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05 December 2014


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The Starfighter was a problem in Germany because the pilots transitioned from subsonic T-37 to a complex, Mach 2 high performance aircraft that forgave nothing. The leap was too far.

The German Air Force lost a hundred or so aircraft. It was ended by a program of improved and rigorous training initiated by General Steinhoff.


I remember seeing Starfighters flying in my area when I was a boy. They flew so low one could see the pilots in the cockpit. Beautiful aircraft. And what a sound.


Sounds remarkable.

But - wasn't the plan that the US Army would outsource non-combat activities such as cooking to contractors for 'efficiency'?

That said, at my base back when I did my military service, a month before I came they had just made the head of the kitchen troop an example for failure to cook up to standard and keep his mess clean and demoted and transferred him. His replacement was quite satisfactory.

I always thought that it is good for morale when it's comrades doing such services for you, and not contractors. Also, in a combat zone they're combatants, unlike contractor staff and the like.

Some contractor serves meals with rotten meat and it's a contractual issue. For the troops that is a serious morale and health issue. Soldiers can't refuse to cook because it's too dangerous, or because the contract only covers this or that.

Never bought the efficiency argument.



I read somewhere that the Starfighter was designed as a high altitude interceptor and was being piloted through the valleys and mountains of Europe like an A-10. Like you said, very unforgiving plane that earned its name as the Widowmaker due to that.

Maybe next life time I'll be a fighter pilot. I love the little histories that have built up and the black humor involved in the line of work, especially the development of the Wild Weasel concept and the meaning of YGBSM.



That's a story you should write a book about.

SAC Brat

They would have to renegotiate the Treaty of Key West. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West_Agreement

I've been having a good time reading "Patton's Air Force" by David Spires. A good book about teamwork and innovation. http://www.amazon.com/Pattons-Air-Force-David-Spires/dp/1588340872

SAC Brat

Before Lockheed tuned up their act:



Weaponized unmanned ground and air systems could force first contact with the enemy via a drone and allow manned systems to react in support.

Retrofitting existing retired military vehicles with autonomy kits offers an excellent payoff. By that I mean retrofitting craft like Kiowas and armored humvees. We have thousands of these vehicles which could in theory be given new purpose.

Many people thought autonomous truck convoys would be the starting point, but IEDs and independent contractors made the obvious, well obvious. IEDs could blow the wheel off a truck and no Future Combat System was ever going to repair that wheel no matter how much was spent. So through the miracle of private contracting, the US military outsourced this problem eventually hiring third world drivers who were smarter than autonomous systems, cheaper and infinitely replaceable.

Because humans can outsmart programmed machines, it is just unrealistic to expect drones on land or air to be standalone against a nation-state like Iran, China or Russia. They need to work in conjunction with manned systems - like as a wingman or a lead element.

Weaponized systems are occurring in other countries. Doctrine in the US is slowing the potential of these systems down as it is feared that they may replace manned pilots. It is worth remembering the CIA first weaponized and used drones - not the Air Force. And it was the Army, not the Air Force that reduced drone crashes by installing autonomous landing packages. It will likely be other countries like Israel, Iran, Korea, China or Japan that first use weaponized drones in aerial combat.

The F35 will collapse under its own cost - obvious to those not vested in the project.



A depressing read about how the USAF may have lost air dominance due to the F-35 that has all the defects of a VSTOL plane.

The Moar You Know

I remember the F-111, but only because my father was an AF pilot. He did not fly the plane but it had a reputation, one that was somewhat worse than it deserved. It's a great patrol plane for non-combat environments. Ask the Aussies.

It's just not good for much in the way of actual combat tasks, as are most multipurpose aircraft. The only multi-service plane I can recall that hasn't been an abject failure has been the good ol' F4.

The F-35, in addition to being tasked with a ridiculous number of roles (how can any plane replace both an A-10 AND an F-18?) is being built with a number of new technologies, some of which seem to be not working too well (see the ongoing problem with the F-22 killing pilots). It seems to me that doing one or the other might work, but building a Swiss Army Knife airplane using all -new tech just seems like biting off more than an engineering staff can chew.


It was not about US UAV but some other force using UAV with explosives as a weapon, inspired perhaps by Hezbollah's and Hamas' use of drones?

For the US, who enjoys air dominance wherever they fight these days, UAV's aren't so much a game changer.



It was clear from the game that the smaller the air force possessed the larger was the effect of the possession of both recon and armed drones was. For forces like those you mentioned the effect was massive. pl

Medicine Man

I like to gripe about this myself. The US Air Force wants to mothball the A-10 fleet for financial reasons, despite the fact that maintaining them costs a pittance compared to any of the fast movers and a comically small sum compared to these next gen programs.

The neglect for the tools being used for jobs right now in favor of theoretical toys just boggles my mind.


Just as the better automobile companies produce various models of vehicles with different characteristics on a common platform, isn't it possible to build planes suited to different needs with lots of common parts, mechanisms, etc., etc.?


It is but....


Like someone said, how the hell do you put the charecteristics of the "low and slow" A10 with an F18?



Thank you for this. I HIGHLY suggest everyone read this article.

For those too busy: The Marine Corps wanted to be special again because VTOL because WWII.

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