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 …

Page:

      1. Zolko

        Re: Can someone please...

        "We don't need them or want them and we can make remote controlled drones for 1/100th the price"

        or you can buy some Grippens from your neighbours for 1/10th of the price. Because drones are not any useful for air superiority, which is what you would want against an invasion. Drones are good as attack aircraft, but hopefully you don't want to attack anybody, do you ?

        1. KeithR

          Re: Can someone please...

          "Because drones are not any useful for air superiority, which is what you would want against an invasion."

          Who are we fighting though? Moroccan suicide bombers for the most part...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can someone please...

            "Who are we fighting though? Moroccan suicide bombers for the most part..."

            Moroccan? Really?

            All roads lead to Saudi Arabian money.

        2. 9Rune5

          Re: Can someone please...

          "or you can buy some Grippens from your neighbours for 1/10th of the price. "

          No-no, our brave leaders have stated that our needs are best served by the F-35. Just what 'our needs' are, is classified information.

          Some Swedes at the time commented that the Norwegian defense department had put various associated costs so high, that the Griffin would've cost more regardless of the initial price. "We could give them away and they'd still end up as the more expensive alternative".

          Corruption? No... Can't be.

          I believe "politician" is an occupation that naturally attracts psycopaths. No-one normal would ever want such a job, so what is left for us voters to do is figure out which psycho will do the least amount of damage.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can someone please...

        "So why not just retrofit some C-130s to have consoles where the pilots of drones sit to keep the latency relatively low."

        Because then I can just retrofit some Bears with big directional transmitters and jam your transmissions to the drones, or use HARM-type missiles against your C130s. As someone else notes but doesn't explain why, drones make fine attack vehicles because they can be programmed to a course and then can ignore everything other than GPS and perhaps ground radar; it is difficult to jam a fleet of widely dispersed drones. But they are of little use in defence because then they must intercept, and that involves a whole lot of technologies that aren't yet fully automated in the sizes needed. An AEGIS-size ship has room for all the electronics, a drone doesn't.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Can someone please...

          "So why not just retrofit some C-130s to have consoles where the pilots of drones sit to keep the latency relatively low."

          "Because then I can just retrofit some Bears with big directional transmitters and jam your transmissions to the drones, or use HARM-type missiles against your C130s"

          very true. and then more sophisticated means are used to counter the jamming (some kind of adaptive spread-spectrum or multi-aircraft mesh or something) but the HARM-type missile issue remains, as you're transmitting and therefore aren't very 'stealthy'.

          I guess we'll need sentient robot stealth planes. Hello, Skynet!

      3. Vic

        Re: Can someone please...

        most of the flaws related to the F-35 are related to the human being actually in the plane

        No, absolutely not.

        Whilst I daresay there are some such flaws, substantially all of the problems it is currently facing are down to the design being a sack of wank. Pilot presence is the least of the problems...

        I guess it's the bravado factor.

        Not entirely. I read some research a few years back that reckoned that pilots who were actually on-station were more empathetic towards their targets, making them somewhat less likely to bomb weddings, etc. I cannot prove the veracity of that claim, however.

        Vic.

  1. The Nazz Silver badge

    The helmets couldn't handle night vision?.

    Anyone know if Stevie Wonder ever gained a PPL?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Overconfidence!

    Enough said!

  3. x 7

    at this rate the only aircraft capable of launching from our new carriers will be Russian

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      And they'll be the only ones that can afford the rent

    2. riverman

      Let's hear it for the Swordfish.

      The Swordfish could be operated by the new carriers without difficulty. Not the latest or best as I freely admit, but they do bloody well work. Paris because she is not impressed by the current arrangements.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Let's hear it for the Swordfish.

        More likely the only plane capable of launching will be made of paper, or in extremes Lester may finally get that call back from the FAA, but perhaps not quite the one he was expecting or hoping for....

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      My exact thought - they actually are the only ones producing one model (Mig-29K) and having another, actually IMHO better one frozen, but ready for production (Su-33) which can work off a catapult-less carrier. Other NATO countries fly Mig-29 as primary fighter (*) so it (at least the army version) is actually on the official NATO procurement list.

      The French naval fighters need catapults so they are out of the equation and everything else is so out of date, its upgrade will cost more than the carriers. With F-35 out of the equation, all other NATO types are either out of date, out of production or have no naval version.

