The F-35 isn’t capable of fulfilling the same role as the F-22, even if it weren’t two years behind schedule.
Funny how this came out after President Obama succeeding in killing off the ’22.
How, specifically, does the F-35 not fulfill the F-22′s role and is this really a problem?
To be fair, it appears that in 2006 President Bush wanted to limit the production of F-22s to 183. Yesterday’s vote limits production to 187, of which 143 have already been produced. Here’s a link (sorry that it’s to the New York Times to W’s position in 2006:
Well the most obvious one is that the F-35 doesn’t actually, you know, exist yet. It’s kind of hard to shoot down enemy planes with a fantasy.
More importantly the F-22 is an air-superiority fighter. It’s designed to shoot down anything that flies. It doesn’t carry bombs, and won’t do troop support missions, that’s why they’ve never been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The F-35 is designed to be a replacement for the F-16, the F/A-18, and the AV-8. It’s role is to basically be a light bomber with a good chance to win an air-air fight.
The thing that bugs me the most about this vote isn’t that we’re scrapping the F-22, it’s that we’re abandoning the idea of air superiority. The current plane we have for that role, the F-15, are all old. Old airplanes kill pilots. If we don’t replace them; either with new F-15′s or F-22′s we will eventually have to stop flying them. At that point we’ll have to rely on our jack-of-all-trades aircraft being better than anything the Russians, Chinese, French, or Swedes put on the international arms market.
It will probably mean that in the near future, for the first time in almost 60 years US servicemen will have to wonder if that plane in the sky is friendly. It’s been 3 generations since our troops have been subject to enemy air attack, and longer than that since they haven’t been able to call in air strikes. This will get people killed.
We need a replacement for the F-15′s, either the F-22 or more F-15′s. I have no real data, but my hunch is that restarting F-15 production will be about as expensive as continuing F-22 production. If you can buy a Corvette for about the same price as a Camry, why the hell wouldn’t you get the ‘Vette?
I’ll have a lengthy answer to that question posted tomorrow morning.
Well, AFAIK we’re still producing the Super Hornet, and I think we’re still making the F-15 for at least Korea…
The future may surprise us. The P-51 Mustang was supposed to be a “rhubarb” (i.e. low-level penetrator) fighter for the RAF
Stupid flippin TAB key. I hit that instead of shutting off Caps Lock, and engaged “submit” below. Arrgh. Very bad design there.
Anyway. The P-38 was designed as a high-altitude interceptor, the F-86 started out as a straight-wing, jet-powered Mustang derivative, and the F-4 Phantom II was designed for a Fleet Defense role. Not to mention the F-16 was, in fact, designed precisely for air superiority. Does no one else remember their slogan? “Not one pound for air-to-ground!” It’s not the Viper’s fault if it came out about the same time as the F-15 Eagle, which was all that and a bag of chips.
I’ll note that the Eagle was also designed as a pure air-superiority fighter, but one of the most useful marks has been the Strike Eagle.
Point being that the expected value* of a design occasionally turns out to be quite different from the actual result, to our pleasant surprise.
*Excuse the pun.
Along the same line as Casey, the Predator A had flown for 5 or 6 years before a very bright man said something like, “Hey, those Hellfires only weigh a hundred pounds or so.”
Ver’ true, Arcs. What’s amusing is that folks are bashing the F-35 for no good reason.
I don’t want to pick on DirtyBlueShirt, but he’s kvetching about a design which he says “doesn’t actually, you know, exist yet.” Which, BTW, is inaccurate. While the Lightning II is not in full production, enough copies exist to produce a healthy amount of data. While the F-35 doesn’t have all the bleeding-edge goodies of the F-22, that doesn’t mean the former is worthless.
Let me refer to a comment I made on Stephen’s previous F-22 post, wherein I cited many examples where the intended design and on-paper specs for an aircraft did not reflect the eventual utility of said aircraft. It is quite possible that the performance of both the Raptor and the Lightning II will be chock full of surprises.
Let me also point out that during the Vietnam War the F-4 Phantom II was in many ways technically inferior to the MiG-21, which does not include the operational limits placed on US Air Force/Navy/Marines aviation. Despite that, the Navy TOPGUN program (and later AF RED FLAG) introduced new training and doctrine which not only adjusted for technical deficiencies, but created a highly advantageous kill ratio for the US Navy.
The Navy faced a similar situation early in WW2 in the Pacific. For at least until 1942, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was the best carrier fighter on the planet, and the Imperial Japanese Navy had some of the best naval aviators to drive them. Both on paper, and in reality, the F4F Wildcat (originally a biplane design) was outmatched by the Zero. Despite all this, the Wildcat enjoyed a 6:1 kill ratio in 1942. Why? Superior tactics such as the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thach_Weave"Thach Weave and what later came to be known as “competitive strategies;” pushing your known strengths against known enemy weaknesses in a consistent and systematic manner.
In this case:
-Maintaining an indicated air speed of at least 350mph, at which point the non-boosted controls of the Zero tended to stiffen up, negating much of its maneuverability.
-As a follow-on to above, taking advantage of dive and shallow “zoom” climb speeds of Allied fighters to negate the dogfighting advantage of the Zero. Zip in, hit ‘em hard, zip out.
-Do not, EVER dogfight (eg air combat maneuver) a Zero.
-Noting that the Zero lacked self-sealing tanks and pilot armor vs. inclusion of same on modern Allied fighters. These features enhanced the survivability of Allied fighters when they properly employed the above hit’n'run tactics.
To repeat: such competitive strategies and superior tactics resulted in a 6:1 kill ratio with a fighter that -according to specs, on-paper analyses, and recorded tests- should never have survived in the same air space as the A6M.
Food for thought, one respectfully submits, for those who consider the F-35 a “dog,” and the F-22 to be unbeatable…
Technology saves lives; training and doctrine win wars.
Cutting the F-22 though painful is probably the right call given the circumstances. Until recently, the Air Forces top man has ALWAYS been a fighter pilot. That is significant as they have, in my opinion, a somewhat skewed focus on what wins today’s wars. Our strategy depends heavily on the logistics in supportingour ground troops kicking in doors , and strike fighters putting bombs precisely on target vs. downing enemy MiGs..and the fact that we STILl don’t have a new in-flight air-refueler speaks volumes about historically misplaced priorities. The newest KC-135 in the fleet rolled off the assembly lines in the early 1960s and are approaching 30,000 hours per airframe is a much more urgent matter. It doesn’t matter how many fighters you have if they can’t get to the fight, my friends. It should be particularly telling that the F-15Cs–the jet the F-22s is meant to replace– have spent more time doing NATO Exercises in Iceland than combat sorties in Iraq and Afghanistan, due to the nature of the conflicts with non-state players. I guess the Air Force has learned that we probably shouldn’t ask fighter pilots what the Air Force needs as most of them probably don’t appreciate the 20+ missions that takeoff daily to enable them to fly one three-hour air superiority flight in a combat zone. Many times the sexiest aspects of an organization aren’t necessarily the most critical. I think they got this one right, given the nature of our post-Cold War era priorities and conflicts…
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