Hurricane Michael “Knocks Out” 22 F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighters… Or Not.

Guest aircraft identification and BDA by David Middleton

From Pacific Standard (sounds more like a home builder or railroad than a publication)…


For the Air Force, climate change just got personal.


At least 35 people were killed when Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida panhandle last week, the latest in a string of storms whose growing intensity scientists have linked to climate change. But while America’s elected leaders continue to deny the existence of climate change, there’s at least one faction of the Trump administration that’s taking the threat seriously: the United States military.

For years the Department of Defense (DOD) has viewed climate change as a “threat multiplier,” rather than a direct national security concern…

“For years” = mostly the 8 years of the Obama maladministration.

Consider the case of Tyndall Air Force Base, home to 55 fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighter jets that are essential to Air Force operations. At least 33 of the aircraft were dispatched to safety at a base in Ohio ahead of Michael’s landfall, but satellite photos published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the aftermath of the storm revealed the wreckage of several of the pricey stealth fighters among the debris; according to reporting from Foreign Policy, “as many as” 17 Raptors “may be damaged or destroyed.” (The Air Force says the damage to the aircraft “was less than … feared.”)

Any losses with these jets are pretty devastating. As noted by Task & Purpose, only 80 of the Air Force’s 182 Raptors are mission-capable, mostly because of the airframe’s unusual production history and the scarcity of spare parts.


Pacific Standard

The Pacific Standard article was accompanied by this photo…

Wreckage at the Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

This picture is of the base’s static display exhibit aircraft, Cold War vintage jets and an F-15 & F-16 representing aircraft that attempted intercepts and/or flew CAP on 9/11.

The F-86/F-84 is probably an F-86D “Dog Sabre”. The F-4 might be an F-101 Voodoo. I’m sure there’s a reference out there somewhere… But there isn’t an F-22 in sight.


There is one photo of a possibly damaged F-22.

Here’s the only photo we’ve seen yet of one of the F-22s left behind. The hangar is clearly damaged, but it’s unclear if the Raptor was as well. Business Insider/Reuters

The 22 Raptors left behind were not flyable.  They were secured in hangars.  Since the base took a direct hit, most were probably damaged.  That’s what hurricanes do.

Typhoons and Hurricanes: Pacific Typhoon, 18 December 1944

On 17 December 1944, the ships of Task Force 38, seven fleet and six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers were operating about 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea. The carriers had just completed three days of heavy raids against Japanese airfields, suppressing enemy aircraft during the American amphibious operations against Mindoro in the Philippines. Although the sea had been becoming rougher all day, the nearby cyclonic disturbance gave relatively little warning of its approach. On 18 December, the small but violent typhoon overtook the Task Force while many of the ships were attempting to refuel. Many of the ships were caught near the center of the storm and buffeted by extreme seas and hurricane force winds. Three destroyers, USS Hull, USS Spence, and USS Monaghan, capsized and went down with practically all hands, while a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers suffered serious damage. Approximately 790 officers and men were lost or killed, with another 80 injured. Fires occurred in three carriers when planes broke loose in their hangars and some 146 planes on various ships were lost or damaged beyond economical repair by fires, impact damage, or by being swept overboard.This storm inflicted more damage on the Navy than any storm since the hurricane at Apia, Samoa in 1889. In the aftermath of this deadly storm, the Pacific Fleet established new weather stations in the Caroline Islands and, as they were secured, Manila, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In addition, new weather central offices (for coordinating data) were established at Guam and Leyte.

Naval History and Heritage Command


The genuine threat to national security here is this:

Only 80 of the Air Force’s 182 Raptors are mission-capable, mostly because of the airframe’s unusual production history and the scarcity of spare parts.

A 44% readiness rate for our most advanced fighter-interceptor is a REAL national security threat.

In 2009, it was estimated that the incremental unit procurement cost for new F-22’s was $150 million per air-frame.  The cost to replace all of the 102 mission-incapable F-22’s would be about $15.3 billion.  Where on Earth could the Air Force get that kind of money?  Maybe from here:

How much does the federal government really spend on climate change programs?

According to Office of Management and Budget reports, federal climate change funding was $13.2 billion across 19 agencies in 2017. In the 6 agencies we reviewed, we found that 94% of their reported climate change funding went to programs that touch on, but aren’t dedicated to climate change, such as nuclear energy research.



$13.2 billion would have paid for 88 F-22’s at 2009 prices.

While the Air Force has opted to cease procurement of new F-22’s in 2012, zeroing this schist out would go a long way toward rebuilding our armed forces:

What GAO Found
In its reports to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported that annual federal climate change funding increased by $4.4 billion from fiscal years 2010 through 2017. For example, reported annual funding for technology to reduce emissions increased by about $3.5 billion, as seen in the figure below. Although OMB included information on federal fiscal exposure to climate change in the President’s budgets for fiscal year 2016 and 2017, it did not provide this information in its most recent climate change funding reports. For example, the reports did not include information on programs—such as disaster assistance—whose costs were likely to increase due to climate change which would have provided more complete information for making spending trade-off decisions for climate activities. According to GAO’s prior work, more complete information on fiscal exposures and the long-term effects of decisions would help policymakers make trade-offs between spending with long-term and short-term benefits.



