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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: 4, Informative) by cafebabe on Saturday July 19 2014, @04:56AM

    by cafebabe (894) on Saturday July 19 2014, @04:56AM (#71123) Journal

    A while back, I bookmarked a discussion about F-35 contract overruns on RT []. I thought it might be of interest here but I didn't submit it because it was already two years ago and I thought this issue was settled. Apparently not. I also watched an interview with Pierre Sprey [] but didn't bother bookmarking it. He's a straight-talking techie but he has the benefit of hindsight and being an armchair critic.

    On a personal note, I thought that US air superiority was doomed after I saw a Eurofighter flying at an airshow. The Eurofighter is a brute of engineering and louder than Concorde. And it is a boondoggle with a left wing made in Italy and a right wing made in Wales or somesuch nonsense. However, it is less of a brute and less of a boondoggle than the F-35.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @05:42AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @05:42AM (#71128)

    Not that I disagree with your general premise, but for those who might take what you said at face value, the F-35 is NOT an air superiority fighter.
    (That's the F-22--the one that has pilots passing out because the gadget that supplies breathable air to them fails).

    If it had been given the proper designation, the F-35 would have been called an A-something (air-to-ground attack).
    ...but then, as Mr.Sprey notes, its mission has been continually redefined since it was first dreamed up 2 decades ago.

    -- gewg_

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Saturday July 19 2014, @07:03AM

      by frojack (1554) on Saturday July 19 2014, @07:03AM (#71147) Journal

      Agreed, it Probably should have been the F/A 35, like the F/A 18.

      Supposedly it can hold its own in a dog fight. And contrary to the story, they are all flying again.

      Still the F16 is a rare aircraft, probably the single most successful military aircraft ever built. And the the A10 was also unmatched in its role, I don't think it even has a competitor.

      Has they gone with two or three designes, they could have built all of them for less money then they have spent on this "just so" story where every thing has to be a compromise to fit all the roles.

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Saturday July 19 2014, @09:08AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Saturday July 19 2014, @09:08AM (#71165)

      Iirc they called it an F to get pilots interested in flying it.

      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek