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The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the flights-of-fancy dept.

The Military 364

schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."

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Good! (-1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 5 months ago | (#47419609)

It was a great thing that the U.S. imperialists were defeated by the Vietnamese workers and peasants. If it weren't for Vietnam kicking U.S. imperialist ass, women here wouldn't have the right to abortion and the racist death penalty would be even more widespread. Every defeat for U.S. imperialism is a victory for the workers and oppressed in America and around the worlr. But while this is a gratifying empbarrassment for the bloody war pigs, the only force more powedrful than U.S. imperialism is the international working class and, crucially, its U.S. division. For a Soviet America!

Jezus (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 months ago | (#47419803)

You're on a roll : ). And persistent.
But your spelling is getting better.
I guess you ran out of toads? ; ).

Re: Jezus (1)

Teranolist (3658793) | about 5 months ago | (#47420481)

You're not funny. Sorry.

Re: Jezus (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 months ago | (#47420555)

Are you for a free internet?

engine problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419623)

so which states make the engines?
blow those states up. shift work to states 46-50 who don't get a piece of the pie.
problems solved.

Re:engine problems... (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 months ago | (#47419899)

Florida and Connecticut are where P&W does the engine assembly, parts probably come from all over the US and NATO countries.

Re:engine problems... (1)

knightghost (861069) | about 5 months ago | (#47420315)

Blame the voters - they put those politicians into office.

Re:engine problems... (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 months ago | (#47420527)

Blame the voters - they put those politicians into office.

Voters that work at Lockheed or associated sub-contractors... Other voters that sell stuff to the first set of voters... Ultimately, we'll all be directly or indirectly building F-35s. It's turtles all the way down. [wikipedia.org]

Stop throwing good money after bad. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419629)

The whole program should be scrapped. It's time to cut the losses on this boondoggle. Lots of states will lose jobs? Oh well, guess you idiots shouldn't have fucked up the program so royally if you wanted to hang on to those jobs. Trust me, the money will be spent somewhere else and there will be jobs to be had there. Let's build a dozen nuclear power plants for starters and go from there.

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (0)

aurizon (122550) | about 5 months ago | (#47419927)

I agree with you. This is a fleet of flying garbage cans. G limits on the crews means they are easy targets for the latest missiles that Russia and many others have. All the money spent is wasted in most respects, but a lot of the knowledge base can be used for a new generation of pilotless planes with fight alone capability once they reach an area to respond faster than a remote human can. Remotes can be very hard. but jamming is walys possible, so fight alone autonomy is needed. There is also a need for fight along long range missiles that can hang around and interdict an area, then come back for fuel. They also need higher energy fules, boron derivaties that still use air for these remote missiles.

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (5, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47420199)

Haven't done any government work lately eh? All programs like this are politically important and have to be managed as such.

Many aircraft projects are insanely expensive ventures and the F-35 is no exception. Many have serious issues, the F-35 is not the first nor will it be the last. It is the nature of the problem. The F4U (Corsair) had serious handling problems, the F6F Hellcat had serious performance issues, yet both where put into production because they where the best tools we had at the time and they filled the need.

In the case of the F-35, the problems are many and mostly government created, but the aircraft serves the need for replacing the AV8-B, F-15, F-16 and F18 as the front line of all the services that fly fixed wing. But, It's very early to decide that the F35 is a lost cause. Do we need to hold the contractor(s) feet to the fire? You bet. but there IS NO OTHER OPTION. Development of other options will be another insanely expensive exercise, as would going back and building more of the decades old aircraft it is designed to replace. So, we go forward..... Any other option will cost more at this point, so we are going to spend what it takes. Lockheed knows this.

Unless of course you don't mind not having an air force, close air support or the ability to launch fighters/attach aircraft from carriers in the near future..... I'm not willing to go down that route again because the last time we tried the unilateral disarmament approach it resulted in a pretty messy world war or two... It seems cheaper to pay Lockheed for the F35 now...

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (0)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 5 months ago | (#47420357)

Yes, let's kept paying the crony capitalists lest we be left defenseless. So many people have been nonchalant about the economic damage this system has caused to our country, so I can only hope the security damage is more successful in grabbing their attention.

Even if this project met its goals, it would still be extremely underwhelming... especially on cost-benefit analysis. Starting over is the right choice.

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (5, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 5 months ago | (#47420363)

The problem with your argument is that you argue that F-35 is necessary to replace those aircraft. It's not. NATO already has several functional aircraft that do what F-35 does, and do it much better. Rafale is a far superior multirole attack focused aircraft for example (far greater payload, has a superb jamming system instead of stealth which proved itself in Libya). F-18E/F will likely outperform it as an air superiority fighter, as will Eurofighter. All of these are cheaper and proven to work.

