PLEASE SEE UPDATED COMMENTARY ON USMC STANDING UP “OPERATION SQUADRON” AFTER READING THE PIECE BELOW: http://aviationintel.com/2012/11/19/go-ask-alis-the-f-35-is-about-to-go-fictionally-operational-woefully-unprepared/
The F-35 has a scrap/rework rate of 16%, much higher than any other aircraft during this time in it’s procurement. I have said that the F-35 is much more troubled than other defense programs in the past and people have fought me saying its just like any other when it comes to system maturity and issues. Sure, but we were not producing those other weapon systems by the hundreds during this time in it’s development! We have been over the F-35′s issues time and time again but the real question here needs to be why on earth are we buying literally hundreds of these aircraft when we don’t even have a final configuration figured out and many flagrant bugs with the initial design have not been solved?
Congress knows full well now that “concurrency,” a catch term used for the concept where an aircraft is put into production while it is still deep in development, much akin to buying a car before you have driven it or it’s even been reviewed by consumer reports, is a total line of BS and has been an absolute loser from day one. So why do we continue down this road? To protect the artificial price tag of the F-35 by keeping production rates up? What a big pot of steaming hot Congressional pork and log rolling this thing has become. I cannot to wait to read a “post mortem” book about what really happened inside the DoD, industry, and especially Congress that allowed the US tax payer to get boned like this over and over again.
The fact of the matter is that “concurrency” issue has little to do with cancelling the F-35 or not, it has to do with basic logic and fiscal sanity. For goodness sake, Congress stop buying these jets until their problems have been solved and the existing fleet has been fixed! And please do not continue lap up the “we are working on it” and “it will be fixed” statements from the industry and DoD leadership on the issue without hard timelines and associated penalties in place if they fail to do so.
I also find is strange that the USMC is beginning flight training of line pilots with an aircraft that has only been through 1/3 of it’s test program. Training for training’s sake is a waste of tax payer’s dollars. If the jet’s envelope is so restricted and it’s mission systems are not even operable than we are paying tens of thousands of dollars an hour to have pilots whiz around in these things for what? The F-35 is supposedly the easiest modern fighter to fly, so why are we blowing this money just yet? They could literally be doing this for years before the aircraft is actually mission capable and ready for the active force’s ramps. Further, all the jets in the non test and evaluation force are going to have to be recalled anyway for major reworking. It seems like all a PR stunt to me and something for all these airframes, bought under the “concurrency” concept, to do. Those who would say otherwise, please send me over the flight restrictions currently in place for the F-35Bs stationed at Eglin AFB as well as what parts of the weapon system are actually available for training? I doubt if that list would justify building and verifying an elaborate curriculum and standing up a training unit as a whole at this time or even in the near future. The folks at Eglin are doing as ordered because the unit was established years before sane minds thought the aircraft would be ready, so now that they have a bunch of these recalled jets sitting in the barns they are going to fly them, no matter how useless these flights may be. In many ways, until pilots are needed, Eglin has turned into a defacto test unit which will prove the reliability and logistics train for the F-35 whether they like it or not. And please spare me the “we are working are butts off down here and I believe in the jet” types of emails. Send me something real to hang your comments on. I have said it time and time again, the individual military folks and contractors that are working their asses off on the JSF program deserve to be highly commended for their hard work. They will get this program back on track, not the brass running it. Still, the realities surrounding this situation are ridiculous and for the many folks who don’t gain a paycheck from the existence of the F-35 program, but pay for it out of their paychecks in taxes, this situation is preposterous and bordering on suspect.
And you wonder why this country is broke?!