Video of F-35B Lightening II deck operations on USS Wasp - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 28 April 2013

Video of F-35B Lightening II deck operations on USS Wasp

Let me resurrect a long-running debate on this blog --- should India buy the Rafale or the F-35 Lightening II? 

For recent Broadsword arrivistes, here's the context: I believe the IAF, and later the Indian Navy, should be buying the fifth generation F-35, not outdated dinosaurs like the Rafale or the Mig-29K. The F-35 is better, cheaper and operationally more relevant for us than the other two Gen-4 fighters. And it is a myth that Dassault or MiG will give us any more technology than Lockheed Martin and Boeing would.

But the most convenient argument deployed by opponents of the F-35 is that its development is hugely delayed. So which fighter's development isn't?

Here a video of the recent sea trials of the F-35B (the STO/VL variant, the most troublesome of the three variants, with the greatest design challenges) carried out early this month on the USS Wasp, off Newport, Virginia.

Doomsayers had predicted that vertical landing would burn holes in the deck and that the downwash would sweep sailors overboard. Well, bad news doomsayers, take a look at how close the sailors are standing to the landing aircraft.

The trials featured 74 vertical landings and short take offs over a three week period. No catapults, no tail hooks.


lick your mouse here:   F-35B


  1. A informed opponent is hard to find anymore Ajai, everyone know how Dassualt is attempting arm twisting the deal and how much technology do they really want to share, for the sake of IAF I can say things come to our terms, otherwise this F-35 Plan is the best.

  2. Yak-141 “Freestyle”- The F-35B Was Born In Moscow
    People look at the F-35B and see an ultra modern transformer of sorts, with massive doors that open up and an articulated exhaust tube that seems to warp downward unnaturally on command. The next thing you know the 5th generation stealth fighter is HOVERING IN MID AIR. Lay on decent range (for a V/STOL fighter), higher than mach speeds, and the most cutting edge radar and avionics package ever and you have a truly groundbreaking design…

  3. …But is the F-35B’s unique design really that ground breaking at all?

    The F-35B’s novel lift fan and vectoring tailpipe design was conceived not in Fort Worth, Texas but in Moscow, Russia, about 35+ years ago! The Yak-41 that utilized this exact same concept, now known as the Yak-141, NATO codename “Freestyle,” was designed to be what it’s much lacking Yak-38 predecessor should have been. It’s main role was to defend the Soviet Naval Fleet, and because of this task it had to be fast, fairly maneuverable and possess a relevant combat radius to get it to the boat and back. The aircraft would be supported by a new type Soviet carriers, optimized for protecting large flotillas and shipping lanes. Later in the program the aircraft would be seen as much more than just a Naval point defense fighter. Soviet Russia planned on procuring wheeled landing and takeoff platforms that could be dispersed throughout the countryside, allowing the Russian Air Force to operate Yak-141s dispersed across the countryside. With its innovative wheeled platform it was said that if a 4 wheel drive could get there the Yak-141 could have operated from there!

  4. Like many promising late Soviet weapons and space programs the Yak-141 fell victim of a total lack of funding, but this happened well after the handful of test airframes had been flown and many of the major kinks had been identified so that the airframe could be refined in the later production examples. From most accounts the aircraft was a good performer. It possessed good maneuverability, fast cruise and dash speeds, had lots of room for gas and the latest avionics. All things being equal, the “Freestyle” may have been a major success for Red Russia, and could have thrived in the export market. By the fall of the Soviet Union in the early nineties the program was set aside by the Russian Government do to lack of funds. Yakovlev OKB went in search of an investing partner domestically without success. But not everyone looked over the fading Yak-141 program, Lockheed Martin jumped in where the fledging Russian government left off. Was LockMart’s involvement focused on exploiting Yak’s innovative design for possible use in the budding Joint Strike Fighter concept, that at the time had begun to gain traction in the Pentagon, or was their involvement actually focused on producing the aircraft for export as they initially indicated? Who knows, but Lockheed DID pay for the Yak-141 to fly at the Paris Air Show to promote the partnership (not 100% sure of this fact in the Yak-141′s timeline, feel free to drop me a note if this is wrong, going on memory here folks). What IS known is that what would usually be written off by the west as a clumsy Russian experimental design showed enough promise for Lockheed to not just show interest but fully partner in the program. There MUST have been a novel solution for their looming JSF challenge within the Yak-141′s design. It turns out there was.

