Y'know... After watching the 60 Minutes piece on the F-35, I was fully prepared to write an in depth piece accusing CBS of shoddy journalism. Instead of an in-depth analysis interviewing anti-JSF crusaders (Sweetman, Sprey, Wheeler) and the pro-JSF wardens (Lockheed Martin's O'Bryan, et al), basically all we got was various talking heads from the Pentagon.
There was the mention of a few minor problems, like bad tires, valves installed backwards, and the like, but nary a mention of bigger issues like the drop in foreign sales, Chinese espionage of the program, performance downgrades, and the fact that F-35 funding is cannibalizing the rest of the US military.
Whatever. We already knew that, right? Besides, somebody beat me to it. (Check it out!)
The only real lesson to be learned from 60 Minutes' segment on the F-35 came near the very end, during a conversation with CBS's David Martin and Lt. General Chris Bogdan, chief of the F-35 program.
"A lot".Shortly after he spoke with us, Kendall issued this memo stating “progress is sufficient” to increase production next year. But, he warned, the plane’s software “is behind schedule” and “reliability…is not growing at an acceptable rate.”Still, the Pentagon plans to buy as many as 100 F-35s a year by 2018.David Martin: Has the F-35 program passed the point of no return?Chris Bogdan: I don’t see any scenario where we’re walking back away from this program.David Martin: So the American taxpayer is going to buy this airplane?Chris Bogdan: I would tell you we’re going to buy a lot of these airplanes.
Notice how Bogdan didn't say; "we're going to buy all the airplanes we initially set out to buy." or something to that effect?
Exactly how many is "A lot"?
The affordability of the F-35 hinges on how many are built and purchased. Everybody else seems to be dropping their orders. Will the USA buy all 2,443 under the original JSF plan? Half that? Even less? It has already cut its order for next year, what next?
One thing is for certain. America is stuck with the F-35.
Good thing Canada still has options.