Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Americans Begin to Ask If the F-35 Is Simply Unaffordable

The F-35's reputation for being over-priced, under-performing and overdue is etched in stone at this point.   For an aircraft that's been in development for a dozen years, no one still knows what it will eventually cost nor how well it will actually perform when it's ready to enter service.

Now a U.S. federal auditor is questioning whether the F-35 has become simply unaffordable.
...federal auditor Michael J. Sullivan, acquisitions director of the Government Accountability Office, told a Senate subcommittee in Washington current projections call for a $316 billion outlay from development to purchase of the Lockheed Martin fighter jet through 2037.

Operation and maintenance costs for the U.S. inventory of the F-35 alone could top $1 trillion over a 35-year lifespan, Sullivan told the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee.

"Congress may want to consider whether the funding assumptions are reasonable in our current fiscal environment," Sullivan said in a response to Subcommittee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Pentagon chief weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore says F-35 costs are rising also because of frequent fixes to problems reported during flight tests and warned the "most challenging portions" of the testing have not yet begun.

"We haven't actually tested any combat capability," Gilmore told senators, adding there may not be enough time or cash for full testing of crucial capabilities.


Steve said...

If they keep lowering the combat criteria soon it will not even have to fly.

The Mound of Sound said...

You're right, Steve. They have already pared performance parameters to engineer a sort of ersatz viability and that's a problem that's only just beginning.

The F-35 isn't even operational yet and it's already overweight. To cut weight they had to remove essential fire suppression equipment.

Warplanes, in the course of an operational lifetime, tend to gain weight as the latest & greatest, "must have" stuff comes online and is incorporated as add-ons. There's very little space left within the F-35 for this because it is designed to carry its fuel and ordinance inboard.

If you want to add something later on, you're going to have to remove something to make up the extra weight and space. That's going to be very difficult and even more expensive to engineer.

rumleyfips said...

If they keep finding stuff that doesn't work and changing design criteria to eliminate those requirements, pilots will have to walk to work.

Ray Blessin said...

Do we even know who we are going to kill with these weapons of mass destruction?

GAB said...

They should have started this entire fiasco by looking for a drone. This POS won't ever have the maneuverability needed to dog fight so why base it around a pilot?

You don't need Top Gun to fly a bus, any kid on a remote joy stick will do. No pilot means less need to make it invisible and supposedly survivable at the cost of performance.

Of course that's assuming the first strike mission is even a valid one. It certainly isn't valid for Canada's needs