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U.S. Refuses to Hand Over Fighter Source Code to UK

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the should-have-read-the-EULA-first dept.

Software 558

orbitalia writes "The UK is heavily involved in the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter program) but has recently considered abandoning the project because the US refuses to share the source code. The UK had intended to purchase $120 billion dollars worth of aircraft to operate on two new aircraft carriers, but is now seriously considering Plan 'B'. This is likely to be further investments in the Eurofighter Typhoon project." From the article: "It appeared that Tony Blair and George Bush had solved the impasse in May, when they announced an agreement in principle that the UK would be given access to the classified details on conditions of strict secrecy. The news was widely seen as evidence that the Prime Minister's close alliance with the American President did have benefits for Britain ... 'If the UK does not obtain the assurances it needs from the US then it should not sign the Memorandum of Understanding covering production, sustainment and follow-on development,' the MPs insisted."

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Meh the EF is better anyway (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180932)

The EuroFighter is a much more advanced fighter anyway. The JSF is the US Military just trying to "Cut Costs" by consolodating which seems to be what most of the military is doing. Pretty soon a tin can will do everything from cook a meal to shoot off a nuke

Re:Meh the EF is better anyway (-1)

mitchell_pgh (536538) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181036)

You are simply wrong. While I'm not a F-22 fanboy, the stealth features of the EuroFighter are basic and the F-22 has advanced stealth.

If you were talking about traditional dogfighting, the EuroFighter may edge out the F-22, but you can't fire a missile at something you can't lock on. The EuroFighter is a much easier target.

Re:Meh the EF is better anyway (2, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181058)

The Joint Strike Fighter isn't the F-22, it's the F-35.

Your F-22 point is moot. (4, Informative)

Tavor (845700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181078)

The Joint Strike Fighter is the F-35. Much less stealth, much lower price, and likely just a little below the EuroFighter, in my opinion.

Re:Your F-22 point is moot. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181164)

The F-35 is significantly more stealthy than the Typhoon because the later still has an external weapons load (i.e. lots of surfaces that you can bounce radar off of). For this reason alone it is doubtful that the Eurofighter could effectively fight the F-35 unless the Eurofighter ditched its missiles and only used its cannon. If both fighters knew where each other was at some range, the Eurofighter does have some performance advantages and would probably win the fight. But in the most likely scenario the F-35 would be able to detect and destroy the Eurofighter before being detected.

Re:Meh the EF is better anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181090)

I was talking about the JSF not the f-22! You don't know what you are talking abuot. BTW how many f-22s is the airfore getting? My last count was they only wanted 20 and then would "wait and see".

25 year billions of dollars for only 20 fighters. Seems like another wasteful project like the comanche was

Re:Meh the EF is better anyway (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181128)

My last count was they only wanted 20 and then would "wait and see

They already have 40, and are gearing up for another couple of dozen in Alaska.

Let them squabble (-1, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181070)

Let the Americans and Britons squabble. And as they do this, the Russians will give them a not-so-pleasant surprise. Who cares anyway?

The American military machine, touted as the strongest, most efficient, lethal, modern and advanced, has just got a beating from AK-47 wielding thugs of IRAQ. The sad thing is that it has takes three years and almost 3,000 coalition deaths for the military authorities to acknowledge this. You no longer hear statements like "bring them on"..."We'll prevail"..."stay the course"...

Who tells these military folks that the so called modern weapon systems win today's wars?

Look, the Europeans and Americans can produce all the weapon systems they want...even with their massive debts and budget deficits. But in the end, a guerrilla with a reliable weapon like the AK-47, is more lethal than all those flying coffins. One incident that was reported were guerrillas who submerged themselves with their Ak-47s in a swamp, waited for the coalition forces to pass them, then they emerged and fired. Very few weapon systems can fire just after being under water.

"Advanced" weapon systems are of limited value in todays wars. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld who just acknowledged a few weeks ago that things are really bad. To see how and more, point your browser to http://www.liveleak.com/ [liveleak.com] .

Re:Let them squabble (2, Informative)

collectivescott (885118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181200)

>The American military machine, touted as the strongest, most efficient, lethal, modern and advanced, has just got a beating from AK-47 wielding thugs of IRAQ.

Only because of restraint. That really isn't relevant to modern fighter planes. No one is shooting f16s with ak47s. Get real.

Re:Let them squabble (3, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181202)

The sad thing is that it has takes three years and almost 3,000 coalition deaths for the military authorities to acknowledge this.

Single battles have gone over 46,000 or 51,000 even... small scuffs can raise several dozen or even a couple hundred. 3,000 is quite a low number for a few months of occupying a country.

Re:Let them squabble (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181564)

The sad thing is not the nearly 3,000 coalition deaths but the estimated more than 650,0000 civilian deaths (or 2.5% of their entire population). To downplay that is insulting to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis suffering.

But the thing that puts Americans over the edge is the deaths of their troops? I don't quite understand that logic. Can someone be so kind as to explain that?

Re:Let them squabble (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181626)

Americans are worth more.

Re:Let them squabble (3, Informative)

mrjohnson (538567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181206)

You're crazy. The AK-47 is indeed a fine weapon, but every time somebody toting one engages our forces, they get shot/killed/blown the hell up.

