back to article Lockheed, USAF hold breath as F-35 pilots report hypoxia

A quarter of the world's F-35s have been temporarily grounded after starving their pilots of oxygen. The announcement was made by the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona after five F-35A pilots reported “physiological incidents” after which they had to draw on backup oxygen supplies before landing. Luke's …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Top Gun

    Take my breath away..... and now you'll be singing it all day :-)

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Top Gun

      As they say ... It's a small world, after all.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Top Gun @Jake

        B@$t4&d.

        I could cope with Berlin, but Disney....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O2 many issues

    Our ex-action-man-in-chief Tony Abbott signed us up for these duds.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: O2 many issues

      They've been putting the F35 up against a variety of other fighter aircraft in air combat competitions. It's done exceedingly well, when it actually makes it up into the air. Ok, it's early days, but it's beginning to look like the weapons system is actually pretty awesome.

      Whether it will end up living up to the initial billing, i.e. a superior all round air/ground attack aircraft, only time will tell. I was pretty sceptical about it ("multi-role" really annoys me - smacks of trying to save a penny and wasting lots of pounds), but I think that if they can just finish it, get it right, for some roles it could turn out to be really something. An ugly something, and it does-it-a-different-way something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: O2 many issues

        Ok, it's early days, but it's beginning to look like the weapons system is actually pretty awesome.

        After many tens of billions of development costs, and at $130m a piece, I'd hope so. If you'd thrown that sort of money at upgrades to F22 and the other older fast jets, the US military would have got a whole lot more for its money.

        But regardless of whether they can make it work, the idea of a shared platform between three fundamentally different missions has built in a series of compromises for the life of the aircraft. S/VTOL on fast jets has never been a materially useful military capability. If you're penny pinchers who won't build a proper carrier, S/VTOL may be a necessity, but that's attributable to government accountants rather than because the capability is actually solves a military need.

        1. Baldrickk

          Re: O2 many issues

          Yes, because every nation can afford to build Nimitz class carriers... the US have 10 built over 50 years, you are pumping them out so fast yourselves... /s

          Besides that, half the US carriers are of the STOVL type, carrying either helos or the venerable Harrier, which, oh, they bought all the old British ones. I'm sure they don't value the VTOL capabilities at all...

          Remember that the F-35 comes in different varieties, and only the carrier based one gets the VTOL.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: O2 many issues

            because every nation can afford to build Nimitz class carriers...

            Bizarre logic on your part. There's no need for the sort of scale, cost and complexity of a 100,000 tonne nuclear powered monster carrying 90 aircraft. A 50,000 tonne steam or gas turbine powered vessel with catapults could field a decent air wing of fifty aircraft including supersonic jets (eg R09, back in 1968). Had the idiots of the British government included catapults in the original spec of the QE class carriers, we wouldn't need the costly abomination that is the F35B.

            Besides that, half the US carriers are of the STOVL type,

            Doesn't make it a good idea though. A helicopter assault ship is just that. Giving it a couple of Harriers won't give it any defence capabilility against any modern air power. Although the dawn of hypersonic missiles and "swarm" tactics by non conventional militaries may mean that even a Ford class with a full collection of F35s is nothing more than a big, fat, dumb target.

            the venerable Harrier, which, oh, they bought all the old British ones

            If the Harrier was such a brilliant military asset, why did the US decide to build the F35B using Russian technology from the crappy Yak 38 and unproven Yak 141? It would seem that it did not occur to the Pentagon, that if there was the slightest hint of military potential in that tech, the Russians wouldn't be selling it to them. A further thought, is WHY the US and UK want carriers at all, given that the Russians have only one, that they are not looking to replace. We've jointly caused global mayhem by using our carriers as a small part of twenty years or so of hobby wars, they're clearly not much use in a real war against any modern military, they don't appear to be frightening Fat Boy Kim in North Korea, so is bombing Stone Age tribes in the Middle East and central Asia the single use case?

            F-35 comes in different varieties, and only the carrier based one gets the VTOL

            We do know. The whole F35 programme is bedevilled with the consequences of trying to share parts, use compromise specifications. Even if the F35B element were stopped today, the two other variants will still be "under the influence" of trying to make a multi-role aircraft for the remainder of their service lives.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: O2 many issues

              "Giving it a couple of Harriers won't give it any defence capability against any modern air power."

              A Harrier might have trouble against a proper Gen4.5 fighter, but they've shown themselves to be more than capable against other aircraft of a similar age.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: O2 many issues

                Er, hypersonic missiles - in swarms - might be a tad harder to defend against.

                1. Peter2 Silver badge

                  Re: O2 many issues

                  They might be. If and when they move from press releases and the drawing board into production (and testing) then we'll find out. Until then, they are essentially marketing vapourware.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: O2 many issues

                    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/russia-tests-hypersonic-zircon-missile-10558546

                    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                      Re: O2 many issues

                      Harrier is old hat now yes. But the AV8B on the otherhand is pretty much up to date. The usmc want to hold onto them. They are a multirole carrier capable aircraft and only lack supersonic capability.

