February 26, 2013

"AUSTERITY" CAN'T COME FAST ENOUGH:

The Pentagon's Incredible $1.5 Trillion Mistake (DAVID FRANCIS, 2/26/13, The Fiscal Times)

Right now, each branch of the military has their own planes, meaning that numerous contracts existed with different contractors. Lockheed was expected to lower the cost of air defense by creating redundancies between the branches. It was ordered to produce three different versions of the F-35: the Marine version could take off and land vertically; the Navy version would be designed to take off from air craft carriers; and the Air Force version would take off from traditional runways. The Pentagon ordered nearly 2,500 planes for $382 billion, or fifty percent more than the original cost.

As the price soared, the Pentagon in 2010 deemed the program "too big to fail." Yet it continues to fall short. Recent engine troubles are just the latest in a series of mechanical failures. A pilot was killed when oxygen to the cabin was cut off. The aircraft are running too hot, limiting their ability to operate in warm environments.

The original delivery date was supposed to be 2010. Then it was delayed until 2012. Now, it's not expected to be in service until 2019.

But when they are put into active use, they have multiple tactical problems. They don't have a long range, so they need to be close to the field of battle. They lack the weapons systems to adequately support ground forces.  And they're at a disadvantage in a dogfight because of limited turning capability.

Even if the planes were perfectly functional, they were built for a different era. The United States has unsurpassed global air superiority. If the F-35 order is filled, DOD will have 15 times as many planes as China. The F-35 was designed to fight a war between large military powers, not ones against insurgents in Mali.

Posted by at February 26, 2013 5:34 AM
  

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