And if you're looking at competition against states like Russia and China, having a few expensive and largely dysfunctional "sorta" stealth fighters is a far worse option than having many cheaper, proven and reliable fighters with close range electronic warfare support aircraft mixed in. Notably that is how NATO forces operate nowadays, and that is why they have such a high survivability against SAM threats (with exception of Rafale, which appears to basically be an "electronic warfare aircraft lite" on its own, as proven in Libya where it was the only NATO aircraft to conduct air strikes without electronic warfare aircraft support).

The only ones who would take a hit are those who were planning to replace Harriers, because there's simply no replacement for Harrier in existence. That means UK that needs Harriers for its aircraft carriers and US marine corps. Everyone else would do just fine with F-18, Rafale and Eurofighter. Or if they need a really cheap lighter option, Gripen.

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420447)

Basically agree with you on everything except that USA had nothing to do with those two "great" wars getting started. Having well tooled forces or not.
The first had been simmering for some time between the locals, the US was simply too far away, and stuck with the technologies of the day, to have much of any impact. The 2nd one had another lunatic who could not even control himself and no size of US forces would have made any difference.

Wars are never started for sane reasons. There are always better solutions if you are willing to take them. But the guys who DO start wars are all in a greement of not going after the ones that do. You walk down this path of trying to outkill the other side and it's a loose loose. Saddam knew "EVERYONE" was after him because he knew what he would do to someone like himself. US forces just confirmed it for him. He lived by kill them before they kill me on a daily basis. Which have brought us waay off topic.

If you want to have a modern airforce I'm sure you are dead on, there is no cheaper solution. Unfortunately as a nation, almost any nation, people are not willing to participate and you get companies that totally get the politics of, for example, supplying the armed forces and they play it better than the general public.

Re:Stop throwing good money after bad. (3, Insightful)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 5 months ago | (#47420253)

Lots of states will lose jobs?

They don't even lose jobs.

The money their taxpayers save can be spent locally creating the same amount (measured in dollars) of jobs that it would have if the money makes a round trip through the federal government along the way.

Eisenhower tried to warn us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419635)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419705)

seriously?
stfu already about that.
everything you eat, drink, wear, drive, or live in is from a something-industrial-complex filled with people you need and love to bitch about.

D-Day, something Eisenhower probably knew something about, wouldn't have happened without industrial production of military might.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419769)

D-Day, something Eisenhower probably knew something about, wouldn't have happened without industrial production of military might.

Yes. D-Day happened.

Then we kept pumping money into the military.

Then we started looking for wars to pick to justify the spending.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419841)

The world is that same as it ever was.
After WW2, the US kinda said fuck it.
Then Korea happened, and the US had Task Force Smith.
The US didn't start Korea.
The world is the same as it ever was.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (2)

dbreeze (228599) | about 5 months ago | (#47419909)

AC knocking it out of the park again.....
Eisenhower called it like a true prophet.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419869)

everything you eat, drink, wear, drive, or live in is from a something-industrial-complex filled with people you need and love to bitch about.

The military industrial complex is unique in the sense that many more people are murdered than usual. It's not very intelligent of you to compare it with anything else.

D-Day, something Eisenhower probably knew something about, wouldn't have happened without industrial production of military might.

D-Day happened. Therefore, we need to waste massive amounts of money on the military forever.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420055)

the issue at hand is the self-perpetuating nature of any blah-blah-complex, not how many people it murders.

now you are revealing your true bias as one NOT concerned with the self-perpetuating nature but with war itself for any reason. and you don't like anything competing with the handout society you've grown accustomed to.

your average county can't even really tell you where all the money is coming from for all the various "programs" they have available because of the intericene and absurd laundering of tax money via "grants" so local bureacrats can employ thier families... and you like it that way. you like the handout society. protecting your country against other countries ...that doesn't get much play in the lilith fair crowd.

Re:Eisenhower tried to warn us. (2)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 5 months ago | (#47420431)

Drawing comparisons to WWII is ironic, because the F-35 program is exactly the kind of program that the US did not invest in during the war. A program that consumed lots of resources on the promise of radical advances without delivering anything actually useful onto the battlefield now.

Germany in contrast, spent lots of time on such projects even into the final desperate days.

"Troubled" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419663)

Media speak for "new" when it's a big DOD project.

And Joe Schmoe wont care. (5, Insightful)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 5 months ago | (#47419681)

Everybody with an IQ above that of a jellybean knows the main job of the congresscritters is to bring back the pork. The blue guys do it and the red guys do it.

The reason they can keep doing it and no one really gives a shit is because once you explain to Joe Schmoe that cutting program X or agency Y's budget means he or his cousin or his drinking buddy could lose their job, well Joe can rationalize keeping that program.

Americans all want pork cut everywhere except their home district. We are short sighted, have short memories, and aren't willing to endure short term discomfort in the pursuit of long term prosperity.