                      They can mount AMRAAMs for cheap AA and have a decent upgraded radar.

                      Wonder what tech they are based on.....

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: O2 many issues

                        But the AV8B on the otherhand is pretty much up to date

                        Still a rehash of a design concept originated in 1957 - still unstable and tricky to fly, still can't carry any decent weapons load in VTOL, still aerodynamically compromised, still as stealthy as the Eiffel Tower. The newest of these AV8Bs are fifteen years old, and the design was completed 22 years ago. Not "up to date" in my book.

                        The jarheads want to hold onto the Harrier and take F35B not because these have much proven worth, but because they're desperate to keep their own fixed wing mini air force, and that SVTOL capability is just about their only real chance of having an argument for their own fixed wing capability. Logically, if USN can provide the ships for the USMC, then USN should provide the ocean-going air assets, with USAF doing the non-water based air missions. USMC may be the cream of the US fighting crop amongst conventional forces, but as a mini-military it is simply a job creation scheme for senior officers.

                        1. Sanguma Bronze badge

                          Re: O2 many issues

                          "USMC may be the cream of the US fighting crop amongst conventional forces, but as a mini-military it is simply a job creation scheme for senior officers."

                          Whipped cream? Sour cream?

                        2. Dave 15 Silver badge

                          Re: O2 many issues

                          The weapons issue is easily handled using short take off... with or without skijumps. The f35b isnt even as stealthy as the eiffel tower when it heads back to top op the fuel tanks that it empties so quickly... which is why it will get shot out of the sky with ease.

                          Frankly you can add manoeuvrability in the mix as well, the harrier is old but has tricks the f35 doesnt that means it stands more chance of evading the odd missile that might lock onto its radar footprint. If you were very worried about stealth you could take the rather sensible single engine concept and redsign the outer box to make it angular and stealthy.

            2. Baldrickk

              Re: O2 many issues

              @Ledswinger

              My point about the size of the carrier was to do with it being large enough to land conventional jet aircraft on the deck.

              Sure, you can launch them with a catapault - and I agree, we should have had them in the original spec, but recovering them with a restrictive runway is a lot harder.

              While the Harrier did have full VTOL capability, it was typically launched conventionally, and landed vertically for this reason (and limited coolant meant that you wanted to minimise time spent in vertical mode)

              You'll have to ask an aeronautical engineer as to why they chose the design they did for the F-35s. My assumption is that the more conventional engine layout was superior for both the stealth aspect and for the sharing of parts. Note that the F35 has only one jet nozzle and the Harrier has four.

              I wasn't suggesting to put the Harrier on new carriers, it was indeed a very successful aircraft, but you are correct, it is inferior to the current generation in combat. Until the F-35B becomes operationally availiable though, it is afaik the only VTOL jet availiable to the US. It's continued use shows that it is indeed useful still, because of that capability.

              1. imanidiot Silver badge

                Re: O2 many issues

                Either system has it's drawbacks. I think the F35 design allowed for a more stealthy design with better IR signature than the harrier concept. Limited cooling is however still a problem. The F35 is apparently more than capable of melting the deck underneath the tail if kept in a low hover too long

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: O2 many issues

                Remember that the reason the Harrier does short take off and vertical landing on the old British carriers is operational. With a full combat load, the Harrier doesn't have the power for a vertical take-off. Landing on the other hand you have minimal fuel, and have likely dispensed with munitions as well, so vertical landing becomes feasible.

                Water available for the water injection minimises time in the vertical, but realistically, time in vertical for take off and landing is minimal anyway.

              3. Dave 15 Silver badge

                Re: O2 many issues

                Inferior? Yeah, right, at least it could fly, it could fly near a thunderstorm and managed to fly more than once.

                Hermes managed to land fast jets ... they use arrester wires and always have .. even nimitz size does.

                True that the airframe needs to be up to handling that sort of brake. They could probably have done wires on illustrious etc but the harrier having only wheels in the centre and a couple of supports at the wing edge is not an ideal arrester wire candidate

                1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: O2 many issues @Dave 15

                  The Illustrious class of carriers had much too small a flight deck to operate conventional fixed wing aircraft operationally.

                  While it would have been possible to land a plane on the flight deck, it would have to be empty, requiring all other aircraft to be struck below while the landing was happening.

                  One of the advantages of the angled flight deck (a British innovation, and one not fitted to the through-deck cruisers - sorry, light carriers) was to allow concurrent flying-on and off operations.

                  Before that time, a carrier was normally either launching or recovering aircraft, not both (this was because if you missed the arrester wires, you need to have a clear space to throttle up and take back to the air in order to make another attempt). There were some experiments with barriers, but they tended to damage the aircraft in an arrester-wire miss. they were mainly used if an aircraft was damaged already.

            3. Joe User

              Re: O2 many issues

              Ledswinger: Had the idiots of the British government included catapults in the original spec of the QE class carriers, we wouldn't need the costly abomination that is the F35B.

              I think would it have been cheaper to equip the carriers with catapults and conventional aircraft than to flush money down the crapper on the shoddy F35's.

