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  (Source: wikimedia.org)
Reducing the aircraft's weight by 11 pounds has made it more vulnerable

An attempt at cutting the weight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has made it more vulnerable to lightning and enemy attacks, says a new report.

The report, conducted by the Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation office (OT&E), found that shedding a few pounds from Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (also known as Lightning II) has made the aircraft 25 percent more vulnerable in certain dangerous situations.

The Lightning II lost two safety features in 2008, including the PAO shutoff valve and the fueldraulic system. The PAO shutoff valve weighed 2 pounds and the fueldraulic system weighed 9 pounds, bringing the grand total to an 11 pound weight loss.

However, the new report from OT&E suggests that getting rid of the PAO shutoff valve could lead to a rupture below the cockpit and ridding the fueldraulic system increases the chance of a sustained fire if exposed.

Test flights found that the Lightning II cannot be within 25 miles of known lightning conditions due to a poor design of the On-Board Intert Gas Generating System. This feature makes sure there are correct oxygen levels in the fuel tank.

“The program’s most recent vulnerability assessment showed that the removal of fueldraulic fuses, the PAO shutoff valve and the dry bay fire suppression, also removed in 2008, results in the F-35 not meeting the Operational Requirements Document (ORD) requirement to have a vulnerability posture better than analogous legacy aircraft,” officials wrote in the report.

The report also found cracks in the F-35A's right wing and right engine as well as the F-35B's bulkhead flange.

“Lockheed Martin believes the program is demonstrating exceptional stability, certainly significantly greater than any legacy aircraft development program, which is a primary measure for DT&E,” said Laura Siebert, a Lockheed spokeswoman. “Each year, as issues are discovered in test, our flight test team identifies additional test objectives that can be accomplished while we resolve the issues discovered.

“From an Operational Test and Evaluation perspective, we fully expect to deliver a qualified product to OT&E as scheduled. We appreciate the feedback from the OT&E community on what remains to be demonstrated over the next three years leading up to the OT&E phase of the program."

Last March, it was announced that the lifetime cost of the Lightning II is $1.45 trillion.



Source: Defense News



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Boodoggle
By Windogg on 1/15/2013 11:21:18 PM , Rating: 5
The P-51 Mustang flew 149 days after the agreement was signed to build an aircraft. Takes that long just to decide on the size of "NO STEP" stickers on one of the F-35's wings.




RE: Boodoggle
By GulWestfale on 1/15/2013 11:44:13 PM , Rating: 3
true, but planes are a lot more complex these days than they used to be. couple that with increased bureaucracy, and delays and problems are pre-programmed.


RE: Boodoggle
By inighthawki on 1/16/2013 12:00:46 AM , Rating: 2
Alright, let's battle a P-51 Mustang versus one of these and see which one wins.


RE: Boodoggle
By GulWestfale on 1/16/2013 12:18:29 AM , Rating: 5
well that depends on whether the battle takes place in a thunderstorm, no?


RE: Boodoggle
By Mudhen6 on 1/16/2013 12:25:41 AM , Rating: 2
Not if one of the combatants can lob AMRAAM missiles from outside a thunderstorm.


RE: Boodoggle
By BrgMx5 on 1/16/2013 5:20:20 AM , Rating: 3
Only if it stays airborne long enough to fire


RE: Boodoggle
By Azethoth on 1/17/2013 1:59:27 AM , Rating: 3
This is all irrelevant. P51: $40,000, F35 $200,000,000
So can that 1 F35 take down 5,000 P51s?

I am gonna go with no. The swarm of Mustangs follow it back to base losing a few, then strafe it back to the stone age.


RE: Boodoggle
By inperfectdarkness on 1/17/2013 6:45:40 AM , Rating: 3
And if you can convince the american public to subscribe to Imperial Empire TIE swarm tactics, then I'm ok with that.

Just one question though: How much does it cost to keep 5,000 pilots on the USAF roster? How much do you have to pay them to get them to willingly fly into harms way with pre-Gen1 aircraft (i.e. cannon fodder for a bloody mig15)?

We've lost far less servicemembers in ALL branches--combined--since 1975...than we lost in Vietnam. And in spite of that, the USA is completely intolerant of the death-toll.

Somehow, I don't think treating military members like bantha fodder will go over swimmingly when the coffins start arriving.


RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/17/2013 10:29:30 AM , Rating: 2
If need arises, this worked for the Russians during WWII. Americans weren't far behind, opposing 4-5 Shermans to each Tiger.

Yes, today the US has the luxury of being able to minimize casualties and they should do so while they can. But under some circumstances, swarm tactics can be an (only?) effective choice.