You're comparing light weapons to aircraft? Rather have that, you say? How about you shoot at me and miss because your weapon, while reliable, doesn't have the accuracy to hit me from any farther than maybe 300m, 50m if you shoot like an average Iraqi. (It's reliable because of the tolerances built into the bolt mechanism but that makes it far less accurate. Marines have to qualify at 500m.)

Have fun with that while I'm calling in air support and deciding whether I want to just kill you or to drop the entire building you're in.

This [military.com] will give you the idea.

~ some jarhead

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Seals "submerge" themselves every once in a while. Marines? Well, we never get near water, right?

Re:Let them squabble (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181274)

You're crazy. The AK-47 is indeed a fine weapon, but every time somebody toting one engages our forces, they get shot/killed/blown the hell up.

So you want them to engage you on your terms so that you destroy can them as you mention? No way! These guerrillas (or insurgents as you call them), are smarter than that.

In fact they are engaging you on their terms and from what I have seen and heard, it's working for them. Again, it's very saddening that the war had to take all these many lives and time, for American military leaders to realize that it's not working.

Re:Let them squabble (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181384)

right and thats how you won against the vietcong. oh wait, they fucked you up remmeber?

Re:Let them squabble (1)

mrjohnson (538567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181408)

Yes, I want to engage them on my terms. That's the goal of every fight. And the case I mentioned does happen a lot. But I won't talk any more about specific strategy though, even stuff that's public knowledge.

Tell me when insurgents have won a single battle in Iraq. In every case insurgents are overrun, overpowered and out-thought. No, I'm not saying they're stupid or that the fight has been easy, but they don't engage our forces head on anymore. They'd all die and they know it.

Re:Let them squabble (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181512)

Ok, you want to engage them on your terms...they want to engage you on their terms.

Now, lets maintain the status quo. When I balance up the "equation", Americans do not have much to show for the almost 3,000 coalition lives lost so far. An average of 4 have been killed this month alone. Please pay a visit to http://www.icasulaties.org/ [icasulaties.org] to see what I am talking about.

You want to know which battle the insurgents won in IRAQ? Please have a look at http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,NI_0105 _Fallujah-P1,00.html [military.com] then come back and tell me.

You could also tell me who controls Sadr City now. The only place the US has total control in IRAQ is the Green Zone. That's why the Commander in Chief, and all important US officials will NOT venture outside the Green Zone. To me, that means that someone else and NOT the Americans, are in control in areas outside on the Green Zone.

Re:Let them squabble (2, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181230)

Yeah, let's dump all our aircraft, tanks, submarines, nuclear weapons, and ships because some soldiers got shot by AK-47's. Clearly the AK-47 is the ultimate weapon and will win all wars from now until the end of time.

Or maybe, just maybe, local insurgents killing soldiers on the ground in a country they're occupying has no relevance whatsoever to this topic. Maybe aircraft aren't meant to kill every enemy of the US in one foul blow. The ability to destroy any building, vehicle, or person whose location is known might just be enough to make aicraft like the F-35 worth investing in. You know, assuming someone with an AK-47 hasn't got there first and destroyed it with those new Bunker-Buster-Bullets I'm sure the Russians are about to release...

I for one welcome our new assault rifle wielding overlords.

Re:Let them squabble (0, Troll)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181234)

Very few weapon systems can fire just after being under water.

Nuclear submarines are pretty advanced, can fire under water, and carry a wide array of missiles and fusion bombs...

Re:Let them squabble (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181412)

Did you even read my submission? Key word: Very few..., and the systems you talk about are among those very few.

Re:Let them squabble (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181430)

He said "after being under water". How well do nuclear submarines perform when they're not under water?

Re:Let them squabble (0, Flamebait)

gb506 (738638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181238)

Let the Americans and Britons squabble. And as they do this, the Russians will give them a not-so-pleasant surprise. Who cares anyway?


Right, like the SU-27 is any match for the Raptor. Get a grip. And besides, even if the Russians had a competitive air superiority fighter, they don't have the most critical piece of air superiority - airborne command and control. Russians might be able to defend their airspace for a few days, but as for bieng able to project air power outside of Russia? No way.

The American military machine, touted as the strongest, most efficient, lethal, modern and advanced, has just got a beating from AK-47 wielding thugs of IRAQ. The sad thing is that it has takes three years and almost 3,000 coalition deaths for the military authorities to acknowledge this.

As opposed to how many terrorist/insurgents bagged? We take them out 10 to 1 or more. We're not getting our asses handed to us in Iraq, we're getting our asses handed to us by the American news media and the general impatience and lack of fortitude of the average American.

An urban insurgency nullifies some of the technological advantage of some weapons systems, but by no means does that mean weapons systems like the JSF and Raptor are worthless.

Re:Let them squabble (1, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181294)

SU-27 is sooo last century. Meet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan_MiG-35 [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mig-31 [wikipedia.org] .

They both have phased array radar which just doesn't care about 'stealth' technologies.

