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The Military Government The Almighty Buck United States

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the flights-of-fancy dept.
schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."
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The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

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  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @05:02PM (#47419855)

    The NASA budget [wikipedia.org] is a little bit bigger than a few millon at about $18B.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @05:28PM (#47420157)

    The blue guys do it and the red guys do it.

    Not everybody does it. Some Tea Party Republicans have voted, on principle, to cut pork for their own districts. No Democrat would do that.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @05:40PM (#47420239) Journal

    You cannot continue to go out and fight with older weapons though.
    Nominally, the F-15/F-16/F-18 are not as survivable in a modern air war.

    The F-35 is a compromise design.
    Mostly it compromises its ability to loiter on the target, carry large amounts of munitions, and dogfight.
    So as long as you don't want to do any of those things, the F-35 is better than older weapons.

    A proven fighter is one that has been through the teething problems that the F-35 is going through now.

    Ha! The F-35's issues are not "teething problems," they are R&D problems.
    The F-35 is a procurement disaster of such epic proportions that tomes will be written to warn future generations on what not to do.

    Just to stay on topic, one of those tomes will talk about engine problems and why the military should source 2 different engine designs.
    It will also mention that, because of the F-35's unprecedented budget overruns, the second design was canceled [wikipedia.org].

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @05:54PM (#47420363)

    The problem with your argument is that you argue that F-35 is necessary to replace those aircraft. It's not. NATO already has several functional aircraft that do what F-35 does, and do it much better. Rafale is a far superior multirole attack focused aircraft for example (far greater payload, has a superb jamming system instead of stealth which proved itself in Libya). F-18E/F will likely outperform it as an air superiority fighter, as will Eurofighter. All of these are cheaper and proven to work.

    And if you're looking at competition against states like Russia and China, having a few expensive and largely dysfunctional "sorta" stealth fighters is a far worse option than having many cheaper, proven and reliable fighters with close range electronic warfare support aircraft mixed in. Notably that is how NATO forces operate nowadays, and that is why they have such a high survivability against SAM threats (with exception of Rafale, which appears to basically be an "electronic warfare aircraft lite" on its own, as proven in Libya where it was the only NATO aircraft to conduct air strikes without electronic warfare aircraft support).

    The only ones who would take a hit are those who were planning to replace Harriers, because there's simply no replacement for Harrier in existence. That means UK that needs Harriers for its aircraft carriers and US marine corps. Everyone else would do just fine with F-18, Rafale and Eurofighter. Or if they need a really cheap lighter option, Gripen.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @06:30PM (#47420607)

    F-18E/F will likely outperform it [F-35] as an air superiority fighter, as will Eurofighter. All of these are cheaper and proven to work.

    The F-35 isn't intended as a air-superiority fighter, the F-22 is. From: http://theaviationist.com/2014... [theaviationist.com]

    But now, the F-22 must be upgraded through a costly service life extension plan and modernization program because, “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22,” says [Chief of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command Gen. Michael] Hostage to Air Force Times.

    In addition, from Wikipedia:

    F-22 [wikipedia.org] ... designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.

    F-35 [wikipedia.org] ... designed to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. ... The design goals call for the F-35 to be the premier strike aircraft through 2040 and to be second only to the F-22 Raptor in air superiority.

  • by jeIIomizer (3670945) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:40AM (#47423047)

    If you can't stand these priorities, please consider signing this: http://petitions.moveon.org/si... [moveon.org]

    Great. More "for the children" bullshit. Why should children be treated as special? If we deport adults, I think we should deport children. If we don't deport children, I think we shouldn't deport adults, either. Pick one, or find another solution that's at least consistent. I'm tired of ageist bullshit.

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