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F-35 JSF  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The future of the F-35 JSF seems bright, but many questions remain

As the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps prepares for the next-generation F-35 fighter craft, the actual demand of the expensive fighter remains unknown.  

According to analyst Johan Boeder, as many as 2,500 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter craft could be built for all branches of the U.S. military, but pricing and other threats may limit the actual number of planes manufactured. Lockheed Martin had originally pegged orders to be around 4,500 units, while the U.S. Military was even more optimistic at 6,000 units.  Despite any immediate concern, in the coming decades the U.S. government is expected to spend near $300 billion for the F-35 aircraft.

If the number of planes ordered lowers, the price -- already around $100 million per aircraft -- is expected to increase further, which could hurt demand even more.  For example, the Dutch parliament has plans to purchase 85 F-35 aircraft, but may reduce its expected order down to 57.

Lockheed Martin, the main manufacturer behind the F-35 JSF, doesn't see a pending drop-off in aircraft ordered, with strong political and monetary support expended in the coming years.

In the mean time, GE and Rolls Royce plan to redesign a new part of the alternate F-35 engine, after a lug nut reportedly vibrated loose during early testing.  

Regardless of controversy related to F-35 orders, at least five U.S. states are interested in building operating bases that can support the F-35.  The states of Florida, Idaho, Utah, South Carolina and Vermont have all thrown their names in the hat, but military officials are unsure which states -- and how many facilities nationwide -- will be developed to support the F-35 JSF.

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By Amiga500 on 11/5/2009 3:35:03 AM , Rating: 1
Very optimistic statement that.

From what I'm gathering, while the JSF will happen, the future is anything but bright. A few examples:

The UK have cut their carrier build and there will be a corresponding cut in JSF order numbers. (In my opinion, and in the opinion of many others in the industry, they should scrap the JSF idea and go out and buy the Rafale)

Norway are re-examining the costs, and are re-evaluating the Gripen NG (a far better bang for buck IMO).

The Dutch parliament are currently investigating the decision to go with JSF, with the Gripen a real alternative. Unlike the Norwegians, the Dutch have more vested interests in JSF, so even contemplating reconsider the order is a large move for them.

By probedb on 11/5/2009 4:09:12 AM , Rating: 2
We're still having 2 carriers as far as I'm aware but there was a story on the Register that only one of them maybe equiped with F-35s now. Whether there was any truth behind that I don't know.

By Amiga500 on 11/5/2009 4:12:47 AM , Rating: 1
Oh its true. Its very true - there still will be two hulls laid down, but only one as an "aircraft" carrier.

One is now limited to a helicopter assault ship and will not carry any fixed wing aircraft. (I suppose I should have been a bit clearer on that earlier)

The other will carry the fleet air arm (at least, the seaborne element of it).

By Gideonic on 11/5/2009 9:44:45 AM , Rating: 2
This was the most pessimistic scenario AFAIK. It would make little savings and sense to redesign the second carrier.

Leaving the second carrier intact and simply buying aircraft for one of them would be a lot more reasonable.

This also seems to be the path towards which the Royal Navy is nudging the MOD. The second carrier would mainly be used as a helicopter carrier, but in cases when the first one is being repaired or refitted it could operate aircraft as well.

Carriers spend considerable time in dry-dock. This means that UK would, at easily predictable times, have no carrier capability at all, rendering these times easily exploitable by a potential adversary.

It would be an incredible waste of resources to buy a carrier-based oversized Helicopter Assault Ship and remove the capability to use aircraft.

Especially when taking into account that these carriers will, at least initially, have no steam-catapults as they will operate the STOVL version (F-35B) of the aircraft.

Therefore the only extra "thing" this aircraft requires from a carrier is a ramp.

By MrJim on 11/5/2009 10:21:29 AM , Rating: 2
The persons who did the planning always thought that the expensive parts would be the carriers themselves but the JSF aircrafts.

By yacoub on 11/5/2009 9:06:03 AM , Rating: 1
It all depends on who the country is planning to defend itself against or fight against in the coming years. If they're prepping for a fight against China or Russia, the need would be for F-22 (if exported) and F-35 aircraft to defeat more advanced opponent weaponry that other aircraft would have a much lower success rate against. If the enemy is (relatively) low-tech Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslim fanatics, the focus is less on those future-proofed items and more on existing tech that is more cost-effective.

