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  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
After ten years and billions invested some in the Senate want alternatives to F-35

It's well known that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has turned into the most costly weapons program in history for the armed forces. When complete, multiple branches of the armed forces will use the F-35 and it will be sold abroad to allies.

The problem for some in Washington is that the delays in delivering the aircraft are mounting, as are the costs to build and maintain the aircraft over its lifespan. The F-35 program has been going for ten years now and some in the Senate Armed Services Committee are now indicating it's time to start looking for a backup plan. Most will find little sense in considering an alternative to the F-35 when it is finally so close to completion.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "It seems to me [prudent that] we at least begin considering alternatives."

The reason some in the Senate want to start looking for alternatives is the report published last week showing the costs to maintain the F-35 through 2065 spiraling to $1 trillion. Top acquisition official Ashton Carter has maintained that the $1 trillion figure will be reduced when he completes a "should-cost" review of the F-35 in the next few months. Carter is aiming at a 20% to 50% reduction in that $1 trillion figure.

Christine Fox, Director of the Pentagon cost assessment and program evaluation office, is skeptical of the cost reduction goals.

Fox said, "O&S [operation and sustainment] is hard. Whether we can get it all the way down to legacy [O&S cost levels] is something that I in my office doubt.” Fox points to the cost of fuel being hard to reduce over the life of the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin's general manager for the F-35 program, Tom Burbage, says that the sustainment costs for the F-35 can’t be fairly compared to the costs of older aircraft. He says that the F-35 was developed on performance-based logistics plan that is different from legacy sustainment process. He also notes that the F-35 O&S estimates are susceptible to ground rules legacy aircraft are not bound to.

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RE: F22 ?
By TSS on 5/23/2011 4:49:45 PM , Rating: 5
The difference between the 2 craft is that the maximum that the F22 can carry is about 2 1000 pound JDAM bombs against ground targets.

The F35 can carry 8 2000 pound bombs.

Not to mention that the F35 is actually cheaper.

You have the F22 for Air to Air. You have the F35 for Air to ground. You have the A10 for close air support. You have the B52 for anything the F35 can't carry. And that's it, you don't need any more planes since those can fill all roles found in the airforce. Mass produce the parts, making it all cheap.

Atleast that was the plan. It's ending up to be more expensive and too complex. But honestly it's comparable to Windows Vista. The F15-16-18 combined where Windows XP, the best fighters your airforce has ever seen, but still based on legacy principles. The F22 and F35 are like Vista, a huge time and money investment into something large and complex using the latest and greatest that isn't all that much better then what you had, considering the cost.

What it will lead to though, is Windows 7, or the 6th generation fighters that'll be as streamlined as the 5th but cost even less then the 4th to make, while beeing even more robust.

However it won't do that if politics keeps backing out and changing the rules. The only alternative to the F35, at best, is skipping the 5th and moving to 6th generation fighter/bombers.

If you have to buy planes from the ruskies their going to laugh their asses off. Especially since you already have to buy trips into space from them.

RE: F22 ?
By Calin on 5/24/2011 3:27:09 AM , Rating: 2
The A-10 is on its way out of the Air Force

RE: F22 ?
By Chernobyl68 on 5/24/2011 2:24:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'm holding out hope they'll find a way to keep that aircraft and its unique capabilities. No other plane in the world does what it can do.

RE: F22 ?
By JW.C on 5/29/2011 3:57:27 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how they can retire it since they don't have anything thats even close to filling the same mission. Oh and lets not forget how dang close to un-killable the A-10 is.

RE: F22 ?
By random git on 5/24/2011 6:02:30 AM , Rating: 2
Do you think those four planes can really carry out all the roles in the air force? If so, you might want to tell them to get rid of their RC-135s, E-3s, E-7s, EC-130s, KC-135s, C-130s, RQ-4s, MQ-9s etc etc.

That said there is a lot I agree with you, but I doubt any future high tech airplanes are going to be cheap.

RE: F22 ?
By Raiders12 on 5/24/2011 7:34:39 AM , Rating: 2
Even after a lessons learned from the F22 and F35 programs, the 6th gen fighter, will still be a government acquisition program, which will by default have costs blown out of proportion. Its just the way they set themselves up for failure with its pseudo endless back acct, and contracting rules. I imagine a long drawn out contract battle between companies for the next fighter program...

RE: F22 ?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/2011 8:47:38 PM , Rating: 2
The difference between the 2 craft is that the maximum that the F22 can carry is about 2 1000 pound JDAM bombs against ground targets.

Afraid your data isn't correct. The F-22 has been tested with external weapon pylons back when Lockheed proposed the F-22B (bomber). The hardpoints are already built into the wings and centerline for bolting on weapon racks, just like the F-15. When stealth isn't required, it can be every bit the bomb truck that the F-15 Strike Eagle is.

Stealth is only important for "first in" scenarios. Once all air power and ground to air threats are suppressed, switch to external stores and bombs away.

Not to mention that the F35 is actually cheaper.

It is? Not from what I'm reading.

RE: F22 ?
By inperfectdarkness on 5/25/2011 8:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
um, no. not by a mile.

perhaps those are the only KINETIC COMBAT aircraft that are needed in the USAF (if you discount the b1/b2); but it is NOT all the aircraft/roles needed.

you need tankers, surveillance, c2, etc. there's a LOT more to the puzzle than just some fighters/bombers.

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