back to article F-35s grounded by spares shortage

More than a decade after the first F-35 took to the air, the US military doesn't have a complete set of maintenance instructions, and spare parts shortages are keeping 22 per cent of the fleet out of the sky. A new United States' Government Accountability Office (GAO) report comes a week after the US Navy said it may leave 108 …

  1. Mephistro Silver badge
    Facepalm

    A new month...

    ... a new F35 failure story!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's make planes that can't fly......

    ....that we can't afford to arm, that we don't have spare parts for and the documentation is non existant.

    Now let's fill the overseas order book as a way of fucking our allies as well.

    Incompetence on this scale HAS to be deliberately 'generated' by the manufacturer(s), it's beyond credible that an even half way capable manager could allow things to get this out of hand.

    Of course if you use the 'no individual responsible for anything' style of management then no-one is to blame, while they all get paid fortunes.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      Oh no, incompetence on this scale is a natural product of nurturing a for-profit defense industry.

      When the US entered World War 2, its armed forces were tiny, and their technology was nothing to brag about either. But with a couple of years of dedicated development, they had planes and tanks that could match or beat both Japanese and German forces.

      That's how you win a war: you don't develop all the weaponry in advance, you wait until you know who you're fighting before you decide what you need to beat them.

      But none of that is compatible with the military-industrial complex.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        "That's how you win a war: you don't develop all the weaponry in advance, you wait until you know who you're fighting before you decide what you need to beat them".

        And just how does one qualify the clusterfucks in Vietnam or Afghanistan.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          And just how does one qualify the clusterfucks in Vietnam or Afghanistan.

          Blatant incompetence at military, political and humanitarian level.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ veti

        When the US entered World War 2, its armed forces were tiny, and their technology was nothing to brag about either. But with a couple of years of dedicated development, they had planes and tanks that could match or beat both Japanese and German forces.

        There was a lot of innovation, but your argument is only partly true. The US' best bomber of WW2, the B17 actually had its first flight in 1935, and was built as a commercially funded prototype albeit to a Defense department competition spec. The B24 is perhaps nearer to your argument having its first flight in 1939, but was unpopular with crews and suffered heavy losses. The best transport aircraft of the war was the C47, essentially a khaki painted version of the commercially developed DC3 that first flew in 1935. The US didn't have any decent fighters until it was able to manufacture the Rolls Royce Merlin under licence (and that engine had its genesis as a private venture by RR in the early 1930s). The Sherman tank was effective purely because of numbers than capability, and suffered appalling loss rates against the much better German tanks in Europe. The most successful Sherman tank commander (a Canuck) was credited with 18 tanks destroyed, but the top 10 German tank commanders are all credited with over 100 Allied tank kills.

        The real advantage of the US military was not technology, but in the size and scale of the US economy, by having a domestic industrial base that was not under regular air attack, secure, local supply chains for materials and components, along with little dependence on foreign food or energy resources.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ veti

          The real advantage of the US military was not technology, but in the size and scale of the US economy, by having a domestic industrial base that was not under regular air attack, secure, local supply chains for materials and components, along with little dependence on foreign food or energy resources.

          And by being late to the party.

          1. EarthDog

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ veti

            Why fight when someone else can do it for you? Especially when you need some lead time to ramp up your industry and military.

        2. Dave 15

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ veti

          The USA tanks only 'won' at great cost to their 'cooked' crews because (as the Russians have planned for a long time now) if you have enough of anything you will nearly always win. The American tanks were no match for a German or British tank one on one.

          As for planes the only half decent one was the Mustang once it had a Rolls Royce engine to make it go.

          We gave up on TSR2 - a fighter in every respect better than eurofighter or f35

          e.g. speed - tsr2 mach 2.35, F35 mach 1.6

          range tsr2 2500 nmiles, f35 1200nmiles (combat radii... 750, 669)

          tsr could also carry more if needed.

          The quoted ceiling is the only thing the f35 has as an advantage, but frankly given the speed difference the tsr2 will have been and gone before the f35 has noticed.

          Pity our government ditched our superior (now 50 year old) plane for the American garbage we have been saddled with since. Perhaps time to reevaluate this.

          1. Sanguma

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ veti

            "As for planes the only half decent one was the Mustang once it had a Rolls Royce engine to make it go."

            As far as I know, the only two nations that produced superior naval aircraft were the Japanese and the US. And the Chance Vought F4U Corsair was easily the match of any land-based fighter in WWII. It was only when the RN got the Hawker Sea Fury that they had anything to match the Corsair.

        3. Marcus Aurelius
          WTF?

          Shermans are underestimated

          The previous post greatly underestimates the Sherman. It was a good medium tank for its time and about the maximum size you could conveniently get a tank across the Atlantic, fit in landing craft and drive over most roads and bridges of Western Europe.

          It was easily a match for the Panzer IV which was its real main opposition, and fairly close to the Panther. Tigers, especially the Tiger II, were an extreme rarity on the Western Front. Reliability, Servicing and repair of any German tank was much harder than the Sherman.

          Even the reputation of the Sherman for burning up is an over exaggeration, especially once wet ammunition storage was implemented.

          Some Shermans (upgraded) were happily kicking T-55s in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Shermans are underestimated

            Though the ammunition storage certainly was an exacerbating factor, the reputation that Sherman tanks had for catching fire was mainly due to their being originally fitted with gasoline engines. They were known as "Ronsons" by the troops who rode in them - a reference to a popular liquid-fuel cigarette lighter of the day. Once the M4 started being fitted with Detroit Diesels they became much safer.

            I believe the real problems associated with the Sherman of D-Day vintage involved their relatively high profile (caused by the transmission configuration) making for issues going hull down and their relatively thin armour. Again, doctrine has been blamed for the late deployment of the by-then available Patton tank which had all sorts of modern improvements and made better use of the armour it had. Patton (and his pals) felt that to replace the Sherman would cause a morale problem. Besides, they still insisted that tanks did not fight tanks.

            Funny really. Patton reportedly did his nut when he saw what the crews were doing to improvise applique armour on the M4s that he preferred to see deployed - sandbags, extra tracks, even concerete slathered on the glacis. He was worried about the tank transmissions being buggered up by the additional loading.

      3. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        "That's how you win a war: you don't develop all the weaponry in advance, you wait until you know who you're fighting before you decide what you need to beat them."

        Thats all very well if your enemy is thousands of miles away. It didn't work out quite so well for the allies in ww2 (allies before the americans joined that is) in 1940 when they got their arses shot off all the way to dunkirk. Millions died in an avoidable war because european powers ignored the military complex hitler was building in the 30s and were woefully unprepared not only politically but also from a military equipment POV when it kicked off. If the european powers had had decent military equipment in 1939 hitler could have been contained and defeated long before it escalated.

        Need a good example of a 1930s pork barrel project? The Maginot line. Cost a fortune - utterly useless.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          If the european powers had had decent military equipment in 1939 hitler could have been contained and defeated long before it escalated.

          Given the speed of reaction of democracies in peacetime, to have had decent military equipment n 1939, they'd have had to have recognised the threat by 1930, and started building soon thereafter. One of the few public voices saying that Germany was a threat, and we should rearm was a certain Winston Churchill, who was widely regarded as a loose cannon, best ignored even by his own party. And all through the 1930s, it is worth remembering that the Labour party's stated position was that the best defence was no defence (plus ca change!).

          Equipment was not the problem, really, it was the head-in-the-sand attitude of the political classes.

          1. Bob Wheeler

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            One of the other major factors in thinking of the politicians, and of the people, is that Great War (as it was known as) had only formally ended in 1919.

            The sheer scale of the carnage for that war seriously weighed on their decisions to follow the route of appeasement.

            From the mid 1930’s onwards people were starting to listen to Churchill, and hence the RAF and RN where being built up.

            1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

              Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

              @Bob Wheeler: agree. People forget that all of the leaders in UK and France has been through a terrible war, some just surviving. There's good evidence that the British caution at throwing men at the D-Day beaches was not only because they had almost run out of manpower, but that the commanders, including Montgomery, had seen what 'throwing me' in' actually meant. I am sorry for it, but I can't blame commanders for being appalled at the idea of carnage. They were only human.