              1. Mark Dempster

                Re: O2 many issues

                >I think would it have been cheaper to equip the carriers with catapults and conventional aircraft than to flush money down the crapper on the shoddy F35's.<

                From the outset, yes you're probably right. But existing catapults rely on steam generators. The US carriers are nuclear powered, so generating steam is easy. The UK carriers aren't, so would need separate steam generation facilities - and there's no room.

                They were built with the 'capability' of being retro-fitted with electric catapults, but that technology's not been developed yet...

                We'd probably have been better off retaining the Harriers until the new catapults are available, instead of selling them to the yanks for £1

                1. Dave 15 Silver badge

                  Re: O2 many issues

                  No room?

                  You are jesting? These are the biggest carriers the royal navy has ever had and smaller carriers (like hermes) managed to provide steam. FFKS my kettle is a steam generator and is hardly huge. If we had been half intelligent these carriers would have been nuclear... but then again defended by crap planes like the f35 these carriers will be clutter on the ocean bed before the first fuel tank is empty

                2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: O2 many issues @Mark Demster

                  The US EMALS system is having problems at the moment, and if one had been fitted to one of the UK carriers, it would have taken almost the entire electrical output of the gas turbine/diesel electric powerplant in the QE for the duration of the recharge. This is probably the main reason that EMALS was rejected as a late addition.

                  Besides, who in their right mind would only fit a single catapult to such a large military asset. One mechanical failure would render the significant benefit of such a carrier useless, turning it into a liability in a combat situation.

                  The EMALS system uses an electro-mechanical kinetic energy storage system that draws significant power during the recharge. It is notable that the electrical generation capacity of the Ford sub class of the Nimitz design has a higher electrical output than the Nimitz, mainly (but not entirely) to provide power for the EMALS. This is such that it will not be possible to fit EMALS into the older Nimitz carriers.

                  The QE and PoW should have been designed as nuclear ships from the outset, but the general dislike of nuclear in the UK Parliament and population has resulted in ships that will succeed or fail on the back of one of the most expensive, complex and apparently troublesome aircraft ever created, and that is from a US contractor who has built a maintenance system that allows them to dictate how the aircraft can be used.

                  AFAIK, this will include the carriers not being able to do engine replacements in the aircraft without returning them to a maintenance base, that may not even be in the UK. Certainly not while at sea. Who's bright idea was that! Compare that with the F and F/A-18, where the aircraft can stowed as sub-assemblies, and assembled or used as spares while on active deployment (and would have been much cheaper and available now!).

            4. Dave 15 Silver badge

              Re: O2 many issues

              er Harrier crap????

              Seriously idiots like you said that and were roundly proved wrong when supersonic french built planes fell out of the sky in the Falklands, and again when we needed air power in the middle east.

              These days it is as much more to do with the ability to be where needed with a decent missile or two than to travel fast. The missile needs to catch the plane it needs to destroy not the launch platform. The harrier is better

          2. Jon 37 Silver badge

            Re: O2 many issues

            "Yes, because every nation can afford to build Nimitz class carriers... the US have 10 built over 50 years, you are pumping them out so fast yourselves... /s"

            But they last a long time. And there's no need for the latest hi-tech on them - the aircraft and escort ships need all the latest fancy missiles, radars, stealth, etc, to defeat the latest enemy aircraft/ships/missiles, but the carrier itself is just a big ship with a flat deck, a couple of catapults and hangers. OK, it needs nuclear reactors, which are complicated, but those are usually designed to last well over 50 years. So there's no reason why a carrier shouldn't last for many decades, and through a couple of generations of aircraft.

            Which is why the penny-pinching on the UK carrier is so shortsighted - not only does it increase the cost of the aircraft we buy now, and limit our aircraft options, it has the same effects when we try to buy the next generation of future carrier aircraft.

            Also, you don't need many carriers - the whole point is that they're mobile, so a couple in each ocean is plenty. For the sorts of things the UK gets involved in (e.g. supporting the Gulf War or retaking the Falklands) we'd have plenty of time to get them in position, so two carriers are sufficient. Further, a huge part of the cost is the planes and escort ships, so you don't want too many.

          3. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: O2 many issues

            ROT!

            Hermes flew fast jets before they removed the catapults and arrestors and put her skijump on

            The little carriers we had were a bit too small for a fast jet but actually not that much too small

            Our current two large floating targets (no planes so not carriers) are more than big enough for fast jets being several times as large as the eagle or ark who both (being bigger than hermes) also flew fast jets... and actually BRITISH fast jets at that

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: O2 many issues @Dave

              That depends on what you call a fast jet!

              The only supersonic jet that was deployed on UK carriers was the F-4K Phantom II (FG.1), which was a US design re-worked with British engines and avionics. Only the Ark was capable of flying the F-4K. as Eagle has not been fitted with the reinforced and water cooled blast deflectors that allowed the Ark to operate them. This meant that the Eagle was withdrawn from service before the Ark, even though it was actually in a better state of maintenance (I very sadly saw her in her last days, moored and in reserve at Drakes Island in the Plymouth sound).

              Ignoring the Harrier, the last UK produced 'fast' plane was the Blackburn Buccaneer, which was a formidable surface attack aircraft, bot not supersonic. Prior to that it was Sea Vixens, Sea Venoms, Scimatars, and Sea Hawks. All of these were designed in the '40's and '50s, and were regarded as 1st of 2nd generation jets at best.

              Amusing story. The F-4K needed afterburners in order to launch with full weapons load (The Spey engines were less powerful without afterburner than the US General Electric J79 engines fitted to the F-4J). When joint operations with the US happened, it was found that the heat of the afterburners, and the increased angle as a result of the lengthened nose wheel would soften and melt the deck and blast-deflectors on the US carriers,which meant that the UK planes were not welcome on the US carriers.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "After many tens of billions of development costs, and at $130m a piece, "

          That is the "cheap" model the USAF are buying.

          Others are much more expensive.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "After many tens of billions of development costs, and at $130m a piece, "

            Is that with or without engine?

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: O2 many issues

        er... what have you been watching or smoking? Faced with a Russian Sukov (or 3 as they are much cheaper) 95% of the time the f35 ends up a smouldering wreck and not back at base.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: O2 many issues

      Never mind the quality - feel the profit! (And the kickbacks).

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: O2 many issues

      Upvote and a pint for the title ^

  3. Woza
    Coat

    Hmm

    Luke AFB to Lockheed: How are our pilots supposed to function without oxygen?

    Lockheed: Use the force, Luke!

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      It's not just Lockheed. The F22 has had problems (Lockheed again), but the F18 has also had problems, as has the T45 Goshawk; they're both Boeing products. The Goshawk is based on the BAE Hawk, which is British, and AFAIK that has never had any problems in its long and reliable history, so the Americans must have changed something.

      To me it sounds like there's a problem with the US standards that govern how oxygen systems are designed, tested, etc. To have basically the same problem on four different types from two different manufacturers when one of them in it's original form (the BAE Hawk) has never had an issue sounds too much to be coincidence.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: Hmm

        'To me it sounds like there's a problem with the US standards that govern how oxygen systems are designed, tested, etc. To have basically the same problem on four different types from two different manufacturers when one of them in it's original form (the BAE Hawk) has never had an issue sounds too much to be coincidence.'

        I believe the original Hawk used Liquid Qxygen, which is a bit of a nightmare storage wise and to work with. The Goshawk and the other aircraft you list use an On-board Oxygen Generation System which produces sufficient oxygen at the right pressure from the atmosphere, except when they don't. This has a lot of advantages in terms of infrastructure and logistics requirements when it comes to supporting the aircraft.

        As far as I know there's only one system in use so the fact that the failures are being experienced on types from different manufacturers isn't surprising. The fact it's only happening on distinct sub-fleets is, for instance so far there have been no occurrences on the EF-18G which is just a Super Hornet with more electronics.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          As far as I know there's only one system in use so the fact that the failures are being experienced on types from different manufacturers isn't surprising.

          Aha, now that's interesting. The variation in behaviour is indeed surprising. They're clearly finding it hard to pin down the reason why. Perhaps having just one standard design is a disadvantage...

          I wonder if they can put a LOX system in?

  4. theblackhand
    Coat

    Is this part of...

    ...the drive towards unmanned planes?

    1. kmac499

      Re: Is this part of...

      ...the drive towards unmanned planes?

      Manned Take-off then the Skynet chip kicks in..

    2. Adam 1

      Re: Is this part of...

      And why not. I imagine the main limitations on performance are the meat bags inside who you need to keep alive. There is only so many G's of force that a pilot can survive, let alone function within. Plus they need air, water, waste disposal, ejection seats, parachutes etc.

      I would have thought it more effective to have a swarm of hundreds or even thousands of drones if you are spending north of a hundred mill a pop.

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: Is this part of...

        Without the meatbags, an empty ejection seat popping out the top of the plane when it got into trouble would just look silly.

        1. theblackhand

          Re: Is this part of...

          So they can't fix the ejection seat issues then?

        2. Sanguma Bronze badge

          an empty ejection seat ...

          Decoy, cuzzybro, decoy! that's what it's all about. Come to think of it, sending armed and mobile blow-up dolls en masse onto an enemy-held beach would also qualify as a decoy ... it should would not only save Private Ryan, it would save Ryan's privates too!!!

        3. JLV
          Trollface

          ...an empty ejection seat

          But it wouldn't break any necks

  5. disorder

    As the US withdraws from Paris over carbon dioxide, it risks that it may pull out over oxygen too? Are there other gases at which it does not consider itself responsible to appropriately limit, perhaps methane?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Gunsmoke.

    2. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Stinks!

      Methane is a gas often found in trumps (farts to our 'Merkin cousins).

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: Stinks!

        "Methane is a gas often found in trumps (farts to our 'Merkin cousins)"

        Are you sure that word is not in common use now in the US?

        1. Joe User

          Re: Stinks!

          The American equivalent is "butt trumpet", which is a pretty good description of the President's statements....

  6. jake Silver badge

    Why slight the Tiger Moth?

    Shirley they are still perfectly respectable trainers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why slight the Tiger Moth?

      I thought he was suggesting that the F-35 would only work with the cockpit open.

      1. GrumpyOldMan

        Re: Why slight the Tiger Moth?

        if its a nice day why not have the cabin open? Wind in the hair, bugs up your nose....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why slight the Tiger Moth?

          Fowls of the air striking you on the forehead at 600 mph...

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Why slight the Tiger Moth?

      Again, at least the Moth flies... something the F35 seems to find a limitiation

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: Why slight the Tiger Moth?

        Again, at least the Moth flies... something the F35 seems to find a limitiation

        Anyone else thinking of the sci-fi short "a hawk amongst the pidgeons"? Basic plot (advanced modern jet gets dumped back in time to WW 1 and thinks "aha! I'll destroy all the German air force with my awesome power". Except that his modern missiles won't lock on to the biplanes and the speed differential is too high for him to use guns.

        At the end of the story he goes through another time rift to the modern day and no-one will believe his story.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    I'm surprised...

    I find it surprising pilots are still willing to fly these things after all the problems found with this airframe time and time again (A lot of them potentially deadly). I'm not surprised they found another problem. I doubt that'll stop any time soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm surprised...

      I find it surprising pilots are still willing to fly these things

      How long before they start to add "bring your own air" to the list of things that soldiers have to supply personally because the official-issue is crap? Boots, GPS, etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm surprised...

      I find it surprising pilots are still willing to fly these things after all the problems found

      You don't join the military and fly fast jets unless you're comfortable taking very high risks, and flying aircraft that often have a whole range of documented and undocumented problems. IIRC, in the 1980s RAF pilots in training were told that they had a 1 in 30 likelihood of being killed on peacetime active service during their career.

      Do a search on "Harrier losses" and look down the Wikipedia list of aircraft losses - pretty grim, but didn't appear to put people off flying them.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: I'm surprised...

        Not that grim

        A fair list of crashes but a large percentage are aircraft abandoned suggesting the pilot probably survived, some were losses due to failure on the ground, some obvious stupidity and a number of combat losses. True not the safety record of a commercial airliner but hardly being used in the same way.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: I'm surprised...

      No surprise. They don't call them "fighter jocks" for nothing. Including the women.

      Besides, at that age you are immortal and indestructable. (Until the day life teaches you otherwise.)

      Another example courtesy of Lokheed: Germany bought 916 'Starfighter' (30 F-104F, 586 F-104G*, 163 RF-104G and 137 TF-104G, of which 35 were stationed in the USA for training purposes). Roughly one third, 269 machines, were lost in crashes. Another 31 had to be written off due to accidents, making it a nice round 300. Including the last deadly crash in 1984, a total of 116 pilots were killed. In not a single combag sortie. It was nicknamed the 'widowmaker with wings'. I remember jokes from when I was kid along the lines that the cheapest way to aquire a 'Starfighter' was to buy a plot of land and just wait.

      And yet there never was any shortage of pilots wanting to fly it. Grown men had tears in their eyes when the F-104 was finally retired in 1991.

      * The troubled multi-role version.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm surprised...

        "Besides, at that age you are immortal and indestructable. (Until the day life teaches you otherwise.)"

        But it doesn't - that's the trouble. By the time it's through teaching you, you are through living.

      2. Fr. Ted Crilly

        Re: I'm surprised...

        Any body want to buy a Starfighter!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWipIji35Cg

  8. A K Stiles
    Joke

    Nothing to see here

    It's a "Strong and Stable" aircraft which will "Make America Great Again" and anyone who says otherwise is just a pinko-commie-socio-liberalist-tard!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing to see here

      "pinko-commie-socio-liberalist-tard!!"

      So if we had a vote on it in the UK tomorrow, it would probably be cancelled?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      "It's a "Strong and Stable" aircraft which will "Make America Great Again" "

      House!

      I claim my free teeshirts. The first featuring the D with both hands raises and the caption "Hail Hydra" and the other with May reading "Oh no, the deflector shields will be quite operational" as one commentard referred to her as "Creepy as f**k"

      1. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Re: "It's a "Strong and Stable" aircraft which will "Make America Great Again" "

        "I claim my free teeshirts."

        Both of which need to be in the Reg Shop.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    The F35. Is there no end to the things it cannot do properly?

    Still never mind. It's probably just a another glitch in the software.

    Just hold your breath till the new release comes out.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The F35. Is there no end to the things it cannot do properly?

      ...and then install that via a USB stick, one plane at a time.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Awesome...

    I'm so happy that my government (Dutch) chose to go for the JSF F35 instead of showing some European cooperative mentality and deciding for the Eurofighter. Yeah, apparently people should only feel "European" (instead of Dutch) when it best serves the government.

