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Building jet while ground and flight testing was ongoing was a "miscalculation" according to Venlet

The problems and delays with the F-35 fleet continue to mount. AOL Defense reports that testing and analysis have turned up so many potential areas of issue in the airframe of F-35 fighters that Vice Adm. David Venlet has said that he feels production needs to slow down. Venlet notes that the number of hot spots and potential cracks found in the airframe over last year have gone up significantly. Slowing the rate of production would allow testing to continue and parts that need redesigned to be found and fixed before the cost of retrofitting them to existing aircraft mounts.
 
Venlet said, "The analyzed hot spots that have arisen in the last 12 months or so in the program have surprised us at the amount of change and at the cost. Most of them are little ones, but when you bundle them all up, package them, and look at where they are in the airplane and how hard they are to get at after you buy the jet, the cost burden of that is what sucks the wind out of your lungs."
 
[Source: Lockheed Martin] 

Venlet also noted that the original plan for concurrency with the F-35 where the fighter was built while flight testing and ground testing was completed has proven to be a miscalculation. He added, " You'd like to take the keys to your shiny new jet and give it to the fleet with all the capability and all the service life they want. What we're doing is, we're taking the keys to the shiny new jet, giving it to the fleet and saying, 'Give me that jet back in the first year. I've got to go take it up to this depot for a couple of months and tear into it and put in some structural mods, because if I don't, we're not going to be able to fly it more than a couple, three, four, five years.' That's what concurrency is doing to us." 
 
According to Venlet, despite the fact that airframe fatigue testing and refined analysis on the F-35 has only just begun, enough potential issues have been found that the needed redesigns and replacement components for completed aircraft might add as much as $3 million to $5 million to the cost of each jet.  The price of each of the jets including all three variants of the F-35 has been about $111 million in the LRIP4 contract.
 
Venlet notes that even with the redesigns they are foreseeing due to hot spots found, the changes expected have nothing to do with the F-35's capability to fly and perform its missions. The changes are simply needed to ensure that the F-35 can fly for its 8,000-hour usable lifespan. He also noted that this sort of hotspot finding and weaknesses was not surprising and didn't indicate a problem with the aircraft.
 
[Source: Lockheed Martin] 
 
"It's a fighter made out of metal and composites. You always find some hot spots and cracks and you have to go make fixes. That's normal. This airplane was maybe thought to be a little bit better, wouldn't have so much discovery. Well, no. It's more like standard fighters," Venlet said.
 
Adm. Venlet didn't specify how much he feels the production should be slowed, but he was specific that flight testing doesn't need to be slowed. In fact, he states that testing should be accelerated as much as possible.
 
The most problem plagued version of the fighter, the F-35B STOVL is now conducting sea trials. In an effort to lower the cost of the F-35 in LRIP5, the Pentagon is asking Lockheed to cover some of the overrun costs.

Source: AOL Defense



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Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 8:54:08 AM , Rating: 5
And build more F-22s.

Also I understand the need for building more jets, But couldn't we build new F-15s, 16s and so on with new advanced radars and some new modifications. At least we have alot of the details worked out. Why throw away perfectly good designs?




RE: Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 8:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
Should read Also I understand the need for building *NEW* jets


RE: Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 8:56:33 AM , Rating: 2
Or in this case F-18 Super hornets..


RE: Time to go back.
By lagomorpha on 12/7/2011 1:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
Whoever voted you down should probably be aware that F15 and F16s cannot operate from carriers which is likely a concern of the vice admiral in the article.


RE: Time to go back.
By Amiga500 on 12/7/2011 3:20:10 PM , Rating: 1
The F/A-18 is crap.

That is why he got voted down.

It is a retrograde step compared to what an upgraded F-14 would have become.


RE: Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 5:35:10 PM , Rating: 2
They are better then NOTHING, which is what we have right now with the F35 as far as active service goes. F14's were great, to bad we couldn't be new ones... Which is my point.


RE: Time to go back.
By Noya on 12/9/2011 2:24:34 AM , Rating: 3
Why do you always get rated down on these aviation threads? You clearly know more about the subjust than everyone else commenting.

And anyone with the brain capacity to Google the F/A-18 knows it's only noteworthy feature is its radar...kinda seems like yesterdays F-35, because let's be honest, the F-35's stealth is already second-rate to the F-22's...


