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"US F-35 Used In Combat for First Time" Topic

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802 hits since 27 Sep 2018
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Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2018 8:08 p.m. PST

The USA has used the F-35 in anger, for the first time in Afghanistan. A F-35B model.

"The United States used an F-35 jet against a Taliban target in Afghanistan earlier on Thursday, marking the first U.S. combat use of the stealthy plane, a U.S. official said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the F-35B jet took off from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship in the Arabian Sea".


So, on the positive side, looks like our "carrier fleet" just got a little bigger.

Wonder if the Taliban's air defense network detected it before the strike was completed?

The downside is we're using $200 USD Million dollar jets with a very limited service life to bomb stone-age era Taliban guerrillas "back to the stone age".

Hope they've resolved the carrier deck hardening, and aircraft wheel blowout issues.

There was a Sci-Fi article/book on this issue, decades ago, and the high tech forces lost, since they weren't economically viable next to their low-cost/no-cost enemy combatants that could field hordes of fighters. The more modern force couldn't "win" the economic battle. I suspect we're in that same situation.

Perhaps dirigibles with bomb racks would be a better, more cost-effective option.

Neal Smith27 Sep 2018 8:42 p.m. PST

James F Dunnigan wrote a book (How To Make War) talking about this, and other aspects, of modern warfare. I read the 1983 version and it mostly dealt with Cold War gets hot. There's a 4th edition now much updated. I might have to get it… :)

In it he theorizes that a completely conventional WW3 wouldn't end up lasting too long because the governments wouldn't be able to afford ammo restocks, etc. once the initial buildup was exhausted.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2018 8:46 p.m. PST

Yep, can't afford the ammo, and it probably takes too long to produce, too.

FoxtrotPapaRomeo27 Sep 2018 8:56 p.m. PST

Thresher, very limited service life? GAO has said 16000-24000 hours. Cost – $200 USD million? Drive away price is now comparable to most other front line jets (OK, not sure of the maintenance costs). Agree this is an over-match but you need to use them occasionally. What else would you suggest the US, Israel, Australia, Norway, Britain etc invest in – not a lot of choices.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2018 9:11 p.m. PST

8,000 supposedly, for the "B" model.

$200 USD Mil is hyperbole, but covers some of the development and operational costs. Development costs for these babies was astounding, and people keep trying to sweep that under the rug to ignore it.

That's a low-ball figure, by the way.

See here, where 2,400 fighters will cost an estimated 1 TRILLION dollars to design, build, and operate, which works out to more than $416 USD Million per copy, if current estimates are correct (seems they usually under-estimate that, virtually every time they do an analysis like that, also).


Vs. the Taliban, I think my dirigibles idea is a good one, since they have no air defense, and those could carry lots and lots of bombs, and stay on station virtually forever.

Virtually any, older, less capable aircraft that can pound stone-age fighters with impunity, for low cost.

jdginaz27 Sep 2018 10:52 p.m. PST

Operational use is a good way to give a finial test to the Aircraft.

Looks to me like no matter how well the F-35 works Thresher01
will try to find a problem with it. Seems to be determined to be unhappy.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 1:27 a.m. PST

Ah the "no ammo" short wat, firpower etc…. Heard it about 1914!

Glory of using a $200 USDm plane, shooting 1/2m missiles… Something a revamped trainer of the 80s could be doing for a fraction of the price, shooting at medievals in tongs without air defenses.
But some make a lot of money from that, redistribute in influence and so on.

NavyVet28 Sep 2018 2:17 a.m. PST

Folks it won't be to long before all missions like the one above will be carried out by attack drones. That is the future.

Andy ONeill28 Sep 2018 3:28 a.m. PST

I think some sort of slow moving lighter than air craft is a great plan for asymmetric warfare.

Not so sure the Taliban are totally incapable of delivering any AAA.
If it's a cheap-ish unmanned drone then it doesn't matter so much if it's an easy target.

A dirigible would work pretty well as a sort of eye in the sky for a base.
Not so sure about using one as a bomber.

Rigid lifting body designs have been proposed for freight in the past. Maybe filling such a vehicle with hydrogen could work.
Make it a cheap drone with maybe 2 to 4 small guided bombs.
I have no idea how viable such a craft would be but it sounds good as I sit in my office chair.

repaint28 Sep 2018 3:56 a.m. PST

Honestly, I do not like those talks about the newest equipment and its operational use.

Chinese, Russians and plain idiots are trolling for information.

The less is shared (published or not) about the newest stuff, the better!

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 7:35 a.m. PST


Sorry, but the operational test argument doesn't wash because all that's being field tested here is the F-35's bombing capability in a threat environment no different than that offered by a bombing range in the Nevada desert.

Now if they're field testing it in the Baltics or the South China Sea it would be a different matter.

The only reason we're wasting the valuable service life of expensive high-tech aircraft is simply because we can. When the airframes approach the end of their service life sooner rather than later, the various service branches will be able to make compelling arguments for funding newer, even more costly aircraft.

Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 8:43 a.m. PST

Lets hope it will never be used elsewhere than on wargames tables, in a full scale war.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

Positing a LTA platform (blimp/dirigible) the operational
ceiling would have to be around 3,000 M.

If the target organization did not have AA assets which
could attain that altitude, maybe. I don't know the
lift capacity of such craft, but 'dumb' iron bombs
fitted with crude guidance systems (LGB's if it you will)
might be a cost-effective system.

OTOH, so would staying out of it…

Redblack28 Sep 2018 9:58 a.m. PST

larger Drones carrying heavier bombs is a cheap solution

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

F-35B just crashed today stuff happens.

Pilot ejected.

You are correct. I'm not happy with the F-35, since it is a "dog", and an overly expensive one at that.

Hope that stealth "invisibility" and sensor fusion stuff works as advertised, or we'll be losing a lot of pilots and aircraft, as some independent wargame exercises seem to indicate.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

Too late repaint.

The Chinese have all/most of our F-35 design data, and have built one of their own.

Looks like a cross between the F-35 and F-22, and is about the size of the F-35, but with twin engines – J-31 stealth.

I suspect the jet isn't as stealthy as ours, but others suggest it could be better, aerodynamically, and performance-wise, since it didn't need the extra heft in the fuselage that our F-35B did, and that was included in the F-35A and "C" in order to keep them somewhat compatible with one another. Don't know if that is really true, but that is the claim.

repaint28 Sep 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

The less you talk about current arm system the better. I suppose it is lost cause but you'd be surprise what analysts can do with the information they get from talkers.

Lion in the Stars28 Sep 2018 3:09 p.m. PST

Development costs are sunk. We're NEVER getting them back, it's impossible to get that money back.

To keep applying the development costs across the aircraft built completely ignores how much it actually costs to buy 'one more' airplane. A single new F35B is about $120 USDmil. Expensive, yes, not arguing that point. It's sure as hell not $400 USDmil.

It's called the sunk costs fallacy. and link

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 5:44 p.m. PST

The $400 USD+ MIL estimate is for ALL anticipated costs during the programs lifetime.

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