Fwiw, I do not advocate swarm tactics (personally I think the Russians were better off _not_ sending millions to their death), I'm just pointing out that it did happen in recent history.


RE: Boodoggle
By EricMartello on 1/18/2013 6:20:09 PM , Rating: 1
You could modernize the P51's original design similar to what the airplane racers do with these planes. They're still subsonic but a lot faster and aerobatic than a "stock" P51 was back in WW2.

You could also equip the P51's with modern weaponry and avionics so I think that a fight between a F35 and P51 could have odds than one may initially assume. The P51 can fly a lot slower than the F35 without stalling - something that could be used tactically since the F35 would need to keep looping around and making "passes" at the P51, leaving itself vulnerable attack as it approaches for each pass.

I would say that a fleet of cheaper, less complex, easy to maintain and more reliable planes would be better for our airforce than a high-tech, high-maintenance "diva" plane that will throw a hissy-fit if there's a 3 degree variance in air temperature.

What needs to be highlighted here is that Lockheed could very well design a simple, effective and affordable plane but it is not in their interests to do so. The longer they drag it out and the more complex they make it allows them to use these 'unexpected snafus' as a means to bilk more taxpayer money into their coffers.

The reality is that if they got it right the first time around - which they could have - then it is highly likely that there would not be any funding approval for new government projects...so instead they just milk it slow and steady to keep the cash flowing.


RE: Boodoggle
By inperfectdarkness on 1/19/2013 2:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
You know nothing of air-air dogfighting. You put the most "modernized p-51 up against a lowly F-16, and the P-51 would still be a smoking fireball before visual contact is established.

Guess what? Once you slap RWR, AESA radar, AMRAAM's, Sidewinders, and a whole bunch of other "modern" stuff on a P-51, you are left with a plane that can't handle the demands with a lowly prop engine. Worse, you'd have to completely re-design the fuselage to put radar in the nose (where the merlin engine sits traditionally).

Give it up. Even without missiles, the Mig-15 was mopping the floor with the P-51, and that was just a difference of jet vs. prop. Insinuating that ANY pre-4th gen aircraft could potentially serve as the backbone of the USAF fleet is simply laughable.


RE: Boodoggle
By EricMartello on 1/20/2013 3:16:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You know nothing of air-air dogfighting. You put the most "modernized p-51 up against a lowly F-16, and the P-51 would still be a smoking fireball before visual contact is established.


The price to plane ratio will be in the P51's favor so for every lowly F16 you will have 3-5 or more upgraded P51s.

quote:
Guess what? Once you slap RWR, AESA radar, AMRAAM's, Sidewinders, and a whole bunch of other "modern" stuff on a P-51, you are left with a plane that can't handle the demands with a lowly prop engine.


Replacing the piston engine with a turboshaft engine has not been written off. That would give it a lot more power, lighten it up and also make more room.

quote:
Worse, you'd have to completely re-design the fuselage to put radar in the nose (where the merlin engine sits traditionally).


I'd probably equip the P51 with a directional EMP pulse generator for starters. I would not load it up with a bunch of crap; just some essentials like guided air-to-air missles, machine guns and some defensive features like a chaff dispenser.

quote:
Give it up. Even without missiles, the Mig-15 was mopping the floor with the P-51, and that was just a difference of jet vs. prop. Insinuating that ANY pre-4th gen aircraft could potentially serve as the backbone of the USAF fleet is simply laughable.


Sure, but we're talking about an upgraded P51 which would be stronger, lighter and faster than the original WW2 era P51s.

And did I say that we should replace the USAF with WW2 era planes or was I simply making a point that applying occam's razor to military aircraft design would be better than the overly complex and expensive F35.


RE: Boodoggle
By inperfectdarkness on 1/22/2013 4:05:04 PM , Rating: 2
"directional EMP pulse generator".

ROFL. ok, let me know how that works out for you. as of yet, no military in the world has successfully created a version of that which would work at ranges in the air-air realm sufficient to outperform a cannon, let alone a missile.

translation:

p51 > f35 *if we throw out the laws of physics and dispense with reality.


RE: Boodoggle
By EricMartello on 1/23/2013 12:45:28 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
"directional EMP pulse generator".

ROFL. ok, let me know how that works out for you. as of yet, no military in the world has successfully created a version of that which would work at ranges in the air-air realm sufficient to outperform a cannon, let alone a missile.


