Lockheed Martin’s new single-engine F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter is the latest Swiss Army Knife of fighter aircraft for the US military.
The plane, which is destined to replace
the F-16, AV8-B, A-10 and F/A-18, will be available in three variants:
Lockheed is now proposing a fourth variant that it has been
working on for the past two years. The design proposal is for an unmanned
version of the F-35 that could operate as a hybrid -- that is, it could be
configured to either fly by remote or if need be with a human pilot in the
cockpit. Many have stated that the F-35 would be the last manned fighter jet
for the Air Force as the military has been pouring more and more dollars into unmanned
combat systems. Lockheed's proposed unmanned J-35 would bridge the gap between
the past and the future of aerial combat. From the Washington
The Pentagon, looking
to save money, has accelerated spending on unmanned systems since the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks. This year, it allocated $2 billion for unmanned
aircraft and millions more in the supplemental budget, compared with $363
million in 2001. The figure is projected to reach more than $3 billion by the end
of the decade. What has resulted is a hodgepodge of unmanned vehicles, such as
small, bomb-seeking robots that can be carried in a backpack, and airplanes
that provide surveillance for days at a time. The systems have become bigger
and more expensive in recent years, such as the Predator, built by General
Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., and the Global Hawk, which has a 134-foot
wingspan, comparable to the Boeing 737.
Lockheed has been playing second fiddle to other names in
the industry, namely Boeing,
when it comes to unmanned aircraft. The price tag of
the F-35 program has also ballooned from $201 billion to $276 billion. The price increase along
with the government's increasing fascination with unmanned drones is probably
why the initial order for 2,000 planes could likely drop significantly in the
quote: by the anti-Bush people who want to come up with something thay can pin on Bush as being evil.
quote: Why such surprise, this is using proven technology as it was used on 9/11 to pilot the planes.
quote: fact that steel melts at 1525° C, and although jet fuel burns only at 825° C, it doesn't have to burn hot enough to melt to cause the buildings to collapse, since steel loses 50% of its strength at 648 ° C
quote: Did I read a quarter of a TRILLION dollars on this thing?