          2. JamesPond
            FAIL

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            "Equipment was not the problem, really, it was the head-in-the-sand attitude of the political classes.'

            I don't think you've read your history very well. The British leaders knew exactly what position they were in. They knew they could not afford monetarily to defend all of the British Empire, it was just too big. Also politically after the first Great War, the British public were in no mood to go to war with Germany again. There was also a known threat from Japan, not just Germany. As for Churchill, he was in the political wilderness because of his mis-management of the 'soft underbelly of Europe' campaign in the Dardanelles. Where they did miscalculate was over USSR signing a non-aggression pact with Germany which effectively took them out of the war for 2 years (and let USSR invade Poland) and they clearly did not understand how mad Hitler was.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          "...If the european powers had had decent military equipment in 1939 hitler could have been contained and defeated long before it escalated....."

          This is just not accurate.

          At the outbreak of war in 1939......

          The Royal Navy outgunned the Kriegsmarine by a substantial margin and Plan Z (NOT Plan Z from Outer Space!!) was initiated by Hitler in 1939 as a way of achieving parity by 1944.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_Z

          The French Army at the start of the Battle of France was comparable in size to the German Army and had better equipment in many instances (surprisingly the French Char B was better then the German tanks available at the time).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_France

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Char_B1

          Germany went to war much earlier then the German Military was ready for. Hitler, pretty much through his forceful personality and being an absolute dictator 'bullied, bribed and boxed' the Military into fighting a war they were, equipment wise, not prepared for.

          The reality is that German tactics were vastly superior, the Allies were still thinking about fighting a Great War style conflict, unaware, that even though there was overwhelming evidence, that the Germans were going to fight a Blitzskrieg war with a tightly integrated Luftwaffe highly trained in Close Air Support.

          The bribery bit?

          Most people, even today, are not aware that Hitler had been bribing senior members of the German High Command for years using the Konto 5 slush fund.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery_of_senior_Wehrmacht_officers

          Sweeping comments about European failings pre WWII should really be made about political cowardice rather then equipment shortcomings.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. JamesPond
            Thumb Down

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            "Were it not for the Treaty of Versailles and the Allied goal of squeezing Germany"

            Were it not for the Treaty of Versailles and the FRENCH goal of squeezing Germany

            FTFY......The British stated at the time that the treaty was excessive and probably counter productive. The French thought the treaty too lenient.

            1. Robert Sneddon

              Versailles treaty

              The Versailles treaty was not rigorously enforced after the mid-1920s and the removal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr after it was occupied in 1923. The Germans remilitarised the Rhineland in 1936 against the treaty obligations and the Allies did nothing. They stopped paying reparations and the Allies did very little. By the mid-1930s the treaty was effectively waste paper. The Germans hated it primarily because it promoted the idea that they had started the war, something their right-wing vehemently denied all the way up to the start of WWII (part of the Dolchstosslegende).

              On the other hand, almost within living memory of the 1919 settlement, the Prussians had imposed identical financial reparations (5 billion gold marks, the modern equivalent of $350 billion or so) on the defeated French after the war of 1871 and the French had paid the sum demanded completely in less than years. The flood of free money into the Prussian and German economy caused a property bubble that caused a recession for almost twenty years.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            " The Allies have themselves to thank for bringing about the conditions Hitler needed to take power."

            It was remarked by at least one official in 1919 after the conditions of the armistice and reparations were laid out that it wasn't a peace document, merely a 20 year pause in the war.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          "european powers ignored the military complex hitler was building in the 30s "

          That had a lot more to do with memories of how bad WW1 was and not being willing to gear up and do it all over again.

      4. M7S

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        "you wait until you know who you're fighting before you decide what you need to beat them"

        I think that unfortunately even if there wasn't a current policy wanting to test kit anywhere hot, dusty and with an oil bearing substrata, that current lead times and the advent of serious and small WMD render that an unwise procurement strategy for even the USA. protected by quite a bit of ocean either side, to rely on.

        Even the falklands would probably never had been recovered if, post invasion, the UK would have needed to pop down to "weapons-R-us" anymore than they already had to (ships from P&O, improved sidewinders from the US* etc etc)

        *Allegedly

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That's how you win a war"

        No, that's how you get very close to a defeat, and save yourself sometimes by sheer lucky (the carrier not in Pearl Harbor, the Tone reconnaissance plane with issues...), sometimes because of brave and clever individuals (Thach devising how to fight Zeros with the inferior F4F, the codebreakers identifying Midway...), sometimes because your allies can fill your gaps (i.e. giving you Merlin engines for the P-51, or RADAR technology). And sometimes because some weapons (P-38, B-17, etc.) are already available. Sometimes by sheer number, like the M4 - actually, the US never had a state-of-the-art battle tank until the M1A1.

        Meanwhile fixing the torpedo issues took a very long time, too much time, read the story, how much people can be stubborn, and lead to many casualties because of that. USAF repeated the mistake when it removed guns from fighters, and wanted too specialized planes.

        Anyway, many weapons were already in development - even then it took some time to design and build a new weapon -, but weren't ready when the war started (TBF, F4U, P-47, P-51, B-29) because it's not that you ignore wholly what your enemy has already (although IIRC reports about the Zero capabilities from Chennault were ignored), but a country already planning to start a war will accelerate its weapon readiness, one not planning it may be slower to deploy them (and US was still in the Great Recession troubles, and with a strong neutralist movement).

        Great Britain was lucky to have Hurricanes and Spitfires ready to fight the German planes - the Channel is far smaller than the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

        Then a lot of technology came from the defeated Germany - but it didn't help much to win later - after all Germany itself shown you can't win with technology only.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: "That's how you win a war"

          M1A1... nearly as good as the Challenger... but not quite - who has the longest tank to tank kill... nope, not the yanks, our very own Challenger.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: "That's how you win a war"

          "Then a lot of technology came from the defeated Germany - but it didn't help much to win later - after all Germany itself shown you can't win with technology only."

          A sweeping statement. Germany failed to leverage the technology it did have by not having the manufacturing sector go on a war footing soon enough. Example: tanks. Still making the Panzer IV and very obsolete Panzer III in facilities that could have been turned over to making the new and badly-needed Panzer Vs (Panther). Germany's best weapons were always in too short supply to be effective once attrition began to be a factor.

          And even that is a simplification. Having the country's overall war strategy in the hands of a loon didn't help them when the shock and awe factor wore off. Lucky for us, eh?

      6. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        Sherman tank was never better than the Germans' Panther or Tigers, but they made so damn many of them and they just kept coming and coming...

        US planes were excellent Typhoon and Mustang, yes, great.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          US planes were excellent Typhoon and Mustang, yes, great.

          The Typhoon, American? Amuse me by explaining that.

          1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            US planes were excellent Typhoon and Mustang, yes, great.

            ..and the Mustang was initially designed and built for the RAF to fulfill British requirements for a long-range fighter. At that time the Spitfire and Hurricane were short range metropolitan defence aircraft, which is what they'd been designed for, and once the Battle of Britain was over, the RAF needed something with a longer range that could take on the Luftwaffe over Europe.

            The Mustang wasn't up to much with the original Allison engine, especially at altitude, but fitting a Merlin transformed it. Years ago I knew a member of the ground crew responsible for its initial trials in the UK, who described the Allison as a beautifully made car engine and who claimed that he was part of the team that replaced it with a Merlin during the initial trials.

            The USAAF only got Mustangs later: remember that they thought that escort fighters weren't needed because B-17 formations had enough guns to deal with any fighters they might meet.

        2. mmeier

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          Actually the Shermans, Cromwells and Comet where all superior to the oh so great Panther and Tiger in three important areas:

          Reliability and Repairability

          Numbers

          Capabilities of crew

          The vaunted "Panther" averaged a major breakdown in the running gear one per 150km and fixing that was very time consuming. The oh so superior Tiger (and more so the Tiger Ausf. B "Königstischer" - that actually was closer in many ways to a Panther btw) had major weight and reliability problems with the engine and where only rail-transportable with special tracks. Tracks that where not useable off-road due to ground pressure. All three had an extremly underpowered turret traverse engine and more than one of them died due to that (The Cologne Panther is a nice document on this - the M26 simply out-rotated the poor lil Nazi Kitty and boom - instand roasted Nazis). Situational awareness was lousy for the gunner, crew training, in the SchweineStaffel even more then in the Wehrmacht was high on indoctrination and low on skill and so on

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          Typhoon? You mean the British one right?

