The expensive and problem-filled F-35 stealth fighter program appears on track to finally getting cut short.
The US Air Force is starting a months-long study of tactical aviation requirements that would lead to winding to the F-35 stealth fighter program. The study will look at a force mix that addresses both near- and long-term requirements. The report will impact the fiscal 2023 budget request, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Feb. 17.
The US Air force plan for the last two decades has been to buy lots of F-35s and retire the various F-15, F-16 and F18.
Brown acknowledged the F-35 is having engine wear issues. This is on top of many other major software problems, airframe and weapons problems.
The JSF program was expected to cost about $200 billion in base-year 2002 dollars when SDD was awarded in 2001. By 2017, delays and cost overruns had pushed the F-35 program’s expected acquisition costs to $406.5 billion, with total lifetime cost (i.e., to 2070) to $1.5 trillion in then-year dollars which also includes operations and maintenance. Delays in development and operational test and evaluation pushed full-rate production to 2021.
The US will have about 800 F-35s by the end of 2021 and about 970 by the end of 2022. Winding down the F25 program might see the US getting about half of the planned 2443 F-35s.
The US would want to try to create light-weight fighter that was a partially stealthy generation 4.5 fighter. The new fighters would likely not be cheaper than the F-35 or the latest F15. The goal would be to have lower operating costs and a reliable workhorse fighter. The US has not been able to deliver a reliable new fighter for the last 35 years.
A full cancellation of the F-35 seems unlikely. The best result could be phasing out procurement of the F35 over four years.
SOURCES- Air Force Magazine, Wikipedia
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
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