Germany eyeballs the US F-35

This is simultaneously good news and yet confusing.

From Janes.com:

Germany declares preference for F-35 to replace Tornado

by Gareth Jennings

The German Air Force has a shortlist of existing platforms to replace its Panavia Tornados from 2025 to 2030, but the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the service’s “preferred choice”, a senior service official said on 8 November.

Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that the F-35 already fulfils most of the requirements that the Luftwaffe requires to replace its Tornados in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe, and that it offers a number of other benefits besides.

“The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible.

“The German Ministry of Defence [MoD] is looking at several aircraft today, including the F-35 – it is commercially available already, has been ordered by many nations and is being introduced into service today, and has most of the capabilities required.”

This is odd insofar as Angela Merkel absolutely despises Donald John Trump beyond despiction. Not only that, she would do most anything to ensure he succeeds in no portion of his agenda whatsoever.

That said, Germany is making indications that it favors the Lockheed-Martin F-35 as its replacement jet for the doddering Panavia Tornado.

The timelines involved of an anticipated retirement of the Tornado in about 2030 has caused the Luftwaffe to look instead at an already developed platform. 

An odd thing considering this from Medium.com in 2015:

Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can’t Dogfight

by David Axe

New stealth fighter is dead meat in an air battle

A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can’t turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy’s own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January.

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the unnamed pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief that War Is Boring has obtained. The brief is unclassified but is labeled “for official use only.”

The test pilot’s report is the latest evidence of fundamental problems with the design of the F-35 — which, at a total program cost of more than a trillion dollars, is history’s most expensive weapon.

The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — not to mention the air forces and navies of more than a dozen U.S. allies — are counting on the Lockheed Martin-made JSF to replace many if not most of their current fighter jets.

That was 2015. What has happened since then?

The overall experience of flying the F-35 in aerial combat is different from what I’m used to with the F-16. One obvious difference is that the F-35 shakes quite a bit at high g-loadings and at high angles of attack, while the F-16 hardly shakes at all. The professional terminology is «buffeting», which I also described in an earlier blog post (English version available).This buffeting serves as useful feedback, but it can also be a disadvantage. Because the buffeting only begins at moderate angles of attack, it provides me an intuitive feel for how much I am demanding from the aircraft; what is happening to my overall energy state? On the other hand, several pilots have had trouble reading the information which is displayed on the helmet visor, due to the buffeting. Most of the pilots here at Luke fly with the second-generation helmet. I fly with the third-generation helmet, and I have not found this to be a real issue.

What I initially found to a bit negative in visual combat was the cockpit view, which wasn’t as good as in the F-16. The cockpit view from the F-16 was good – better than in any other fighter I have flown. I could turn around and look at the opposite wingtip; turn to the right, look over the «back» of the airplane and see the left wingtip. That´s not quite possible in the F-35, because the headrest blocks some of the view. Therefore, I was a bit frustrated during my first few BFM-sorties. However, It turned out that practice was all it took to improve the situation. Now I compensate by moving forward in the seat and leaning slightly sideways, before turning my head and looking backwards. In this way I can look around the sides of the seat. I also use my hands to brace against the cockpit glass and the canopy frame. With regards to cockpit view alone, I had an advantage in the F-16, but I am still able to maintain visual contact with my opponent during aggressive maneuvering in the F-35. The cockpit view is not a limitation with regards to being effective in visual combat, and it would be a misunderstanding to present this as a genuine problem with the F-35.

Then from ScientificAmerican.com:

What Went Wrong with the F-35, Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter?

by Michael P. Hughes

The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the U.S. military desired but has turned out to be one of the greatest boondoggles in recent military purchasing history

The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the U.S. military desired, serving the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy – and even Britain’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy – all in one aircraft design. It’s supposed to replace and improve upon several current – and aging – aircraft types with widely different missions. It’s marketed as a cost-effective, powerful multi-role fighter airplane significantly better than anything potential adversaries could build in the next two decades. But it’s turned out to be none of those things.