    Now we got a plane which we're not allowed to use on our own because the US basically decides everything (even where to send them for maintenance), the plane has a much shorter action radius and can carry less fuel than its Dutch predecessor the F16 Starfighter. So now it turns out that it will also suffocate the pilots, effectively doing the enemies job for them.

    I wonder what will be next...

    1. Alumoi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Awesome...

      It's called globalization, if you must know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Awesome...It's called globalization, if you must know.

        So you mean in a few years you'll be able to buy a Chinese copy, and a few years after that the Chinese version will have the bugs ironed out, be cheaper, but getting it serviced will mean a trip to Shanghai?

        1. Aladdin Sane

          Re: Awesome...It's called globalization, if you must know.

          Trip to Shanghai seems less risky than a trip to Turkey ATM.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Awesome...It's called globalization, if you must know.

          Why buy a "Chinese copy" when you could have a Chinese original?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengdu_J-20

          Which most fighter pilots would much prefer to fly (especially the air breathers).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Awesome...It's called globalization, if you must know.

          Yea, but the shipping to get the plane to Shanghai will be more than just buying a new unit. Buy in bulk on Alibaba, but be sure to check the reviews for sizing, and be aware that colors may not match the pictures on the online listing.

    2. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Awesome...

      F-16 - Fighting Falcon (also commonly referred to as Viper)

      F-104 - Starfighter

      Both are now Lockheed Martin products though (General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to Lockheed in 1993)

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Awesome...

      @ShelLuser

      No, not really. The Eurofighter is an even poorer choice than the F35 for the use"case of the Netherlands. Just ask the Brits how the update program is going to get the Typhoon even moderately capable of doing ground attacks (hint, BAE systems is involved). It has a poor load carrying capacity, poor range and per unit costs after figuring in added costs for integration of our weapons and electronics systems is not actually all that much cheaper than the F35. Added to that it's known to be a bit of a pig in terms of maintenance costs too.

      The Saab Grippen has similar issues, added to the fact we'd be buying a version that doesn't even currently exist. Not even finished on the drawing board.

      But the biggest thing is that for what the Netherlands does with it's aircraft (ground support, reconnaisance and air intercepts within Dutch airspace for the majority part) the F16 does just fine, and would do for the considerable future. We could probably have bought close to the over 200 F-16's we originally had. We have the parts, the training and the infrastructure to deal with that airfraem. But no, we wanted the latest shiny. And we get only 35 of those new F35s! (at most)

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Awesome...

        Who wants to join in creating a copy of the old tsr2, put a modern engine in, call it tsr3 and we would have a winner... cheap, fast, manoeuvrable, good range, good payload... if we fix the landing gear a wonderful plane... we could probably even make use of its slightly slab sided shape to reduce radar footprint

  11. Chris G Silver badge

    F-35 World's most advanced

    And expensive feck up.

    Everything I read about the F-35 is negative and the UK is tied into,this ill conceived piece of crap, heads should roll in both government and the military/industrial complex that hatched this (occasionally) flying joke.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: F-35 World's most advanced

      The UK are kind of stuffed either way, because we need a S/VTOL aircraft to go on our carriers, and, well, the F35 B is basically the only game in town.

      The only other option is to go back in time and start developing a "Harrier 2" (or similar) about twenty years ago.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F-35 World's most advanced

      Your old-fashioned and narrow view of the matter misses the point. Judged as an effective fighter-bomber, the F-35 is no doubt a heap of expensive junk. Judged properly, however, as a mechanism for transferring as much of the taxpayers' money to the pockets of industrialists and politicians as quickly as possible... it is the biggest success story EVER.

  12. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Somehow, whenever I see an image of this aircraft in any article, my instant thought is: "What's wrong now?" or alternatively "Not again!"

    Can't think why.

    1. Joe User
      Happy

      That will end up being the pilots' nickname for the plane:

      I fly an F-35 "What's wrong now?!"

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        I fly an F-35 "What's wrong now?!"

        If it was a Culture ship I suspect the name would be "I fly sometimes, other times I don't".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, at least the flight AI works..

    It appears they accidentally installed a sane AI in those planes if decided to take out the pilots. Alternatively, it could be because they outsourced that development to Trump's Russian friends to curry favour with the administration...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "sane AI in those planes if decided to take out the pilots. "

      "Self fragging" weaponry has been a specialty of the US since the "Sgt Yorke" anti aircraft done did a 180deg turn and attempted to open fire on the assembled top brass in the grand stand behind the gun.

      During the attempted demonstration it successfully locked onto a small fast moving target and totally destroyed it.

      Along with the latrine the small ventilator fan was fitted to.

      It's reputedly the model for the "ED209" robot in the original Robo Cop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "sane AI in those planes if decided to take out the pilots. "

        "... the "Sgt Yorke" anti aircraft done did a 180deg turn and attempted to open fire on the assembled top brass in the grand stand behind the gun".

        Now that's what I call a smart AI!

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "sane AI in those planes if decided to take out the pilots. "

        Rumor has it that the missile was heard to say "Damn... missed again." as it missed the brass hit the latrine.

