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 …

  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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

          Harrier could not have done the Libya tasks, for example.

          "The Libya tasks". Now that must be euphemism of the year, since we're talking about tasks that paved the way for that benighted country to join the list of failed states run by feuding militias and extremists. Is that really the task that we want to build aircraft for?

          Looking at the ever growing list of places the Yanks (and we Brits) have helped ensure are failed states through our airpower, it is possible to conclude that this is the main operational role our governments have. But the answer to that is something like the A10 and some Apaches, not a mach 2 swing wing jack of all trades, a hand designed VTOL one trick pony, or the F35 monetary black hole.

          1. boltar Silver badge

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

            " a mach 2 swing wing jack of all trades"

            The Tornado?? Good luck in a dogfight!

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

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

            "....list of places the Yanks (and we Brits) have helped ensure are failed states...." Of course, we should take all the blame. Really? Do you have the typical tibtard condescension that all the "other people" of the World are too child-like to responsibilities for their actions? The removal of Qaddafi left the Libyans with the opportunity to act like a civilised and educated people, and to come together and build a better nation. Instead, the majority of them chose the tribal militias, they weren't forced on them by the US, Europe or anyone else. Whilst it's understandable that the developing nations may like blaming "us" for everything, the reality is they themselves are responsible for far more than they like to admit. Until people like you get over their PC blindness and realise you can take a horse to water but you can't force it to drink, as shown in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Lebanon, Yemen or Libya (you're probably too blinkered to see the common factor in that list of countries), you're going to be serially disappointed each time some dictator is removed from power only for the liberated people to fall back into tribal disputes rather than a peaceful democracy.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

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

              The removal of Qaddafi left the Libyans with the opportunity to act like a civilised and educated people, and to come together and build a better nation. Instead,.....

              Errr....Looking at the bloodstained history of Britain within its own borders, I think you're being a tad judgemental here. As a proportion of population, the English Civil War was one of the most brutal in recorded history. Factor in that "we" has channeled weapons to the insurgents in Libya, wouldn't you agree that the descent into anarchy was both predictable and our fault?

        2. boltar Silver badge

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

          " it isn't ideal having no aircraft for our carriers"

          That should go into the hat for the Understatement of the Year competition.

          "Harrier could not have done the Libya tasks, for example."

          And the Tornado was nowhere to be seen in the Falklands. You could trade examples like this all day, but the Harrier is a better all round aircraft and CAN be launched from a ship. Or frankly anywhere since it doesn't need a runway. The Tornado is a bit of a one trick pony.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A boondoggle @ boltar

            And the Tornado was nowhere to be seen in the Falklands.

            That's true, but are you suggesting that it was a good idea developing an aircraft with a thirty plus year service life against the need that one day you'll need to take off from a merchant ship with limited weapons and fuel? Had HMT not insisted on penny pinching "through deck cruisers" we'd have had proper fast jet capability on full size carriers, and the Argentinians would probably have concluded that we did have long range force projection and not bothered. Even had they continued, with catapult launched aircraft we'd have stood a better chance of having aircraft with the endurance to undertake continuous CAPs that would have reduced the significant ship losses we incurred to the antiques of the opposing air force.

            A further comment on the Harrier is that its versatility is greatly over-reckoned, because the point loading of the undercarriage meant that it needed reinforced landing areas - you couldn't operate from any old road or car park, and anything surrounded by unmade ground was unusable because of the FOD risks.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: A boondoggle @ boltar

              "and the Argentinians would probably have concluded that we did have long range force projection and not bothered"

              I'm not so sure about that but there's no way of knowing so its just conjecture.

              "you couldn't operate from any old road or car park, and anything surrounded by unmade ground was unusable because of the FOD risks."

              No, but you could operate from very short runways, concrete roads and a lot of helipads. Of which there are a lot more than there are 3000+ foot runways (or whatever length a Tornado needs).

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

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

            "....the Harrier is a better all round aircraft and CAN be launched from a ship...." Well, yes and no. The Sea Harriers were fortunate in the Falklands that the Argentineans had to try maintaining air superiority from several hundred miles away. And whilst the Sea Harriers FRS1s could operate fine in the cold air of the Southern Atlantic, in warmer climes the FA2s had a serious problem generating enough lift to land safely vertically with any unexpended weapons. Having to dump unused AAMs after every CAP would be a serious issue in wartime and was a very expensive waste in peacetime. The RAF GR9s used after the FA2s were retired didn't have radar, therefore making them little real use as interceptors. Stretching the Sea Harrier design to get round such issues would have been prohibitively expensive for the UK given the small number we would have bought. The USMC decision to go with the F-35 killed any chance of a Harrier III.

            ".....The Tornado is a bit of a one trick pony." It's more that Tornado is a two-trick pony requiring two different ponies. The Tornado ADV is one of the most efficient interceptors available even today, and would still be useful in the long-range, over-water interceptions role the RAF ordered it for. That role required economic subsonic and transonic cruise, engaging multiple bombers with long-range SAMs, and that was about it. The ground-attack variant is still a far better interdictor than the F-16 and even the F-15E Strike Eagle, as shown in many NATO exercises. It was only a lack of interest in building a true multi-role version based on the ADV that stopped the Tornado becoming a true multi-role aircraft. Even today, the uber-expensive F-22 cannot match it as an all-round bomber and even the F-35 will be hard-pressed to match the Tornado's performance as a low-level intruder. A true swing-role Tornado would be better than Harrier by a mile, and potentially still better than the Tornado FGR4 for some missions.

            The biggest problem with a navalised Tornado is weight. The addition of arrester gear and strengthening for the 2011 ski-ramp variant that was proposed for the Indian Navy added 500Kg. Adding the bits for catapult launching would be a major and expensive redesign given the availability of the proven F/A-18 Super Hornet.

            1. x 7

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

              @Matt Bryant

              I presume you actually mean a navalised Typhoon, not Tornado? Thats what was offered to the Indians

              And did you mean to say a "true swing-role Tornado"?

          3. Vic

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

            the Harrier is a better all round aircraft

            No, the Tornado is a better *all-round* aircraft. Harrier suffers from a few nasty issues like being mostly unable to return with unused ordnance.

            But for the things that Harrier was designed for - STOVL, VIFF, etc. - it is unparallelled.

            The F-35 attempts to combine the roles of both aircraft, along with a few extra WTFs. And it fails at all of them, so far :-(

            Vic.

            [Who flew an RV-7 this afternoon and is still grinning like an idiot]

            1. x 7

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

              "Who flew an RV-7 this afternoon"

              come on Vic, you know you're not supposed to release details of whats flying at "The Secret Airbase in Wiltshire" (TM)

        3. KeithR

          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 ."

          Debatable, taking operating requirements into consideration...

  2. aidanstevens
    FAIL

    May I be the first to say...

    ....BWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!

    1. Locky Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: May I be the first to say...

      You won't be saying that when their HUD shows, "Do you want to play thermonuclear war?"

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: May I be the first to say...

        @Locky Do the Russians still use incredibly simple avionics based on pea-sized thermionic valves?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Mage Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: May I be the first to say...

            "...which are copies of RCA Nuvistors. I used to have some of these. EMP resistant before anybody needed it."

            No they were not. The Nuvistor was much later and completely different construction. The Russians developed "Rod Pentodes", which are not even remotely similar to the USA "Pencil tubes" used in missiles and hearing aids.

            http://www.radicalvalves.com/russian/

            http://www.radicalvalves.com/russian/russian-rod-pentodes-1/

            The Rod Pentodes used in Sputnik and MiG fighters as well as other early space stuff.