Why? Because there is no one airframe that can “do it all.” And no one with half a brain tied behind their back could say that with honesty unless they were swayed by cash, power or influence.

Essentially, the Pentagon has declared the F-35 “too big to fail.” As a retired member of the U.S. Air Force and current university professor of finance who has been involved in and studied military aviation and acquisitions, I find the F-35 to be one of the greatest boondoggles in recent military purchasing history.

I think you see where I’m going with this. You need to read the rest of the article here.

John Boyd could tell you what went wrong with the F-35. Gold plating. An attempt to make it be everything to everyone. The USAF, Boyd’s arm of service, hated him. The US Marines loved him. The problem with Boyd was that he told truth to power. It didn’t help his argument that he was not only a genius but a bedraggled one as well.

Here, a member of Boyd’s Fighter Mafia reveals the truth.

Bottom line?

I believe the F-35 program should be immediately cancelled; the technologies and systems developed for it should be used in more up-to-date and cost-effective aircraft designs. Specifically, the F-35 should be replaced with a series of new designs targeted toward the specific mission requirements of the individual branches of the armed forces, in lieu of a single aircraft design trying to be everything to everyone.

Making one jet fit all? That’s simply an impossible goal.

It’s costing the US billions to figure that out.

BZ

 

The Bergdahl verdict: a corruption of confidence

Barack Obama used the Bergdahl situation as a means to release serious high-ranking Jihadists, a Taliban army chief of staff, a Taliban deputy minister of intelligence, a former Taliban interior minister, and two other senior Taliban fighters. A good deal? Why not five low-level combatants?

Beaudry Robert “Bowe” Bergdahl is a US Army soldier who deserted his unit in Afghanistan on June 30th of 2009. He was later reported captured by Taliban-aligned forces and then apparently sold from tribe to tribe. Some said Bergdahl had become an Afghan sympathizer after arrival in country and, after learning some Pashto, spent more time with Afghans than with his own platoon, a loner in every sense. Some indicated he had become a Muslim. Sources indicated a note was left behind in his tent stating he was leaving to start a new life, after his desertion.

A little known point is that Bergdahl entered US Coast Guard basic training in 2006 but was discharged after 26 days for psychological reasons and received an “uncharacterized discharge,” given to people who separate prior to completing 180 days of service. This is called a clue, one that the USCG failed to share or the Army failed to recognize.

Thinking that he was smarter than the US Army or the Taliban, Bergdahl somehow failed to see that he would become, via his desertion, nothing more than a Taliban bargaining chip.

Bergdahl was released on May 31st of 2014. On June 2nd, Susan Rice made this statement.

Now listen to what Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon members said about him.

But here’s what you primarily did not hear, provided by, of all places, Newsweek in 2016.

WHAT THE ARMY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT BOWE BERGDAHL

by Michael Ames

Just days after U.S. Army Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl went missing from his base in Afghanistan in 2009, the men in his platoon were ordered to sign papers vowing to never discuss what he did or their efforts to track him down. Many of those men were already exhausted, searching endlessly in the hot dust and misery of the Afghan desert for a guy they knew had chosen to walk away. More than six months later, long after Army officials learned Bergdahl’s captors had smuggled him into Pakistan, commanders still had a sweeping gag order on thousands of troops in the battlefield. Some were told they could not fly home until they signed the nondisclosure agreements.

Oh my. NDAs. What secrets must be kept? Why?

And even now, six years later, as America’s most notorious prisoner of war faces an August court-martial that could put him in prison for the rest of his life, the Army is still hiding the truth, refusing to let the public see critical documents in the case.

The Pentagon finished its formal investigation, known as an Army Regulation 15-6, more than a year ago. That report, led by a two-star general and a team of 22 investigators, includes interviews with roughly 57 people, including Bergdahl. In 371 pages of sworn testimony, he told General Kenneth Dahl what he did, why he did it and what he endured during his five years as a hostage of the militant Haqqani network. The 15-6 is not classified, and at a September preliminary hearing on the case, Dahl testified that he does not oppose its release. But the Army won’t budge.

