Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Question of the Day: Does the F-35 have the Same Problems as the F-22 that are being Ignored by Lockheed and the Air Force?

Center for Public Integrity:  Defense Officials Call AF F-22 Probe Sloppy and Inadequate

Why are people in the aerospace community not surprised that the Air Force seems to have covered up for Lockheed on the F-22 accident report?  Is it because the problems with Lockheed being behind schedule and over budget sometimes ignoring safety goes back years as Air Force Plant Representative Office (AFPRO) located at Air Force plants looked the other way for Lockheed?

Anyone who knows anything about the C-5 and Lockheed knows the cover-ups on C-5 over the years by Lockheed.  C-5 still has problems today - Lockheed never seems to be able to fix a weapon system so the Government keeps pouring money back into the company for fixes.  According to Defense Industry Daily there is another fix in progress in an effort to save the C-5's which are needed for heavy airlift.

Is that one reason Lockheed and other major contractors don't want Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense because he will put the men and women of our military first over big defense contractors?  Is it possible that he could lead an effort to make large defense contractors pay for their mistakes?  My money is on Hagel who looks to have the votes for confirmation in spite of Senators Inhofe and Graham who have jumped the shark on Obama nominees.

Today the C-5 still has problems along with the F-22 with problems so why wouldn't someone suspect that  the F-35 has similar problems to the the F-22.  How can a company like Lockheed never seem to be able to fix their problems with weapons systems?  Is it a ploy by Lockheed to keep maintenance in-house and charge the DoD big bucks for fixes?  Is Lockheed trustworthy?  Not on your life - my husband was involved with C-5 upgrades along with C-141 stretch as the System Control Officer for AFMC (then AFLC before merger).  Lockheed was a total pain in the neck with lack of honesty on what was happening with the C-5 and C-141 so why would anyone think they would be different today.  Lockheed has huge overhead costs as they pay millions to their senior leaders each year in salary and then bonuses so every dollar they can get from the Government helps pay overhead costs while their employees get small raises..

Cannot believe that the Air Force awarded both F-22 and F-35 to Lockheed.  IMHO, they should have split the award between two companies.  Even more important is why did the Air Force need two new fighters when only the F-15 needs replaced.  F-16 is going strong with being our most popular fighter for foreign military sales (FMS).  BTW, F-16 is a General Dynamics plane which Lockheed now owns when they took over General Dynamics in Fort Worth.  F-16 with relative few problems over the years was not designed by Lockheed.

This loss of computer systems with the F-22 jumps out in the article and should have gotten people fired:
On its first overseas deployment, for example, a squad of F-22’s lost all their computer systems in flight and had to be led back to base by mid-air tankers, a retired Air Force general said
Without our tankers, we could have lost a squadron of F-22's.  Those same tankers that have needed replaced for years but Senator McCain put a hold on replacement of the Air Force's fleet of Eisenhower-era airborne tankers in 2001. His hold was due to scandal at Boeing which thwarted a shoe-in contract because of an ethics scandal during a decade-long saga.  McCain came up with some really dumb ideas during the ten years including a much smaller tanker without giving thought to the wide bodied aircraft that get refueled.

Finally McCain released his hold and a solicitation was released for aerospace companies to bid.  After a 2007 solicitation and award of the contract to Northrup Grumman/EADS, Boeing protested and won in irregularities leading to the firing of some high ranking Air Force officials.  Finally in 2011 a contract was awarded to Boeing to replace the Eisenhower era tankers which are a tribute to the Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, OK, for keeping them flying all these years.

Looks like Secretary of Defense should have fired the Air Force people responsible for the Accident Report on an F-22 crash:
Defense officials call Air Force F-22 probe sloppy and inadequate
Critics of the Air Force's decision to blame a costly F-22 crash on its pilot have some ammunition 
By  Updated:  
 F-22 Raptors fly above Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The Associated Press