Mod -999 Wrong (4, Informative)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181594)

SU-27 is sooo last century. Meet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan_MiG-35 [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mig-31 [wikipedia.org] . They both have phased array radar which just doesn't care about 'stealth' technologies.
  1. MIG-31 developed during the 70-80s, and upgraded with 80s avionics during the 90s, is a complete piece of junk.
  2. Both civil and military aircraft have had phased array radars as standard since the 80s
  3. Phased array radar has nothing to do with countering current stealth technologies

EOR (End-of-rant)

Re:Let them squabble (0, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181396)

Right, like the SU-27 is any match for the Raptor. Get a grip. And besides, even if the Russians had a competitive air superiority fighter, they don't have the most critical piece of air superiority - airborne command and control. Russians might be able to defend their airspace for a few days, but as for bieng able to project air power outside of Russia? No way.

Air superiority, I dunno! One thing I know is that the Russians do not advertise themselves that much as compared to the Americans. Even when they were the *only* link to the ISS after the shuttle disasters, they were cool about everything. If Americans were in their place, they (Americans) would be "blowing their own trumpet." Look, just this evening, it was all over the news about the shuttle launch, but Russians do their thing quietly and without much fanfare.

When it comes to projecting power abroad, let's examine what the US is getting in terms of results:

  • Afghanistan? The Taliban are back. Ask the British who had to hand control to the same Taliban they were fighting.
  • Iraq? It's a mess. Ask D. Rumsfeld.
  • N. Korea? The "dictator" over there now has the bomb. Bush knows that
  • Veitnam? Heck, the US was whipped hands down! Talk to any American.
Americans have a problem. They think that if a country does not do things the conventional way, they that country is "not worth much." That's why they've been surprised in IRAQ. Mind you, IRAQ's command and control infrastructure was "destroyed" in the first two weeks of the war. So half of the mission was complete. Despite all the technology, IEDs are still hitting them hard. By the way, IEDs are 1940s technology.

So you tell me how this power is really useful when widows and widowers are being created in IRAQ every single day. Tell me.

Re:Let them squabble (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181480)

As opposed to how many terrorist/insurgents bagged? We take them out 10 to 1 or more

Yes, even the ones that can't walk yet. One problem is the troop numbers are far less than the operation in Kuwait and there have been a lot of situations where the best of a bad situation was to shoot everything that moved, and it's easier to count unknown dead bodies than spotting live insurgents first. Unfortunately this turns others against the army and there is this new situation of a seemingly endless supply of suicide bombers. What to do? The British couldn't work it out in Iraq with comparitively bigger forces and a similar technology advantage in 20 years but that doesn't mean there is no answer. The nationalists still see it as a puppet government - if we can work out why that could solve some of the problems. They've had sixteen years of war that sent Iraq into the third world and a long war with Iran before that that drove the nation so broke they invaded Kuwait to do a bank robbery on a national scale - a few more bombs alone are not going to stop them.

Re:Let them squabble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181572)

As opposed to how many terrorist/insurgents bagged? We take them out 10 to 1 or more. We're not getting our asses handed to us in Iraq, we're getting our asses handed to us by the American news media and the general impatience and lack of fortitude of the average American.


That depends on who you ask. According to the Pentagon and the White house that may be true. According to various human rights groups and other observers the US military in Iraq is writing off an awful lot of dead civillians as Al Quaeda fighters and sundry Iraqi insurgents.

Re:Let them squabble (1)

gb506 (738638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181620)

What, you think US military systematically targets civilians while at the same time trying to win the trust of the local populace? Don't be an idiot!

Re:Let them squabble (1, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181298)

The American military machine, touted as the strongest, most efficient, lethal, modern and advanced, has just got a beating from AK-47 wielding thugs of IRAQ.

Only because of restraint. Unleash the military, and you'd have it mopped up quickly. You'd also have no population left, but that's the choice you make.

The US military (and allies) made quick work of Iraq's military, twice. The police action that has followed this second time is more problematic. But that is not a military problem.

Re:Let them squabble (1)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181596)

The USA has all the technology but other countries know how to do more with less. When the US plays war games with other countries the US sometimes has to rig them to win,

Re:Let them squabble (4, Insightful)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181500)

Modern weapon systems can win wars.
Modern weapon systems do not occupy the country, soldiers do. Occupation is required if you want a friendly regime to take power. Anytime you have a foreign army occupying your streets, there's going to be deaths on both sides. Take away the AKs and give them sporks and you will still see people on both sides die.

Deadly serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180942)

It is not often that world events show us just how deadly serious a problem it is to keep source code hidden from those who use the software on which it is based. Somehow I am not surprised that the petulant little child George Bush won't hand over the code. But I am glad he is drawing attention to the problem of closed source code and the danger it poses to all of us.

Re:Deadly serious (1, Troll)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181012)

Of course it's all up to Dubya who gets the source code. *rolls eyes*

The president doesn't directly make every decision the goverment makes.

Re:Deadly serious (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181066)

What happened to the buck stops here? And why does Bush refer to himself as "the decider"?

You seem to be mistaken about the pivot point of the relationship between Britain and the U.S. today. Bush and Blair are two peas in a pod. *rolls eyes* For you to deny what is going on here shows how out of touch you are.

Re:Deadly serious (1, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181356)

What happened to the buck stops here?