What secrets must be kept? Why?

Despite the Army’s relentless campaign to hide the facts about Bergdahl’s disappearance and five years in captivity, the truth has slipped from its grasp. It’s out there. You don’t need to read Army Regulation 15-6 to know what Bergdahl did and why. The mystery is why the military, ignoring the findings of its own investigation, as well as the unspeakable torture Bergdahl endured as a hostage, seems determined to crucify him.

Having read that, wasn’t Friday’s court sentencing of Bergdahl bubbling with just a tad bit of irony? From FoxNews.com:

No prison for Bergdahl in sentencing for walking off post

by Jonathan Drew

For the first time in eight years, Bowe Bergdahl doesn’t face confinement, or the threat of it, after a judge spared the soldier from a prison sentence for endangering his comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.

The sentence, which also includes a dishonorable discharge, was quickly condemned by President Donald Trump as a “complete and total disgrace.”

President Trump is correct. Read on to discover why.

The punitive discharge means the case will automatically be appealed to a higher military court. And a top commander will also review the case and consider arguments for leniency, as is standard in Army legal cases.

The judge also gave the 31-year-old a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank from sergeant to private and ordered him to forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months.

The judge (Colonel Jeffrey Nancy) gave no explanation of how he arrived at his decision, but he reviewed evidence that included Bergdahl’s captivity and the wounds suffered by troops who searched for him.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham responded:

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing hearing for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s “incredibly disappointed” in the sentence Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl received from a military judge.

The South Carolina Republican, who served as an Air Force lawyer for more than 30 years, says Friday he has tremendous respect for the military justice system. But he says “this sentence in my view falls short of the gravity of the offense.”

Graham says, “an independent judiciary is the heart and soul of the rule of law but no one is beyond criticism.”

But perhaps the most honest and telling response to the “sentencing” is that of a man who served the United States with courage and integrity over and over, Rob O’Neill, who appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Friday show.

The entire event became a parody of itself, from the “serving” intonations of Susan Rice (a Useful Tool Obama initially pulled out his drawer for the application of the Benghazi Lies in 2012), to the subsequent White House ceremony involving Bergdahl’s parents.

To me it appears obvious that Bergdahl’s heart was not in military service and that he first “dabbled” with the military in 2006. Following the USCG interface Bergdahl stayed at a Buddhist monastery between 2007 and 2008. This indicates an individual whose resolve to serve was not present.

Honesty and clarity. Two aspects I admire in any person. Bergdahl was neither of those things, to himself or to the US Army. He and all would have been better served had he admitted the military was not for him. Time, effort and literally the lives of soldiers would have been saved but for the lack of Bergdahl’s honesty.

Bergdahl made a serious mistake and so did the Army in not noting his past apprehension in terms of service. A loner, perhaps too much the idealist, I suspect Bergdahl may have thought he could change the Army or his immediate situation once arriving on base. Both were wrong and because of that lives, good American lives, were lost.

It strikes me that Bowe Bergdahl was a jejune little Millennial dipping his toes into the soldier pool and thinking he could do anything he wished. Those thoughts got people killed. Not himself. He was saved. But the only person responsible for his own torture and the deaths associated with the search is Beaudry Robert “Bowe” Bergdahl.

He was finally saved by the US Army itself. The army for which he had so much disdain.

The sentencing, after the facts have emerged — present but tamped down from the very beginning — was an abrogation of common sense, a slap in the face to soldiers who serve and a complete dismissal of the significance of the brave lives laid down in search of Bowe Bergdahl.

The verdict was dismissive and terribly short-sighted. Those who serve now and have served in the past –Sheepdogs — know that in their gut.

This was wrong.

And therein lies a massive problem. One that needs to be addressed very soon.

That is this: the corruption of confidence in the US military. Friday’s verdict continues the corruption of confidence. It could, instead, have helped reverse same.

Corruption of confidence, crisis of confidence, call it what you will. It exists now and it is corrosive in ways we cannot yet even imagine. It’s as if you spilled a massive drum of acid into the street but most people think “oh well, that’s only water.”