The funny thing is the confused thinking & actions evidenced by the Brits (and much of the EU, really), in that they submit to Islam in the social, legal, and political realms, but then make a show of fighting against the same extremists in the realm of combat in the Middle East. What a perfect way to give cause to the extremists by bombing their homelands and then make their job of taking over your nation easy by submitting to their every wish.

By MrPoletski on 11/5/2009 9:56:04 AM , Rating: 1
The funny thing is the confused thinking & actions evidenced by the Brits (and much of the EU, really), in that they submit to Islam in the social, legal, and political realms, but then make a show of fighting against the same extremists in the realm of combat in the Middle East. What a perfect way to give cause to the extremists by bombing their homelands and then make their job of taking over your nation easy by submitting to their every wish.

what planet are you on?

By quiksilvr on 11/5/2009 12:50:55 PM , Rating: 1
He is currently residing in Reagan 1986

By TerranMagistrate on 11/5/2009 11:40:16 PM , Rating: 1
He seems aware of what is going on in Europe in regards to the ever expanding influence of Islamic culture. A very troubling development to be sure.

Your moronic reply shows your ignorance on the matter.

By bfr on 11/6/2009 3:01:28 AM , Rating: 2
He seems aware of what is going on in Europe in regards to the ever expanding influence of Islamic culture. A very troubling development to be sure.

Your moronic reply shows your ignorance on the matter.

Muslims have lived in Europe for decades and, but for a tiny minority, everyone seems to be getting on just fine. So do please explain for everyone how Islamic culture is having an 'expanding influence' within the EU and what this 'troubling development' is meant to be. I'm sure i'm not the only one itching to know.

By MrPoletski on 11/11/2009 11:38:20 AM , Rating: 1
He seems aware of what is going on in Europe in regards to the ever expanding influence of Islamic culture.

What and I am not? which one of us actually lives in Europe do you think?

A very troubling development to be sure.

Why is that troubling. Try and give a response that actually answers the question.

Your moronic reply shows your ignorance on the matter.

My moronic reply? how about his moronic post?

The idea that Europe is going to be 'taken over by muslims' within 50 years is laughable at best and has no intelligent argument to back it up.

By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 8:22:57 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you've missed the past few years. The Brits have bent over for Muslims with things like requiring search dogs to wear booties when searching a Muslims house and allowing shariah courts to pass legal judgments.

Not to mention Muslims stand to for all intensive purposes, take over Europe in the next 50 years because outside Muslim population growth, Europe's population is shrinking. The same situation exists for the US exist here its predominantly Hispanics driving the vast majority of population growth.

Now there's nothing wrong with any certain ethnic group as long as it remains loyal to the country that it lives in. If Muslim's in Britain remain loyal to Britain fine. But if they view themselves as Arabs merely living in a foreign land with their loyalties there instead of at home, then thats a problem for the country of Britain.

And whether you recognize it or not, radical Islam is growing.

By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:36:24 AM , Rating: 2
And whether you recognize it or not, radical Islam is growing.

Yeah and whos fault is that?

The Brits have bent over for Muslims with things like requiring search dogs to wear booties when searching a Muslims house

Oh well I'm glad it's something that matters, because if it were irrelevant things like slinging people in jail for years without trial then this Muslim issue would be a-ok.

and allowing shariah courts to pass legal judgments.

That is just not true. Sharia courts are allowed to act, much like their Jewish and christian (if they have one) counterparts, to resolve civil disputes. The court can make their judgement binding, by law, if both parties agree to give the court that power .

The legal term for this is an 'arbitration tribuneral', once again, British Jews have been using the Beth Din (essentially exactly the same thing as these sharia courts, but Jewish) for hundreds of years.

Not to mention Muslims stand to for all intensive purposes, take over Europe in the next 50 years because outside Muslim population growth, Europe's population is shrinking.

That is a myth, perpetrated by people who think multiplying a couple of numbers together is great way to predict population growth and religious adoption rates over the next 50 years.

By BZDTemp on 11/5/2009 5:02:26 AM , Rating: 2
It is the same here in Denmark. While we are making some of the electronics for the JSF nothing is decided with regards to what will replace our F-16's (In my view we could stick with the F-16 and do fine).

By superPC on 11/5/2009 6:10:04 AM , Rating: 4
this is sort of ironic when china the main competitor to the US in today arms race considers new aircraft and a fleet of carrier by 2015 (

By Amiga500 on 11/5/2009 6:30:45 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah... well, you can be sure the Chinese won't be stupid enough to spend billions on a carrier, then arm it with such a lame interceptor.