You keep assuming it's 1v1 - it's not. It would be one F16 or F35 vs 3-5 upgraded P51s. With the right strategy the "weaker" P51s could leverage their numbers to take out the modern plane. The EMP pulse could be used to interfere with the electronics of guided missiles, improving the possibility for P51 pilots to evade them. Hitting the plane with an EMP blast would not be out of the question even with limited range if they can maneuver in such a way as to force the F35 to fly close enough to one of the P51s.

There is a serious misconception that low-tech weapons have somehow lost their effectiveness. Not true. Look at what the US military has had to do to deal with the taliban and their IEDs. Simple bombs made from re-purposed shells have been chipping away at our military's more advanced vehicles and weaponry. A similar thing happened in Vietnam.

Technology can be an asset or a crutch and I would say that a heavy reliance on complex tech ensures the latter.


RE: Boodoggle
By Sivar on 1/17/2013 11:28:50 AM , Rating: 2
Let me know where you can pick up a P51 Mustang for $40,000.


RE: Boodoggle
By Azethoth on 1/18/2013 6:48:31 AM , Rating: 1
That was its construction cost according to Google. Of course, now that its an antique u cannot. However, you could construct something similar at a similar cost no doubt.

The figure may need inflation adjustment, but the numbers don't change much.


RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/16/2013 6:09:55 AM , Rating: 2
Can an AMRAAM home in on the signature of a P51? The P51 isn't stealth, but it is small...
Plus, the AMRAAM would cost about as much as the P51 it's shooting down.


RE: Boodoggle
By Jaybus on 1/16/2013 10:17:21 AM , Rating: 2
Of course it could. It is guided by external source radar, launching aircraft, AWACS, etc., until it gets in range of its own on-board radar. Once within range, it acquires its own radar lock, at which point it is completely autonomous.


RE: Boodoggle
By Misty Dingos on 1/16/2013 10:25:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yes the AMRAAM can easily target a P-51. The fact that no stealth concepts were used in the P-51's design means that it likely has the radar cross section of a flying buss.

But why would you waste an expensive AMRAAM on it when you use a relatively cheap AIM-9. Which would get an infrared lock and turn it in a ball of flaming high octane and tumbling scrap aluminum in seconds.


RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/16/2013 1:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
I asked because I have no idea how capable the on-board radar on an AMRAAM is. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's capable, but I don't know how it deals with older tech. You know, like the mighty Bismark that could target the aging Swordfish.

And you could even save the Sidewinder and just fly around the P-51, since it can't target anything flying as fast as an F-22 anyway.


RE: Boodoggle
By CharonPDX on 1/17/2013 11:59:56 AM , Rating: 2
Good enough to shoot down a cruise missile. (Which it initially failed during first testing, but eventually they got it working reliably.)


RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/17/2013 4:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I've learnt something today. Thanks.


RE: Boodoggle
By muy on 1/16/2013 2:07:54 PM , Rating: 3
hm, how many P51 at modern production price could one make (in china or india ofc) for the price of one f35 ?

let's change the rules of the game from 1 vs 1 to xx budget vs same budget and see where americas high tech toys end up. according to those rules, ww2 hardware might outperform 21st centuary hardware. i wonder if a f35 even has enough weaponry to shoot it's equivalent in budget out of the air.


RE: Boodoggle
By FaaR on 1/16/2013 2:42:21 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
i wonder if a f35 even has enough weaponry to shoot it's equivalent in budget out of the air.

Without a doubt it could not, especially assuming the P51 could be cost-reduced and brought up to modern production levels of efficiency and automation, but the scenario is a completely pointless thought exercise since a P51 is hopelessly, hilarously obsolete in this day and age.

You simply couldn't accomplish with a swarm of WWII-era P51s that you can with just one F35...


RE: Boodoggle
By Rukkian on 1/16/2013 3:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
Add in the pilots of all of that swarm, and have fun with that. While the plane itself maybe cheaper, the pilots would probably 10000x more expensive as it would be kamikase missions.


RE: Boodoggle
By inighthawki on 1/16/2013 4:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe we should modifythe scenario. Instead of simply being:
1 F35
vs
xx P51s

we should make it:

1 F35 with xx pilots
vs
xx P51s with 1 pilot each

(anduse our imagination tobelieve that xx pilots could fit in a single F35 :))

Now suddenly theres a huge difference in value.


RE: Boodoggle
By headbox on 1/16/2013 12:17:43 AM , Rating: 3
if we were at war with an enemy that could shoot down our entire air force, we might speed things up a bit


RE: Boodoggle
By AntDX316 on 1/16/2013 12:26:48 AM , Rating: 1
think it's a bad idea to remove safety features to save very negligible performance increase

the F-35 is meant to take some fire so no doubt the lack of a supreme fire suppression system is not a good idea


RE: Boodoggle
By Jaybus on 1/16/2013 10:28:00 AM , Rating: 2
In that case, it was a good idea. All of its weapon systems can easily be used from an altitude of at least 5 km. There is no way I believe an aircraft traveling at those speeds and altitudes can be made to "take some fire".


