DOD Terminates Contract For Alternate F-35 Jet Engine - Update
Source: RRT News
The Department of Defense or DOD said Monday it has terminated the contract awarded to a team comprising General Electric Co. (GE: News ) and British engine maker Rolls Royce Group plc (RYCEY.PK: News ,RR.L: News ) for development of an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
The DOD said the GE/Rolls Royce team was issued an order to stop work on the F136 Joint Strike Fighter or JSF engine contract as it was assessed as "unneeded and wasteful". The DOD noted that the stop work order ended the expenditure of $1 million per day on the extra engine.
The stop work order was put in place pending final resolution of the extra engine's future in Congressional action on the fiscal 2011 budget. However, the Congress did not include funding for the engine in the fiscal 2011 budget that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 15.
The Joint Strike Fighter is being built by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT: News ) and is expected to replace a range of aircraft including the A-10, F-14, F-16, AV-8B Harrier, Sea Harrier, and F/A-18.
11. They have actually asked that it be killed for several years
In these economic times, even Senators, who are generally great, have supported the engine if it or parts of it are made in their state. (Sherrod Brown and John Kerry have been as wrong as Boehner on this - their reason is jobs for their constituents)
3. Now if they'll just cancel the Joint Strike Fighter itself, we'll be golden.
The thing is ridiculous. We'd get better value out of making a new version of the AGM-88 HARM, more suited to use with the F-22 Raptor, and thus making that our go-to aircraft for integrated defense suppression missions. And rebuild the rest of the fleet with upgraded avionics.
13. The AGM-88 HARM is an anti-radiation missile. It's used to kill air defense installations.
In other words, surface to air missile sites. One of the rationales being used to push the Joint Strike Fighter is providing a stealthy airframe for use in general operations, including suppression of enemy air defenses, what is known as "wild weasel" missions.
Catch is, we already have the best air superiority fighter on the planet, which is also much stealthier than the JSF will be. So why not equip it for air defense suppression missions, at a much lower cost than the $135 billion pricetag of the JSF? Yes, it will have a somewhat more limited deployment, since we only have a certain number of F-22s. But most US strike operations are not in countries with integrated air defense systems that would require advanced stealth tech to defeat.
Even for those where they are, we have the F-22 Raptor for air combat and potentially ground strike missions, the B-2 for ground strike missions, and advanced radar jamming and electronic warfare aircraft. Scrapping our ENTIRE airborne fleet--including aircraft which are much better at specialized jobs, like the A-10 Thunderbolt--in favor of a one-size-fits-all approach is absolutely ridiculous and wasteful.
Air superiority is rather like outrunning a bear. You don't need to be the fastest man alive, you just need to be faster than the guy next to you. The only country with any credible even chance of challenging us in the air is China, and they're not going to.
That of course dates back all the way to the North American P-51 Mustang, arguably the best fighter plane of World War II, which sucked until the Brits started replacing the Allison engine with the RR Merlin.
I for one am frankly amazed that the air-minded brass in the Pentagon are not willing to cash in the F-35 and the F-22 in favor of an inexpensive, mass-produced, remotely piloted aircraft that should be able to surpass every measurable performace characteristic of those planes as soon as they are built, because the weakest component--the pilot--is written right out of the design. They also don't have to carry radar, life support, pilot safety, redundancy, or maneuver-inhibiting systems, which means they can carry more of what the brass really cares about: ammunition and fuel.
The price of such aircraft is cut almost in half from the beginning because the Air Force usually insists on the redundancy of twin engines for most planes as a pilot safety feature. No pilot means twice as many aircraft for the same price.
(Calling them the "weakest component" is no slur against our pilots. Humans have an inability to perform (or even survive) maneuvers that generate greater than 9gs for any length of time. There is no such limit for RPVs, which means that as soon as someone else puts them in the field, they'll fly literal rings around our piloted planes. The United States has actually enjoyed a similar advantage in every air war we've fought since WWII, because our pilots' dedication to training has always put them in better physical shape, which in turn has allowed them to dominate their opponents in combat.)
Edit: I should add that the Merlin was produced in the US under license during WWII, by Packard and perhaps others, but that's primarily because the Brits used it in virtually every famous plane that they built in that war and could not keep up with our demand as well.
8. You still have to keep some piloted planes in the back pocket.
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 05:57 AM by sofa king
Because as soon as you go RPV, the weak link becomes the communications system which controls them. So they are susceptible to jamming, satellite warfare, targeting the controller/observation planes like AWACS, and so on. Latency is also a problem, as the speed of light can add an annoying delay between the remote pilot's commands and execution (as any American who has tried to play a multiplayer video game on an Asian server has found out the hard way).
But nobody else has made a piloted plane that can touch the last generation of air superiority fighters like the F-14 and F-15, and our pilots are still the best, so those would likely do just fine.
Snappy comments aside, do you think the F-22 and F-35 were not better than the F-15s? I could not judge. I expect that the F-15 would have been fine for this "moment" in the 21st century, because we have no Soviet "enemy". Fantasies of air superiority fights are for another time.
10. I don't think the costs outweigh the benefits.
Both the F-22 and the F-35 are clearly superior to their predecessors, but that's in part because both of those aircraft were designed to beat the best planes out there--which were the US's previous generation of air-superiority and ground attack craft.
Cost is its own liability in warfare, however. Both generations of those planes are very costly and take time to produce, and therefore they are not expendable, and not fungible. With no toe-to-toe competitors worth naming, they're also sure to be dragged into ground-attack roles, where an RPV would do just fine with lest cost and less risk.
The global economy leads to companies having operations in other countries. (This is why two of my favorite Senators have backed this - Sherrod Brown and John Kerry, taking over from Teddy Kennedy, who got the original earmarks for this in 2007.) In the last year, Kerry has helped MA get some Navy contracts, but losing these jobs will likely still really hurt Lynn.
I understand why each of these three men backed this, but it is really not something good.
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