Anyone candidate that would be for cutting this kind of corporate welfare isn't viable on a national ticket. Eisenhower was right about this all by the way.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419789)

And this is why "the people" aren't fit to "participate" in government.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (3, Interesting)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47419851)

Careful. Short term discomfort lasted 70 years for the soviets. The government needs to stop inflating the currency, fix the tax code so that each tax is justified for one specific case, with all funds directed to that case, close the loopholes for the wealthy, pay off the debt, and then lower the unneeded tax once that's done. Basically it needs to work within a budget like the rest of us.

These F35s are way too expensive to be useful in a battle. China would throw 10x as many half assed shitboxes and still win. They need to be cheap and reliable. These F35s are expensive and failure prone, like a lot of products today. "The more they over do the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain".

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (4, Interesting)

suutar (1860506) | about 5 months ago | (#47420023)

what's ironic is that one of China's more recent models appears to be based on the F-35 but without the attempt at VTOL hampering the other design goals and running up the cost.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420157)

The blue guys do it and the red guys do it.

Not everybody does it. Some Tea Party Republicans have voted, on principle, to cut pork for their own districts. No Democrat would do that.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420515)

I like to think that there still is a difference between the two, but there really is none. It's become their game to be someone and bring in all the doe you can in congress. Even if you have good sane values your very existence is a threat to the other guys who only want to continue their game. The should-be-voters are less and less interested in even looking at their activities, and so they get to carry on. A nation's people get's the governament it deserve, mainly by their lack of involvement.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (5, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 5 months ago | (#47420301)

Everybody with an IQ above that of a jellybean knows the main job of the congresscritters is to bring back the pork. The blue guys do it and the red guys do it.

The reason they can keep doing it and no one really gives a shit is because once you explain to Joe Schmoe that cutting program X or agency Y's budget means he or his cousin or his drinking buddy could lose their job, well Joe can rationalize keeping that program.

Americans all want pork cut everywhere except their home district. We are short sighted, have short memories, and aren't willing to endure short term discomfort in the pursuit of long term prosperity.

Anyone candidate that would be for cutting this kind of corporate welfare isn't viable on a national ticket. Eisenhower was right about this all by the way.

Eisenhower was also right to be suspicious of 'think tanks', 'intelligence experts' and 'analysts'. One of the reasons he first pushed the U-2 program and then Corona was because 'expert intelligence tanalysts' told him the Soviets had Over 800 Myasishchev M-4 'Bison' bombers. Reconnaissance later revealed that the grand total strenght of the Soviet B-4 bomber force at the time was 20 aircraft, in fact one U-2 actually managed to catch the entire B-4 fleet in a single photograph. By the time Eisenhowers insistance on hard reconnaissance finally won out the USA had built hundreds of bombers to bridge an imaginary 'bomber gap'.

Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (3, Insightful)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 5 months ago | (#47420473)

If you can't stand these priorities, please consider signing this: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/help-arriving-children

Please let me explain what I am thinking in distributing this petition. I believe that Americans, like people everywhere, truly want to help others. But somehow, through a combination of fear and the greed of a few people, we no longer show this value in our government's budget. Instead, we spend more than $600 billion a year to fund the world's biggest military and the companies that build weapons, while sometimes thinking we cannot afford simple humanitarian programs.

If Americans understood what we could buy for ourselves and our neighbors with just one percent of the military budget, I truly believe we'd shift our funding. One percent of our military budget could fund sixty $100,000,000 projects at home or around the world. And, with Central American kids risking their lives to travel to our borders, the need is evident.

Some of us sometimes worry that welfare programs go to "undeserving" people. This is a time when, regardless of our beliefs about whether welfare works, we can easily see that people deserve our help and support -- these are kids fleeing poverty and danger.

Groups like The Moral Majority have poisoned the word "moral" for many people I know. But true morality has nothing to do with conservative religious groups. True morality is using our wealth to help our neighbors in distress, not to further build an already oversized military. True morality is not turning our backs.

And I further feel we find our own safety in true morality. A nation that is extending its arms to help others is less likely to be attacked than a nation that demonstrates concern only that the wealthiest 0.01% of the world not pay their fair share of the bills.

Thanks for spreading the word!

400 billion for war planes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419691)

And yet only a few million for NASA research.

Why is the USA supposed to be so great again?

Re:400 billion for war planes (3, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47419855)

The NASA budget [wikipedia.org] is a little bit bigger than a few millon at about $18B.

Re:400 billion for war planes (2, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47420225)

So, 4.5% of this ONE SINGLE Defense Department program, then. Yeah. I see your point. /sarcasm

Re:400 billion for war planes (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47420355)

The F-25 project was started in 1996 and is planned to be completed in 2019. That is 23 years for an average of $17.4B/year. Also there will be about 2,443 aircraft in the use military which will be used for the next 20 years or more. Comparing a single year budget with a multi-year budged on raw numbers is not valid. You need to convert them to the same scale

What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#47419701)

The F-35 probably shouldn't have been built. At least, it shouldn't have been built the way it was. "Been built" is the key phrase. Most of the excess cost is already sunk. Nine countries have signed on to buy it. We can't reverse time and get the money back, and starting over from scratch would both a) cost more and b) lose most of the partner countries, meaning the US would pay more of the cost.

