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The loss of the major partner in the F-35 program could be a death blow

The beleaguered F-35 Lightning II program keeps taking blows. Two partner countries, Canada and Italy, are now indicating the possibility of cutting orders for the F-35. Each time a partner nation slashes its orders, the price goes up for each jet purchased by other partner countries.

In April of 2012, the Canadian defense minister landed in hot water over allegations of not sharing information on expected costs the F-35 program. Canadian defense minister Peter MacKay admitted in April that he knew the fighter program could cost Canada as much as $25 billion. That price is billions of dollars more than Canadian officials publicly acknowledged.

At the time, Canadian lawmakers put a cap on spending for the F-35 program and this week more rumors have surfaced suggesting that Canada could drop the F-35 program entirely. While Canadian officials have dismissed any reports that it is planning to cancel the purchase of 65 F-35 fighters, some have gone on record saying that they were reconsidering the program and might compete the contract to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fighters.

Boeing, on the other hand, continues to lobby Canada to cancel orders for the F-35 and purchased the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

 
At the same time word that a leading Prime Minister candidate in Italy might trim F-35 purchases if elected to office. Italian Prime Minister candidate Pier Luigi Bersani is the man many expect to win the PM election in Italy. He said on time TV, "I would consider a relaxing, a reduction of the commitment to the F-35 and military spending."

Pentagon leaders continue to support existing U.S. orders for the F-35. U.S. leaders do say that they can afford to make cuts far in the future to keep near and mid-term production volume up. However, other countries don't have that luxury.

"The key point is that this doesn't just impact DoD, but it impacts all the partners," said Mark Gunzinger, of the CSBA, on potential cuts to international orders.

Britain is the largest international customer planning to purchase 138 F-35 fighters. However, British officials have previously suggested that they could reduce that number.

Source: Defense News



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By W00dmann on 12/10/2012 3:43:13 PM , Rating: 3
There is a saying in jet fighter circles: there are 2 types of aircraft - stealth aircraft, and targets.

The F-35 is a brand new fighter jet that incorporates many 5th generation features, including a certain level of stealth as well as bleeding-edge avionics. It is beyond ludicrous to imagine that any other figher airplane on the market today can approach the level of stealth offered by the F-35. The Eurofighter was designed in the 80's; the SuperHornet the 90's. Both offer a certain level of stealthiness but were not designed as such from the ground up like the F-35.

In terms of the F-35 not being as stealthy as the F-22: this was known from the very beginning. The F-35 was originally supposed to be "cheap stealth"; as in, a cheaper version of the F-22 with stealth built in, but without some of the capabilities of the F-22 which is a pure fighter jet - eg. no supercruise; unable to reach the same 80,000ft+ altitute; unable to reach mach 2; non-stealthy inlets; not as maneuverable (yet still more maneuverable than many 4th generation jet fighters). As I say, this was known from the beginning. The F-35 was designed to offer a certain level of stealth, just not that of the F-22. The trade-off was (supposed to be) a cheaper fighter with more robust, "sturdy", cheaper-to-maintain stealth capabilities than the F-22. Furthermore, the F-35 acquired the absolute latest in avionics which allows true 360 degree awareness, coupled with the AIM-9X missile which allows the jet to fire missiles against pursuing jet fighters without even having to turn its nose around to face the target! And let's not forget, a stealth fighter's primary mission is not to be detected - if they have been detected, they have failed in their primary mission. You use stealth to your advantage at all times.

I agree that the F-35 ballooned shamefully in cost. However, there is no other fighter jet on the market today (read that again: on the market today ) that can offer the capabilities of the F-35. Purchasing anything else at this point would be a true waste of money, as they would not last more than a few minutes against enemy stealth fighters (read: PAK-FA). After all, why else is Canada buying expensive fighter jets? So they will never have to use them? Does that really make sense? Sure, Canada could consider buying all manner of other aircraft - heck, even a sopwith camel biplane could carry out the mission if you want to argue the point (shoot down enemy fighters; drop bombs), but nobody considers actually buying sopwith camels in this day and age, right? And there's a reason for that, right?

This whole argument is so shortsighted, I am amazed people continue to buy into it.




By GatoRat on 12/10/2012 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 1
Both the US and Israel have repeatedly proved that electronics, missiles and great pilots are more important than the aircraft.

That aside, what exactly is the F-35 supposed to fight that current aircraft and other weapons systems can't take care of in short order?

(Submarines are an even more ludicrous waste of money. We keep building ever ever expensive attack submarines, which end up being really expensive missile frigates. Frankly, far too much of our military budget is about appearances, not in actually providing for the common DEFENSE of the United States.)


By Tupoun on 12/11/2012 1:30:07 AM , Rating: 2
Well and you are not right. First - the only advantage of the F-35 in comparison with 4th generation Russian fighter jets (even the 80's Eurofighter) is stealth. Modern Russian airplanes have superb avionics/electronics as well.

Again ... for Australia may stealth in export version reach only "Level 3". SU-35 is considered "Level 4++", SU-30 in Indonesia the same "Level 3" stealth. Some Australian PM's were very angry when they found out the truth about F-35, because F-35 can not face in any circumstances those SU-30, so they wanted to cancel the whole deal immediately. But you know, politics. Better buy the crap then return bribes ... etc.

Why buy F-35, when the only advantage - Stealth (very limited in Export Version) is the same or lower then on these Russian planes what have utter superiority in all other things?

It's nice to have 360 awareness about your enemies (well it's not the only plane in the world), but ... first you have to have some weapons on board to fight them and with appropriate range, before they get close to you and detect you as well (there exists something called L-Band radar ... big trouble even for F-22. Was that the right reason, why they were cancelled and not the price ;)?). What's inside F-35? One cannon (and only A versions, B,C has to put it beneath the wings), whole 2 AIM-120C and 2 AIM 132 missiles (they are being forced by their partners to make space at least for 8 missiles (hard when you do not have enough space for it). You can put something beneath the wings, but what's the point? Because it would remove the rest of Stealth capability? Yes? Compare this with any Russian plane and yes and with 80's Eurofighter.

The concept of F-22 and F-35 was ... F-22 is a fighter, it should gain the air superiority in the area and F-35 afterwards brings the bombs, because it's not the plane intended for the plane against plane combat. It's just a "Lorry". So sell it to partners as "Superior" fighter jet ... they really thing people around the globe are stupid.

And Israel is different. They buy their planes (like F-16), remove some of the US crap (means avionics/electronics intended for export version) and make your own to be able match US counterparts.


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