RE: Time to go back.
By emarston on 12/7/2011 8:59:05 AM , Rating: 5
Good designs from the 60s do not equate to something capable of handling the modern capabilities of today's potential adversaries. The gap in capability from the old designs to the new is quite large, with the Russians, Chinese, and Indians acquiring latest gen capability over the next few years going with old stuff is basically telling your team to go to a gun fight with a butter knife.

F-22s were not designed for the same mission as the F-35. They are strictly air superiority fighters.


RE: Time to go back.
By Reclaimer77 on 12/7/11, Rating: -1
RE: Time to go back.
By yomamafor1 on 12/7/2011 12:22:24 PM , Rating: 4
....except that we don't export F-22s. We DO export F-35s.

So "ALL the money wasted on the F-35" would be recovered from exporting 5th generation fighters, while we still keep the aces.


RE: Time to go back.
By gamerk2 on 12/7/2011 1:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh...who's this "we"? Grunman, not the US Government, makes the profit for unit exports.

In the case of the F15, F16, and F18A-D, production lines are already closed. Production lines remain open for the F18-E/F however, and that remains a viable, cheaper alternative to the F35.

That being said, this is exactly why every military contract should be "cost plus", with the contractor covering cost overruns.


RE: Time to go back.
By Reclaimer77 on 12/7/2011 3:28:05 PM , Rating: 3
You're crazy. We'll never "export" enough F-35's to make a profit. And who makes the profit anyway? The US Government isn't exporting those fighters, private contractors are.


RE: Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 5:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about not getting new stuff, Not me. I said I wish we could build updated F-15s So we have a reliable fighter NOW.

I'm all for building F-22s. as it was my first sentence, but if something is wrong with them that we can't fix (which I don't understand how these people can't fix it) We have something to rely on until we get it figured out.

What I don't want is our AirForce to be limping around with old fighter airframe issues. We already spent the R&D on the F-15 F-18 F-16s, lets some more value out of it while these new jet design issues are ironed out. We could have had a 100 new F-15's issue free with updated radars.

If all this new stuff worked flawlessly than I'd agree, but since this is so complex that the AirForce seems to be the beta testers lets make some use out of the stuff that works.


RE: Time to go back.
By drycrust3 on 12/10/2011 4:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If all this new stuff worked flawlessly than I'd agree

In the late 70s or early 80s the Israelis' tried to build their own fighter plane, but gave up in the end and went off and bought American made "off the production line" planes. The reason being was because they wanted to add every new improvement they came across to the plane, and when they added a new improvement then that affected other bits, which then needed re-designing, and some of those re-designs meant binning several months or years of careful work, which then held up the design of other bits, which meant people then designed more "other bits" with incomplete specs, which guaranteed that they needed modification when the time came to attach them to the plane, etc. Thus, it became apparent that this plane would never finish being developed.
I remember reading, I think it was Hammond Innes, who said the art of being a good chief aircraft designer was to refuse to allow anyone to add their own ideas.
It seems to me that with the continual over-running of the budget, then there is a temptation to add to the F35 to save the project, but the danger of that is the knock on effect, which not only adds to the budget overrun, but can also add to the temptation to make more additions to save the project.
There are now two real problems this project faces:
1) Somewhere along the way someone is going to have to stop fixing the F35.
2) With the cost of each unit being so high (over $120M each), then the temptation will be only to use this plane in ways that won't generate bad publicity (e.g. where it gets shot down, or crashes landing on an aircraft carrier in a bad weather), which would suggest a cheaper plane could easily have done the job.


RE: Time to go back.
By danjw1 on 12/7/2011 10:28:53 AM , Rating: 2
And what are the Navy and Marines supposed to do? Twiddle their thumbs? No these aircraft are needed. It maybe possible, if necessary, to build more F/A-18s.

Their are two problems here. First the Admiral identified with trying to ground and flight testing at the same time. That was a mistake they won't make again.

The second is with the whole system of acquiring new systems. Military equipment manufacturers consistently under estimate costs and time to delivery. They do this to get the contracts, then expect the tax payers to pickup any extra costs that come along. This is a broken system. Any future contracts need to have fixed costs and penalties for not meeting time lines.


RE: Time to go back.
By steven975 on 12/7/2011 1:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe, but the military also constantly changes requirements and wants new features added in.

Every change requires rigorous testing.

When you get down to it, the F-22 and F-35 are very different planes than their prototype or pre-production models. The basic shape is the same, but almost everything inside was changed.