  5. The Yak-Lockmart partnership seemed to disappear into oblivion after an exciting and well publicized start. BUT by the mid 1990′s Lockheed was busy designing their prototype Joint Strike Fighter, known as the X-35, in preparations for a fly off between it and the Boeing X-32 at the turn of the millennium. The X-35 was REMARKABLY similar to the Yak-141 design concept and was much more mature (especially the VTOL ”B” model) when compared to Boeing’s competing ”Ugly Guppy” design. In the end the X-35 would beat the X-32 to become the US’s largest weapons program of all time. It cannot be denied that in some ways the victorious X-35 design was due to Yakovlev OKB’s hard work almost as much as it was Lockheed Martin’s, although 99% of the world will never know this.

  6. Seeing the F-35B operating from a ship for the first time recently was like a total flashback to video of I vaguely remember watching as a kid of the Yak-141 operating from Admiral Gorshkov, and for good reason because the aircraft are indeed direct relatives of one another. So next time you see an energizing promotional video or television ad from Lockheed Martin featuring the F-35 with the American flag waving in the background, remember that there is a little more red in their red, white and blue fighter than Lockheed would like to admit!

  7. Yak-141 “Freestyle”- The F-35B Was Born In Moscow

  8. Shukla-ji, I am in agreement with you. Just to add to your point about tech gain from France/Russia vs US: Well with over 4 decades (may be over 5) of so called technical transfers, we still can't build an acceptable engine for Tejas or even a diesel engine for the Arjun Tank. We have made progress with the Tejas, but we are still struggling (in a good way). One thing that I can say from all of these is that, only way to learn something is to do it ourselves. No country is going to teach us how to innovate, they can teach us how to assemble a product from parts, but innovation is nothing something that can be transferred. If we are not there at the time of initial design and development, we have missed our opportunity. And, therefore to assume that we will gain more technology if we assemble French or a Russian product, then we are just fooling ourselves. There are times we have to purchase from the open market, and for that purpose we must purchase a product that meets our current and future needs and it should come from a reliable source, at the best possible price. Digging up old issues and somehow relating those to the present day to justify not buying from the US is simply idiotic. And, don't forget we caused a lot to trouble to the US when we decided to align ourselves with the former USSR (unofficially), but we seem to conveniently ignore that when discussing the US India issues of the past. The US has been an innovator in pretty much every field, especially military technology, all others have mostly played catch-up. Why are we so interested in a "me-too" product is just mind boggling.

  9. In 1992/93 Lockheed contracted Yakovlev on some work pertaining to
    short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft studies in reference to the JAST (JSF) project. Yakovlev shared its STOVL technologies with the US company for several dozen million dollars.

    "Former Yakovlev employees accuse Yakovlev heads of taking personal
    interest out of the deal with Lockheed, because the official sum of the contract did not correspond with the value of the information presented to the US company. The data was on the Yak-141 test program, aerodynamics and design features, including the design of the R-79 engine nozzles.

    After a careful study of those materials, Lockheed - without much noise - changed its initial JSF proposal, including a design of the engine nozzles that is now very similar to those of the Yak-141."
    "Lockheed Martin's X-35 design has a trapezoidal wing planform which
    initially featured foreplanes, although these since deleted; STOVL
    version embodies a lift fan, shaft-driven by a modified F119 with a
    vectoring lift/cruise nozzle developed by Rolls-Royce; lift fan
    replaced by extra fuel in the CTOL version. Lockheed Martin also turned to Russia for technical expertise, purchasing design data from Yakovlev; and used an 86 per cent subscale model (originally developed for the CALF project and fitted with a Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 engine plus an Allison shaft-driven lift fan) for testing"

  10. There are laws in USA that critical technology cannot be transferred to India.

    Do you really think that Lockheed Martin and Boeing are excluded from the US laws against India.

    It is not just the technology which made us choose France over USA, its the relationship which we can trust in times of War. We already have experience with USA washing their hand off when India requests for support or supplies from USA. But France on the other hand have promptly provide us supplies in war times.

