Winslow Wheeler at Project on Government Oversight prepared this chart.

Chart prepared by Winslow Wheeler at Project on Government Oversight.

WASHINGTON: The head of the Air Force’s Quadrennial Defense Review office made very clear today that the service will do all it can to protect the F-35 for a pretty compelling reason: “We must be able to project power in contested environments (A2/AD) and the Joint Strike Fighter is that machine.”

Kwast told reporters after his public remarks that JSF “plays a critical role in an architecture that keeps us ahead of our enemy.” It’s not like previous aircraft that specialized in providing one primary capability.

When I asked him what the Air Force would do if the White House ordered cancellation of the F-35, Kwast offered a pretty standard military response: “What we would do is, if they were to make that decision, we would roll up our sleeves and find a way.” But all his comments made clear that would not be a good idea in the estimation of the Air Force.

During an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Maj. Gen. Steven Kwast offered what sounded like one of the service’s bumper stickers as it enters the QDR and 2015 budget battles. The Air Force must be able to react “at the speed of this world,” a capability “only the Air Force provides.” For example, if something happens in the South China Sea (umm China, maybe?), Kwast said the nation needs to be able to respond quickly and effectively. He made pretty clear that he didn’t mean a carrier group steaming over in a few days or weeks.

Kwast was asked if we might expect to see a push in the service to move more forcefully to a force dominated by drones (or, as the Air Force prefers to call them, Remotely Piloted Aircraft). Short answer: no. Long answer: “Does it really bring us a good bang for the buck? If so, we forge ahead.” But drones aren’t a panacea for either savings or capabilities at this point and the Air Force will simply decide what approach works best for each system and combination of systems (He didn’t say this, but Long Range Strike comes to mind as an example).

In other news, the chart above offers a handy short form presentation of the current state of the F-35 on Capitol Hill. It also makes pretty clear how divorced the appropriations bills are from reality this year, because they don’t include sequestration. Winslow Wheeler, defense budget expert at Project for Government Oversight, prepared the chart. Here’s his take on what the appropriators really mean:

“Two things are notable in these reductions: first, while both committees’ actions have been publicly known for a while (and for even longer in DOD), they have not prompted howls of protest from DOD’s chief F-35 advocates, Frank Kendall and Lt. Gen. Bogdan. It is probably safe to assume that the reductions, including the lesser increase for F-35 production in 2015, were both pre-notified to DOD and tacitly—if not explicitly—agreed to. (It may even be that some, if not all, of the cuts were quietly suggested by DOD; that would hardly be the first time.)

“Second, none of these numbers accommodate sequestration. The 2013 sequester has already removed over $800 million from 2013 F-35 procurement (in addition to the approximate $400 million in various congressional cuts for 2013). Moreover, despite speculation that five to ten (more likely the later) aircraft will fall out of the 2013 buy, DOD has refused to say how many. Unless budget-bargaining lightning strikes, there will also be a sequester in 2014. Given the disruption to the program in 2013 resulting from the sequester, which DOD has not yet acknowledged, the impact on the 2014 buy is very difficult to predict. In any case, the expectation of 29 F-35 purchases in 2014 and from 36 to 42 in 2015 is looking more and more fanciful. Budget realities—always an ‘unpredicted’ source of unit cost growth—are settling into the F-35 program.

“While the HAC report had virtually no text addressing the F-35, which probably explains why its cuts have been generally ignored, the SAC report makes some interesting statements.

“Perhaps the most interesting SAC report language is its tacit acknowledgement of a major source of F-35 cost increases, even if the committee does not explicitly recognize it. Page 8 of the report makes reference to the Block 4 capabilities of the F-35 in a ‘follow-on development program’ costing at least $3.8 billion. It is not made clear that this cost is not now a part of DOD’s Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) cost estimate for the F-35 and should be considered an additional F-35 expense. The report also refers to the B61 nuclear bomb capability yet to be integrated and costed into the F-35 program as another additional F-35 cost—heretofore not included in the SAR estimate. The report does not specify the cost of the B61’s integration, but it does state that it will cost $10 million just to assess that integration. Thus, while the SAC committee report does regurgitate some DOD happy-talk about cost (eg.: the F-35 ‘remains on a positive trend of reducing concurrency costs’) the report also reveals at least one of the sources of additional costs—both concurrency and generic—in the form of a heretofore unspecified additional development program costing something in excess of $3.8 billion. Not now a part of the SAR’s estimate of F-35 costs, these are nonetheless as real F-35 costs as anything in the SAR and should be included.”


