Chinese expert says F-35 fighter has become an expensive toy

中国专家称F-35战机已变成昂贵的玩具

Date:2010-04-15 Source:china-defense-mashup By:环球网 Viewed:

Apr.14 (China Defense News cited from globaltimes.com) — The F-35 Lightning-II fighter, planned to be the new workhorse of the US armed forces, has run into a financial crisis. The price of a single aircraft has jumped from $50 million to $90 million, and possibly even up to $120 million. The US is revising its previous plans to purchase 2,400 of the fighters. What does this tell us about the process of military research and development? Global Times (GT) reporter Peng Kuang interviewed Chen Hu(Chen), editor-in-chief of World Military Affairs magazine, on balancing financial costs and defence needs.
4月14日(来自环球时报的中国防卫新闻)—按计划,F-35闪电II攻击型战斗机本应成为美国军队新主力,但却陷入了资金危机中。一架战斗机的价钱从5千万美元飞涨到了9千万,甚至还会涨到1 亿两千万。美国正在修订其预计购买2400架F-35战斗机的计划。这一举措能告诉我们军事研究发展过程中应注意什么呢?环球时报记者彭匡(音)就如何平衡财政支出与国防需要这一问题采访了《世界军事》杂志主编陈虎。

GT: What is the F-35 Lightning-II? It’s a product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, but what does this mean?
环球时报F-35闪电II攻击型战斗机是什么?它源自于“联合打击战斗机计划”(Joint Strike Fighter,简称JSF),但这是什么意思?

Chen: In 1996, it was a big surprise when the US Air Force introduced the concept of a joint strike fighter.
陈虎:美国空军于1996年提出“联合打击战斗机”这一概念,这在当时是一项惊人的计划。

The aim of the JSF program was to try to combine three types of fighter aircraft: conventional aircraft for the Air Force, the catapulted ship-borne aircraft for the Navy, and vertical take-off-and-landing aircraft for the Navy Marine Corps.
JSF的目标在于尝试将三种类型的战斗机结合起来,即空军的常规飞机,海军的舰载弹射飞机,海军陆战队的垂直起降飞机。

At the same time, the JSF program planned to produce different models from the same assembly line, and to standardize most parts across all models. The JSF was intended to be a stealth fighter with the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds. It was intended to be reliable enough for different missions in land, sea and air conflict.
同时,JSF还计划在同一个流水线生产不同的机型,并力求所有机型的大部分都达到生产标准化。JSF打算打造有超音速巡航能力的隐形战斗机,使它成为解决海陆空各种冲突的可靠力量。

GT: What will the impact be after the sudden hike in the price tag from $50 million to as much as $120 million?
环球时报F-35战斗机的标价突然从5千万飞涨到1亿两千万会产生什么影响?

Chen: After the increase, it will be difficult to buy the aircraft in the quantities expected, so the US Air Force is likely to start evaluating alternative projects soon. The British armed forces are also likely to purchase fewer F-35s than they originally planned.
陈虎:价格提升后,美国空军很难按预计买那么多架F-35,它可能很快就开始评估替代品。英国军队也可能不会按预计买那么多。

The crisis in the design of the F-35, the most advanced fourth-generation fighter in the world, throws a shadow on the future of aircraft development and deployment in the US and elsewhere. The chief lesson this teaches us is that making new equipment affordable has become a major problem in the research and development (R&D) process of any major new piece of military hardware. All R&D institutions should be concerned about this.
F-35是世界上第四代战斗机中最先进的,它的生产陷入危机给美国和世界其他地方飞机研制和部署的未来蒙上了阴影。这给我们的主要教训就是:能承受新装备的开销已成为研究开发军事新硬件设施过程中的主要问题。所有研发机构都要考虑到这一点。

GT: What can we do to ensure the new equipment is affordable?
环球时报我们怎么做才能保证能承受新装备的开销?

