The Real F35 Debate

Forget the arguments about cost, capability, concurrency and timelines.

What is much more important than all of those, and something I don’t think has been fully established yet, is does the thing look good?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elegant, fugly, or just plain ugly.

Am veering towards just plain ugly, how about you?

 

59 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Beno
Beno
January 10, 2014 9:53 am

LOL, great subject for a debate on F35

I’m only going to comment on the ‘B’s here, but seeing them come down for a vertical landing on the WASP
I was forcibly reminded of the Harrier, and for that I love them !

Ugly or Not they are the coolest ! Watching one “transform” before take-off is worth the price alone ;)

Beno

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 10, 2014 10:30 am
Derek
Derek
January 10, 2014 10:44 am

The B looks like a Transformer, and that is cool.

The A and C are ugly except for for certain angles from the above the rear quarter.

TED
TED
January 10, 2014 11:18 am

I have to say it looks awesome from nearly every angle. In some places its a bit chunky but that comes down to personal taste. I think I we had photos of it fully bombed/missiled up it would look a whole lot more fearsome.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 10, 2014 11:28 am

Fat and boxy. It’s more of a box truck than a sleek sports car, and not a single sexy curve in sight.

Got to question the designers priorities. Who wants boring, ugly stealth over style and panache? What’s the point in going to war if you can’t look good and be seen looking good?

BigDave243
BigDave243
January 10, 2014 11:28 am

In the 1st and 3rd pictures in particular I think it looks pure class. Despite the delays and controversy I can’t wait for them to come into service.

Say what you like about the number of fast jets the UK has (and attrition) , but a combination of the F-35B and Typhoon FGR-4 would make most likely adversaries think twice before going toe to toe with us.

El Sid
El Sid
January 10, 2014 12:00 pm

@Brian Black
What’s the point in going to war if you can’t look good and be seen looking good?

Are you French? :-)

Beno
Beno
January 10, 2014 12:02 pm

I just nearly spat out my tea,

The idea of trying to “BE SEEN LOOKING GOOD”
in a stealth aircraft was particually amusing.

The Other Chris
January 10, 2014 12:07 pm

I love it, especially the “grizzly bear” hump on the Bravo.

oldreem
January 10, 2014 12:14 pm

Mean, moody and m???

Mark
Mark
January 10, 2014 12:25 pm

Well clean in flight it looks gd from certain angles. In hover or transition a marvel of engineering but hit ever branch of the ugly tree all the way dwn.

As for x-32 I think the words of a famous American are apt “you cannot be serious”

a
a
January 10, 2014 1:28 pm

Oh it could have been so much worse……..
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Boeing_X-32B_Patuxent.jpg

Ah, yes, the Boeing X-32, known universally as the “Monica”.

a
a
January 10, 2014 1:30 pm

And there have been some great aircraft that were ugly as sin. The Harrier. The Lancaster. The Lightning…

Chris
Chris
January 10, 2014 2:31 pm

a – Ugly is in the eye of the beholder…

Each of your examples I would say are not even ever so slightly ugly. In my opinion. Theirs is not the classic beauty I admit, but (analogy warning) there are millions of beautiful women that don’t look a bit like Marilyn Monroe – not all beauty is the same.

Proper ugly though?
US A7 – the original SLUF: http://s24.postimg.org/u1cm4nsk5/A_7_corsair_II.png
Ju-52 – three radials do not a pretty face make: http://www.michael-michaelis.de/hostimg/ju52/ju52-1280.jpg
Blohm & Voss P-170 – always something weird: http://web.tiscalinet.it/Nanni/CFS/images/BVAufklarer.jpg
Soviet Yak23 – everything just a bit in the wrong place: http://www.flugzeuginfo.net/acimages/yak23_antonbalakchiev.jpg
An-225 – big & bulbous: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Russian_Antonov_AN-225_in_1989.JPEG
Bartini Beriev VVA-14 – designer’s dog eat his white stick: http://itdoesnthavetoberight.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/vva14-3.jpg

Graham Davie
Graham Davie
January 10, 2014 2:49 pm

I think it looks great particularly in front profile!

