Newest U.S. Stealth Fighter ‘10 Years Behind’ Older Jets

America’s $400 billion, top-of-the-line aircraft can’t see the battlefield all that well. Which means it’s actually worse than its predecessors at fighting today’s wars.

When the Pentagon’s nearly $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter finally enters service next year after nearly two decades in development, it won’t be able to support troops on the ground the way older planes can today. Its sensors won’t be able to see the battlefield as well; and what video the F-35 does capture, it won’t be able to transmit to infantrymen in real time.

Versions of the new single-engine stealth fighter are set to replace almost every type of fighter in the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps inventory—including aircraft specifically designed to support ground troops like the A-10 Warthog. That will leave troops in a lurch when the F-35 eventually becomes the only game in town.

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  • Brett_McS

    Sounds like design by committee. The best World War II airplanes (Mustang, Spitfire, Mosquito, Lancaster) were typically developed in two years or less. Sure they were less complicated, but they were also designed without computers.

    I wonder how the F-35 would do against the Israeli F-16? The mechanicals are as per the original, but all the avionics are Israeli. Comparing the (poor) performance of the (very expensive) American Patriot anti-missile system with the much better performing (and much cheaper) Iron Dome (which was developed in two years) it might prove an interesting contest.

    • I hope this is all part of disinformation campaign designed to lull our enemies into a false sense of security. Then again I used to genuinely believe in Santa as well.

      • Brett_McS

        Jalopnik have done a review of the Daily Beast article:

        So by and large The Daily Beast’s report on the dismal state of the F-35’s EOTS is accurate, and another reminder that we cannot believe the USAF brass when it comes to claims that the F-35 can replace existing fighters in the CAS role on an equal if not superior level. Additionally, this info makes the idea that the F-35 can take over the A-10’s unique mission set even more laughable.

        http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/is-the-f-35s-targeting-system-really-10-years-behind-cu-1676442535/1676551732/+pgeorge

        They also note that the F-16 systems are quite modular, meaning that they can be upgraded fairly easily (as the Israelis did). Whereas the F-35 systems are ‘hard-wired’ and hard to upgrade.

        • Yikes.

        • Norman_In_New_York

          Israel has ordered some F-35s, and you can bet that they will correct the defects in short order without making a spectacle of this.

          • Hard Little Machine

            It took them 2 years to successfully lobby for the ability to replace some of the on board systems with their own. In fact the US has denied anyone who purchases the plane to even service parts of it and doing that work requires the plane sent back to the US for those aspects of its maintenance. Some of the systems can’t even be opened up and examined without self destructing aspects of the avionics and control subsystems. Apart from the fly away cost of upwards of $200 million per, this is one the key reasons Israel reduced their order to 14 planes. And mind you the reason the program still exists at all is because the DoD has been telling Congress for years they can sell thousands of these – otherwise there is no sane economic rationale. On a related note, Israel also downsized its V-22 Osprey order because the complex hybrid aircraft are just too expensive, fragile and complicated to keep in service.

        • Clausewitz

          Once asked a Warthog Jockey about stealth over a few beers. His statement was, “I fly low, if they hear my plane chances are that they’re already dead then”. I love the A-10. So do the Marines.

          • Uncle_Waspy

            It looks like a very badass machine.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        I think there is a lot of disinformation about the F-35.

    • mauser 98

      for a lousy program
      Obamacare website took 4 years and $750 million. total screw up

    • Hard Little Machine

      The first operational US jet fighter, the Lockeed P-80 went from cocktail napkin doodle to flying prototype in 100 days. Kelly Johnson was perhaps the greatest aeronautical mind of the 20th century. His team put together a blueprint model for a transonic fighter the L-133 in 1939.

    • MRHapla

      SR-71 Blackbird. Clean sheet of paper to decades of operational state of the art in two years.

  • mauser 98

    kick backs, payoffs, bribes , beach front Rio bikinis.
    Murphy’s law not obeyed…twin engine over water
    Chinese copy F-35
    http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/amazing-photos-of-chinas-newest-stealth-jet-show-growin-1657003826

  • David Murrell

    When the U.S> was at its best in undertaking a military buildup — like during the Reagan administration — they developed high-end hardware (e.g. the F-15 plane), but produce many more low-end planes (the F-16s). For the navy, they produced the expensive Aegis missile cruiser , but manufactured scores of cheap frigates.

    Today, of course, the U.S. military under the Democrats produces only one class of plane, poorly designed and with huge cost overruns. Nobody cares.

  • Hard Little Machine

    The key reason EOTS is still adopted on the JSF is that LANTRIN can’t be mounted internally. It hangs in an outboard pod. This was seen as a crucial problem for stealth, which it is but the compromise is just that, a compromise. It really speaks to the chimeric quality of the whole thing – be all things for all men. But in fact stealth isn’t the useful for ground support anyway. Which is why A-10’s and heavily laden F-16’s are so useful. So they’re left with a plane that’s designed to do huge number of things medium-well and none of them particularly well. You see this is the 3 different planforms they use – one for the air force, one for the navy, one for the USMC. The naval version is super-complex for a naval aircraft and it’s one huge engine likes to melt carrier decks at the same time that the launch stops and arrestor hooks aren’t designed right and break off. The USMC version built to replace the Harrier will be hands down the most expensive and complicated to maintain piece of machinery the USMC has ever owned, guaranteeing that only very low numbers of them will be flight ready at one time. And the airforce version, most of the production run, will be used to replace nearly everything they use today, from A-10’s to F-16’s to F-15’s to ECM platforms – doing none of that better than the planes it replaces. Even with the normal reduction in service cost per hour the first years of service (the F-22 started out at >$60,000 and hour to fly is now somewhere in the high 30’s low 40’s) it’s still going to be much more expensive overall to fly and to keep flyable than the old machines they replaced. Flight cost per hour per ton payload is really the only reason half century old B-52’s are in the air today. Nothing can touch its cost performance.

  • Blacksmith

    Typical government efficiency. They could screw up a Sh&t sandwich.

  • Uncle_Waspy

    And to think this flying junk was produced by the same country that put a man on the moon. What happened?

  • Observer
  • MRHapla

    What. The. Hell. ??

  • Minicapt

    1. Does it have a big engine?
    2. Is it supersonic?
    Then it meets Air Force wishes.

    Cheers

  • simus1

    The updated state of the art F-35 ground attack package likely has very low priority because air superiority is the ultimate key to enabling everything else carrying bombs to reach and destroy their assigned targets with minimal losses.