New Pentagon issues: fifth generation F-35 misses target

As of November 2019, according to the review, the aircraft had 873 software defects compared to 917 as of September 2018. This data leads agency Bloomberg

Source: STMED

In his annual report, Pentagon Operations Testing and Evaluation Director Robert Behler noted numerous shortcomings in the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, including more than a dozen of them marked as “required to be addressed” in the document.


Subscribe to Defenseweek channels in Google News or Flipboard. Available for App Store and Google Play!

According to Beler, they can affect the combat readiness of the aircraft and the issues of using the F-35 if they are not corrected in a timely manner.

As of November 2019, according to the review, the aircraft had 873 software defects compared to 917 as of September 2018. This data leads agency Bloomberg.

F-35 in all its variants is equipped with a 25 mm gun. However, if in models for the Navy and Marine Corps the accuracy of firing of guns mounted outside the guns is estimated as acceptable, in the version for the Air Force with a gun in the hull it was unsatisfactory due to distortions of the mounts, which, as it turned out, also crack.

“Despite the fact that the F-35 developers are working to eliminate the existing shortcomings, more and more new problems are being discovered, which leads to a slight decrease in the total number of discovered shortcomings,” the report says. It is added that there are still “many significant” unresolved issues. In addition, the document also fixes flaws related to cybersecurity issues in the operation of the F-35.

Moreover, the report has not yet reflected the results of the latest F-35 tests, during which armed conflicts with Iran, North Korea, China, as well as with the best air defense systems of Russia were simulated.

Nevertheless, the Bloomberg agency notes, despite such conclusions, the US Congress has steadily increased purchases of F-35s in recent years, adding 11 to the Pentagon’s requests for 2016 and 2017, 20 in 2018, 15 in 2019 and 20 in 2020 .

This fighter had a great influence on potential buyers in the arms markets of the world. At the end of September 2019, the U.S. aviation industry delivered about 500 F-35 aircraft.

“Although we have not yet seen this report, our F-35 aircraft continues to improve and is by far the most formidable fighter in the world. He is able to survive in the difficult conditions of modern combat and is organically integrated into ultra-large weapon systems, ”said Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, to Bloomberg.

He added that “the reliability of the aircraft continues to improve, among the total number of F-35s, more than 65% of aircraft are ready to fulfill their mission, and the number of combat-ready fighters in the units and formations of the Air Force is about 75%.”

Although the operation of the F-35 fighter is still overshadowed by major flaws and technical failures, no one in the United States and among its allies by and large does not question the ability of this aircraft to carry out its combat missions.

11 states – Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and the UK – chose the F-35 as their promising fighter. Now Singapore and Poland have been added to them. Nine US partner countries have contributed to the development and serial production of this aircraft.

According to American pilots, the number of deficiencies identified during the refinement of the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-22 Raptor was not less, and in some cases even more.

“If you delve into the archive, you will see that, for example, the formation of the Super Hornet aircraft during the first years of its operation looked similar. The same can be said about the F-14 Tomcat. And so many new technologies are built into the F-35 that not everything will go smoothly from the very beginning, ”one of the pilots of the US Navy explained.

“Many experts, including ours, are systematically engaged in pouring dirt onto this plane. And fighters simply can be both successful in their design, but not very successful, ”a source in the Russian aviation industry explained to Gazeta.ru.

The main thing in the F-35 is by no means its flight performance as an airplane, although they are undoubtedly important, the expert believes. The main thing is the ability of this aircraft to integrate with large and extra-large combat systems – with AWACS aircraft, ground control posts, aircraft carriers, anti-aircraft missile systems, etc.

The second key difference between the F-35 and previous aircraft is its stealth. In the air and air battles of the future, it will play a crucial role.

Finally, one should definitely say about ALIS (Autonomics Logistics and Information System). It is the world’s first system of centralized daily monitoring of the technical condition of F-35 aircraft in real time. In fighters of previous generations, these functions were performed daily by several different systems. There is only one global center, the so-called. Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU), where the nomenclature of spare parts and their distribution as necessary for F-35 operators is formed. All ALIS servers are connected to each other via encrypted terrestrial or satellite systems.

“I must say that we do not even fully imagine the architecture of this system and understand the features of its functioning. But in reality this is a revolution in military affairs. Allows you to control every F-35, all operators, regardless of the region where the car is located, and if necessary, limit the range of missions to the aircraft. It used to be that the United States could tell any buyer of its weapons – “you bought rockets from us, but let them lie on our territory for now.” Now this is not necessary. If necessary, the United States will limit its ally by pressing one button of the ALIS system, ”the source of Gazeta.Ru said.

At the same time, it cannot be said right now whether the Americans put it on this plane correctly, the expert says, adding that the Americans were not mistaken with the F-16 – they absolutely accurately predicted the niche of such a combat vehicle.

A similar story happened with the Russian Su-27. At first, few believed in him, and many considered him a highly specialized aircraft. However, today, airplanes based on the Su-27 platform are the basis of the combat power of Russian aerospace forces.

As for the possible purchases of Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft Su-57 instead of the F-35, for example, by Turkey, the strategy of this country today is to create a certain military potential for operations in very specific areas, and the choice of weapons and military equipment that will allow to solve these problems, already refers to modern Turkish tactics.

Similar directions for Turkey at present are Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and recently we can talk about Libya as well. This is also superimposed on the problem of developing hydrocarbon deposits both in the eastern Mediterranean and on the Libyan shelf. And in one of these areas, the Greece-Israel axis is clearly looming – both by mining areas and by possible routes for transporting raw materials. Moreover, Greece is a member of NATO, and Israel is the closest US ally in the region.

For the possible solution of such geopolitical problems, the 5th generation American fighter F-35 of Turkey is categorically not suitable.

In the event of hostilities, the combat effectiveness of the F-35 with one turn of the ALIS key can be reduced to zero. There is every reason to believe that such a scenario could not suit Turkey in the future, even if the situation with the US refusal to supply F-35 to Ankara is revised.

As for the numerous shortcomings revealed during the operation of this aircraft in the United States and Washington’s allies, most experts are not inclined to over-dramatize the situation, but consider the list of F-35 shortcomings as inevitable at the stage of finalizing a promising machine.

Comments are closed.