A scathing new report on the F-35 compiles virtually every reported deficiency with the world’s most expensive weapons system.
Dan Grazier, a former Marine captain and a defence policy investigator at the Project on Government Oversight put together a definitive history of the F-35’s shortcomings, ultimately concluding that the program is a “national disaster” in dire need of an intervention.
Australia has 72 F-35s on order.
The piece draws from sometimes years old reports out of the F-35 program about several failures along its course of development. According to Grazier, the F-35’s computer, sensors, and sensor fusion don’t effectively help pilots or improve on existing platforms, it fails as a fighter and a close air support platform, and officials behind the program have repeatedly tried to obscure the true cost of the jet.
Perhaps the article’s most cogent point comes on the subject of the price. Lockheed Martin recently announced a plan to bring the price of individual F-35A jets to about $US85 million, a similar price to a new F-18 Super Hornet. However, as Grazier points out, the $US85 million only covers procurement costs. The significant costs of developing the plane, maintaining it, and testing it go unreported in these often-cited figures, prompting the following zinger from Grazier: “‘Price tag is the only thing stealthy about the F-35.”
But the F-35 has only reached an initial level of capability with two services. The F-35 awaits a software update that Lockheed Martin states will significantly improve the plane.
Lt. Col. David Berke, a former US Marine Corps F-35 squadron leader stressed to Business Insider that “we don’t even know 50-80% of what this aeroplane can do,” as it continues to evolve in terms of its software, hardware, network integration, and pilots continue to figure out the system.
If you’ve ever wondered why some harbour vehement hatred towards the F-35 program and all its boosters, the POGO report is extensive, if a bit one sided.