          And the Mustang? Only decent when paired with a British Merlin engine....

        4. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          "Sherman tank was never better than the Germans' Panther or Tigers,"

          In many ways you are right, but the Tiger had a reputation that was far in excess of its potential.

          It was too heavy for its transmission. Its tracks and outer roadwheels had to be removed and narrow tracks fitted before it could be transported on railcars (and then the process reversed before committing to combat). The interleaved roadwheel design imposed a complex and time-consuming repair process when the wheels took a hit, and the wheels were prone to getting fouled to the point of failure by mud when in Russia (indeed, one documented Soviet tactic for disabling them was to have soldiers run alongside them feeding barbed-wire into the wheels, which made my respect for the the Soviet soldier, already quite high, quite a bit higher I can tell you).

          The Tiger had a big gun and ridiculous amounts of armour on front and sides. That was what was asked for.

          But, being a design that began back in the pre-war days before Guderian & Co. got a look at the Soviet tanks (The Soviets and Germans being pals then) the armour was not sloped, which made for a heavier vehicle than would have been the case had the glacis and sides been sloped a-la Panther ( itself a reaction to the superior T34 design; a later and very rare Tiger II had such armour but was too late to the party). The money and facilities spent on the Tiger would have been arguably better spent in making more Panthers, a design so successful the French were using them into the 1950s.

          The T34 and Sherman had, as you say, one thing the German tanks didn't: dedicated production lines that were fast and efficient. Hell, when the Soviets pulled back behind the Urals they had machine tools set up in fields so tank production could proceed while the factory itself was being built. The Sherman benefited from the enormous personnel and resource bank of the US. In all probability, German high command knew that once the US was involved personally it was game over, and the only way out was to "win" quickly and sue for peace with them. The Germans consistently underestimated the Soviet forces.

        5. Mine's a Large One

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          The Sherman Firefly, with a British 17 pounder gun, was pretty effective at taking out Panthers and Tigers...

        6. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          the panther and tiger were designs stolen from the SKODA arms factory they got by taking the Sudetenland from the Czechs, and was the real reason they wanted that bit of land.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: stolen from the SKODA

            Not quite.

            The Panther was a reaction to Germans seeing the T34 for the first time (having been clued in by the amusement and disbelief from Soviet visiting experts on being shown the Pz II and Pz IV, who asked to see the real state of the art stuff please) and realizing they were behind the times in tank tech, and the Tiger was a pre-war design from sometime around 1936 as I recall, that involved a competition between MAN and Porsche and lots of politics and skulduggery.

            The Porsche chassis was re-purposed to become the "Elefant" (also the "Ferdinand") Tank hunter/ Self-propelled gun and earned itself a place in history as one of the worst armoured fighting vehicles ever to venture onto the battlefield on account of it not having any AP weaponry. There are stories of commanders firing pistols down the barrel of the main (and only) gun, but I don't know how true they are.

            In point of fact there was reportedly a superior prototype for the Panther design which was rejected in favour of the MAN design as it borrowed too much from the Russian T34 and was judged by The Loon in Charge to be "not German enough".

            If you want to get a quick nitpicker's education on both Tiger and Panther, there's a pocket Jaynes Guide to Tanks of WWII (title from memory) and the excellent "Panther in Action" and Tiger in Action" books from Squadron publications. The "Panther in Action" book is a particularly fine thing and will have you pointing out the inaccuracies in movies, dioramas and wargames to the annoyance of all in no time at all.

            By all accounts the Skoda import that made the most impact was the Hetzer, which most authorities hold to be kilo for kilo the best tank hunter the Germans had in the field in WWII. Lovely little mover and shaker, especially when you fired the gun on the ones that used the chassis to absorb the recoil of the gun, I'm told. The tank version of the Hetzer was also deployed, but was judged to be inferior to the other German tanks in various ways and the production lines were apparently turned over to All Hetzer, All The Time.

      7. ridley

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        That might have been the case when wars took many years to win/lose and development time of spitfires etc was relatively quick ie 1-2 years.

        Now we have potential wars that could be over PDQ so you best make sure that you have everything you need to fight it at all times.

        1. pxd

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          This x 10^6. Kit development times are getting longer, and (projected) war scenarios are getting shorter. pxd

      8. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          "......Even heavily outnumbered, with tanks that had wafer thin armor (due to allied bombing raids), incredible fuel shortages, dysfunctional intelligence, intercepted communications (the allies knew the Nazi battle plans before the the Nazi generals on the field), the Nazis managed to push the USians back in the Ardennes ... it was their only real attempt as they were trying to keep the Russian's at bay at all costs ... I am grateful the Nazi regime was ousted, don't get me wrong ... bu the only army that crushed the Nazis almost single-handedly on the battlefield was Russian ... aided by allied bombing, of course, and by Hitler's world-famous military tactics [sic] ... my grand dad was there, in the Ardennes, and "remained there".

          Anon, because defending the view of encyclopedia Britannica on the subject tends to upset people ........"

          Put simplistically, all loses (inc civilians).....

          British loses about 450,000

          US loses about 450,000

          French loses about 600,000

          Indian loses about 2,000,000

          Japanese loses about 3,000,000

          Polish loses about 6,000,000

          German loses about 7,000,000

          Chinese loses about 20,000,000

          USSR loses about 27,000,000

          Of course I've left quite a few out purely for brevity.

          The Germans were never once beaten on the battlefield where there were comparative forces and logistics (fuel, ammo) available. You can well argue (and Sun Tzu certainly would) that part of war is to ensure you have the resources available to overwhelm your opponent in a fight, however Germans regularly fought and won with substantially less forces available then they were up against, some of the Crimea battles are good examples.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Kerch_Peninsula

          The old phrase applies, amateurs talk tactics, experts talk strategy and professionals talk logistics.

          The Western Allies ability to have a stable manufacturing base in the US and the size and manpower resources of the USSR ensured that the Axis would almost certainly lose in the long run.

          When the Germans invaded Russia under Operation Barbarossa you have to remember that Pearl Harbour hadn't yet happened. The Japanese did not inform the Germans of the attack till it had already occurred.

          So let's imagine for a moment that the US hadn't been dragged into the war till 1942 or maybe even 1943....could the Germans have been able to complete their plan for the USSR before the build up of forces in the UK and North Africa forced them to divert manpower to these potential threats?

          Whenever I read history and I'm a Brit, I usually come to the conclusion that WW2 was won at Midway and Stalingrad.

          If it wasn't for some incredible luck at the Battle of Midway when the dive bombers almost stumbled upon the Japanese carriers the Americans could well have been penned into the West Coast for two or three years, perhaps enough time for Germany to force the USSR to sue for peace.

          If Hitler hadn't ordered his forces to 'take' Stalingrad, history is pretty certain it was as much for vanity reasons given the name of his opponent, but instead contained Stalingrad and used the freed up divisions in the drive for Moscow the outcome of the war could have been a much much longer time for the Allies to win or perhaps even some kind of stalemate.

          Of course no-one can be sure of what could have happened with any certainty, but people should not underestimate how effective the German Fighting Machine was.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            but people should not underestimate how effective the German Fighting Machine was

            I don't think many people round here do, but I'd suggest the Germans were doomed to defeat in WW2 long before Stalingrad, due to the simple over-stretch of their state and military apparatus. They were at war simultaneously in Western Europe, North Africa, and across all of Eastern Europe. They occupied multiple countries without successfully pacifying them, tying up military resources in France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Baltic states, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, North Africa. And at the same time they had a navy with an inadequate surface fleet (high quality, but no operational carriers and insufficient capital ships). Their air force had excellent fighters throughout the war, but was hampered start to finish by a lack of heavy bombers, because the bulk of German strategy was to win the war through Blitzkrieg. As the US and UK found out in Iraq a few short years ago, winning the conquest stage of a war is easy if you've prepared for that, it is always the bit afterwards that is hard.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Russians was not helped only by allied bombing...

