(McClatchy) F-35 story shows why it’s so hard to cut a federal program

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Conceived in the heady post-Cold War 1990s, the futuristic fifth-generation [F-35] jet fighter was to be a technological marvel built in a rush and paid for with "peace dividend" dollars.

But now with the economic crash, the fighter is billions over budget and years behind schedule.

Here's part of the problem: axing the F-35 would eliminate tens of thousands of jobs in 47 states. Few members of Congress are willing to go along.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Cennydd13 wrote:

Yes, the F-35 is way over budget and years behind schedule, but remember this:  Our potential (yes, I said that) enemy, China is not exactly standing still with their development of tactical strike aircraft designed for an offensive war in the Pacific, and we have to be ready to meet that threat.  We cannot meet that threat with aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16, which are getting long in the tooth.  Technology does not stand still, and we don’t want to be caught napping.  Could a cheaper single-role tactical fighter be developed?  Sure, but could it do the job?  Probably.  And how good is good enough?  How good does it have to be?  Obviously, it has to be good enough to do the job it was designed for.

January 30, 10:01 pm | [comment link]
2. C. Wingate wrote:

The F-35 is a worse repeat of the F-111 “an aardvark is an eagle designed by a committee”  program. Eventually some service is going to say, “Look, we need an airplane we can actually keep in the air, and this isn’t it”; the rest of the procurement is going to be terminated and the existing planes are going to be retired early, together with the F-22 if they can swing it. As far as I know they haven’t ironed out the oxygen supply problems with the latter. Flight hours on the F-35, meanwhile, are quite poor, and the per unit cost naturally keeps rising. I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating: I suspect they could start from scratch and develop 3-4 different planes for the various missions, and still come out ahead.

January 30, 10:57 pm | [comment link]
3. Cennydd13 wrote:

With fighters like the F-15 and F-16, there is only just so much “design stretchability” built in, and the next step up is a completely new design.  Unfortunately, development costs have far outpaced affordability, and we are actually getting fewer aircraft for a mission or missions for which we have no realistic idea of how many we’lll need.  Therefore, smaller and cheaper aircraft designed for specific missions should be the answer.  And do we need three versions of the F-35, when two could do the same job?  Do we need a separate Air Force F-35 when the Navy’s version could fill the bill?  No.  Does the Marine Corps need the jump-jet version of the F-35?  Why?  Why not hand it over to the Navy and cancel the Navy version?

January 31, 12:46 am | [comment link]
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