If this actually gets to the point where it needs to stop at the White House, then it will. This isn't one of those things (yet, if ever).

And why does Bush refer to himself as "the decider"?

Clearly context doesn't mean much to you, but of course you know that he used that phrase while speaking about a specific topic, indicating that another party wasn't going to be making a decision, he was. Just like when you get some unsolicited (or even asked-for) advice from someone else. You're still the one to decide on a course of action. If you don't have that juice, then you're not The Decider on that particular topic. Doesn't matter - you're presuming this is something that's already on the C-in-C's desk, and I'll bet that it's not... at least, not in any way that matters.

Re:Deadly serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181584)

"Bush Denies He Is In Denial" is one of my favorite headlines. It applies equally well to his supporters.

Does it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180946)

"The UK had intended to purchase $120 billion dollars worth of aircraft to operate on two new aircraft carriers, but is now seriously considering Plan 'B'. This is likely to be further investments in the Eurofighter Typhoon project.""

Possibly. Or they could throw some open source code in, and be done with it.

Re:Does it run Linux? (4, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181498)

Prime Minister Blair, you could just give us some fighters so we can write open source code for them.

Forget the JSF... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180954)

...give me the ROFLcopter [rofl.name] !!!

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180968)

they make aircraft from programs now?

Re:what? (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181592)

background.. Britian is our ally.. we want to sell them cool, new, up-to-date mainline fighters. OK...

But... We don't want to give them the source code for the avionics so they can reprogram and update the plane themselves! Most Forgien countries get the "base" version of military hardware... they get the plane, but not all the radar, guns, missles, radios, etc.. but new planes are heavily "fly by wire" we don't want to give them that code... so they can't update the plane. Worse than that they can't prove it's really THEIR plane.. that the US hasn't somehow sabotaged it so that if we might have a security leak they could end up with hacked planes they can't fix... or worse WE could hack the planes so they wouldn't fly if Britian Crossed us. Think "Microsoft Windows Advantage" ....for nuclear weapons!!!!

Why invest in these airplanes at all? (1, Troll)

Desert_Scarecrow (998677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17180986)

As unpopular as any kind of ground strike other than laser-guided has become politically, I have to wonder why the UK or the US would continue to waste money on these machines. They are not as stealthy as the current F-117, which is apparently all that will be in use for some time to come. Close air support is no longer granted unless the target is in a location which can absolutely guarantee no collateral damage. This means that CAS is no longer granted. If you are lucky you might get a helo with a chaingun. What a waste of money from the budget of both countries.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181010)

Uh no? The F-117 is being RETIRED it is over 30 years old.
The JSF is to consolidate the military only need 1 airplae for what used to be 3. No more f-16, f-117 or f-15 the f-23 will do it all

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181170)

Sorry, can't trust you on this. The F-117 is about 30 years old, from the point of conception, not the first flight or adoption. The JSF is not the F-23 as you specify. It's the F-35. Consolidating the F-16, F-117, and the F-15 would not consolidate the military, just the Air Force.

Too many errors in your post, I think it's bullshit.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (2, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181262)

Too many errors in your post, I think it's bullshit.

The F-117 is being retired [hillnews.com] as of 2008 (instead of 2011).
The F-22 replaces some of the F-15's (air superiority role). The F-22 can also perform some ground attack roles with the inception of the 250lb Small Diameter Bomb(SDB) [defense-update.com] .
The F-35 replaces some of the F-16/Harrier ground attack missions. The USAF/Reserve/Air Guard will still have a bunch of F-15 and F-16 to go along with the F-22's, and the Navy/Marines will still have a bunch of Harriers to go along with the F-35's.

Why go to war at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181074)

We have to step back and ask ourselves another question, "Why go to war at all?"

I don't care if you're a liberal, conservative, libertarian, communist, fascist, moderate, or anything else. Regardless of your political beliefs, it has to be admitted that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had nothing to do with justice, freedom, or "weapons of mass destruction". They were merely done to exert increased Western geopolitical influence in central Asia. A major part of this is to counter the ever-growing power of China, but also because of the extensive energy supplies available in the region.

Thinking about this situation further, we have to realize that war is not a valid solution. China's 1.3 billion people dwarf that of the United States. While they may not have the hardware, their location and resources make them militarily superior in central Asia. As Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, the US doesn't have a damned chance.

Think further. What if all the money spent warring in Iraq and Afghanistan had been put towards research in the US, namely in the area of alternative energy sources. With so many billions upon billions of dollars in funding, it's doubtful that we'd ever need to consider oil for any purpose ever again. Our understanding of solar technology could have jumped years ahead with such funding. We could no doubt be making better use of tidal energy to power our homes and businesses.