            Superior to Germanium transistors. Much lower power and easier to make than the later RCA Nuvistors which were a last gasp dead end for USA tube industry (In Domestic products, only used in USA VHF & UHF tuner heads. Some Professional condenser microphones and hardly at all in Military).

            also

            www.radiomuseum.org/forum/russian_subminiature_tubes.html

            1. Mage Silver badge

              Re: EMP

              Yes, the Nuvistors are EMP resistant, all tubes / valves much more so than transistors, esp. early Germanium ones.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: May I be the first to say...@mage

              I am sorry, I appear to have been duff genned and withdraw my post. However, your referenced article was interesting.

              While looking for more information I saw a google reference to the r-type.org website and found this:

              In 1976 a Russian MIG-25 'Foxbat' pilot defected to Japan, and brought his plane along. Before returning the plane to its rightful owners in 30 crates the Americans took it apart and analysed its technology in great detail. What surprised them was the crudeness of the plane's structure and its avionics, and it was found that a lot of the ostensibly modern avionics in the aircraft used Russian copies of Nuvistors, for what was believed to be nuclear survivability.

              Perhaps the article contains disinformation.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: May I be the first to say...@Mage

              It appears that I was informed correctly and you were wrong. Not only did the Russians make nuvistor copies for military use, some types are still available and may have been made quite recently. Russian nuvistors are recognisable because they are wire ended, they do not have pins and bases. Instead, they have insulating spreaders for fitting to PCBs, as was the case with a number of early TO-5 transistor PCBs.

              Rod pentodes have an obvious design problem; one end of the cathode is at a noticeably different potential from the other, so biasing is always going to mean that the anode current varies along the cathode.

              I'm now inclined to doubt the accuracy of your entire post, which seems to be aimed at discrediting RCA's development in favour of an earlier Russian design, despite the fact that Russia subsequently copied the RCA design.

      2. KeithR

        Re: May I be the first to say...

        "You won't be saying that when their HUD shows, "Do you want to play thermonuclear war?"

        Given that the US is - by far - most likely to kick that scenario off, it's a bit of a moot point...

    2. Ian 55

      Re: May I be the first to say...

      I had a guaranteed military sale with ED 209, erm the F35, - renovation program, spare parts for twenty-five, erm forty years... Who cares if it works or not?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: May I be the first to say...

        ""I had a guaranteed military sale with ED 209, erm the F35, - renovation program, spare parts for twenty-five, erm forty years... Who cares if it works or not?"

        Indeed you can't read about this sort of clusterf**k development and not hear the words of everyone's favorite Bad VP,

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

    Such software is inevitably built in accordance with the 'full meal deal' (zero 'tailoring' shortcuts), 'one line of code per coder-drone-day', DO-178 process.

    So the software CANNOT be 'dodgy', because that's fundamentally impossible.

    The software *is* perfect. ...It's the 'Requirements' that were badly written.

    E.g. They probably forgot to mention that they'd like the software to actually work.

    Stupid Requirements Writers! Puh!

    Not to worry. Following the same process, they have it fixed up in only 20 or 25 years...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At least I have a defense for my next code review

      "Ok, ok, there are some issues. But you have to agree I'm only a 2 on the F-35 quality scale"

      (Which definitely goes to eleven. If the knob doesn't fall off first)

    2. Yag

      Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

      DO-178B/C only apply to civilian aircrafts you know. And requirements like "The software should be able to run for up to 24h" are quite common.

      However, I get your point, I'm well aware of the limitations of the process, and the trouble when dodgy requirements are validated without a second though because the activity was given to the most junior guy, in order to "get him used to the overall system" (Translation : this is too boring an activity for the old timers who prefer filling meaningless and risk-free status reports)

      1. David_H
        Stop

        Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

        @YAG that's well out of date.

        In the very early days the US Air Force could take the regulators to a room and dissuade them from the requirements ("remember who has the missiles" type conversations, allegedly).

        But even then, enlightened projects wrote to DO178 B/C

        Now days everything that is written bespoke is DO178 B/C, and I know for sure that COTS suppliers are also having to go this way (and ARINC653, etc.)

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

          Given the problems mentioned I was thinking it was put together following the guidelines for IoT.

        2. Yag

          Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

          Okay, it was a gross approximation...

          DO-178/ED-12 was designed with civilian SW in mind, Its use in not mandatory for military software. However, it's just easier for the military to use it, especially with the transport aircraft who requires a far greater integration with civilian infrastructure.

          For the record, it's not even mandatory for civilian software, but proving to the FAA or EASA the validity of your alternative process will be a huge PITA.

          I stand corrected.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178 : but what about 00-55

        I'm familiar with DO178 and a very long time ago I was familiar with, and produced software in accordance with my then boss's understanding of, Def Std 00-55.

        Is there no military successor to Def Std 00-55? The Internerd doesn't quickly find one, but 00-55 was around a long time before the Internerd existed.

      3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "Dodgy software" vice DO-178

        Yag "DO-178B/C only apply to civilian aircrafts you know."

        Actually, I know that your statement is exactly NOT true.

        If you'd like evidence, Google: F-35 DO-178

        Edit: I've now found your 'I stand corrected'. Cheers.

  4. Bob Dole (tm)
    Facepalm

    Expected?

    In today's climate we have:

    Contractors whose primary job is padding client bills;

    Programmers who don't seem to have the desire to do a proper job or even understand what a proper job is;

    Managers who don't understand what it is they are managing;

    Upper level execs who don't care what the details are as long as the money keeps flowing; and,

    An attitude that outsourcing to a foreign country to save a few bucks is a win-win.

    With all of those things, is it any surprise that these large projects fail?

    1. Steven Roper

      You forgot

      Corporate social-justice policies that prioritise diversity over competence.

      1. Yag

        Re: You forgot

        Don't know if I should upvote or downvote...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You forgot

        "Corporate social-justice policies that prioritise diversity over competence."

        American CEOs look pretty much white and male to me. They are pretty competent though, if you assume their role is to transfer public tax money to private business while providing jobs for potentially dangerous engineers and scientists who might otherwise turn to crime.

      3. KeithR

        Re: You forgot

        "Corporate social-justice policies that prioritise diversity over competence."

        Oh, Feck off with this crap, will you?

        Just maybe, you got turned down in favour of a woman orblack guy because they were better than you...

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

            Moderator comment

            Less of the C-word, please.

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Expected?

      On military projects, you get the specs, are NOT told what are they for and you program your small part to specs.

      So, as you have no way of knowing WHY are you doing those ADA parts of the system, you can't catch the logic problems..

      Good part:

      even if you steal that part of the program, alone it is of no use to anyone.

      Bad part:

      if the analysis is crap, the result will be crap and expremely expensive.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Expected?

      "In today's climate we have:" (etc.)

      Don't forget gummint contracted software being written in a language (ADA) that's difficult to use (compared to something well-used, well-tested, and sensible, like maybe 'C'?), and supposedly "easy to manage", but a language that was designed by a COMMITTEE, and it shows.

