First of all, USAF do not need the fighter. The F22 is much better and for conflits that are 90% of post second world war clashes, they have the F15, F16 and A10. Are the best ones against ISIL, or in a "Dream War" against China, Russia or North Koreia. And there's lots of fighters and other planes in AMARG.
|Fig.1 - USAF is trying put out of service for several years the A10. Today the CAS plane is a super star against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Here it is a fly by a F15E for more a target.|
For the Navy, a naval version of the F22 was the best option. Since F8 Crusader all the fighter are made with two engines for more safety in fly over the sea. The USMC is a different case. Like they have the AV8 Harrier, the F35B was acceptable but not more than 10 by a ship like USS Wasp. The rest of the air wing, Harriers and a AEW version of Osprey. Instead will have only F35 B and helicopters. Hum, what about Falklands War teachings? Not for US Navy or USMC...
|Fig.2 - The Naval version of the F22 was the best option for Us Navy, to convencional carriers, of course. Today all the F35 Program is much expensive, and the fighter is half of the F22 in all aspects. And the assembly line is now close.|
As i said the USMC needed a better fighter, not only for fleet protection but also for air strikes in save distance and without the IR problems, subsonic velocity and weapons and fuel limitations of the Harrier. Today, F35B is better in all aspects than harrier. And so is the only F35 declared operational. So, why i think the Harrier it's needed? Much cheaper operational costs, "arrives and spares" for Afghanistan and if theres an atack like 2012 in Camp Bastion were Marines lost 8 Harrier, the budget with F35B will be much high.
|Fig.3 - The Taliban atack at Camp Bastion. If instead of 8 Harriers the loss were 8 F35B the budget was "only" Us$ 832M (not including the engine).|
Back to F35 A and C, the result for now is not what LM and USAF said: a Multi-Mission fighter. The truth is that F35 is an interceptor like F106 Delta Dart was in air to air missions, and a long distance atacker in air-surface missions. Why? Let's go to the common sense: The F35 is a stealth fighter but when we talk abou IR it not makes the same effort. like we can see in the exaustor. So, when all the fighters today have a IR detector with a range of 30 Km, F35 will lose the advantage of a weak radar signal. The same in a surface atack, with aggravating that a save altitude always will be above 6000 meters because of MPADS.
Fig.4 - Exaustor of F35 is like the ones in a F15 or a F16. In a dogfight the fighter loses the advantage of Stealth, because IR is detectable by IR Sensors. Maybe someone should ask LM and USAF why they say that F35 could make CAS like an A10 or AIR to AIR missions like F15 and F16.
F35 need all new tactis, after de several problems solved, of course. F35 will always be a complement to other fighters and atack planes. Maybe will be after the righ corrections the new F4 Phantom II. But today is a fighter under development with lots of mistakes from LM and USAF. They need to sell so the F35 is better than all the others in everything. Its´s a lie. Israel that is one of the main nation in all the F35 process, explain:
Fig.5 - Israel plans to buy 33 F35 but only LM talks that IAF will replace the F15 and F16. But how 33 fighters will replace 158? Israel talk a complete different language: The IDF will make an upgrade to F15I and F16. And the country still talks about 24 F22. So, F35 is not so good after all. http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/israel-plans-to-buy-over-100-f35s-02381/
For Israel the F35 will give to their air force things that today they don´t have: A stealth fighter, a longe range plane in air to air and atack missions and a complement to other fighters and atack planes. IAF only last year retired their A4 Skyhawk, and F15 and F16 are in use since de 70/80 (in recent news the hipothesis of Israel not buy the F35 is advanced by "air cosmos" because LM refuses to give IAF the fighter codes http://www.air-cosmos.com/israel-pourrait-reconsiderer-l-acquisition-de-f-35-64389 ). But of course, LM and USAF have also some questions to response to tax payers: If F35 is so good why is USAF testing other cheap and FAC/CAS options like Ov-10 Bronco? And they say that A10 is obsolent? Yes, Ov10 is a much more modern aircraft, lol.
