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Offline Armée de l'Air

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Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« on: September 24, 2010, 10:48:57 PM »
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Dutch worry over F-35 costs

The cost of the F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force faces a “considerable increase”.
 

September 24: In a statement to the Dutch parliament, the Minister of Defence Eimert van says that the cost of the F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force faces a “considerable increase” and that the impact on the F-16 Replacement Project will also be “considerable”.

Van Middelkoop said that since the last report in 2009 the average cost per aircraft has risen from $69.2 million (€51.4 million) to $92.4 million (€68.6 million). To offset some of this cost the Dutch Ministry of Defence has pushed back the first delivery two years from 2014 to 2016.

Current plans are for 85 F-35As to be purchased in two batches (57 and 28 aircraft) to replace the entire F-16 fleet of 100 aircraft. - Air Forces Monthly

It looks as if the whole F-35 idea begins its downfall...


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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 03:31:52 AM »
I've been in this country, monitoring JSF news since the beginning, and it's laughable.. even frustrating at times to hear the "experts". They've always believed whatever Lockheed told them, and then if Lockheed tells someone else something different, they keep using the old info. First it happened with the overestimate on what JSF sales will be, when they needed investment from industry. The quoted price has always been underestimated in my opinion. I hate to do it, but this latest news is more of "I said so". They're still not there yet.

This is a $100 million jet for the USAF, that means it will be at least €100 million for export customers, no matter how great the usd-eur exchange rate is. And I'm afraid the so-called "fly away" will be much more like €125-140, and then the teething problems kick in...

It will be like the Typhoon/Rafale "off-the-shelf, ready to fly" price tag, options which were prematurely "cut".

Delaying the deliveries is only a bandaid...which was needed anyway because of the cut backs due to the crisis.

The real solution will be...further cuts in numbers. This of course will mean a rise in the "per unit" price. Forget about the 28 options, 57 will be max. I predict to see two squadrons axed when the F-16 goes out. 57 will give three squadrons a "full" complement of 15 aircraft, the fourth squadron will have 12 (training). I wouldn't be surprised if that's further cut "because of the high unit cost", they'll say, while it's actually "we can't afford stealth fighters" plus "need to cut defense". Eventually we'll "end up" with 12 planes per squadron, and 8 for training ("there's this brilliant simulator anyway"). So: 44 aircraft.

Sign the contract, get on with it, 44 jets fixed price contract, it won't be too many, why not order now... finally get some orders in for domestic industry to get subcontracted ASAP, they could use it in these times. The RNLAF will have its F-35 no matter what, ok, then cut two squadrons... Nonetheless, we'll have the best fighter in the world...for the time being.

But... of course my suggestion can't happen, because we haven't got a government!

Sorry for the ranting!
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Offline shawn a

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 07:09:49 PM »
At least you folks aren't getting the "Rhino Beetle" version, are you?
Here's what Bill Sweetman had to say about the F-35B
"You design a jet with seven medium to large doors that all will have to open in a combination of high airflow, vibration, noise and heat. If they don't close perfectly after takeoff, the aircraft is no longer stealthy. If one of them won't open for transition, the jet can't recover to the carrier."
Consider yourselves lucky  ;)
Does anyone know if the -B model could make an emergency landing on a full size aircraft carrier?
Are any of the three models capable of supercruise? (What I'm curious about is-- after releasing the paltry few weapons they carry, will they be able to run away without turning on their afterburners and giving away their position with that bright yellow afterburner flame?) That damn flame makes a strong case for using the longest range stand-off weapons available.
My dos centavos worth.
Shawn A

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2010, 11:40:54 PM »
True, just the basic A is complicated enough!
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Offline Armée de l'Air

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 12:15:55 AM »
Well, whether the final price of the F-35 will be high or low it won’t matter unless one looks at the cost-effective side of it.
Personally, I see the whole program as just another Lockheed attempt to secure a production/selling contract. Nothing wrong with that. What I do have a problem with is the kind of countries this contract tries to attract. I mean, after all to judge, the JSF will presumably be a multi-role fighter a little less complicated then the F-22 (I’ll never believe that it will be better then the Raptor). But all in all, the F-35 will prove itself to be a lot more complex (not necessarily better) then its competition – i.e. JAS 39 Gripen, EF-2000, Rafale or SU-35/37. What I can’t figure is what can countries like Switzerland, Denmark, Holland or Belgium do with the F-35. Relatively small countries for which the JSF is wayyyy to much! Or another piece of news announced Romania (?) as a wish-for F-35 country. Hilarious, really. These countries not only have small air-territories that could easily be covered and defended by an aircraft as the Gripen for example, but also that their possible enemies are all but inexistent. What good will F-35 do to them?
A country should consider military contracts first and foremost out of their own defensive needs, or at least this was the thumb rule in the past. Or this idea dropped sharply from the priorities list?  :o

Offline RecceJet

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 05:41:12 AM »
I still think that when the F-35 finally does go into production it will be far more advanced than the current alternatives (JAS 39 Gripen, EF-2000, Rafale or SU-35/37). Any country could opt for these alternatives, but in my opinion it will lock them into an airframe that can't be further developed to the extent that the F-35 could be.