  • TerryTee

    Well, I the Senate and some Pentagon Officials think other wise. ” Pentagon considers canceling F-35 program”

    and from “Defense-Aerospace” “Senate Panel Reduces Funding for F-35 Program”

    I think the Air Force is finally getting the MEMO that the “Junk Strike Fighter” is about to have to Put UP ( Preform as Advertized, for the original Price or every close to it ) or Go the way of the Dodo Bird.

  • ELP

    Large disconnect. Even if the Just So Failed worked to spec it would never be able to go by the silly statement, ”We must be able to project power in contested environments (A2/AD)and the Joint Strike Fighter is that machine.” Since it is not anywhere near the performance of an F-22 it would get chopped up. So yet again, a large amount of deskilled defense “thinking” is having us pay for a weapon that has no purpose. The F-35 is too weak to take on emerging threats and it is too expensive to own and operate for lesser threats taken care of by today’s technology. Stryker, LCS, F-35. All part of the same Dunning-Kruger effect syndrome common in the Pentagon.

    • Erik Carlson

      I forgot the F-22 is the only plane that can fly in contested airspace. Thanks for reminding me.

  • From Mars

    I actually think USAF officials have the whole question correct; regarding ‘next-generation drones (especially stealthy semi-autonomous variants)’ being a prudent part of the overall future mix of Tactical platforms (as opposed to a panacea).

    That would seem to be a strategic medium-term assessment and recapitalization plan; i.e., to begin factoring into imminent Tactical aviation recapitalization/modernization Procurement budgets — perhaps starting as soon as the end of this decade. The same would likely apply to USN’s medium-term strategic planning as well.

    Now, as far as the F-35 per se ‘being the right machine for the job’ going forward, let’s analyze that premise statement a little more deeply. FY14’s combined USAF/USN Tactical aviation Procurement budgets are roughly $8B. With that amount, US Armed forces are hoping to receive 29 new-build tactical aircraft. Realistically however, an $8B ballpark procurement figure (in FY14 dollars) might in fact possibly be ‘the combined budget’ USAF and USN will have to work with for at least the rest of this decade. Perhaps throw in an extra $1B in the combined budget to be optimistic on the high-end, for at least some of the future Buy Years.

    Whereas, that’s historically (e.g., since the mid-70s) roughly the average combined USAF/USN procurement budgets and should be something Defense policy-makers and strategists should flat out be able to work with in terms of recapitalizing the TACAIR force structure going forward — especially in times of austere budget environments and reduced buying power (as former USAF CoS Gen. Schwartz cautioned prior to leaving his position). That would seem to be a pretty sustainable and ‘safe’ procurement budget estimate to ‘contingency-plan for’ in the medium and longer term when deciding prudent TACAIR recapitalization strategy and force structure ‘mix’, both today and tomorrow. God speed.

  • ClearThinker

    The Pentagon will be forced to buy considerably fewer F-35 Joint Strike Fighters between next year and 2037, the end of the planned production run. Why? Because the U.S. government is technically bankrupt and sinking ever deeper into its debt abyss.

    A Bloomberg News report a few months ago said: “Interest payments on the debt will become a growing burden, the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] estimated, as the economy strengthens and borrowing costs rise. By 2023, the government will spend more than $850 billion annually on interest on the debt — more than it is projected to spend that year on the Defense Department.”

    The U.S. Treasury’s website shows that the national debt now exceeds $16.73T. Worse, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has projected federal deficits totaling $5.8T between FY2014 and FY2023 alone. From FY2023 to FY2037, a further $8T (at least) will have to be borrowed to pay federal bills. Post-2037, even more borrowing will be required, given legislated taxation levels and federal entitlement program laws.

    Two years ago, Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University economics professor and a former economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, told NPR: “We’ve got 78 million baby boomers who are poised to collect, in about 15 to 20 years, about $40,000 per person. Multiply 78 million by $40,000 — you’re talking about more than $3 trillion a year just to give to a portion of the population. That’s an enormous bill that’s overhanging our heads, and Congress isn’t focused on it.” Little has changed in the past 24 months.

    In March this year, the Costs of War Project crunched the projected expenses of taking care of wounded veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The total for the next four decades was estimated to be a whopping $754.4B.

