The inconspicuous multipurpose F-35 fighter was defeated without firing a single shot at the enemy. The plane lost the main fight in its life long before its incarnation in the metal - the battle for the justification of its existence.
One can only admire the stubbornness and perseverance of the engineers at Lockheed-Martin, who from year to year correct the identified shortcomings and perfect the complex machine. The efforts of the designers are in vain - despite the brilliant solutions to all the problems that arise, the fighter does not fulfill its main mission: neither the Air Force, nor the Navy, nor the US Marine Corps have any need for such an aircraft.
Fate turned out to be merciless to this cute car, resembling a fat penguin: "Lightning" will never repeat the fates of the legendary Sabers, Phantoms or fourth-generation fighters. Not a single pilot will slam the Lightning over the silver lining and will not say, blurred in a Hollywood smile: “The car is simply gorgeous. This is the best on which I flew! ". The creators of the uber-plane are ashamed to look into the eyes of American taxpayers and European creditors - everyone who sponsored a deliberately uncompetitive project.
What is the reason for such a vile state of affairs?
Now it is completely unimportant: whether the F-35 meets or does not meet the requirements of the “fifth generation”: low profile / increased combat autonomy / cruising supersonic ...
Fate played a cruel joke with the “fifth generation” - most of the stated requirements do not meet the needs of the modern military aviation. And what is really necessary in reality has long been introduced on 4+ generation fighters (a striking example is over-maneuverability).
At the same time, such things as hypersound, increased survivability, absolute invisibility for radar detection means - that could become a real "impetus" for the appearance of fighters of a new generation, still remains in the field of science fiction.
As a result, what Lockheed-Martin designers offer under the guise of a fighter of the “new generation” is just an extremely expensive and complicated machine, standing on the “leading edge” of modern science and technology. At the same time, the achieved gain in the combat capabilities of the F-35 is incommensurable with the amount of funds spent on the creation of an Über-plane.
The abundance of new technologies and overly bold design solutions was not in vain - the F-35 is constantly “frayed” and “lame” during test flights. The wind blows down the most complicated electronics, the pilot doesn’t see a damn thing out of the cabin, and the landing hook, as luck would have it, is too short for a safe landing on the ship’s deck.
Of course, billions of dollars were not wasted in vain - a monstrous amount of money was converted into the powerful fighting machine F-35 "Lightning II".
Lightning is superior to its competitors in the area of stealth (detecting an enemy plane at a distance of 50 or 100 km is two big differences), versatility (sighting systems for working on the ground + a line of outstanding ammunition), as well as detection and integration into The Pentagon’s combat network (it’s no coincidence that the Yankees plan to “link” with the active AN / APG-81 phased array and AN / AAQ-37 electron-optical system naval Aegis air defense / missile defense system - F-35 soaring in the sky-high heights will automatically issue target designation for targets beyond the horizon). These are the side features of the Uber Fighter! In terms of airborne avionics and versatility, the F-35 confidently “plugs in the belt” even its older brother F-22.
It is necessary to note the ingenious concept of "three in one" - the Americans managed to create, on the basis of one glider, a light fighter-bomber for the Air Force, a deck aircraft for the Navy and a "vertical line" for the ILC. The process went with a big creak, the Yankees probably 10 once regretted their careless decision to "save", however, brought the matter to a logical end. Big money can work wonders - an investment of 56 billion in dollars will make even a piano on wheels fly.
And then questions begin. The first of these is why was the F-35 created at all? Formally, to replace the F-16 and F / A-18, as well as the specific AV-8B Harrier II.
In fact, the process is as follows: the Yankees really need to upgrade their fleet of light fighters - the last of the F-16 were transferred to the US Air Force eight years ago. But, excuse me, how is this related to F-35? Modern modifications "Fighting Falkenov" perfectly cope with their functions (cost / result), another thing is that they have not been released for a long time, and the existing F-16 is running out of resources.
The situation with the F / A-18 is even more interesting - the F / A-18E and 18F Super Hornet modifications are in the process of mass production and fully meet the requirements of seafarers.
As for the “vertical” AV-8B, the presence of such equipment in the composition of the aviation of the ILC raises more questions than answers. Wouldn't it be easier to call a link of normal fighters / bomber from the nearest airbase than to try to "shove" these nedosamolety onto the cramped decks of the same non-Avian carriers (versatile amphibious assault ships of the "Wosp" type)? And the use of VTOL F-35B is not a panacea.