118 thoughts on “Hurricane Michael “Knocks Out” 22 F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighters… Or Not.

  1. Definitely a load of schist.
    Having visited the USAF Weapons Museum and enjoyed it greatly, I’m saddened that so many historical aircraft appear to be severely damaged. I note that the SR71 with the rearward extending ECM pod isn’t in the image, I can only hope that it survived the onslaught, it was the only one ever built.

    • On the bright side… Since they were static displays, they don’t have to be repaired to flyable condition.

      It would have been an even bigger tragedy if Michael had scored a direct hit on Pensacola NAS… home of one of the most awesome aviation museums, the National Naval Aviation Museum… A large number of which are outdoor exhibits, like this EC-121 Warning Star…

    • But why are valuable, difficult to move objects put in locations where natural damage is quite likely?

      It seems a bit silly to have valuable things in the way of damaging things.

      • It is silly, but politicians want military bases in their states because of the federal money and jobs. National Defense takes a back seat. As in most things, if it appears to violate common sense, start following the money.

      • Really is there a safe place? Seems to me that the USAF museum at Wright Patterson has had several serious tornadoes hit in the area around it during my life time. It’s just luck it hasn’t been struck. It is there because of the long heritage of aviation and military aviation in that area. And that is why the Naval Aviation is where it is.

        Personally I like that. I was unhappy when the Army took all the armor displays from the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox and put together a combined US Army Armor Calvery museum at Ft. Benning. Ft. Benning is the home of the Infantry! In my view such Branch museums should be located at the posts where their heritage has been created over the course of history. For example the US Ordinance Museum is at Aberdeen, MD and that is exactly where it belongs.

        • The tanks are gone from the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen. I was out there a year ago, hoping to take a walk among the tombstones as I had done when I was in high school in the 70s. But they’re all gone. Can’t figure out where they went. I read that they were dispersed to other bases, but can’t find a definitive answer. One of those places was supposed to have been Ft Lee in Virginia, but I went there at the same outing and no one knew what I was talking about.


          • A lot of the ex-Aberdeen armor went into storage at Anniston Army Depot, AL.

            There are so many sad and shameful stories associated with Aberdeen that I don’t even want to recount them.

        • Aberdeen had most of its armour simply parked outside in a field, did it not?

          My impression was the collection was very impressive, but very casually maintained.

    • Dunno if they have an SR 71 there. The only one I know of is at the armament museum just north of Shalimar near Eglin entrance. (Ft Walton Beach area further to the west)

        • The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC has an SR-71. It is one elegant machine. I understand there is also one displayed at the museum in NYC wjich s house on an aircraft carrier.

        • We had some SR7 pilots in our engineering program at CU when I was there late 60’s. That got me interested in the bird. Saw a flight functional one in Texas a few years later complete with pans underneath to catch the JP7.
          From the vantage point of directly looking down it’s pointy nose it’s one awesome plane.

    • The worry expressed was about American security. Don’t worry Dave B. There are probably 100s of $13B unicorn fund piles to be swept up and returned to American families and Trump is the only guy who can do it.

    • In 2014, 77.5 million “tax units” paid no Federal tax. Tax units include households and individuals, as well as other entities. 93.8 million tax units would bear the cost of the F-22s. This works out to $141 per tax unit. A simple dinner for two with no wine or desert in Seattle cost us $106 a few months after the $15 minimum wage went into effect three years ago. Speaking for myself, I’d much rather have the extra F-22s. Indeed, I’ve saved enough by staying out of Seattle ever since then that I could afford to pay quite a few unit portions if that money would go to F-22s.

  2. The base has commented that three F22s couldn’t be flown out, and that they were not destroyed but damaged and are assessing how badly and how repairable they are. The kind of idiot who’d post that pic and say it was all F22s is the same kind of moron who went out and said that AR15s are so dangerous because of the evil chainsaw bayonet option. Sadly there are far too many people who will nod their heads and swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

    And you’re right, a 44% availability rate is horrible, as was only making a small number of them and relying on the F35 to fix the numbers problem. A plane with even worse issues.

    • I also worry about the F-35… Too many divergent missions for one air-frame. The Navy has not had a long-ranged strike aircraft since the A-6 Intruders and converted F-14 “Bombcats” were retired.

      I wish Grumman could just put the F-14 and A-6 back into production… But I think the tooling was ordered destroyed (at least for the F-14) to ensure that never happened.

        • If you need close air support which would be your preference?

          1) USAF F-16
          2) USAF F-15E
          3) USANG A-10
          4) USN/USMC F/A-18

          Assuming this bad boy is unavailable…

          • If you want close air support, you want the A-10.

            You want those B-52’s to soften up an area before the troops move in, and they come in real handy if your guys get surprised by a larger enemy military force.

            Through the entire Vietnam war, American commanders wanted to get the North Vietnamese into a conventional military fight, one large army opposing another large army. But the North Vietnamese didn’t play that game, and only did hit-and-run attacks, where they could run away when American pressure became too great, and the Leftwing U.S. Congress wouldn’t allow the U.S. military to invade North Vietnam and force an all-out battle on them, so there was never a large-scale battle between American forces and the North Vietnamese until the Tet Offensive of early 1968, where the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong simultaneously attacked just about every city, town and village in South Vietnam.

