back to article Dodgy software will bork America's F-35 fighters until at least 2019

The F-35 multirole fighter won't be close to ready before 2019, the US House Armed Services Committee was told on Wednesday. The aircraft, which is supposed to reinvigorate the American military's air power, is suffering numerous problems, largely down to flaws in the F-35's operating system. These include straightforward code …

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  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

    What did they do, reinvent the wheel or something similar? One would think that since every fighter built since the beginning of the jet age has had one, there wouldn't be issues that make it more dangerous than not ejecting.

    I think the Brits need to be pissed off also, since their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years.

    This thing is turning out to be a bigger mess than first imagined.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

      The seats are fine. That you have to eject with a desktop computer and a couple of 17" CRT balanced on top of your head is an issue.

      It is a concern though, how will the Royal Navy deal with the threat of attacks by Al Queda submarines in Afghanistan

      1. bitmap animal
        WTF?

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        To have got this far down the development path and have those problems is quite shocking. Perhaps they could develop a variation of the Hans device used in F1, strap the helmet to the ejector seat and cross your fingers you and the helmet separate from the seat at the same time.

    2. Blank-Reg
      Facepalm

      Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

      "I think the Brits need to be pissed off also, since their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

      Well, to be fair, it's our own fault for flogging off the Harrier fleet until the replacement is ready. Hopefully, we won't get involved in something that requires too much force projection and carrier support...

      1. AdrianMontagu

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        Well a committe designing a horse will come up with a camel. Why oh why are we trying to make a "can do everything" aircraft. You know and I know that it just can't be done. Stick to what you are good at. We Brits know how to build aircraft but we are controlled by incompetent idiots who all went to the same school and are good mates! This needs to be nipped in the bud NOW.

        1. KeithR

          Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

          "You know and I know that it just can't be done"

          It can.

          We did.

          The US Marines still love the thing.

          Harrier.

          It would have been orders of magnitude easier and cheaper to develop a supersonic Harrier (not that it's needed) than go this way.

          And of course our fuckwit Chancellor has painted us into the corner of committing to this thing, regardless of how long it takes to fix.

          1. x 7

            Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

            "It would have been orders of magnitude easier and cheaper to develop a supersonic Harrier"

            probably not true.........a supersonic Harrier would have required plenum chamber burning, and this would have to be used on landing due to the extra weight. That would have given major problems with exhaust gas temperatures and pressure, more or less destroying any landing surface, steel or concrete. There's a thread on PPRUNE somewhere where John Farley (Harrier chief test pilot) states that he told Hawkers he would have refused to fly the plenum chamber burning P.1154 super-Harrier due to the dangers involved in landing it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

      This thing is turning out to be a bigger mess than first imagined.

      By whom? Any amateur student of aviation history would have told the project scopers at the outset that multi-role aircraft invariably cost vastly more than originally forecast, encounter numerous technical problems that challenge their effectiveness in different roles, the more complex capabilities (eg S/VTOL) can be summarised as a problem looking for a problem, and by the time they get delivered in any working form, it is often the case that the original need has receded into history.

      But in this case, not only did the Pentagon make the ill fated and ill advised decision to try and build a single airframe for three very different roles, but they chose to intentionally make it the most complicated ("advanced") aircraft in the world. They didn't even do basic research (like how to manage the heat on carrier decks), and they ignored the fact that there's no credible enemy for whom this is an appropriate defensive tool. They also ignored the fact that the downfall of the USSR was effectively because it was bankrupted by arms spending. And that's before we consider look at the ever advancing capabilities of UAVs, cruise munitions and the like.

      Now, there's only two conclusions at this point: Either the Pentagon are really, really, really stupid. Or they did know all of this, and they entered into the project knowing that it would be a country-bankrupting disaster, but simply not caring, because the US taxpayer would have to bail them out and buy them their toys, even though they also knew those toys wouldn't work properly, and there was no military threat to justify them.

      The British Ministry of Defence is equally incompetent, but its spending is more constrained. Seems to me that US is involved in the worlds most expensive arms race, unfortunately it is the only participant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        Now, there's only two conclusions at this point: Either the Pentagon are really, really, really stupid. Or they did know all of this, and they entered into the project knowing that it would be a country-bankrupting disaster, but simply not caring, because the US taxpayer would have to bail them out and buy them their toys, even though they also knew those toys wouldn't work properly, and there was no military threat to justify them.

