It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of austerity, it was the age of a trillion dollar warplane that no one could make work.
The financial sink hole known as the F-35 continues to fail the most basic flight and sensor tests. The warplane, estimated to have a total cost around $1.5 trillion, has already come up short in simulated dogfights with the F-16. Yes, the new and improved model is worse than a plane introduced in 1978.
The F-35 also has a limited fuel supply which means it will not be able to stay in an area to protect ground troops. Not that that would matter anyway as the plane’s Gatling guns still don’t work. Also, there are concerns as to whether the F-35 can even be traditionally fueled because the plane has a problem with accepting hotter fuel. The air force’s current solution is to repaint fuel trucks to accept less sunlight in hopes of keeping the temperature down. Seriously.
Now, The Guardian is reporting the plane’s radar does not operate effectively and often requires the pilots to “turn it off and on again.” Might that be important for a fighter jet?
From structural problems that made it vulnerable to lightning strikes – ironic given it’s called the Lightning II – to weight issues, bugs within its software and its complete lack of cyber security testing, the plane has caused concern among the UK, US and other buyers. And now a glitch with the radar, which appeared late last year, could potentially hinder its performance against less developed fighter jets.
US air force major general Harrigian told analyst firm IHS Jane’s: “What would happen is they’d get a signal that says either a radar degrade or a radar fail – something that would force us to restart the radar.
The costs continue to spiral on this trillion dollar turkey. Even if the plane worked, no one needs it nor does it fulfill any current combat missions, such as striking terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda which have no air force. All current peer competitors for this plane (if it worked) are nuclear powers, which makes investing in enhanced conventional warfare capabilities futile, as a war with said competitors would lead to a nuclear exchange and likely nation-state death.
Fortunately for Lockheed and the other defense contractors profiting from the F-35 boondoggle, Congress and the Pentagon appear completely content to keep throwing billions and billions into the F-35 program, regardless of performance.
If people are looking to get spending by the federal government under control by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse, as some presidential candidates claim, perhaps the F-35 is the place to start: it has all three.