So not only could the American dependence on Middle Eastern oil be avoided, but perhaps with virtually free renewable energy we could have seen manufacturing return to the US, thus reducing the American support that has allowed China to grow so rapidly. At that point, two of the major reasons for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been elminiated, the US is far better off than it is now, and it's actually still respected in many places.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (4, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181134)

The UK doesn't have any F-117's and never will. Anyway, the JSF family of planes are intended to replace a number of others:

F-35A: F-16, A-10
F-25B (STOVL): Harrier, F-18
F-35C: F-18

By using a set of three planes that are mostly the same instead of half a dozen completely different ones it should in theory lower costs in terms of a better economy of scale on the planes and their parts and a lower cost of training for pilots, mechanics, etc.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181532)

Actually, the F-18 line will be only partially supplanted by the F-35. The new F/A-18E/F Super Hornets will be in service for a long time to come. Older Hornets will be retired eventually, though some may be sold to allies who cannot afford (and do not need) the newest possible planes.

What? (5, Informative)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181160)

A few pointers:

1) The F-117 has no air-to-air capability. It also has a rather small payload (basically 2 bombs), high maintenance costs due to early technology and is (generally believed, though I think it is still classified) to be a subsnoic jet, in other words, slower. Stealth isn't everything. Also, as it only fills the one role, it is less economical than an all-in-one type aircraft.

2) Uh... since when did anything other than a super-precision ground strike become unpopular politically? The U.S. has certainly used "dumb" bombs in many campaigns, including Afghanistan and Iraq, to good effect under certain conditions and on certain targets. JDAMs - much more economical than laser guided munitions - are also quote popular and while they aren't as accurate, "close" is often good enough, assuming they're fired under certain conditions, of course. Furthermore, this particular aircraft is capable of using laser-guided weapons.

3) You know, there are areas without civilian populations present where Close Air Support could still be a concern... like, say, the mountains of Afghanistan perhaps? Or in the middle of nowhere in the Iraqi desert? Or hundreds of other battlefields? Not every battle in the future will occur in third world cities, you know.

4) A helicopter with a "chain gun" has a limited operational range and exposes itself to a great deal of enemy fire. Helicopters' armament tends to be lighter than what an aircraft can provide, focusing more on armor-piercing weapons (Hellfire missiles), and smaller weapons more useful against vehicles and lighter targets (rockets, canon, etc.). A strike fighter, on the other hand, can deliver 2000 lb. bombs on a target when necessary, enablig it to knock out, say, a heavily reinforced building or bunker than a helicopter would stand no chance against.

I mean, if you don't like this plane, that's cool and all, but there is still a mission out there for it.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181420)

Not every battle in the future will occur in third world cities, you know.

you might be wrong about this. not everybody is going to march out into the desert in order to fight the US without civilians nearby. look at mogadishu.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181180)

They're more stealthy than the F-117, which afaik the British don't have access to anyway. Beyond that these aircraft would give the British capability they don't have *at all*. In the case of the US they're just fantastically cheaper to deploy operate and support that the equivalent amount of equipment to accomplish the same job. IE A B-2 Spirit by itself is pretty pricey at 2 billion, but it replaces an entire strike package of several heavy bombers and aircraft capable of forcefully suppressing enemy air defenses, which would take potentially heavy losses, see B-52s over North Vietnam. Combined with the new smaller more accurate bombs they offer options which simply don't exist at present in anywhere near as meaningful a capacity.

The UK's choice is this: Come to terms with the American needs on some level or just go without a pretty critical capability which they will likely not be able to develope and deploy on their own.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (2, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181184)

They are not as stealthy as the current F-117

Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The F-22, F-35, and Eurofighter are all more capable than the F-117. The F-22 and F-35 are also more stealthy.

Close air support today means not just small aircrat laying down munitions (rockets and 20MM) from low altitude line of sight, but also B-52's and B-2's dropping JDAMS from 25k'. Or an F-22 or F-16 dropping SDB's from 30+ miles away.

BTW, they are retiring the F-117's to the boneyard in a couple of years.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181354)

unless the target is in a location which can absolutely guarantee no collateral damage

Those in politics no longer care about such things. We've even had proud announcements of how a difficult to attack air raid shelter full of hundreds of women and children was attacked by missiles that can go around corners.

A "surgical strike" weapon just becomes an expensive way to kill kids in expedient situations so this idea is overrated. As for ground support - since painting tanks orange, having all tanks in the area belonging to allied forces and letting air control know where you are is not enough to stop friendly fire I can see one reason as to why it is scaled down.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (3, Interesting)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181358)

Not sure where you get your information from, but...

They are not as stealthy as the current F-117
You are going to have to provide some references to support that one. Besides, the F-117 has a number of limitations, including very limited weapons capacity and no ability to defend itself. Stealth makes you harder to see via electronic methods. It does not make you invisible, especially during daylight hours.

Close air support is no longer granted unless the target is in a location which can absolutely guarantee no collateral damage.
Not true. Not all targets are in locations that are in close proximity to protected sites. It is also very possible for a 'protected site' to lose its status if the enemy uses it as a facility that is incompatible with the reason for its protected status.

This means that CAS is no longer granted.
Again... not sure where you are getting your information, but I happen to know that CAS is used in both of the current theaters when the conditions require its use.

I'm among the first to bash the services for huge projects that grow seemingly out of control, especially aircraft and ships, while less glamorous things such as individual soldier equipment gets short shrift. However, these systems are not designed, tested, produced and fielded overnight. Just because we have air supremacy in both of the current combat theaters does -not- mean that we will in future conflicts.