Unless there really is no significant technological difference between these alternatives and the F-35, I think it's better to wait and have an aircraft that is more advanced. The world is slowly moving to the ideology that quality is better than quantity as far as military hardware goes. A more advanced platform will naturally be more expensive, but I think we still have to wait and see if the F-35 is really as advanced as its price tag would suggest!

  :-\ I think my comments firmly place me on the fence! Anyone else want to be a fence-sitter on this issue? lol

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2010, 01:14:06 AM »
Well, whether the final price of the F-35 will be high or low it won’t matter unless one looks at the cost-effective side of it.
Personally, I see the whole program as just another Lockheed attempt to secure a production/selling contract. Nothing wrong with that. What I do have a problem with is the kind of countries this contract tries to attract. I mean, after all to judge, the JSF will presumably be a multi-role fighter a little less complicated then the F-22 (I’ll never believe that it will be better then the Raptor). But all in all, the F-35 will prove itself to be a lot more complex (not necessarily better) then its competition – i.e. JAS 39 Gripen, EF-2000, Rafale or SU-35/37. What I can’t figure is what can countries like Switzerland, Denmark, Holland or Belgium do with the F-35. Relatively small countries for which the JSF is wayyyy to much! Or another piece of news announced Romania (?) as a wish-for F-35 country. Hilarious, really. These countries not only have small air-territories that could easily be covered and defended by an aircraft as the Gripen for example, but also that their possible enemies are all but inexistent. What good will F-35 do to them?
A country should consider military contracts first and foremost out of their own defensive needs, or at least this was the thumb rule in the past. Or this idea dropped sharply from the priorities list?  :o

I agree, but to Lockheed any customer will do, no matter how little need they have for it. You have a point, but you could say the same for any military capability that's beyond any country's needs. Yes on your last comment, that's no longer the priority.
From your list I only can't understand Switzerland (although I have to say, I didn't know they were). But for Denmark, Holland and Belgium, it is primarily because of the NATO and EPAF framework. EPAF only concerns the F-16 at the moment, but it's a good success story that can be continued if all would be flying the same type. NATO... because basically to keep up with the major ally, the US, the airforces want the F-35 or else they may not count, and at least for the Netherlands I can say it wants to be a good ally and if that's through airpower rather than manpower, all the better. Romania also falls in that "good US ally" category, they'd rather get second-hand high-houred F-16s than seriously look at the Gripen for example. It's because of the strong US connection, military but probably even more political. You are right about defending small airspace, even that these countries don't need much defending at all (only a NATO mandated air policing capability, which does not have to be as large), but this is no longer about air defense as it was 20 years ago. It's now delivering air power within the NATO framework and that means taking part in strike packages under what is basically US command. So you'd want capabilities that really fit the US. That's why these air forces want them so bad. So yes, like you said having a cost-effective air defense capability for their own countries is not the primary goal. "NATO compatible" does not mean sh** to the US forces, if you won't be as stealthy as them, you don't get to play the game...

I am not a big fan of the above, but I'm afraid that's what it gets down to. The Netherlands doesn't need trident missiles either, but what else is an easier way for the Navy to be a valuable player on the US team?

Quote
my comments firmly place me on the fence

RecceJet, that's a great place to be, and I'd happily join you. You are right that it will be more advanced, although the others will come close in everything besides stealth. It's hard to say that it can't be further developed, when we hardly now what the future will be. I can see it further developed, just not the airframe itself and nothing custom/local, only with the OEM.

I'm hoping off to one side or the other, taking different perspectives.

But these countries can't keep doing that forever and they've already been doing that for 10 years, otherwise they would have started taking deliveries by now. More importantly, unfortunately there's only so much fence-sitting one can do. It's time to decide and put in an order, because the F-16s are getting old. Waiting for something better is a matter of decades really, waiting for it to prove itself could be done, but when is there enough proof anyway? Who will be developing something better in the next 25 years? Not including those from who these countries would never buy anyway. And even then, look at Italy, they had to lease Tornados, then F-16s, before finally getting enough Typhoons.

It's funny I agree with almost all arguments for or against the JSF. IMHO whatever you get, do it right and make it as cost- and combat-effective as possible. Unfortunately the Netherlands passed this point, it never fully explored the offset opportunities of other programs, and for the JSF, probably due to political indecision and lack of bargaining power because of that, industry didn't get a large enough share, and as everyone is cutting numbers, the few orders once envisaged won't be as big. So the business case is already shattered. Now the "combat case" will suffer as well, let's see.