          ... but also by a huge amount of supplies they would have never be able to produce themselves. The Germans weren't able to stop the convoys reaching Archangel, and in the Pacific Russia stayed away from Japan (it declared war only when the atomic bombs were launched, while delaying Japanese contacts to surrender to reap some benefits) again fearing Japan could attack the Pacific ports and stop the supplies arriving there (Japan too did a mistake not attacking Russia in coordination with Germany before attacking US, but the Axes forces were luckily unable to coordinate efforts, and Japan was obsessed with the Pacific).

          And of course was heavily helped by the blockade - again, Russia couldn't impose one over Germany, having no way to control the seas (dictators usually don't like the navy - probably because it has always been the most difficult force to obtain a total control over), nor send troops in Africa or Middle East.

          That allowed Russia to outnumber Germany on the East front, after having being heavily defeated too (while US and UK were also fighting in Italy and the Pacific...), and ensure supply lines to its troops. During the France campaign, one issue was to ensure enough supplies to the troops - because adequate ports were not available, and the railroads had to be rebuilt, and even locomotives brought from US. Remember, without supplies you can't win any battle.

          In the Ardennes Germany was greatly helped by the terrain, weather, and Allies mistakes (spreading the troops on a too large front). Still Germans were stopped well before their objectives, although in the beginning they outnumbered the Allied forces heavily, and just wasted resources that would have been more useful on the Eastern front - because US and UK troops never acted like Russian ones against the civilians....

      9. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        I am really really puzzled that you don't grasp the complexity difference between a modern fighter and say a Spitfire and can't figure out how incredibly simplistic your statement is.

        Lead times _are_ going to be inherently longer now. Every single country is hitting that wall, but not many would not have yanked Lockeed from the public teat by now.

        The incredibly stupid wastefulness of the F35 program does not change your bit of punditry from being laughably ill-informed and specious.

        BTW, the US pretty much never did field a tank that could beat the Germans ones. They fielded incredibly brave men who swamped the Nazis by numbers w inadequate Shermans and suffered grievous losses doing so.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ JLV

          Lead times _are_ going to be inherently longer now.

          They ARE longer now. I question why they are "inherently" going to be longer now? We have the huge time saving advance of CAD, the ability to go from drawing board to physical component prototypes via 3D printing.

          Flight testing seems to be broadly as time consuming as it has always been, the real delays are in fuck-witted procurement, painful multi-country collaboration, trying to simultaneously design every element anew, and persistent changes in specification and design. Not to mention political dithering. With the will and the funding, it should take no more than a few months to design a new fast jet, and a few months to build (EAP, the forerunner to Typhoon, went from design concept to first flight in about three and a half years, with very limited government or military customer support). You could argue that design work went on longer beforehand, but that would be true of almost any WW2 aircraft.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......@ JLV

            Hmmm, good points, in some ways, but methink you are giving too much credit to what CAD can achieve in what's always a R&D heavy endeavor.

            That said, I'd be happy to see us do something of what you say by essentially having mothballed factories ready to produce stuff on demand. If we had say 200 F36s (i.e. 35+1), with capacity to manufacture in a 6-12 month timeframe and if the pilots were heavily trained on the actual planes (by rotating several pilots on the same physical plane) and with simulators, who knows?

            Car companies have also managed to cut their design cycles for new models by quite a bit. Not quite to the 20-30s times, but still closer to what you say.

            But I don't think it's realistic to wait for something to happen and then rely on last minute design & manufacturing prowess to save the day. Your pilots won't be ready - again you are hitting a complexity wall - there is so much more you need to know about a modern jet's weapons and avionics than you would have needed to as a WW2 pilot.

            Prep models, keep them ready but don't mass produce them? Maybe.

        2. mmeier

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          Actually the M26 Pershing was a nice "Kitty Killer". Fielded late in the war but had the need been there it would have been available earlier. And the "lesser panzers" (Most german tanks where Panzer III and IV) could reliably be killed by the Sherman (Both 75 and 76mm variants). Or by the british Cromwell and the Comet.

      10. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        That might be possible when everything is new - tanks, although used a bit in WW1 didn't have much R&D behind them. Planes weren't anything that a chap in a shed couldn't build.

        Now potential enemies have planes as good as the F35's predecessors, starting the clock on 15 years development for the next generation is dangerous.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          Frankly cobblers. We could finish the TSR2 and have a plane better than the f35, it would be ours and it would take very little time. We could take the Harrier and beef up the engine and thin the wings a bit to make it faster - that wouldnt take long and we could keep using the Harrier until its replacement is ready (at least we were clever enough to redirect the engine rather than create some awful fan arrangement with flapping doors that will fall off and mean the manouverability of the Harrier can't be matched by the 'new' plane)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      The problem is that their primary purpose is not as a weapon system. Their purpose is to take large amounts of tax payers money and make certain that most of it is directed to a very small number of the right people. In the UK the right people are not only British but American/Multinational.

      After the apparent fall of the "Soviet Empire", it was necessary to quickly find a suitable enemy to keep the spending going - The "War on Terror" is ideal because it has no easily definable enemy, no clearly stated definition of "winning", no timescale, and mostly happens a long way away from the people who actually pay for it. Perhaps we will get back to business as normal with Russia and China (and North Korea?). Projects like the F-35, nuclear powered submarines, large aircraft carriers, etc., are ideal ways to soak up taxpayers money.

      Older readers may recall a vaguely similar, but smaller, cancelled project the BAC TSR-2. It was rumoured that the mean time to failure for the aircraft was shorter than the time it took to get to V1 takeoff speed down the runway...

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        @Tim99 good comment but I must pull you up on the TSR2 - splendid aircraft buggered up by political bungling - cancelled to buy the "cheaper" F-111 then that purchase cancelled and a make-do-and-mend approach with the Buccaneer, Jaguar and the Tornado for a few decades.

        1. Thoguht Silver badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          My goodness, the TSR-2! I remember making up a cardboard model of that which was free with a neo-fascist warmongering propaganda sheet that passed as a boys' comic back in those days.

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            Not 'Commando' comic perchance? Where all we ever really heard the Germans say was 'Aiee!' as the bayonet went in?

          2. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

            Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

            "My goodness, the TSR-2! I remember making up a cardboard model of that..."

            I wonder if your cardboard model was more reliable than the real thing.

            1. Dave 15

              Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

              The only issue with the real thing was the landing gear - everything else worked, and worked damned well. Even the landing gear allowed landings, although it obviously did need some strengthening work.

              As for reliability in general, don't forget we didn't lose any Harriers, or even have any Harrier 'down time' during the Falklands war.In fact they have proved to be be one of the more reliable planes in the Gulf

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

          "the "cheaper" F-111"

          The F-111 was ok, but the F-111B turned into exactly the kind of clusterfuck that the F22 and F35 have become and got cancelled (The F14 and F15 did come out of the R&D as "smaller, cheaper faster" aircraft though)

          The lesson learned from the F-111 experiences appears to be how to structure your program so it _can't_ be cancelled.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        "After the apparent fall of the "Soviet Empire", it was necessary to quickly find a suitable enemy to keep the spending going - "

        It was? Because GHB pretty much gutted the aerospace industry in the aftermath of Walls Fall, Everyone Goes Home For Tea when he cancelled so much of the military spending whole local economies were smashed flat.

        Don't take my word for it, just take a look at the map of Long Island, former home to Grumman, Fairchild, Eaton et al. All gone, almost overnight when those contracts were force majeured.

        I suppose if you widen your definition of "quickly" to 12 years you might have a point though.

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      These could be the 1st Genration of 'Peace Planes'.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      Is there any defense/military equipment company who isn't this incompetent? Seems that every project on both sides of the pond is a clusterfuck of epic proportions that just enriches the board.