Fig.6 - Ov-10D was the most advanced of the Bronco. USAF never had this model that was from the USMC. After members of USAF and USMC protested when the Ov-10 was withdraw from active service, the USAF several years after, is testing the aircraft for a cheap FAC/CAS. To the Afghanistan air Force the US bought the Super Tucano, made in Florida.
But, let's go for another way. For example Netherland was a budget for 35 F35, and today have 2 in Edwards AFB. The defence minister say that F35 will replace F16. Ok, all NATO nations make Baltic Air Police Missions, and supose that in 2022 the 322 sqd of RNAF with the F35 block 3f is in that mission. If the fighter was lose in dogfight simulations with an F16, what about the Su27/33/34/35 etc, that are regular opponets in baltic skies? Hum, that should be interesting...
And is the F35 a flying wreck? No, is a fighter in a development process. The starting point was different from the F22, and the inicial budget was much lower. In time the amount of money increased and the level of sophistication has became much higher. But some mistakes were from the design, the sarting point and the need of the Navy and Usaf to have a stealth fighter with the idea of replace F16 an F18. Today the original plan is the same. But how if the price is so high (acquisition and operational costs) and the aircraft is not so good in some missions? LM and USAF think that costs will fall down after the problems be solved. The F4 was like this in the 60s and in the end was one of the best airplanes in the wold. It is possible, but how many millions are need? The F35 is a "fat plane", a mach 1,6 fighter and with a large exaustor exit. Correct this will keep the stealth characteristics? All are challenge to LM, USAF and other users.
Fig.8 - The F35 versus F16 was a confusion. After the explanations of the test pilot, LM and USAF came with words that not prove anything (http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/can-the-f-35-beat-the-f-16-after-all/ ). Equipment, Paint, Software? In a dogfight? And the HOTAS was invented why? The bigger level of information in the Hud? The reason is know: when a pilot is in a dogfight the hands shoul be in the commandos and the look forward. BVR is a diferent story, and theres a huge advantage for F35 if properly used.
But F35, beyond the problems, is a victim of a disastrous strategy from LM and USAF. One proof? Look how for example the Norwegians explain the operation and new tactics need for the F35 for example in a dogfight (http://theaviationist.com/2016/03/01/heres-what-ive-learned-so-far-dogfighting-in-the-f-35-a-jsf-pilot-first-hand-account/). Make a comparison with what LM and USAF say and write, and the explanations about this and others situations about the fighter (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3148585/Pentagon-say-reason-expensive-fighter-jet-F35-lost-dogfight-F16-40-years-ago-did-not-special-coat-stealth-paint.html). And the "fan club" of the F35 doesn't help at all (http://fightersweep.com/2548/f-35-v-f-16-article-garbage/). If we read the inicial article and the words of the test pilot, the true and best response came from Norway, not USA, USAF LM or some US Military. And that is the real problem (https://medium.com/war-is-boring/test-pilot-admits-the-f-35-can-t-dogfight-cdb9d11a875#.9y992qvtc).
Fig.9 - F35 is fighter with potential. It needs time to correct the problems, make the necessary changes and become a great fighter. With so much money spent is the only way. But is necessary prudence. Arrow and Tsr were also great and never see the day light.
After all, the A10 is in USAF for more 6 years. F16 and F15 will be upgraded and F35B is now operational. Israel is doing the same. The Navy have more EF18 and there's a Super Tucano build in the USA (were the USAF tested a cheap CAS/FAC). Maybe the pressure to have a fighter that is still under development is smaller thanks to these situations and there's time to make the necessary changes in the F35 to make him a great fighter in the best traditions of F4 or F14. And time is what F35 need righ now. It will help a lot if LM and USAF shut up (and work to resolve the problems of the plane instead of sending sand to the eyes of the taxpayers). The other NATO costumers, well, that's a subject for another article.
Fig.10 - The manufacturing line of the F35. Cancellation of the all process it would be catastrophic to LM, USAF an NATO partners. The fear of all is that Congress or US governement cancel all by pressure of the taxpayer or some political tendencies. But the hurry to make the F35 operational may be a biggest mistake if the fighter continue to collect mistakes.