    If we have to to purchase F35, then we will have to sign several agreements with USA to even receive and use new communication and other devices in F35's. India have already refused for this earlier. (What a bunner we cannot use their new secure communication devices).

    Best of all F35 is not water proof, what a shame!

    F35 is cheep in papers, but in reality it is costly to purchase and maintain.

    Mr. Ajai, it would be best if you can compare Rafale and F35 in number not just words. Such as cost of maintenance, hours of service required to keep the bird on air for 1 hour, AOA, time required to change engines, how long can it loiter, it how long in a mission, can it sustain small firearm damage. Things like this make more seance, because we already know the general specifications.

    It would be really appreciated if any one can get mission related comparison between Rafale and F35 (something like what F35 and Rafale can do if provided same mission).

  11. Dear ajai u are trying to push d f35 for india just as carlo kopp of aus air power is pushing d f22 for australia. Even the countries who have already placed orders are not sure of its why should we stand in line.

  12. The F-35 is a jack-of-all aircraft, and the big risk is that it won't excel at specific missions. Not to mention, it is insanely expensive.

    Indian defense can't hitch its wagon to a foreign program that has so many unknowns, especially when we are already cripplingly dependent on foreign technology already.

  13. I have more faith in the pakfa t50

  14. Again Ajai? Do you not remember what happened after the Indian nuclear tests? What did Lockheed Martin do? If you think you are so fair and transparent, please write what LM did after we went nuclear. They shut the doors after America imposed sanctions, partly responsible for the delays in the Tejas programme. What if a war breaks out between India and Pak in the future and US imposes a sanction on India? This is your blog, you are entitled to your opinions but project the full picture

  15. Great video if a little dated. Current news on the F-35 concerns General Bodgan's 'cyber vulnerabilities' gaff and that most potential buyers like Norway still seem to be having trouble affording the jet!

    Continuing the cost line, it seems a bit presumptuous to comment that the F-35 costs less than any other jet as we really don't know what the final cost of the F-35 is yet as it has not finished development.

    Also considering the new non-skid deck compound "Thermion" was part of the tests you can add the USN to the list of 'Doomsayers' along with the Office of Naval Research...

  16. $200 million is the projected price that CBO (congressional budget office) puts on this plane per piece at the door. This is without considering the lifecycle cost, which is usually double the price at the door considering mid life upgrades and other costs involved. At $400 million per piece, this would make your argument about the costs a baloney, wouldn't it?

  17. i absolutely agree with Col Ajai, indian govt should opt for JSF IAF and IN.
    for three main reasons

    1) Americans are india's future strategic partners and hence one can count on sanctions being the things of the past.

    2) American defence industry is well known for its efficiency and hence one can rely on them for timely delivery of spares.

    3) Above all- india will have two 5th gen fighters from two different countries(US and Russia).
    which will give us distinct advantage over the chinese and otherwise in the subcontinent in maintaining air superiority.

  18. Better or not is debatable, but its definitely not cheaper. costed unit is now used 125mm for the F35 and rising

  19. Ajai - I am not sure the F35 is all that it is made out to be. Please see this link below:

    It is by an Australian TV channel with gory details of why the RAAF has cancelled part of its order for F35. Makes for cringe worthy viewing as F35 seems to have critical performance failures galore! Infact if you view this video, a senior air tactician war games F35 against the Su30 - and in the war game almost all F35s are lost!

    Tactical performance apart the program is beset with problems and issues. The cost of the F35 is a blunder. I quote the Time magazine:

    A couple months ago, the Department of Defense released new estimates for how much the F-35 will cost over its lifetime, and the price tag is staggering. The entire program is now expected to cost taxpayers nearly $1.51 trillion, more than any weapon in history. Those costs grew by more than $100 billion from last year’s estimate.Each individual plane now is estimated to cost $160 million – more than double the $74.5 million the DoD initially estimated they’d cost

    Read more:

    There is in-depth coverage of the cost inflation here:,9171,2136312,00.html

    The last link claims the F35 is the costliest weapon ever developed by the human race! Infact the Time magazine argues for the F18A over the F35 for USN. Remember the F18 was a part of the race for the Indian deal. I think the T50, Rafale and SU30MKI will make a solid team for the IAF. By the time F35 matures and comes out on its own, we could be in mid 2020s, by that time the paradigms might have shifted to stealth UCAVs and other emerging technologies.