        Ah, but they don't have a choice. A number of people have grown VERY fat on the income of all the war-faring that the US has engaged in, and they want their investment back of getting the people in the Pentagon where they are now. It's spending the money that matters, getting results not much so.

        The British Ministry of Defence is equally incompetent, but its spending is more constrained.

        Only because it started to get too obvious - they too have wasted money on well published disasters, and that's just the part the public knows of.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

          The funding and the go-ahead for the F-35 project would have been on the basis that it was a necessity. However, the project's delays and lateness rather seem to indicate the opposite.

      2. bri

        @Ledswinger

        This is a bit harsh. Design of an airplane (esp. combat one) is a decades long process. DoD designed specifications in an era when we have oohed and aahed over Windows 95. F35 has been first flown in an era when smartphone meant either Nokia Communicator or some barely functioning, overcomplicated (from today's perspective) Windows contraption and tablet meant 2kg hulk with a stylus and Windows XP Tablet edition.

        I don't think anyone could have predicted the current state of technology and security challenges. However, from conflicts in the past they knew that not investing is even more callous thing. Still, they have two decades of experience of how not to do it, so maybe this will be useful in designing better development frameworks and processes. So hopefully not everything is wasted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Ledswinger

          Design of an airplane (esp. combat one) is a decades long process

          If the way the Eurofighter was designed is anything to go by I think such designs can be accelerated rather dramatically by clearing out the idiots and civil servants involved whose contribution mainly consisted of having meeting after meeting to check if nothing was developing that needed hiding to ensure their smooth progression through the ranks of idiocy.

          The whole process is screwed. You start with some needs that are usually defined without any input from people that actually have the ability to develop a reasonably acceptable map of what could happen in the future, then you get funding from people who don't care about anything but their next election and how good they look with celebrities, and next you then start haggling with companies whose main goal is to ensure they can underbid each other for a spec they will help to make as flawed as possible so they can reclaim the underbidding by almost continuous change control, which means you always end up paying FAR more than the bidding process the accountants got themselves promoted for.

          If, by some weird stroke of "luck" you manage to actually build the damn things you will then face the next hurdle: maintenance, a new opportunity to stiff the poor taxpayers who have zero say in how these experienced gangsters waste their money.

          It's a racket from end to end. Delivering an actual plane seems to happen almost by accident.

          </cynic>

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: AC Re: @Ledswinger

            "If the way the Eurofighter was designed...." If anything, the Government and BAe had learned from previous European "co-operative" farces and went into the Eurofighter project having already got the core of the design hammered out with the BAe EAP project. The ejection of the French from the group was both necessary and timely. Otherwise we'd still be waiting for the first Eurofighter prototype flight long after the carriers will have arrived!

            1. Yag

              Re: @Matt

              "The ejection of the French from the group was both necessary and timely. Otherwise we'd still be waiting for the first Eurofighter prototype flight long after the carriers will have arrived!"

              Erm... Can you remind me which european nation actually have a carrier with navalized planes those days?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @bri

          I don't think anyone could have predicted the current state of technology and security challenges.

          Maybe that's because you weren't around at the time? I worked on operational support systems for Tornadoes at the end of the Cold War. Recall that by 1993 we'd already had the battle of Mogadishu, Gulf War 1, and the Soviets had been kicked out of Afghanistan by irregular forces. It was readily apparent that (a) the Soviet Union was going away and not coming back any time soon, that (b) the Middle East and Southern Central Asia were politically and militarily unstable points of conflict.

          So, absent the global supervillain of the USSR, there was never a need for even the F22, never mind the F35. Even Typhoon's raison d'etre (detente: air cover to get Tornado tactical nukes airborne) had gone, and the sensible answer for Europe would have been to scrap the expensive Typhoon project. Any residual air defence need could have been met by committing to buying a few Grypen or F18s.