    In its 2013 report on U.S. infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave an overall grade of D+ and warned that an additional $1.6T will be required between FY2014 and FY2020 alone to repair or replace crumbling bridges, deteriorated water levees, etc. However, most Americans are unwilling to accept any tax increase, according to polling, so the needed funds will not be available.

    Connect the fact ‘dots’ and the picture is truly ugly, not only for F-35-maker Lockheed Martin and its JSF suppliers, but the entire United States of America.

    • PolicyWonk

      Keep in mind that Social Security is not an “entitlement program”. As a baby boomer that will be retiring in the next 15 years, I can assure you that the itemized deduction on my paycheck labeled “social security” has been paid for,
      If you are taxed for it – it is no longer an “entitlement”. That direct taxes becomes what is known as an “obligation”. The GOP has been calling it an “entitlement” so they can pretend its part of its “free stuff” campaign, which is engineered to hide the fact that they raided the Social Security Trust fund and have no plan to replenish it – thereby compromising the retirement planning of an entire generation.
      The entire SS program can be funded for many decades to come by simply removing the caps on SS deductions for all salary levels. Most of the rest of the economical problems can be resolved by rolling back much of the ill-considered spending and tax cut legislation created during 2001-2008.

      • ClearThinker

        Bloomberg reported on April 24/12:

        “The budget outlook for Social Security is getting dimmer, the U.S. government said, with its primary trust fund now projected to run dry three years sooner than anticipated.

        “The fund that helps finance benefits for 44 million senior citizens and survivors of deceased workers will be exhausted by 2035, the program’s trustees said in an annual report yesterday. Aid would have to be cut at that point if Congress doesn’t intervene.

        “Social Security’s disability program, which helps support 11 million Americans, will run through its trust fund in 2016, two years earlier than predicted. The report attributed the fiscal stress in part to the weak economy.

        “The main trust fund that supports the Medicare health-care
        program for the elderly will run out of money in 2024, the
        report said.”

        “The combined Social Security retirement and disability
        trust funds would be depleted in 2033, three years earlier than
        projected. After that, incoming revenue would be enough to cover
        only three-quarters of scheduled benefits.”

        This year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds reported:

        “Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.”

        “Social Security’s Disability Insurance (DI) program satisfies neither the Trustees’ long-range test of close actuarial balance nor their short-range test of financial adequacy and faces the most immediate financing shortfall of any of the separate trust funds.”

        “Social Security’s total expenditures have exceeded non-interest income of its combined trust funds since 2010, and the Trustees estimate that Social Security cost will exceed non-interest income throughout the 75-year projection period… The Trustees project that this cash-flow deficit will average about $75 billion between 2013 and 2018 before rising steeply as income growth slows to the sustainable trend rate after the economic recovery is complete and the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers.”

        In March 2007, before the implosion of the U.S. subprime credit ‘bubble’ that wiped out $14T of global wealth and 31M jobs during the so-called “Great Recession”, David Walker, the U.S. Comptroller General, told CNN that because of legislated fed. spending for Soc. Sec., Medicare, and Medicaid, “We’re underwater to the tune of $50 trillion, and that number is going up three to four trillion a year on autopilot. So we need to start getting serious soon in order to make sure that our future is better than our past.”

        Fast-forward to June 2011 and $50T of ‘underwater’ had become “a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for”, quoting (again) the USA Today report (mentioned in my initial post).

        The inescapable and very ‘inconvenient’ truth is that the U.S. govt. is technically bankrupt today and will be even more so in the future.

  • M&S

    If you are not going to bring the F-35 online, you had better bring the UCAV up to an operational spec in a hurry. This is a given based on how old the tacair fleet is and how rapidly our discretionary military budgetary authority is collapsing in the midst of the debt crisis.

    There is _no reason_ to believe (Cyber, Counter Stealth) that we cannot leverage such an unmanned platform as either ‘cruise missile with landing gear’ doctrinal solutions to fixed point targeting.

    Or extended range munitions deliverers that clear the detection threshold as WEZ of whatever hyper-SAM, DEW or Stealth OCA jet we are worried about catching them otherwise. When the defenses against stealth are so monumentally expensive themselves, you have a workable margin of numbered risk vs. SSPK certainty in taking out the few such battery sites or platforms that the enemy can position to stop you.