Yes, maintaining planes costs money, and the F-35 is no exception. Is someone suggesting that the US should have no planes? Of course not, so maintenance costs will be incurred. There's no choice to be made there. I suppose we could spend nearly as much trying to keep F-15s flying. Would that be better?

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (4, Insightful)

crgrace (220738) | about 5 months ago | (#47419799)

You seem to misunderstand what sunk cost means. You're using the phrase as an argument to keep funding the project because "we can't reverse time and get the money back". In fact, the common definition of the sunk cost is opposite of your use. Generally only future costs should be relevant to an investment decision, otherwise you run into the danger of "throwing good money after bad". There is a lot of evidence that continued funding of the F-35 is in fact throwing good money after bad.

You also present a false dichotomy. One alternative option from spending upwards of a Trillion dollars on the F-35 is to manufacture more smaller, cheaper, proven fighters such as the F-18 or indeed the F-15. Keeping our current squadrons operable is less of an issue if we build more at lower cost.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (4, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | about 5 months ago | (#47420027)

You cannot continue to go out and fight with older weapons though.
Nominally, the F-15/F-16/F-18 are not as survivable in a modern air war.
A proven fighter is one that has been through the teething problems that the F-35 is going through now.
It may well be that it would be better to start over, but we would then have to start another project, because the above mentioned fighters are getting long in the tooth.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (5, Insightful)

EnglishTim (9662) | about 5 months ago | (#47420125)

Just buy some Eurofighters...

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420425)

We build our own fighters.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 months ago | (#47420239)

You cannot continue to go out and fight with older weapons though.
Nominally, the F-15/F-16/F-18 are not as survivable in a modern air war.

The F-35 is a compromise design.
Mostly it compromises its ability to loiter on the target, carry large amounts of munitions, and dogfight.
So as long as you don't want to do any of those things, the F-35 is better than older weapons.

A proven fighter is one that has been through the teething problems that the F-35 is going through now.

Ha! The F-35's issues are not "teething problems," they are R&D problems.
The F-35 is a procurement disaster of such epic proportions that tomes will be written to warn future generations on what not to do.

Just to stay on topic, one of those tomes will talk about engine problems and why the military should source 2 different engine designs.
It will also mention that, because of the F-35's unprecedented budget overruns, the second design was canceled [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420371)

The F-35 is a compromise design.

As is every aircraft.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about 5 months ago | (#47420437)

Of course ( as already noted ) is a compromise.
And it really isnt supposed to be dogfighting, I expect, but rather ( in an ungentlemanly fashion ) standing off and killing the enemy before they get close.

And yes, they are R&D problems. Any advanced aircraft will be having those.

Note, I am not saying that the F-35 is a perfect plane and is a model for procurement or production.
All I have read leads me to think that there is plenty of learning in how to do it better next time.
But I think it is still possible to have a great aircraft ( albeit an expensive one ) to result from this.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420553)

What are the R&D problems? What are the procurement problems?

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (5, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 5 months ago | (#47420307)

And most important of all and ignored totally by everyone is that every single plane the airforce has ever developed had these same growing pains. They all have massive cost overruns, groundings and unexplained crashes.

They've spent the bulk of the money quoted for the planes. All those R&D dollars are gone. At this point the planes cost about $120 million a piece to build, which isn't that much more than an F-18. That's nothing, but because they include the R&D that's already spent you end up with dollar amounts that look massive. The less we buy the higher the amortized costs are.

The F-35 is likely to be the last manned fighter ever produced. We've signed almost a dozen countries up to buy some and spread the costs out. It's going to totally streamline all the parts acquisition and maintenance and leave us with a single plane that handles almost every manned role. In time robotic aircraft or drones are going to take over all the dangerous roles. But that time is still decades off and we need something to keep our defense better than everyone else until that point. Air power and navy are two areas I have no problem with out government spending money on. They can be used to deny an enemy entry to the Americas and our separation from the Asian continent is one of the things that provides our best protection.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 5 months ago | (#47420381)

Current versions of all those aircraft are survivable. F-18E/F versions are quite modern and you could work on those to build the next version. Or you can buy Rafale/Eurofighter (depending on whether you need attack focused multirole or fighter focused multirole). And for cheap light fighter needs a la F-16, you can buy Gripen.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about 5 months ago | (#47420505)

No one is standing still though.
They will not be survivable forever, and you cant ( as we are seeing ) just wait and see.

And I would be stunned and amazed if the USAF were to seriously consider buying aircraft from the same basic generation as the aircraft already in inventory. If they wanted that, they could continue building what they have ( with potential updates, of course ).