Chen: First, a prior feasibility study is necessary. This process should be a standard form of R&D for any large piece of military hardware. In other words, how the new equipment will be used and what criteria are suitable to evaluate them needs to be carefully considered to reach a balance of costs and effectiveness.
陈虎:首先,必须在前期就研究可行性。这个过程应该成为研发一切大型军事硬件设备的标准。换句话说,在考虑如何做到平衡支出与效率的时候,都应仔细考虑新设备要如何使用、采用什么评估标准比较合适。

During the R&D process for the US fourth-generation fighters, this process was carried out intensely. But, the biggest problem for these new fighters is that the initial hypothetical battlefield environment into which they may be deployed has tremendously changed.
在美国第四代战斗机的研发过程中,他们也严格贯彻了这一点。但新战斗机面临的最大问题是,美军设计之初假想的战争环境已经发生了巨大变化。

They were originally developed for the battlefield environment during the Cold War, where they would encounter strong opponents in air combat.
这批战斗机最初是以冷战为背景而设计的,那个时候它们在空战中会面临强劲对手。

Due to such high-risk combat environment, the new generation of combat aircraft had to be excellent.
由于面临这样高风险的空战环境,新一代的战斗机必须具备出色的实力。

This has substantially increased the difficulty of R&D, led to soaring R&D costs, and finally threatened the progress of the whole project.
这就为研发增添了不少困难,导致研发成本上涨,最终威胁到整个项目的进度。

There have been many cases of military hardware failing because of problems in feasibility studies, such as the case of the F-104 second-generation fighter in the US.
军事设备的开发会因为对可行性的错误估计半途而废的案例不少,美国的F-104第二代战斗机的研发就是个典例。

At the time, there was a push for high speed and the ability to climb to high altitudes, but these were not needed in the real battlefield environment. Soon afterward, the F-104 was withdrawn from service and became a typical case of an advanced aircraft failing due to R&D problems.
那时,他们急于研发高速、爬升能力强的战斗机,而这些性能在真实的战场上是不需要的。没过多久,F-104就铩羽而归了,成为先进飞机研发失败的典型。

Now the F-35 is suffering from the same problems, but this time the difficulty is not in technical performance, but in R&D costs.
现在,F-35也在陷入了同样的困境,它面临的不是技术问题,而是研发成本问题。

Therefore, accurately understand the changing of battlefield environment and reflecting that in early studies of new equipment is a key issue for effective R&D.
因此,精确的了解战争环境的改变并在研发新设备之初就考虑到这个因素是有效开展研发的关键所在。

GT: Why have the F-35s become so expensive? Are the technical barriers too high, or was there poor financial management? Or were the original requirements simply not reasonable?
环球时报为什么F-35变得这么贵呢?是因为技术门槛太高,还是财政运作问题?或者是原来的设计要求根本就不合理?

Chen: The problems exist in all these aspects. The final reason is that one piece of hardware has been required to perform so many tasks, but the requirements from the air force, navy and marine corps are different.
陈虎:这些问题都存在。归根结底,问题在于要求一个硬件设备能用来完成多重任务,而海陆空三军有着不一样的任务要求。

Under this united criteria, four major indicators were set for the fourth-generation fighter aircraft.It needed to be stealthy, fly at supersonic speeds, have advanced electronic systems and have a good capability to maneuver in the air.
这个统一标准对第四代战斗机提出了四大指标:能隐形,能超音速飞行,有先进电子系统,具备良好的空中机动能力。

The US military has often suffered financial losses because of the pursuit of versatility. Because manufacturers in the US are not owned by the state, they are used to producing complicated technology for more profits.
美军常常因为追求多功能性而造成资金损失。由于美国的飞机制造商不是国有的,所以他们习惯于生产尖端技术以赚得更多利润。

The best way for them to profit is through entirely new models of aircraft, not gradual reform, which drives them into aiming for large-scale integration and producing multi-functional hardware. Another plane, the F-111, initially designed as an “all-round fighter”, finally turned out to be useless
盈利的最佳途径就是生产新型飞机,而不是逐步改良旧的,正是这个原因推动着制造商们瞄准了大规模集成化地生产多功能武器系统。他们最初就想把F-111型号打造成“全能战斗机”,最后却发现根本派不上用场。

GT: Does the US have a tendency to pursue unrealistic security demands?
环球时报美国是不是有一种倾向,它试图达到不切实际的安全要求?

