Constant need for retrofits on the production line and ballooning development program cost have left us with a low rate production cost of well over $110,000,000 per copy NOT INCLUDING the $10,000,000+ motor! The reality is that no one really knows what an F-35A, B and C will cost after and if low rate initial production ends. So America is writing a blank check by continuing to fund the F-35 program as it stands now.
What does not help a program reform itself is lawmakers stating over and over that there are no alternatives to the F-35. This is a totally misinformed or blatantly untrue statement. This is either do to our politicians general lack of understanding of F-35 concept in comparison to other aircraft available or they may be just repeating what the DoD tells them. Bob Gates put America’s future arms budgets and aerial capabilities at risk by shuttering the F-22 line early. The Raptor was a direct competitor to the F-35. Instead of publicizing this strategic hedge of our future warfare capabilities in a positive note he was hell-bent on destroying the Raptor program, leaving America with one option for a “fifth generation” fighter aircraft. The F-35 has since entered a budgetary death spiral that everyone seems to be upset about yet they put forth no solutions or alternatives that could actually fix the problem.
Obviously the USAF and the USMC are going to pitch hard for what they want, and they want the F-35. But this is expected, it’s our elected officials that are supposed to provide oversight to what is a very sick fixation on an incredibly expensive single weapon system solution. Metaphorically speaking, do you go to a car lot and trust the salesman whole heartedly with your hard-earned cash? In this case the car lot is named LockMart. Or do you buy exactly what your 16 year old kid tells you to buy? In this case that kid is the USAF and Marines. If you did this you would go in shopping for a Chevy Malibu with good options and walk out the door with a top of the line Corvette that can only run on racing fuel and is sitting on tires that can only be driven on dry pavement. Oh and you will be making payments that you cannot afford for the rest of your life on the vehicle. It’s just not that practical of a way to do business is it? Congress has done the exact same thing, they let the salesman and the services dictate together what America needs to buy for its future fighter design. It’s telling how much “benefit of the doubt” was given by the services to the wild claims made by Lockheed Martin about testing, cost, timeframe and production rates. Now we are stuck with a that overkill Corvette that we cannot afford.
Lets start hearing HARD TALK by our congressman about alternatives to the F-35 immediately. With a looming fighter gap and crushing budgetary issues it’s becoming a serious national security issue and it needs to be creatively addressed.
Take a look at my plan for replacing the F-35, the alternative is a much more cost-effective and flexible total air combat force: http://aviationintel.com/?p=1185