To get new type of aircraft is always a pleasure. Another thing is that new fighters should be somewhat different from the "obsolete" aircraft in a positive direction.
This is where the main embarrassment arises. With all the apparent external futuristic, F-35 has no special advantages over the machines of the previous generation.
"Lightning" does not shine flight data: its thrust-to-weight ratio, load on the wing, the value of the established climb rate - everything remained at the level of fourth-generation fighters! There is not even such an interesting feature as a controlled vector of thrust - although it would seem that it is high time to acquire such a system - even in “lapotnaya” Russia, serial production of fighters equipped with engines with military equipment has been established.
The dispute about “flying in a supersonic without afterburner” does not matter: first, the F-35 cannot do this. Secondly, “supersonic without afterburner” is not a priority for modern aviation - the combat capabilities of fighters are determined by dozens of other, much more important parameters.
It is quite obvious: the creators of the F-35 have relied on the perfect on-board electronics and stealth. “Lightning” will be the first to notice the enemy and will be the first to deliver a devastating blow from the ultimate distance, and will remain unnoticed by enemy radars. The calculation is absolutely correct, but there is one important point:
All super-electronics and measures to reduce visibility, implemented in the project F-35, could be successfully introduced into the design of fourth-generation fighter!
As a result, we have the simplest logical chain:
1. The new "platform" did not give any advantages - LTH "Lightning" remained at the level of F-16 and F / A-18.
2. The high-tech “stuffing” of the F-35 does not require the creation of a special carrier for it - all systems
perfectly integrated into the design of existing machines.
The verdict is obvious: there was no need to create from scratch a new lightweight fighter. The existence of Lightning is not justified by anything other than the inordinate greed of the managers of Lockheed-Martin, who have convinced the Pentagon’s leadership that they are right.
As for the real "fifth generation fighter" - it seems that the hour of these machines has not yet struck. Modern science can not offer anything that could radically increase the capabilities of combat aircraft.
The pitiful existence of F-35 was suddenly disturbed by the news of the appearance of a formidable competitor. Who is the "put a pig" the latest American fighter? Who plotting against the USAF? Again, these unpredictable Russians with their Sukhoi PAK FA? Or the crafty Asians that copied the F-35 and now sell countless copies in each tray in the Chinese market?
Honestly, you will laugh. The American company "Boeing" tripped the footboard of the American fighter F-35. Fatally offended by the victory of competitors (concept X-32 proposed by Boeing completely lost to Lockheed-Martin concept X-35), Boeing’s top management sat down at the table, and after a short depression phase, decided to turn the offensive loss into their advantage (Americans, pragmatic people). Let competitors disgrace with their F-35, we will not repeat their mistakes and we will be ahead of the curve!
The look of X-32 is so disgusting that there is no way to publish an illustration without the risk of damaging the psyche of the reader.
There was little money - there was no need to rely on funding from the state, Lockheed Martin won all tenders. The development of a new fighter "from scratch" on its own "Boeing" could not pull. The conclusion was obvious: the modernization of existing models.
Then the gaze of Boeing specialists turned to the F / A-18 aircraft of the E / F Super Hornet.
What is this beast "Super Hornet"? Deck fighter-bomber generation 4 +
Easy, reliable, versatile. Twin-engine layout. Full integration into the structure of the US military. Impressive история services - in addition to the States, the Hornets family is in service with seven countries of the world. The main combat aircraft of the CMP aviation and the only fighter-bomber remaining on the decks of American aircraft carriers after the write-off of the F-14 "Tomcat" in 2006 year. There is something to be proud of.
The Super Hornet (adopted in 1999 year) is not an easy upgrade of the Hornet fighter. This is a completely new plane, a free improvisation based on F / A-18 - a glider, an engine, and avionics - absolutely everything has changed. The wing span increased by 20%, the mass of the empty aircraft - by 3 tons compared to the original design. The capacity of the F / A-18E fuel tanks exceeds that of the Hornet by a third, the combat radius increased by 40%.
The main direction of modernization was chosen to reduce the visibility of the aircraft. Box-shaped nacelles of engines with curved air intakes, high-quality "fit" and alignment of the joints of parts, the elimination of gaps and cavities-resonators, sawtooth joints of surfaces. Widespread introduction of radio transparent and radio absorbing materials has been ensured - according to Boeing’s representatives on F / A-18E and 18F, the most comprehensive set of measures to reduce the visibility among all modern fighters has been implemented, with the exception of F-35 and F-22 stealth aircraft.