Note the use of INTERCEPTOR.

You want to stop the other guys from launching their ASMs, you can only do that with large aircraft ranges for CAPs distant from the carrier, long range missile engagement envelope, high speed capabilties and strong combat persistence.

The JSF has a long range, with the AMRAAM D has a long range missile but fails in at least 1 of the latter two. You cannot have only internal weapons without destroying its combat persistence*, nor can you have external weapons without destroying its Vmax.

*single engine is also a factor in this.

PS - Don't even get me started on the "Subpar" Hornet.

By crystal clear on 11/5/2009 9:03:05 AM , Rating: 1
The chinese have diffferent objectives-

# They want a global precense on the high seas,not to confront the US navy but to show off their superpower status.

# Their aircrafts are simply junkware they desperately want to upgrade from their soviet era hardware to something more relevant as of today.

Their priorities are not linked in anyway to the USA,rather fear the economic power called India,who is rapidly upgrading its weaponary.

By MrPoletski on 11/5/2009 10:02:43 AM , Rating: 3
DO NOT underestimate the Chinese.

By Jeffk464 on 11/5/2009 8:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
They are suppose to be building a new fighter that will probably match or best the F15 but not the F22.

By bigbrent88 on 11/7/2009 2:05:56 PM , Rating: 3
If you want to fight China and India don't look to building billions in fighter jets. All you have to do is kill outsourcing and overseas manufacturing. Suddenly they have to try and survive on their own and I bet their economies are not strong enough for self support. Too bad we sold our debt to them!

By MozeeToby on 11/12/2009 2:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
You'd also have a revolt at home as prices for manufactured goods doubled overnight. At best, convince the Chinese to enact real labor protection laws to put them on par with the rest of the world. The change would be much more gradual and would go some distance towards improving human rights in China.

By Jeffk464 on 11/5/2009 7:27:19 AM , Rating: 2
Hey we could probably get a deal on su-35's.

By corduroygt on 11/5/2009 8:28:09 AM , Rating: 1
Come on, the low radar signature of the F-35 will make a real difference over the gripen.

By Amiga500 on 11/5/2009 9:37:29 AM , Rating: 1
Leaving aside the dubious figures attached to the F-35s radar signature...

For defending a carrier group?

The bombers have a target. They know where the target is. The target is not the F-35. The known (or unknown) presence of an F-35 will not change their mission. Stealth is NO advantage when defending a (relatively) immobile target from bomber aircraft.

Besides, the gripen has a deceptively low RCS (ask those at red flag that flew against it)

By corduroygt on 11/5/2009 9:46:45 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't know the UK were getting the F-35's as naval interceptors, I was just thinking about all around attack plane, like the F-16. That's what they should be used for.

I still think there'd be a generational gap between the RCS of the F-35 vs. the gripen,.

By MrPoletski on 11/5/2009 9:59:52 AM , Rating: 1
Makes me wonder why the UK would buy any F-35's when we have the Eurofighter that we've been investing in which fits a very similar role.... the same with much of the European contries for that matter.

I mean if we are gonna spend loasd of money on defence we could at least buy it from our own defence companies...

By Amiga500 on 11/5/2009 10:14:19 AM , Rating: 3
I didn't know the UK were getting the F-35's as naval interceptors

First duty of any aircraft carrier is to defend itself.

Second duty of any aircraft carrier is sea-denial to others.

Third duty of any aircraft carrier is ensuring the sea-lanes are kept open for transport traffic.

Ground attack missions are a distant fourth. The current wars against rag-tag opposition have clouded the thinking of many. If future wars are to be against similar adversaries, then aircraft of the complexity of an F-35 are not required - better to buy two bomb trucks for the same cost and get through twice the work. Conversely, if future wars are to be against technologically advanced opponents, then the F-35 is severely lacking in the areas I have previously outlined.

Can't have your cake and eat it.

By Jeffk464 on 11/5/2009 8:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
More and more we are using UAV's to go after low tech bad guys. Think you can get air superiority with F22s and then flood the skies with inexpensive no risk to pilot UAVs that can go after ground targets.

By raghavny80 on 11/6/2009 2:00:01 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously its time to scrap the F-35 project and purchase cheaper J-XX chinese ripoffs.

