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Will the F-35 Lightning II be everything it's supposed to be???

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Valiant1:
This is the biggest (to my knowledge), most lucrative, multinational military contract in all history - the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.  From ads I've seen in military magazines,  it is second only to the F-22 Raptor.  It can attack ground targets with precision and shoot enemy fighters from BVR.  It can take off vertically from almost anywhere and do what the Harrier could never do - fly much faster than the speed of sound, carry internal as well as external payloads, and has stealth qualities.

But is the F-35 going to live up to all these expectations?  It's still in the testing phase and if I'm not mistaken, probably one of the longest testing phases in military aviation history.  It's not due to go into  service with the USAF until 2012 - I don't even know about the other countries.

So, what do you all think of the F-35?  Is this fighter going to live up to all the expectations or not? 

Webmaster:
I know that it will be overbudget, overweight, too late and full of bugs that will have to be worked out even after entering service. But well, what do you expect from a military aircraft development project. So when I think about the expectations that the people have who decided to order it, no, it won't live up to theirs, they are still thinking about a good, cheaper deal than the others and in-service date of 2010.

Secondly the industry, I think most will do fine and get their orders in, but on a country level I think the returns on investment will be dissappointing when it fails to get export orders and/or the US armed forces scale down their orders (to get more Raptors for example).

For the air force, I do think it will live up to their expectations. Speaking for the non-US customers, I am not sure whether it will also be possible to incorporate their wishes, since the US will be very careful about technology transfer on important components to make adjustments such as the software of the weapon operating system.

In terms of the aircraft, its specification and capabilities, although it will fit the requirements of the armed forces, I still think it will be dissappointing. For example, you say supersonic SVTOL aircraft, right, but most armed forces will just get the baseline CTOL version. Fly faster, supercruise is nice, but you'll see that the top speed will dissappoint in comparison with older fighters. Stealth, very nice, but you don't really need it on missions like Iraq or Afghanistan. SEAD is still important, even though you have stealth capabilities. External payload, nice, but there goes your stealth... so in theory it can carry a lot, but in practise it will only carry the few weapons that fit in the internal bay. So that will dissappoint as well.

And of course as an aviation enthusiasts, it is not the best-looking aircraft, and I think it even got uglier in the process of developing the production standard.

So yes it will be the best you can buy, but it will be expensive and won't be that great a thing.

Who's next?

Valiant1:
I myself, being an American, am a little skeptical about this new aircraft.  For some reason, my heart and guts tell me this is one of the political ventures for our top military bigwigs to put some money in their pockets. 
I think they forget that we need the best for our pilots, as well as our allies, but for some reason, I still think someone is making a whole lot of money in this deal.

On the other hand,  we're not sure yet, how this aircraft will perform.  It hasn't been tested in combat, whether air-to-air or air-to-ground.  So only time will tell.

You're probably right, Webmaster, about the F-35 not being as fast as its predecessors.  But we also have to remember that fast fighters and interceptors like the F-15, Mig-25, Tornado F1's and whatever else, can only sustain their top speed for a short time, while aircrafts like the new Typhoon, F-22 and F-35 can sustain speeds faster than the speed of sound for a longer period - definitely an advantage when you want to get to the fight a lot quicker, thanks to supercruise.

You're right also, most countries might just opt for the standard F-35, and that's not bad at all because it'll meet their country's requirements.  But countries like the US, England and Spain will definitely go for the VSTOL, obviously, to replace their aging Harriers.  We all know the advantage of VSTOL because when the enemy starts bombing your airstrips, where are you going to take off from? 

So my reason for being skeptical about this whole project is not so much the capabilities of the F-35 - that will remain to be seen, but  a political one - one against my own government - because even here, most ordinary average Americans know that our military bigwigs and politicians are up to something no good.

shawn a:
Graduating from high school, my mom gave me a Swiss Army Knife that was the biggest one they made. I loved it, and carried it everywhere. It was versatile, useful, and HEAVY. After a while I realized that the holes appearing in my pants pockets were caused by that knife. I got a smaller one with all of the blades I used often, and none of the ones I seldom used. It was cheaper, lighter, and my pants pockets started lasting as long as the pants themselves.
  The US Air Force, in it's infinite wisdom (read "folly") has decided to have the F-35 perform the CAS role in addition to all the other wonderful things that have been assigned to the platform. And save money by retiring quite a few A-10 squadrons.
  In my garage is my Bugatti Veyron, which can outrun a police helicopter, but I don't use it that way, I use it to haul manure from the local pig farm to my garden. I have an old dirty pickup truck next to the Veyron, but I can only afford gas for one of them, and I'd hate to drive to the pig farm without the potential capabilities of the Bugatti.
The F-35 is much like my first Swiss Army Knife, full of wonderful capabilities, versatile, useful, and HEAVY. It will wear a hole in the pockets of all American citizens. And when it does, the Air Force will realize that just like they have specialist people (medics, mechanics, pilots, sentries, etc.) they need specialist aircraft. The Swiss Army Knife approach to aircraft design is a daydream.
 Oh, if all the above confuses you, my answer to the topic's question is NO!

Webmaster:
Retiring A-10 squadrons has little to do with F-35 imho. Look at unmanned systems for FY2012 budget... 48 MQ-9 Reapers will be added. That's your CAS for the future.

In other words, you sold your dirty pickup truck [A-10], use your Veyron once a month [F-35], and direct the farmer to truck the manure to your garden by calling him from your office [MQ-9 System]. Now you don't need the towtruck guy [CSAR] when your pickup breaks down, you don't need a subscription at a nearby carwash to clean your Veyron [Base suitable for F-35 deployment].

The other thing: the Swiss Army Knife would be great, if your mom would also keep buying you new pants. But that's not happening. You love mom, so you blame the knife, because you know you won't need all of its functions. The airforce does not love government, so they blame mom for not giving more pants, so they don't blame the knife, because they don't know they won't need all of its functions.

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