This is the place to start!
After discussing all the issues, Boeing decided to create a future competitor F-35 on the basis of its Super Hornet. Why not?
Even the standard “Super Hornet” looks great against the background of the F-35. Flight data and combat load F / A-18E (single version) are absolutely identical to the parameters of the Lightning. The aircraft is tested in combat, reliable and unpretentious.
As for the “stuffing” - here the possibilities of upgrading the “Super Hornet” are practically unlimited - this is what the new EA-18G “Growler” electronic warfare aircraft demonstrated on the basis of the two-seater F / A-18F modification.
“Growler” is known for the fact that a couple of years ago, in one of the training air battles, he “hammered” the F-22 “Raptor” interference, and then conditionally destroyed the “enemy” with rocket weapons. News went beyond the scope of official reports and became the object of caustic jokes at foreign aviation forums in the style: “But have we done everything right? Maybe we should change the "Raptors" to EA-18G "?
Those. The Super Hornet payload reserve allows the installation of virtually any radio-electronic system on the airframe: a radar with AFAR, a system of IR sensors for circular surveillance, an active jamming station or an optical-electronic aiming system for ground-based operation.
After weighing the pros and cons, Boeing announced the launch of the Super Hornet International Roadmap program. As the name implies, Boeing actively contacts foreign developers, contractors and potential buyers. The design of the fighter of the new generation, which was named “Silent Hornet” (silent hornet - a hint of “stealth”), is prepared to the maximum extent for installing any equipment of foreign production - at the request of the customer.
The program was presented at the Farnborough 2010 aerospace show. A year later, a real machine “in metal” grew from a beautiful sketch on paper - a prototype for the study of the main developments under the “Silent Hornet” program, demonstrated at the international exhibition Aero India 2011 (Yelahanka Air Base, Bangalore).
An external inspection gives the following picture: the plane “absorbed” even more elements of the “stealth” technology - the main “highlight” was the ventral overhanging container, made in accordance with the requirements of low visibility. "Boeing" did not "mock" the original design, trying to find a place under the internal compartment of weapons, but simply carried the missiles to the external suspension, covering them with a radio-absorbing "cap", forming a single bottom profile of the aircraft. If the target is designated as “striking ground targets”, conventional bombs, PTBs, sighting and navigation containers or other equipment will take the place of the removable stealth container.
There was something else: the “glass cabin” of the new generation with wide-format indicators of the tactical situation with the possibility of mixing information (simultaneous output and overlaying of “images” from various sensors on a single scale) - as it should be for the fifth generation fighter.
On the hull of the Silent Hornet, specific “influxes” appeared - conformal fuel tanks providing intercontinental flight range. In addition, the Yankees promise new engines and a full range missile detection system, similar to AN / AAQ-37, which is installed on the F-35.
- Vivek Lall, Vice President, Boeing
In general, the appearance of "Silent Hornet" does not promise anything good for the F-35. The renewed F / A-18 has similar LTH, combat load, avionics and stealth elements. At the same time, the “Silent Hornet” goes at a dumping price, has proven itself well in combat and has a reputation as a powerful, reliable and versatile aircraft. It is no coincidence that thematic editions instantly dubbed the car, as JSF-killer (Joint Strike Fighter - program to create F-35).
The foreign operators of the Hornet family of fighters, among which currently are Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Finland, Spain, Switzerland and Malaysia, already have a prepared infrastructure and accumulated operating experience of such aircraft, so they will consider buying the updated Hornet with great interest whose capabilities match the advertised F-35.
Australia has already taken the first step - January 29 representatives of Canberra announced the cancellation of plans to buy F-2013 fighter jets, in favor of F / A-35F Super Hornet (18 fighter, contract amount $ 24 billion). It is possible that the new Australian F / A-2F will acquire many of the features of the Silent Hornet.
As for the States themselves, it is clear that the existing plans for the purchase of X-NUMX F-327C for deck naval aviation and 35 F-353B vertical pilots for KMP aviation will not be able to meet the needs of the American military - half of the squadrons will continue to fly Super Hornies, and , in perspective, on the “Silent Hornets”.
This is such a funny story - the impromptu Boeing created the Big Trouble program F-35 JSF, and now it is not known how the two aircraft giants will share the tactical aircraft market.
Epilogue. Russian aircraft developers should analyze the experience of their Western colleagues. Perhaps the constant evolution of fourth-generation fighter jets is the key to creating the fifth generation of this magnificent vehicle.