We are nearing the proverbial Perfect Storm involving a lack of confidence in government. A corruption of confidence. A crisis in confidence.

Look at the FBI. If we cannot trust the FBI to do its job — the ultimate civilian federal law enforcement authority in the United States — then to whom do we go when the FBI fails?

If we cannot trust the alphabet agencies to do their job — the ultimate civilian federal law enforcement authorities in terms of surveillance, intelligence and collection — then to whom do we go when these 16 agencies fail?

If we cannot trust our US military to do the proper thing in terms of discipline and consequences, then to whom do we go when the US military fails?

Answer: there is no alternative.

No Plan B.

This cannot stand.

That is, if we wish to continue as a steady, forthright, strong, durable, proud, courageous and sovereign nation.

If the United States falls, so falls the rest of the planet.

Make no mistake.

BZ

 

US destroyer collides with container ship: 3 injured, 7 still missing

The damage of the right side of the USS Fitzgerald is seen off Shimoda, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship, Saturday, June 16, 2017. The U.S. Navy says the USS Fitzgerald suffered damage below the water line on its starboard side after it collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant ship. (Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News via AP)

The damage of Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal is seen off Izu Oshima, Japan, after it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan, Saturday, June 16, 2017. The U.S. Navy says the USS Fitzgerald suffered damage below the water line on its starboard side after it collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship. (Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News via AP)

First, note the photographs above. You can see the damage to the navy destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, is significant whilst the damage to the container ship ACX Crystal is minor. These two photographs provide a massive amount of information to an attentive observer regarding the tragedy, with only one conclusion. The OOD/Captain of the USS Fitzgerald is directly responsible for the loss of those seven sailors and will likely face a courts martial. In my opinion criminal charges should be considered.

First, the story from AP.org:

US, JAPAN SEARCH FOR 7 NAVY SAILORS, PUZZLE OVER SHIP CRASH

BY EUGENE HOSHIKO AND KOJI UEDA

YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — U.S. and Japanese vessels and aircraft searched Saturday for seven American sailors who were missing after their Navy destroyer collided before dawn with a container ship four times its size off the coast of Japan.

The USS Fitzgerald was back at its home port in Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo by sunset Saturday, its crew lined up on deck. The Philippine-flagged container ship was berthed at Tokyo’s Oi wharf, where officials began questioning crew members about the cause of the nighttime crash.

After helping stabilize the USS Fitzgerald, the destroyer USS Dewey joined other American and Japanese vessels and aircraft in the search for the missing sailors.

At least three other Navy sailors were injured in the collision.

Now, some damning facts.

Examining the photographs, you can see major damage to the USS Fitzgerald’s starboard side, almost amidships and directly under the bridge. The corresponding damage to the ACX Crystal is at the port bow where there is a remarkable mismatch in deck height.

That in and of itself tells me that the USS Fitzgerald turned across the path of the container ship, the container ship not at a 90-degree angle but at an obtuse angle to the USS Fitzgerald. That tells me avoidance was likely under way but initiated too late by the naval vessel.

Absent war or other factors it would be the primary duty of the smaller vessel, the USS Fitzgerald, to avoid collision. Because of navigational issues on the part of the container ship ACX Crystal with regard to handling characteristics — that is to say, its inability to stop or maneuver in any sort of rapid or noteworthy manner involving distance or time — the maritime “rules of the road” provide favor to the container ship. Particularly damning is this.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though Yutaka Saito of the coast guard said the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

That information becomes critical when one reads this paragraph.

The U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement that the crash damaged two berthing spaces, a machinery room and the radio room. Most of the more than 200 sailors aboard would have been asleep in their berths at the time of the pre-dawn crash.

The ACX Crystal possesses what is termed a “bulbous bow” under the waterline, which exists to smooth the flow of water around the hull and minimize drag thus yielding a slightly greater speed, range, stability in rougher weather and fuel efficiency. I posit it’s not impossible that the bulbous bow of the ACX Crystal may have impacted the USS Fitzgerald under the waterline and directly into the berthing areas. I submit the missing sailors may have been crushed inside the naval ship and/or sucked directly out to sea from the resulting impact.

