these things were easy to do, everyone would be doing it.

In times of need people have done it.

RE: long process
By inperfectdarkness on 11/4/2013 3:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on what your standard of excellence is. I wouldn't call the F-111 a rousing success. Sure, it performed well at what it was designed to do, but it had one of the rockiest developments of any aircraft in history.

The F-14 was a great aircraft...when it worked. The Mx hours per hour of flying time was so lopsided that it's a wonder the Navy ever had any of them combat ready.

That's why I say the verdict is not in yet on the F-35. All we have thus far is the data on costs for design & testing (and successes/setbacks thereof). We don't have any data on fuel consumption vs. F-16, air-air combat capability (all we have are armchair pundits), Mx costs, survivability, etc.

For those who argue that development cycles and costs associated with 5G fighters are astronomically high, please consider this. 5G fighters easily achieve lopsided victories against any previous generation fighters--even when horribly outnumbered. AESA radars, stealth designs & coatings, reduced IR signature, supercruise, thrust vectoring (on some, not all)...these are features that don't come cheap. Sure, we can build a bunch of 3G fighters for a fraction of cost, but all we'll have done is condemn a bunch of our pilots to be "missle-sappers" and we will likely never achieve air superiority.

Furthermore, I compare this to the development of video games. Back in the days of Atari, games could be designed & programmed by a team of people you could count on 1 hand. They also usually debuted in just a few short months. Fast-forward to today, and you have games that require an army of programmers and years of development time (unless it's a watered-down remake ala. madden, COD, etc). Does that mean that today's games "aren't worth it"?

They keep saying...
By Ranari on 11/1/2013 10:36:01 AM , Rating: 3
In response to the criticism of the F-35 given that it's slow, not fuel efficient, expensive, and not very stealthy like it was originally supposed to be, it's savings grace is supposedly in its weapons and radar they keep telling us by their "just trust us" responses. This plane better prove itself and then some or we're going to be voting a lot of people out of office.

With that said, I want this plane to succeed, but as a responsible citizen I have to be objective and critical given its absurd taxpayer price tag.

RE: They keep saying...
By djc208 on 11/1/2013 11:57:13 AM , Rating: 2
Government shutdown, debt ceiling, sequestration, and the thing that makes you want to vote your representatives out of office is if they screw up a plane that is basically already screwed up?!

The cost over-runs on this project are pocket change compared to the issues above. At least the money spent here is in R&D that will be used in future planes and projects. The government shutdown accomplished nothing other then to waste more money and anger the American people.

RE: They keep saying...
By ShaolinSoccer on 11/1/2013 12:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
This may be a stupid question but which plane is more superior? The F-22A or F35?

RE: They keep saying...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/1/2013 1:19:40 PM , Rating: 2
That's a no brainer, the F-22A hands down.

I couldn't believe the day it was announced the F-22A was for all intents and purposes being phased out of production in favor of a newer design. Especially on the grounds that it was "too expensive".

If we thought the F-22 was expensive, we hadn't seen 'nothing yet!

RE: They keep saying...
By Divide Overflow on 11/1/2013 2:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
Superior for what mission? Both planes have completely different roles and are arguably better suited to filling each role.

RE: They keep saying...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/1/2013 2:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
For a fraction of the cost, we could have made F-22 variants to fulfill all roles. Except for V-TOL carrier ops of course. Which so far the F-35 has been a disaster for anyway.

RE: They keep saying...
By jabber on 11/2/2013 6:28:31 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm maybe just a redesign of the old Harrier to go super sonic would have sufficed.

RE: They keep saying...
By Kazinji on 11/2/2013 6:46:28 AM , Rating: 1
Do you know how long it takes to replace a engine in a harrier....way to long something like 500 hrs. Things are pieces of junk from England.

RE: They keep saying...
By eggster007 on 11/3/2013 5:54:22 PM , Rating: 2
Lol - that's coz ure doing it wrong dumbass :) Also, the engines don't break so having to replace one is not so bad because it's not a common occurrence.

RE: They keep saying...
By sorry dog on 11/4/2013 2:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
All roles is taking it too far.

