Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Greased Lightening ....

Down on the underside of the world the citizenry of Australia are starting to ask just what a pup they are being sold with latest budget sucking monstrosity of an air frame which is the much delayed bodge, known as the Lockheed-Martin F35 Lightening. Apparently the Australian Government have chucked some Aus$ 18 billion at Lockheed-Martin for the F35 and so far not even seen the commemorative golden rivet that is to be placed in the first aircraft delivered to the ARAF.

In a newspaper report the Australian Defence Minister claimed the problems with and delays to the standard USAF variant of the F35, they are purchasing, are 'minor teething problems' such as the occasional Pratt and Whitney turbo jet engine bursting into flames on take off (well they have two for that reason). If the plane is operating in an ambient temperature of over 32C it won't work because the fuel gets too hot and the sensor package thinks it is on fire so switches off 'minor' stuff off like the engines. To get round this, the current procedure is to intermittently open the weapons bay doors which is fine it cools the fuel and the engines keep working. Yet this rather wrecks the stealth capability of the plane, its big USP (unique selling point), which then makes it appear like a big, bright blob on a North Korean radar screen, crying shoot me down and put me out of my misery. This, according to MoD Australia, is a 'minor' problem. Then there is the slight embarrassment, in this super conducting, fly by wire, computer game plane, that the data encryption can apparently be hacked into by a four year old with a mobile phone and the 'Flash Player' update for the 25 mm Aden Canon, being fitted to the Australian variant, is not likely to be available this side of 2019. This is fortunate because MoD Australia are now not expecting the first delivery of any F35 air frames to the ARAF, first promised for 2012, until 2021 at the earliest.

The UK MoD has also thrown billions of UK taxpayers pounds at Lockheed-Martin for the F35 'Lightening' VSTOL variant which is even more complicated in its avionics and engine control package than the ARAF's lame duck variant. There has been one major problem with the UK's version which no doubt the current Tory minster would refer to as a 'minor teething problem' if asked,  is the standard air frame which was supposed to help keep the cost down, cracks up under the stress of VSTOL operations. As the RN's new aircraft carriers were designed to land and launch standard carrier aircraft, serious thought was given to putting back in the catapult and arrester gear which Gordon 'Prudence' Brown made the RN take out to keep costs down. The reason for this was the reality that the UK's F35 VSTOL variant will be unlikely to see front line service much before 2030. The RAF /RN team looked at the USN F35 carrier variant only to discover it was having the same problems of air frame failure due to the impact of carrier launches and landing and, as a bonus 'minor teething problem', the arrester hook had been put in the wrong place increasing the stress on the F35 carrier variant's already over stressed air frame, so the carrier variant F35 is also unlikely to be available in an export version until 2030 when all the USN orders will have been fulfilled. As a result it was decided the UK would stick with the VSTOL variant after all, even though its already reduced weapon load capability compared to the rest of the F35 variants, courtesy of the bigger and heavier VSTOL jet engine, had to be decreased further to balance the extra strengthening of the air frame required, so it did not fall apart after a couple of flights. The only lightening so far achieved in the UK variant is that of lightening UK taxpayers' pockets.

My regular readers will no doubt now have alarm bells ringing loudly in their heads at the mention of Lockheed-Martin because these are the same jokers who are developing Trident 3 to sell to the 'Little Willie Wavers' of the Conservative, Labour and Unionist Party, to make up for their own political inadequacies. These are the same bunch of money munching 'Yahoos' who the Tories have just chucked £600 million to as Trident 3 preproduction and preparation fees - even though the Trident 3 replacement program has yet to be agreed by the UK's Parliament and has been soundly rejected by those who it impacts on the most in terms of the threat of nuclear holocaust, the people of Scotland.

A cursory look at Lockheed-Martin's F35 program cost over run must place in severe doubt the Tory Government's claim the UK's Trident 3 program will 'only cost' £100 billion over its life time. This needs to be put in the context of how much the recent, new build, Astute Class submarine program at Barrow in Furness has over run the original cost and is still sucking up RN finance in attempts to get this class of submarines into a fit state to do the job they are supposed to do. So much has been taken out of the RN procurement budget for 'fixes' the rumour mill is claiming the full number of Astute class boats required to operate effectively will not be built. Trident 3 requires a new class of 'bomber' submarine for the RN, the cost over runs will be at least as great as the Astute Class and the RN is already talking about building the new Trident submarines 'one short' of ideal requirements, Royal Navy speak for only three boats rather than the current, accepted, operational minimum of four.

A question, I propose, not so much of greased lightening but of greased palms, as the embarrassment and continuing failure of the Lockheed-Martin F35 program to deliver an aircraft which actually works, is swept under the carpet in Defence Department partners around the world. Hardly much of a recommendation to believe Cameron or any other Trident 3 supporters in the UK Parliament's claims of cost control or cost effectiveness during its build and operation. The one thing NAO report after NAO report has made clear is UK Government Departments and thier UK Parliamentary masters can not be trusted to cost effectively procure a dozen tooth brushes for the UK Armed Forces, a computer system for the DWP or build a school for a reasonable sum, let alone something as complex as the F35 or Trident 3.

1 comment:

  1. The price to be paid for being in thrall to the US of A is to support their military industrial complex.
    Also,of course,we are governed by a bunch of public school kids who still think we are a global military power and need the trinkets to prove it (very expensive trinkets!).
    The Westminster establishment have a standard set of scripts ready for each occasion when it comes to conning the great British public.
    We have seen recently a variation on the Scottish independence fear script,based on the Quebec independence fear script,being deployed as the EU exit fear script.
    They also have a Trident fear script,based on the USSR fear script and the aircraft carrier fear script,based on Johnny Foreigner terrorist scripts and so on.
    Government by fear.

    Thanks Peter.