The USS Fitzgerald’s captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, was airlifted early Saturday to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka and was in stable condition with a head injury, the Navy said. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were evacuated. It was unclear how many others may have been hurt.

This suggests to me Captain Benson was on the bridge and in full charge of the navy ship and not an OOD or Officer of the Deck. It makes me wonder why the captain was on the bridge that early in the morning (2:30 AM local time) unless he was awakened by personnel due to calamitous and emergent conditions.

Some very important comparisons. The ACX Crystal is a Phillipines-flagged cargo container vessel built in 2008, working for the Japanese NYK Line. It is a 29,060 ton ship with a dead weight tonnage of 39,565 tons. It is 730 feet long with a capacity of 2,858 containers though at the time of collision it was carrying 1,080 containers. Maximum speed is 25 knots or 28 mph. In such a high traffic area the ship was likely not steaming at such a speed as the captain would be aware of its inherent handling deficiencies in such conditions. MarineTraffic.com indicates the ship had been traveling at between 16 and 18 knots. There were no injuries whatsoever on the ACX Crystal, which also says much about the overall incident and nature of ship dynamics.

In contrast, the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer launched in 1994 with a full displacement of 9,000 tons at a length of 505 feet, with a maximum speed greater than 30 knots, or 34 mph. It has the AN/SPY-1D 3D Radar, AN/SPS-67 (V)2 Surface Search Radar or AN/SPS-73(V)12 Surface Search Radar system on board. Suffice to say these are more sophisticated systems than those of a merchant vessel.

Some amateur marine enthusiasts are indicating the ACX Crystal may have deviated from its original course twice.

Still and all, as per the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, the onus for avoidance was on the USS Fitzgerald due to a wide variety of factors to include ability to avoid, vessel dynamics and ship handling.

The situation immediately brings to my mind the 2001 collision between the Japanese fishing training boat Ehime Maru and the USS Greeneville, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, when the sub surfaced underneath the boat during an emergency ballast blow surfacing maneuver demonstration for some VIP civilians on board. In all, nine civilian crew members were killed on the Ehime Maru, including four high school students.

The captain and applicable crew of the USS Greeneville received non-judicial punishment.

UPDATED INFORMATION ON SUNDAY:

Two points: first, from the NavyTimes.com:

Navy search and rescue crews have discovered the bodies of seven missing sailors from the destroyer Fitzgerald in flooded berthing compartments, two defense officials confirmed to Navy Times.

Second, from the WSJ.com:

In a period of seconds, a 29,000 ton cargo ship loaded with containers plowed into its right side, crushing a large section of the destroyer’s main structure, including the captain’s cabin and sleeping quarters for 116 sailors below the waterline. Seawater flooded in through a large gash.

As the crew scrambled to save themselves and the ship, seven sailors didn’t make it out of the berthing area. Their bodies were recovered by divers after the ship crawled to the port of Yokosuka.

Badly injured, the captain, Bryce Benson, escaped from his cabin. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he was receiving emergency treatment on Sunday before being questioned.

This now clearly indicates the sailors were trapped or crushed and drowned down in their berths below the waterline, and would also account for the injuries to the captain as his cabin was specifically affected as well. Therefore we now know that another officer, not the captain, was OOD during the collision at night.

I suggest this will become a criminal proceeding. I cannot think of a ready excuse for a situation such as this occurring in the modern US Navy absent terrible negligence.

BZ

God bless and console the United States soldier

Let the angels rain down upon the one nation that continues to support the rest of the entire planet, enabled by the goodness and dollars of you and me. American taxpayers. Who don’t mind paying our fair share.

As long as we are not diminished, belittled, forgotten or ridiculed.

Everything Europe does today.

To us. You. Me. Our president.

How long can Europe demand we consume their shit? With no pushback?

I object.

BZ