RE: Boodoggle
By OnyxNite on 1/16/2013 1:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
The Air Force A variant is intended to eventually replace the A-10 in addition to the F-16 (I know, I think they're nuts too!) In that role you don't think it will take some fire? The Marine/Royal Navy VSTOL B variant is intended to replace the Harrier, you don't think that role takes fire? The Carrier based C variant replaces the F/A-18 you don't think they take fire. Quick rule of thumb for you... if there is an A in the designation (A-10, F/A-18, etc.) it probably takes a lot of fire.


RE: Boodoggle
By dgingerich on 1/16/2013 8:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
The A-10 will never be replaced, only succeeded, (as in, the next in line) and even then inadequately. The A-10 is really a marvel of engineering, and should have been continued to be produced until someone actually managed to come up with something better. Today's engineers seem to be unsuitable for the task.


RE: Boodoggle
By OnyxNite on 1/17/2013 10:40:53 AM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. The F-35 isn't scheduled to take it's place until 2028 though and with how the government works that will probably slip several times so there is plenty of time for them to come to their senses yet. The real problem is the Air Force doesn't like it because it fills a role they have no great desire to be doing in the first place. Close Air support and tank hunting are normally the domain of Army Helos not Air Force fixed wing aircraft.


RE: Boodoggle
By Samus on 1/16/2013 1:26:58 AM , Rating: 2
So you say we need us a world war do ya?

hmmm...


RE: Boodoggle
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2013 9:10:39 AM , Rating: 2
Because a P51 is anywhere near as complex as a modern fighter jet.

Do you just try to make yourself look dumb? As someone who's worked on the program, it takes a while and costs a lot due to a) complexity and b) government incompetence.


RE: Boodoggle
By steven975 on 1/16/2013 12:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

The Army Air Corps wanted a figher. The P-51 came out of that.

With the F-22/F-35, the Air Force guys in charge of it will change things on a whim. Everything from "I went to this conference and I think we should have..." to "I don't like the way it looks" to "I need to know how much it will cost to put a laser on it".


RE: Boodoggle
By Jeffk464 on 1/16/2013 12:27:50 PM , Rating: 3
PAO shutoff valve huh. You just going to throw acronyms out there without first spelling the out?


RE: Boodoggle
By dgingerich on 1/16/2013 12:49:36 PM , Rating: 3
First, I would kind of vouch for the engineers on two matters: the F-35 is meant to fly at much faster speeds, much higher G turns, and much higher altitudes than the P-51, making it much harder to engineer. Also, the 'stealth' materials and design throw in added complexities to make it even harder to engineer.

On the other hand, there are established engineering standards on doing many things, and ways to measure how much stress different components will experience under certain conditions. I don't understand how they have been so far off on so many things with this design, and made so many mistakes. The don't seem to be checking their designs the way they should before building test machines. It's pitiful. The quality of work is much lower than it used to be at the defense contractors.

Apparently, our pinnacle of defense engineering is still the F-14. We'd be better off building more of those than this piece of junk.

Defense design has always been a 'best of the best of engineering' type job in this country. If this is the best work our best engineers can offer these days, we're in dire trouble as a country.

Then again, I've been saying that for the last decade, as soon as I understood what has been oging wrong. We've been in trouble for a long time. The signs have been there, waiting to be seen. Our educational system has been slipping for even longer than I've been in school. Our work ethic as a country has been slipping since before I was born. Our sense of being the best has been left behind for at least a decade. The media continues to push selfishness and mediocre mindsets. We've already slipped from the top. We're just a country of has-beens.


RE: Boodoggle
By Alexvrb on 1/16/2013 11:58:55 PM , Rating: 1
How dare you imply that people should get jobs, be responsible for their own actions, and pay for their own crap! I think the government should take control of every aspect of my life, pay for everything, and tuck me in at night. While we're at it - Roosevelt, you're out. Stuffed bears will now be called 'Bama Bears.


RE: Boodoggle
By inperfectdarkness on 1/17/2013 6:36:05 AM , Rating: 2
irrelevant. the p51 was just a p40 with a different engine. not rocket science.


RE: Boodoggle
By sorry dog on 1/19/2013 7:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
Dude...you get a grade of F- with that statement

Those two planes weren't even built by the same company. If fact, some early models of the Mustang had the same Allison V1610 engine type as the Warhawk.


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