      I expect the design of these planes was intended to have things "fixed in software" while the hardware platform remains more or less the same. OK I can see that coming. not necessarily bad. in theory. Until you build it and find all of the problems you didn't imagine up front. I mean, *I* do a lot of microcontroller *kinds* of things, and I get impossible requests a lot, and I have to be the guy that says 'no'. "No, it won't fit, there's only XX bytes of memory remaining". "No, that's not possible with the currrent hardware". "No, you would have to make a major hardware change, and it would be very expensive development over a years' time". etc.

      1. Yag

        Re: Expected?

        In more than ten years of work on airborne embedded systems, I've seen only two project using ADA. C is far more common.

        And in the case of the F-35, C++ was introduced.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Expected?

          "In more than ten years of work on airborne embedded systems, I've seen only two project using ADA. C is far more common."

          In more than thirty years of embedded safety critical aircraft systems, I've seen lots in recent decades using Ada. Almost exclusively, in fact. The one C++ project in the same field I'm aware of was done by a competitor, was never completed, and the work came to my then employer to be started again from scratch.

          YMMV. Anecdote is not evidence. Anyone got any *evidence* (Les Hatton springs to mind, maybe?)

          1. x 7

            Re: Expected?

            anecdotal story from a BAE Systems manager

            Apparently there was a shortage of ADA programmers on the contract for the carriers and the F-35, but loads made redundant by the scrapping of the Nimrod project, and Harrier support.

            But BAE refused to contemplate moving them across projects, instead preferring to dump existing staff and (try to) employ new juniors. New juniors who didn't exist. Just one of the reasons the carrier project is so screwed up

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Expected?

              "anecdotal story from a BAE Systems manager"

              BAE = Billions Above Estimate

  5. Magani
    FAIL

    Can someone please...

    ...tell me again why Australia is still funding this flying disaster?

    At least the Canadians saw the writing on the wall, but will its southern neighbour 'lean' on it to continue?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please...

      but will its southern neighbour 'lean' on it to continue?

      I did not know Canada, occupied most of the Southern hemisphere (or Australia extended into the northern one).

      Either I need to refresh my geography, or this was displayed on an F35 radar map.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        In truth, from a Canadian point of view, everyone else is south of them.

      2. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: Can someone please...

        Just don't ask the RAF where Australia is. They tend to be a few hundred miles out.

    2. Mad Chaz
      Mushroom

      Re: Can someone please...

      "..tell me again why Australia is still funding this crashing disaster?"

      FTFY

    3. CheesyTheClown

      Re: Can someone please...

      How about Norway? We bought 50 of these and were told "It's the cost of membership to NATO... We don't need them or want them and we can make remote controlled drones for 1/100th the price but America says we have to buy them or build our own damn military".

      I personally would prefer to simply see a small fleet of remote controlled drones piloted by some gamers who can control 10 at a time each. It's not like we actually need pilots in the cockpits. The pilots in the F-35 don't really see what they're fighting or aiming at. We simply moved the game console into the cockpit and spent trillions to do so. Every aspect of the F-35 is electronic. There isn't a single connection between the pilot and the plane. So far as I can tell, most of the flaws related to the F-35 are related to the human being actually in the plane. So why not just retrofit some C-130s to have consoles where the pilots of drones sit to keep the latency relatively low. Then drop drones out of the back of the cargo planes and have 100 smaller planes for each F-35?

      I guess it's the bravado factor. The rednecks running the militaries think that you have to feel the G forces to be able to fight. It's pretty funny to think that a few guys in a maker space and some talented video gamers could probably out do the biggest defense contractors and the fanciest pilots.

      A guy at my local maker space has been doing some great projects with small scale jet engines. It might be fun to see what would be born if he made a drone :)

      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.

  6. The Nazz Silver badge

    The helmets couldn't handle night vision?.

    Anyone know if Stevie Wonder ever gained a PPL?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Overconfidence!

    Enough said!

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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...

  13. 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...

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: What's the problem?

          @KeithR

          I get the idea you're canadian military.

  14. Dagg
    Mushroom

    Sounds like it was developed using an Agile approach

    Agile start with a vague idea of what you want then just do it. Empower the team so that everyone is responsible for the failure. Wander thru the wilderness with no direction.

    Then when it craps out blame the developers because the requirements were crap, this is just like blaming the stokers in the engine room of the Titanic for crashing into the iceberg.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      But of course ! If they hadn't put so much coal in, the ship would have hit the iceberg gently and only been dented.

      From a manager's point of view, that is.

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like it was developed using an Agile approach

      And rightly so - If those slackers had been a-stoking properly as instructed by management, then the Titanic would have had enough momentum to jump right over that iceberg!

  15. Dr Scrum Master

    Ouch!

    How many Textron AirLand Scorpions could have been bought and be operational for the cost of the F35 programme?

    1. PlacidCasual

      Re: Ouch!

      Exactly.

      Given our mission these days seems to be bombing iron age villagers back to the stone age we should be investing in a large fleet of cheap to buy, cheap to fly and cheap to maintain planes. A smaller fleet of up to date interceptor and air to air craft are only required to win the air superiority battle and start bombing the modern foe back to the industrial revolution. By the time there are boots on the ground, the cheap to run fighters should be pulling the shifts.

      Why oh why we didn't build nuclear carriers with Catobar is beyond me, we could be flying highly competent and cheap F-18's now hired from the yanks.

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Ouch!

        What would happen if we didn't bomb random people? Not very much, I bet!

        With the F35 to backstop "investors" we could simulate bombing villagers and no-one - apart from the villagers - would actually notice.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Ouch!

        >Why oh why we didn't build nuclear carriers

        We, or at least the companies building them, intend to make lots of profit from selling copies of the carriers to TPL3WD after we, the tax payers, have paid for all the design cost

        Making them nuke powered limits the range of tin-pot-little-3rd-world-dictators you can sell them to.

  16. JLV Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Ditch it already

    Skip this generation and go to gen 6 jets. Selective acquisition of proven gen 4 airframes + better avionics and weapons should be able to hold the fort against China or Russia until 2025-2030, which is getting awfully close to F35 release. And remain amply sufficient against low tech opponents.

    Cut the Marines and their VTOL out.

    And whatever you do, write affordability into the reqs. While keeping a lookout for the possible rise of disruptive autonomous air combat drone capability.

    Won't happen. The US is committed to this massive $$$ black hole that sucks up funding of any alternatives and too many careers would be ruined by ditching it.

    1. Mark 65

      Re: Ditch it already

      Could this turkey be the straw that breaks the camel's back? The demise of US military might on the basis of a capability gap and a f*cking massive overdraft?

      1. DryBones

        Re: Ditch it already

        Wow. Just... wow. Sounds like they need to furlough everyone except the programmers and the ejection seat designers, and they need to be taken by the short hairs.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Ditch it already

        Arthur C. Clarke saw this coming:

        http://www.mayofamily.com/RLM/txt_Clarke_Superiority.html

    2. Gray
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Ditch it already

      What! Ya'll actually expected to see a combat aircraft? Please realize that this little wonder has already achieved a large part of its design goal. Design, parts-outsourcing, fabrication, assembly, testing, and revisioning have all been distributed throughout virtually every Congressional district in the U.S., thus fulfilling its mandated mission of providing bragging rights, election-year speechifying, and home-town American Legion chest-beating rights upon every said Elected Official. Not to speak of bounteous cost overruns and bodacious profits for each and every Defense Contractor standing loyally behind each man-jack of our Brave and Patriotic Elected Elite.

      Nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE in God's Own Green Earth was there ever expectations of economy, efficiency, efficacy, suitability for purpose, or eventual fame as a 22nd Century aerial fighting platform!