          Given that it was forseeable thirty years ago that today's air combat need was international force projection, and interdiction against third rate powers or irregular forces, all of the big money sink projects should have been canned. I can see that assault choppers would still be a cheap and reasonable acquisition, and there might have been a case for a new role-dedicated strike aircraft to replace the A10s and Tornado GR1 of the day. With twenty years development, that could have been in service by 2002, and been cheaper and more effective than the Typhoon FGR4 will ever be, although an F18 or Gripen would probably do the job adequately, particularly given the (equally forseeable) development of UAV capabilities.

          But, we are where we are. What is a logical plan now? For starters, the Anglophone world should stop looking for, joining or starting wars wherever they are to be had. This removes the urgency for doing anything. All new Typhoon development should be halted other than safety and reliability stuff. The F35 programme should cancel the B variant (and let the UK government sort out their own S/VTOL needs), and simplify all of the systems that are not working, even if that compromises the original specification. The Pentagon have bet the ship on F35, give it to them because there's too much money already sunk, and no alternative plan. But then stop throwing money at military research and development projects. Railguns, death lasers, EMPs,..... the world doesn't need them. The $4bn budgeted just for scoping the B2 replacement, there's more good money going after bad, with an expected purchase (not even programme) cost of at least $20bn.

          I suppose most of this money is being spent by the Yanks, and it is their choice. But is the threat of a few smelly beardoes on the other side of the world really a justification for spending over half a trillion dollars a year, particularly when the "investment" to date has actually made that situation far, far worse?

          1. Naselus

            Re: @bri

            Pfff. The point isn't to service any military need, because there is no military need. It's to provide a fig leaf for government spending which the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party wouldn't object to. If the Pentagon cut it's budget to a sensible level without a similar amount of government money being dumped into other projects then the US economy would collapse in a huge wave of layoffs amongst the 3-4 million people who's jobs are supported by military production.

            Just like pretty much all arms manufacturing in any economy outside of wartime really - the trash being produced by the British industry is an equally useless stealth jobs program, too. That's why we end up with super-expensive ships and aircraft that are typically inferior to their cold war equivalents.

          2. Vic

            Re: @bri

            The F35 programme should cancel the B variant

            If you're going to return the F-35 programme to any semblance of cost-effectiveness, the A and C variants need to be canned as well.

            The F-53 was originally touted as a cost-down F-22. It appears that it will end up being much more expensive, much less capable, and probably much more dangerous to the pilot...

            let the UK government sort out their own S/VTOL needs

            If the UK government hadn't bought such wank carriers from BAe, we wouldn't need STOVL. Alternatively, if we fitted EMALS, we wouldn't need STOVL. But BAe insists that the EMALS retrofit - on carriers for which we paid significantly more for them to be modular and modifiable - is going to cost as much as a new build. Despite the fact that General Atomics - the manufacturer of EMALS - quoted an order of magnitude less...

            Vic.

            1. x 7

              Re: @bri

              " Alternatively, if we fitted EMALS, we wouldn't need STOVL. But BAe insists that the EMALS retrofit - on carriers for which we paid significantly more for them to be modular and modifiable - is going to cost as much as a new build. Despite the fact that General Atomics - the manufacturer of EMALS - quoted an order of magnitude less..."

              my understanding is that the alternative, cheaper EMALS system from the Anglo-French company Converteam was disregarded, despite the price advantage - and the fact that Converteam were already supplying the electric transmissions for the ships, and had provided "plug in" capability for their version of EMALS within the power generation equipment.

              Its irrelevant now, as Converteam were taken over by (American) GEC and the project shut down. Funny that. I'd love to know how big the behind-the-scenes backhanders were

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: x 7 - GE (USA) .ne. GEC (UK)

                The American company is GE. The former British company was GEC.

                Back in the mists of the 1970s, Emperor Weinstock at GEC (UK) had divisions working in a wide variety of areas, including power turbines (for power generation), big transformers (and switchgear) for power distribution, and so on (also including marine propulsion and at one time including railway stuff).

                Emperor Weinstock liked a joint venture (why waste money that could go into the bank on useless things like doing your own R+D, when you could acquire technology for cheap via a JV). and some of the heavy-electrical-end bits of GEC ended up as part of a JV called GEC Alsthom (note speeling), whose other half was owned by French company Alsthom (note speeling).

                CEGELEC Industrial Systems in due course ended up as part of Alstom (note speeling) Power Conversion.

