Even f-22 have flaws:Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by s_bman, Jul 10, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. s_bman

    s_bman Regular Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    0
    Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings
    F-22's Maintenance Demands Growing

    The United States' top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show.

    The aircraft's radar-absorbing metallic skin is the principal cause of its maintenance troubles, with unexpected shortcomings -- such as vulnerability to rain and other abrasion -- challenging Air Force and contractor technicians since the mid-1990s, according to Pentagon officials, internal documents and a former engineer.

    While most aircraft fleets become easier and less costly to repair as they mature, key maintenance trends for the F-22 have been negative in recent years, and on average from October last year to this May, just 55 percent of the deployed F-22 fleet has been available to fulfill missions guarding U.S. airspace, the Defense Department acknowledged this week. The F-22 has never been flown over Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Sensitive information about troubles with the nation's foremost air-defense fighter is emerging in the midst of a fight between the Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress over whether the program should be halted next year at 187 planes, far short of what the Air Force and the F-22's contractors around the country had anticipated.

    "It is a disgrace that you can fly a plane [an average of] only 1.7 hours before it gets a critical failure" that jeopardizes success of the aircraft's mission, said a Defense Department critic of the plane who is not authorized to speak on the record. Other skeptics inside the Pentagon note that the planes, designed 30 years ago to combat a Cold War adversary, have cost an average of $350 million apiece and say they are not a priority in the age of small wars and terrorist threats.

    But other defense officials -- reflecting sharp divisions inside the Pentagon about the wisdom of ending one of the largest arms programs in U.S. history -- emphasize the plane's unsurpassed flying abilities, express renewed optimism that the troubles will abate and say the plane is worth the unexpected costs.

    Votes by the House and Senate armed services committees last month to spend $369 million to $1.75 billion more to keep the F-22 production line open were propelled by mixed messages from the Air Force -- including a quiet campaign for the plane that includes snazzy new Lockheed videos for key lawmakers -- and intense political support from states where the F-22's components are made. The full House ratified the vote on June 25, and the Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of F-22 spending Monday.

    After deciding to cancel the program, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the $65 billion fleet a "niche silver-bullet solution" to a major aerial war threat that remains distant. He described the House's decision as "a big problem" and has promised to urge President Obama to veto the military spending bill if the full Senate retains F-22 funding.

    The administration's position is supported by military reform groups that have long criticized what they consider to be poor procurement practices surrounding the F-22, and by former senior Pentagon officials such as Thomas Christie, the top weapons testing expert from 2001 to 2005. Christie says that because of the plane's huge costs, the Air Force lacks money to modernize its other forces adequately and has "embarked on what we used to call unilateral disarmament."

    David G. Ahern, a senior Pentagon procurement official who helps oversee the F-22 program, said in an interview that "I think we've executed very well," and attributed its troubles mostly to the challenge of meeting ambitious goals with unstable funding.

    A spokeswoman for Lockheed added that the F-22 has "unmatched capabilities, sustainability and affordability" and that any problems are being resolved in close coordination with the Air Force.

    'Cancellation-Proof'

    Designed during the early 1980s to ensure long-term American military dominance of the skies, the F-22 was conceived to win dogfights with advanced Soviet fighters that Russia is still trying to develop.

    Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, said in a letter this week to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) that he likes the F-22 because its speed and electronics enable it to handle "a full spectrum of threats" that current defensive aircraft "are not capable of addressing."

    "There is really no comparison to the F-22," said Air Force Maj. David Skalicky, a 32-year-old former F-15 pilot who now shows off the F-22's impressive maneuverability at air shows. Citing the critical help provided by its computers in flying radical angles of attack and tight turns, he said "it is one of the easiest planes to fly, from the pilot's perspective."

    Its troubles have been detailed in dozens of Government Accountability Office reports and Pentagon audits. But Pierre Sprey, a key designer in the 1970s and 1980s of the F-16 and A-10 warplanes, said that from the beginning, the Air Force designed it to be "too big to fail, that is, to be cancellation-proof."

    Lockheed farmed out more than 1,000 subcontracts to vendors in more than 40 states, and Sprey -- now a prominent critic of the plane -- said that by the time skeptics "could point out the failed tests, the combat flaws, and the exploding costs, most congressmen were already defending their subcontractors' " revenues.

    John Hamre, the Pentagon's comptroller from 1993 to 1997, says the department approved the plane with a budget it knew was too low because projecting the real costs would have been politically unpalatable on Capitol Hill.