Can anyone imagine the reaction if in a future conflict, US ground soldiers get killed en masse because close air support is unavailable because we cannot maintain at least air parity? The outcry would be an order of magnitude above the body armor / armored HMMWV debate of a couple of years ago.

Re:Why invest in these airplanes at all? (2, Informative)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181376)

Um, the JSF (actually its not the JSF anymore, its the F-35 Lightning II officially) has about the same radar crossection of the F-22 Raptor, which is markedly more stealthy than the F-117A. I won't even get into your lack of information about the weapon platform superiority the F-35 has over the F-117A, as well as it's ability to carry different weapons...

All the below information from GlobalSecurity.org.

The F-22 represents a significant design evolution beyond the highly successful F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter, with performance not achievable by today's front-line fighters. Low observable, or stealth, technology has advanced to the point where conventional aerodynamic configurations can be made incorporating low observability without compromising aerodynamic performance or increasing costs significantly. Design development risk was greatly reduced by the performance demonstrated in the dem/val program where angle of attack attitudes up to 60 degrees were flown. The validity of the low observability features of the F-22's design were confirmed by full-scale pole model testing. Why continue with the JSF?

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be:

Four times more effective than legacy fighters in air-to-air engagements

Eight times more effective than legacy fighters in prosecuting missions against fixed and mobile targets

Three times more effective than legacy fighters in non-traditional Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD) missions

About the same in procurement cost as legacy fighters, but requires significantly less tanker/transport and less infrastructure with a smaller basing footprint

12 Billion, not 120 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17180988)

the article clearly states that Britain was going to spend $12 billion, not $120 billion. Would would spend $120 billion for something like this?

Can't they just reformat the planes? (5, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17180996)

Why don't they buy the planes anyhow, I am sure they are the best available, then download Rockbox, or whatever the warplane equivalant OSS firmware is.

If that does't work, there should at least be a LGPL version, right?

Re:Can't they just reformat the planes? (3, Funny)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181212)

The UK should just buy the airplanes, and then download a cracked version of the software on Kazaa.

Re:Can't they just reformat the planes? (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181260)

I know you are joking, but there is a lot of GPL code in military systems.

That's the first thing I would do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181370)

When I buy a new computer, (Dell, HP/Compaq, etc.) The first think I do is format the drive...

20 Days? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181014)

Under current rules any British requests for the use of US technology can take 20 days to go through, obviously limiting the usefulness of a jet strike force.

I am not sure how to interpret this. Does it mean that if the UK request the source code with a license to make changes then they get the code 20 days later and presumably come up with their own version after a year (at best?). Or do they get the code up front with the ability to request a license to deploy modified versions on application?

The second interpretation makes more sense to me.

Poor Tony (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181018)

Poor Tony the Poodle Blair. Kisses ass, and gets treated like a lapdog.

Oh wait...

Just ask Al Quida (0, Troll)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181022)

Al Quida probably already has it and would sell it to the UK for a discount. After all, they cracked our radio codes in Somolia.

12bn pounds not 120 billion dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181026)

12bn pounds not 120 billion dollars

Re:12bn pounds not 120 billion dollars (3, Funny)

rjdegraaf (712353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181076)

12bn pounds not 120 billion dollars
it is the exchange rate by the time the Fighter is finished :)

The UK is not unique (3, Informative)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181048)

Every country involved has been told the same thing. And more importantly, all co developers are PROHIBITED from installing their own avionics.

from the should-have-read-the-EULA-first dept? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181192)

I love the dept. line for this one. The UK is reading the "EULA" first, and that's why we're threatening to cancel a multi-billion dollar order.

After all, would you leave the ability to maintain your air force in the hands of another nation? (And seriously, even if the order goes ahead, would the US seriously expect the UK to honour some contractual agreement not to install working software in its military aircraft?)

no surprise here (2, Interesting)

Foktip (736679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181072)

Allowing another country to design military machinery is one thing, but software? Why did they even consider this in the first place, thats like a huge national security risk. I can see it now...

As the British fighters approach the American jets, they all suddenly lose control and crash into the ocean.
PWND.

Re:no surprise here (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181208)

The entire reason they want the source code is to ensure that the US government can't arbitrarily disable their planes when they disagree with their use or conflict with US interests. A reasonable concern given the state of US politics, foreign policy, and state of the US moral compass.

Just one Canadian's opinion.

Embarassment (4, Funny)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181144)

The US government is really just too embarrassed to hand over the source code since it's all in Visual Basic 6.

Re:Embarassment (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181204)

Don't laugh. I work on a project for the Department of Homeland Security and a lot of the code is Visual Basic.

Re:Embarassment (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181424)

The Air Force's new-ish GDSS2 is all VB6...

Re:Embarassment (1)

rdoger6424 (879843) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181280)

How about Visual COBOL?

Yes, I'm pretty sure that that exists

Re:Embarassment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181516)

I don't think they ever used cobol on jets, but they do have some obsure ones that are still used. Jovial is actually pretty nice for a non-oo language.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JOVIAL [wikipedia.org]

There are much worse things than Jovial, ADA, cobol, or even VB6. xUML for instance...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executable_UML [wikipedia.org]
http://www.ilogix.com/press-release-detail.aspx?id =606&parent=33 [ilogix.com]

Re:Embarassment (4, Informative)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181606)

Yes, it's a funny joke, but JSF is actually written in C++. The coding standards are available on Bjarne Stroustrup's website [att.com] .