            The surprise of the Tet attack initially gave the communists some gains but in the end the attacks were thoroughly defeated, to the point that the South Vietnamese communist guerillas, who secretly blended into South Vietnamese society, called the Viet Cong, were wiped out and were never a factor in the war after that.

            The Viet Cong had been hiding within the South Vietnamese society for years and when the Tet Offensive happened they believed their own propaganda and thought they were going to win and didn’t have to worry about hiding after that. But they were wrong, on both counts. They were wiped out by the time it was all over.

            In 1975, after U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam (in 1973), the North Vietnamese violated the Paris Peace Agreement and invaded northern South Vietnam with a major part of their military forces and they sent the South Vietamese forces reeling and retreating south along with hundreds of thousands of cvilians who were headed south trying to get away from the invading North Vietnamese.

            At this time the invading North Vietnamese force had jammed up every highway, road and trail in northern South Vietnam with their troops and equipment and the roads ahead of them were jammed with civilians so a significant percentage of the North Vietnamese military force was sitting there in northern South Vietnam and couldn’t move forward or backward.

            And we had all those lovely B-52’s sitting at Guam with a big sitting duck of the North Vietnamese military sitting there in northern South Vietnam. The U.S. could have probably ended North Vietnam as a threat to South Vietnam right then, but the liberals were in charge and President Ford was paralyzed into inaction by Watergate and Nixon’s resignation (One reason the North Vietnamese thought they could get away with an attack in the first place), and so, although the U.S. was legally and morally obligated to come to South Vietnam’s aid, and had the means to decimate the North Vietnamese force with little danger to Americans, they chose not to act and to throw South Vietnam to the wolves. To their everlasting shame.

            Those B-52’s bring back memories. They could decimate an immobile force in pretty short order. The U.S. should have done that in the case of the North Vietnam violating the peace agreement.

          • Tom,

            Yes, our not coming to our ally’s rescue was a crime. But Commies in Congress had cut off all aid to the RVN. The oil crisis essentially immobilized the ARVN.

            Victor Charlie survived Tet in IV Corps, the Mekong Delta.

      • I believe the F-14 tooling was destroyed to prevent it making its way to Iran, where their F-14s have been grounded for lack of parts. I think there are no surviving flying F-14s either, for the same reason.

      • David, et al –

        Putting an aircraft back into production after a lapse is a very difficult and expensive proposition, even if the tooling was saved and maintained. Aircraft contain many, many systems, most of which are purchased from subcontractors. After a lapse in production, the subcontractor isn’t making that system anymore, and would have to restart production, probably from scratch. Also, som of the subcontractors may no longer be in business. The moral is “buy them while you can”.

      • You’re venturing outside your area of expertise.

        The F-35C is the longest ranged supersonic attack aircraft the Navy has ever had – much longer legs than the F-14 or the A-6 (which was not even supersonic).

        The F-35 is also the world’s best, most capable, and most lethal fighter in history, bar none, by a humongous margin (try 24:1 kill ratio against all other fourth gen aircraft in the US and allied fleets in air to air combat exercises).

          • No, you are confusing RANGE with EFFECTIVE COMBAT RADIUS. The max RANGE of the A-6 was about 1,000 nm (with zero weapons loadout – much less than that with a full weaps load), but its EFFECTIVE COMBAT RADIUS – defined as the two way travel distance plus a half hour on station – like any other aircraft, is less than half its effective combat radius, about 470 nm and again, with no weaps. Grab a full load of draggy weaps plus an ECM pod, and the effective combat radius of an A6 is far less than that .. under 400 nm.

            The EFFECTIVE COMBAT RADIUS of an F-35C with full internal weaps loadout for air to ground missions is 630 nm … and over 700 nm for air to air missions.

            The F-35C is the longest legged attack aircraft the Navy has ever had, whether supersonic (which the A6 was not) or subsonic.

            And that is just with the existing in service F135 engine. The updated F-135 engine with variable bypass, to be implemented in two phases between now and 2025, will increase the already superlative range of the F-35C by another 30%, increasing the effective combat radius to over 800 nm.

          • Duane,

            No, I’m not confusing range with combat radius.

            Intruders could and did conduct strikes 1000 nm from a carrier and return on internal fuel.

            F-35 is far from the longest-legged carrier aircraft ever. Besides which, we don’t even really know yet what its combat radius will be. Hanging stuff on it not only compromises its RCS, but of course creates a lot of drag. Despite its greater fuel capacity than the other two variants, F-35C will be lucky to enjoy a combat radius of 615 nm.

          • Salute!

            To quote from Oddball, “Not so fast with the ‘negative waves’, Moriarity!” And another friendly jab is required from this old fighter pilot, heh heh. As a U.S. Senator once asked of a Sec Def in the 60’s, “Just what, if any, experience do you have in these matters?”