    "We knew that the F-22 was going to cost more than the Air Force thought it was going to cost and we budgeted the lower number, and I was there," Hamre told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April. "I'm not proud of it," Hamre added in a recent interview.

    When limited production began in 2001, the plane was "substantially behind its plan to achieve reliability goals," the GAO said in a report the following year. Structural problems that turned up in subsequent testing forced retrofits to the frame and changes in the fuel flow. Computer flaws, combined with defective software diagnostics, forced the frequent retesting of millions of lines of code, said two Defense officials with access to internal reports.

    Skin problems -- often requiring re-gluing small surfaces that can take more than a day to dry -- helped force more frequent and time-consuming repairs, according to the confidential data drawn from tests conducted by the Pentagon's independent Office of Operational Test and Evaluation between 2004 and 2008.

    Over the four-year period, the F-22's average maintenance time per hour of flight grew from 20 hours to 34, with skin repairs accounting for more than half of that time -- and more than half the hourly flying costs -- last year, according to the test and evaluation office.

    The Air Force says the F-22 cost $44,259 per flying hour in 2008; the Office of the Secretary of Defense said the figure was $49,808. The F-15, the F-22's predecessor, has a fleet average cost of $30,818.

    'Compromises'

    Darrol Olsen, a specialist in stealth coatings who worked at Lockheed's testing laboratory in Marietta, Ga., from 1995 to 1999, said the current troubles are unsurprising. In a lawsuit filed under seal in 2007, he charged the company with violating the False Claims Act for ordering and using coatings that it knew were defective while hiding the failings from the Air Force.
    He has cited a July 1998 report that said test results "yield the same problems as documented previously" in the skin's quality and durability, and another in December that year saying, "Baseline coatings failed." A Lockheed briefing that September assured the Air Force that the effort was "meeting requirements with optimized products."

    "When I got into this thing . . . I could not believe the compromises" made by Lockheed to meet the Air Force's request for quick results, said Olsen, who had a top-secret clearance. "I suggested we go to the Air Force and tell them we had some difficulties . . . and they would not do that. I was squashed. I knew from the get-go that this material was bad, that this correcting it in the field was never going to work."

    Olsen, who said Lockheed fired him over a medical leave, heard from colleagues as recently as 2005 that problems persisted with coatings and radar absorbing materials in the plane's skin, including what one described as vulnerability to rain. Invited to join his lawsuit, the Justice Department filed a court notice last month saying it was not doing so "at this time" -- a term that means it is still investigating the matter, according to a department spokesman.

    Ahern said the Pentagon could not comment on the allegations. Lockheed spokeswoman Mary Jo Polidore said that "the issues raised in the complaint are at least 10 years old," and that the plane meets or exceeds requirements established by the Air Force. "We deny Mr. Olsen's allegations and will vigorously defend this matter."

    There have been other legal complications. In late 2005, Boeing learned of defects in titanium booms connecting the wings to the plane, which the company, in a subsequent lawsuit against its supplier, said posed the risk of "catastrophic loss of the aircraft." But rather than shut down the production line -- an act that would have incurred large Air Force penalties -- Boeing reached an accord with the Air Force to resolve the problem through increased inspections over the life of the fleet, with expenses to be mostly paid by the Air Force.

    Sprey said engineers who worked on it told him that because of Lockheed's use of hundreds of subcontractors, quality control was so poor that workers had to create a "shim line" at the Georgia plant where they retooled badly designed or poorly manufactured components. "Each plane wound up with all these hand-fitted parts that caused huge fits in maintenance," he said. "They were not interchangeable."

    Polidore confirmed that some early parts required modifications but denied that such a shim line existed and said "our supplier base is the best in the industry."

    The plane's million-dollar radar-absorbing canopy has also caused problems, with a stuck hatch imprisoning a pilot for hours in 2006 and engineers unable to extend the canopy's lifespan beyond about 18 months of flying time. It delaminates, "loses its strength and finish," said an official privy to Air Force data.

    In the interview, Ahern and Air Force Gen. C.D. Moore confirmed that canopy visibility has been declining more rapidly than expected, with brown spots and peeling forcing $120,000 refurbishments at 331 hours of flying time, on average, instead of the stipulated 800 hours.