RE: Time to go back.
By NellyFromMA on 12/7/2011 12:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not to be rude, but this gets said EVERY time an F-35 article is up here. It's almost as annoying as '...but can it run crysis'.


RE: Time to go back.
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 5:32:56 PM , Rating: 1
No what gets said is we don't need these new fighters, I'm all for them. But why can we not keep the factory's used to build the older( F15's 16's and 18's) ones in working condition.

Basically there has to be away to make it possible to build these older platforms so when we have problems with newer designs like we are, we have a fall back.

Right now the biggest problem with our previous generation jets isn't their capability, they're plenty capable, its the airframe stress issues from age. Many of the most important things can be updated (radar, communications, even upgrades to support new weapons). Again not so we don't build new jets with new capabilities but so we don't get limited on the ones we have.

We need something more akin to Intel's tick tock strategy then a lets start from scratch and see what happens.


can't we just
By vazili on 12/7/2011 8:41:22 AM , Rating: 2
cancel this thing already?




RE: can't we just
By TSS on 12/7/2011 10:05:52 AM , Rating: 3
And admit that somebody somewhere at some time possibly made a wrong decision?

Never!


RE: can't we just
By NellyFromMA on 12/7/2011 1:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it has little to do with that and more to do with the fact that you don't invest as much money as that into a program near completion that is showing huge promise just because the typical engineering process is going underway and in the mean time you have mismanaged your funds elsewhere and so are feeling understandably tight in the wallet.

No, a smart business person would assess the value of the investment and decide if it makes sense to make cuts elsewhere where you may not realize the same types of value or that can be resumed easily with minimal losses.

That's more like what it is.


RE: can't we just
By lagomorpha on 12/7/2011 1:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
RE: can't we just
By TSS on 12/8/2011 2:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
It has everything to do with the fact that everybody lied and was naive when it came to cost assessments.

This is most expressed in my country, holland, which is one of the primary partners for the F35. We've also already spent billions helping the development of this aircraft, as well as other countries.

Simply put, not too long ago we got the news that the estimated cost per unit would come to $111 million dollars, rather then the >$30 million< dollars estimate when the plane got approved. By now just about everybody except the government is saying to pull the plug, because there's no way no how that simple "mismanagement of funds" cause the cost of something to quadruple. You don't need the details of something to know that.

Somebody lied, and lied hard. While that isn't the problem, the fact that the people in charge believed that lie is. And they believed it so fervently, and their successors as well, that anybody in charge now can't cancel it without committing political suicide. Because it would be admitting they where wrong, but the scope of "wrong" is so large, they have to be punished regardless of regret.

The simple fact is it wouldn't have come to that if they admitted they where wrong sooner. I suspect the situation in the US is similar. That's what my comment alluded to :p


RE: can't we just
By Flunk on 12/7/2011 10:44:14 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with that is that the F-35 is very close to being finished, you stop how and all the billions that have been dumped into that program are a total loss. Starting anew sounds good at first but in the long run it means a much bigger cost to the taxpayer to pay for an entire new design.


RE: can't we just
By darkhawk1980 on 12/7/2011 11:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
On top of that, don't forget the fact that the time to design is roughly 10 years. If we stop now, what do we do for the next 10 years waiting for the design to be complete? Ok, it might not take 10 years, but you get my point.

It just isn't worth it to stop now. The real problem I see, is making sure 'next time' it doesn't happen like this. Setting stricter deadlines doesn't work, problems always arise during development. What really needs to be done, is a tighter handle on problems and managing them. I fully suspect that (like most other defense contractors) the middle management screwed over both the upper management and the lower management in regards to this. Being aggressive is one thing, not listening to the engineers telling you there's a problem and ignoring it until late into the program is another.


RE: can't we just
By Amiga500 on 12/7/2011 3:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem with that is that the F-35 is very close to being finished


ha ha ha.

Do you honestly believe that?

Not even close.


Reminds me of the F14 experience
By GatoRat on 12/7/2011 2:54:30 PM , Rating: 2
The F-14 was a very cool airplane. It was revolutionary and the Navy did a lot of positive PR on it. Unfortunately, it turns out that it was a very flawed plane that simply wasn't worth the cost.

The F-35 is a shiny cool thing that simply isn't worth the cost. It will take a decade or more, but the stories of just how bad it is will eventually get out. The fundamental problem is that the F-35 concept was designed around VTOL. Most variants remove the VTOL part, but all the compromises are still present in the design.

(The notion that the F-35 will fill the roll of that A-10 is laughable and dangerous to our troops on the ground.)