      So if HMS Queen Elizabeth is to carry any planes at all for the best part of a decade after they set sail, the whole rusophobic brigade starting with Cameron will have to put on a brave face and shuffle to Moscow on a shopping trip. When the time comes, I am going to buy a BIG bag of popcorn.

      (*) Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia - all have it as primary fighter. Several others have replaced it with Griphen for operational cost reasons, but still hold it in inventory.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        How's that for planning ahead ?

        Brand new carrier won't have any planes for half its life span.

        Sir Humphrey would be proud.

        1. KeithR

          Re: How's that for planning ahead ?

          "Sir Humphrey would be proud."

          This ain't on the Civil Service - it's Political With A Capital Pee through and through.

        2. Vic

          Re: How's that for planning ahead ?

          Brand new carrier won't have any planes for half its life span.

          That wouldn't have been nearly so much of a problem had we not sold off the planes we had that would have worked[1] long before the replacement is ready...

          Vic.

          [1] Yes, I know Harriers wouldn't have been that great a solution. But they'd have been better than no aircraft at all...

      2. Green Nigel 42
        Megaphone

        Although these Russian aircraft may well take off from Queen Elizabeth class carrier, they may not be able to land back on due to the lack of arrestor wires! I'm not convinced that retro fitting is a viable option either as significant structural alterations will be needed to reinforce to take the arrest loads,and create areas to house the energy absorbing equipment.

        When the BAE were contracted to build the Queen Elizabeth type carriers, I believe a design requirement was to allow for the retrospective option for cat & trap (sensible seeing how badly the F35 program was progressing from the start and that Lockheed Martin were running it). So it came as a bit of a shock when David Cameron announced that we are now to procurin the F35B and not the F35C. Why, because the MOD had cocked up the contract wording, that gave BAE a loophole to cut design & build costs that effectively made cat & trap very difficult & expensive to retro fit.

        Just to top it all, recovering the F35B will not be easy as they have yet to solve the problem of it burning a hole in the carriers flight deck with its blow torch like exhaust!

        So there we are, a hobbled carrier with a short range low manoeuvrable (7G limit on the B) eye wateringly expensive to buy & run, complicated and potentially unreliable to boot aircraft. At least they will make superb helicopter assault ships! Oh what a lovely waste of money!

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Although these Russian aircraft may well take off from Queen Elizabeth class carrier, they may not be able to land back on due to the lack of arrestor wires!

          Mostly correct.

          1. When BAE as asked for a quote, it was asked for a quote for _BOTH_ cat and trap, not just trap.

          2. Trap only is not such a difficult conversion as this example has proven. There the trap install was "the easiest job from the worklist - took a few months (compared to that the nightmare job of ripping out all asbestous and replacing it with modern materials took years). In fact, if the Queen Lizzy deck has the structural integrity to take the blow-torch from the exhaust, it probably can take a trap retrofit.

          So the issue actually that the contract is formulated in such a way that BAE can charge pretty much anything they can wish for including unicorns with rainbow sparkles for any spec change. That, however, can if need be solved by other means. In fact, it will probably need to be solved by other means as operating the intended fighter (F35) will be significantly cheaper if it is used for short-roll landing (with arrest for bells and braces) instead of vertical landing - less thermal load on deck, less engine wear, higher weapons load, longer missions, etc.

          1. Green Nigel 42

            Thank you for correcting my ommission, BAE were asked to quote on Cat & Trap, but I believe the design of the ship such, that retro fitting would be easy fitted, implying a cost effective change with or without cat & trap could be made as late as possible. This could still be done, but at an unacceptable cost in fitting the electro cat & further delay in the ships commission (does this matter as the F35B will not arrive for a few more years to come if ever!)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the only aircraft capable of launching from our new carriers will be Russian

      So that's Putin's cunning plan. We leave the EU, £ tanks, he makes us an offer; swap MiGs for a few wanted oligarchs and some prime London property.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: only aircraft capable of launching from new carriers will be Russian / Putin's cunning plan

        You may be closer to the truth than you think, господин!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: only aircraft capable of launching from new carriers will be Russian / Putin's cunning plan

            There have been unverified rumours that the Kremlin has been helping fund UKIP, поморщник.

            Err, you spelled помощник или поморник (depending on what you wanted to say) wrong. I am neither.