  20. I also personally believe that India should go for F35, but again the question of ToT & sanctions haunts us. As even the french r not eager to provide ToT in rafales, so how can we expect the americans will do it. Forget about nuclear tests, even an unexpected interreligious riot in our country will needle americans to enforce sanctions on us.

  21. they can't even... host a bloody small exercise... like red flag... forget war... and war machines... do you intend to... like world wars I/II... bank roll... with help of nawabs... like to become modern day nawab... arms dealer... their nation... empire.. bank rolled... by indian sweat and blood... ???...

  22. To all those dreamers of F-35 and Ajai....

    F-35 will be shot down by a Rafale even before the former's radar tries to get a lock-on on the latter....F-35 needs F-22/Typhoon to survive in a highly dominating air-supeority/air-defence mission while Rafale is omnirole....Just aks those colonial USA/Royal Airforce(Britain) as to why they are building a fleet of F-35 supplemented by F-22/Typhoon air-supeority fighters and you will get the answer....The French are col though, they don't need some bogus stealth fighters to escort the Rafale, the Rafale can take care of itself....

    As for the transfer of technology, I am wondering which country has transferred/is transferring technology to USA/Russia when they start building weapons....Now,don't say that they get it each time from an invading Allien...Why is it that our quota system passout scientists and our sarkari DPSU's make such a big deal about TOT?? OK, got it, they need someone's a*s to paint the words "Made in India"....

  23. Col. Shukla

    It is the Lightning II not the Lightening II. Did you confuse it with the Litening - which is a targeting pod?

    You should stick to stuff you know about and even there considering your volte face on Sumdorong Chu etc. heaven knows what bipolarity may result.

  24. I also support 5th generation fighter for M-MRCA and like last time i say again, Induct LCA MK-1/2s in number to meet immediate requirements and pour money on AMCA for speedy development and squadron entry from 2023-25.

  25. I am waiting for an amalgamation of Yak-141 freestyle with Pak-Fa

  26. The trials of the F-35B on the USS Wasp, as i understand, was done in 2011.
    Ajai sir has been lobbying in for the F35 for quiet some time...

  27. Really people what are you all smoking, trust the americans in wartime???

    The moment India has to fight against a MNNA (MAJOR NON NATO ALLY)....

    Expect ctrl alt del from the americans and the blue screen of death across all said lovely amreekan machines.

    Better to go the border and hurl rocks than trust americans.

    Sometimes I wonder, is there any hope for what was once the greatest country on the planet.

    America does not and will never want India to succeed, the only success allowed is that which serves the american purpose.

  28. No one will give us full TOT we will have to go the Chinky way steal then rebrand it as made in China. Looks like only possible solution.

  29. Why not to buy JSF if we get all these things
    1. AESA full TOT
    2. Engine full TOT

    If Netas and bbaus can eat many millions in scams, why we can not spend to buy some expensive weapon ?

  30. Col.Shukla Please read this before making any further comments about purchasing F-35's.
    The number of deficiencies in the aircraft WRT KPI's is astounding and further the employment of Thana Marketing just shows how Lock-Mart is selling a lemon. THIS AIRCRAFT IS LIKE THE F-111!! ITS A FLYING EDSEL.

  31. Perhaps the English would like some tips on receiving full ToT from the F-35 program? Or perhaps if they order thru India they could then get the ToT and sourcecodes they wanted but can't get?

    But it surely inspires confidence when the US DoD feels like it must publicly announce that it doesn't believe the PR that Lockheed spews. But if the Norwegian Air Force says F-35 is cheaper than Gripen NG it must be true, right? I'm sure Lockheed would be glad to sign a fixed-price contract giving fixed cost for flight hours...

  32. Ajai,

    We should leave the judgement of the selection to the experts.

    Yours is an opinion, not an expert view. Way too many parameters 6000 plus actually that are analysed by experts before a decision is made.

  33. Clearly F-35 has a fair share of problems, and given that India cannot afford an unendless schedule of upgrades and fixes, the F-35 is a wholly unviable solution for the next 10-12 years.


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