The flawed F-35 has formidable defenses (as a program, if not as an aircraft). Killing the project would require mollifying a wide variety of political interests within the United States, as well as large chunks of the defense industrial base. It would also require unruffling the feathers of allied governments, many of which have devoted considerable political capital to the purchase of the JSF.
President elect Trump seems to be far less concerned than prior presidents about ruffling allies and about messing with domestic political and business interests. Trump tweeted about the F35 yesterday and it trimmed $2 billion from Lockheed stock.
The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
A combination of the following options is possible to replace the F35 program.
1. Build more F-22s. Restarting F-22 production would be expensive but the F22 is a proven and superior design. The would meet air force but not Navy or Marine needs.
2. Build improved unmanned systems
3. Update older fighters. Boeing has worked extensively at developing versions of both the F-15 and F / A-18 that have stealth characteristics. Boeing developed plans for the F-15 Silent Eagle, a modernization of the traditionally dominant fighter that would have dramatically reduced its radar signature. Similarly, Boeing has studied the concept of conformal fuel tanks on the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which would enhance its stealth capabilities and increase its range. Meanwhile, ever more sophisticated F-16s continue to roll off the production line.
4. Develop Generation Six fighter or systems
5. Buy foreign fighters like the Gripen, Eurofighter or Rafale. In order to have any chance of success, this would have to involve licensing deals to assemble and manufacture the aircraft in the United States. The US would be put into the uncomfortable position of requiring technology transfer agreements from European allies, rather than the other way around. This would have the advantage of putting the fear of almighty God in the U.S. defense industry, and of putting proven platforms into the hands of the USAF and USN. All three airframes are over a decade newer than the latest US legacy fighters, meaning that they still have significant upgrade potential. They also have reasonably reliable cost and performance expectations.
SOURCES- National Interest, Wikipedia, Twitter
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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