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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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Gerhard Meyer

F35 - Is this the most expensive white elephant in military history?

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There are the massive overruns of the budget, the huge problems with the Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)  B version and also the aircraft carrier model, the C version. Can one really design an aircraft as a full blown fighter, a ground attacker, and flying from an aircraft carrier? I read the article just now with interest, but somehow I am just not convinced. I get the thinking behind the multirole version F15E, also the full blown fighter F22. I get the idea behind the F16 and 18. I don't understand the thinking with the F35. How will the A model perform against a fifth generation Sukhoi Su-57? How will it perform against a the 4th Generation Sukhoi Su-35, the Chinese J11, and dare i say the much smaller JAS Gripen 39? The guys at Lockheed Martin are very smart, I believe that. I don't get this plane. Not a pilot, but if you placed the F35 and a F15 in front of me I know which one I'd choose. I saw what the IDF can do with a F15.

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"Can one really design an aircraft as a full blown fighter, a ground attacker and flying from an aircraft carrier?".

It has been done: witness the F-4 Phantom, and the FA-18 Super Hornet.

Still, I support your advocacy for the SAAB JAS Gripen- superb aircraft.

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On 4/16/2018 at 6:59 AM, Gerhard Meyer said:

There are the massive overruns of the budget, the huge problems with the Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)  B version and also the aircraft carrier model, the C version. Can one really design an aircraft as a full blown fighter, a ground attacker, and flying from an aircraft carrier? I read the article just now with interest, but somehow I am just not convinced. I get the thinking behind the multirole version F15E, also the full blown fighter F22. I get the idea behind the F16 and 18. I don't understand the thinking with the F35. How will the A model perform against a fifth generation Sukhoi Su-57? How will it perform against a the 4th Generation Sukhoi Su-35, the Chinese J11, and dare i say the much smaller JAS Gripen 39? The guys at Lockheed Martin are very smart, I believe that. I don't get this plane. Not a pilot, but if you placed the F35 and a F15 in front of me I know which one I'd choose. I saw what the IDF can do with a F15.

One factor that the U.S. has lost track of is: what capability do we need (can we use)? Do we need stealth? How likely is it that we will ever need a stealth aircraft? My opinion is that we will never actually need one - lots of technology could be useful but it is easier to use standoff missiles, drones, etc to wipe out an enemy air defense system. Then aircraft with pilots can go in. Simply because we can build a system with some technology does not mean that we need it - we have gotten along pretty well without the B-70 Valkyrie. Today in Iraq and Afghanistan - we could fly B-24 bombers. They would not face the anti-aircraft that they faced in WWII and could operate just fine. 

Of course the military loves to claim that we must be able to go up against a "peer" like Russia or China. When have we battled them in an unrestricted war? We did face an enormous anti-aircraft system in Vietnam - but today we have cruise missiles, drones, etc etc. We would not send aircraft with people in them if we had standoff weapons. 

We would be FAR SAFER if we had numerous F-18s, F-15s, and F-16s than if we had a tiny number of F-22s and F-35s. We are starting on the B-21 and will be able to afford about 5 of them. 

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