PS Anyone know where we are with obtaining the source codes?

tomsk
tomsk
January 10, 2014 3:32 pm

Personally I think from a lot of angles it looks a big squashed, like it was meant to be a couple of metres longer and broader but someone misread the plans in a moment of Spinal Tappery. IMHO certainly not as dashing as the F22 or PAK-FA, but neither a munter like the mig 23 or mig 25.

WiseApe
January 10, 2014 4:11 pm

I’ve tried to like it, but no. The B, with all its flaps and doors open, looks like an old pheasant that’s just run into a hail of buckshot.

The A is fat and ugly. Will never become a swan.

The C – hideous. BTW, has it consistently caught a wire yet?

Edit: It’s a good job they can go invisible at the flick of a switch. LM are still delivering that capability, yes? Software batch 4 IIRC. ;-)

Observer
Observer
January 10, 2014 4:26 pm

Wise, even the F-14 has never consistently caught a wire, so no big deal. Think there was an incident that a US pilot that made ace in a skirmish against Iran took 3 tries to get back on deck in the same encounter. As long as you don’t run out of fuel, you can always “try try again”.

Personally, to me it looks ok, not sleek and mean but it isn’t too blotchy and lumpy.

“What’s the point in going to war if you can’t look good and be seen looking good?”

Hmm.. maybe a bit of paintwork won’t be too amiss. :) Shark teeth and all.

Ant
Ant
January 10, 2014 4:29 pm

Let Beauty be in the eye of the beholder:

If you believe “economy is beautiful” it’s pig ugly, but getting better
If you are in the “form is function” school, it’s pretty damned attractive
If you are a Naval Aviator, yea, it is a distant oasis shimmering in the desert

If you are a tatty fat crow its utterly shag-tastic.

Rocket Banana
January 10, 2014 4:59 pm

Looks like a pregnant Sarah Jessica Parker…

Overly angular and totally disproportioned in the middle.

I’m surprised the Italians are considering buying it as it looks so terrible.

Chris
Chris
January 10, 2014 5:37 pm

Simon – an interesting point – whatever happened to the area rule for fast (transonic) jets? I thought the rule was that the overall lateral cross-section area had to change in steady increments, meaning that where the wing sprung out, the fuselage needed to be waisted in compensation? Maybe the physical properties of air have changed in recent years then.

Anyway. If you really want to see its ugly side then watch it hover from behind. Yuck!

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 10, 2014 5:58 pm

I think it looks quite good. A bit tubby, for sure, but not ugly.
Maybe I’m just overcompensating and comparing to the other JSF candidate which was ugly in a way you normally only read about.
In some ways it reminds me a bit of the Buccaneer. The same sort of dumpy purposefulness.

I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on what other aeroplanes are ‘ugly’.
Personally I’d say that the A10 hasn’t an elegant rivet on it, the Me109 was clearly made of rudely hammered angle iron and any military aircraft made by Grumman is finished off by repeatedly hitting it with the ugly-stick and then pushing it off the ugly step, with the possible exception of the F14.

Ace Rimmer
January 10, 2014 6:01 pm

Simon, re: ‘I’m surprised the Italians are considering buying it as it looks so terrible.’

Their version comes with a hand-stitched leather dash and matching suitcases…;-)

Andrew S.
Andrew S.
January 10, 2014 6:03 pm

It’s a pregnant F-22.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 10, 2014 6:10 pm

It certainly does not look good on the balance sheet.

It also does not look good on TD’s site as viewed using Safari for iOS. All pictures and text are scrunched up and compressed over to the left.

@BB. I think you are slightly missing the point. The point being to look as scruffy as fuck during a war, as if you’ve gone through a hedge backwards, and then you stand a fighting chance of not being seen at all and so not be shot at. You save the sexy glad rags for parties and summer balls, and the girls’ knicker elastic becomes very playful.

Of course, it’s much easier to achieve the desired effect if you are a Cavalryman than if you are a Kevin or an Andrew. The Kevin’s in particular look like municipal bin men even when they do try to dress up or march in straight lines.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 10, 2014 6:17 pm

I’m a Lockheed Martin shareholder and I think its beauty personified ……….. and so do my kids.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 10, 2014 6:18 pm

a. Agreed the Boeing JSF was ugly, but I wish its Harrier type lift system had been put into the F-35B rather than the god awful lift fan bodge up.