By Googer on 11/7/2009 1:11:26 AM , Rating: 2
If our government were not so stupid we could have acquired F-22 raptors for about $102 million each.

By lagomorpha on 11/8/2009 10:20:07 AM , Rating: 2
1998 dollars are substantially bigger than 2009 dollars.

How to sell more F35s
By JFL1969 on 11/5/2009 9:32:00 AM , Rating: 2
OK Lockheed Martin,just make sure that all them potical contributions go to the right congressmen and senators and you can be sure that you'll be making F35s for the next 50 years, even if the US armed forces no longer need em...

RE: How to sell more F35s
By MrPoletski on 11/5/2009 10:07:02 AM , Rating: 2
Such is the problem with your political system.

sorry, but I prefer a situation where the government regulates corporations, rather than corporations regulating the government.

The middle ground of 'nobody regulates nobody else' is unattainable.

RE: How to sell more F35s
By deeznuts on 11/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: How to sell more F35s
By lagomorpha on 11/8/2009 10:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
What sort of magical land do you live in where corporations don't have powerful control over the government? In democracies money will buy you power and corporations tend to have money. Even in Islamic kingdoms corporations often have a powerful voice.

RE: How to sell more F35s
By joos2000 on 11/8/2009 9:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between influence and control.

RE: How to sell more F35s
By WW102 on 11/5/2009 2:12:35 PM , Rating: 2
When have we not needed our airforce?

Why do we need these again?
By Ranari on 11/5/2009 10:07:35 AM , Rating: 2
The JSF was supposed to be a $25-35 million dollar plane. It's now ballooned to $100 million, is behind schedule, and against a non-Soviet enemy seems very, very pointless.

Why do we need these again?

RE: Why do we need these again?
By HotFoot on 11/5/2009 12:08:59 PM , Rating: 3
What's the unit cost of an F-22, or rather, the marginal cost? Once the design and other fixed costs are already paid for, isn't it around $94M?

I can't see many of the smaller partner nations in the JSF programme being able to afford many $100M planes. The JSF is supposed to fill the light-fighter role. I'd rather see three or four times as many block 60 F-16s as F-35s. Add to that the track record of operational readiness and expense of the stealth aircraft we've seen so far and I'm thinking these things are technological marvels, but just far too expensive as far as war machinery goes.

RE: Why do we need these again?
By Brovane on 11/5/2009 3:11:25 PM , Rating: 4
The number one error that I see is total cost being compared to incremental cost. The article doesn't mention what the incremental cost will be, which minuses the R&D costs. With a total program cost of 300Billion and 2500 planes that works out to around 120million per plane.

The main error that I see the US Defense procurment make is that when they get a good plane they don't produce enough. All the R&D is already a sunk cost. Just look at your incremental cost to produce each air plane which is going to be a whole lot lower. If you keep cutting back planes and just look at total cost the money spent per plane will keep going up and people will continue yelling. I heard that at the end of the F-22 production run the incremental cost for additional aircraft was around 100million. That sounds like a good buy to me.

As far as enemies. The Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore but Russia and China are coming up with some great aircraft and they have a habit of selling there weapons to the US enemies. The F-35 is going to replace multiple air craft including the F-16 and the Harrier. The F-35 will give the navy its first true stealth aircraft which is important and the aging harrier does need to be replaced. This aircraft will be looking at fighting possible enemies 30-40 years from now.

By 91TTZ on 11/5/2009 11:19:57 AM , Rating: 3
If you observe the government's habits long enough, you'll see these things.

The F-22's production run was ended under the pretense that attention was going to be diverted to the JSF, and that we'd buy additional F-35's. Once the F-22 production line was closed down it was time to announce that F-35 production is going to be reduced as well, with funds ostensibly being used for some other project which in turn will be canceled. Doing this effectively butters defense contractor' palms without actually being used for much.

In the end, foreign orders will probably be dramatically reduced and we'll get the "low cost" F-35 for about the same price as the "expensive" F-22.

Government waste at its finest.

By Alexvrb on 11/5/2009 7:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely correct. They scrapped the F-22, an awesome bird... so that we could spend virtually the same amount of cash on this turkey?

By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 8:14:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yup. Same here. Even said it on here.

Except this time they won't have a scapegoat as to why we don't need them. With the F22 it was because we had the F35. There's no announced successor to the F35 yet.

Get the plane out into the market in time
By crystal clear on 11/5/2009 7:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
Regardless of controversy related to F-35 orders,

This acccording to Israeli sources who already ordered 25 jets-

JSF jet Israel ordered from US is two years behind schedule.