      That will have to wait for the next round of defense proposals!

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

        Quite so, Gray, and that is why US debt is fast approaching $20 trillion [$20million million/$20,000,000,000,000] and will forever be rising and never paid off. And can you imagine the compounding interest being paid/charged to that loan, increasing the debt even further.

        But who virtually owns all the debt and physically provides the cash for spending in the insolvency and are they both the same or something completely different to wonder about. What beings keep Uncle Sam afloat and are they worldly wise and foolish to provide the means of nations' destruction and populations' oppression.

        It is cold comfort indeed, to realise that many administrations are equally trapped to pay to hidden from sight and mind forces, crippling astronomical ransoms which deliver rebellion and revolution ...... National Debt Clocks

        It and IT is an AI and NeuReal Great Gameplay and you are all being played and rendered by media as impotent fools. Although it may be the case that such was so in the past, and the present now is to deliver an altogether different future with 0day vulnerability exploitation of bankrupt SCADA Command and Control Systems providing the magic black markets and ammo for almighty novel weapons ...... virtual machines of destruction which can easily be reconfigured to mass construction whenever superior intelligence is available and used rather than accepting any default status quo sub-prime offering to witness it being abused and misused, which is surely the most recent of situations, is it not?

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

          @AMFM; "But who virtually owns all the debt and physically provides the cash for spending in the insolvency and are they both the same or something completely different to wonder about. What beings keep Uncle Sam afloat and are they worldly wise and foolish to provide the means of nations' destruction and populations' oppression?"

          Rothschilds?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

            "Rothschilds?"

            I'm assuming that wasn't anti-Semitism because you don't come over like that on your other posts. But the short answer is no, the Rothschilds aren't that rich. I believe that the real power on Wall Street these days is the Mormons - though they couldn't get their candidate elected President.

            1. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

              The Rothschilds figure in many of the Illuminati type conspiracy theories as the financers of, well, just about everything bad that's related to New World Order Domination of the Planet stuff.

              Anti semetic? No. That would really upset some of my friends.

            2. Gray
              Windows

              Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

              S'pose I could say, "Rothschilds... who?" but no, I've seen & shunned all those "they conspire" delusions. Nothin' to do with Jews, either. We leave that to the KKK in their mental boobyhatch confines.

              Nope, we've got our very own cabal of the one-tenth of one percent right here in the U.S. After all, when one single institution (JPMorgan Chase) can eat Mexico for lunch and pick its teeth with Puerto Rico and never stop to belch, the Rothschilds begin to look like has-beens. No, America's Defense Industry is one small glittering cog in the great Wheel of Finance that rules the US. We're just waiting for the Next Big Attack to justify Martial Law and an Emergency Ruling Council; properly apportioned into Security Districts. With proper Financial Controls in place to assure Efficient Budget Operations. Example: US Social Security Trust Funds privatized via Wall Street/JP Morgan Chase. Now there is a conspiracy theory, writ large!

        2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

          Second or third wave of attack in a hot WWCW* will be wiping out the attacker's debts on the opposition's financial systems.

          *World Wide Cyber War. I did think of calling it WW3 or WW4, but it's time to come up with a new definition. BTW, IMO, looking at the sheer cost expenditure, the international banking crisis of 2008 and beyond arguably already was WW3.

          1. Gray
            Windows

            Re: Ditch it already @Gray ...... the Explosive Clock is Ticking

            The US debt has an interest payment of nearly half a TRILLION dollars a year. That would buy, oh, a few high schools, clinics, bridges, university scholarships ... but sadly, I digress.

            I rather think of the Great Debacle of 2008 as NOT the "Great Recession" but rather a players gamble that couldn't lose, as the Widows & Orphans Fund of America was collateral behind the scenes. When the gamble tanked, every citizen's home, job, retirement, and investment went in the sewer. At that point, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, etc. and Corporate America leaped into an age of prosperity unseen in any prior age. Wages=>frozen=>down. Real estate=>down=>foreclosed. Dollars-worth for pennies. Pensions=>frozen=>looted. It was the globe's most massive fire sale for those who had the money to buy=>seize freshly devalued properties. Huge tracts of American farms, ranches, housing developments, small businesses, etc. transferred overnight to those wealthy few who held the cash.

            The F-35 Flying Turd? 'tis a small thing, really. It's just part of the on-going corruption practiced massively in America. Anybody wonder why a US politician will spend Tens of Million$ to get a temporary job that pays Hundreds of Thousand$? Think about it.

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            AIReal Fab Fabless Game Changer in Deed, indeed

            Second or third wave of attack in a hot WWCW* will be wiping out the attacker's debts on the opposition's financial systems. .... allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            That would be real smart, and have lots of enthusiastic support, allthecoolshortnamesweretaken. And IT would create a wholly New Orderly World Order with CHAOS [Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems] unencumbered by Holy Orders too. New Virtualised Drivers for Ancient and Modern SCADA SysAdmins.

            And 'tis most probably a current APT ACT and AI Work in Progress which cannot be stopped, only driven, and that makes it and IT a terrifying subject and object of both desire and dread to more than just a few in the know, with a need to know.

            And Man, are they an Almighty Weapon of Phenomenal Resort ‽ .

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: AIReal Fab Fabless Game Changer in Deed, indeed

              And 'tis most probably a current APT ACT and AI Work in Progress which cannot be stopped, only driven, and that makes it and IT a terrifying subject and object of both desire and dread to more than just a few in the know, with a need to know.

              Hmmm? No sooner said than already apparently done and betatested? ……. https://cryptome.org/2016/03/usg-ir-hackers.pdf

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Ditch it already

      Just twist a few Arms at BAE and get an updated Harrier back into production. Avionics from the Typhoon would make the thing a lot simpler.

      Cancel the F-35. It was always a lemon.

      Ok, so I'm biased as I worked on the Harrier at Hawkers many years ago.

      1. x 7

        Re: Ditch it already

        "Just twist a few Arms at BAE and get an updated Harrier back into production. Avionics from the Typhoon would make the thing a lot simpler."

        the jigs and tools have gone, the factory has gone.......and more importantly, the design team has gone.

        The technology has been lost

        1. Vic

          Re: Ditch it already

          The technology has been lost

          You'd be amazed how quickly it could be re-found, if someone were serious.

          Certain aircraft[1] inspire loyalty in their pilots/crew/designers. Vulcan, for example, did. As did Harrier.

          The job would have been easier and cheaper if we hadn't gone about deliberately destroying our own capability, but I'm quite certain it would still be a possibility, if you could get a commitment from government.

          Vic.

          As I've probably mentioned a time or two, I'm involved with an aviation museum. We now have three Jaguars. Can't think why...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ditch it already

        Just twist a few Arms at BAE and get an updated Harrier back into production.

        Why? The balance of weapons load/range/ToT were poor, agility low other than a few specific uses (like VIFFing), airframe loss rate was astronomical, and you'd need a complete new airfame to carry modern avionics, not to mention a modern engine. By fast jet standards it was heavy, slow, under-powered, and has all the stealth characteristics of a London double deck bus.

        An ingenious piece of engineering without doubt, but even as the Sea Harrier it only existed because the Treasury wouldn't pony up for proper aircraft carriers. Sadly we're back in exactly the same situation again - except now in world where even irregular bad guys may be able to get sea skimming missiles, and you can't put your carrier within 70 miles of a potentially hostile coastline (and at least three times that if they have any formal military able to deploy even antiquated Eastern Bloc weapons), so that limited range on a S/VTOL carrier aircraft makes the whole concept pointless.

