Wednesday, November 16, 2011

F-35 In Free Fall?

Look, It's a Turkey - Sitting in Front of a Turkey

The way things are going, the F-35 may save Canada from getting F-35'd.   Every couple of weeks I Google F-35 to harvest the latest litany of gaffes, setbacks and blunders surrounding Lockheed's vaunted Joint Strike Fighter.

The U.S. is watching potential foreign orders turn all wobbly.   The Pentagon is counting on those sales to keep its own unit costs for the F-35 in some manageable range.   Already the Pentagon has cut the number of F-35s it'll buy but that was in order to keep the overall cost from bursting through projected costs.   In other words, it will buy fewer airframes but at greater unit cost - standard Pentagon sleight of hand.

So, how desperate is the Pentagon to flog the F-35 overseas?  Plenty desperate as India recently discovered.  The US offered the fighter to the Indian Air Force.  The offer was said to reflect America's new defence partnership with India.   But, when Indian authorities looked into what was behind the unsolicited American offer they discovered the real reason was panic over collapsing overseas sales.  The Pentagon wanted Indian orders to bolster the programme.

"...the analysts' "discovery" is that the US has desperately sought Indian participation in the JSF's development as the program faces unaffordable rising costs, with a price tag estimated at $150 million per aircraft. In sum, the JSF has become a white elephant and, hopefully, cross breeding it with the Indian black elephant might just about make its uncertain progeny probably airworthy as a beast of burden. 
"The tragi-comic episode exposes an aspect of the US-India "partnership" hardly glimpsed by Indian pundits, namely, the desperate need for the US to conjure up an ideology-driven relationship that enables it in real terms to boost its exports to the Indian markets - the latter being one of the few world markets today enjoying growth prospects of around 7-8% in its gross domestic product (GDP)." 

Meanwhile The Guardian reports that the US Marine Corps, scheduled to be a big buyer of the F-35, has inked a deal to acquire all of Britain's now mothballed, second generation Harrier jump jets.

"Speaking to the NavyTimes, Rear Admiral Mark Heinrich, chief of the US Navy's supply corps, said buying the Harriers made sense because many of the jets had been recently upgraded, and the US already had pilots who could fly them.
"We're taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them," he said. "It's like we're buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it. These are very good platforms."
But, fellas, if you buy those 74-Harriers from the Brits, how are you going to scrape up extra money for that brand new F-35?  It sure sounds as though "The Corps" isn't holding its breath waiting for Lockheed's wunderplane to show up in USMC hangars.
In Ottawa, the Harper government has shown its standard cavalier disregard of facts and still insists Canada will get the F-35 for between $70-80 million a copy even though the current estimated US and foreign price is pegged at $150-million.  Hey, what's 150 times 65?  Gee, that's only $250-million shy of a trillion dollars for an airplane that makes no sense whatsoever.  Then again we'll need that extra $250-mill to cover the costs of replacement aircraft for fighters lost in service.  So, let's just call it an even trillion bucks.  A TRILLION Freaking Dollars for an airplane that'll probably be obsolete by the time it finally shows up in Canadian Air Force hangars?  Really?
In Washington, DefSec Panetta is warning Congress that the F-35 programme could well be on the block if the supercommittee opts for across-the-board budget cuts that hit the US military.  Congress may not get it but it sure  sounds as though the US Marine Corps has seen the writing on the wall.  Semper Fi.


Anonymous said...

If the Americans end up canceling their commitment to the program entirely, will Harper's military boosters continue with their line of 65 aircraft for 9 billion dollars?

The Mound of Sound said...

If the Americans cancel there will be no F-35 production. The US was in for more than 2,000 F-35s. If they back out Lockheed will be in very dire straits.

Anonymous said...

This post makes me think of the song One Trillion Dollars by Anti-Flag

One trillion dollars, could buy a lot of bling.
One trillion dollars, could buy most anything.
One trillion dollars, buying bullets, Buying guns.
One trillion dollars, in the hands of killers, thugs.

Fuck the world, a lot of people gotta die tonight. . .