Discover more from ☕️ Coffee & Covid 2023 🦠
☕️ MISHAPS AND BAD LUCK ☙ Tuesday, September 19, 2023 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠
Did the missing F35 crash near Charleston or did it defect by itself? And, Newsweek runs the most pessimistic Proxy War op-ed yet; plus Governor DeSantis and John Fetterman square off over dress code.
Good morning, C&C, it’s Tuesday! Your roundup today includes: a roundup of yesterday’s little lost F35, along with thoughts about what it might mean, what’s the worst-case scenario?; Watch out below — Newsweek op-ed drops hard Proxy War truths on woke readers; and a commonsense clip from Governor DeSantis about the Senate’s new hoodie-policy; John Fetterman responds.
🗞💬 WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY 💬🗞
🔥 It’s the Hunt for Red September! For most of the day yesterday, Joint Base Charleston manned a “missing jet hotline,” after a Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter somehow went missing somewhere in the vicinity. The picture provided for milk cartons was a little too grainy to be sure, but it seems gunmetal colored, in case you spot it.
F35 fighter jets are arguably our highest-tech weapons. They cost $135,000,000 in pre-pandemic dollars, according to GAO figures. So losing one is like a thousand million teenagers losing their retainers. The F35 program has cost taxpayers $1.7 TRILLION DOLLARS so far.
The F35 is the most expensive weapons program in US history.
The military put out an amber alert for one of the insanely-expensive fighters yesterday morning. Inexplicably, it got “lost” after the pilot ejected. The military did not explain why the pilot ejected. Initial reports were the plane continued flying itself on autopilot to parts unknown, although as we’ll see, later on that story would change a lot.
Here’s how it started yesterday morning, with incendiary headlines like this one:
Then, as the story progressed into early yesterday afternoon, the whole fleet was grounded:
The Marine Corps commander had such “full confidence” in the aviation units that he grounded the entire fleet for two days. Okay. And then, as the story went international, the tone began to shift, as illustrated by this Hindustan Times headline late yesterday afternoon:
And shortly after that, by early evening, after successfully focusing the world’s attention on the lost F35 jet, Establishment Media reassuringly reported: the wrecked fighter had been found!
“Appears to end.” Huh. Was it found? Maybe yes, maybe no:
Joint Base Charleston said in a statement that searchers who had been looking for the missing warplane located the wreckage in Williamsburg County, north of Charleston, but stopped short of confirming it was from the missing jet.
They “stopped short?” What? That hardly “ends the mystery.” And, why stop short? What’s causing the confusion? Was the evidence completely burned up into ashes like in Lahaina, or did the jet self-destruct or something? What’s stopping the Marine Corp from identifying the wreckage of its own plane?
They also stopped short of answering all the obvious questions.
— For example, they haven’t said how they lost a top fighter jet with the most highly-advanced, GPS-enabled, networked technology in history. Was the transponder on? If not, why not? From the New York Times article:
“How in the hell do you lose an F-35?” Representative Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican and the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, had asked her social media followers. “We’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?”
According to manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s promo website, F35.com, the F35 is not just a stealth fighter. It’s a communications gateway:
Ominously, remember this, gateways go both ways.
— They haven’t explained why the pilot ejected from the plane. According to reliable sources, a Marine pilot would never have ejected from an operational aircraft absent orders to do so. Again, from the Times:
It was unclear why the pilot needed to bail out. A second F-35 pilot who had also been on the training mission landed without any problems.
— What was the plane’s “training” mission? Was it really training? Or was it doing something stealthy?
— Why did it take all day to find the debris field? Wasn’t there a plume of smoke over the crash site that should have been obvious for miles, and clearly-spotted from satellites and weather balloons in yesterday’s clear conditions?
What they are saying is: not much. The unaccountable, inexplicable, total loss of a $135,000,000 plane was just a silly mishap, simply bad luck. A Marine Corps spokesperson only said in a statement yesterday that the F-35's pilot "safely ejected from the aircraft. We are currently still gathering more information and assessing the situation. The mishap will be under investigation."