                Alstom hit hard times and had to be rescued by the French government, not long after GEC had collapsed and *not* been rescued by the UK government.

                As part of that rescue deal, the Power Conversion section was sold off and became Converteam.

                Got that so far? (nb I'm not 100% sure I have).

                Then in 2011 GE (USA) bought 90% of Converteam.

                "I'd love to know how big the behind-the-scenes backhanders were"

                You and lots of others.

                1. x 7

                  Re: x 7 - GE (USA) .ne. GEC (UK)

                  Lord Weinstock

                  Thatcher's industrial god. That bastard did more to destroy British manufacturing industry, and exported more jobs than any other single person - including her.

                  He destroyed our lead in radar, missiles, sonar, torpedoes, railway engineering, telecoms, power engineering, marine engineering/ship building, and much much more. His concepts survive within BAE Systems even now - thats why we no longer build any civilian aircraft, and rely on foreign partners for military stuff. Why we no longer build locomotives, or ships. If there's one person who can be blamed for our industrial decline, its him

                  PS - don't forget Althom/Alstom started out as Alsace-Thomson-Heuston as opposed to British-Thomson-Heuston, who were both licencees / part subsidiaries of Thomson-Heuston of America. The UK company became part of AEI then GEC, while the American company became part of GE

                  Its a funny old world how things go in circles...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: x 7 - GE (USA) .ne. GEC (UK)

                    "If there's one person who can be blamed for our industrial decline, its him"

                    There's a book or two to be written (maybe they already have been?). He largely still seems to be a hero, even though he fell out with the City in the final days.

                    On re-reading my essay I seem to have missed at least one sentence, which I typed, removed for brevity, and didn't replace, about the origins of CEGELEC. Sorry. I knew it was complicated.

                    "don't forget Althom/Alstom started out as Alsace-Thomson-Heuston as opposed to British-Thomson-Heuston, who were both licencees / part subsidiaries of Thomson-Heuston of America."

                    Haven't forgotten, hadn't even noticed in the first place :(

                    It's arguably before my GEC-awareness started - ie long before my family's connections with English Electric, in the era of the Deltic on the rails and the Lightning in the skies. Where did it all go wrong? Other than the aforementioned multi-decade investment strike, which led ultimately to things like GEC having nothing relevant to offer when BT wanted a "21st century network"?

                    ps

                    Thomson Houston (note speeling). I may not have known about the GE and GEC connection but on a good day I can speel it :)

                    "Its a funny old world how things go in circles..."

                    And how people don't learn from others' mistakes.

                    Looking at Rolls Royce (the jet engine one) in recent years I'm seeing some of the same management attitudes and mistakes as killed GEC. Maybe that'll change now they've got an ex-ARM man in charge. Maybe. Also interesting is the ex-Tata man who is currently RR CFO (David Smith, former CEO at Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover, who sold them to Tata while he was in charge of them at Ford?

                    https://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidmsmith34 )

                    1. x 7

                      Re: x 7 - GE (USA) .ne. GEC (UK)

                      this is a good brief biography on Weinstock

                      https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2002/07/wein-j27.html

                      its written from a very Socialist perspective, but it looks pretty accurate

          3. uncle sjohie

            Re: @bri

            The Swedish people understood this, they designed the Gripen, a design focused to work properly in expeditionary circumstances, eg hot and sandy climates, and from short mediocre runways. Carrying self defense rockets, and enough fuel and standoff weapons for fighting against insurgents etc. A navalised version would have been more then adequate for the marines. That doesn't need air conditioned hangars, or complicated databases to order parts.

        3. Mark Morgan Lloyd
          WTF?

          Re: @Ledswinger

          "...an era when we have oohed and aahed over Windows 95. F35 has been first flown in an era when smartphone meant either Nokia Communicator..."

          I think we need to get this into perspective. The Spitfire went from design to first flight in less than two years, and five years after that was in large-scale production and having life-changing results. Now I know that somebody will argue that modern aircraft are vastly more complex than the Spitfire or Harrier, but the Spitfire was designed a mere 35 years after the Wright Brothers first demonstrated powered flight, and quite frankly in the late 30s people knew vastly less about aerodynamics and had vastly less choice of structural materials than they do today.

