The F-35 Just Keeps Getting Worse

The F-35 Just Keeps Getting Worse, by David Archibald.

Another supposed characteristic of fifth-generation aircraft is the ability to supercruise — that is, to maintain supersonic flight without using the afterburner. This is not a new capability. The first production aircraft to supercruise was the English Electric Lightning, on 11th August, 1954. So some aircraft have been capable of supercruise for nigh on 70 years. Both the F-22 and the Su-35 can supercruise at Mach 1.6, which is the highest speed achievable by the F-35.

The ability to supercruise has been dropped as a term defining fifth-generation aircraft because the F-35 can’t exceed Mach1 without using afterburner and thus tripling its fuel burn rate. And now we are told that the F-35 can’t go supersonic for a minute or so without damaging its airframe, stealth coating and “also the myriad antennas located on the back of the plane that are currently vulnerable to damage.” …

There is one major deficiency of the F-35 that won’t be announced by the F-35 program office, because it was built into the aircraft in the first place. It is one that no one but pilots complain about. In the words of a pilot:

“The F-35 is so limited in the rate at which it sucks in air-to-air refueling that it takes a flight of four almost 30 minutes to finish completely refueling each one from a KC-135, KC-10 or a KC-46.”

The pilots say that to fully refuel your flight of four, send No 4 home before you start. Why? Because the F-35 has 11 internal fuel tanks (!) with a computer-controlled ultra-complex pumping system for transferring fuel among the 11 to keep the F-35’s very tight center-of-gravity limits within safe controllability specs.

That Rube Goldberg plumbing makes it impossible to transfer fuel at a rate faster than 6 to 7 minutes to fully fuel the F-35, far slower than F-16s, F-15s, F-18s and F-22s.

The incompetence, corruption, and complacency of western bureaucracies is endangering us. And it’s not just the slow and ineffective responses to coronavirus or the climate change modeling that are the problems. It’s broken out in so many areas.