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posted by janrinok on Saturday July 19 2014, @02:59AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-nearly-as-tasty dept.

I think this is a first for S/N: An audio presentation as a story.

The other day I heard Pierre Sprey, the primary designer of the F-16 and A-10, talking to journalist Ian Masters about the F-35 attack jet. This guy is a fascinating speaker.

Topics: Politics and military procurement;

  • Graft; bribery.
  • How, after an aircraft becomes a multi-role multi-service platform, it is not a "common" airframe any longer.
  • Vertical takeoff and landing to support ground troops is nonsense. (It churns up too much crap on anything except when using a giant concrete slab.)
  • Trying to put VTOL and supersonic capability into the same aircraft is just stupid.
  • When plastic aircraft burn, they produce toxic smoke.

It's about 20 minutes in length, but if your media player has a speed control, you can listen to it in less time than that.
The high bitrate version at Ian's site is 19MB. Mr.Sprey is the 3rd of 3 guests.
The low bitrate webcast at KPFK's archive is 14MB for all 3 guests.
KPFK also has a stream.
The 3rd segment is from 36:30 to 55:00.
KPFK's stuff will be available until mid-October.

He goes into considerable detail on stealth, noting that it is a complete boondoggle:

  • The USA likes higher frequency radars because the antennas are smaller and more portable and stealth aircraft are less visible to those units.
  • OTOH, old cheap Soviet radars--even WWII radars--can detect stealth aircraft, no problem.

He goes into some detail as to why stealth costs so much:

  • stealth--hugely increases the cost of the program 'cause you're now using extremely expensive materials, way beyond normal aircraft material cost, and you're making the aircraft almost impossible to maintain because to have stealth you can't have a bunch of doors and openings on the airplane; every opening reflects radar energy. Right?
  • So, now, every time you want to fix some piece of electronics, you have to cut a hole in the airplane.
  • ...and after you cut the hole and fix the electronics, you've got to patch up the hole so it's just as smooth as it was before you cut it, you know, with a bunch of highly toxic glues and compounds and then you have to let the airplane cure for 3 days.
  • So, the damned thing is sitting in the hanger, you know, completely out of business just because you had to replace a fuse that was inaccessible because there was no door nearby. [...]It's a nightmare of an airplane to operate.

In his closing comments he says:

Until you can arrange a system by which congressmen who give away the taxpayers' money to defense companies and generals who go to work for defense companies as soon as they retire--until you can stop that, you will be increasingly weak and undefended at higher and higher cost.

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @03:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @03:27AM (#71108)

    Franklin's Letter to His Daughter (excerpt)

    "For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

    "With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country...

    "I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on." []

    Now, not even the US Government can deny it has produced a lot of Gold Eagles! And goes out of its way to protect them.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @04:55AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @04:55AM (#71122)

    Daddy was a military pilot.
    There were a whole bunch of turkey farms about 25 miles west of where we lived.
    Every once in a while, one of the airplanes in his wing would fly too near and/or too low to one of those.
    The stupid birds would try to get away and would flock to one edge of the pen.
    The next day, the military would get a bill from the farmer for the turkeys that got smothered by his other turkeys.

    I've also heard stories of turkeys looking up when it's raining and drowning.
    That one has yet to be confirmed by me.

    Ever see what a (heavily inbred) Butterball turkey looks like alive as compared to a wild turkey?
    The things are so bizarrely shaped, they can't even mate.

    As for thieving, bullying eagles: Seems apt to me as a symbol of the USA.

    -- gewg_

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @05:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @05:46AM (#71129)

      Reminds me of the stories I used to hear on payouts on hitting a chicken, tree, etc in Germany a few decades back. Run over a chicken and the damage is figured at every egg it could have ever laid, every chicken that could have hatched from them,,,,.. Knock down a tree and it would be every board foot of it after full growth made into furniture if that was possible and you can guess at the possible math if it was a fruit or not tree. Was never there myself, so really don't know, but heard it could be quite interesting if you were a soldier there and did some damage off the base or for the US Government when military on maneuvers there.

      For those kinds of conversations the turkey you would want around would probably be Wild Turkey Bourbon. Not that I have tasted any in decades, but this conversation somehow giving me a craving for it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @07:55AM (#71739)

        So, RIAA style damages... Not just paying for replacing what you destroyed/"stole", but for what income could theoretically have been gained if the item was ever sold. Even though a replacement could be sold at the same price.

        Though, for a tree, growing a replacement is going to take years (and we don't usually re-plant fully grown trees).