            I’ll match my 4,000 hours, two combat tours and 400 combat missions with ya, any day. Bio at:


            Many urban legends exist about the F-35 and are foisted and nurtured by folks that have not flown any 3rd or 4th gen fighter/attack aircraft, nor the F-35. And as some climate folks do, data is frequently “adjusted” or the cherry picker is at work.

            We can move discussion to the site, but I can verify the F-35 vs F-16 story is fake news. The referenced BFM engagement was at Edwards and under extremely controlled conditions, plus scripted maneuvers done to gather data ( unlike many claims put forward by climate alarmists). I have seen the F-35 do things that I could never do in my Viper ( F-16), and the thing would prolly run me outta gas while doing it.

            Now we return back to climate change, huh? Being a pilot, weather was always of interest and the climate of your area of operation

            Gums sends…

          • Not true at all. While “dogfighting” went obsolete over 30 years ago, with not a single US dogfight performed since 1991, the F-35 dogfights as well as any fourth gen. It has superior high angle of attack maneuverability over any F-16 or F-15, with only the F-22 able to equal it in that area. High angle of attack maneuverability is the key performance factor for dogfighting.

            The old media liestorm put out by War is Boring was a total misrepresentation. Their was not a “dogfight” between the F-35 and the F-16. It was a test designed to determine what effects on dogfighting were imposed on the developmental F-35 when it was limited, as it was under software build 2i, to only 5 G, while the F-16 it tested against was allowed to go to its airframe limit of 9G. Since, then, of course, several other iterations of the software build were released and deployed, with the current release being the “fuil warfighting” capability of 3F. F-35As and F-35Cs are OK up to the same 9G limit.

            In other words, the so-called “dogfight” was a test to see how well the developmental, non-operational F-35 would do with both hands tied behind its back in a non-existent, outmoded, obsolete “dogfight” test that is irrelevent to 21st century air to air combat.

            For website dedicated to defeating media lies on matters of science and engineering, your support of the exact same kind of lying by the media years ago is rather curious, to say the least.

            There are many good reasons why the kill ratio is 24:1 for the F-35A over all other US and allied fourth gen fighters … and that the Marines’ F-35B is to date undefeated in air to air combat exercises, again against all other US and allied fighters.

            The F-35 is the killer … and all other fighters are its victims.

          • Salute!

            I have heard the same, John, but not from the active duty pilots flying the plane. You can read one interview after another, and they all say the same thing. Sure, a few beefs, but not about basic operation and aero characteristics.

            I went thru same drill in the Viper back in 1979. It was called the Widow Maker and Lawn Dart, as we had a few ejections from engine failure and the first from pilot error when running outta fuel. All it took was a few exercises versus F-4 and Eagles and the A-4 guys from Top Gun, and the infamous RAF Bomb Comp at Lossiemouth(81!).

            All the things I had concerns with have been rectified, but try to talk with actual pilots or read interviews. Ask those retired pilots if they have talked with actual F-35 pilots.

            I don’t like the price, but that’s the fault of Congress and last administration.

            Gums sends…

          • Gums October 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm

            Part of the preposterous price is due to Congress and Administrations, but also to the manner in which the program was conceived and to the mission requirements.

            Some pilots do like it, and why not? The issue is how much more they might have liked the results of a cheaper, more capable program with lower operating costs.

            Had the USAF not cut short the F-22 buy, its unit cost would have dropped from $150 M down into F-35 range, ie $91 M. Remarkably, twin engine F-22 costs less to operate than single engine F-35. The new plane’s horrendous weight is a big part of that. An older big single-engine, multirole a/c, F-105, weighed 27,500# empty. F-35C tips the scales at 34,800# empty. F-22A is 43,340#.

            Even at the outset of the JSF program, wise heads warned that the services were trying to pack too much capability into one single-engine a/c. An old story, usually with negative results. Add to that its unusual development schedule, and huge cost overruns and repeated delays were predictable. Plus underperformance.

            A combination of continued F-22 production (including a navalized variant), despite its own RDT&E problems, with a Harrier III for the USMC and our allies with skijump deck carriers and phibs would have given us more overall capability at less cost and lower operating expenses. That’s hindsight now, but was, as noted, forecast. F-35’s advances in sensors and software were not money wasted, which could have been incorporated into F-22 and other a/c.

            F-35 will never be cost-effective as a CAS platform. Neither would F-22 be, except with standoff weapons. But there is still potential in A-10 and F-16 for all but the highest threat environments, which God willing, no one will ever have to endure.

            There are now a lot of options for close support of ground troops which don’t require manned a/c, to include both precision artillery fires and drones. Even guided mortar rounds, for the most rapidly available fire support.

          • “…that F-35 can’t dogfight…”

            Can’t dogfight what you can’t detect and refuses to close with you.

            Fight to your strengths, not your enemy. If your 5th gen stealth aircraft with wall to wall BVR ability is closing to dogfight with 4.5 gen aircraft then you are probably doing it wrong.

            (disclaimer – Industrial Military Complex supports my drinking habits. Read into that what you will.)

          • Salute!

            So I bail, and we can debate over on an aviation forum like Pprune or

            I flew a premier CAS plane for a bit over 300 missions, but it would have been cut up over the Fulda Gap scenario in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Most of the Hawg drivers of my vintage that had combat time in other platforms as well in the Hawg will agree.