When Air Force Capt. Jeff Haney’s F-22 fighter crashed in Nov. 2010, while he was gasping for oxygen in the cockpit, the Air Force surprisingly blamed it on him – not the plane.
In a controversial Accident Investigation Board report released a year after the accident, Air Force officials cited three “human factors” as causing the crash: Haney’s “channelized attention” to restoring air flow to his oxygen mask; his failure to keep an eye on his instruments and surroundings; and his “unrecognized spatial disorientation” while plummeting to earth. 
The Air Force’s critics, as well as Haney’s family, immediately alleged that the service had sacrificed the reputation of one of its pilots to hide a defect in the $412 million advanced fighter jets so it could preserve political and financial support for them. The Air Force denied it. But now the critics suddenly have some new ammunition. 
In a report released Feb. 6, the Department of Defense’s Deputy Inspector General Randolph R. Stone accused the Air Force of conducting a sloppy, inadequate probe of Haney’s deadly crash in the wintry Alaska wilderness. 
Stone wrote that the Air Force’s conclusions were “not supported by the facts” presented and didn’t exhaust all investigative leads. He said the three human factors cited by the board were “separate, distinct and conflicting,” and concluded that the Air Force did not explain how they all could have worked together to cause the crash. 
The report’s errors and omissions called into question the Air Force board’s conclusions, Stone and his colleagues said. The Air Force, in its response, conceded its account of the accident “could have been more clearly written,” but insisted that findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and that the board had exhausted all available investigative leads. 
The auditors said they weren’t buying it, however, partly because they found the board had failed to analyze how factors such as hypoxia, loss of consciousness due to high g-forces and sudden incapacitation may have affected the pilot. Neither did the board adequately explain how it decided Haney’s mask was in the full-up position as the plane sank – a conclusion that ruled out several other areas of investigation, including the possibility that Haney had removed his mask because the oxygen flow was too weak. 
The accident occurred on a flight out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage. The Air Force board said that Haney failed to pull out of a dive, causing him to slam into the ground near a stream in the Talkeetna Mountains. Haney’s widow, Anna Haney, alleged to the contrary that the plane was “dangerous and defective” in a lawsuit against the plane’s builders, Lockheed Martin, Boeing Co., Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. She reached a confidential settlement with the contractors last year, according to the Air Force Times. 
The crash focused new concerns on the oxygen systems originally installed in the Air Force’s state-of-the-art F-22’s, which have been criticized by some as models of costly, goldplated weapons systems that are hard to maintain and ill-suited to fulfill present-day needs. 
The Obama administration decided to stop buying the planes in 2009, but at the time of the accident, the plane’s advocates were trying to keep open the option of restarting its assembly line. “The Air Force has always circled the wagons around that airplane,” said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the nonprofit watchdog group, Project on Government Oversight. 
Two pilots appeared on the CBS television network’s “60 Minutes” program last year saying they had suffered hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, during flights and as a result they had taken out extra life insurance. 
A Nov. 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service report states that the Air Force has records of at least 25 incidents where F-22 pilots reported hypoxia-like symptoms in flight, possibly due to oxygen deprivation. Hypoxia can cause nausea, headaches, fatigue or blackouts. 
As the Center for Public Integrity has previously reported, the aircraft’s problems with its oxygen system are not the only ones it has faced. Since the first F-22 rolled off the assembly line in 2003, it has suffered at least six accidents costing over $1 million each while experiencing mechanical breakdowns that could require another decade of redesign and repairs. 
On its first overseas deployment, for example, a squad of F-22’s lost all their computer systems in flight and had to be led back to base by mid-air tankers, a retired Air Force general said
The fleet was grounded in 2010 because of rusted ejection-seat parts. The planes were grounded again in 2011 following complaints about the oxygen system and Haney’s fatal crash. 
For its part, the Air Force has promised to give the Inspector General’s office a more detailed analysis of the “non-causal” factors, such as hypoxia, and details of how it reached its conclusions regarding the emergency oxygen activation system and blood oxygen levels. The inspector general’s office asked that the work be done by the end of this month.
Rusted ejection-seat parts?  Give me a break.  Is Lockheed saying that they could not use non corrosion  material for parts of the ejection seat?  How much has Lockheed ripped off the Government for using inferior parts and then having to fix them with more Government money?

Someone wants to do some investigative reporting should be looking at the number of contracts Lockheed has received over the years that come in way over budget, way behind schedule and still have major problems when the planes are delivered.  F-35 today has few spares as Lockheed spent the money on Aero in Fort Worth which has put flight testing way behind schedule not to mention all the problems that need fixed.  Now Lockheed/Air Force is extending flight testing out to 2018 costing more money while their CEO received a $2M raise last year and makes over $25M.  If you think that is bad then you will love this:
Carter said that during the last decade, the F-35’s per-aircraft cost "has doubled in real terms." That has happened, in part, because as the nation was fighting two wars at once, money was flowing to the Pentagon, and there was "an erosion of focus on affordability," he admitted.
Your tax dollars at work.  First thing to do when Lockheed promises something or gives figures is to automatically suspect they may not be telling the truth.

Lockheed needs to be split back out in two or three companies IMHO.  The very idea by Republicans that big defense contractors were better then having some mid size companies like Martin-Marietta were dead wrong in the early 90's and then delayed the mergers to blame it on Clinton.  The fact that under Lockheed, Aero took money for logistics which led to few spares shows they should be separate companies because the powers at be have been raiding other parts of Lockheed for money to fix their mess in Aero which puts the F-35 way behind schedule and way over budget.

Just remember that Republicans will tell you that the Defense Department cannot be cut.  What has happened with Lockheed and other major defense companies say otherwise.

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