I was really outraged myself (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181174)

But then, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , it's not like most of the countries involved have any significant amount of the development costs at stake. The UK is the biggest contributor, and it foots only 10% of the bill. It's not cool, but it's to be expected. Hopefully these countries will learn to not invest money into American hardware except when they are buying it with the expectation that it is full featured.

Let's also be a little realistic here. No country with military hardware as advanced as the United States, Japan, Russia or Israel is going to play entirely fair when selling to other countries. No country wants to risk its prize weapon systems falling into unsavory hands when it's fully functional. Personally, I would be surprised if the MiGs that Russia sells to China and other countries are as kick ass as some of the stuff their own air force uses.

Battlestar Galactica - 'Software Updates' ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181194)

Ah, well...
If you saw the premiere pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica - you know how dangerous a few 'software updates' can be...

Why fight your enemy if you can hack their fighter's source code,
and knock them out of the sky with a remote shutdown command?

I would expect military grade source code to be a very closely guarded, and heavily tested secret !

Re:Battlestar Galactica - 'Software Updates' ! (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181270)

Just don't let the enemies have the deadly "Jolly Roger" virus.

Swi

Classified (1)

da_reboot (683601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181236)

It appeared that Tony Blair and George Bush had solved the impasse in May, when they announced an agreement in principle that the UK would be given access to the classified details on conditions of strict secrecy
"Don't worry Tony, I'll send you the code by email"

All out rejection (5, Insightful)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181264)

Sadly without this agreement the UK really should simply say no to any involvement, however I would suggest that the UK will still splash out anyway. The entire US/UK Special relationship is pretty much a myth anyway and more to the point it has been regarding foreign policy matters for a long time, placing even more dependence on the US in areas of defence is a bad idea.

There seems to be (in the UK at least) a memory lapse within political circles, that the US has in the past simply not stood with the UK.

The Lack of US support during the Falklands war, and outright opposition to the Suez crisis, should show that the UK cannot rely on US military power to support the UK's own operations and aims, and nor should it. The US will always look after itself, it will only take action when it feels its own perceived interests are involved or if there is sufficient domestic political pressure to do so, and the UK really should follow suit. Frankly that is a sensible position for any nation state to take. The UK governments current position of "follow the US's lead wherever it is demanded" is downright treasonous.

The UK needs to continue to maintain forces, equipment and any other capabilities independently or with allies as long as the UK is capable of maintaining the same, in the absence of their allies. It would be foolhardy to rely on the US (or France/Germany/Italy etc..) for equipment, parts, support, or armaments in the case of war, especially if any of those allies were opposed to the conflict.

The one thing I do feel that is surprising with this scenario is that the US will happily sell the aircraft to the UK. I would have assumed that any sensitive information about the aircraft would be available from the aircraft itself, which of course presents the question as to whether there are either surprises in the software that would give the US any advantage in the unlikely event that these aircraft were used against them. Although ignoring that (slight conspiracy theory) surely it should also raise questions about the quality of the software.

Anyway, I see no reason why the UK cannot simply continue to work on its own or with allies who full trust the UK, rather than be treated as an interloper or a poor cousin by the US.

Re:All out rejection (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181542)

The Lack of US support during the Falklands war,

There was quite a bit of US support during the Falklands war. Go ask Lady Thatcher. There wasn't boots on the ground though. You can't honestly tell me that losing the Falklands, a few rocks with a few sheep, was a genuine threat to the UK. It was a threat to the UK's pride though.

and outright opposition to the Suez crisis,

Perhaps the US saw the seizing of the Suez canal by UK and France as against its interests?

Anyway, I see no reason why the UK cannot simply continue to work on its own or with allies who full trust the UK, rather than be treated as an interloper or a poor cousin by the US.

Think that one over. Which countries do you trust more than the US? France? Germany? Spain?

Re:All out rejection (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181582)

Sadly, your post will not be modded up since you posted AC. Even if every single point has some truth behind it.

Stupid decision, but what do we know? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181272)

On the surface, this seems like a stupid decision; but it's really impossible to say exactly what the motive is because... that might be secret too!

On the one hand, you might ask... "so what if Al Qaeda has the source code for the programs that run the fighter? It's not like running it on a PowerBook is going to make it fly mach 2 and shoot missiles". OTOH, a more sophisticated military, like the Chinese, might find a bug in it, develop an exploit that could be used in combat, and give it to North Korea or something.

Now, the Brittish wouldn't send this stuff to China... not as far as we know... so... maybe the US thinks there is a problem with the UK's ability to keep secrets.

OK, that's a bit far fetched. Maybe the contract under which this stuff was developed doesn't permit this. Ha-ha. Maybe it's tied up in legal limbo. That'd be more in keeping with the US that I know these days.

Maybe they're just afraid the Brits might find a bug, or come up with better code, or just laugh at all the "fucks" and "shits" they left in the comments. That wouldn't surprise me either.