            There is no cost-effective CAS platform in a peer-to-peer scenario. Nowadays As much as I enjoyed the A-37 and then the A-7D, I would not want to be flying around as a show of force down low within the envelope of modern air defenses.

            The new jet will use the small diameter bombs and really great targeting data and sensors and such to drop a bomb within 20 meters of a friendly grunt.

            The whole Hollywood and glamorous scenes of planes dropping nape and high-drag bombs right in front of the grunts is passe. Ditto for strafe, and I have strafed right in fron of U.S. grunts a few times. Only in Third World scenarios where the bad guys do not have Manpads or mobile ack will the old things work.

            In short, the CAS argument is moot, and there are bigger fish to fry for the F-35 and F-22 and B-2 and even the 4th gen planes.

            Going back to climate observations and weather now.

            The defense rests.

            Gums sends…

          • Gums October 23, 2018 at 4:15 pm

            And yet Russian CAS a/c are operating in Syria now. I agree that their heyday might be pasr, for the reasons I gave above, but in low threat environments, they might still have utility, which is why turboprops are making a comeback as COIN a/c.

            The criminally expensive F-35 program has robbed the Army and Marine grunts, the service and arm doing most of the fighting and dying, of the weapons and support they need.

          • It is interesting to note that each F-35C now costs under $90 million. They are thus about the same cost as a loaded Gulfstream business jet. But they can go 3 times as fast, carry and deliver tons of sophisticated weapons, take off and land vertically, defeat anything in the sky, and they look like a bird on radar. I am amazed they are as cheap as they are.

          • ScottR October 24, 2018 at 2:08 pm

            That’s the unit cost.

            The protracted research, development, test and evaluation of the program adds onto the cost of each F-35 built to date another ~$109 billion, more than doubling its price. That will come down with more units produced, but they also are absurdly expensive to operate and maintain.

            The 2015 estimates were $1.508 trillion (through 2070 in then-year dollars), at $55.1B for RDT&E, $319.1B for procurement, $4.8B for MILCON, $1123.8B for operations & sustainment.


            They simply are not worth that cost, no matter how capable the fleet might eventually prove. But so far, they’re scarcely even operational, so their true capabilities haven’t been demonstrated in the real, cruel world.

        • Hopefully all of those simulated dogfights were realistic and the F-35’s F/A-18 “buddy” tankers make timely appearances.

          • Some in the Intruder and Prowler communities wanted to replace A-6 with a navalized Tornado rather than Super Hornet. Tornado doesn’t have Intruder’s range, but it beats all F/A-18 variants’ and, like Hornet, is supersonic.

            But swing wing tech is now so 20th century.

          • The use of Hornets in every conceivable mission, including tankers and EW, speaks volumes about its versatility… It’s also prematurely wearing out airframes.

          • So… A F/A-18 buddy tanker would have to refuel about 4 times in order to refuel an F-35… Argh!

          • The oft-cited figure of 1000 nm isn’t precise. The most ostensibly precise figure I’ve seen is 1077 nm, but of course it depends upon loadout. Naturally, Super Hornet can extend its unrefueled range with drop tanks, but that sacrifices ordnance on those hard points.

            The Navy is experimenting with drone tankers, since it no longer has carrier-based manned tanking aircraft. Improvements in anti-ship missiles make extended range imperative, to include not just supersonic cruise missiles, but now China’s long-range anti-carrier ballistic missile.

          • David Middleton October 22, 2018 at 4:33 pm

            Yes, Hornet has proved versatile, but it’s still too short-legged adequately to serve as a long-range strike aircraft. Somehow, US aircraft industry must come up with a supersonic attack plane with an unrefueled, 1500 nm combat radius. If low observables also be required, then such an aircraft might well still lie in the realm of science fiction.

          • Yep. The Hornet is the modern day F6F Hellcat… but nothing ever actually replaced the SBD Dauntless until the Able Dog (A-1 Skyraider).

          • John Tillman does not know what he is talking about, mixing apples (range) and oranges (effective combat radius).

            The max RANGE of the A6 was 1,000 nm. Its max effective combat radius was (as always) less than half that, at 470 nm). Much less than that with a ECM pod and full weaps load of draggy external weapons.

            The max RANGE of the F-35C is over 1,400 nm, with an EFFECTIVE COMBAT RADIUS of 630 nm in air to ground missions, and 700 nm in air to air combat missions, including internal weapons and ECM. Far longer legs than the A6, which was an old, slow, draggy subsonic aircraft.

            The effective combat radius of the F-35C is a real number, unlike the numbers reported for third and fourth gen aircraft which only are true if no weapons or external ECM pods are carried, which of course, always ARE carried, thus reducing the reported range and radius numbers by a large degree. The F-35 carries its weapons and ECM internally, except when it goes full “bomb truck” mode.

            And that is with the current F135 engine. The upgraded F135 engine, being introduced in two increments with fuil deployment of both increments by 2025, delivers another 30% more miles range, delivering an effective combat radius of over 800 nm.