The issues are the stealth features, which are hard to backfit on existing aircraft and the electronics/radar, which you might be able to, but you would have a major refit to accomplish ( assuming there is room/power/etc ) in the aircraft.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420533)

You cannot continue to go out and fight with older weapons though.
Nominally, the F-15/F-16/F-18 are not as survivable in a modern air war..

the problem is, we DON'T know this for sure. That's what the F-35 is sold on, but note - the F-35 has poorer maneuverability, endurance in the air, etc. - it's main ability to fight will rely on the newer-tech missiles it carries... missiles the older F-15/16/18s could also carry. The idea was that the F-35 doesn't need maneuverability because missiles have improved to the point where it can pull Gs no human fighter can pull, and are smart enough to ignore countermeasures. What it needs is to be stealthy and so fire first. If you believe Pierre Spey et al, the F-35 will empty itself of missiles and then what can it do but run? And stealth is directional - you can't be stealthy 360 degrees so you design for stealth from the front (that's also one of the weaknesses, they're trying to design radar intercepts around this).

So an F-35 can kill as many enemies as it can carry missiles, sure - after which it is useless and will die.

What happens when the enemy puts more planes in the air than the F-35 has missiles? It can do that if (number of enemy planes x cost of enemy planes) (cost of F-35 x number of missiles it can carry).

(don't forget again the poor fuel capacity and hence operational time/range - heck you don't even have to hit the F-35s themselves, just chase down the tanker planes).

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

dmbrun (907271) | about 5 months ago | (#47420565)

>> A proven fighter is one that has been through the teething problems that the F-35 is going through now.

No, it's not.

A proven fighter is one that has shown itself to have a good combat record.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47420201)

Yes, build more for less!
Because the lives of pilots are expendable?

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 5 months ago | (#47420403)

In a large conflict that these are planned for? Yes. In those, everyone is expendable.

For smaller conflicts, you just need a good ejection seat and a solid retrieval team on top of flying electronic warfare aircraft alongside others.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

jovius (974690) | about 5 months ago | (#47419989)

The project has become too politicized. And politicians will always look for their own interests, which keeps the expenses high. And without the political support there's no plane. It's a vicious and expensive cycle. The core of the problem is not the manufacturing costs, maintenance costs or especially the defects, which are only symptoms of the disease.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#47420049)

It shouldn't have been built, but for other reasons - the biggest one being the enemy for which they're designed to fight is not who the US military is likely to be dealing with in the future.

What role do these hyper-advanced aircraft have when you're fighting Al-Qaeda, ISIS, or whoever the stone-age-terrorist-du-jour is? We're not going to be fighting China, that's for sure; both they and we are way to inter-dependent.

So sure - the money already spent is sunk cost. But why throw good money after bad?

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420183)

The F-35 probably shouldn't have been built. At least, it shouldn't have been built the way it was. "Been built" is the key phrase. Most of the excess cost is already sunk. Nine countries have signed on to buy it. We can't reverse time and get the money back, and starting over from scratch would both a) cost more and b) lose most of the partner countries, meaning the US would pay more of the cost.

Yes, maintaining planes costs money, and the F-35 is no exception. Is someone suggesting that the US should have no planes? Of course not, so maintenance costs will be incurred. There's no choice to be made there. I suppose we could spend nearly as much trying to keep F-15s flying. Would that be better?

They way things are looking one is almost tempted to point out (with 20:20 hindsight) that the USAF would have been better off producing some sort of F-22 'light" and scrapping the F-35 but it's too late for that now, the only hope is to salvage this disaster.... not that I'm holding my breath.

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47420513)

I totally agree with you. We are committed and have no other options. As you point out we could scrap the F35 and start over, but if one is upset over the program costs so far there will be no way you will be able to do it cheaper by starting over. One might be able to pull the project from Lockheed and give it to somebody else, but even that will likely cost a lot of money we don't have.

Those who think we can do without the F35 are ignorant (or just plain nuts). The planes the F35 is going to replace have been flying for decades and many of the airframes are at the very end of their design lives. The F35 is designed to replace the AV8B (34 years old out of production), the F-15 (47 years old but in production), the F-16 (39 years old but in production) , F-18 (34 years old in production) etc... Every one of these aircraft are based on airframe designs which are 30 plus years old. We'd be stupid to buy many more of them, but if we don't buy the F35 what other choice is there? The only other possible choice that comes to mind is disarmament, unilateral disarmament by the USA, and that's basically suicide.

The F35 is the only game we can play right now, best we get used to that and get used to having Lockheed take advantage of us. Let's not do this sole source "pick one vendor" thing for such development efforts in the future.. Please....

Re:What difference now does it make? :) Sunk costs (1)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 5 months ago | (#47420587)

First of all, I think we all know that future warfare will be conducted with drones. You seem to be arguing to put money into a project that is completely USELESS. This is all about pork for Lockeed Martin.

Feature not a bug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419717)

This is working exactly according to plan.

How much did we spend per person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419759)

Population of the USA in 2014: 317 million

399,000,000,000 / 317,000,000

$1258.68 per person.

I want my money back!