Chen: The term “security demands” is not accurate, since the US has no problem with security. Can any country attack the US? We can say they are working toward their military requirements, but not security demands, because US behavior has far exceeded the concepts of national defense and security.
陈虎:“安全要求”这个词不太准确,因为美国在安全上不存在问题。有哪个国家会去攻击美国?我们可以说美国是在努力达到军事要求,而不是安全要求,因为美国的所作所为已经远远超出国防和安全的概念了。

The military strategy of the US is an offensive one, which requires their weapons to be equipped to a high standard. They attempt to overwhelm others in military actions.
美国采取的军事措施是有攻击性的,这要求他们的武器装备达到高标准。在军事方面,美国要的是唯我独尊。

The original idea of their fourth-generation fighters is to have an aircraft capable of beating any other contender. They put too heavy a burden on it, so the final product has become an oversized monstrosity capable of doing nothing.
美国第四代战斗机的最初设计理念是要成为能打败任何竞争对手的强者。但他们给它背负了过重的负担,以至于最终产品竟然成了一个排不上用场的怪物。

GT: What does the US need to do now?
环球时报美国现在该怎么办?

Chen: To ensure new equipment affordable, the emphasis needs to move to audits after the R&D process has started. Audits are also important throughout the process of pre-feasibility studies, R&D, and deployments.
陈虎:为了确保负担得起新的装备,在研发开始后,重点就应该转向审计工作了。审计工作在初期的可行性评估、研发和装备部队整个过程中都很重要。

Some large-scale military hardware projects, like the F-35, seem to be nothing more than fishing trips designed to test the waters for new equipment and make as much money as possible.
研发F-35这样的一些大型军事硬件设备就像出海打鱼,出发前得先在水里试试新装备性能如何,以便捞到尽可能多的收获。

The original plan held up the F-35 as being less expensive, but that’s fallen through. Since the research company wanted to pursue the maximum profit, it is impossible for them to set the price of new generation aircraft at the same level as old ones.
原计划想把F-35维持在一个稍微便宜的价位上,但却失败了。研发公司自然是想赚取最大利润的,他们根本不可能把一个新型飞机的价位定得跟老一代的一样。

The original price for the F-35 is $50 million. After the F-22 was withdrawn, the price of the F-35 was inevitably pushed higher and higher.
F-35原价是5千万美元。但是在F-22退出后,F-35的价格就无可避免的越涨越高了。

GT: What China can learn from this experience?
环球时报中国可以从中学到什么?

Chen: The experience of the F-35 is meaningful to China. Lots of countries are engaged in building fourth-generation fighters. Should we copy the US pattern, or work toward our own needs?
陈虎:F-35这个教训对中国来说很有意义。许多国家都在打造第四代战斗机。我们是该照搬美国的模式,还是遵循自身的需求呢?

Russia has designed their own fourth-generation fighter, the T-50, which is not exactly the same as the F-35 or F-22. The US requires that their own fighters can be used globally and are equipped with offensive functions.
俄罗斯已经设计了他们自己的第四代战斗机T-50,和F-35、F-22不完全一样。美国则要求自己生产出具有攻击性的战斗机并可以在全球使用。

China, as a developing country, doesn’t have the same demands. What are the demands of China’s security environment, and what requirements do these place on military development? China’s policy emphasizes national defense, so our military hardware should reflect this.
中国作为一个发展中国家,没有必要跟风。中国对安全环境的要求是什么?这又对中国军事发展提出了什么要求?中国政策强调的是国土防御,所以我们的军事设备也应该体现出了这一点。

We mainly focus on the defense of the homeland, and our strategy cannot be entirely passive. So we need offensive capabilities, but not to the same degree as the US.
我们主要关注的是保卫国家,我们的战略不可能是完全被动的。因此,我们需要具备进攻能力,但这种进攻能力和美国不是同一个标准。(翻译:杜欣霓)

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