The NATF (Naval F22) was canned pretty early on in development, and navalizing air force planes does not have too good of a historical record. As cool as a F22 would have been, I think the navy made the correct choice as the super hornet would not have happened, and there would have been serious gaps for naval aviation.

Also, the F22 will always have limited ground capability due to weapons bay and hardpoint restrictions.

Lastly, the B was necessary for international support... or does the U.S. go it alone and leave the international fighter market to the Eurocanard's??

RE: They keep saying...
By troysavary on 11/2/2013 5:39:14 AM , Rating: 2
There hasn't been a role that the F-35 has proven good at yet.

RE: They keep saying...
By Kazinji on 11/2/2013 6:44:00 AM , Rating: 2
F22 is meant for air to air only. It replaces the F15. F22 isn't sold to any other country US only. F35 comes in many variants, and plans for many countries to be able to purchase these F35. F35 is meant for all roles, air to ground and air to air. Jack of all trades master of none kind of thing.

RE: They keep saying...
By PontiusP on 11/4/2013 4:11:07 PM , Rating: 3
You won't be voting anyone out of office. Free cell phones and SNAP benefits will be handed out in exchange for votes. The F-35 is the last thing on those peoples' minds, and they make up the majority. Get used to the new America.

The reason these programs are so slow.
By 91TTZ on 11/1/2013 6:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
I see people claiming that the reason these programs are so slow is because of the difficulty of doing it. This certainly is not the case.

People are forgetting that the primary reason for the existence of defense contractors is not to deliver products, but rather to make money. Without the urgent need to develop a working system right away the contractors can deliberately drag their feet to extend the program. This happens all the time. The real money is in running the program, not delivering finished products. If a defense contractor can stretch a program for 20 years and not deliver any units, the media would call it a failure. But the contractor would consider that a success. CEOs and workers would be getting paid the entire time and the company would be making money.

RE: The reason these programs are so slow.
By purerice on 11/2/2013 6:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
the primary reason for the existence of defense contractors is not to deliver products, but rather to make money

By definition every corporation exists to serve a market and every market is made up of consumers. If somebody can serve the market better than you then you will lose your seat, shirt, shorts, hat and all. The only way your explanation is correct is if defense customers have value in giving money away for free. If that is your suggestion then we have quite a conspiracy on our hands.

If the unfortunate reality came that these planes had to be put to use on the battlefield and even more unfortunately they failed, the previous 20 years of good job security and salary would not begin to compare to the shame and regret of intentionally building a failed product. Do you honestly mean to say you believe that these companies and all of their patriotic employees are selling out their country and lives of those depending on them for the sake of a few dollars?

By Bubbacub on 11/3/2013 5:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well Lockheed did it before with the 104 starfighter.

There are a number of historical parallels with regard to poor performance in most situations, high price, bribes to politicians to keep the program going and getting the chumps running most NATO countries to buy it even though everyone knows that it is a terrible idea.

By 91TTZ on 11/4/2013 2:48:17 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that government contracts are awarded by politicians. It's more about politics than free-market competition. If you were a defense contractor and your company gave a congressman's competition money during an election chances are that it would affect your future ability to do business. gress-army_n_3173717.html

I'm not saying that they'd intentionally build a failed product. I'm saying that they'd intentionally sell and build an unneeded product. Even now, we're building tanks that we do not need. Even the army is saying that we don't need more tanks, but Congress overrode them and ordered more tanks.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank's many suppliers are located. "If there's a home of the Abrams, it's politically important Ohio. The nation's only tank plant is in Lima. So it's no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol's Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown."

There's no conspiracy but there are pretty deep supply chains that affect hundreds of thousands of people and various local economies. That heavily weighs in these decisions, and that's often more important than the actual military machine that we're talking about.

And the pilot was like
By Motoman on 11/1/2013 10:19:44 AM , Rating: 5

RE: And the pilot was like
By espaghetti on 11/1/2013 12:47:50 PM , Rating: 2

By PontiusP on 11/4/2013 4:02:14 PM , Rating: 2

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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