Scott thinks F-35 pretty cool after ‘flying’ it

Remember that previous post about the dog-and-pony show up in North Carolina, the one that was to allow reporters to check out an F-35 simulator?

Well, Lockheed had another one on USS Yorktown in Charleston, and they managed to wow Rep. Tim Scott:


F-35 will serve as a cornerstone of global security and create South Carolina jobs

CHARLESTON, S.C., October 18 – U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, (R-S.C.), today joined local elected officials and community leaders on the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum to receive an update on the Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35 Lightning II program and hear about its contribution to South Carolina, national security, and the U.S. economy.

During his visit, Scott “flew” the F-35 cockpit demonstrator to experience firsthand how advanced stealth, fighter agility and integrated information systems make the F-35 the most capable multi-role fighter in the world. The cockpit is visually and audibly interactive and provides a realistic look at the F- 35’s performance, air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities, sophisticated sensor fusion and advanced computational capabilities.

“Coming from a military family, I understand and appreciate that American men and women serving in uniform deserve the best technology that this nation can provide. Those that threaten our country are evolving everyday, and it is essential we stay ahead of them.” Scott said. “There is no doubt the fifth generation, multi-role F-35 Lightning II’s ability to defeat sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and enemy fighters in the air and on the ground will allow us to do just that.

“Our military leadership associated with Beaufort Air Station, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and Shaw Air Force Base has told me clearly and convincingly that these capabilities are critical to defending our freedoms,” Scott added.

Lockheed officials noted that even at its current low rate of production, the F-35 program supports a broad industrial base of more than 1,300 suppliers in 45 states, contributing to more than 133,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs and over $17.7 billion in direct and indirect annual economic impact. Those numbers are expected to grow as the program ramps up to full rate production over the next few years.

In South Carolina, the F-35 program generates nearly 123 jobs and more than $5 million annually in direct and indirect economic impact. Currently, there are four South Carolina companies supporting the program.

The F-35 is a supersonic multi-role fighter designed to replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft. Three variants derived from a common design will ensure the F-35 achieves its security mission while staying within strict affordability targets.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 in conjunction with its principal partners, Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC] and BAE Systems, and Pratt & Whitney. Among the aircraft F-35 will replace are the A- 10, AV-8B Harrier, F-16, F/A-18, and the United Kingdom’s Harrier GR-7 and Sea Harrier.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

The USS Yorktown was commissioned on April 15, 1943, and was one of the preeminent aircraft carriers to serve in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II. In the 1950’s, Yorktown was modified with the addition of an angled deck to better operate jet aircraft. In 1958, the ship was designated an anti-submarine aircraft carrier, and served admirably during the Vietnam conflict. Yorktown was decommissioned in 1970 and placed in reserve. In 1975, the ship was towed from Bayonne, N.J. to Charleston to become the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.


Hey, if I’d had a chance to go try it out, I’d probably think it was pretty cool, too. At a projected $323 billion, this is “the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.” In a budget like that, they ought to be able to come up with something better than my old Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator.

25 thoughts on “Scott thinks F-35 pretty cool after ‘flying’ it

  1. Silence

    The F-35 might be one of the last manned fighters. It’s certainly a gorgeous aircraft and a technological marvel.

  2. Steven Davis II

    Having flown several different style flight simulators from MS Flight Simulator 4.0 (DOS based) to a full blown, real F/A-18 military simulator at NAS Lemoore I can guarantee that they had this thing set up in 99.99% arcade mode. I had flown two or three different flavors of the desktop F/A-18 flight simulators but when I got in to the real thing it was all I could do to keep it on a straight and level flight, and forget taxiing, taking off, and landing. Carrier launch was pretty cool because you were just along for the ride, landing on a stationary carrier was another thing, I think the closest I came to actually landing in non-computer aided landing was overflying the deck by 40 feet or putting it in the water a half-mile behind the ship.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Manned aircraft will be around for generations more, Silence.