        1. KeithR

          Re: Ditch it already

          "Why?"

          It worked!

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. KeithR

        Re: Ditch it already

        "Ok, so I'm biased as I worked on the Harrier at Hawkers many years ago."

        I've never worked on 'em but I'm biased in their favour because - y'know - they work, and all that...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ditch it already

        "Just twist a few Arms at BAE and get an updated Harrier back into production. "

        Somewhere I thought I read that them pesky furriners who have "our" Harriers now have been asking for an engine systems update in the last couple of years. That's a laugh, we're talking a fifty year old engine design whose control systems were designed and built by a company that ceased to exist around a couple of decades ago and whose assets were transferred to a company which did nothing with them and which in the last couple of years has successfully been getting rid of any development and support people who would have any kind of clue what to do with something from that era.

        Some of the other important subsystems are probably only slightly younger.

        It would be nice though wouldn't it.

        1. x 7

          Re: Ditch it already

          "That's a laugh, we're talking a fifty year old engine design whose control systems were designed and built by a company that ceased to exist around a couple of decades ago and whose assets were transferred to a company which did nothing with them and which in the last couple of years has successfully been getting rid of any development and support people who would have any kind of clue what to do with something from that era."

          I think its fair to say that when Rolls Royce and Bristol Siddeley were forced into a shotgun marriage, the takeover was the wrong way round. Bristol's had better engineers, better designs and better manufacturing techniques. The one new engine RR had development - the RB211 - had been misengineered so badly it eventually bankrupted them - requiring assistance from Bristol to get the engine bearings working . Wheras Bristol had developed the Pegasus, the Olympus and several others in that same time frame. Yet Rolls Royce became the "parent" company and their incompetent management gained the whip hand. Bloody Wedgewood Benn and his "strategic industrial corporations"

    4. KeithR

      Re: Ditch it already

      "hold the fort against China or Russia"

      Oh sure - THEY'RE the ones we should be worrying about.

      It's precisely this shit that results in shit like the topic of this article...

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Ditch it already

        >Oh sure - THEY'RE the ones we should be worrying about.

        Whether you like it or not, and whether it is useful or not in that role, the F35 is intended for real high intensity warfare against top tier opponents. One of its primary selling points being its stealth, which is absent in gen 4 fighters.

        The F35 is designed against China/Russia, no one else. In fact, I'd wager it's just China, Russia was probably presumed to be friendly/inoffensive in the near future when F35 was in initial design stages.

        Against our current insurgency/terrorists enemies, these planes are totally useless. They lack armor & survivability, fly much too fast (thus mistaking wedding celebrations for things to bomb), cost way too much, don't have the loiter duration needed and might not put up well with really dusty conditions a la Afghanistan.

        Until we hopefully sort out a peaceful transition to China being the superpower, it might be worthwhile to not lose track of a possible full-on war against a capable high tech opponent. The F35 was intended for that role. I am actually discounting Russia, they don't have the budgetary oomph to field enough 5th gen aircraft to be more than a nuisance. Much as Putin likes to be a nuisance.

        One drawback however is that a full-scale deployment of F35, especially at current cost trends, sends a clear message to China about Western containment intentions. After all, they are IMHO the only really credible reason for this not-yet-flying pig. Bit like the German High Fleet buildup pre-WWI doing its best to prod Britain into more confrontational policies towards Germany.

        So the more we bleed our budgets to pay for F35 that don't actually work, the more we signal China that they need to up-arm as well. I am rather hoping we'll all be singing kumbaya together in 30 years, not getting into a new Cold War with China (which unlike the USSR is already real economic power). But I am not misty-eyed about Chinese intentions either - their South China Sea territorial claims do not augur much good.

        It might be more prudent to develop the ability to field a 6th gen airplane on medium/short notice, rather than fielding it outright. Both to avoid triggering a new arms race and because right now we won't have any way to fund the replacement to the F35 if it is actually bought at scale. We might need that replacement because a) it doesn't work or b) the threat has changed - think lasers or air combat drones effecting a "battleship moment" against them.

        1. Vic

          Re: Ditch it already

          Whether you like it or not, and whether it is useful or not in that role, the F35 is intended for real high intensity warfare against top tier opponents.

          Until very recently, the airframe was limited to 4.5g. So it can *just about* out-fly a 1974 Piper Warrior.

          The Lightning II does Mach 1.6, with a service ceiling of 50,000ft

          The Lightnting *I* does Mach 2.0[1] with a service ceiling of 54,000ft[3].

          It is plain to see that the earlier aircraft is a better interceptor, unless stealth capability is paramount - in which case it could probably be retrofitted to the earlier aircraft.

          The reason I'm labouring the point about these two planes is that the Lightning II is now supposed to grace our skies in 2019, whereas the Lightning I flew in 1954 - well over 6 decades earlier.

          Now I grant you, the F-35 has a few advantages - its range is a little better, for example - but when compared the the cold-war jets, it's pretty crap in a direct comparison, let alone allowing for the improved technology of the intervening 60 years...

          Vic.

          [1] I have it on good authority[2] that the earlier Lightnings could not make Mach 2 because they ran out of fuel before they got there. But the Mark 6, with the fat belly pan, had much more fuel and could do it relatively easily.

          [2] Two of the instructors where I trained are former Lightning pilots. Neither will have a bad word spoken against that aircraft.

          [3] There is a tale of a Lightning intercepting a U2 at 88,000ft. This involved a ballistic ascent, but gives a clue as to just how incredible was this aircraft.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Doves have taken over

    I'm wondering if this is really the modern version of Unilateral Disarmament. If the weapons don't work or they are as likely to kill your own people as they are your enemy, a serious war becomes an unlikely proposition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Doves have taken over

      "I'm wondering if this is really the modern version of Unilateral Disarmament. "

      Has anybody asked the Russians and the Chinese whether they intend to go down the same route?

    2. Yag

      Re: The Doves have taken over

      "Mutual detterence weapons", V2.0

  18. PaulAb

    RC fun!

    I expect to hear shortly that some child with a £20 2 channel radio control will take charge of one, obviously it will be the childs fault and I can see the NSA requiring his/her immediate arrest.

    Meanwhile the pilot who during his joystick antics, crashes the childs toy will be sued by the parents.

    And at the same moment the teccy at ACME Car computers whilst programming a Jeep via wifi finds the car suddenly attempts a straight line dash for lift off.

    I'm going to buy a chair and sit outside a military airport with my can of guinness and watch the fun.

    I feel a Hollywood blockbuster coming on - I'll call it 'Fast & Furious, Bomber command'

  19. Potemkine Silver badge

    You need to reboot your computer before starting a war. Do you want to reboot now?

    How many in this story filled their pockets with (a lot of) taxpayers money?

    It's weird to see there isn't enough money to fight homelessness, poverty, hunger, but there's plenty of it when it is about designing some new high-tech way to hurt and kill other human beings.

  20. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    "158 of which are Category 1"

    "– classified as those that could cause death, severe injury, or severe illness."

    "Death." Check. Understand how bad software in a plane could do that.

    "Severe injury." Got that too.

    "Severe illness." Eh? Are we talking diabetes here? Rabies? Leukaemia? Just what sort of software is this?