    We use Tomahawks with datalinks when we have the ability. When we don’t (have security comms for those datalinks) we program them to fly internal.

    UCAVs would function the same way and could be employed using the existing schema of MCS/GCS enabled operator teams while the more sophisticated CCD and autonomous recognition systems came online (essentially EODAS with AI as an ARGUS-IR wide area persistent stare option…).

    Where we face a hybrid condition and -need- to be able to sort-to-morte a large and varied threat while effectively maintaining MITL control over multiple types as much as numbers of weapons onboard stealth drones (X-47B has been seen with HARM in the weapons bays for instance), then we have the F-22 APG-77 ‘AESA as Modem’ option (280MB in 4 seconds) to punch a very poweful, directional, X-Band signal through to target beacon receivers in the upper decks of our UCAVs which only the Raptor can stand tall enough to track-see.

    The UCAV need only exclude any signal which doesn’t come from a certain direction at a certain elevation index (above the horizon, within a given GPS spatial coordinate as Combat Controller location in Allied airspace) and jamming/cyber insert becomes very hard as you rely on the sheer power of the AESA to secure your receiver-only datalinks.

    Beyond which are the following addition advantages which are UCAV exclusive as economic and operational benefits:

    1. UCAVs train by downloads.

    Which means if you can clear one OFP on a jet doing the rounds of Nellis, Elmendorf, Tyndall and White Sands in a high intensity circus of fighter weapons school equivalent sortie flying, you can instantly create ace-level competencies with template driven tactical plans that that ONE wing of jets has put together. This leads to just massive fuel and spares savings in other than full go to war conditions.

    2. UCAVs are bombers.

    And so have no requirement for absolute vs. navy-specific performance in differentiating their service-by-service design.

    Which means that 8 billion a year total for all air services -can be- 8 billion for one airframe purchase because it is ONE jet. _Common not Jointly_ designed for purchase and spares maintenance. And that commonality is what drives you towards a fleet which can be deployed where the emergency is rather than where the basing mode allows you. Using JPALS and AAR as differential GPS augmented by video to provide instant carqual and drogue-chase.

    3. UCAVs don’t get sleepy.

    As such, they are operationally compatible with long period sortie evolution cycles in very high threat air space (Forget Triumf, we are talking 1MW FO lasers by 2030). Hence, if it takes 4.5 hours to reach the target area because you are keeping your carrier beyond the 1,500nm rangepoint of an ASBM arc, you don’t have to trade down to 2hrs of station time (with refueling) for a total 12hr sortie length that is still pushing pilot endurance in a subsonic cruise platform to the limits.

    A UCAV buys you a 1,500nm radius with ‘expandable’ (10-20hrs) time station (and buddy refueling) without having to pay the technical costs of a supercruise engine to conserve pilot fatigue during long transits to and from the ops area.

    With all these plus-ups as superiorities ontop of the already lower acquisition price, it in fact becomes a wonder why were are not more active in UAS systems, especially given the profound respect and support-platform preferentialism shown them by ground forces in AfG.

    And the answer is simple: The USAF, as all other airpower services, is based on a pilot culture as officer class similar to the knights of the aristocracy. They do not want to face the equivalent of a matchlock wielded by a peasant no matter how much superior it is in terms of acquisition vs. operations costs, training vs. combat competency ratios or LER attrition costs. Because they are not protecting the airframe, they are protecting their own flying class as caste` privileges at the top of the service mission heirarchy.

    The JSF could be golden or gold plated junk and they would still defend it if the alternative was a ten times superior UCAV at half the price. Because they cannot fly a UCAV.

    How do I know this?

    Well, let’s break down the JSF into knowns vs. unknowns.

    1. We know it has a .5 T/Wr with the published figures for engine thrust vs. gross weight. We know that this gross weight, on a 460sqft wing equates to 110lbs/sqft wing loading which is abysmal. The F-15 has about a 60lbs and the F-16 has about a 75lbs equivalent. These metrics are fixed but they become worse as the aircraft climbs into the ‘high’ band of combat around 40,000ft because the air gets thinner.

    What if, however; the work by Schauberger on spinning media and vortice implosion has been productionized to create a hyperfluid condition whereby, at some combination of RPM and engine temps (materials and blade geometry dependent) the engine is suddenly able to do a lot more with the thrust it has than prior F100/110 class engines such that you get another 20% thrust recovery in the critical low-density=low drag bands and as such, supercruise _is_ possible on the jet?