Rather than focus on future or more orders its high time the manufacturers focus on meeting delivery schedules already agreed upon with confirmed orders.

The United States is throwing away a lucrative market namely INDIA,whose massive FC currency reserves/a thriving economy/ & a desperate thirst or hunger to upgrade its Air Force can remove all concerns about future orders.

The Indian airforce desperately wants to get rid of its Soviet junkware,to replace it with some decent hardware.

The French & British cannot meet the challenge with their offerings,the USA is just not interested for the momemt.

They now have longterm & massive defence contracts with Israel,with many joint R&D ventures in the pipeline.

I will not be surprised if one day the technological power of Israel meets manufacturing & financial power of India,resulting in a joint fighter plane.

Israel has in past have undertaken their own fighter plane (Lavi) development venture & succeeded in getting out a few models,but for the U.S. pressure to scrap it.

So they have the abilities & skills to again take up this venture with India,spreading COSTS from R&D development to manufacturing.

India with its huge requirements to protect its broders plus Israel's requirements will make the project feaseable.

An Israeli version of the AWACS is already in use with the Indian airforce,which technologically is much superior compared to the AWACS.

So much so that even China wants to buy it,but due to U.S. pressure will NOT materlize.

India a major regional power has common border with China,they need an appropriate response to this threat.

Sell to India & see your way out of recession.

By TerranMagistrate on 11/5/2009 11:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of Israel and the JSF program, Lockheed Martin should really and finish the F-35 so that Israel and acquire them ASAP. And also allow them to implement their own avionics. With Turkey now gradually abandoning secularism and turning toward Islamic fundamentalism reminiscent of the old Ottoman Empire, Israel may soon have a new foe that will threaten its very existence.

What they need to do
By Azsen on 11/5/2009 5:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
What they need to do is phase out all their old fighter planes and go straight to F-22s and F-35s. Then put most of the F-35s on new super carriers. That would give them complete 5th generation fighter capability across the whole airforce and navy fleet.

The next step would be to design and build UCAVs that are faster and more maneuverable than the F-22. Without a pilot inside they should be able to get the UCAV to do tighter turns and fly faster. Once that's done you could have new stealth bomber and stealth fighter UCAVs which would then phase out the F-22s and F-35s.

RE: What they need to do
By FPP on 11/10/2009 7:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
They're going to replace the F18C/D wiith the F35, but it lacks the carrying capacity of the F18E/F. The Air Force will replace (!?) the F16 , and likely a bunch of F15's as well, with the F35. The V/Stol was developed mostly for britain and they threw in money for this and are supposedly getting co-production agreements for it as well. There was talk of 200 F35's that were supposed to be pilotless, but I have not seen anything on that in a while.

I think we'll get our weenies in a pickle and be force to do an F35 "on steroids i.e. supercruise/vectored thrust engine, upgraded radar and sensor packs, upgraded weapons and fuel, etc., to fill in a gap created by cancellation of the F22. A pity it'll likely cost almost as much.

Overall force posture up in the air
By tech329 on 11/5/2009 4:30:03 AM , Rating: 2
All the aforementioned players are facing the same questions with no good answers making themselves known. The frightening thought of nuclear armaments have nations rethinking both defensive and offensive planning and strategies. Unmanned vehicles are the real question though. The U.S. is pursuing unmanned technologies with the intent of UAVs becoming a defensive and offensive staple of the inventory. They obviously come up short in air to air combat, for now, but still can be deployed tactically and strategically. The timeline for the necessary advances is where the uncertainty poses a problem. UAVs are game changers with no rules or strategies yet fully established or even known. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the presence of questions with no answers is a made to order headache.

F35 and others
By FPP on 11/7/2009 4:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with this kind of program is that it takes so long the requirements change. Britain has real $$ invested here as do others and now that procurement is coming, the weaklings are wavering on whether to buy.

The idea that UCAV's can replace these planes is hogwash, because in a high threat environment, their sensor, data and comm links would get jammed, immediately. A plane like an F22 or Eurofighter would neuralize a UCAV without ever firing a shot. Even an F35 would grease them without much of a fight.

OT: WIn7/Amazon
By damianrobertjones on 11/5/09, Rating: -1
RE: OT: WIn7/Amazon
By damianrobertjones on 11/5/09, Rating: -1
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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