ROK CVX

Early ROK CVX (LPXII) Rendering

In its Navy Vision 2045 plan, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) announced that it would develop a light aircraft carrier (CVX) capable of fielding a wing of F-35B style short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. The CVX, a twin island flat-top (see the UK carriers) that can carry roughly 20 fixed-wing aircraft, will be at the heart of the ROKN’s plans for a strategic mobile fleet for blue water operations, improving its ability to project air power far from South Korean shores.

There are detractors, primarily the Communist Party of China and the DPRK, who feel that the ROK does not need its own aircraft carrier. Some feel that aircraft carriers are obsolete. 2045 is not right around the corner. Who knows what tech will be in place by then?

 

China’s Ocean?

Appeasement of aggression always leads to continuing and escalating aggressive behavior on the part of the aggressor. Obama’s failure to hold China in any way accountable for its illegal seizure of islands in the South China Sea only emboldened Chinese Imperialism.

This picture taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial view of reefs in the disputed Spratly islands.

About 220 Chinese fishing vessels, part of China’s maritime militia, are now crowding around Whitsun Reef in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea in another attempt to break apart the Philippines.

Whitsun is where the United States and the region should confront an increasingly expansionist China. The failure of the Obama administration to defend the Philippines in early 2012, in a confrontation similar to today’s, emboldened China’s regime to adopt an even more aggressive posture in its peripheral waters.

Whitsun Reef is inside China’s infamous nine-dash line. The line on official maps defines an area informally known as the “cow’s tongue,” which includes about 85 percent of the South China Sea. Beijing maintains it has sovereignty over every feature there, including Whitsun, which Beijing has named Niue Jiao.

Joe Biden, bought by the Communist Chinese cheap, was a good op by China. He is unlikely to confront his paymasters.

 

What about the F-35?

First let me comment on the F-22 Raptor. I was present at an event where the F-22 was to be demonstrated several years ago. Two F-22’s were being flown. The USAF sent three, then a fourth — to get two into the air. I spoke to crew who said, yes, there were some reliability problems. But when everything worked they were like magic. Cool for a peacetime demonstration – at $60,000 per flight hour per aircraft… But what about a wartime tempo?

Fast Forward to the F-35, a bargain at $44,000 per flight hour. (The A-10 costs $11,500 per flight hour by comparison)

The Air Force has announced a new study into the tactical aviation requirements of future aircraft, dubbed TacAir. In the process of doing so, Air Force chief of staff General Charles Q. Brown finally admitted what’s been obvious for years: The F-35 program has failed to achieve its goals. There is, at this point, little reason to believe it will ever succeed and meet its expectations.

According to Brown, the USAF doesn’t just need the NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance) fighter, a sixth-generation aircraft — it also needs a new, “5th-generation minus / 4.5th-generation aircraft.” Brown acknowledged some recent issues with the F-35 and suggested one potential solution was to fly the plane less often.

“I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft,” the general said. “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our high end, we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight… We don’t want to burn up capability now and wish we had it later.”

The DoD and Lockheed-Martin have spent years painting the F-35 as a flexible, multi-role aircraft capable of outperforming a range of older planes. The rhetoric worked. The F-22 Raptor, F/A-18 Hornet, and several jets in the Harrier family were retired because the F-35 was supposed to replace them. The Air Force fought to replace the beloved A-10 Warthog with the F-35 on the grounds that the latter was, somehow, a superior replacement. Many of us were exceptionally skeptical of the utility of a stealth close support aircraft that lacked the robust capabilities of the Warthog. It turns out that we were correct. Big shock there.

The F-16 was supposed to be replaced by the F-35. Back in 2010, Lockheed expected the F-35 to replace the F-15C/D variants as well as the F-15E Strike Eagle. That’s six different aircraft covering all three roles (air-to-air, strike, and ground). The F-35 was explicitly developed and designed to be a flexible, effective, and relatively affordable aircraft with sophisticated logistics management systems that would reduce downtime and boost reliability.

This aircraft wasn’t supposed to be a Ferrari. It was billed, explicitly, loudly, and repeatedly, as the single platform that could fill any mission requirement and satisfy virtually any mission profile outside of something a B-52 might handle. Instead, the Air Force, Marines, and Navy have all adjusted plans at various times to keep older aircraft in service due to delays and problems with the F-35.

To say the F-35 has failed to deliver on its goals would be an understatement. Its mission capable rate is 69 percent, below the 80 percent benchmark set by the military. 36 percent of the F-35 fleet is available for any required mission, well below the required 50 percent standard. Current and ongoing problems include faster than expected engine wear, transparency delamination of the cockpit, and unspecified problems with the F-35’s power module. The General Accountability Office (GAO) has blamed some of this on spare parts shortages, writing:

[T]he F-35 supply chain does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements. “Several factors contributed to these parts shortages, including F-35 parts breaking more often than expected, and DOD’s limited capability to repair parts when they break.

There have been so many problems with the F-35, it’s difficult even to summarize them. Pilot blackouts, premature part failures, software development disasters, and more have all figured in various documents over the years. Firing the main gun can crack the plane. The Air Force has already moved to buy new F-15EX aircraft. Multiple partner nations that once promised F-35 buys have shifted orders to other planes. The USAF continues to insist it will purchase 1,763 aircraft, but the odds of it doing so are increasingly dubious. The F-15EX costs an estimated $20,000 per hour to fly. The F-35 runs $44,000.