Re:How much did we spend per person? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47420211)

Good idea.
You can put that $1258.68 towards Mandarin lessons, for when China takes USA by force.

Engine problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419773)

New war plane with engine development problems?

Say it isn't so.

That's Never happened before.... Scrap it! Kill it all now it's a boondoggle built schools and shelters instead blah blah blah it's supposed to be perfect on the first try and give the moneys to the poor and sick and build hospitals we could build 8.2 kajillion new hospitals with all that money herp derp.

"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platforms" (4, Interesting)

Onuma (947856) | about 5 months ago | (#47419775)

The F-35 replaced the A-10 Thunderbolt II's role as a tank buster, CAS bomber...

With the money we have spent on the F-35s to date, we could have repaired, retrofitted, and maintained our supply of A-10s for several decades. Hell, the A-10 is practically a flying tank. It has some of the best armament and is the most rugged fixed-wing aircraft which America has. It was a ridiculously short-sighted move to replace it with another overexpensive "multi role, joint" fighter.

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419861)

Yep, there's a reason why the A-10 keeps getting brought out of "retirement."

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419907)

That's not finalized.

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (4, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 5 months ago | (#47420097)

The F-35 replaced the A-10 Thunderbolt II's role as a tank buster, CAS bomber...

With the money we have spent on the F-35s to date, we could have repaired, retrofitted, and maintained our supply of A-10s for several decades. Hell, the A-10 is practically a flying tank. It has some of the best armament and is the most rugged fixed-wing aircraft which America has. It was a ridiculously short-sighted move to replace it with another overexpensive "multi role, joint" fighter.

Yeah, F-35s replacing the A-10 good luck with that. The idea of the F-35 flying into the operational environment of the A-10, i.e. 0-3000ft which in a real shooting war is likely to be saturated by scrap fire and dominated by Manpads, full blown SAMs and mobile Flak such as Shilkas [wikipedia.org] and Tunguskas [wikipedia.org] and having the same survial rates as the A-10 always struck me as funny. Stealth is pretty much useless down there most of the kills are done with heat seeking missiles and the good old Mk.1 eyeball. Experience has shown several times now that no matter how many smart weapons they cook up there is no replacement for getting in good and close and blasting the shit out of the target with a 30mm gun.

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (1)

dbreeze (228599) | about 5 months ago | (#47420143)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] part 1 of 6...... great interview with someone who knows what he's talking about.
My take is that the problem is they tried to replace everything with 1 plane and wound up with one that could replace nothing....

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420337)

nooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (3, Insightful)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | about 5 months ago | (#47420487)

The parent is wrong. Nothing has replaced the A-10. The Pentagon tried to kill the Warthog earilier this year until everyone who actually uses them screamed bloody murder.

This fricken plane is airworthy with half a wing and an engine missing. Could the F-35 do that?

The Iraqis don't want us to send troops over there to deal with the ISIS business. They have plenty of troops of their own. What they have asked for is some air support. Immagine what a couple of A-10 squadrons would do there..

Digging ditches with spoons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419777)

When all people care about is more jobs instead of actually being productive this is what you get.

this is how China et al will catch up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419805)

The US has unquestioned superiority in technology right now. But this lead in both technology and resources is being frittered away with wastage.

If there ever is a shooting war with China - (a) they're certainly jonesing for it from what's happening in the South China sea, and (b) a limited "skirmish" is "safe" because who's going to go nuclear for this? If China takes all the islands its disputing, and Japan et al kick up a fuss, and in the midst of that skirmish there is actual combat and the US *loses*, what options do you have but to "accept the new reality"?

Re:this is how China et al will catch up (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 5 months ago | (#47419945)

never happen.

The Chinese economy would be as devastated as ours if we simply reneged on all the debt of ours they hold and nationalized all of their in-US assets. They're buying California real estate so fast the realtors can hardly keep up with the price rises.

Sociialist America... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419845)

Is this finally the USSA - United Socialist States of America?

is just normal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419849)

There has been not a single damn fighter project since the beginning of the airplanes age which has been free of this kind of technical problems.
Every successful aircraft, from stuka to f15 or f16 have had loads of problems.

As well, v22 and Apaches were initially Faulty. Now they are effective and reliable.

The only difference is that today everybody can read about everything happens.

F35 is just good as is, as every complex project It will need some time to fix remaining problems, but that's just normal.

Re:is just normal (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 5 months ago | (#47420311)

The big difference is that they didn't go into production before working out the major problems.

Capabilities (4, Interesting)

neonv (803374) | about 5 months ago | (#47419887)

This article doesn't mention the incredible upgrades of the F-35. It has incredible situational awareness (SA), highly networked to acquire SA from all sources, sensors onboard to provide SA, smaller that the F-22, more stealthy, and a range of other characteristics that the pentagon desires (wiki [wikipedia.org] ). Those capabilities are the top reason for the F-35 to exist at all. As development has progressed, then the money problems and failures came up as they always do. The capability needs don't justify the failures of the program, but they need to be taken into consideration when there's talk of changing or canceling the program.