            As far as Putin directly or indirectly financing Front Nacionale, Syriza, Golden Down, Ataka, etc - that is well known. Not sure about UKIP but would not be surprised. It is a tit-for-tat for us financing Chechen "freedom fighters", fascists from Azov, UDAR and countless others.

            By the way - we started it in the 1990es and Russians stoically tolerated it all the way until he personally raised it with George Bush in the mid-2000s. Bush said during the meeting he will check it. The Russians two weeks later got an answer from the state department which translated into layman English said "we do whatever the f*** we please - it is our sovereign right to finance whoever we like including any political party in your and neighboring countries". Prior to this discussion they took _NO_ countermeasures. You can check it - there are no payments to Eu or USA political entities prior to that. After that they deployed a tit-for-tat reciprocal policy and we have now started to reap the "benefits" of this "mud" (it is neither cold, nor hot) war.

            This one is in the public domain now - it is in one of his interviews - he was asked why Russia is doing it and gave exactly that answer. AFAIK the Russians have declassified the answer so you can read the original in their state archives (state dept has not yet).

            So for this we have Condoleeza, Cheney and the Dummy in Chief to thank. If it was not for them all of these psychopaths and lunatics which you see in election lists recently would have never had the money to mount a campaign.

            1. KeithR

              Re: only aircraft capable of launching from new carriers will be Russian / Putin's cunning plan

              "So for this we have Condoleeza, Cheney and the Dummy in Chief to thank"

              I'm sure President Trump will be much nicer...

              (I'm seriously thinking of digging my own fall-out shelter if that fucker actually gets in).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: only aircraft capable of launching from new carriers will be Russian / Putin's cunning plan

              @Voland's right hand

              Oh dear. Feeble attempt at humour resulting in total humiliation on the Internets. I should have stuck with my original version in which the last word was "Igor."

              In your first post you wrote something like "You may be more right than you think, Sir". For some reason I took this as being an Igor-like line [that's a Pratchett Igor, of course] and intended to reply "There have been unverified rumours that the Kremlin has been helping fund UKIP, Igor". But because you wrote "Sir" in Russian, I used what I thought was the Russian word for an assistant, помощник. And for some reason connected with defective memory, added a superfluous р.

              Now I've spelled it out it seems even more feeble, but as you were clearly concerned to make a point of how wrong I was, I thought perhaps explaining would make you feel I am just a bit stupid rather than rude as well as very stupid.

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: only aircraft capable of launching from new carriers will be Russian / Putin's cunning plan

            "There have been unverified rumours that the Kremlin has been helping fund UKIP..."

            UKIP already has Tim Worstall on their team, what on earth would they need Putin for?

  4. GrumpyKiwi
    Boffin

    Bring Back Lewis

    Yet again when I read any defence related material on "The All New Register" I find myself missing Lewis. Sigh.

    1. Zingbo

      Re: Bring Back Lewis

      Lewis would have expanded this article to 3 pages. The first page would cover what Iain's covered, then the second and third pages would explain how it's all the fault of BAE and the RAF.

    2. goodjudge

      Re: Bring Back Lewis

      Agreed. I used to find some of his articles a little, shall we say, tedious, but I recently found his book on defence mis-procurement (from 10 years ago) in a local charity shop and it was a very enjoyable read (*) - the style that is, not the subject matter. Back then he was cautiously optimistic about the carriers but they, and the planes to go on them, have fallen into the same cycle of greed and incompetence.

      * No, I am not Lewis.

  5. Schultz
    Facepalm

    WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

    Wasn't this plane meant to save a lot of money by replacing a lot of overly complicated and expensive specialized planes? I guess they decided to go for the greatest common denominator, or was that the greatest common divisor?. Well, you know what I mean -- or maybe you are just as confused as the managers behind the F-35 project.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

      It was a brilliant plan.

      We need a high performance interceptor.

      Which also needs to be stealthy

      But able to carry lots of external ordnance as a bomber

      To be cheaper than the planes it is replacing

      And be strong enough to land on a carrier

      And have VTOL

      And have lots of revolutionary, never tried before, high tech

      But have nothing secret so we can sell it to lots of "allies" and be compatible with all their systems.

      And it has to have a human pilot because no way are we getting approval for anything this expensive unless we can sell the TopGun/Battle of Britain bit.

