F-35 HATCHET JOB-The Center for American Progress is a left-wing think tank. It is their job to discredit defense programs
The Center for American Progress is a left-wing think tank. It is their job to discredit defense programs. Did you notice that there was not one specific item mentioned to support the statement that the aircraft "doesn't work"? What exactly doesn't work? You are expected to assume that the statement is an obvious fact. Ask the customer: Crew Chiefs, Pilots, etc. See what they have to say about the aircraft.
It looked to me that the CFAP has a bone to pick with Lockheed Martin, as a corporation, and not just the F-35 program. Every single aircraft program has had early problems, including some of the most successful ever fielded. The F-35 is no different, except that it is already achieving mission capable rates (given it's state of development and capabilities) exponentially greater than any stealth program in history.
Steve, I have been living and working on this program for 9 years as a civilian engineer (not Lockheed, but a prime contractor). Before that, I worked on the F-22, B-2, F-117, and F15 in the USAF, as a boots-on-the-wing maintainer. In my current position, I interface with the current F-35 maintainers (Airmen, Marines, Navy) frequently, as it is a part of my job. I am one of the ones who has to answer field requests for Engineering Support, and visit the operating locations to support repair training. The GI's never guard their answers and they don't spout political talking points; they just tell it like it is. I have spoken to many, and almost to a man, they are happier than pigs in mud to be a part of this program.
Is it perfect? Nope. Is it ready for operational use? Not yet, but the USMC is on track for Initial Operational Capability next year (not 2020). I just got back from Yuma MCAS on a two-week visit. Interfaced with the maintainers and a pilot, who had just finished a day of flying Hot Pit Refuels. Three sorties back-to-back without engine shutdown. Said his butt hurt a little, but no other issues.
Anyone can build an LO (Low Observable) airframe. The question is whether they can integrate that airframe with engines, materials, and special structures to make them play well together. It's a finely tuned instrument. Without decades of corporate knowledge behind the engineering (know-how), LO systems fail. China did not gain that experience by stealing some basic design data. The prototypes (and subsequent improved "Production" models) lack some very fundamental design solutions to difficult signature problems. What they have rolled out looks kinda cool, but shows a lot of compromise, one way or the other, to achieve either a good signature design, or a workable aerodynamic platform. The integration of both is not apparent to me. They may overcome with sheer numbers or lower cost, but they will pay in other areas like maintainability, supportability, or durability. I would caution against touting Russian or Chinese superiority in this area. It just is not factual.
I work closely with the folks responsible for all of these things on F-35, and believe me, they are dedicated, take extreme pride in their work and accomplishments, and know who their customer is. I can't speak for the executives, but the Engineers and the Production Floor technicians only want to make the best possible product.
Mar 16, 2014