No country, none, is going to get anything remotely like 50-years frontline service out of the F-35. It won't be 20 years, maybe not even 10-years before its obsolete.
Like any radical new technology system, it will be superceded, rendered obsolete sooner than the wise men today claim. That’s because it’s not a mature technology system.
The F-35 is not a Fifth Generation anything. It’s a Second Generation stealth light bomber, successor to the F-117B.
Gens 1 to 4, in general terms, represented a linear progression of technology and performance. Stealth is a different species. That’s why it reset the parameters for speed, range, payload, climb rate, agility – they key elements that were advanced in Gens 1-4. They just kept getting more and more capable. They became more agile, more sophisticated, and far more effective.
The F-35, by contrast, is a total reordering of priorities. It ramps down most conventional capabilities in a tradeoff for stealth. And day by day we’re learning that tradeoff may not be operationally cost -effective. It could, in fact, be an enormous blunder.
When you introduce a new species of warplane of this sort’s sophistication and complexity, you’re signing on to years of trial and error development. The next best thing is always just around the corner.
To expect any company to get it right, straight out of the box is just plain silly. Yet that is what we’re being told the F-35 is – right, straight out of the box. Thinking this way is nothing more than hubris.