    2. We know is is further that the JSF has a weapons bay design that owes more to the F-117 than to common sense, especially in a world where the targets are fleeting, non-hardened and more apt to shoot back from the ground than the sky. We also know that the USAF in particular has a ‘thing’ against stacking rounds because it means that if an ejector fails, you either trap the other weapons in the bay or lose the good weapon over enemy territory.

    What if, however; the USAF changes it’s mind about safety and operational rules and there are multi-stack vertical ejectors and perhaps even a new A2G round which is coming online to exploit the JSF’s deep well and supplement the pathetically short ranged AMRAAM while providing engagement counts per airframe?

    3. We know that the JSF has suffered innumerable problems with it’s electrical systems architecture and that in particular the generators have been found to be shy of the necessary KVA to power all systems.

    What if, however; this is a cover for the need to insert higher value electrical generators to support the use of some kind of DEW (the supposed sophistication of the ASQ-239 with it’s ‘imbedded antenna farm’), either defensive to disable missile proximity fuses. Or offensively to scramble the electronics (HPM off the AESA). Even (via FO optics train insert in the weapons bays) provide thermal hard kill?

    4. We know that the design metrics of the JSF, as shown, should not support RFLO across more than about a 20`, band sensitive, sector on either side of the nose. There are too many surface breaks, complex contour changes and outright corner reflectors in play and these are replicated (and worsened) on the aft sector to the point where it is questionable that the JSF even has LO from this side.

    But what if, things like the lastet thermoplastic resins and perhaps an active system, allow the jet to have a lot lower db response due to a lot higher lossy surface absorption and/or traveling wave cancellation effect (i.e. the socalled ‘plasma stealth’ may be little more than a low level surface conductance sheath)?


    What if, in other words, these ‘Crown Jewels’ of the program that they won’t tell us about are really game changers?

    The answer is simple: With the fate of the program on the line, if they were there, these leveraging edges would be shown. Indeed, some of these capabilities are not all that high tech.

    The new missile (T3 or JDRADM) from a multi-carraige internal bay racks for instance could be easily revealed as a parallel program effort that simply was exiting R&D a little early and ‘no need to think we’re just trying to sell the F-35, though they are well matched…’.

    While others could be hinted at as a function of the aircraft entering signature management testing and ‘passing with flying colors’.

    Or achieved Mach point at throttle setting X.

    Where some of these improvements over existing jets could also be readily applied to a clean sheet of paper design (better engines if not the DEW systems) without admitting why, that too would at least provide Congress as the Public some confidence that this was not a do it or throw it all away program condition.

    ***Given the Chinese have officially been admitted by DOD as having compromised the F-35 program security anyway, _why are we not being shown these Crown Jewels_?***

    They don’t exist.

    The jet is nothing special beyond the crew interface and the ‘big secret’ is that that crew interface is what is being preserved here. Not as the technology base for building manned fighters but rather the core aviator community itself.

    And where the tacair community are putting us over a budgetary barrel without explanation, just to sustain their own pride of place as job security, it is time to pull the plug on the program as the elite warrior caste` which is so powerful that they will push a program even if it doesn’t suit the national security interests of this country.

    I honestly feel that this is put up or shut up.

    We still have the topend F-22 for a tactical airborne VLO asset if that is the only thing at risk here and could even build a couple hundred more to Lot-9 standard if we were willing to trade down on the F-15 community in the process.

    But we don’t have the money to pay out 1.5 trillion for an airframe that is NOT a leap ahead capability. And which will not achieve balanced book profit for Lockheed until the 1,600th airframe which _we cannot afford anyway_.

    Show us why the F-35 is at the top of your shopping list. Or don’t complain when Congress tells you that your eyes are bigger than their exchequer.

    • Calvin’s Curiousity


      I fail to see a .5 T/W from 43,000 lbf thrust compared to
      49,540 weight.
      (According to Janes, same work cited in Wiki- Please explain how you are deriving your figures and from what sources. I would like to see where that is coming from.

      Air Force test reports show 1.2 Mach for 30 minutes. ( It’s not 1.82 Mach like the F-22, but it does help with F-Pole
      calculations, especially since all of the available medium-to-long range AAMs have delta-Vs of 3.4 to 4.1 Mach.

