Monday, November 19, 2012

F-35 Enters USMC Service - Sort Of

The United States Marine Corps has accepted delivery of its very first F-35 stealth light bomber - or some of it anyway.

"The Lockheed Martin-built plane’s computerized logistical system, flight software and special helmet still aren’t ready — and it lacks weapons."

But, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?

“This aircraft will be used to conduct a full spectrum of aviation operations in support of combat missions and maritime readiness worldwide,” the Pentagon boasted about its new frontline JSF.

Sure, eventually. And only after more testing, more design changes and potentially millions of dollars in modifications each to this jet and others like it. The Marines anticipate VMFA-121 being war-ready with 16 fully equipped F-35s no earlier than 2015, a slip of one year compared to the 2011 plan. In the meantime, the squadron will oversee some pilot and ground-crew training, complementing the main instructional effort in Florida and testing in California.

BF-19 is part of the Pentagon’s Low-Rate Initial Production of the stealthy JSF, meaning it was expensive — no less than $200 million — and assembled while Lockheed and the military were still working out the plane’s precise configuration. In April the Defense Department paid Lockheed $65 million to fix identified problems on dozens of F-35s it had already manufactured, presumably including BF-19.

JSF flight testing began in 2006 but is only 25 percent complete. As such, the list of things the F-35 still doesn’t have is a long one.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone wrote up a proper Canadian requirement specification for the CF-18 replacement? Or was it just cut and paste from Lockheed Martin glossy brochures?

The Mound of Sound said...

The Canadian "requirement" was, as you suggest, tailored to meet the aircraft. MacKay and the Canadian Forces were arrogant enough to claim that there had been an actual contest, a fly-off. But the partial competition they refer to was that conducted by the Japanese. Now, does anyone think Canada's requirements are remotely similar to Japan's?