Everyone has a different concern. Congressmen are probably concerned about money staying in their state to stay elected. The Pentagon is worried about capability and not being embarrassed over a big failure. The tax payers are worried about not wasting money and some of them about keeping an F-35 job. It's a complicated issue with lots of caveats.

Re:Capabilities (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 5 months ago | (#47420093)

This article doesn't mention the incredible upgrades of the F-35. It has incredible situational awareness (SA), highly networked to acquire SA from all sources, sensors onboard to provide SA, smaller that the F-22, more stealthy, and a range of other characteristics that the pentagon desires (wiki [wikipedia.org] ). Those capabilities are the top reason for the F-35 to exist at all. As development has progressed, then the money problems and failures came up as they always do. The capability needs don't justify the failures of the program, but they need to be taken into consideration when there's talk of changing or canceling the program.

Everyone has a different concern. Congressmen are probably concerned about money staying in their state to stay elected. The Pentagon is worried about capability and not being embarrassed over a big failure. The tax payers are worried about not wasting money and some of them about keeping an F-35 job. It's a complicated issue with lots of caveats.

Ah, excellent points. If only we'd have had these planes in Iraq and Afghanistan, we'd have...oh, wait a minute. NOTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED.

Our weak points do not hinge on air superiority. The current aircraft with our current pilots are demonstrably far and above better than anyone else on the planet. Yes, we do need to plan ahead...but is a radical new level of sophistication important and/or useful? Consider that no other nation on the planet retains even the ability to project power over distance from their home country, absent an ally where they can stage aircraft. The Russians have one aircraft carrier (the Kuznetsov) which is a steaming pile of shit that's only ever been out 4 times, and never far from home. It lacks catapults, so as a result aircraft that fly from it must go light on both munitions and fuel. It suffers from massive problems with its power plant, and is unreliable. The Chinese have a carrier too...but no ships to support it. Oh, and it's a carbon copy of the Kuznetsov and heads have rolled among the people who managed the purchase of it from the Russians. So it's shit too.

Meanwhile, Congress is doing all they can to axe...the A-10. The A-10 Warthog has killed more tanks than any other weapon in our arsenal, not to mention how many soldiers it's saved via close air support missions. It's universally loved among the pilots who fly it and the troops who have been protected by it, it's tried and true, and it's cheap as hell. Simple, rugged, incredibly durable even when shot to bits and indescribably lethal to ground targets, it's a much better indication of the kind of aircraft role that will be central to future conflicts we face.

So yeah...the F-35 has all sorts of whiz-bang cool stuff, stuff that we don't need, while being unreliable, insanely wasteful of money, and the wrong place for our primary focus to go for the future of war.

Re:Capabilities (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 months ago | (#47420209)

Not to mention the TERROR is instills in the enemy. Every human has that has ever heard the GAU-8 open fire knows what death sounds like. A true warcry of metal fury.

Re:Capabilities (1)

neonv (803374) | about 5 months ago | (#47420313)

The aim of the F-35 is a possible war with modern countries, not Afghanistan (since we have superiority in Afghanistan, most any aircraft would do). This includes not only where their technology currently is, but where we know they are going. The Chinese and Russians have some incredible defenses, and there's a constant back and forth of advancing weapons and defenses to counter those weapons. This happens whether you're aware of it or not, and most people have no idea what's out there in terms of weapons and defenses because countries mostly keep them secret. The F-35 is part of that superiority strategy, including all of the technology onboard the aircraft.

I'm am in agreement about the A-10. The F-35 in no way replaces what the A-10 can do, and the A-10 does it at 1/10th the cost. I wish they would bring it back into production rather than mothball a very useful aircraft.

Re:Capabilities (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 months ago | (#47420331)

As development has progressed,

Well that's the problem with your whole premise.
You do development before you build the plane.

The F-35 has turned into a white elephant specifically because of its backwards R&D/procurement process.

Re:Capabilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420449)

It has incredible situational awareness (SA)

Yes, the SA is 100% accurate. "The plane is sitting on the tarmac, grounded"

Dump it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419905)

...and buy F22 Raptors!

No Tea Party Member is on board with this!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47419925)

Check the record. EVERY Tea Party member is opposed to this program.

Probably. I'm gonna go check the record.

Re:No Tea Party Member is on board with this!! (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 5 months ago | (#47420107)

Check the record. EVERY Tea Party member is opposed to this program.

Probably. I'm gonna go check the record.

This is like saying "Hey, he ran a mile nonstop. Don't think he's unhealthy, just because he has full-blown AIDS..." Even a broken watch is right twice a day.

Re: No Tea Party Member is on board with this!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420149)

Yeah, except they probably blame it on Obama's dictatorship rather than the actual culprits.

F-35 (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#47419933)

The F-35 is a classic example of what is wrong with the military-industrial-political complex.