Brown indicated he’s not interested in buying more F-16s, because not even the most advanced variants have the full scope of features the USAF hopes to acquire. This would presumably also disqualify the “F-21” Lockheed-Martin recently announced for the Indian market. Instead, Brown wants to develop a new fighter with fresh ideas on implementing proven technologies.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Tried to listen to a Rockies Spring game yesterday, always a fun day to feel like a kid and get a little distracted from the idiocy. Fell flat. Not the same anymore.

    China- We have Obama’s 3rd term operating now, with a cup of Bernie Sanders tossed in to elevate the Socialism, and a dash of HRC-style “What Difference does the Constitution Make?”. China is eating our lunch and it appears our team is either sitting on the bench or, more likely, still in the locker room trying to figure out how to tie their cleats.

    Being Good Friday I will work to maintain humility and gratitude…otherwise I’d go insane with spirit-robbing hatred.

    • -or- “tying their cleat laces together”, fully hamstringing themselves, either by design (as in, owned), or simply because they are cowards.

      • I used to enjoy watching (some) college baseball and professional baseball games. I don’t anymore. Maybe if they apologized for kneeling – that might help. Might. Might not.

        • An apologies is a start, but true repentance washes the soul and is visible. Once that happens I’d welcome them back to the fold. Until then, they are on their own.

    • IDK.

      It’s arguable that Chamberlain was just a coward with good intentions.
      Obama actively opposes the US and western civilization.

      -Kle.

      • Chamberlain is now The Republicans. As for the Left/Dems, they suck at everything. They’re like children with no throttle control, when they seize power…however gotten, either by ill means – as in cheating, or because of stupid voters or those lazy bums who want something for nothing…we see destruction of everything. Because they suck.

    • Jim, you have a very high opinion of Obama if you compare him to Chamberlain. I put him on par with Quisling. Not as talented as Nero, who could fiddle.

  2. Yes, F-35 was supposed to be the low end of the high-low mix</I .

    It cannot be justified by comparing it to the exotic high end.

    On the bright side, just imagine how well the J-20 must work.
    -Kle.

  3. Thanks for the summary on the F-35. They sold the plane as a replacement for everything from the F15 to the A-10?

    I’m 6′ tall. I like to stand next to my 4’10” wife and say “one size never fits all.” One air frame can never be optimized for all missions any more than a submarine can serve as a fleet aircraft carrier. I never cease to be amazed at the people that fall for that idea.

    • As a strong advocate for close air support, what value is a stealth, fast mover in that role? When a gomer with a bolt action rifle can put a round into your stealth airplane and bring it down, what possible reason can it be. True, it’s job security for combat search and rescue (CSAR).

      • Yes, absolute greed. The people who pushed the 35, LCS, Zumwalt, and the Ford should all have they’re happy asses busted and drummed out of the service. With no retirement. Those already out should have they’re retirement cut. I know, a little overboard perhaps or we know it wont happen. But people are going to die because of weapon platforms that fall well short of the promised performance. I was not in the Navy but can you imagine going into battle on a LCS? Its complete BS and there is nothing but CYA all down the line. To hell with all of them.

  4. The J&J vaccine is actually very similar to the Pfizer and Moderna. What they have in common is that cells produce the virus spike protein through mRNA, and then the police cells develop antibodies against the spike protein. If the actual covid virus enters your body, the antibodies that you created will block the spike protein and prevent the virus from entering the cells. The difference is that Pfizer/Moderna inject the mRNA directly, while the J&J vaccine injects a virus that has a gene inside that is the recipe for making the mRNA. So the virus goes inside a cell, dumps the gene inside the nucleus, the nucleus produces the mRNA, and the mRNA is used to make the spike protein. The advantage of the J&J is that the adenovirus is much more stable than the mRNA, therefore it doesnt need the super low temperature.

  5. Been hearing a few rumors out of the Philippines, off of a website – New restrictions, 6pm-5am curfew, 1 person out for food three times a week, cops snatching curfew violators off the streets for punishment sessions, businesses shut down, etc. Any info? This person also says the Chinese have a big hand there.

    Seems insane the USA could screw up such a long standing relationship- as far as I know, after WW2, the Filipino’s loved the US.

    • Mike W. (who comments here from time to time) and I have some of the same friends. One of those friends was special assistant to V. Pres, and then Pres. Joe Estrada (P.I.) before he was impeached. He was also head of the counterterrorism police in the Philippines. In those days, the Chinese were calling the shots heavily. They were the big money in Makati. The late Cardinal Sin blessed their actions on behalf of the Catholic Church. There was a lot of Triad action there out of Hong Kong and I don’t know how that morphed, but I’d expect to see Sun Yee On Triad there in force these days as then. That means big Chou Zhou money from Swantow. If any of you understand what I mean about Swantow money, you’ll get the picture.

      I’ve dealt with them in the past. The Chinese Mafia took over Thailand in 1957 and ran the Golden Triangle from then until now. We can explore details here on this blog if you’d like. My point is that the P. I. can be complicated and you can’t tell the players without a program. As complicated as Syria is, the P. I. is profoundly more so. The question is whether the Swantow (Chinese) mafia could pay off the US national debt or not. Before Obama, yes. Since then, maybe not. But never underestimate those people.

  6. The question re the F-35 is, does it work? If it works, then maybe the price is worth it.

    There were no follow-up development of the Harrier, and those birds were getting very long in tooth and very expensive to even keep in non-flying status. The need for a STOL/VTOL was and is there.

    Though I do believe that they tried to reach too far with it.

    Then again, roughly the same thing was said about the Bradley, and it actually matured into a very good vehicle.

    The Navy screwed up with the A-12 and lost so much time and money over that boondoggle. Let us hope that the F-35 works out. The Israelis seem to like theirs.

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