16 October 2015

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

It turns out that Lockheed-Martin and the Pentagon are adding insult to injury, and requiring that F-35 customers fund software upgrade laboratories, because these will be the only entities capable of maintaining the aircraft.

So in addition to everything else, the JSF will be a "forever" source of revenue for LM, while ensuring that foreign operators will never develop expertise necessary to be a competitor: (Paid subscription required):
Foreign air forces using the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are being compelled to build and fund $150 million software laboratories, based in the U.S. and almost 50% staffed by U.S. personnel, that generate data crucial to the fighter’s ability to identify new radio-frequency threats.

This regime is more stringent and far-reaching than earlier U.S. fighter export deals. Those usually withheld key software — known as source code — from the customer, but in most cases allowed local users to manage their own “threat libraries,” data that allowed the electronic warfare (EW) system to identify radio-frequency threats, with in-country, locally staffed facilities.

For the U.K. in particular, the reliance on U.S.-located laboratories looks like a pullback from its earlier position. In 2006, concern over access to JSF technology reached the national leadership level, and prompted a declaration, by U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, that “both governments agree that the U.K. will have the ability to successfully operate, upgrade, employ, and maintain the JSF such that the U.K. retains operational sovereignty over the aircraft.”

That promise seemingly contrasts with the severe limits now being imposed on non-U.S. access to the system.


Another source close to the U.K. user community notes that Lockheed Martin has advertised the capability of the “fusion engine” — the software that combines inputs from different sensors and datalinks — to identify targets and implement rules of engagement automatically. But if the logic of the fusion engine itself is not understood at the U.K.’s operational level, he says, “You can imagine that this slaughters our legal stance on a clear, unambiguous and sovereign kill chain.”

The restrictions are also likely to be cumbersome. By contrast, “Swedish air force Gripens are often updated between sorties,” a Saab spokesman says. Signals intercepted and recorded by the fighter’s EW system on one sortie can be analyzed and the system updated in hours.
If this sounds like incompetence, it's because you do not understand the goal of the program.

The goal is maintaining and extending US hegemony in the weapons market, so that they have money for overpaying retired generals as "consultants".


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