    There has been some gradual progress. At the plane's first operational flight test in September 2004, it fully met two of 22 key requirements and had a total of 351 deficiencies; in 2006, it fully met five; in 2008, when squadrons were deployed at six U.S. bases, it fully met seven.

    "It flunked on suitability measures -- availability, reliability, and maintenance," said Christie about the first of those tests. "There was no consequence. It did not faze anybody who was in the decision loop" for approving the plane's full production. This outcome was hardly unique, Christie adds. During his tenure in the job from 2001 to 2005, "16 or 17 major weapons systems flunked" during initial operational tests, and "not one was stopped as a result."

    "I don't accept that this is still early in the program," Christie said, explaining that he does not recall a plane with such a low capability to fulfill its mission due to maintenance problems at this point in its tenure as the F-22. The Pentagon said 64 percent of the fleet is currently "mission capable." After four years of rigorous testing and operations, "the trends are not good," he added.

    Pentagon officials respond that measuring hourly flying costs for aircraft fleets that have not reached 100,000 flying hours is problematic, because sorties become more frequent after that point; Ahern also said some improvements have been made since the 2008 testing, and added: "We're going to get better." He said the F-22s are on track to meet all of what the Air Force calls its KPP -- key performance parameters -- by next year.

    But last Nov. 20, John J. Young Jr., who was then undersecretary of defense and Ahern's boss, said that officials continue to struggle with the F-22's skin. "There's clearly work that needs to be done there to make that airplane both capable and affordable to operate," he said.

    When Gates decided this spring to spend $785 million on four more planes and then end production of the F-22, he also kept alive an $8 billion improvement effort. It will, among other things, give F-22 pilots the ability to communicate with other types of warplanes; it currently is the only such warplane to lack that capability.

    The cancellation decision got public support from the Air Force's top two civilian and military leaders, who said the F-22 was not a top priority in a constrained budget. But the leaders' message was muddied in a June 9 letter from Air Combat Cmdr. John D.W. Corley to Chambliss that said halting production would put "execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near to mid-term." The right size for the fleet, he said, is 381.
    Fatal Test Flight

    One of the last four planes Gates supported buying is meant to replace an F-22 that crashed during a test flight north of Los Angeles on March 25, during his review of the program. The Air Force has declined to discuss the cause, but a classified internal accident report completed the following month states that the plane flew into the ground after poorly executing a high-speed run with its weapons-bay doors open, according to three government officials familiar with its contents. The Lockheed test pilot died.

    Several sources said the flight was part of a bid to make the F-22 relevant to current conflicts by giving it a capability to conduct precision bombing raids, not just aerial dogfights. The Air Force is still probing who should be held accountable for the accident.
    Broadsword: An interesting article on the F-22 Raptor
    :
     
  2.  
  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    11,613
    Likes Received:
    5,670
  4. John

    John Guest

    obviously many problems only become visible due to a good amount of operational use. besides its the first 5th gen aircraft, its bound to have problems even the PAKFA will have problems and we'll have time to rectify them. Rafale, EF, SH had problems which have been rectified, even the infamous su-30mki has some very poor and critical cockpit design ergonomics flaws which led to the recent crash, need for a lot of fixes. I am just glad the LCA has not yet faced any serious flaws yet. We are humans and everything we make is imperfect just like us.
     
  5. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    Right now, they have complained about the skin and airframe. The skin can be changed for a less stealthy coating offering more reliability. But, the airframe flaws cannot be changed that easily. Hope the F-22 does not turn into the Hornet.
     
  6. John

    John Guest

    SH's problems have been rectified. SH has no airframe issues. so there is no fear of f-22 turning into the SH.
     
  7. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    There is nothing super about this Hornet - Opinion - smh.com.au

    I have already posted this in the MRCA thread. And this is coming from a pilot.

    What's the point of carrying advanced weapons when they will go bust mid air.
     
  8. John

    John Guest

    And i have posted a reply to that article showing the most of the 'bugs' didnt exit and some that did have been fixed long ago. The US Navy itself confirms it and Captain Jerry Penfield head of Air-Air missiles systems at NAVAIR, the man who also commanded super hornet Strike Fighter Squadron 115 during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and wrote the operational evaluation for the Super Hornet.

    The pilot who wrote about all those 'bugs' in your article is a retired Aussie who had never flown or maintained the SH.

    NAVAIR provides unique engineering, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, and program management capabilities to deliver airborne weapons systems that are technologically superior and readily available.