      1. EarthDog

        Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

        No. They're all too important to fail.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      "Incompetence on this scale HAS to be deliberately 'generated' by the manufacturer(s), it's beyond credible that an even half way capable manager could allow things to get this out of hand."

      Considering the project started in 2006, in the thick of massive tech project screw-ups, I would have expected nothing different. For me, just a typical project from that era. WAY over on time and money, with crap for quality and documentation. Anything different would be a unicorn.

    7. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Let's make planes that can't fly......

      Incompetence on this scale HAS to be deliberately 'generated' by the manufacturer(s), it's beyond credible that an even half way capable manager could allow things to get this out of hand.

      It goes beyond that. It's called "gold plating" on a project. Start off with a need for a fighter plane. Specs are drawn up and passed around for review. The AF (and the other services are just as guilty) generals and procurement types come up with thing to add... capabilities, weapons, electronics. It ends up not being a lean, mean fighter but a hodge-podge thrown together the occasionally gets off the ground.

      There's promotions at stake here for those who "gold plate" designs and assurance of a nice fat cat job in the defense industry when they retire.

      Back decades ago before I got into IT, I was a tech writer in the defense industry I saw this mission creep and gold plating in tank design, aircraft, and even in one sorry case for a "portable sewing machine shop" that started off with 6 sewing machines, a tent, a generator and carried on a trailer to repair soldiers clothing... and issued to reserve units. Very quickly the price tripled as everyone added things. Similar things occurred with tanks and aircraft. The F35 shows that procurement hasn't changed much.

  3. veti Silver badge

    New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

    So to get this straight: the planes are intended to be grounded for 2-3 months every time they need a new part? And that is the target that we can't even get close to meeting? (And let's not even mention "shipping the damn' thing to Turkey, of all places, and back").

    Good grief, it starts to make the MiG-35 look attractive...

    1. MrXavia

      Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

      Starts to make sopwith camels look attractive!

      In all seriousness, by the time the F35 is ready for active deployment drones will be taking over the skies!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

        In all seriousness, by the time the F35 is ready for active deployment drones will be taking over the skies!

        This argument that the technology will soon be supplanted (plus the usual "we can't afford it") were the twin arguments behind the disastrous defence reviews of the late 1950s and all through the 1960s, that saw all manner of innovative British projects cancelled, including our own missile forces, aircraft like the Avro 730, P1154, TSR2, and also saw the stupid idea of combining domestic UK manufacturers into "bigger, more efficient" companies. Cancelling the TSR2 was a "cost saving" in the hope of buying the unproven, US made F111 (which of course never happened). Even the English Electric Lightning that became the mainstay of 1960s and 70s QRA defences would have been cancelled in 1957 by the Etonian morons of government, other than for the fact that it was sufficiently advanced that there were no cash savings from cancellation.

        Actual defence strategy has always been poor, focusing on fighting the last war, largely I suspect because politicians won't invest in capabilities for types of war that haven't been fought before, although if you follow the public side of defence think tanks, they do have a good handle on emerging threats. But when it comes to defence equipment, the despicable short termism, interference and sheer arts-graduate ignorance of politicians guarantees failure.

        1. Citizen99

          Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

          And now, remind me, WhoTF sold off the Harriers in favour of 'vapourware' :(

          Oh, of course.

        2. JLV Silver badge

          >This argument that the technology will soon be supplanted

          You're not wrong in criticizing new-flavor thinking. The USAF for example was way too quick to switch to no-guns/all-missiles in the runup to the Vietnam war.

          Yet...

          Whether missile-to-missile or dogfighting, there has been little real top-tier peers air-to-air combat, so even wrt guns vs missiles the tea leaves don't tell us that much. And missiles in the 70s vs missiles in the 2010s are not the same thing at all. Having Wild Weasels walk all over Iraqi and Lybian air defenses is not guarantee that they would do the same against an enemy fielding top-end SAMs with well-trained and motivated troops.

          You could also make the case that we are currently investing heavily in, very costly, last-war technology. Bit like producing a massive fleet of pre-Dreadnought cruisers in 1890s. Or mass-procuring battleships in the years running up to WW2.

          To me, it's a toss up whether gen 5 fighters are going to be useful in a hypothetical top-tier peer war (West vs China, not West vs Russia, btw). They may be . They may end up being totally besides the point however. Not least because China is so far away from Western power centers that jet fighters won't be too involved in non-peripheral combat zones unless they're carrier-based (with the F35 not being known for having a particularly long range).

          What's certain is that right now, the F35 is in the unpleasant position of being costly, unfit for purpose and presented as the only game in town.

          For now, we are only dealing with 3rd rate opponents who don't have credible air superiority/defense components. China is not in a position to challenge the West, yet. And Russia won't have the industrial capacity to do much in a serious conventional war.

          We have time, for now.

          My take: a) punish - hard - Lockeed by dumping its contract b) fire the military procurement folk that promoted taking so many development risks on a jack-of-all-trades airframe c) maintain R&D and training and keep the budgetary oomph to contain China, should the need arise d) engage with China to ease it into its role as future superpower while constraining its behavior to acceptable (ex: Spratley's) e) shift to designing gen 6 fighters and autonomous AA drones and design and field limited but varied 5.5 fighter designs, specialized to their roles and users.

          In the 2030-2040s we may or may not have to actively counteract China to contain it. Hopefully not. But investing massively in a plane that will be 30-40 years old at that point - even it that plane worked - is the opposite of hedging our bets and being able to flexibly respond to Chinese challenges. All the while signalling to China that we are willing to bleed our budgets to develop a system that only has one credible opponent justifying it - them - thus fueling any paranoia they may have.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: >This argument that the technology will soon be supplanted

            "jet fighters won't be too involved in non-peripheral combat zones unless they're carrier-based"

            China's DF-21D and DF-26 are more than enough to ensure that they won't be involved even if carrier-based.

      2. jgarbo

        Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

        Manned aircraft are on the way out. The Russians are already "droning" Su27s, no pilot, more fuel, armaments. The F35B is a bad copy of the Yak 141, which the Russians eventually decided wasn't viable. The Yanks of course jumped at it and produced a cement van with wings.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

          Manned aircraft are on the way out.

          That's what politicians concluded in the 1950s and 60s, albeit in the belief that guided missiles would make all manned aircraft obsolete. Funny how wrong that was - and a notable contributor to policies that trashed our entire aerospace industry. The latest belief that drones will supplant all manned aircraft is likewise nonsense. There are existing and will be new applications for UAVs. But those will be alongside manned aircraft, not replacing all of them. Just as guided missiles changed the nature of war, so are and will drones.

          But the result of that is that as drones become more combat-capable, the defensive strategies will turn to hitting their weakest links - probably comms and navigation, and then you're left to choose between drones flying on iffy inertial navigation, using terrain following radar and hoping that where you drop your bombs is the right place, or you go back to meatsacks strapping themselves into fast jets.

          Manned combat aircraft may well be on the way out, but I would suggest not within the asset life of any aircraft currently entering service, or even in early design. And even if drones are the future, why is our only real domestic project (Taranis) poorly funded, and still lacking continuing support from MoD? Where's the UK's ambition for an air superiority drone? Where's the heavy strike drone capable of launching serious scale bombs and air to surface missiles? Where's the high altitude, extended endurance version? Where's the dedicated maritime reconnaissance edition?

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Manned aircraft are on the way out.

          And the infantry man became obsolete in 1950 and everyone sold their mainframes in 1992.

          I've got this bridge ...

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

      And think they've got rid of F-14s because of the maintenance costs... or maybe because Grumman lobbyists were not good as Boeing and Lockheed ones?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: New toys are always more exciting than repaired ones

      "So to get this straight: the planes are intended to be grounded for 2-3 months every time they need a new part? And that is the target that we can't even get close to meeting? (And let's not even mention "shipping the damn' thing to Turkey, of all places, and back")."

      It does make one wonder what kind of contracts the "partner" countries are signed up to such that no one (other than possibly Canada) seems able to walk away, free and clear, due to what seems like obvious contract breakages.

  4. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Pork

    Pork everywhere.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Pork

      And yet: very little sausage.

