Thursday, June 15, 2017

F-35 'one of the greatest boondoggles in history'

The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the U.S. military desired, all in one aircraft design. It's supposed to seamlessly replace and improve upon several current aircraft types with widely different missions. It was marketed as a cost-effective, powerful multi-role fighter airplane significantly better than anything potential adversaries could build in the next two decades. It's turned out to be none of those things.
The F-35 program is nearly a decade behind schedule, and has failed to meet many of its design requirements. It's also become the most expensive defense program in world history, at around US$1.5 trillion before the fighter is phased out in 2070. The unit cost per airplane, above $100 million, is roughly twice what was promised.

Essentially, the Pentagon has declared the F-35 'too big to fail.'
Lockheed Martin said the plane would be far better than current aircraft – 'four times more effective' in air-to-air combat, 'eight times more effective' in air-to-ground combat and 'three times more effective' in recognizing and suppressing an enemy's air defenses. In January 2015, mock combat testing pitted the F-35 against an F-16, one of the fighters it is slated to replace.

In spite of its significant advantages, the F-35A's test pilot noted that the F-35A was less maneuverable and markedly inferior to the F-16D in a visual-range dogfight.
A key reason the F-35 doesn't possess the world-beating air-to-air prowess promised, and is likely not even adequate when compared with its current adversaries, is that it was designed first and foremost to be a stealthy airplane. This requirement has taken precedence over maneuverability and virtually everything else. The F-35 is designed to be stealthy primarily in the X-band, the radar frequency range most commonly used for targeting in air-to-air combat. In other radar frequencies, the F-35 is not nearly so stealthy, making it vulnerable to being tracked and shot down using current weapons.