Mark
Mark
January 10, 2014 6:37 pm

Mr Fred

This one for a start looks ugly

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Blackburn_beverley_in_1964_arp.jpg

Apache pilots use ugly as there call sign but its so ugly its kinda quirky.

Chris physics haven’t changed its just not optimised to fly there.

mike
mike
January 10, 2014 6:45 pm

It looks alright, when I was based on an airfield, on open days members of the public would comment to me about the F-35 being ugly and ‘un-british’ – if you can believe that. We’ve made some real fugly aircraft over the years.

It’ll be interesting to read/hear/see how the F-35 copes with weathering, from exhausts, efflux, sea salt etc

If we’re talking ugly modern jets, then take a look at the Chinese J-20

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01797/J-20_1797565b.jpg

Bastard love child of the Rafale and MiG1.44
http://www.rusarmy.com/wallpapers/avia2/mig-1.44/mig-1.44_800%20001.jpg

John Gough
January 10, 2014 6:54 pm

Yes the B is cool especially in Transformer mode. I only think it a shame that it’s wings don’t split and make an x type shape at the back…

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 10, 2014 7:11 pm

Mark,
I’ll agree with that, it looks like a Lancaster bodge-taped to a container.

WiseApe
January 10, 2014 7:12 pm
Ian
Ian
January 10, 2014 8:10 pm

If looks right it will fly right! The F35b just looks wrong! To complicated far to expensive underperforming the only reason where buying this aircraft is because we build 15% of each F35 airframe!

SomewhatRemoved
SomewhatRemoved
January 10, 2014 8:37 pm

It looks acceptable now. It will look utterly fantastic when we see a real one in FAA colours parked on the flight deck of the QE. It will look out of this world when we see half a dozen or more in the same place.

i.e. just be grateful we’re getting anything!

S O
S O
January 10, 2014 9:10 pm

It’s undeniable that the PAK-FA / T-50 is the gold standard in modern combat aircraft looks nowadays.

The F-35 is stubby, if not fat. But the F-32 proposal was even uglier.

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 10, 2014 9:37 pm

S O,
I would deny it. The PAK-FA looks downright ungainly from some aspects.

alienated
alienated
January 10, 2014 10:16 pm

Rather cool, head on, with real space fiction appeal. From any other angle, it’s a flying brick.

We should fly Sea Furies off the Great White Elephants instead – real naval aviation class!

Varius
Varius
January 10, 2014 10:18 pm

Shades of Brewster Buffalo methinks. And yet that will work very well with the Blairite hubris of building the carriers. But what will serve as Singapore?

as
as
January 11, 2014 12:07 am

Are our one going to be painted the same colour as the US ones or are they going to be lighter grey like the Typhoons. We could always paint them dark grey like the Sea Harriers see if the FAA can get there black death nickname back.

SomewhatRemoved
SomewhatRemoved
January 11, 2014 12:26 am

Slightly worryingly, it looks quite good upside-down…

Martin
Editor
January 11, 2014 4:06 am

I think it looks great. like a baby F22

I think if the X32 had be chosen it would have been canceled just on its looks by now.

Rocket Banana
January 11, 2014 9:29 am

This is how jets should look nowadays.

I should know. I saw it on the television ;-)

Failing that, I’ll settle for this.

The Securocrat
January 11, 2014 11:27 am

It looks like a hippo sat on an F-22. Yuck.

Plus, it’s useless against superheroes, invading aliens and Bruce Willis: https://medium.com/war-is-boring/98aaaa1eed4a

We’re being flippant, right?

Dave
Dave
January 11, 2014 11:33 am

Rule one of the fight club, never get into a fight with someone who is uglier than you?

Dave

JamesF
January 11, 2014 2:03 pm

I thought your comment on area rule was very interesting. I understand that the effect is achieved these days through more subtle design effects. The demands of stealth also tend not to deliver pretty airframes, and fly-by-wire means they don’t have to be inherently stable… Also the comparison with the Buc is a good one, as it too was designed to carry its payload in an internal weapons bay, which presumably accounts for the pregnant look – and the positively elephantine X-32. Alas the likes of the aerodynamically gorgeous F-16 are probably behind us – but the Ju 52, does look good to me oddly – so I’m sure we will get used to it.