      Also, most people don’t realize that the sustained G figure is calculated with half fuel, two AIM-120Ds, and two GBU-32 in the internal bay, with two wing-tip AIM-9s at 30,000 feet. Thus, the F-35As 4.8G figure beats the pants off of a F-16’s 3.8G. That is not the pig you are implying. [See page 7, lower left graph for the *much* lighter block 15 F-16’s performance in this regard]

      Also, as for an improved missile option, have you looked at LocMart’s CUDA missile? It’s a HtK missile with a estimated delta-V of 3.7 Mach @ 45,000 feet. That’s within .2 mach of an Aim-120D, which gives this missile’s burn out range at roughly 110 km (at the above quoted speed) with a reduction below mach 1 around 157 kilometers. With a much smaller size, 12 missiles will fit in a F-35s bays with a 360 engagement cone around the aircraft, with longest pole in the forward vector and shortest in the rear.

      JDRADM is to be cancelled this year. T3 is technology demonstration and development program while CUDA is simply a reduced size PAC-3 MSE to be fitted to a 70 inch long 9 inch wide frame. PAC-3 MSE is something we can get working sooner.

      I just don’t see the bird as being so bad. If you can hit me with facts of why you think it is that don’t involve APA, I’d be willing to listen. I don’t trust Wheeler’s math after his claim that the F-35’s cost had doubled by compared 2001 dollars to 2012 dollars with no inflation adjustment and dividing the entire research, engineering, and production cost by the whole fleet irrespective of variant to arrive at his 93.7% figure when the inflation-adjusted, type-adjusted total acquisition cost had only increased by 53%, 51%, and 57% for A, B, and C respectively.

  • idahoguy101

    What will the USAF do without the F-35? Suck it up and buy the F/A-18 Super Hornet. And ask for more F-22 fighters. The F-35 is a turd

    • Another Guest (from Australia)

      “What will the USAF do without the F-35”? Acquire more advanced F-15s/F-16s and restart the F-22 production line.

      • 2IDSGT

        If the money’s not there for the F-35… guess what?… it won’t be there for much of anything else either. Spin it however you like, modern fighters all cost about the same.

        • Another Guest (from Australia)


          “modern fighters all cost about the same”. Not really, for example the F-15SE costs about $100 million (est) per plane. However, it may seem expensive but when all costs vs
          performance are reviewed, X vs Y vs Z are not the same. As stated by those in this discussion thread the F-15 provides, longer range, bigger weapons load and speed benefits that other small fighters a.k.a Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen and Super Hornet albeit less expensive cannot match. In turn, many of the new enhancements such as the fly by wire flight controls, and the availability of F110-GE-132 or under development F100-PW-232 engines should keep operating costs at or below the known costs.

          If you look at the Su-30MK models, they cost around $30 million (in unit price) and the Su-35S Super Flanker-E cost around US$40 million to $65 million (estimated).
          The F-35 is extremely expensive, with the programme costing $396 billion for R&D etc, but to maintain it will cost $1.5 trillion or more.

    • Another Guest (from Australia)

      Hi idahoguy101,

      I’d be a little bit careful with the Super Hornet. In some ways the F/A-18E/F is not as bad as the F-35 in some respects, being ahead of schedule, on time and cheaper (at $65 million per plane) and proven aircraft.

      There is weaknesses to this aircraft. It offers poorer aerodynamic performance than other competitors, falling behind in areas like high manoeuvrability, acceleration, sustained G loads, etc. Concerns about America’s propensity to use arms export bans as a political lever add a final complication to the Super Hornet’s odds, and take away some of the advantage created by its broad arsenal of American weapons and sensors.

      • idahoguy101

        I’m sure the USAF would prefer their aircraft over a Navy aircraft. But that means buying F-15 in at least two variants plus the F-16, besides the Super Hornet. Three different aircraft instead of one.
        The biggest issue with the F-22 program was that Congress wouldn’t allow international sales and then cut the orders by 2/3. Take whatever is good in the JSF and apply it to a new F-22 and FB-22.

  • Jack Everett

    The F-35 is just another pig in a poke designed by the corporate military industrial complex to bilk us out of needed funds to create real jobs. The F-35 should be canned along with every other corporate military ponzi schemes. The congress is so willing to support these ripoffs but when it comes to job creation their is nothing but small government yapping to lower the deficit. Shrink the military budget until it will fit in a kitchen sink and start paying our combat troops their money and support vet benefits with more than lip service.