  14. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    given extra training to recognise the symptoms of hypoxia,

    Erm...isn't that already something given prominence in amongst all the other training seen as being vital to survival in a fighter aircraft that spends significant time well above the altitudes where breathing is considered normally survivable?

    I pretty sure I saw a documentary about pilot training and them sitting in an altitude chamber so they can experience and learn from the effects of hypoxia since damage to their aircraft while flying is not unheard of.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: given extra training to recognise the symptoms of hypoxia,

      There's a difference between it being covered on the pilots original training "yeah, this could possibly happen if your plane is damaged so FYI..." along with a hundred other eventualities and "yeah, this plane is occasionally known to suffocate it's pilots. We think we might have figured out why and if that's the problem then we might have fixed it, but let's teach you how to deal with your own aircraft trying to kill you as you might need to know. But don't worry, you can have total confidence in our equipment! But seriously, don't forget to check your handheld backup oxygen container."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Vietnam, only more so

    I remember reading various memoirs about the air war in Vietnam. At least one Phantom pilot remarked that, when flying those things, you were less worried about the enemy because nine times out of ten it was your own plane that would do you in.

    Who says there is no such thing as progress?

  16. SkippyBing

    Wrong Jet

    Apart from using a picture of the wrong version to illustrate the article, the question should be why are only the aircraft at Luke AFB being affected and not the ones at Hill, Nellis, Edwards or Eglin AFB? Or, so far, any of the F-35B or C models.

    The on-board oxygen generation system seems to develop faults in sub-fleets of the aircraft its used in, the problem is going to be figuring out what the common factor is with those sub-fleets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong Jet

      "The on-board oxygen generation system seems to develop faults in sub-fleets of the aircraft its used in, the problem is going to be figuring out what the common factor is with those sub-fleets."

      I doubt this is anything to do with it, but does anyone else remember the story in The Right Stuff about the aircraft assembler who was putting bolts in upside down because they looked better that way and killed a number of pilots?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong Jet

        Thanks for reminding me - I recollect what a great book that is, but most of the details are long gone.

        Also - what a quintessentially pointy-haired thing to be doing! Are you sure it was an assembler and not a manager?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong Jet

      "The on-board oxygen generation system seems to develop faults in sub-fleets of the aircraft its used in, the problem is going to be figuring out what the common factor is with those sub-fleets."

      Oh, oh, I know. The ones with the problem all have wings!

      Dave

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong Jet

        And engines.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    Awaiting a speech from the D.....

    "This aircraft is awesome. It's the best aircraft America has ever made. It's got yuuuuuge potential and it just keeps getting better. Our allies will be total losers if we offered it to them and they did not buy it. But we won't. It's that good we're keeping it for ourselves* "

    *This is fake news. IRL the D has not been that impressed given how much cash has been spent.

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Awaiting a speech from the D.....

      'IRL the D has not been that impressed given how much cash has been spent.'

      But don't forget the D negotiated a massive discount*.

      *This is also fake news, but no one seems to want to point out to the D that the DoD and LM had already agreed the price reductions he claims to have negotiated. Almost as if flattering his ego might just be the easiest way of dealing with the problem.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Awaiting a speech from the D.....

      I was waiting for the mention of beautiful chocolate cake, but it never came. Colour me disappointed!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Awaiting a speech from the D.....

      This is fake news. IRL the D has not been that impressed given how much cash has been spent.

      Only because he didn't get a slice of that expenditure. Trust me, once the military figures out a way to give him a percentage he'll go quiet.

  18. John 104

    @F104

    Why are you people even bringing that aircraft up? It's decades old. In fact, its a 61 year old platform from the very early days of the jet age. Why was Germany even flying these in the 80s as trainers when there were more suitable aircraft to train on? Sorry, but bringing up the safety of something that old, based on tech from the 40s and 50s doesn't support your argument much.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Well, history does have a way of repeating itself. Sometimes that's good, other times not so much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How the hell did he see 165 years into the future?

        "Well, history does have a way of repeating itself.

        As Karl Marx observed, "... the first time as tragedy, the second as farce".

        Which brings us back to the F-35.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @F104-Why are you people even bringing that aircraft up? It's decades old.

      There are lots of decades old aircraft designs still flying very successfully and very safely.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: @F104-Why are you people even bringing that aircraft up? It's decades old.

        There are lots of decades old aircraft designs still flying very successfully and very safely.

        Like the Sea Vixen recently? Great flight, shame about the landing[1] :-)

        [1] To be fair, it was a textbook "wheels up" landing and the pilot survived - as did the aircraft (mostly).

  19. Michael Sanders

    Malware?

    At this point I'm really starting to wonder that there's some kind of Stuxnet (Stuxjet) happening. A lot of software is complicated. But this has gone on so long to be this sick...?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "A lot of software is complicated. But this has gone on so long to be this sick...?"

      Well......

      Lockheed Martin said they couldn't get enough Ada programmers and could not deliver the software on time so they asked the DoD if they could use C/C++ and the DoD said yes.

      AFAIK they still didn't deliver the software on time. But they did manage to add a whole bunch of bugs which IMHO the Ada compiler and design process would have caught.

