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Powerful lawmaker calls F-35 jet fighter a ‘rathole,’
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Byker
2021-03-07 19:44:15 UTC
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https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/powerful-lawmaker-calls-f-35-jet-fighter-a-rathole-suggests-pentagon-should-cut-its-losses/
Powerful lawmaker calls F-35 jet fighter a ‘rathole,’ suggests Pentagon
should cut its losses
March 5, 2021 at 5:10 pm Updated March 5, 2021 at 5:48 pm
By AARON GREGG
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The Democratic chairperson of the House Armed Services
Committee called the Lockheed Martin-produced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter a
“rathole” in a virtual event with the Brookings Institution on Friday, and
suggested the U.S. should consider whether to “cut its losses” by
investing in a range of competing fighter jets.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.,
Of course!
whose Seattle-area district depends heavily on Boeing for jobs and
investment, said the F-35 “doesn’t work particularly well” and is too
expensive to maintain. He also bemoaned the U.S. military’s long-term
dependence on it.
“I want to stop throwing money down that particular rathole,” Smith said
in a webcast conversation with Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon.
He characterized the F-35 as overly expensive defense platform with
disappointing capabilities. He criticized the jet’s sustainment costs as
“brutal,” and said he was skeptical they would ever go down. The solution,
he said, is to invest in other fighter jets so the Defense Department has
a range of options at its fingertips.
“What I’m going to try to do is figure out how we can get a mix of fighter
attack aircraft that’s the most cost-effective. A big part of that is
finding something that doesn’t make us have to rely on the F-35 for the
next 35 years,” Smith said.
The F-35 is meant to serve as an attack aircraft that can carry advanced
weaponry, employ sophisticated electronic jamming devices, and evade enemy
detection by virtue of its stealthy design. It also has surveillance and
communication capabilities that network it into the U.S. military’s other
assets.
But the program is expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the course
of its 60-year life span, making it the most costly weapons program in
U.S. history. Its unit price recently dropped below $80 million, making it
cheaper than Boeing’s competing F15-EX on a plane-by-plane basis. But the
lower unit cost comes largely as a result of the fact that the Defense
Department is buying more of them and spending more on the program on the
whole. It has also been criticized for its high sustainment costs.
The F-35′s fortunes soared under former president Donald Trump as the
Pentagon used its looser defense budget as an opportunity to buy the jets
in bulk. A 2019 deal to purchase hundreds of them in a $33 billion deal
was touted as the largest single procurement in the history of the U.S.
military. The deal pushed Bethesda-based manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s
revenue to new heights even when the coronavirus kneecapped other
aerospace manufacturers.
The F-35 is widely regarded in the aviation community as an advanced
fighter asset whose combination of stealth, situational awareness, and
firepower will deter aggression from hostile nations like Russia and
China. But there have at times been severe difficulties with keeping the
planes ready to fly, a problem caused largely by the logistical challenge
of keeping its advanced spare parts readily available across the globe.
The jet’s mission-capable rate, which measures the amount of time the jet
is able to fly at least one of its assigned missions, has often fallen
short of expectations. A 2019 report from the Government Accountability
Office found the overall F-35 fleet was capable of performing all of its
tasked missions only about a third of the time. (On another metric, in
which only “combat-coded” F-35’s are considered, the mission capable rate
is much higher at closer to 80%.)
The Pentagon is already looking for alternatives. It is in the early
phases of developing a completely new jet, called Next Generation Air
Dominance, or NGAD, which will eventually replace the F-35. And the Air
Force is also buying Boeing’s F15-EX to give it a competing option.
Doug Birkey, executive director of the Air Force Association-affiliated
Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said it would be foolish to
significantly scale back the F-35 program at a time when it is just coming
to fruition. The United States has already sunk untold billions into its
development and might as well reap the rewards, he said.
Scaling back the F-35 program at this point “would be like buying all of
the lumber for a new house, getting halfway through building it, and then
saying ‘you know what, I don’t want to pay for the paint,'” Birkey said.
You could always fall back on the F-22...
Chris M. Thomasson
2021-03-07 23:43:23 UTC
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Post by Byker
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https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/powerful-lawmaker-calls-f-35-jet-fighter-a-rathole-suggests-pentagon-should-cut-its-losses/
Powerful lawmaker calls F-35 jet fighter a ‘rathole,’ suggests Pentagon
should cut its losses
[...]
Post by Byker
You could always fall back on the F-22...
For some reason, I think of f-22 as more of an air superiority fighter
rather than a multi-role.

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