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F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Too Expensive? Solution: Scrap the F-35A and F-35C Variants, Produce the F-35B STOVL, and Revive the F-22 Raptor.

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By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com

March 15, 2010

Human Events is reporting that the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) fighter/attack aircraft’s per-unit cost has skyrocketed to $112 million, and The New York Times is reporting that the F-35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) fighter/attack aircraft has ballooned in cost from 60-90 percent in real terms since 2001, “blowing well past a level requiring the program to be revamped, Pentagon officials said Thursday.” This cost jump brings the per-unit cost to $80 million to $90 million. Regardless of who’s numbers you believe, this is alarming news, particularly considering the recent cancellation of the F-22 Raptor program over its supposed high cost. Not that the F-22 isn’t a costly aircraft. It is. However, before its cancellation, Lockeed Martin had finally gotten the Raptor’s per-unit cost down to the $143 million to $147 million range, and the production line was well under way. However, since they cancelled the F-22 program, the per-unit aircraft cost is, instead, around $350 million, due to the very low number built (187 aircraft).

The fact is, the F-22 Raptor is a MUCH more capable fighter/attack aircraft on just about every level, save for its lack of a helmet-mounted sighting/targeting system, which can, and will, be remedied. Frankly, there’s no excuse for the Raptor not having a Boeing Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)-type or VSI F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS)-type helmet sight/targeting system, but at least that’s something that can be fixed. By contrast, there’s no way the F-35 can ever be made as capable as the F-22 or upcoming Russian PAK FA Sukhoi T-50 Raptorsky 5th-Gen fighter aircraft. It’s simply not possible.

The only version of the F-35 JSF that offers a capability beyond the F-22’s design is the F-35B STOVL (Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing) variant, which is intended to replace the Boeing AV-8B Harrier II Plus “Jump Jet”, which is much more difficult and dangerous than the F-35B for pilots to fly. The F-35B STOVL variant is an interesting aircraft, and can potentially provide us with a significantly-expanded naval deployment capability, since it requires a very short takeoff distance, even when fully armed.

Instead of producing the F-35C, Defense Review believes it might be smarter to produce a navalized version of the F-22 (including a two-seat model), and just scrap the F-35A and F-35C. The F-35A’s and F-35C’s respective costs are now just too close to the per-unit cost of the F-22 to justify themselves.

By the way, Human Events and The New York Times aren’t the only ones reporting on the F-35 program’s skyrocketing costs. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Washington Post, and Reuters are also reporting on it.

Related Articles:

F-22 Raptor Program Cancellation: Will we learn from it?

Raptor Beware: Russia Test-Flies PAK FA Sukhoi T-50 5th-Generation Supercruise-Capable Low-Observable/Stealth Fighter Aircraft. Look out F-22.

Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) ‘Kill Weapon’ Flummoxes U.S. Navy

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Can the U.S. Navy Defend Itself Against Chinese and Russian Military Tech?

Eurofighter Typhoon: Can Thrust-Vectoring and Low-Observability be Added?

F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Too Expensive? Solution: Scrap the F-35A and F-35C Variants, Produce the F-35B STOVL, and Revive the F-22 Raptor. by
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About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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