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Limitations on F-35 Speak to Need for Diversity in Air Force

Limitations on F-35 Speak to Need for Diversity in Air Force

By Tuesday, 21 July 2020 08:22 AM Current | Bio | Archive

One does not have to be an expert in military procurement to understand that if a fighter jet has limitations, it makes sense to have options.

President Donald J. Trump has great instincts and when on December 12, 2016 he tweeted, "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," he was spot on. What he left out was that, in addition to out-of-control cost, the F-35 has limitations that speak to the idea that the Air Force needs to keep other fighter jets in the fleet to provide diversity for times when the F-35 is not an option.

Not being able to fly during certain weather conditions seems very limiting for a fighter jet that is expected to cost the taxpayer well over $1 trillion, yet that is exactly the situation with one version of the F-35. Defense News reported on June 24, "the most widely used variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is currently unable to fly in thunderstorms after the discovery of damage to one of the systems it uses to protect itself from lightning, its prime contractor Lockheed Martin said Wednesday." The problems is that if the jet gets hit by lighting, it could explode. For now, there is a recommendation that the F-35A fly outside of a 25-mile bubble from lightning storms. The story notes the irony that this aircraft's nickname is the "Lightning II."

Not being able to fly at high speeds is another problem facing the F-35 fleet. Defense News reported on April 24,"An issue that risks damage to the F-35's tail section if the aircraft needs to maintain supersonic speeds is not worth fixing and will instead be addressed by changing the operating parameters, the F-35 Joint Program Office told Defense News in a statement Friday." The report indicated that when at high altitudes, the F-35 can only fly at high speed for short bursts, because of a "risk of structural damage and the loss of stealth capability." These are two significant limitations for a project that has become ridiculously expensive for the taxpayer.

If taxpayers are on the hook for over $1 trillion to build the Gulfstream or Lamborghini of fighter jets, the thing better be top of the line with zero limitations. That is currently not the case.

Taxpayers have already sunk a fortune into this project. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive defense project, by far, in history. Bloomberg News reported in March that the cost of sustaining these aircraft is "estimated at about $1.2 trillion over 66 years." The report indicated that a $17 billion system set up to monitor the F-35s for "repairs, parts replacement and general maintenance is rife with flaws, sometimes forcing personnel to spend hours entering data by hand, according to congressional auditors." If the taxpayers are paying for the functional equivalent of a Ferrari or a top of the line Bentley, they should get the highest quality.

The F-35 reminds people more of the car made famous by the movie Back to the Future where a De Lorean car was the time machine.  The early '80s cars looked great and futuristic but turned out to be a lemon. The car had mechanical problems and ended up the laughing stock of the car industry. It is important to our national security that the same does not happen with our Air Force. Military News reported on March 22, 2019 titled "Pentagon Buying F-15EX Alongside F-35s to Preserve Diversity, Official Says," that explains the Defense Department's push for diversity in contractors to provide a higher-capacity combination of fighter jets.

Diversity in the Air Force will help reduce costs on taxpayers while keeping them safe.  President Trump's promise to dial back the cost of the F-35 program was an important one and now is the time to make that promise a reality.

Steve Gruber is a conservative talk show host with 25 affiliates in Michigan. "The Steve Gruber Show" launched in 2012 with just four affiliates and has grown into the most powerful name in talk radio across Michigan. Steve has been named "Best Morning Personality" by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters five years in a row. His conservative, common-sense philosophy was developed during his time growing up in rural Michigan. Steve's early career found him in several newsrooms including WILX, Lansing where he honed his investigative journalism and interviewing skills. He became the main news anchor of the station and before long was offered a job with NBC in Columbus, Ohio. While working for NBC, he covered the incredible launch of John Glenn, age 77, into space at Cape Canaveral, White Supremacists in Ohio, and the deadly game of selling prescription medication online. Steve was nominated for an Emmy in 2000. Read Steve Gruber's Reports — More Here.

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One does not have to be an expert in military procurement to understand that if a fighter jet has limitations, it makes sense to have options.
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Tuesday, 21 July 2020 08:22 AM
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