RE: Reminds me of the F14 experience
By pcfxer on 12/8/2011 8:09:07 AM , Rating: 2
Ha! An F-35 will replace an A-10! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL I never heard that one before!

I'd love to read the official article on that one! TROLOLOl.


RE: Reminds me of the F14 experience
By schai on 12/10/2011 3:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
That is a fact. F-35 is designed to replace F-16, F-18, and A-10.


So Negative?
By steme on 12/7/2011 10:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
I read dailytech on a daily basis, and every F-35 article I have ever read here has been beyond horrendous. I was shocked to see the STOVL jets actually work on youtube, after being so thoroughly brainwashed here.




RE: So Negative?
By MrBlastman on 12/7/2011 12:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'm taking the position that we should just sit back and wait for real results from combat or combat trials to roll in. Those are what matter. Building and certifying a new fighter with advanced technology is a gruelling process.

The F-16 program, for instance, was wrought with danger and controversy. Several pilots died test piloting it, as a matter of fact and many more have since. It still is, however, one of the most widely sold and exported US Fighter in the world right now with an exceptional combat record.


sigh...
By tw33kerloki on 12/7/2011 12:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
I know high tech weapons development is by it's very nature PROHIBITIVELY expensive in the modern age...
That said, we need some fundamental changes in the way we award contracts.
1. Support for multiple designs. I can't help but think that if we had continued both the YF-35 and the rival YF-32 programs, even at greater initial costs, that the we'd be in better shape now. At least with airframes. And perhaps we'd be able to cancel one of them if faced with significant problems and still have a viable alternative.
2. Contracts should have monetary rewards for being ahead of schedule and penalties for being behind.

In the case of the F-35... with it's mounting problems, delays, and cost,... there needs to be accountability.
1. Gov't procurement heads - the generals and admirals and bureaucrats behind this debacle need to be fired, and contractually PREVENTED from gaining jobs with contractors for a number of years, say 5, so there isn't a revolving door.
2. The contractors need to be hit with penalties - delay their payments until they show measurable progress in delivering a viable combat aircraft.
3. Why can't the F-22 be repurposed? The airframe is stealthy, large, sound and proven. The tooling and mfr. facilities are still available. Why not add the necessary ground attack capability by adding the needed elctronics/ground attack radar? The F-15 was originally intended for air superiority too. Now, we have perfectly capable F-15E Strike Eagles. Why can't we have something like that with a derivative of the F-22? Granted, STOVL would be off the table, but this still potentially takes care of the USAF, USN and Allies F-35 purchases, the vast bulk of all F-35 purchases. The Marines will just have to wait on a working F-35B, or ditch STOVL.




By roadhog1974 on 12/8/2011 7:13:45 AM , Rating: 2
The f-35 and to a certain extent the f-22 were very
complicated pieces of machinery that had to have all
the latest toys now.

Previous aircraft were built over several generations,

Generation 1 basically just flies adn can shoot basic
weapons, not much more required because there are
still capable previous generation aircraft in service.

Generation 2 is an avionics and weapons upgrade.
Most of the bugs in Generation 1 are ironed out.

Generation 3 is a mission profile upgrade, airframe
is modifed to suit a new mission profile.

Each generation should be about 7- 10 years apart,
f-35 tried to do three different planes at generation 3.

As project sizes increase chance of failure increases
exponentially.

However as drones take over more normal market operation
can apply, manufacturers build prototypes and try to sell
them as opposed the the RFP model. At least until the
drones become as complicated as the current generation
aircraft.




Avro Arrow, Should've PICKED BOEING!
By pcfxer on 12/8/2011 8:06:11 AM , Rating: 1
Weird, the Avro Arrow was a simulated project up to production and had far more minor issues than these F-35 Fail-At-Copy-Cat designs.

Boeing didn't break a single rule during the contract battle, whereas lockheed has been LATE, OVER COST, SLOW and UNRELIABLE at delivering EVERYTHING (NOTHING?) up to this point. Looks like Canada should've snapped up a couple of Boeing X Planes and enjoyed satellite comms, delta wing design and a very cost effective plane (They make jet liners god damn it!); of course Boeing would make the least impactful plane to a gov't's wallet.

Thus, the decision like all things, was political and not logical in spite of what any US gov't rep would love us to hear. It's all BULLSHIT. I think it is obvious that FAA spec is more stringent than MIL spec if this is the crap that is coming out.




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