    I had to chuckle though at the pork barrel politics on display. What a show! If you look at the data, Lockheed is projecting that South Carolina’s share of the annual economic benefit will be less than 0.03% – now that’s some share of the pie… If Lockheed had said SC is going to see $5 out of $17,700 per year would anyone be led to support the defense program as beneficial to our state – beyond national defense?

    While we may end up with two bases flying these planes; it seems to me that the Marine’s B version was the one to kill off – and the version most likely to be supplanted by drones anyway. It is also worth noting how narrow our national defense platforms are becoming. We seem to be pushing for increased program costs across the board, and yet still have no systems redundancy.

  4. Brad

    I don’t remember the last time I saw a razzle-dazzle tour like this over a weapons system.

    But then, it’s hard to recall the last time a new fighter aircraft was trying to get off the ground.

  5. Silence

    It’s ok bud, we spent $1.03 trillion on welfare in FY11. At least in this case we got a cool airplane.

  6. Silence

    @ Mark Stewart – Agreed about manned aircraft, but the momentum seems to be going towards drones at the moment. No need for pesky life support systems, no risk of operator losses, longer endurance and loiter times, smaller, stealthier, more lethal, cheaper.

    If “F” designated planes stick around beyond the 6th (next) generation fighters, It’ll only be because the AF generals who make those kind of decisions tend to come up through the figher pilot ranks.

  7. bud

    Maybe we could bring back some other really cool weapons systems. The British still have the HMS Victory in commission. Now that was a way cool ship. Or how about some good ole rhombsodial tanks circa 1918. Not a weapons system since looked any cooler. Or we could trot out a new version of the catapault. The Romans had great success with those.

    Ok I’m being obnoxious. But the point is we really don’t need every weapons system just because they look way cool or they have some amazing performance envelope. We should look toward legitimate needs for the defense of our country. Not sure the F-35 fulfills that need any more than a flintlock.

  8. Brad

    I didn’t think you were being obnoxious, Bud. I thought you were being nostalgic…

    Now the chariot, THAT was a weapons platform…

    Seriously. If you read Keegan’s “A History of Warfare,” that was one of the great technological breakthroughs in military history.

    Also, as Dave Grossman points out in “On Killing,” it was possibly the earliest crew-served weapon. That was a huge leap in terms of maximizing the deadliness of the two men in the crew.

    Here’s why: Studies have shown that for most of history — at least, most of the history of firearms, and maybe before — most soldiers had a powerful psychological barrier against actually trying to kill the enemy. Until the U.S. changed its training methods after WWII (dramatically increasing firing rates by Vietnam), only about 15 percent of soldiers in close contact with the enemy, while bullets were flying at them, actually fired their weapons. And only about 2 or 4 percent actually aimed at the enemy and tried to kill him.

    The exception was crew-served weapons, such as heavy machine guns or artillery pieces. When it takes a team to fire a weapon, neither man feels free to shirk his duty to fire at the enemy, however powerful the humanitarian urge not to kill may be.

    So the archer in the chariot couldn’t try to miss his targets, or the driver would know. The driver couldn’t steer away from the enemy, or the archer would know.

    Another factor greatly increasing a soldier’s (or sailor’s or marine’s or airman’s) willingness to kill is distance. Another is not being able to see the enemy, beyond a blob on a night-vision scope or a blip on a screen.

    All of these factors greatly increase the deadliness of our military personnel who operate drones. If Grossman’s principles are correct, the drone operators should have practically ZERO reluctance to pull the trigger. Or press the button.

  9. Silence

    @ bud – I’m an advocate for (and have mentioned on Brad’s blog’s comment section before) bringing back the BB’s. We could refit, update and automate the 4 existing Iowa-Class battleships and use them for supporting amphibious operations, maintaining naval supremecy, maintaining sea lines of control and anti-piracy operations as well. Their steel armor would laugh at most modern anti-ship missles.