The bottom line though, is our grandchildren find out the answer to "Why?", but we may never know. It might be top secret.

Algorithms (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181390)

...are the only thing of value in aerospace code. Once you have seen the implementation (in Ada, most likely) you can re-implement it in a different language and along the way make it very difficult to prove that you ripped it off.

embarrased by the contents eg logic bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181322)


perhaps it would reveal something like a logic bomb or some sort of remote cutoff/disabler, just in case and all that
which would be rather embarrasing seeing as the USA is supposed to trust the UK

Insurance (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181386)

Way back when, Polland had bought a complicated piece of hardware to run their electric grid from the U.S., the CIA had a killswitch secretly installed in it.

Polland was a friendly nation at the time, but you never know how the wind can change, so the switch was there, just in case.

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181538)

And just where the fuck do you find a country called Polland?

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181602)

If you're going to make an outrageous claim, cite your sources...

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181616)

This sounds like nonsense to me. Poland was a friendly nation before the Cold War (when the CIA didn't exist) and after the Cold War (which hardly qualifies as "Way back when").

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181624)

Poland would have been one of the primary countries the Soviets would have needed to stage an invasion of Western Europe. That switch was so we could turn the power off on the /Soviets/, not on the Poles.

Jim

British should consider... (-1, Flamebait)

professorfalcon (713985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181394)

Before buying into the Eurofighter Typhoon, the British should consider a few things about it:

1. In order not to offend anyone, it contains parts from many different groups, including the Middle East and North Korea. All under GPL. (And you know the requirements of the GPL license.)

2. The French parts tend to eject at the first sign of trouble.

3. Everyone will have free access to it, on demand, but it will take 8 to 12 weeks to get to fly it.

And finally,

4. Of course, no weapons allowed. Or smoking. Or cheeseburgers.

Source Not Theirs To Give (1, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181398)

The US government doesn't have the right to give them the source. The JSF [wikipedia.org] is a product that is being developed for the military by Lockheed Martin and major partners BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. Would you expect Dell to give the source to every program installed on it's computers to any customer on demand? Why would this plane be any different. There are many proprietary software programs being used that are very protected trade secrets. The UK is part of the EU and giving them those secrets would be tantamount to giving away literally billions of research and development dollars.

Re:Source Not Theirs To Give (2, Informative)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181540)

The contractors are giving it to the US anyway for review. That seems to be what the UK is asking for.

Re:Source Not Theirs To Give (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17181644)

So fucking what? Then the US will simply have to convince Lockheed to change their minds or buy the code from them or whatever. It's a simple business transaction, The brits want something, and are willing to pay X for it. If they the sellers won't give them get what they want, they go somewhere else.

Not just source code (4, Informative)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181452)

This is not just about source code. In a system like that software, hardware and system integration are inseparable. You either give no information or have to give it all. These are the crown jewels of the platform. Revealing them also reveals any number of critical points for interested adversaries: thrust and manoeuvrability limits, reaction times, counter-measure schemes and logic, EMC-characteristics etc. all of which can be used to find weaknesses and design weapon systems to be more effective against it.

Also, since the UK is only conributing 10% of the development costs, its no wonder the US isnt keen sharing. Usually with mil-tech you only give a bad, incomplete user manual to the client so he can barely operate the thing and then wait for him to pay more for extra features that are already implemented by disabled in software or simply undocumented. You never ever allow the client to have exact specs, schematics or software which would allow him to reverse-engineer and develop his own extentions and applications to it.

Here in Finland we bought old C-model F18 Hornets. When the first upgrade cycle came, the US told us of these new fancy secure ground-to-air datalinks and avionics for combat close formation flying they wanted to sell us. We just told them we had developed our own by then, thankyouverymuch. But that was because the platform was getting old and most of the stuff in there was already open knowledge with multiple nations having purchased them years ago. Also with old-gen mil-aircraft there are a lot of avionics standards which were developed and adhered to during the cold-war to easy manufacturing, lower cost and allow inter-service operations. These JSFs will probably have special new-gen custom avionics to do with flight and weapon control, targeting, radar, stealth, communications and electronic warfare that the US definately wants to keep wrappers on.

The real meaning of Crash and Burn (0, Offtopic)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181476)

Trying to force someone to share sourece code is always almost impossible. Even if they share it, it will probably be a different version, some modules will not have the same version as others, and you can never build a good image.

Just look at how well MS has "shared" their source as mandated.

Only when the producer genuinely tries to make it work is it possible, and even then often a challenge. I can only imagine trying set up a full (top secret)developmnent environment and to build a complete set of images for multiple proprietary, top secret targets.

And if there is a flaw in your build, you dont hang a PC, all your jets crash and burn.

A small suggestion to the US gov. (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181556)

Put the code on SourceForge, make the plane run Linux and let millions of coders around the world fix your bugs. It's fast, cheap and works wonderfully well... most of your secrets are already kept by some type of Linux derivative.

not saying what they want to say... (1)

alchemy101 (961551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17181574)

It has everything to do with protecting the US defense industry. Maintaining these new aircraft involves lots of money and no country but the US would want them to have a virtual monopoly. If I remember correctly Australia has similar concerns.
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