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Both SLS and F-35 are to create jobs, not flying products.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Ah, so the USA does have a 'welfare state' but only for defence workers?

      1. nichomach

        No, defence companies. I think that when push comes to shove defence workers would be treated as disposably as any others.

      2. jgarbo

        Almost. A welfare state only for defence CEOs and shareholders.

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Ah, so the USA does have a 'welfare state' but only for defence workers?

        You only just figuring that out?

        Bill Maher has had that line in his act for nearly a decade.

  6. tempemeaty

    Might as well start learning Chinese

    I hate this situation...

    1. jgarbo

      Re: Might as well start learning Chinese

      Take heart. Chinese easier to speak than Thai.

  7. David Roberts
    Facepalm

    Money to buy new but not repair?

    Why does this remind me of wind farms?

  8. gregthecanuck
    Facepalm

    Please Canada... avoid this trainwreck.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Is it "fighter or flight" time?

      1. Scroticus Canis
        Alert

        "Is it "fighter or flight" time?"

        No it's "run like hell time" as the F35 does neither most of the time and neither very well for the short time it is "functional".

        F35 - the fuck-up that keeps on giving.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

    I think that sort of describes it all.

    I hope that there is some way for the UK to get out of this debacle but I fear that they won't even if there was a way out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

      I hope that there is some way for the UK to get out of this debacle

      Option 1) Conclude we need carriers. Cancel F35, then spend at least £2bn, probably more, taking the QE carriers back to the shipyard, and fitting them with cats and traps, and buying either F18 or Rafale M, since we wouldn't have time to develop our own naval strike aircraft.

      Option 2) Conclude there's no real use case for carriers in the sort of wars we want to be prepared for. Cancel the F35 orders, and sell the carriers to whoever's dim enough to buy them. Even then, who'd buy them as carriers when they can only operate the F35?

      Given the limited number of carriers we can afford, and the vulnerability to modern missile and torpedo threats, I'm leaning towards option 2. In terms of long range force projection, we could use them as helicopter carriers in low tech threat scenarios, but then we'd need the ability to project force by other means, such as more, working missile attack submarines, far more advanced drone capabilities. That would mean drones capable of in flight refueling to give very long range and long loiter time, but also with very advanced defensive capabilities to minimise losses.

      In many ways, we're stuck with the "F35 + crap carriers" mess created by the last three decades of politicians. Perhaps we should be more worried about the lack of any foresighted defence or equipment strategies, and the near total dependence on the US for major combat systems.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

        Option3) Use them as drone carriers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

          Option3) Use them as drone carriers.

          Why expose half of our entire navy to enemy action, merely to put up some lightly armed drones that the carriers don't have the control systems for? There's no drone currently available (or likely to be within a decade) that could carry the heavy weaponry of a modern carrier strike aircraft, and absent that capability, how could we justify the deployment of a carrier, a couple of destroyers, three or four frigates, at least one supply ship, and two attack subs, around 10,000 servicemen. And potentially a further handful of minesweepers and fast patrol boats if operating in (say) the Persian Gulf.

          With a drone, the pilot doesn't need to be above the target; If that's the case we would be better off controlling the UAVs from somewhere secure and a long way from the action, and flying the UAVs out of the nearest secure airfield. If that's not within range, use in-flight refueling to extend the drones range, either using existing air tankers, or drone-to-drone tankers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

            Is that half the navy? Given the cuts I think that might be all the navy, and even then only if we call up the rowing dinghies from the Serpentine as reservists.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

          Option 3 needs to be combined with option 1, as there are currently no V(S)TOL UAVs in existence or in development (apart from helicopter based designs like the MQ-8C Fire Scout with limited range and speed)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

        Option 4) get some AV8B Harriers... cancel the F-35 order and spend the money on the fall out from Brexit.

        After all - aside from North Korea - the main threat is domestic terrorism and I can't see a carrier helping with that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

          After all - aside from North Korea - the main threat is domestic terrorism and I can't see a carrier helping with that.

          I agree the carriers have very limited uses, but more widely there's still a case for a decent military.

          With defence assets you have to take a very long term view. The US (and UK) showed that its OK to repeatedly invade other people's countries to bless them with the gift of democracy. When Russia intervened in Georgia, or Ukraine, they were only following the US model. China's simply declared the entire South China Sea as "property of China", in breach of all established principles of intentional law.

          So it seems that imperialism and military adventuring is popular today as it has always been. Would you really want to base the UK's defence for the next half century on the assumption that a few UK-based bearded god-botherers are the only threat we need to prepare against?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: F-35 Normal state is TITSUP

            Would you really want to base the UK's defence for the next half century on the assumption that a few UK-based bearded god-botherers are the only threat we need to prepare against?

            No we must prepare for a simultaneous land war in Russia and China.

            Obviously bringing the Brigade of Guards upto a fighting strength of 1 billion will require some extensive breeding programs in the home counties.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Original plan. Deploy fast and fix in the field. New plan. Don't fix and buy another one.

    Another triumph for Lockheed Martin Shareholders.

    Remember folks this is just "defense theatre," as long as the US avoids getting into any serious arguments with a half way competent opponent.

    Of course US and UK tax payers may be a bit miffed to be forking out North of $ 1 000 000 000 000 for this

    Defense con-tractors.

    With the emphasis on the con.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crap planes = more profit for the 1%

    It's just a mechanism to move tax payers money to the rich.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Crap planes = more profit for the 1%

      Nationalisation ... just saying :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crap planes = more profit for the 1%

        Nationalisation ... just saying :-)

        Always worked sooo well before. And not just aviation. It was great sucess in coal mining, electricity, airlines, car making, railways......

    2. jgarbo

      Re: Crap planes = more profit for the 1%

      Show the rabble shiny toys and they'll pay for the joy.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Crap planes = more profit for the 1%

        "Show the rabble shiny toys and they'll pay for the joy."

        That would be the rabble of SW1.

  12. Rich 11 Silver badge

    They love it when a plan comes together

    “DoD risks overpaying the contractor for sustainment support that does not meet warfighter requirements”.

    I can hear champagne corks popping at Lockheed Martin. Someone's going to get a hefty bonus this year. And next. And the one after that.

  13. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Wrong methodology

    I know we said we wanted an 'agile' aircraft, but in this case we did actually expect some documents too

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Wrong methodology

      You might be on to something - "fail fast and fail often" seems to apply here

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wrong methodology

        "fail fast and fail often" seems to apply here

        "Fast" seems optimistic.

    2. nichomach

      Re: Wrong methodology

      On the basis that my experience of "deploy and then fix" has been "We've given your issue to the developers, who are in <time zone Y>, and we'll hear back from them the day after tomorrow", I'm not liking the chances of those magnificent men in their allegedly flying machines...

  14. Sanguma

    Fabsolutely abulous!!!

    Fabsolutely abulous!!!

    The next thing is to buy military issues of the all-new Screw-in Screw-on Stainless-Steel Condom (RTM Pentagon) together with the Fully-Automatic Nuclear-Powered Self-Propelled Nose-Pickers much in demand by all political parties to keep their politicians' noses clean, no matter what trough or orifice they have inserted their snouts into. (The TAO of politics - Troughs And Orifices)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > the US military doesn't have a complete set of maintenance instructions, and spare parts shortages are keeping 22 per cent of the fleet out of the sky

    Whilst I don't wish to be seen to be defending the flying money pit, and as insane as it sounds, I don't believe a 78% availability rate is anything unusual. In fact it's quite good.

    As a comparison the F22's availability rate is 46%. The Luftwaffe and the RAF appear to be similarly similarly boned.

    1. JamesPond
      FAIL

      "As a comparison the F22's availability rate is 46%. The Luftwaffe and the RAF appear to be similarly similarly boned."

      Bit out of date those reports from 2014 and 2015! One would hope things have improved and it's quite clear Britain has been able to bomb ISIS as and when required.

  16. PhilipN Silver badge

    F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

    I was told by a pilot - a real Top Gun type - who flew F-111's in Vietnam that their beauty was being able (50 years ago!) to maintain altitude parallel to Planet Earth but with the nose pointing down so they could blast to smithereens the selected targets with their onboard artillery at a high average kill rate.

