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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 Nfarce on 5/23/2011 7:49:38 PM , Rating: 3
1) As an American, I take pride in our military aviation technology. It will be a cold day in hell before I support us buying

2) The F/A-18 went head to head as the YF-17 with the F-16 program back in the early 70s. The USAF chose the F-16 and canned the YF-17 design. The Navy picked up that design and made some minor modifications to become the Hornet. The only thing the Navy has now beyond that is the E/F Super Hornet model which is really nothing more than the same airframe about 33% larger with some new engines and aero changes. Now why would the USAF want to go back to a design they rejected 35 years ago?



RE: F22 ?
By Nfarce on 5/23/2011 7:53:16 PM , Rating: 2
Oops - got cut off on the first point:

It will be a cold day in hell before I support us buying Eurofighters. But at the rate our education system continues to fail us, we may have no longer have engineers left to build cool new stuff in a generation or two.


RE: F22 ?
By random git on 5/24/2011 6:05:54 AM , Rating: 2
If you are comparing the viability of fighter jets based solely on airframe characteristics, you are seriously doing something wrong. Block II super hornet would murder any F-16 flying 1v1.


RE: F22 ?
By Iaiken on 5/24/2011 11:40:15 AM , Rating: 2
What's more, the airframe of the F/A-18 Super Hornet has almost nothing in common with the original F-18 once you are back of the forward fuselage.

The aircraft is larger, the geometry of the intakes, wings and leading edge extensions are different, the cant and location of the vertical stabilizers are different, the internal structure is contains fewer parts and dramatically fewer structural connections (allows for greater structural stability and strength). Additional hard-points, advanced avionics packages and and increased gross takeoff weight are the last elements that make the F/A-18 is a totally different beast than it's predecessor.


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