          Add to that that in the late 30s drawings were prepared by hand, any attempt at numerical simulation had to be done by hand, and precision machining was controlled by hand.

          So we really should be asking: WTF are we doing wrong? Why is our society unable to build stuff which does the job to the same extent as the Spitfire, Harrier, Apollo program and so on /despite/ our better understanding of the underlying science and our engineering advances? Just about every large-scale aerospace project has the same problems, and most other fields of industry only survive because they're able to recall products and retrofit fixes... and don't anybody get me going on the deficiencies of public-sector IT projects.

          -- MarkMLl

          1. x 7

            Re: @Ledswinger

            "So we really should be asking: WTF are we doing wrong?"

            Simple

            In the F-35 project, research and production have been allowed to run side by side, with problems found during the build requiring new basic R&D

            Historically aircraft companies would build pure research designs, the results of which may get incorporated into production designs. With the F-35 that was deliberately curtailed so that the production model IS the research project. Hence the extended lead time.

            Everything about the F-35 is new an experimental. New engine, new vertical lift fan, new airframe using new materials and new construction methods, totally new avionics, completely new sensor suite, new fully integrated helmet, all requiring new software. All new, all likely to go wrong. And then you add to it the new development process itself, and the new oversight methods..........

          2. Bluto Nash

            Re: @Ledswinger

            Perhaps it was the drive of, you know, a WAR, along with:

            a) The ability and willingness for the entire populace to get behind a common cause

            b) The resources of the entire country and economy thrown at it, because, you know, possible death and all

            c) They could be build by various levels of skilled workers using hand tools, not necessarily CAD/CAM/CNC operators, programmers, etc. Far easier to throw manpower at it.

            And yes, the F35 et. al. are all vastly more complex, though it makes one wonder if perhaps a larger number of non-multirole flyers might be a better bet, as we could turn them out quickly, in different versions (see F14) for different uses, possibly populating those barren Brit carriers somewhat sooner.

            Please understand that I have nought but the utmost respect to those that answered the call to produce these and other machines on both sides of the pond.

            As to the Apollo program, replace WAR and DEATH with "COMMIE BASTIDGES."

          3. fajensen Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: @Ledswinger

            So we really should be asking: WTF are we doing wrong? Why is our society unable to build stuff which does the job to the same extent as the Spitfire,

            I'll take a guess: Structural Unemployment is what we are doing wrong.

            We have at our disposal thousands of bright young things from the finest and most expensive universities ready and willing to work at any project. We have wonderful design tools, that really do work, can run on any recent computer (except Mac) and are affordable to a very modest budget.

            However - there is not that much actual Work and what work there is, is quickly dispensed with, because, businesses these days are frighteningly efficient and the tools are really cheap and powerful.

            So, what will we do? Usually, I see this a lot on the big projects I happen work with, the "solution" is to make everything very big and very complicated. Always use "big-iron" / "enterprise" tools, be very heavy with the "bondage & leather" processes A.K.A. project-, requirements- and change- management, and generally leave no stone unturned if it is suspected that a phd-thesis could be hidden underneath.

            Maybe 10% of the resources allocated actually goes into the actual end-product that the project is supposed to deliver. But, thousands of engineers and con-slutt-ants earns big salaries and can take out mortgages, which creates moneys for the banks to waste. So, we don't have a recession.

            I can, at my kitchen table, design and have manufactured electronics that only 10-15 years ago would require a team of engineers and some kind of factory. The web-2.0 douchebags can do even bigger feats in terms of money with a few developers in an attic office (The other side of web-2.0 are IS - which are now murdering quicker, faster and for less resources than PIRA did).

            We are swimming in resources and capabilities, but we haven't solved the problem on how to change society to the new realities.

            *) "enterprise" - A product that ejects warp-cores and who's crew generally spends entire episodes on barely getting out of self-created messes. Perfectly fitting.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @Ledswinger

          @bri

          If your design schedule is such that technology that isn't available at the start of the process will be obsolete by the time you deliver you're doing it wrong.

          1. Vic

            Re: @Ledswinger

            If your design schedule is such that technology that isn't available at the start of the process will be obsolete by the time you deliver you're doing it wrong.