    When the people who fly and test it everyday are not complaining, i have no reason to believe that the SH has any problem with it. Even if it did, no SH has ever crashed due to technical failure which is still excellent for what you suppose to be a 'bug filled airplane'. EF, Rafale, Gripen, F-16 have crashed in the past due to technical failure. Super Hornet still flying, excellent flight record.
     
  9. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    Care to post it.

    LOL. And you have the audacity to criticize the comments of an Air Vice-Marshal. ROFL.

    The people who fly it and test it are not allowed to comment on any of their planes by law, they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. And those who are allowed are not allowed to speak about the negative aspects of any operational fighter. Only the retired people come out clean about the pros and cons about any fighter. And the comments about the SH I posted came straight from a Vice Marshal.

    Whose talking about crashes. I am talking about the ability to "fight." That is clearly more important than any other trait. I doubt the SH has ever won any aerial air to air combat with a Flanker or a Fulcrum.

    At full load SH cannot even go supersonic.

    SH is a strike fighter, inducting the SH is like inducting more Jaguars. Adding AMRAAMs and Sidewinders will only make the Jag another SH anyways. No fighter has ever been as criticized as the Hornet and Super Hornet.
     
  10. John

    John Guest

    Read the post urself in the MRCA thread and Yes i have the audacity to criticize a retired vice marshal F*** him. He never flew it, never tested, he ain't got no idea and he is too senile to even know. again load of bs, its like saying the guys testing and flying the LCA wont complain if they find any flaws in it while its operational, NAVAIR has very comprehensive and demanding testing and evaluation of aircraft and they didn't have any problems with the SH.

    http://www.navair.navy.mil/iseet/index.htm

    Stop comparing a Jag to an SH. SH on any given day out strikes any other aircraft in the world. i am posting a video of a old swiss f-18 vs german mig-29 dogfight, the f-18 eats the mig for breakfast. The SH is even better because it will have first shot ability, can carry 10 aim-120 C-7/D, first shot always drives the other aircraft into trying to out run the missile, the SH sticks on his tail and even if he misses he has enough missiles to fire again, the guy who shoots first has a very good advantage and SH has it and its new engines will improve its overall performance. Besides it the only aircraft that can be delivered ahead of schedule and the acquisition process is already delayed a lot.

    YouTube - F/A-18 VS MiG-29 Dogfight
     
  11. tharikiran

    tharikiran Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Hyderabad,India
    You can't place a movie video and argue.
    It's a beautiful clip though.
     
  12. John

    John Guest

    not a movie video, its from Swiss AF vs German AF training many years ago. Its an extract from a dvd, 'Swiss Air Force: IDENTIFIED'.
     
  13. tharikiran

    tharikiran Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Hyderabad,India


    You got to be kidding me.

    The first shot of the hornet pilot has been taken from a camera angle just outside the cockpit. To be able to do that the camera or the cameraman has to be on the nose of the aircraft.

    I can point out other camera angles too.Any one in his/her right mind won't say it's actual training footage.

    I don't want to deviate from the topic here.
    I rest my case.
     
  14. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    Which world were you born in? People who designed the Super Hornet have never FLOWN it. People who built the Super Hornet never SAT in the Cockpit. People who build aircraft have thick glasses and Phd degrees. They will never even be allowed to touch a plane rather fly it.

    People who know the planes best are the ones who built it and not the ones who fly it. Flying is an added experience, a pilot is only a small link(a consultant) to the entire design and manufacture of a plane.

    Peter Criss is an Air Vice Marshal, do you know what that means or should I spell it out for you?

    He is one of the guys who knows head to tail about the ENTIRE Australian Airforce. He has access to the country's most confidential information and access to the views of more than a 100 Hornet fighter pilots in his entire life time. Not to mention, one of the highest flying experiences in the world. This honour is only reserved for a few people, which off course you will not be able to understand.

    And you, an arm chair general, have the audacity to call him senile. I don't need to guess which one of you is senile.

    The SH is an aerodynamic nightmare. Give the USN the option of choosing F-14s and they will replace all their Hornets in one night. The SH is the only fighter that is heavily dependent on its technology to fight the enemy. Given time and even this advantage will be lost.

    The flaws will not be meant for you to know. They will never publicly criticize the LCA. Learn that now or you never will. If flaws exist, they will reveal it after 10 or 15 years, maybe more. The same thing happened with the Hornet. The USN replaced a killer with a cheap product.