    1. x 7

      Re: "158 of which are Category 1"

      ""Severe illness." Eh?"

      I THINK this is a reference to the unique nature of the helmet: its a kind of hybrid virtual reality device which integrates "real" vision with the inputs from cameras and other sensors dotted around the aircraft. For instance if the pilot looks "down" he can "see" right through the aircraft to the ground below.

      It must be bloody difficult perfecting that integration, and I can see that getting it wrong could have a disturbing effect on the pilots spatial coordination, vision and concentration. Imagine seasickness at high G and/or Mach1.5 with vision on the verge of hallucination

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

        That helmet will be (much?) bigger* and heavier than a conventional helmet. Think "headbanging with an extra, say, 5 kg strapped to your skull" - doesn't sound that healthy. My motorcycle helmet weighs in at 1,350 g (according to the data sheet), and it's just a helmet without any extra gear. Formula 1 drivers have to do weight lifting exercises to strengthen their neck muscles. I don't know how many Gs you pull going through a hairpin at 200 km/h in a race car - certainly less than in a jet fighter. So that's a heavy strain on the neck even during, well, just flying around.

        And if you have to eject: I am given to understand that ejecting at high velocities is best avoided anyway - the air will hit you like a brick wall. Even without having parts of your body caught between the seat and the canopy and crushed, unpleasant at best. Now try this with a heavy helmet - you'll be lucky to walk away from that with just whiplash.

        *The displays will have to be mounted at some distance from the eyes, meaning real leverage for their weight. Call it 30 cm (horizontal) from display's centre of gravity to base of skull, 1,000 g for the display = ca. 3 Nm+* just to hold the thing while standing still on the runway.

        **Yes, I know. 9.81 m/s/s and all that. This is engineering, not physics. The square root of 50 is 7. Because 7*7=49, and 49 is basically 50, sort of. Yes, all the buildings I did the structural engineering for are still standing. Run along now and work on that fusion thing, there's a good chap.

        1. Vic

          Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

          I am given to understand that ejecting at high velocities is best avoided anyway - the air will hit you like a brick wall

          If your best way of getting home today is to get out of your aircraft - the windrush as you exit is the least of your problems. Your drogue will deploy, and very soon, your speed relative to the airmass around you will be small enough as to make no difference.

          Even without having parts of your body caught between the seat and the canopy and crushed

          AFAIK, all in-service canopies[1] contain det cord to destroy the canopy before the seat arrives. But the seat should still take you through an unbroken canopy without injury...

          Vic.

          [1] We've got a couple of Canberras at the museum. The navigator's seat is behind the pilot, and it ejects through a section of the fuselage. I haven't yet worked out whether there are explosives on that panel, or whether the seat just throws the navigator through a chunk of aluminium...

          1. x 7

            Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

            "We've got a couple of Canberras at the museum."

            ever looked where the nav seat on PR9 Canberra? In the nose. That must have been an interesting ejection.

            As for your Canberra - presumably a 3 or 4-seater? I didn't think the rear seat crew on those had ejection seats - wasn't their emergency exit via the landing gear hatch? So an accident on take off or landing was unsurvivable for them

            1. Vic

              Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

              ever looked where the nav seat on PR9 Canberra? In the nose. That must have been an interesting ejection.

              I don't know the PR9; on the B2, that was the bomb aimer's position. It was originally supposed to be the targetting radar - but that wasn't ready in time, so they put a man in instead.

              As for your Canberra - presumably a 3 or 4-seater?

              We've got two - a D14[1], originally built as a B2 and then modified, and a T4. Both are three-seaters; the B2 has a bomber in the front, and the T4 has two pilot seats because it's a trainer. both aircraft have a rear seat for the navigator.

              I didn't think the rear seat crew on those had ejection seats - wasn't their emergency exit via the landing gear hatch?

              Nope. They have an ejection seat. The panel above them is clearly intended to come away, but I don't know exactly how...

              Vic.

              [1] That's according to Wikipedia. If you look at the image of what they claim to be a D14, it's WH876, which is one of ours now...

              1. x 7

                Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

                Vic

                found this thread on PPRUNE which gives some details of the back seaters ejection seat - looks like they had to jettison the hatch with explosive bolts before ejecting

                http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/465563-canberra-bomber.html

                as for WH876, that may be an oddball as it was used for ejection seat trials and may have a one-off fitment

                as for my thought about the Nav not having an ejection seat, apparently that was the case in the B(I)8 - in the nose again

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

            @Vic

            "If your best way of getting home today is to get out of your aircraft..."

            I'd say the 'getting home today' bit would somewhat depend on where you land, though...

            Anyway, this here seems to be an interesting view on the subject of the problems of having to eject with a heavy helmet and how they plan to deal with it on the F-35: Aerospace America - Safer Ejection Seats (PDF).

            BTW - BDAC - Old Sarum Airfield Museum is now on my places-to-see list for my next visit to the UK*!

            *Should be this autumn, but this depends a bit on the outcome of my appointment at the dentist's next tuesday. Sort of sneezed out one of my teeth last week, might eat into the travel budget (no pun intended).

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

              Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

              This is actually a very interesting topic.

              Emergency Medicine Journal - Injuries sustained by aircrew on ejecting from their aircraft - Case report by C A Read, J Pillay, Accident and Emergency Department, Lincoln County Hospital

              Abstract: This paper describes some of the injuries sustained by the aircrew who ejected from their aircraft after a mid-air collision, and discusses the types of injury that such patients may suffer.

            2. x 7

              Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

              " Old Sarum Airfield Museum is now on my places-to-see list for my next visit to the UK*!"

              if you're interested in aircraft museums, Boscombe Down and Yeovilton are both an easy drive down the A303 from there

              1. Vic

                Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

                if you're interested in aircraft museums, Boscombe Down and Yeovilton are both an easy drive down the A303 from there

                The Boscombe Down museum has moved to Old Sarum - it's still called the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, but you no longer need to go onto a military airfield to see it :-)

                Yeovilton's a bit further, but worth the miles IMO...

                Vic.

                1. x 7

                  Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

                  "The Boscombe Down museum has moved to Old Sarum - it's still called the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, but you no longer need to go onto a military airfield to see it :-)"

                  I didn't know that - must solve a lot of security issues considering what Boscombe Down does

            3. Vic

              Re: "158 of which are Category 1" / severe illness / helmet

              I'd say the 'getting home today' bit would somewhat depend on where you land, though...

              Sure. You'll notice I didn't say "successful" or even "good", merely "best"...

              BTW - BDAC - Old Sarum Airfield Museum is now on my places-to-see list for my next visit to the UK*!

              Cool. It will be lovely to see you. Don't go on a Monday though - the museum is shut on Mondays :-)

              Vic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "158 of which are Category 1"

      As well as the effects mentioned by x 7, it's perhaps worth mentioning that current jet passenger aircraft have been known to get oil vapour in the fuselage due to the method of pressurisation. Given the sort of nasties you get in aviation fluids, it is at least possible that there are some problems which could get toxins in the pilot's air supply.

      WW1 aircraft were lubricated with castor oil, with exposed valve gear, which meant pilots were liable to attacks of the shits from the oil mist blowing over them. This tended to get counteracted with whisky. Thus dogfights between two drunks made more cantankerous by intestinal problems.