            Whilst I would not attempt to refute your point, I would point out that the situation you describe is entirely normal in aerospace projects...

            Vic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Vic @Ledswinger

              [re: obsolescence: project development lifecycle longer than component production lifecycle]

              "I would point out that the situation you describe is entirely normal in aerospace projects..."

              It may be common practice but it is neither necessary nor universal.

              In thirty years or so I've worked on design and support of flying products based on everything from 16bit embedded micros to 16/32bit micros to full 64bit flyable workstations built around COTS technologies.

              If the right purchasing decisions and agreements are made early enough, the bought-in stuff can match the lifetime of the project. Obviously that is likely to cost more than picking a cheap and cheerful component with a limited lifetime, but with outfits like (say) Raytheon (to pick a relatively well known one) able to militarise a commercial workstation for use as (say) a flying radar operator station with a multi-decade support lifetime, lots of obsolescence problems go away. The budget goes up, but hey... Not sure if they still do now that PCs have supplanted SPARCs and what have you, and are frequently regarded as consumables, mind you. But that's relatively recent.

              Similarly, 68000-family chips were still around last time I looked, as were the software and hardware tools to support them. Z8000, less so. Z8000 fell off the gcc supported list many years ago (and rightly so, Z8001/Z8002 were an abomination to program).

              Yes it's a challenge. It needs thought, and planning, and budgets.

              But it's not always impossible.

              1. Vic

                Re: @Vic @Ledswinger

                Similarly, 68000-family chips were still around last time I looked

                Mil-spec? ITYF they went away 20 years ago...

                Vic.

        5. PaulAb

          Re: @Ledswinger

          Your joking,..right. Your trying to get some thumbs down for a bet....right?

      3. Tim Jenkins

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        "...there's no credible enemy for whom this is an appropriate defensive tool...."

        See next week's Daily Fail, where Cody Wilson will be revealed as having released 3D printer files for a MiG-35...

      4. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        <quote>Now, there's only two conclusions at this point: Either the Pentagon are really, really, really stupid. Or they did know all of this, and they entered into the project knowing that it would be a country-bankrupting disaster, but simply not caring, because the US taxpayer would have to bail them out and buy them their toys, even though they also knew those toys wouldn't work properly, and there was no military threat to justify them.</quote>

        Sorry, but no cigar. You forgot the third, and most likely:

        The Military-Industrial Complex was in dire need of Government Pork, and roped in bought and paid for Congress Critters to fund that Pork Roast at taxpayer expense, allowing those same Congress Critters to bleat about bringing home the bacon (aka JOBS) to their Congressional district to insure their re-election.

        One hand washes another. It has been that way since the 1940's (WW II) Eisenhower warned us about it in a speech back in the early 1960's. Here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex

        From the linked article, the """money""" part of his speech:

        This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

        The second emphasized sentence is telling if you take post 9/11 events into consideration, and remember, he gave this speech in 1961, FIFTY YEARS BEFORE 9/11

      5. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Ledswinger Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        "....US is involved in the worlds most expensive arms race, unfortunately it is the only participant." Both China and Russia have increased their defence spending over the last decade, and both are developing next-gen fighter aircraft, next-gen radar and next-gen air defence missiles. Whilst your idea that the Yanks were stupid to try an all-in-one and top-tech design for many international customers in one go is probably correct, the idea that the Yanks are the only players on the field is a bit blinkered.

        As regards multi-role aircraft, the best have usually grown out of single-role projects. The F-4 Phantom II and F-16 would be good examples. Unfortunately, cost of aircraft development (especially systems) has grown massively in the last few decades - the F-4's original computers were less powerful and ran less code than an iPad. Designing multi-role systems for multi-national customers is an even greater expense.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Matt Bryant

          Wow. I thought you'd gone for good.

          Welcome back (or whatever), and if you agree to be polite, I'll agree to be polite?

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Ledswinger Re: @Matt Bryant

            "..... I thought you'd gone for good....." I do have to do some work every now and again! ;)

            Does anyone know if the MQ-9 Predator drone has been tested with arrester gear?