          • Generally, the A-6 would top off the tanks from a KA-6 after taking off. With in-flight refueling, range isn’t so much of an issue. The current problem is that the F/A-18 has pretty well taken over the carrier based tanker mission… And pretty well every mission other than COD. The F/A-18 is probably the most versatile combat aircraft since the F6F Hellcat.

            I have mixed feelings about the F-35. Back in 2010, my wife and I made a trip to Pensacola (primarily for me to see the Naval Aviation Museum). One evening she wanted to photograph the sunset out on the Gulf National Seashore. We ran into another couple who were doing the same thing. We got to talking, and it turns out the guy was a retired USMC F-4 Phantom pilot. He had recently attended a demo of the F-35 and he was extremely impressed, describing it as the best combat aircraft he’d ever seen. I’ve heard other good reports… But it just seems like an aircraft that’s designed to perform too many, not always compatible, missions. But I’m just a hobbyist when it comes to military aviation.

          • Duane,

            Sorry, but you are sadly misinformed.

            The ferry range of A-6E was 2818 nmi . Its combat radius was over 1000 nm.

            As for dogfighting, while BVR engagements are more common now, the USN still practices ACM for a reason.


            I’m not a fighter pilot, but I communicate almost daily with retired fighter, attack and bomber pilots, some still active in the aircraft industry. None of them has a good word for F-35. The program was a colossal waste of money, except for some of the software and sensors.

          • Duane and Gums,

            The only way fairly to compare the combat radii of A-6E and F-35C would be for each to fly the same profile with the same load out, unrefueled. IMO Intruder would win handily.

            Its max load combat radius in standard references is given as 878 nm, but mission profile isn’t indicated. In any case, Lockheed Martin cannot justly claim greater combat radius than Intruder. At least not yet. The whole pathetic history of the program suggests that performance won’t be as advertised.

            Maybe the USN will be pleasantly surprised, but that’s not the way to bet.


      “However, according to the Facebook Air Force Forum page, four F-22 Raptors from the 43rd Fighter Squadron were unable to fly out of the way of the storm and may have been damaged. Three Raptors were in one hangar that had significant damage, according to the forum, and a fourth rode out the storm in a separate hangar that seemed to sustain less damage…”

      • For the cost of hurricane damage to aircraft over the years, we could have built hurricane-proof hangars.

        Just as for the cost of damage from Sandy, NYC could have built a surge barrier like that of Providence, RI, constructed in the ’60s due to the terrible storms of previous decades.

    • Bad decisions by the Obama administration mean that it will become increasingly to keep the F-22s flying.

      Another issue is the supply chain for parts now that the U.S. no longer produces the airplane, and “some original manufacturers no longer make the parts or are completely out of business,” GAO notes. Air Force officials told GAO that a simple wiring harness requires a 30-week lead time for finding a new contractor and producing the part. Ripping out parts from planes that work, or “cannibalizing,” is now common practice in military aviation. link

      When I was a pup security was taken seriously. There was a rule that any component used in military equipment had to have at least two sources on American soil. By the 1980s things had slipped. We still used an antique electronic system with vacuum tubes. The only supplier was in the Soviet Union. Maybe the theory was that WW3 would be over so fast that repairs would be moot. 🙁

      • My suspicion is multiple sources became too expensive. Lockheed Martin used to engineer airplanes, now their primary talent is engineering profits.

    • so unless the grounding of the lemon f35s has been removed??
      due to catastrophic engine failure causing the recent crash(global grounding btw)
      the 33 remaining flyable F22s are your airforce right now?

      • You seem to be under the impression that a grounding is a significant event.

        An incident occurred. Given the maturity of the programme the casual analysis is ‘It was probably a one off’. However until the report comes back and clearly states ‘it was DEFINITELY a one off’, the responsible thing to do is play safe and over react.

        Better to over react and be proved wrong then to under react and have to explain why you ignored the warnings.

        In context, the SAAB JAS 39 that everyone seems to love has crashed many more times, both during development and service. Aircraft must be rubbish, right?

  3. Presumably Trump admin is busy trimming these entirely worthless marxy-sparxy programs. What would have been the cost of Hillary’s 500 million new solar panels which were to be the first tranche in the race to zero CO2. With little investigative journalism being done (I don’t count investigations to win back the lost federal election), we’ll never know which Demo troughers were earnarked for the “project” I guess.

    Slashing the totally fantasy and anti-American programs of the past couple of decades seems to make it easy to find money for Making America Great Again.

    • “Presumably Trump admin is busy trimming these entirely worthless marxy-sparxy programs.”

      Trump told his cabinet recently he wanted them to reduce spending by 5 percent. They probably have a public suggestion box located somewhere.

  4. It’s a Sabre not a Thunderstreak. There are of course thirteen F-22s in that photo, you just can’t see ’em.

    • I figured that out after looking at some more images… The wing-sweep should have been a dead giveaway.

