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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: 5, Informative) by Arik on Saturday July 19 2014, @08:31AM

    by Arik (4543) on Saturday July 19 2014, @08:31AM (#71157) Journal

    This is a disaster [] that has been a very long time coming. The idea is that this one plane will do everything and eliminate (nearly) ever other plane in the arsenal. In practice, it's not good at any of the multitude of roles assigned to it - not nearly as good as the decades-old specialist craft that are being or have been retired in favor of it.

    Ground attack? The venerable A-10 was FAR more effective. It was more manoeuvrable and maintained control at much lower speeds, carried far more weaponry, was much better armoured, and had a much longer loiter time. The F-117, now officially retired as well, was also a better ground attack platform. There are a couple of attack helicopters still in service, but they are short of range and aging rapidly.

    In an air to air role the F-35 is simply underpowered. It cannot climb fast enough to intercept nor turn fast enough to dogfight. It is supposed to be 'stealthy' but it's unlikely to gain more than a marginal reduction in detection distance against modern air defense radars. The aforementioned F117 was more stealthy, and the Yugoslavs still managed to lock onto one and bring it down with what is now quite old technology. The F-22 is also more stealthy, and far more capable in air to air roles than the F-35, although it has plenty of its own problems.

    So the plane designed to do everything, does nothing well. But it has kept a lot of people employed in critical political districts, so that's cool, right?

    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +4  
       Interesting=1, Informative=3, Total=4
    Extra 'Informative' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @09:09AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @09:09AM (#71166)

    Too Ugly Didn't Read.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @07:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 19 2014, @07:22PM (#71284)

      There exists a Mozilla extension called Aardvark. []
      It can manipulate areas within a browser window in many ways.

      Install it.
      Restart your browser.
      Right-click somewhere in the browser window you want to modify.
      Select Start Aardvark. (That's actually an on/off toggle.)
      Moving your mouse, use the red rectangle to surround the area you want to modify.
          Note: The W command (widen) can be useful to fine-tune your selection process.
          If you overshoot with the rectangle, the N command (narrow) can be useful.
      Once you have the area marked, don't touch your mouse again.

      The command that will help to undo the GP's choice of all-Courier is B (change text to non-formatted black-on-white text; aka just use the default font). []
      Note: The extension name is spelled wrong in that URL--aa not dd; v not w.

      To quit Aardvark, hit Q.

      You may then need to use Ctrl-Plus/Ctrl-Minus to resize the text.

      I like Aardvark for the I command (isolate; show only this stuff I have outlined and remove everything else).
      The R command (remove) is the inverse.
      If you want to return to the original view, use the U command (undo), even repeatedly (like Ctrl-Z).

      Occasionally, I use C (colorize) or V (view source--though SeaMonkey's built-in source viewer is typically fine).

      Aardvark is an extension that makes surfing the web less irritating.
      Combine it with NukeAnything Enhanced and you can remove most web aggravations.
      Note: Unlike Aardvark's U command, there is no Undo in NukeAnything; you have to reload the page to get nuked stuff back.

      -- gewg_

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @12:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @12:15AM (#71354)

        Tools - options - content - advanced - set a decent font.

        Try anonymous pro. []

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @04:08AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @04:08AM (#71409)

          Even easier is what I suggested first, just don't bother reading those posts. There are plenty of other things to read. If someone goes out of their way to make their post hard to read just skip it.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @05:44PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20 2014, @05:44PM (#71560)
            No on is trying to make it hard for you to read, you poor pathetic illiterate.

            The power is in your hands. Your browser obeys your commands. If you dont like the defaults then CHANGE them.

            You are in a prison of your own making. Quit blaming other people for your own incompetence.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:42AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21 2014, @01:42AM (#71658)

              Nice try, but I've no idea what you said!

  • (Score: 1) by Wootery on Saturday July 19 2014, @10:21PM

    by Wootery (2341) on Saturday July 19 2014, @10:21PM (#71320)

    Ooh, so unique. We are in awe, great monospace wizard.

    Anyway: good points. The whole project does indeed look like a disaster.