  • SCPOret

    You know we fought a lot of wars, without all the bells and whistles, and we won. Now we’re fighting in Afgh. and losing because military doesn’t know how to operate on “thin rations”. And the damn politicians got involved and won’t let the troops fight and win (to much PC crap). The AF is notorious for always wanting the latest gimmick and the plushest billets. Suck it up and do your jobs. Loose about 3/4 of your generals and close a few golf courses and you might find a way to upgrade what you have and make it do the job.

  • mijsenrab

    Anyone else remember WWII out there? If you don’t it’s the war we went into with obsolete aircraft, wooden rifles and cardboard tanks. Maybe the F-35 isn’t the best fighter we could produce but to cancel it leaves us with a fighter fleet that is 15 or more years old and nothing in production.

    • jgelt

      Using that line of reasoning we should go back to wooden rifles and cardboard tanks, and just start building when the next war starts. We won WW2 with the continental U.S. never in danger for even second. The F-15s are still currently scheduled to be in service until 2025. If the F-35 wasn’t garbage, a handful of them at their current price isn’t going to dramatically improve our capabilities. The problem is, they are garbage. It would be wiser to reinvest that money in R&D. The real problem here is that our military industrial complex is failing. The military has been joined to the military producers and the CEO’s of the military contractors are being made Secretaries of the various branches. It makes for disastrous decision making. The F-35 is the result of that decision process. If we want a better air fleet, we need to chnage the R&D and procurement culture of the military.

      • Mitchell Fuller


      • Another Guest (from Australia)


        There were some discussions I’ve heard about the upgraded F-15C/Ds will be currently scheduled to be in service until 2030, as well as the F-15Es are scheduled to be in service until 2035.

  • Another Guest (from Australia)

    Dear Colin Clark,

    My colleagues and myself (from the defence industry) have made very clear that the service will do all it can to scrap the failed F-35 for a pretty compelling reason:

    The F-35 JSF aircraft designs will not meet specification nor the operational requirements laid down in the JSF JORD (Joint Operational Requirements Document) by significant degrees, noting that these operational requirements and resulting specifications, themselves, were predicated on the capabilities of reference threats from an era past and subsequently subjected to the illogical and deeply flawed process known as CAIV (Cost As and Independent Variable).

    The designs of all three JSF variants are presenting with critical single
    points of failure while even the most basic elements of aircraft design (e.g.
    weight, volume, aerodynamics, structures, thermal management, electrical power,
    etc.) will almost certainly end up in what Engineers call “Coffin

    In essence, the unethical Thana Marketing strategy is using to sell the JSF,
    along with the acquisition malpractice of concurrency in not only development, the
    production and testing but the actual designs of the JSF variants, themselves,
    have resulted in the JSF marketeers writing cheques that the aircraft designs
    and JSF Program cannot honour.

    “We must be able to project power in contested environments (A2/AD) and the Joint Strike Fighter is that machine.” Is a load of bullshit by drinking too much Kool-Aid.

    Colin, we have rolled up our sleeves and found our way to get rid of this lemon for good. But all the comments from the critics have made it very clear that will be a good idea in the estimation of the Air Force.
    The more you trying to protect the F-35 and speeding the process of the failed programme the worse off the United States and the allies are by eroding the air power which will make the western nations totally ineffective in the next 30 to 40 years.

  • Satch99

    Personally, defund much of the bloated Pentagon: They failed us in every attack on our country after massive amounts of our GDP per year. What have they ever done in the past 50 years except suck the life out of our country and keep us going to war where we didn’t have to. Keep the nukes, R&D, a couple of carrier groups and a absolute cr*pload of attack drones. Dump the Army and Marines. Stop being the Wolrd Police. And invest $400BN a year back into trying to save our bankrupt country

  • chrismalllory

    ” if something happens in the South China Sea”

    I could find no map of the world in which the South China Sea bordered the United States. Nothing that happens in Asia is any business or responsibility of the United States. Let the Orientals take care of Asia, we need to put America first and defend our own borders.

    • Tjeffson

      There you go using logic again. Too bad most of the people in this country are too ignorant or stupid to understand it.