  5. The 102 grounded aircraft likely would not need replaced. They are all probably “hangar queens”. Since the 0bummer Maladministration would not fund the military, not even enough for routine maintenance and spare parts, those 102 aircraft have been cannibalized, with parts removed and put on another aircraft to make one of the two flyable (except it has now reached the point where they have cannibalized to keep one of the 1.275 aircraft flying). A practice also common during the Carter Maladministration, the man who 0bummer replaced as The Worst President Ever™ (if we grade them only on how good or bad they were for the U.S.A.) All they would need to become flyable is replacing the scavenged parts, where there is a shortage most especially if no money is allocated to purchase said parts.

    This is not a practice unique to the aircraft. Routine repairs and scheduled preventive maintenance of buildings went unfunded throughout wonderboy’s maladministration. A practice which likely has elevated their energy consumption above optimum, also.

  6. The thing about hurricanes is they seem to have the most devestating effect in the empty zone between the ears of CAGWarmistas.

    • There are superficial similarities… and IIRC the Phantom succeeded the Voodoo in McDonnell Douglas’ designs…

      But, it’s definitely not a Voodoo.

        • I always liked the look of the Voodoo… Particularly the RF-101 version in the SEA camo scheme…

          • I bet that one’s fun to drive.

            I used to love the Voodoo flybys when I went to airshows as a younger version of me, until they were retired from active service. Well, all flybys, really. The power of the jet engines and afterburners really get the blood pumping. My dad was an RCAF airframes tech who worked primarily on the Voodoo and the Starfighter, so his stories gave me a better connection to what I was seeing. One of my other favourites was always the Phantom, funnily enough.

  7. “Beware of the military-industrial complex” Dwight D. Eisenhower. We need them but they need to be controlled much better than they are or have been. Given the time the Trumpster will do a better job than most, if not all, of his predecessors.

    • Problem with the Industrial Military Complex is that the government likes to be involved.

      If you are at the OEM part of the system you refer to ‘The Customer’ and ‘The End User’ when discussing projects. The OEM rarely gets to speak to the End User and that the End User wants is occasionally what the Customer is actually willing to sign off and pay for.

      Also Scope Creep. Oh so much Scope Creep.

      Apart from that the system works perfectly 😀

  8. Another good post by David Middleton.

    If “they” publish it, it will be read/viewed and discussion will follow! LOL

  9. The UK has been living under ‘Austerity’ since the 2008 financial crash in order to pay back the debt incurred by the taxpayer to bail out the banks.

    From memory, I believe last year £11 Bn was spent on the obscene waste that is climate change. The intention is to continue spending at least that every year for the foreseeable future.

    That money would have gone a long way to alleviate the debt the country endures from the financial crash. But of course, spunking billions on an entirely unproven concept is essential whilst the immediate welfare of the British public is inconsequential.

    • No, first there has been no austerity, and second the problem has been the deficit – the difference between tax and spending – not the debt. The cost of the Climate Change Act is nowhere near £11 billion either.

      • Merchant Banker.

        Call it what you like – the ‘little people’ have much less now, in real terms than then and … the fat cats have much, much more.

        Also, the Tories have created huge debt while screwing the general populace and lying about it – but we expect that..

    • As a USN meteorologist, the late, great Reid Bryson warned about the two typhoons into which Halsey sailed Third Fleet. He should have been fired after the first one. But instead he ended up with five, count ’em, five stars.

      Bryson founded the science of climatology at Wisconsin-Madison after the war. He famously said that you could spit outisde and have more effect on climate than doubling CO2.

      • Bryson was in the USAAF and tried to warn the USN “aerologists” that a B-24 weather recce flight had actually confirmed the the hurricane but wasn’t believed.

        And actually the only thing that saved Halsey from a court martial after he sailed the Third Fleet straight into a hurricane a second time was that the USN was afraid of the negative publicity.

        You are right that it is a major scandal that Halsey got five stars while Spruance who was in command at the USN’s two biggest victories ever (Midway and Philippine Sea) didn’t.

        • I stand corrected.

          The Navy forecasters who didn’t believe him then share blame for the disaster. There was no excuse for the second catastrophe, since Bryson had shown his skill.

          True, Spruance was far more deserving.

  10. Letting the Air Force run down that much was not a bug, it was a feature. Obama was decidedly anti-military.

  11. English Navy losses 1703 storm:-

    HMS Restoration, HMS Northumberland, HMS Stirling Castle, HMS Mary, Mortar-bomb, Eagle, Resolution, Litchfield Prize, Newcastle, Vesuvius, Reserve, Vanguard, York.

    Estimates of men lost vary 6-10,000, up to one third of the Navy’s entire complement, and a fifth of its ships.

  12. “The 22 Raptors left behind were not flyable”

    But even if they (and all the other invisible aircraft in the picture) were airworthy, none of them will be going anywhere until a very thorough clear up is undertaken to remove all the “FOD” currently covering the taxiways and runway.

  13. The problem is two fold:

    1) Basing military assets in the path of natural threats.
    2) Not hardening facilities facilities that MUST be in the way of natural threats.

    Example: Any military facility in tornado alley. If the key structures of the base aren’t hardened against the tornado threat, its only a matter of time until they are destroyed, together with whatever is in there (aircraft, munitions….troops).