WiseApe
January 11, 2014 2:13 pm

No strings, but fly by wire. And canards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8019cDHJPs

@Observer – I’ve been browsing the F-14 fansites and while there’s talk of it being a hangar queen, I can find no mention of it struggling to trap.

Rocket Banana
January 11, 2014 2:21 pm

If I remember correctly an aircraft cross section should conform to the Sears–Haack equation which is essentially about the change in cross-section.

Observer
Observer
January 11, 2014 5:02 pm

Wise, because it was never a big problem, the people working on ships who are likely to yak know enough to take one or two bolters out of a few hundred as the price of tricky ops while on the other hand, a single miss by an F-35 will be pounced on by all journalists and agonized over with much tearing of sack-cloth and smearing of ashes.

No plane catches a 3-wire all the time.

Varius, think Singapore will take the -A. After you poor guinea pigs…*cough*…guys, work all the bugs out of course.

Simon, why the need for stealth if you can outrun and outmaneuver any AAM in existence? :) Pity you have to think in Russian to use it.

David Bourne
David Bourne
January 11, 2014 7:12 pm

Kind of chunky. Which is good in a tank but……

Varus
Varus
January 11, 2014 10:05 pm

Observer. I was alluding to the historical arc of the Brewster Buffalo and it’s bit part in the fall of the British Empire. History does not repeat but the F35 is a complicated, single engined aircraft. It looks wrong, with it’s stubby wings and alpha male beergut ( rather like an airborne middle manager) and it costs me lots of tax money. I’d be much happier if my money was spent on a British alternative. A naval multi-role aircraft designed and built in the UK.

as
as
January 12, 2014 12:17 am

The old fries if it looks right it will fly right comes to mind. The F35 fails that test.
But if it can do 90% of what is asked of it, it will tern out fine.

Mikey-boi
January 12, 2014 2:38 pm

I don’t care if it looks like a Tennis Ball, so long as it can do the job well and gets the expensive “Meat-sack” inside it home in one piece 99 times out of a 100.

I think it looks “conventionally futuristic” as inline with current expectations built around the F-117, F-22 and other aircraft with the smooth faceting look.

Personally, I like Aircraft that “get the job done” so for example I wouldn’t redesign an aircraft like the A-10 because I think it is very fit for purpose. Add in upgrades, like glass cockpits, uprated engines etc and produce some new airframes and keep it flying another 30 years.

I see the F-35 as something that tries to do too much, and consequently does nothing particularly well. It’s looks really are a non-issue, no war was ever won looking good.

Varus
Varus
January 13, 2014 12:05 am

I notice that the Observer has had the decency to eject out of this ghastly contraption (pic 2 – yes, it is a shroud for the lift fan, but it looks rather like the coal hole on a Sea Vixen. I know).

Kentish Paul
Kentish Paul
January 13, 2014 10:14 am

Back after a long departure. I think when clean it looks OK, but the “B” in hovering mode looks horrible when compared to the Shar/ Harrier. Its all personal, did anyone like the Short Sturgeon ?

Yue-Li Lee
January 13, 2014 10:41 am

As the old rule in aviation goes:
if it looks well, it flies well.

And thus, probably how it looks could really well be a very relevant issue pertaining to its operational capabilities :D

WiseApe
January 24, 2014 4:50 pm

“Forget the arguments about cost, capability, concurrency and timelines.” – If only we could:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/23/us-usa-lockheed-fighter-idUSBREA0M1L920140123

Mark
Mark
February 3, 2014 10:38 pm

It appears that now when the piper must be paid the us navy has asked the unthinkable

OSD TOLD THE NAVY: YOU CAN’T TAKE A ‘BREAK’ FROM THE F-35C: According to a congressional source, in its 2015 budget proposal, the Navy asked to take a three-year “break” from its production of the F-35C, its variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Concerned this was a first step toward walking away from the program permanently, OSD told the Navy: no way.

It’s an open secret that the Navy would prefer to invest more in its F-18 fighters rather than buy the F-35C. But if the Navy pulled out of the program, the unit cost — already under scrutiny — would go up for the Air Force and the Marine Corps.

http://www.politico.com/morningdefense/0214/morningdefense12888.html