    Commander of the Soviet Navy Sergey Gorshkov said as much: “You Americans do not realize what formidable warships you have in these four battleships. We have concluded after careful analysis that these magnificent ships are in fact the most to be feared in your entire naval arsenal. When engaged in combat we could throw everything we have at those ships and all our firepower would bounce off or be of little effect. Then when we are exhausted, we will detect you coming over the horizon and then you will sink us.”

  10. Steve Gordy

    Silence, Gorshkov was speaking back in the 1970s, well before the latest generation of precision munitions came on the scene. The USS Iowa would be almost as vulnerable as HMS Victory against the stuff an enemy could throw at it.

  11. bud

    WW II battleships Silence? Even if that was a good idea they are all long ago decommissioned and either serving as museums or rusting away in mothballs. Let’s get real. Besides the Iowa class battleships were obsolete even during WW II. Why would they be an effective weapons system now? However, I will acknowledge that they look real cool.

  12. Nick Nielsen

    Don’t underestimate the intimidation factor of the big ships.

    You might never need to see them in action, but just knowing that each of the nine 16″ guns could throw a shell that weighs almost as much as a VW Beetle over 20 miles tends to get your attention.

  13. Brad

    I’ve always liked that particular descriptive tidbit. I picture an actual VW bug sailing over the head of an adversary as a warning shot, and the enemy looking at each other and saying, “Let’s get the f___ out of here!”

  14. Mark Stewart

    The problem with the battleships is that they were designed to be “protected” against gunfire of the same size they carried. The other problem is they were designed to protect against ballistic plunging fire; which only covers a few types of modern missiles/torpedoes.

    So while they look cool, their crew size, habitability, systems design, and armour scheme leave them obsolescent today.

    Of course our modern carriers are nearly as
    obsolescent… at least

  15. Nick Nielsen

    The advantage the carriers have over battleships is that in addition to the attack aircraft, they also carry their own air defense aircraft.

    What really should be at debate is not the size of our military, but the strategy of purpose for same. Are we the world’s policeman? Should we draw back to our oceanic boundary and use the military only for shore defense? Or is the best option somewhere between these two extremes, and, if so, how far in either direction?

  16. Steven Davis II

    You do realize that a 16″ round isn’t actually the size of a VW Beetle, it’s more like a stainless steel kitchen garbage can size projectile.

  17. Steven Davis II

    With the AEGIS system, battleships would be just fine the same as destroyers and other ships that use this technology. Besides, anything short of a bomber dropped missile would do little to the 36″ hull of a battleship. It’d be like being hit by a gnat.

  18. Silence

    @ Steve – The modern generation of precision munitions weren’t designed to penetrate the armor on a battleship – not that something like that couldn’t be developed. The current ones were desgined to damage the thin steel or aluminum hulls and superstructures of modern vessels. The USS Stark, the USS Cole and the HMS Sheffield all suffered significant damage (or were sunk) by munitions that a WWII battleship would have laughed off.

  19. Mark Stewart


    The military should have two strategies:

    One, project power and influence world affairs.

    Two, win wars – including the big ones.

    Some assets are useful for one but not the other. Some are useful for both and some are partially useful in one or the other. The problem is that the perception of power projection is often not in alignment with reality. This is as true with geopolitics as it is with systems design. It’s a complicated world out there and there are no easy answers for the strong. It’s much simpler to strategize when one is weak.

    So let’s keep on with the carriers and the main battle tanks and the F-35B for power projection, but let’s also keep developing the strategies and weapons than will win war in the future.

  20. bud

    Why do we need to project power and influence world affairs? Seems like that kind of thinking only gets us into trouble.

  21. Steven Davis II

    bud – “Why do we need to project power and influence world affairs?”

    Do thugs in 5-Points go after guys carrying baseball bats or the guy who appears to be unarmed? Same principle, just on a larger scale.

    Why did Hitler go after the weak European countries first… because he could without any harm to his own military.

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