    In this case any air base anywhere from the southern tip of Texas around the gulf and up the Atlantic seaboard as far as hurricanes can hit should have hangars, buildings, and aircraft shelters hardened to Cat 5 level winds and appropriate height storm surges. Why they are not is beyond me. Extend this inland, with reduced wind levels as necessary, based on historical data of wind vs distance inland. (Cough, cough….New Orleans….you’re wiped out when YOU get hit by a Cat 5 – you’re not hardened, therefore it won’t be a “natural” disaster, but an entirely predictable one. Don’t stand in front of a hit you can’t take).

    As for the “fly away” problem – in lieu of new airplanes as the author implicitly suggests, a few billion to “plus up” the spare part and maintenance staff budgets would do wonders for readiness and would have allowed more to fly away.

    That said, understand the “fly away” problem: A certain number of airplanes are ALWAYS down for heavy maintenance, never mind that there are additional airplanes that are “broken”. I’ll use a civil example, but for military airframes, its similar, at least for the planned heavy maintenance (C / D Check equivalent).

    Increased spare parts and mechanic budgets would reduce the “broken” airplane fly away problem, but do little for those airplanes partially disassembled and stuck in a military equivalent to a C or D check.

  14. I don’t think that photo with the plane labeled “F-16 Falcon?” is an F-16 Falcon.
    I think it’s the Millennium Falcon after Disney got a hold of the “Star Wars” franchise.

  15. Salute!
    Sorry to not respond sooner.

    Tyndall came thru the terrible storm much better than I would have imagined. links later. We only had 30 mph winds and a little wind here, being on the lee side of that monster.

    I am a retired fighter pilot, but have lived close enuf to Tyndall to experience several storms that made landfall at Tyndall or within 20 miles. One was Alma in 1966 when I was stationed at Tyndall to check out in the F-101B VooDoo, heh heh. Second was Kate in 1985 when we moved to our present home, close to the USAF Armament Museum that has the SR-71 with that long electronic system at the tail.

    I was surprised at the number of Raptors that could not make it off due to parts. Scheduled maintenance will always result in a handful of jets that can’t fly, but usually 10 or 15% at the most. Maybe the engines are removed, or control surfaces and actuators have been disconnected, and so forth. Over here at Eglin AFB, the F-35’s busted out on Monday and early Tuesday. One after the other takeoffs heard from my place. It was the same in 1966 when I was at Tyndall, and it was F-101B, F-102 and F-106 jets booming up north as Alma hit just to the east of Port St Joe.

    I drove over 10 miles along the coast by Waveland, Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi just after Katrina, and it looked like Mexico Beach does now. Had family closeby and made the trek after helping them. I lived in Mexico Beach back in ’66, and looks like about 90% of the old cottages that were there are gone. See the pics.

    Air Force sources here have implied that most of the jets are fine, but will need work on the special coatings the Raptor uses. The F-16’s in the hangars there will do just fine and can prolly be repaired if they have a dent or two.

    The base housing area looks really good compared to Mexico Beach, so use the photos from the following website for comparison. Base housing is to the west and fairly close to the Gulf. The “before-after” picture of Tyndall only covers a small area, but is a good one. There are also flyby videos taken two days after the storm available, and the local news media could be a place to search.

    NOAA does recce after storms nowadays, so this site has great pics that folks use for insurance claims and govmnt agencies use them for planning and recovery efforts.

    The folks over there need all the help we can provide, and our motels are all filled up here in Niceville, plus the groceries and big stores are booming. The TV station and newspper have videos and greta stories and places to send help.

    Gums sends…

    • Thanks!

      As is usual with the services, it will be a while before the full story comes out.

      I hope that 17 or 22 Raptors were not damaged, some beyond repair, but that’s still the story.

      But as noted above, the silver lining would be more spare parts.

  16. I suspect the “missing” F22’s are now in Israel being prepared to attack the air-defence system of the Syrians. The idea that the USAF is so incompetent that they left these valuable and irreplaceable aircraft at the mercy of the hurricane does not make sense to me.

  17. lol

    Country that spends more than the rest of the world combined, on military, needs more money.

    Given Pompeo is known to have flooded the Yemen war with US weapons merely for profits.. arming the women hating, journalist murdering beheading Saudi Monarchy to the hilt… more money to these people?

    Every time an IED killed US troops in an APC in the ME, Cheney and Halliburton cheered, cos the men and women were disposable, and they got to replace that APC.

    That is the reality of the war machine you advise putting more money into

    • Mark,

      The US does not spend more on its military than does the rest of the world combined on theirs.

      Using SIPRI’s figures, the rest of the world spends almost twice as much as the US. But those numbers greatly underestimate actual expenditures by China and Russia. Besides which, the US pays its service members far more than do those two major military spenders, which skews our data. In terms of acquisitions, the gap is much narrower.

  18. For the French national celebration (commemorating the “Fête de la Fédération”), during the “défilé du 14 juillet” (military show) in front of President Trump (14th of July, 2017), there was a mix of French and US planes.

    That the French commentators could apparently not identify the most identifiable fighter plane there is today, F-22 Raptor (they named all other planes), was quite surprising to me. I supposed that was a temporary distraction.

    But for the whole event, no French commentator could recognize and name Reince Priebus, sited slightly Donald Trump, either.

    So lame!

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