      This system is a)Embedded IE relatively tight resource limits. b)Has hard real time response constraints c)Does a shed load of stuff most other aircraft don't run on board the aircraft IE logistics and repair order generation.

      You can throw extra processors at the RT limits but this combination will stress your development tools and chosen language pretty hard. For example the slightest memory leak will eventually have severe consequences. IIRC this project has a 200 page C++ coding guide. You have to wonder how much of this could be eliminated if they'd stayed with Ada.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: "A lot of software is complicated. But this has gone on so long to be this sick...?"

        Lockheed Martin said they couldn't get enough Ada programmers and could not deliver the software on time so they asked the DoD if they could use C/C++ ...

        I don't know the background here, but from what you say this sounds like the age-old recruitment problem -- they asked for Ada programmers, when they should have asked for programmers (possibly with aerospace experience) and taught them Ada. Good programmers should be able to pick up a new language without too much trouble.

        (Yes, I have used Ada, it's not the easiest language to learn, but it's not beyond the wit of mankind.)

        Then again, it could just be that they asked for Ada programmers, and the available Ada programmers decided they weren't paying enough. If that's the case then I doubt the use of C++ was the cause of the problem so much as the use of mediocre staff.

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: "A lot of software is complicated. But this has gone on so long to be this sick...?"

        oh please...

        tight resource constraints... let me guess several gigabytes of memory, some flash storage a dozen or so arm cores ... or put another way more power than an 80s cray.

        memory leaks... haven't you heard there are static code analysis tools out there and an idea called testing... both are pretty good at sorting this shit out, and frankly any half decent system can be made to show you the leaks

  20. John 104

    @Vonya i Mor

    I get that, but comparing an F104 to just about any currently operating combat capable aircraft from any country is a bit silly.

  21. fobobob

    Something something .. Pentagon Wars

  22. Robert Moore
    Mushroom

    Say what you want about the F104

    It may have been designed to kill off less skilled pilots, but it was amazingly beautiful. If you're going to die at least the F104 let you exit with style.

    (F104 is my favourite jet.)

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      It may have been designed to kill off less skilled pilots,

      Apparently it got a lot better after they retrofit a "Boudnary Layer Control" system, which was designed in from day one on the Buccaneer, another aircraft from that era.

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: It may have been designed to kill off less skilled pilots,

        Buccaneer, now that WAS a plane... and British to boot :) Why the hell we are buying yankee crocks of shit when we can, have, and would if given a chance build BETTER ourselves is quite beyond me, maybe our lords and masters are so busy sticking their tongues up the sun not shining parts of the yanks that they are scared we would show the yanks up.

  23. YARR
    Black Helicopters

    Conspiracy theory... the F35 is really a technology development program for the F36

    Once all the technical problems have been resolved and "partner" countries have paid their bills, the F35 program with it's negative publicity will be confined to carrier-only variants and the "new" F36 will be unveiled. The F36 will be a development of the F35 designed to re-use F35 components and software, but redesigned for best performance as a cost-efficient land-based fighter.

  24. MAH

    what I don't understand is...why is everyone buying the exact same aircraft. Isn't the whole point of the military to ensure they have a edge over their enemies (or friends as it were today). If everyone is spending millions to buy the same damn thing, all you are doing is spending a whole lot of money just to have a stalemate (and that could be accomplished with a single jet each).

    Seems stupid to spend everything you have to not have any advantage at all (because the people are not really what I'd call an advantage)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wargaming 5c

      If everyone has the same aircraft wargaming is so much easier. You can work out the result in advance. That hypoxia is a feature so the actual battle can be made to conform to the simulation. No need for missiles. Virtual bang, pilot dead for real.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "what I don't understand is...why is everyone buying the exact same aircraft. "

      Perhaps because they are not?

      The variants have diverged so much from each other that apparently there is now about 20% commonality between them.

      Which (probably) will cut down the logistics costs compared with supporting 3 wholly separate designs, if you operate multiple variants.

      Will it be enough to justify the development budget to date?

      Who can say?

    4. SkippyBing

      'what I don't understand is...why is everyone buying the exact same aircraft. Isn't the whole point of the military to ensure they have a edge over their enemies (or friends as it were today).'

      Most of these countries have been buying one or other of the US's jet fighters for several decades* now, the only real difference is there's less choice. The calculation then is are you likely to go to war with one of the other countries with it, if you're a NATO partner** almost certainly not. The other users are also closely enough aligned that there's unlikely to be a conflict.

      What will be interesting is how much sharing of tactics and training goes on as that's normally where the edge is rather than the hardware.

      *F-104, F-111, F-4, F-5, F-15, F-16, F/A-18

      **Stand fast Greece and Turkey.

  25. I3N
    Pint

    Apropos for the F-35 - That base is a cursed, ancient burial ground ...

    As a little tyke, going past Luke meant seeing the legions of WWII and Korean War scrapped planes and helicopters ...

  26. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Luke AFB

    ...there's also a Duke AFB.

    Where's Daisy?

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