  21. Chris G Silver badge

    A question

    Did the F-35 programme start at about the same time as Vista?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: A question

      "Did the F-35 programme start at about the same time as Vista?"

      more like windows 'Ape' - but you draw a good parallel. "that kind of thinking". Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" (I posted on that already)

  22. wolfetone

    You scared yet Russia?

    No.... I didn't think you would be..

  23. WibbleMe

    So my £250 budget PC Desktop with Ubuntu Desktop OS is stable as hell but a yank cant do it for $1B

  24. Caff

    drones

    Wonder are they sabotaging their own program to encourage the use of drones?

  25. Steve 39

    Presumably the UK government (the taxpayer) will be receiving due recompense for the delays to this project?

  26. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Abort. Eject. Sell leftovers for scrap.

    Buy chinese copy.

    Use money saved to fix schools, universities, roads, bridges, water supply, etc.

  27. Tank boy
    Flame

    What a disaster

    So let me see... The Pentagon in it's wisdom thought that after decades of inter-service rivalry they'd all get the same plane, just customized to the specific needs of the branch of service. The last time that happened was with the F4 Phantom.

    Troops on the ground are buying their own body armor because what we're fielding sucks to high heaven? Fuck 'em, we have to build this aircraft so we can maintain air superiority.

    Rifles/Carbines that were designed in the 50's? No way Jose, keep what you got, we need the newest and best, you ground pounders can make do with what you have.

    A pistol that is undergunned when the old one still had some life left in it, and is still being employed by special operations forces? Pish posh, we need to spend at least a Trillion dollars for the shiny shiny that will have no impact whatsoever on any ground conflict.

    Scrap the A10? Those days are long gone, drones can carry out those missions, the newest plane that won't be ready for another couple years will fill in the gaps.

    This should be a movie: Pentagon Gone Wild.

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: What a disaster

      "The Pentagon in it's wisdom thought that after decades of inter-service rivalry they'd all get the same plane, just customized to the specific needs of the branch of service. The last time that happened was with the ..." F18 which was rather good actually. oh err...

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: What a disaster

        > oh. err...

        The F18 is not flown by the USAF. There was less design-by-committee in its DNA. The Spanish, Canadian and Aussie air force just didnt have the level of input as this 3 way US service clusterf$&@.

        Looking at gen 6 plans, it seems that they're specifically flagging cross-service procurement as a risk to be avoided. Commonality in components, yes. Common airframe, no.

    2. Vic

      Re: What a disaster

      Fuck 'em, we have to build this aircraft so we can maintain air superiority.

      The F-35 is not an air superiority fighter. For all their faults, both F-22 and Typhoon fly rings around it. And I'm sure you could add to that list...

      Vic.

  28. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    This seems to be the outcome of a lack of war. No longer are the vast sums of money spent on things that work and incremental improvements to achieve a goal, but instead to make a pretty thing to show off as 'advanced'. In the end it doesnt matter who has the prettier stick, it is functionality.

    Not a good sign when parts of the world are gearing up or kicking off.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the same code base?

    In relation to "He reported that around 60 per cent of aircraft used for testing were grounded due to software problems", why so? I would have thought they would all have a common code base, therefore all have the same software problems.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call support

    Thank you for calling F-35 support how can we he;p you today.

    ...................have you tried powering it off and on again................I understand your running version 8.1 of the avionics software we recommend version 10..................have you installed any 3rd party hardware............

  31. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    pilots weighing below 136 pounds

    Ah ickle baby pilots!

    Presumably they'd need a booster cushion anyway?

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: pilots weighing below 136 pounds

      The smaller and lighter the pilot the better in fly by wire combat aircraft. Less weight means lower loading on the pilot from G forces and a slight improvement in aircraft performance due to less weight. Smaller means a slightly better chance that in the event of combat damage, the pilot does not get hit (as a smaller target) and a further reduction in G loading effects due to the reduced distance between the head and the feet.

      As the pilot does not operate any mechanical controls, the strength of the pilot is unimportant.

      (Of course the best performance is obtained by not having the pilot in the plane - modern combat aircraft should be UAVs . Removing the pilot removes 1000's of pounds of support equipment (ejection seats, displays, cockpit, oxygen supply, G suit, switches etc) and removes the G limitation caused by the frail human body. It also makes one-way suicide missions possible as only equipment will be lost - not people).

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: pilots weighing below 136 pounds

        Are you on the small side perchance?

        I do love the idea of the air force seeking out midgets. :D

      2. Vic

        Re: pilots weighing below 136 pounds

        Smaller means a slightly better chance that in the event of combat damage, the pilot does not get hit

        It's more about the distance between heart and brain - blood density is largely constant, so for any given g, the pressure required from the heart is proportional to h[1]. The smaller you can make h, the less pressure the heart needs to develop to maintain consciousness...

        Vic

        [1] I wish I could be bothered to work out how to do greek letters. That way, I wouldn't have to skate around rho-gee-delta h...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pilots weighing below 136 pounds

      "Ah ickle baby pilots!"

      Women pilots.

  32. Chris G Silver badge

    Armed and Flying X box

    Given the intense level of software control in this thing; I was wondering how well hardened the electronics are to physical hits from weapons, does it have multiple layers of redundant bluetooth links(joke) to the controlling surfaces or lots of fibre running in different directions to reroute commands? And how would a smallish airburst Neutron bomb affect a squadron of these with it's EMP?

    The F-35 sounds like the ultimate IoT product.

  33. Peter Christy

    Lessons of History....

    I would have thought that after the F-111 disaster, Brit governments would have learned their lesson! We cancelled a perfectly good British plane to buy a fleet of F-111s. The order was cancelled when it became apparent that the F-111 was never going to meet its contracted performance figures, but because our dimwit politicians never read the small print, we ended up paying for the things anyway!

    Regarding VTOL, the experimental Short SC-1 demonstrated back in the late 50s / early 60s exactly the problem of having a separate lift engine - dead weight and reduced payload in flight, and burning holes in the runway! The Harrier was developed specifically to overcome these issues. Something the American military was quick to recognise when the idiots in Westminster flogged them all off for peanuts......!

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: Lessons of History....

      > Regarding VTOL...

      Apparently this is one of the few things they seem to have managed to get working however complicated they've made it.

      The Harrier really doesn't cut it in modern warfare, it was barely a match for the Argentine sea hawks in the '80s. The USMC would expect to operate them alongside proper fighter aircraft like F18s.

      1. Green Nigel 42

        Re: Lessons of History....

        THe Harrier may not cut as a fighter against today's generation of aircraft, but is was designed for air interdiction and close air support missions;. The Naval fighter version came later.

        The Harrier shot down:

        9 IAI Daggers (Mirage V equivalent)

        7 A-4 Skyhawks (plus one write-off on landing)

        1 Mirage III

        ...and 3 other aircraft

        The Skyhawks is well liked by all who flew it for being tough & nimble. It was effectively used by the US Navy in ther training and adversary aircraft would well into the 1990s. (As seen in Top gun!). So not such a sitting duck for the Harriers to take on & beat (although the Sea hawks were heavily armed for anti ship weapons)

        One thing the Harrier has over the F35, is that it works, is in service and clearly better than nothing!

        So dear US marine core, can we borrow our Harriers back please, just until the F35B's come,

        1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

          Re: Lessons of History....

          >The Harrier shot down...

          Yes, the sidewinder was very good against poorly maintained '70s aircraft operating at the limit of their range.

          1. KeithR

            Re: Lessons of History....