      But it needs to have an in-service life of 40years so we can make the cost look good.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

        But it needs to have an in-service life of 40years so we can make the cost look good.

        Easy. From the looks of things, they'll only be able to fly for a couple of hours a year, so 40 years' life shouldn't be a problem.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

          That maybe explains it. Someone somewhere misread "in service for 40 years" as "in service in 40 years"...?

          1. trog-oz
            FAIL

            Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

            I took "in service for 40 years" to mean "being serviced (that is in the workshop) for 40 years".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

        Nothing secret? Ha!

        When I worked for the MOD I got to go to an F35 meeting - they handed out a 12 page glossary for all the Three-Lettered-Abbreviations that would be used during the meeting.

        Even the glossary was classified Secret (and was taken back in at the end of the briefing) as even the names of some of the things that were explained by the TLA sheet was enough for 'people' to start to piece together the architecture of the aircraft's systems...

        It's an aircraft that is only allowed to land in certain countries and if it's ever forced to land at a country not on the list there's a procedure for the pilot to run through that blows up all the electronics on-board...

        1. passportholder

          Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

          Hmmmm. I hope that procedure can't be run in mid-air!?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

      I intend to save money with my next car using the same approach. As well as being able to turn inside a London taxi, it will have 7 seats, with entertainment in the rear 5, a 600l boot, a top speed of 180mph, a hybrid powertrain working on Derv, natural gas and petrol without modification for an average fuel consumption of 120mpg, a service interval of 30 000 miles and a projected life of 40 years. It will also have self-repairing body panels and be able to park vertically to save space. Target price is £20 000.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: WaitWhat? Affordability challenges?

      "I guess they decided to go for the greatest common denominator, or was that the greatest common divisor?"

      Why am I reminded of 'Universal [cr]Apps' for windows 10?

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The question to ask to answer the question related to worth and future cost overruns

    Is the F-35 multirole fighter a Ponzi and latter day Spruce Goose type flighty operation?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: The question to ask to answer the question related to worth and future cost overruns

      Well, the Spruce Goose actually flew...

      Okay, not really - a short hop across Long Beach harbour, with a lot of goodwill. But IIRC a) Hughes paid for it and b) it was a huge leap forward in the construction of really big planes, for instance using hydraulics to move the control surfaces, that was a first among several others. All in all I'd call the Spruce Goose a 'successful failure' - didn't work as planned, but generated a lot of knowledge that was applied to other projects.

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: The question to ask to answer the question related to worth and future cost overruns

        Using the hydraulics to move the wing surfaces exposed the fact that the engines were not powerful enough to power the hydraulic pumps and power the props. Hughes ended up in the situation where he could lift off without flight surface control or have flight surface control but not enough grunt to get off the water.

        Phil.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next week's "Line Break" article....

    "Dear Reg, I am an anonymous military contractor working on top secret new aeroplane... but can't tell you which one ;)

    Over the last 5 years we've seen some awful code going into production.... how we laughed....here is just one corker of an infinite loop error........ so then the whole plane has to be restarted, at 30,000 feet, lol " .... etc etc.

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Next week's "Line Break" article....

      .. at 29,000 feet, 28,000 feet, 27,000 feet, 26,000...

    2. Vic

      Re: Next week's "Line Break" article....

      so then the whole plane has to be restarted, at 30,000 feet, lol

      That's really no big deal.

      Restarting at 300ft - yeah, that's you in the hole[1] in that field.

      Vic.

      [1] Yeah, the *new* hole...

  8. IfYouInsist
    Joke

    What's the problem?

    "deficiencies, 158 of which are Category 1 – classified as those that could cause death, severe injury, or severe illness."

    I thought the whole point of a fighter jet was to cause death, severe injury or severe illness.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: What's the problem?

      Generally to the enemy though.

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: What's the problem?

        Sell them to the enemy, you get to kill their pilots *and* drain their cash reserves!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's the problem?

          "Sell them to the enemy, you get to kill their pilots *and* drain their cash reserves!"

          Damn it, man, now our plan won't work!

          That was the whole idea from the begining: make such fuss about the ultimate plane, leak the specs to the enemy, watch them build it then it's popcorn time watching their money and best pilots fall from the skies.

      2. KeithR

        Re: What's the problem?

        "Generally to the enemy though."

        Best not let US pilots fly it, then...

        Friendly Fire feels surprisingly UNfriendly...

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019