27 September 2008

JSF Program Managers Get Stroppy

It appears that in some computer simulations of the JSF versus late model SU-35 fighters, the F-35 got clubbed like baby seals.

All in all, this is not particularly surprising. It's a redux of the F-105 (Lead Sled) vs. the MiG-21 of the Vietnam era.

The MiG-35 has a better power to weight ratio, wing loading, and air to air weapons load out, the F-35 carruing only 2 AMRAAMs because the USAF doesn't want a comparison with the F-22, a white elephant that they are still lobbying for.

Needless to say, the Airforce brass is thoroughly unamused by these reports, and they are mounting a PR counteroffensive, including claims that the simulation was an apples to oranges comparison, because the F-35 was carrying all of its weapons internally.

Dude, you carry the stuff on pylons, and you lose stealth. If you lose stealth, you will be clubbed like a baby seal, it's the only advantage that the F-35 has.

My favorite bit of this counter-offensive is this patently absurd claim:
"Advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access -- all before the F-35 is ever detected -- then return safely to do it again," said Tom Burbage, a Lockheed Martin vice president.
Considering that he is presenting what is called a "flaming datum", so named because a ship burning or sinking was how U-Boats, an early form of stealth vehicle, were determined to be in the area, and then suggesting that he can return to the area and make another attack, is absurd.

Something like 50% of all sub sinkings followed a flaming datum.

In any case, it appears that as part of planning for the dual role missile, A2A weapons carriage will be improved (paid subscription required):
The U.S. Air Force and Navy have begun talks to define the Joint Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM) intended to replace both air-to-air AIM-120 Amraam and anti-radar AGM-88 Harm beyond 2020 and allow the F-35 to defend itself against both opposing fighters and air defenses.


Separately, studies into “super-packing” the JSF’s bays to increase the number of weapons carried have come up with a way of loading six Amraam-sized missiles internally, according to the program office. This could be an option for later F-35 capability blocks.
So my guess is that the boyz in blue have seen the same simulations, and are looking to rectify the problem.


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