            "it was barely a match for the Argentine sea hawks in the '80s."

            "the sidewinder was very good against poorly maintained '70s aircraft operating at the limit of their range"

            Any danger of you making your mind up any time soon?

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Green Nigel 42

            Re: Lessons of History....

            Prior to going to the Falklands,the Sea Harriers exercised against French Mirages, there the viffing ability (vectoring in forward flight) was further developed & refined so if they'd end up with a fighter on their tail, they could angle their V/STOL engine nozzles to brake suddenly, the Mirage would overshoot and the Sea Harrier would have a clear Sidewinder or cannon shot.

            It has to be said that Argentinian pilots are superb and gained the respect of the Harrier Pilots, the lucky thing for the UK is that they did not perform more aggressive patrols, as they did with the Mirages to knock out the few Harriers we had down there.

            I did notice that the Seahawk is capable of buddy to buddy refuelling, perhaps if they had performed that they might of been more successful with engaging the Harriers?

        2. KeithR

          Re: Lessons of History....

          "One thing the Harrier has over the F35, is that it works, is in service and clearly better than nothing!"

          Better than ANYTHING if you want VTOL and the manoeuvrability that comes from vectored thrust...

          1. Green Nigel 42

            Re: Lessons of History....

            Agreed, it is not only better than anything, if you want VTOL, but it is still the only thing after 47 years!

        3. Vic

          Re: Lessons of History....

          The Harrier shot down:

          9 IAI Daggers (Mirage V equivalent)

          7 A-4 Skyhawks (plus one write-off on landing)

          1 Mirage III

          ...and 3 other aircraft

          XZ457 took 4 of those kills. And we have her now ::proud::

          Vic.

          1. x 7

            Re: Lessons of History....XZ457

            that must have been a lot of work, rebuilding the wreck.....I presume she's way beyond ever flying?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Vic

              Re: Lessons of History....XZ457

              that must have been a lot of work, rebuilding the wreck

              Yep.

              If you'll excuse the tiny images, she went from this to this.

              I presume she's way beyond ever flying?

              'Fraid so...

              Vic.

              1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

                Re: Lessons of History....XZ457 / rebuilding

                Nice work, looking forward to see it IRL!

      2. KeithR

        Re: Lessons of History....

        "The Harrier really doesn't cut it in modern warfare, it was barely a match for the Argentine sea hawks in the '80s."

        I'm Sorry? WHAT?

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Dave 32
    Flame

    Idea

    Hey, why not convert the carriers over to handling Zeppelins? Those won't require a catapult, nor arresting wires. And, those Zeppelins were somewhat effective in the World War I.

    Dave

  36. bombastic bob Silver badge

    Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority"

    anybody read Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority"? See any similarities?

    This is the *KIND* of thing that happens when "the next generation" gets to do things THEIR way, ignoring the lessons learned in the past, re-inventing instead of evolving technology, like a bunch of "whiz kids" that just graduated from college and think they know 'schtuff' from shinola.

    Now, I don't know if THIS case fits the "whiz kid" paradigm, but it sure *smells* like it. You see it a LOT, in Microsoft's current direction, in various government administrations, and so on. And the cluster-blank that follows is *PREDICTABLE* when you are a student of human nature.

    When I went to a U.S. Navy advanced electronics school back in the 80's, the first slide they showed on the overhead projector showed a large hole and the backside of a donkey, with a caption similar to "the difference". (They wanted to make sure we understood, before proceeding). A similar ploy may be needed in dealing with the (mis)management of government contracts.

    or it could just be another example of optimistic underbidding catching up with reality.

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority"

      >This is the *KIND* of thing that happens when "the next generation" gets to do things THEIR way, ignoring the lessons learned in the past

      Mitchell and the US Navy circa 1920?

      Agincourt?

      French blue uniforms in WWI?

      Integrated infantry support tanks vs Guderian's panzers?

      etc...

      Not all changes are bad. Lots of wars have been lost by refusing to change.

      Despite taking unnecessary engineering and project risks, the F35 however still takes as a given the supremacy of piloted fighters in the 2040 timeframe, ignores the inconvenient fact that asymmetric warfare has decided several wars since the 50s and assumes that an innovative top-tier opponent (China) would meet its threat head-on with similar weapons.

      1. Vic

        Re: Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority"

        the F35 however still takes as a given the supremacy of piloted fighters in the 2040 timeframe

        Piloted fighters might be supreme, but the F-35 won't be among their number. It is simply too slow.

        The 2019 F-35 (Mach 1.6, 50,000ft, 1 occupant) could not intercept the 1971 Concorde (Mach 2, 60,000ft, ~130 occupants).

        Vic.

  37. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    FAIL

    Hooray for the F-35!

    Providing the pilot survivability of an early WW1 biplane and the systems stability of Windows ME, all for a shade under $400 billion.

    In the long history of oft-FUBAR'd DoD procurement programs, this has to be the biggest boondoggle of all. When the planes are actually operational, the first place we should bomb is Lockheed Martin's HQ.

  38. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Presumably the shortarsed pilots run the risk of being fired through the canopy before it clears the way, while the chubmeisters will just end up sitting in the now open-air cockpit while the rockets fill the surrounding space with flames and smoke.

    The problem here is probably that the software is being written to the same standard as that for the commercial market - release one is the beta. God help the astronaut trying to land a LM with modern day code on board. No chance of being overwhelmed by data flow as per Apollo 11 thanks to ultra-enspiffinated electronics, but every chance of not waking up on command or hanging while it figures out where the internet (and its mommy) is so it can phone for updates before doing anything life-saving.

    Proper testing. Static linking. Germanium transistors. A proper Westrex console. Them was the days.

    Fought two wars, rationing etc, Suez etc, thin end of the wedge etc, more etc.

  39. bill 27
    Alien

    Contractor name?

    What's the name of the company developing this software? Where is the original contracting official working now?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet of Things comes to mind......

    If the software is so terrible, I wonder if script kiddies in the next few years might be able to fly REAL combat aircraft IN REAL TIME from the comfort of their own homes.......much better that those old-fashioned shoot-em-up video games.

  41. x 7

    in service until 2070

    and now the Pentagon reckons the F-35 "Fighting Turkey" will be in service until 2070

    http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/2016/03/24/f-35-fly-until-2070-six-years-longer-than-planned/82224282/

    given that theres no internal space for addons, retrofits, uprades, and the engine is already at the limits of performance then that's going to be on heck of a conjuring trick.

    We don't know if the composite airframes will last that long, we can be very very certain the stealth technology used won't be relevant by then - and we can be very very certain that by 2070 any manned aircraft as slow, unprotected and unmanoeverable as an F-35 will have all the efficacy of a flying coffin

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and it kills pilots

    Which could be a problem in an actual war. I have a suggestion: require Lockheed's CEO to go on a diet to reach the critical weight and then let him eject from his product. Same for the bureaucrats and politicians hawking this disaster.

    US military procurement is rarely driven by actual need. The F-14 and A-10 were best in their respective classes, but had one fatal flaw: they were made in NY and not California. That just couldn't be allowed to continue. The Tomcat' s replacement added nothing but additional debt to the country, the A-10 was never really replaced. The F-35 will actually make us less secure because everyone already knows it will fail spectacularly in combat. It will be a case of an adversary coming out and taunting, "Go ahead, make my day!" At that point we'll all be ringing up our friends in Eastern Europe to see if we can buy back some F-16s.

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