Sunday, November 5, 2023

The F-35 Boondoggle: What Were They Thinking?

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Over the past couple decades I've read or heard numerous references to the F-35 program that was designed create a next level fighter aircraft for the 21st century. Simultaneously, I've repeatedly read that this is one of the government's biggest military boondoggles ever. 

Since I knew so little about it, and today saw a couple references to the F-35, I decided to ask one of the popular AI programs (a) what is the F-35 and (2) what are some of the problems with this new high-tech jet. Here are the answers I received. Like many things government undertakes, the intentions may have been good, but in the end, "What in the world were they thinking?" 

Q: Please briefly summarize the F-35 program from initiation to present.

ANSWER: The F-35 Lightning II program was initiated in 1995 as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The goal of the JSF program was to develop a new generation of fighter aircraft that would be common to all branches of the US military. The F-35 was selected as the winner of the JSF competition in 2001, and the program entered the development phase in 2002.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft that is designed to be stealthy, supersonic, and highly maneuverable. The aircraft is also equipped with a variety of advanced sensors and weapons systems. The F-35 is available in three variants: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier takeoff and landing (CATOBAR) variant.

The program has been plagued by problems since its inception including massive cost overruns and schedule delays. The aircraft has also experienced a number of performance and maintenance issues.

Despite the problems with the program, the F-35 is now in full production and is being delivered to the US military and its allies. The F-35 is expected to be the mainstay of the US military's fighter fleet for many years to come.

Here is a timeline of the F-35 program:

  • 1995: The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is initiated.
  • 2001: The F-35 is selected as the winner of the JSF competition.
  • 2002: The F-35 program enters the development phase.
  • 2006: The first F-35A CTOL variant makes its first flight.
  • 2008: The first F-35B STOVL variant makes its first flight.
  • 2010: The first F-35C CATOBAR variant makes its first flight.
  • 2011: The first F-35A CTOL variant is delivered to the US Air Force.
  • 2015: The first F-35B STOVL variant is delivered to the US Marine Corps.
  • 2019: The first F-35C CATOBAR variant is delivered to the US Navy.
  • 2023: The F-35 program is in full production and is being delivered to the US military and its allies. 

Q: What are some of the problems with the F-35 that our government has created.

ANSWER: The F-35 is the most expensive military aircraft program in history, and it has been plagued by problems since its inception. Here are some of the key problems with the F-35:

  • Cost overruns: The F-35 program has experienced massive cost overruns, with the total cost now estimated to be over $1.7 trillion. This is more than twice the original estimate.
  • Schedule delays: The F-35 program is also behind schedule, with the first operational F-35s not being delivered until 2011, seven years behind the original schedule.
  • Performance issues: The F-35 has also experienced a number of performance issues, including engine problems, software glitches, and weapons integration problems.
  • Maintenance problems: The F-35 is also very expensive to maintain, with some estimates putting the cost of maintaining a single F-35 at over $35 million per year.  [EdNote: The implication here is that the more planes you make, the more money it costs just to own them.

The US government has been criticized for its handling of the F-35 program. Critics argue that the government has failed to adequately oversee the program and has allowed Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the F-35, to get away with cost overruns and schedule delays.

The F-35 program has also been criticized for its lack of transparency. The US government has refused to release key information about the program, such as the cost of each aircraft and the specific performance issues that the aircraft has experienced.

The F-35 program is a major financial and technological undertaking, and it is important that the US government be transparent about the program's problems and that it take steps to address them.

Here are some of the potential consequences of the problems with the F-35:

  • Reduced military readiness: The F-35 is a key component of the US military's air superiority capabilities. If the F-35 program is not successful, it could reduce the US military's ability to project power and protect its interests around the world.
  • Increased costs: The cost overruns with the F-35 program are taking money away from other important military programs. This could force the US military to make cuts to other essential capabilities.
  • Damage to US credibility: The F-35 program is a major international undertaking. The problems with the program could damage the US's reputation as a reliable partner and could make it more difficult for the US to secure allies in the future.

It is important to note that the F-35 program is still ongoing, and it is possible that the problems with the program can be addressed. However, it is also possible that the problems will persist, and that the F-35 program will not be the success that the US government was hoping for.

[EdNote: I smell a skunk. Worst of all is that they have wasted so much money on this project that they can't back out of it now.]

“There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity!”
~Burl Ives as Big Daddy

Related Link

Championing Responsible National Security Policy

Has the Pentagon Learned from the F-35 Debacle?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can these be one of the reasons rich people dont like paying taxes? They want to put their money to work in ways that are helpful, not squandered. Government inefficiency and stupidity is legendary.

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