It's bloated. To an extreme nearly unimaginable. Layer on layer of bureaucracy and self interest slathered immeasurably deep. It's not possible for this to be efficient or effective.

The problem is NOT the concept of the plane or its implementation. Nor is it with the inevitable startup issues. Any design no matter how brilliantly conceived would have similar problems when constructed by the set of institutions that are in play here.

What I am afraid is that the only thing that will change this is a real existential threat to the United States. Only then will we see focus on what is really important. The sort of focus that led the United States to an economic output greater than the rest of world combined during WWII.

Bring in the drones (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#47419965)

Much more cost effective, especially since they don't need to be designed to support the limitations of human pilots (like g-force limits). And with a much lower cost we can build a lot more of them.

Re:Bring in the drones (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 5 months ago | (#47420197)

single-seaters like the F's are the aerial equivalent of naval battleships. the USA doesn't even need forward bases anymore for aircraft. world-wide force projection from home soil is available now. as above, drones do it all.

Re:Bring in the drones (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 5 months ago | (#47420391)

Most drones, like most tactical manned aircraft, don't have intercontinental range. Any kind of overseas presence has to include ground basing.

Even aircraft with intercontinental range have trouble with responsiveness (kind of hard to react immediately to a strike call when it'll take you 20 hours to get to the operation area).

Sorry, nice idea, but as long as America takes an interest in the rest of the world, we'll have to take posession of small parts of it to enforce our interests. Kthxbuhbye.

A problem with the $1 trillion number (1)

jgotts (2785) | about 5 months ago | (#47419993)

The article's summary seems to imply that US taxpayers are on the hook for $1 trillion. That's not quite right:

"But the armed services are not the only customers. Eight international partners have signed on to help build and buy the planes: the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway. While not involved in the development of the plane, Israel and Japan are buying it through the foreign military sales process, and South Korea recently indicated that it would buy at least 40 of the aircraft."

The US is set to buy 2,443 planes, but international sales will offset at least some of the expense both directly and indirectly.

but, but, but, the Canadians ... (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 5 months ago | (#47420011)

We've bullied/bribed/... the Canadians into buying them.

How bad can they be?

anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420039)

with expertise in military aviation care to chime in? ...suppose not.

just a lot of joe armchairs spouting "make it cheaper!!" - hey, it worked for the American car industry, didn't it?

Double Edged Sword (1)

UrsaMajor987 (3604759) | about 5 months ago | (#47420155)

Spreading the work across so many states insures continued political support, even when the Pentagon no longer wants to keep buying the F-35 but decides it needs a new plane. They won't be able to stop producing the old one.

WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420161)

these funds were covertly funneled to the Secret Space Program, like everything else

along with the CIA's drug profits, this is what actually finances the black budget - pure negligence, and public apathy, and no one having permission to see where the funds actually go

glad I cleared that up for you sheep

Congressional Wellfare (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 5 months ago | (#47420185)

So basically congress is ok with a wellfare program that brings money into their districts, even if the projects are a complete waste.

Re:Congressional Wellfare (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 5 months ago | (#47420457)

Congress is OK with corporate welfare. It's those god damned poor people that shouldn't be getting anything.

The number of jobs are few (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#47420193)

When these politicians give tax payer money to private companies to create "jobs" the tax payers get such a raw deal.

If we just put the trillion in the bank at 4% interest rate, you would get 40 billion dollars a year, It could pay 1 million people 40K a year. None of these projects ever create even a large fraction of a million jobs. Even if it uses the money to hire half million people to dig a trench and the other half to close it up it would provide greater economic impact to the economy than such boondongles.

Re:The number of jobs are few (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47420483)

I wouldn't really classify Lockheed Martin as a private entity. Most of their money is coming from tax dollars. Building the F-35 advances technology, injects money into the economy and ultimately results in advanced tools of death and destruction.

More F-35 Hate (1)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | about 5 months ago | (#47420341)

Ah yes more F-35 hate.

Claim the costs are increasing, except the price per plane is decreasing. Check.

Faux outrage at the $1 trillion price tag that has been part of the plan for decades and pays for R&D for 3 new fighters, a purchase order for ~2,500 aircraft, plus maintenance and training for 55 years. Check.

Complain that it has a part built in every state, just like every other military project in the last 50 years. Check.

Unfortunately the authors forgot to mention how important dog fighting is to a strike fighter. Also passed up the opportunity to talk about how we are not sure if stealth actually works. I mean, the least they could do is compare it to the F-16 using clean specs and a non-inflation adjusted price from the 80s.

Standard cheap-shots on the costs, but weak follow through on "manoeuvrability problems". I'll give it a 6/10.

Re:More F-35 Hate (1)

Exitar (809068) | about 5 months ago | (#47420567)

Sorry, but with all the F-35 problems, your comment just seem astroturfing to me.

Same thing, different name (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#47420469)

Military = Republican Welfare

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