    He gave credit to this capability for bringing the VC to the negotiating table within a period measured in weeks.

    If this was true it was a much cheaper option and much more effective than the millions of tons of bombs dropped by B-52's. In fact the two strategies bear no comparison.

    And the bomb makers would have been out of business in no time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

      "......He gave credit to this capability for bringing the VC to the negotiating table within a period measured in weeks....."

      Sorry?

      Was the VC 'pulled' to the negotiating table before or after the fall of Saigon?

      Or is this revisionist history at its best?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

        Top Gun = US Navy's Fighter Weapons School.

        FB-111 = US Air Force bomber.

        Original poster = apparently little knowledge of Real Life military.

        Don'cha just *love* armchair military "experts"??

        1. PhilipN Silver badge

          Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

          Don'cha just *love* armchair idiots who cannot read.

          Nobody claimed to be an expert.

          What I wrote was straight from the horses's mouth being a guy who had flown some of the 4,000 missions by F-111's into Vietnam.

          I did not say "Top Gun" I said "Top Gun type" in an attempt to help simpletons understand the nature of the guy who was speaking to me. Obviously the attempt failed.

          I did not report what the guy said as gospel. I said "If true....."

          And to those who mention Saigon" - why? I did not mention it as it was not relevant.

          The sole sensible response to my post mentioned Operation Linebacker which was also credited by the US as causing the re-commencement of negotiations.

          So the guy was not wrong. He gave greater credit (surprise surprise) to his branch of the military than was strictly justified.

          1. Mine's a Large One

            Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

            I'm not having a pop at you, (as you say, you're passing-on the words of someone else), but I'd argue that the guy was *completely* wrong.

            The F-111 in Vietnam did not use its gun.

            Even if it did, it wouldn't have been able to point its nose at the ground whilst "blasting to smithereens selected targets".

            Linebacker/Linebacker 2 totalled over 42,000 missions and dropping over 175,000 tonnes of bombs. The F111 certainly played its part, (and after its initial problems during Combat Lancer it became an excellent platform) but it certainly wasn't the miracle this guy is making it out to be.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re:The F-111 in Vietnam did not use its gun.

              What, not ever? *Never*?

              As for nose down and shooting, not for nothing but a WWII Mossy pilot colleague told my old man that when they fired the four nose cannon for any sustained time the plane *had* to be shallow-diving because there was a real danger the recoil could stall the plane in level flight.

              Not saying the F111 pilot wasn't spinning a yarn, just dialing back the nasty a bit.

              1. Mine's a Large One

                Re: Re:The F-111 in Vietnam did not use its gun.

                I didn't think I was being nasty, I was simply pointing out flaws in what the F111 guy said.

                In all of the books/articles I've read about the F111 in Vietnam, I've only ever seen statements saying it "was fitted but never used".

                The comment from the Mossie pilot is fair enough, but it again highlights one of our Topgun-type's innaccuracies... if the Mossie was in a shallow dive, then is isn't maintaining altitude.

      2. JamesPond
        FAIL

        Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

        "Was the VC 'pulled' to the negotiating table before or after the fall of Saigon?

        Or is this revisionist history at its best?"

        Clearly you have no knowledge of this history.

        The VC was never at any negotiating table. The US negotiated with the North Vietnam government at the Paris peace talks from 1968-1973. And yes the North Vietnamese were finally brought to agreement not by bombing, but by USA starting to thaw relations with USSR and PRC and NV thought they would lose support from their communist friends, plus US agreeing NV to keep their NVA in south Vietnam after the cease-fire.

        At the fall of Saigon, all the US land based fighting forces had left Vietnam 18 months earlier. All that were left were the embassy staff, a small force of marines and CIA.

    2. Mine's a Large One
      Facepalm

      Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

      Hmmm... was he in a pub? Sounding a little slurred? "'ere... telluwha' mate... I flew F-111s in 'nam I did... honest... <hic>"?

      The only "onboard artillery" the F-111A carried was a removable 20mm cannon, which although fitted to the aircraft in Vietnam wasn't actually used as far as I know. The aircraft was used to drop bombs just like the other strike types.

      I'd also love to know to what degree he suggested they could point the nose at the ground whilst maintaining altitude?!

      I don't think it was the F-111's re-introduction during Linebacker/Linebacker 2 that brought the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table...

    3. RPF

      Re: F-111 : extrapolating a couple of the above mentions

      Complete baloney.

      Fixed-wing aircraft cannot maintain altitude whilst pointing the nose down, unless you mount the wings with an extremely odd chord-line angle, or have vectored thrust. The F-111 has neither.

  17. phy445

    About the proportion that are grounded

    From the report "That 22 per cent represents only the average number of aircraft grounded by a lack of spares, so the total proportion of the fleet that can't fly at any given time is almost certainly higher."

    <pedentic>

    I'm pretty sure that by definition there is only a fifty-fifty chance the actual proportion that can't fly is higher than 22%.

    </pedantic>

    ps why aren't the comments rendering the <pendantic> html?

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: About the proportion that are grounded

      I don't think pedentic is a valid tag.

      1. phy445

        Re: About the proportion that are grounded

        Pedant

  18. hatti

    At the F35 garage

    It's not the parts mate, it's the labour.

    1. ChrisC

      Re: At the F35 garage

      The idea that the maintenance teams are so in the dark about how to fix problems that they're resorting to swapping parts out at random until they get the result they're after, does rather have a feel of back-street garage about it...

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: At the F35 garage

        Random parts swapping used to be the basis of IT - there's your angle.

  19. handleoclast
    FAIL

    Thunderbird 0

    I remember watching a video not so long ago (and I think it was linked to from El Reg, but my memory is a bit dodgy these days) of an VTOL F-35 landing.

    What immediately sprang to mind were the interminable Thunderbird launch sequences of the various vehicles. The re-usable filler that was used to pad the episode out when there wasn't enough plot to fill the time slot. On episodes with little plot you got the full sequence of going through the picture-entrance, sliding along the tunnels, the vehicle slowly getting to launch position, etc. On episodes with more plot much of the launch sequence was edited out.

    And that's what the VTOL F-35 landing reminded me of. Ths bit opens. Then that bit opens. Then the first bit opens some more. Then a third bit changes angle. Then... After about 5 minutes the damned thing managed to descend to a landing. Yeah, very good when enemy planes are around trying to take out your airfield. Really fantastic when the carrier launched an extended sortie and they're all coming home at the same time running on fumes.

    Worst of all, if that's what they have to go through for landing, they'll be fuck-all use at VIFing. Remember that from the Falklands news reports? The Harriers did so well because they could Vector In Flight. With a bandit on their tail they could pull a manoeuvre that took them above and behind the bandit without changing direction of flight. As game-changing as the Immelman Loop was in WWI, except any aeroplane could do an Immelman if the pilot knew how.

    As far as I can see, a VTOL F-35 would lose out to a Harrier. Badly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thunderbird 0

      > As far as I can see, a VTOL F-35 would lose out to a Harrier. Badly.

      They had an issue whereby the over large pilot's helmet got wedged in the canopy and prevented the pilot turning his head.

      Forget the Harrier, I am starting to suspect the F-35 would lose out to Ken Wallis flying Little Nellie. And he's been dead for several years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thunderbird 0

      What immediately sprang to mind were the interminable Thunderbird launch sequences of the various vehicles.

      At least Thunderbirds had a great Barry Gray theme tune. You don't get that with the F35.

    3. JamesPond

      Re: Thunderbird 0

      "As far as I can see, a VTOL F-35 would lose out to a Harrier."

      Supposedly the advantage of the F-35 is that it has stealth and has a high degree of intelligence integration. So it can work with other F-35s plus carrier radar, Type 45 SAMPSON radar etc. to build a picture of all combatants in the area. Aligned with over-the-horizon air-to-air missiles, it 'should' mean that a Harrier or Super Étendard won't know where the F-35 is in order to start a dogfight, so the F-35 'shouldn't' need VIF and can score a kill before the enemy knows it's there. Rather have an F-22 though.

      https://theaviationist.com/2013/09/19/f-22-f-4-intercept/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thunderbird 0

        so the F-35 'shouldn't' need VIF and can score a kill before the enemy knows it's there.