It will probably be a great aircraft. Even the -B.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 01:19:32 AM by Admin »
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Offline Bomber

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 10:13:17 AM »
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"NATO compatible" does not mean sh** to the US forces, if you won't be as stealthy as them, you don't get to play the game...
Yes indeed; it does seem that this is the case, doesn’t it?
Having said that, I do see the subject quite complex. NATO is an alliance that has yet to include STEALTH capabilities in its signature. So, your above statement – in this light – falls a little short I think.
Personally I think that the whole JSF thing is a political statement before anything else. Why you ask?
I’ll tell you why: because if JSF was supposing to be the angelic intervention in releasing “old-dogs” (i.e. F-16s, F-15) and kicking the “new-ones'” butt (i.e. Gripens, Rafales, Flankers or Eurofighters) in an attempt at strengthening an alliance in need of strenght, it has terribly failed to do so as long as new non-member countries (with even less JSF related needs) jump into the fray…

P.S.
As far as Romania goes, don’t count on it. We are on the verge of collapsing, literally. There are so many socio-political issues in that country right now that it doesn’t even has the funds to offer our population a decent living future. F-35 in ROAF? That’ll be the day…


« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 10:30:57 AM by Bomber »

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2010, 02:28:02 AM »
Having said that, I do see the subject quite complex. NATO is an alliance that has yet to include STEALTH capabilities in its signature. So, your above statement – in this light – falls a little short I think.

That's the thing, part of NATO (not new member), you don't look at what other NATO countries bring to the table, it's only what the US brings that matters.

Personally I think that the whole JSF thing is a political statement before anything else. Why you ask?
I’ll tell you why: because if JSF was supposing to be the angelic intervention in releasing “old-dogs” (i.e. F-16s, F-15) and kicking the “new-ones'” butt (i.e. Gripens, Rafales, Flankers or Eurofighters) in an attempt at strengthening an alliance in need of strenght, it has terribly failed to do so as long as new non-member countries (with even less JSF related needs) jump into the fray…

Yes, but you also need to justify a huge investment to the public for replacing your ageing fighterjets. Half the population doesn't even agree that the air force needs expensive fighter jets. Now, think about that for a while, would you opt for new F-16s rather than going for something new and advanced the AF wants.

For those "new" countries, it's thus not the same as with Holland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium even. Plus they don't have large budgets. They are either very politically aligned with the US or US military when it comes to aircraft choice, or do seek the best value for money with all kinds of offset and lease terms. F-16 or Gripen basically.

Regarding Israel, you are wrong my friend, Israel has perhaps thé biggest need for a JSF of all "West-aligned" countries. I don't think I need to explain why. They'd take F-22s as well if/when they can get them.

As far as Romania goes, don’t count on it. We are on the verge of collapsing, literally. There are so many socio-political issues in that country right now that it doesn’t even has the funds to offer our population a decent living future. F-35 in ROAF? That’ll be the day…

Right, I'm not. I could see one or two programs of second-hand F-16s for next 30 years easily. And by then, Iraqis will be teaching you to fly them, joking. In 30 years, maybe some gap, and then eventually you'll get those F-35s second-hand as well.

However I do understand why they want to buy into the F-35 program, you still have some decent aircraft manufacturing, right? Might be enough for someone to spend a lot of your limited GDP on it... maybe in 10-15 years, when there's another EU-zone economic boom?
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Offline shawn a

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2010, 08:52:29 AM »
Yeah, the F-35 won't need an alternate engine, and the F-110 won't need a gun....
The Dutch are doing damn well to worry over a slow, fragily stealthy, and lightly armed, expensive combat aircraft.
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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2010, 07:29:03 PM »
And it looks like the Brits have formalized their worries, too--jumping on another horse by switching to the -C model. I wonder how this will affect the USMCs plans? Is this program falling apart because of costs?

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Re: Dutch worry over F-35 costs
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2010, 12:33:20 AM »
I think the British decision has more to do with the government's need to cut back spending in every area since the country's debt has spiralled out of control because of the wars, bail outs + recession. Big ticket defence procurement programmes are easy targets. So I'd say no to your last question, although the high price tag is of course a factor, it could have been any fighter... so hypothetically, for example if they opted to get navalized Typhoons, they would have cancelled the program or if it would have been Super Hornets in the first place, the number would now be cut back or they would have cancelled the EW capability or something.

By the way... is that the final decision? Because I read a lot of speculation regarding this, but I haven't heard/read the final decisions yet.

USMC still wants to carry on with smaller carriers which can't support conventional carrier landing, right? So I don't think it will affect the USMC's plans for the -B version.

However I do think the USMC should also reconsider. It needs a carrier-borne CAS fighter which can forward deploy, basically it needs a better Harrier, which the F-35B set out to be, however this stealth makes it just overly complicated, and goes beyond their needs. It needs another option for that. For the stealth fighter and interdiction roles it can go with the -C just like the navy, and I think they eventually will. But for CAS, the F-35B doesn't make sense.

Australia is worried that UK cutbacks in JSF number affects the F-35A price tag... that surprised me a bit, I thought Australia was not so worried about costs (M1, C-17, Super Hornet, SH-2G fiasco). Maybe someone explain? I have to say, Australia is the only one with an effective stop-gap solution compared to most others. So it's at least really working on those JSF worries, not just ignoring them as the Dutch government/airforce does, imho. Because Shawn, it's unfortunately not those with the power who worry about it.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2010, 12:37:30 AM by Admin »
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