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              @Matt Bryant

              It has had the gear apparently for sometime and was in the competition for the Navy contract which Grumman got. I do seem to recall that carrier landings were part of the competition but am not finding a link right now....

        2. Snafu1

          Re: Ledswinger A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

          Downvoted for completely missing the original point & trying to shift goalposts from 70s computer design to modern.. (yes I've understood the Blue Circle jokes..)

      6. BillG
        Pirate

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        What did they do, reinvent the wheel or something similar?

        No. The unfortunate truth of the F-35 fiasco is that all the major contractors, in order to keep costs down, laid off experienced engineers and hired young, inexperienced hardware and software engineers instead. Take a look online and read it for yourself.

      7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        "The British Ministry of Defence is equally incompetent"

        So incompetent I think I could safely bet my house that they didn't put a late delivery discount clause ion the contract either.

    4. Yag

      Re: "their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

      I'm starting to wonder if the 2bn EMALS conversion won't be a better idea than going on with the F35.

      It's pork barrels all the way down!

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

        Re: "their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

        or, perhaps a rethink resulting in a simple, elegant, robust, and affordable solution from yesteryear.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Ugott B Kiddingme Re: "their shiny, new carriers ....."

          ".... a simple, elegant, robust, and affordable solution from yesteryear." Whilst a big fan of the Spitfire, I'd be the first to point out it had many problems of its own and made a rather indifferent multi-role fighter. The reason the Hawker Hurricane won the Battle of Britian was because Hawker could make Hurricanes at twice the rate that Supermarine could make Spitfires. The unloved Curtis P-40 and Hawker Typhoon made better ground-attack fighters, and the Hellcat and Corsair were far better naval fighters than the Seafire version (which had a nasty habit of bending under the stresses of carrier landings!).

          IMHO, the current F/A-18 Super Hornet or even a navalised Eurofighter Typhoon would be a better choice now (we could even re-use some of the earlier Tranche aircraft the RAF doesn't want as much). Of course, that would require redesigning the carriers to build catapults and arresting gear back in again - unlikely!

          1. Snafu1

            Re: Ugott B Kiddingme "their shiny, new carriers ....."

            Basically the Spit was designed as an interceptor: light, relatively fragile, but could do damage appropriately. Hurrys were designed as more versatile vehicles: they could intercept (at slower rate), but they were far more effective as ground attack or bomber attack due to their higher durability

            The relative production rate didn't hurt either..

        2. Bluto Nash

          Re: "their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

          That's a good looking plane, y'all.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. MrXavia

        Re: "their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

        "I'm starting to wonder if the 2bn EMALS conversion won't be a better idea than going on with the F35."

        Certainly is a better idea, the F35 is a doomed project...

        I see our carriers being platforms for UAV's more than fighters now...

        the sons and daughters of Taranis will rule the skies, supported by a small number of manned fighters I think

    5. boltar Silver badge

      Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

      "I think the Brits need to be pissed off also, since their shiny, new carriers will have nothing to carry for a few more years."

      Quite. And thanks to our idiot chancellor our only other aircraft carrier capable jets - the harrier - were sold off 5 years ago (to the USA ironically) in order to save that flying antique the Tornado which has now been more or less superceded by the Typhoon anyway.

      Sadly the UK is the flip side of the USA - in the USA money is thrown at military projects and yes, you get overspend and inefficiencies , but at least you get SOMETHING. Here in the UK defense cuts are more or less constant thanks to fucking accountants running just about everything in this country. Consequently our forces are a pale shadow of themselves and frankly not fit for purpose any more. Yes, we'll have some shiny new carriers (with no planes) and we have a couple of nuclear subs (which are no use for anything except at the end of the world) , but check out the rest of our navy. It wouldn't frighten Denmark, never mind Russia.

      Plus we hardly build anything anymore , if we're lucky we get to make the wings or engines of some plane thats then assembled in france or germany and thats about it.

      1. RPF

        Re: A boondoggle through and through and now ejection seats are also a problem?

        Tornado is a way better ground-attack aircraft than Harrier ever was and will only be replaced in that role by the F-35 (F3 replaced by Typhoon).

        No it isn't ideal having no aircraft for our carriers, but keeping the more capable Tornado was the right choice for all other missions. Harrier could not have done the Libya tasks, for example.

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