In spite of all the ubiquitous headlines, the military has not actually identified the Charleston debris field as the missing fighter. A conspiratorial-minded person might think they are just covering their sixes by hanging on to a “possible” crash site in case the plane turns up somewhere else. Whoops! Sorry! We had the wrong debris field. Here it is, over HERE!
🔥 All signs point to massive government mendacity and obfuscation, but what else is new? Rather, what’s the worst case scenario here? Let’s start with the second-worst case scenario, which is the pilot defected, perhaps stealthily flying the plane to the new Chinese military base in Cuba, which was easily within range.
But the Marines said the pilot ejected, not defected. True, it’s a pilot they haven’t named. An unnamed pilot they haven’t quoted. A mute, unnamed pilot who is reportedly still somewhere in an unidentified hospital being treated by unnamed doctors for unspecific “injuries.” Okay.
None of that makes sense, but let’s stick with what we know. Taking the official, albeit scant, explanation at face value, and assuming the pilot did eject — keeping in mind the initial reports that the plane had continued flying without its pilot on autopilot — we come to the possible worst-case scenario.
The worst case scenario is the computerized plane ejected its pilot and defected by itself. Maybe it flew itself to Cuba, after Chinese hackers assumed control of its highly-advanced instruments using the stealth fighter’s own networked “communications gateway.” Maybe this summer’s Chinese Spy Balloon mapped out a way to get the plane out of the U.S. undetected?
Could that possibly happen? I did a little research.
🔥 At a $1.7 trillion price tag, our enemies have a lot of incentive to capture one of the top fighters, either for reverse-engineering, or just for developing jammers, spoofers, and countermeasures.
The first thing my research produced is that the software running the F35 is hideously complicated. You could call the F35 the world’s first software-driven airplane. Estimates range at over 8,000,000 lines of code. And that’s just the software inside the plane. A code base like that takes a giant team of programmers to maintain, and the opportunities for bugs and glitches scale up along with the code base’s size.
Put differently, a massive code base equals a massive opportunity for bugs and glitches. With a hundred-milllion-dollar, nuclear-equipped fighter jet flying at mach speeds, the opportunities for disastrous bugs and glitches is equally massive. (C&C programmers: feel free to weigh in and offer your own opinions.)
But we needn’t speculate. It is common knowledge that problems have plagued the F35 program since day one. In fact, there have been several crashes just in the last twelve months.
In March, an F35 crashed in Texas. From Military.com in March:
In June, the DOD froze all F35 shipments due to — watch this — software problems. From Defense News:
Finally, as recently as August 25th, another pilot ejected from an F35 after another “mishap” on takeoff, and the $135M dollar plane unceremoniously plopped into the ocean. From Navy Lookout:
But an earlier crash about eleven months ago was the most interesting. In July, the Pentagon released the cause of another F35 crash in Utah in October 2022. Guess what caused the mind-bogglingly-expensive stealth fighter to go down? A software glitch. From Air Force News in July:
The accident’s description of the software glitch was terrifically provocative: It sounded like the plane was trying to take over and fly itself:
As they prepared to land, the pilot felt a “slight rumbling” of turbulence from the wake of the aircraft in front of him, the report said. The bumpy air caused the F-35′s flight controls to register incorrect flight data, and the jet stopped responding to the pilot’s attempts at manual control.
The pilot tried to abort the landing and try again, but the jet responded by sharply banking to the left. Further attempts to right the aircraft failed, and the pilot safely ejected north of the base. His F-35 crashed near a runway at Hill.
How curious. I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t land the plane right now.
Given the program’s secrecy, we have no way of knowing precisely what kind of tech was in that cockpit, of course, but clearly something else, like glitchy software, or someone else, like a hacker, was trying to fly the downed Utah F35.
Yesterday, an article in Aerospace Manufacturing described a major software upgrade for all F35 models:
Was yesterday’s training mission running on the updated software? Was the October 2022 instrument takeover actually a hacker trial run instead of a “software glitch”? Was the “software glitch” actually an exploit allowing a hacker to take control and crash the plane?
And more importantly, did the Chinese just steal one of our most advanced fighters yesterday by exploiting our own buggy software?
Either way, the Utah incident raises profound questions about the fundamental wisdom of software-based controls in hyper-costly fighter jets. Software glitches shouldn’t crash $135M-dollar planes. If the pilot had a manual stick, there would never have been any problem, no way for the jet to “stop responding to the pilot’s attempts at manual control.”