        That's fine if you're fighting a second rate air force, or bombing some tribals who have neither flushing toilets nor an air force. Against even countries like Iran, the carriers and their escorts are at risk from long range sea skimming missiles, radar jammers, swarm attacks, non-conventional tactics, and good old fashioned methods like mines, heat seeking and optical missiles that aren't affected by stealth tech.

  20. IsJustabloke
    Happy

    You know....

    The F35 saga reminds me of Philip K Dicks "The Zap gun"

    have a read, it's one of his better efforts.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Zap_Gun

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: You know....

      More like Clarke's "Superiority":

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

  21. paulc

    Numpties

    "Officials from one squadron said that the troubleshooting data are sometimes insufficient to pinpoint the issue with the aircraft, which can lead the maintainer to remove a component, order a new part from the contractor, and subsequently find that the new part does not fix the issue—a scenario that is both inefficient and costly."

    numpties... swap it with a known good item and see if the fault goes away...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Numpties

      "numpties... swap it with a known good item and see if the fault goes away..."

      That's what they ARE doing. But they don't have any spares and a the part order takes at least 3 months to fullfill. And then they have to order the next item when they find they guessed wrong.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Numpties

      From my days in the military, that's what you do. However, you either need parts at hand to do this or a couple of "hanger queens" to cannibalize from. Apparently there's not a stock of spares locally and "hanger queens" aren't either permitted or available. Way to go AF and contractor... nice plans but no parts. And putting the repair and parts depots in remote locations is just plan stupid, IMO.

  22. Andy 97

    Does SAAB still make that tactical fighter?

    1. Windrose

      They do indeed - http://saab.com/air/gripen-fighter-system/gripen/gripen/the-fighter/Gripen-E/

      That's the SAAB JAS-39 "Griffin" E (or Gripen NG). Take a note of http://saab.com/globalassets/commercial/air/gripen-fighter-system/pdf-files-download-section/facts/gripen-e-fact-sheet--en.pdf - in particular the "Full Engine Replacement" bit.

      For the amusement value I can mention that the Swedish version of IDG had a lengthish article on the JAS, including the detail that there still are backup mechanical computers in the thing, "just in case". Worth a read - https://techworld.idg.se/2.2524/1.174315/reaktionsmotor-12---bade-vacker-och-stark

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's the SAAB JAS-39 "Griffin"

        Also worth noting that this was built by Sweden, a country with a population below 10m. That's just over half the population of the New York metropolitan area, less than LA's population, and about the same as the Greater London area. If a near pacifist nation with a tiny population can build an aircraft that capable, you have to wonder how the US have made such a pig's ear of the F22, and then excelled that with the F35? And why the British are queuing up to buy the POS.

  23. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Maybe we are looking at it from the wrong angle?

    I mean let's think of where all the money goes to. It's the aerospace industry.

    What if those projects are not about getting planes, but about giving money to the aerospace industry. Considering that only nation states will buy those planes, surely it would be much more efficient to create an international company developing and building them.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't fix what ain't broke

    ..."which can lead the maintainer to remove a component, order a new part from the contractor, and subsequently find that the new part does not fix the issue"

    And the repair person, err, child, doesn't think to, you know, maybe change a different part and test the result instead? Sounds like the report short-changes the skills of the repair tech.

    MIC->AC.

  25. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    A tale of 2 carriers

    Near co-incidence in dates

    27th October

    USS Carl Vinson conducts F-35C flight operations

    30th October

    HMS Queen Elizabeth on second phase of sea trials

    Tail-hook F-35 operations with the former.

    VTOL operations courtesy of Merlins and other helicopters with the latter

    1. JamesPond
      WTF?

      Re: A tale of 2 carriers

      And the story just below

      "Royal Marines have stormed the beaches of North Carolina but don’t worry, it’s just an exercise"

      ....but not for much longer with the proposed retirement/sale of the Uk's two Albion-class landing platform dock ships, the UK won't have this capability or 1000 marines.

  26. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    You could ...

    ... buy a few extra F-35s for spare parts.

    -- Sincerely, Lockheed sales team

  27. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    F-35B jet ‘not a waste of money’ says RAF test pilot

    Now, before you all start down voting(!) - give this man his dues - he's got to put his life on the line to test it.

    F-35B jet ‘not a waste of money’ says RAF test pilot

    I still think it's a waste of money - we should have gone for a tail hooker as that would have meant a launch platform able to support a wider and more capable range of aircraft. For example fixed wing AEW giving longer range than using helicopters for the role.

    1. JamesPond

      Re: F-35B jet ‘not a waste of money’ says RAF test pilot

      Have to agree, the F35-B is never going to be an air-superiority plane, it is too heavy and doesn't have the payload capability. Also I don't know if anyone has noticed but our carriers do not have any missile defence, so they are entirely reliant up AEW, the F-35s and the Type45/23/26's for protection, none of which have large VLS capability.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F-35B jet ‘not a waste of money’ says RAF test pilot

      we should have gone for a tail hooker

      And not any F35 variant. The UK simply can't afford all of these cutting edge toys. Even in some hypothetical war with Russia or China, we'd be better off with (slightly) simpler aircraft that work, and that we have more of.

      Problem is, the idiots of the British government have left themselves no options, by their failure to progress a homegrown strike aircraft even to a design concept level. The Agile Combat Aircraft (that was the Typhoon's design concept) cost £25m back in 1982, say £50m in today's value. The MoD are pissing more than that up the wall in competitions for SMEs this year.

      The MoD are asleep at the wheel, as they always have been. The have around 60,000 civilian employees, costing somewhere around £2bn a year, but they won't find the few millions to develop Taranis, they're only just waking up to the need to replace the RAF's training aircraft, they've slept through the entire service life of the RAF's strike aircraft, they botched the options on carrier cats & traps, they screwed up helicopter procurement, they failed to keep airframe and avionics separate on the failed Nimrod MRA4, they've ended up importing the majority of the RAF's aircraft, they've allowed Airbus to screw around for a decade on A400M, they're complicit in the plans to sell off half the Royal Navy, they left the Army in 'Stan and Iraq with "Snatch" Land Rovers that were totally unsuitable for the regular forces needs.

  28. DougS Silver badge

    F35s will be obsolete by the time they are truly 'ready'

    All the former fighter jock generals in the Pentagon will continue to insist that pilots are necessary in fighters until the US or one of its allies fights a foe without the US' unlimited defense budget, who builds swarms of thousands of small subsonic drones with a single use solid rocket supersonic boost that rely on sheer numbers and kinetic impact to take out a whole wing of F35s and whatever they were tasked with protecting.

    That technology doesn't exist today, but it is inevitable to everyone with half a brain and you can bet China, Iran and others are developing it. If the US is, it is a half hearted effort being deliberately stymied at every possible opportunity by the aforementioned generals who are horrified that pilots are becoming obsolete, so when it happens they'll ask for a few trillion to close the "drone gap". And once again fall victim to F35 design methodology - let's make it a jack of all trades, thus insuring it is the master of none, costs way too much, and falls a decade behind schedule. And we'll be sure to throw in some not ready for prime time technology, like the F35's million dollar helmet.

  29. fobobob

    As an American...

    My sincerest apologies for ours having foist this thing upon yours.

  30. unwarranted triumphalism

    Another Obama failure

    I wonder what excuses his fan club are going to come up with now.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Another Obama failure

      Development was started in 1992, under Bush I, continued development under Clinton, and the F35A first flew in 2006 under Bush II. Tell me again how it is Obama's fault?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another Obama failure

        --->"Development was started in 1992, under Bush I, continued development under Clinton, and the F35A first flew in 2006 under Bush II. Tell me again how it is Obama's fault?"

        Please, please do NOT feed the trolls.

  31. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Royal Navy ships 'cannibalised for parts'

    "A shortage of spares for Royal Navy warships and submarines has forced the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to strip parts from the rest of the fleet, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41822221

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