Photo: Lockheed via The Aviationist
The Pentagon is about to waste $1.5 trillion, 38% of entire defence budget for a “virtual flying piano“. That may sound preposterous, and it is. Unfortunately, it is also true.
Foreign Policy Magazine discusses the sad saga of The Jet That Ate the Pentagon.Although the plane was originally billed as a low-cost solution, major cost increases have plagued the program throughout the last decade. Last year, Pentagon leadership told Congress the acquisition price had increased another 16 per cent, from $328.3 billion to $379.4 billion for the 2,457 aircraft to be bought. Not to worry, however — they pledged to finally reverse the growth… The result? This February, the price increased another 4 per cent to $395.7 billion and then even further in April…
The F-35 will actually cost multiples of the $395.7 billion cited above. That is the current estimate only to acquire it, not the full life-cycle cost to operate it. The current appraisal for operations and support is $1.1 trillion — making for a grand total of $1.5 trillion, or more than the annual GDP of Spain. And that estimate is wildly optimistic: It assumes the F-35 will only be 42 per cent more expensive to operate than an F-16, but the F-35 is much more complex.
You can actually blame president Clinton for this debacle. You can also blame every president since Clinton for stupid decisions upon stupid decisions and for not scrapping the program. The sad saga continues …
The design was born in the late 1980s in the defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon agency that has earned an undeserved reputation for astute innovation. It emerged as a proposal for a very short takeoff and vertical-landing aircraft (known as “STOVL”) that would also be supersonic. This required an airframe design that — simultaneously — wanted to be short, even stumpy, and single-engine (STOVL), and also sleek, long, and with lots of excess power, usually with twin engines.
President Bill Clinton’s Pentagon bogged down the already compromised design concept further by adding the requirement that it should be a multirole aircraft — both an air-to-air fighter and a bomber. This required more difficult tradeoffs between agility and low weight, and the characteristics of an airframe optimised to carry heavy loads. Clinton-era officials also layered on “stealth,” imposing additional aerodynamic shape requirements and maintenance-intensive skin coatings to reduce radar reflections. They also added two separate weapons bays, which increase permanent weight and drag, to hide onboard missiles and bombs from radars. On top of all that, they made it multiservice, requiring still more tradeoffs to accommodate more differing, but exacting, needs of the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy…
This grotesquely unpromising plan has already resulted in multitudes of problems — and 80 per cent of the flight testing remains. A virtual flying piano, the F-35 lacks the F-16’s agility in the air-to-air mode and the F-15E’s range and payload in the bombing mode, and it can’t even begin to compare to the A-10 at low-altitude close air support for troops engaged in combat. Worse yet, it won’t be able to get into the air as often to perform any mission — or just as importantly, to train pilots — because its complexity prolongs maintenance and limits availability.
The Dustbin Awaits
Foreign Policy Magazine arrives at a rational conclusion: “There is only one thing to do with the F-35: Junk it. America’s air forces deserve a much better aircraft, and the taxpayers deserve a much cheaper one. The dustbin awaits.”
Who supports the program?
defence contractors are at the top of the list. For example, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Pratt & Whitney support the F-35.
Please consider this Lockheed Martin Propaganda.
Establishing air superiority in today’s complex global security climate requires the unprecedented capabilities and versatility that only the F-35 Lightning II can offer.
And the F-35’s strong global partnership and broad industrial base ensures affordability through economies of scale while delivering thousands of technology sector jobs around the world.
Visit our partners
Pratt & Whitney
To show you what incredible liars the defence industry has, Lockheed Martin has the gall to claim “economies of scale”.
Senator John McCain Supports the Boondoggle
Senator John McCain wants F-35 training in Arizona at Luke Air Force Base.
McCain was presented with the Wing Coin and Chairman’s Award by Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, 56th Fighter Wing Commander, and Charley Freericks, Chairman of Fighter Country Partnership’s board of directors. The award was given in recognition of McCain being a champion of Luke during his years of public service.
Neubauer thanked McCain for speaking at the gathering of more than 250 Fighter Country Partnership members and guests at the annual meeting. He noted the 27,000 sorties, 35,000 hours of flight, the training of 350 new pilots and 400 crew chiefs that took place at Luke in 2009. He told the crowd that Luke trains 95 per cent of all the fighter pilots for the Air Force, and has deployed 600 down range to 17 different countries.
Spirit of Idaho
The Spirit of Idaho organisation hopes for training mission in Idaho.
Idaho citizens are second to none in their enthusiastic support for the men and women of our Armed Forces and for their military missions. Hosting the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter would be a great way to continue that tradition while helping to secure the future of Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field. That’s to say nothing of the thousands of great jobs and economic opportunities that having the F-35s here would create. C.L. “BUTCH” OTTER, GOVERNOR
Greed, Graft, Public Unions
In general, states where defence contractors are located, states that will house or train the pilots want the jobs support the F-35. Those states, and politicians in those states do not give a rat’s arse about how inept or costly the program is.
The greed, graft, and waste are bad enough as it is. However, no amount of greed, gall, and waste is so great that unions will be satisfied with it.
Please consider Lockheed F-35 workers ready for long strike, union says
Unionized workers on strike against Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) over healthcare benefits and pensions are prepared for a long work stoppage, a top union official said on Tuesday as the company said it would be able to keep operations running.
Nearly 3,650 union workers walked off the job on Monday at the Fort Worth, Texas, plant where Lockheed builds the new F-35 fighter plane and at two military bases where it is tested.
Paul Black, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), said three earlier strikes in 1984, 2000 and 2003 lasted from two to three weeks, and union leaders have warned workers the current dispute could take longer to settle.
Workers in the union voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to hit the picket line rather thann accept the company’s “best and final offer,” which called for an end to the defined benefits pension that current workers receive and a switch to a retirement account similar to a 401(k).
The F-35 program deserves to be scrapped because of cost overruns, inept design specs, and poor test results. Yet 3,650 union ingrates were arrogant enough to walk off the job demanding still more money to build this boondoggle.
Every last one of them deserves to lose their job permanently. Let’s hope this is the final straw that kills the program.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.