Anyway. I could be 100% wrong, and if so, we’ll get a complete briefing from the Marine Corps today efficiently answering all the unanswered questions with military precision. But I’m not counting on it.
Finally, is this whole thing part of the Pentagon’s ritual humiliation this year?
🔥 Cancelled! The New York Post ran a totally predictable story yesterday headlined, “YouTube suspends Russell Brand from making money off the streaming site after sex assault claims.”
Well, that was fast. Yesterday, thousands of Kavanaugh-style articles simultaneously appeared all over Establishment Media accusing conservative YouTube sensation and British comedian Russell Brand of sexually assaulting four women more than a decade ago. Also yesterday, without even waiting for a conviction, YouTube demonetized Brand from his six million subscribers.
Get ready for Russell to move to Twitter.
🚀 Watch out on deck! The narrative boom is swinging around. Newsweek ran an op-ed yesterday with the unintentionally-hilarious headline, get this: “We Can No Longer Hide the Truth About the Russia-Ukraine War.”
Bwahahahahaha! “We can no longer HIDE THE TRUTH!” Not “hide from the truth.” Get it?? It’s so obvious now that they can admit it right IN THE HEADLINE: They’ve been hiding the truth.
Conspiracy thinkers = 993, Experts = zero.
The author, Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army with four combat assignments. Here’s a summary of his comments, in his own words (lightly-edited for brevity and clarity):
It's time to acknowledge objective reality and employ policies that can work. There is no realistic basis to believe that Ukraine has the capacity to attain its stated strategic objective to reclaim all its territory, including Crimea.
Washington has spent nearly $113 billion over the course of this war, provided Ukraine with an astounding volume of modern arms and ammunition, and delivered an impressive array of training and intelligence support. But after almost a year of preparation, Ukraine has hardly dented the Russian lines.
Although Ukraine appears to have finally penetrated the first line of Russia's main defense, the most difficult part of Russia's defensive system has yet to be overcome: the hundreds of kilometers of dragon's teeth, tank ditches, and yet more vast minefields. The best Ukraine can likely do for the rest of the year is to hold what they have and prevent the possibility of losing more territory to a potential Russian counteroffensive this fall.
The op-ed’s comments were fascinating. While the majority of Newsweek’s readers predictably commented that Lt. Col. Davis is just another sold-out Putin shill — Putin sure seems to have a lot of them! — there were other comments like this one, expressing surprise and shock that the Proxy War isn’t going according to plan:
As Davis suggested, it appears likely the Russians will roll out their own counter-counter offensive soon. The Narrative is preparing everyone for that unpleasant reality.
🔥 Finally, enjoy this clip from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who commented yesterday on the Senate’s rule change accommodating brain-damaged John Fetterman’s basse couture.
Haha, if you listen closely, DeSantis almost slipped and said Fetterman only got elected by cheating, but he caught himself in the nick of time. The Governor decried the new Senatorial dress standards, if you can call them standards:
"The US Senate just eliminated its dress code because you got this guy from Pennsylvania - who's got a lot of problems, let’s be honest, I mean, like how he got elected … He wears, like, sweatshirts and hoodies and shorts ... To not put on proper attire, I think it’s disrespectful to that body … We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down our standards in this country.”
He made a great point. But I’m not sure I completely agree. Maybe DeSantis didn’t go far enough. Leftists don’t want dumbed-down standards, they want no standards. After all, standards are racist, patriarchal, and transphobic. And they hurt the climate by increasing carbon dioxide, or something.
Anyway, U.S. Senator John Fetterman responded on MSNBC to Republicans “freaking out” over the new non-dress code. It was quintessential Fetterman:
I’m not even trying to transcribe that. You tell me what the Senator meant to say.
Have a terrific Tuesday! Get on back here tomorrow morning for more delicious Coffee & Covid as I sprint to keep up with all the developing news.
We can’t do it without you! Consider joining with C&C to help move the nation’s needle and change minds. I could use your help getting the truth out and spreading optimism and hope, if you can: https://www.coffeeandcovid.com/p/-learn-how-to-get-involved-