    Also, there is little difference between Jag and SH. The Jag is pretty much a smaller, less powerful cousin of the SH. Both are strike fighters, they were never meant to fight the Flanker and the Fulcrum, because they can't. The Jag is getting upgrades for carrying Raytheon's weapons. Raytheon is also willing to sell Aim-9x and Aim-120s. That will in effect bring it to the same level as the SH in terms of A2A firepower in an AWACS environment.

    As for that video, I am not even going to watch a movie video. The planes in movies maneuver like they were on the moon.
     
  15. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    It's typical of John to give wrong information and pass it of as the Bible.
     
  16. prahladh

    prahladh Respected Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2009
    Messages:
    864
    Likes Received:
    144
    Location:
    Universal Citizen
    Why do I see SH in every discussion ?
     
  17. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,270
    Location:
    011
    Guys this thread about F-22. Thanks.
     
  18. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,233
    Likes Received:
    3,896
    Location:
    Holy Hell
    Sorry mates. The F-22 is being compared to another aircraft with problems, though they are different.

    What I was trying to say is if problems persist with the airframe then the aircraft is stuck with these problems forever until everything is pulled apart and re designed. Luckily F-22 has problems with maintenance and availability rather than aerodynamics.
     
  19. John

    John Guest

    Aviation Video: Swiss Air Force - Identified | Patrick's Aviation

    here is an extended video, it is indeed a DVD from the Swiss AF, identified, the video cant be a movie because it includes many air forces and its an official Swiss AF DVD whether the dogfight was staged or not is not my take, i m not a film expert, it looks real enough to me. for every thing you post, i post enough counter proof which is valid and you still remain a bitchy cunt. and who said anything about the designers testing it, you have serious english comprehension problems, i said NAVAIR tested it, NAVAIR is not a designer, they test and evaluate everything the NAVY buys, they are not complaining about the SH. And who said they dont publicly criticize, the IAF has been pissed off over LCA for years, at one point they even wanted to cancel the LCA, so don't give me shit about criticism.

    SH is overall a still better strike aircraft than the Rafale. taking into account even Rafale fires the Aim-120C-7 as it primary A2A missile it sucks too and is similar to the Jag right. At least the SH can fire the next Aim-120D version, Rafale can't. SH fires more weapons and in most cases has much better avionics than the Rafale, EF and yet you say it compares to Jag. There isn't a role in a fighter's book that the SH can't play so stop bitching. SH carries more A2A weapons than the Rafale, its AESA assures first shot with Aim-120D and in these days, first shot will have advantage, entire air forces have their doctrine based on this BVR aspect of aerial warfare, so again go finger ur own ass.

    ------------------------------------
    John , mind your Language . Next time, I will delete the entire post
     
  20. tharikiran

    tharikiran Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Hyderabad,India
    John, based upon your information, the clip seems to be a staged exercise by the Swedish air force and therefore it would not be wise on our part to accept the result of that video.

    In fact for some scenes the plane is stationary and a background screen has been placed like we have in old movies. All I want to say is basing Hornet performance based on that video is not wise.
     
  21. John

    John Guest

    i am not saying that the video is real, could be staged but to completely ignore the Hornet or SH in a dogfight would be terribly unwise for those flying against it. The SH carries more missiles than all MRCA contenders and due to its aim-120D missile has a longer range first shot ability, its AESA the best as well with inbuilt jamming will force any rival into defensive and evasive tactics, if the SH stays on him, the missile will find its way to the target very effectively, super cruise launch from the F-22 the Aim-120D has range of over 200km, the Hornet can still fire the missile at ranges over 130km and kill almost every aircraft in the air and this range its a very good kill rate, even if it isn't the SH has 9 more to fire at the target. When the SH could get a gun kill on an f-22, i really dont think it will have any trouble getting a gun kill on any other aircraft, its all about pilot skill.

    IAF pilots have themselves said the SH to be the most mature in terms of cockpit functionality and ease of flying, the ease of flight allows the SH's pilot to hone his skills. Rafale, EF, Gripen, Falcon and mig are faster, and have much better aero performance than the the current SH but the SH is getting a new engine and we can have it, it will have thrust to weight ratio of over 1 which is good enough. Rafale and SH will be among top 3 contenders, no doubt but Rafale will loose at price. SH is ideal keeping in mind cost and functionality.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page