    • M&S

      China will have her hegemony, just as we have our Monroe Doctrine and Roosevelt Correlate. What will then happen is that China will squeeze the Three Tigers with sea lane control (which is, essentially, what the DH-10 and DF-21D represent on a ‘can’t stop us from closing the SLOCS’ basis) as price gouging uniformity in trade leverage by potentially denying access to the 70% of maritime traffic that pass through the Malacca-Formosa-ECS region to these secondary economic powers we depend on ‘to keep the Dragon honest’.
      And the U.S., which already owes a monumental and essentially unpayable debt to China will then do…what?
      Fight a war with an enemy whom we need as the slave industry of global economics?
      Pretend that there are not dozens of Chinese electronic systems in our best weapons platforms whose backdoor vulnerability to ‘made in PRC’ cyber is not implicit?
      Contrive a condition, like Hitler did, where war to resolve our debt by killing our bankers somehow is NOT a part of the obvious equation as we fight on the bad end of a logistics chain as much as 10,000 miles long?
      America the country is through. Largely because we allowed the nature of our society to become tainted by the low quality wage slave immigrants we encouraged to immigrate without considering the consequences of an indigene nation which refused to breed with them and could not, through social welfare as open borders feed them.
      The cost of American failure to defend our shores and to continue to compete at the highest levels of technology as a super state must therefore be a period of retrenchment in which the USA fragments into ethnostates and the residue builds back what it can.
      This is not good news for LM Ft. Worth which is certain to take on the character as the taxbase nature of a Southwest and West whose Hispanics will not be able to continue a large defense commitment. Nor for Lockheed Georgia whose South and Southeast will have even less purchasing power as a multicultural and black predominant states wherein commitment to a social welfare will be even stronger.
      But it -might- offer some hope for a middle nation between the Rockies and the Mississippi where conventional values and deep ties to the land as the breadbasket of our nation are tied to residual rust belt industry and oceanic port access on the GOM and Hudson Bay.
      The question then becomes whether the UN will let us alone or if the provision of the Minutemen and B-2 forces at Whiteman will be the only thing that secures our continued existence as we recover from a commercial and industrial system that, purely for profit, has sold out our hard industry, our IT and office groups and now is in the middle of sending even the ‘untouchable’ (holy of holies) R&D as university lab capabilities overseas.
      After having made it nearly impossible for two generations of would-be engineers to grow up in the American aerospace and technologies sectors when H-1B was so much cheaper.
      It may well be that the JSF is one of the first and worst examples of that counter indicated sellout.
      Whatever happens, it is time for America to recover itself. And if our military won’t help create the circumstances by which secession proceeds as it did in the CIS, then they should not be empowered with new weapons to enforce a Union that _no longer works_ because it has lost track of ‘who the boss is’ in that simple opening preamble’s meaning:
      We. The People.

    • justin bailey

      You’re pretty sharp on what intelligent people call history.. Unchecked aggression will, eventually make it to our shores. Period. Either acknowledge that and keep the fisticuffs at distance or risk our way of life by allowing it to come to our front door. The value of deterrence is clearly eludes too many in this Country. The F-35 is not the solution, but the attitude you personify is a bigger problem than the F-35 or LCS debacles…

  • JimBobJoe

    The problem with killing the F-35 and restarting the F-22 production line is that Lockheed Martin is who makes the F-22 and would be the one restarting that production line. The fundamental problem there is that what has to do with saving the tax payer money is also the very thing that Lockheed Martin et al wants to prevent. That being them getting less money.

    LM will get it’s PR machine going (how ironic I’m posting on part of it) to start saying how it will cost ten’s of Billions to restart the program because (insert lie). Not until funds are committed, though.(they know the game) All the BS that has essentially become the JSF program will just shift to the F-22.
    I wish they would have run the whole 750+ program in the first place. The F-22 had a FB-22 design, which would have been nice. But, they wanted to wait for this program that was especially designed to be low cost for that ($50M/plane). It was called the JSF.

    • FranciscodAnconia


      You do realize the F-22 and the F-35 are NOT interchangeable, right? Two COMPLETELY different missions.

      It would be like buying a Porsche 911 to race in the Baja 500.

  • FranciscodAnconia

    The understanding of the acquisition/requirements system by the commenters here is abysmal.

    Scrapping the F-35 would ensure that our armed forces would be countering 5th generation threats with 4th generation aircraft for the next 20 years. And that estimate is conservative, as it assumes the US can skip straight to a 6th generation design without fully understanding 5th gen capabilities.

  • mithat

    Here are some cool HD photos. See F-35 closer:

    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Pictures