If you thought that canceling the White House tours in order to save the Federal Government $74,000 per week was desperate, what do you think about the $40 billion that we have already spent on a ‘state of the art’ fighter plane that was designed by an international committee and can’t fly!
The development of the latest US fighter planes over the last several decades has been one of the most costly examples of bad military spending in US history. In these days of fiscal crisis and sequestration, the story of the $120 billion development fiasco of the the F-22 and F-35 jet fighter plane is particularly egregious. The F-22 was less than expected, and in a recent report from the US Department of Defense, leaked to the public last week, the F-35 was considered unfit to fly. The report, called “F-35A Joint Strike Fighter: Readiness for Training Operational Utility Evaluation,” was released by the Office of the Secretary of the in February 2013, and a declassified version was posted on March 6, 2013.
Three reasons stand out for this colossal and costly fiasco:
1. The decisions to move forward with the development of these two fighter jets have been political, not military;
2. The idea that a fighter jet can be designed by committee in order to accommodate bad foreign policy in a ‘global economy’ is patently absurd; and
3. In order to placate Muslim (particularly Turkish) objections, the one country whose technological expertise and experience in building what are arguably the best equipped fighter jets in the world – Israel – was shut out of all development.
The F-22 Raptor entered the fleet of the US Air Force in December 2005. A product of Lockheed-Martin aircraft, it was reputed to be the best overall fighter in the world. It was characterized by its supposed stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness, combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities. However,the aircraft’s stiff price tag, cost overruns, development and production delays, a Congressional ban on Raptor exports, and the ongoing development of the F-35 which was considered more versatile, resulted in demands that F-22 production be ended. Production was halted on December 13, 2011.
In the summer of 2012, at the international Red Flag Alaska training exercise where the planes were matched against Australian, German, Japanese, Polish and [NATO] aircraft, the “most advanced stealth fighter jet in history, the F-22 Raptor” proved that while the plane excels at modern long-range air combat, it is only “evenly matched” with cheaper, foreign jets when it comes to old-fashioned dogfights.
In the meantime, back in October 2001, Lockheed Martin won the contract to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to replace the F-16, A-10, F/A-18, and AV-8B tactical fighter aircraft. The government planned to buy a total of 2,443 aircraft for an estimated US$200 billion. The purchase was to provide the centerpiece of the US armed services tactical air power to the US military.
According to the DOD report, the F-35 was intended to be a “multi-service, multi-national program consisting of a single-seat, single-engine aircraft built in three distinctly different variants intended to perform a wide array of missions to meet an advanced threat (year 2010 and beyond). The variants include a conventional take-off configuration (F-35A), a short take-off/vertical landing configuration (F-35B), and an aircraft carrier-compatible configuration (F-35C). “The international market included Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, and Turkey, who were invited to join in the development program. The aircraft was also to be sold to Singapore, Japan, and Israel, although they were not invited to participate in its development.
Ironically, the same optics, avionics, and software packages that have kept the F-15, F-16, and F-18 Hornets as well as the Apache and Cobra helicopters flying long after their ‘sell-by’ date of 1984, could have easily been applied to the F-22 and F-35 projects. However, in the interest of appeasing Islamic sensibilities, because these technologies were developed by Israeli companies such as Elbit, Elisra, and Raphael, they were not consulted and their technology was not utilized.Instead, the F-35 was designed by a committee of manufacturers from the US, Canada, and Europe.
As a possible result, the F-35s now represent such a danger to pilots that according to the leaked report , they are not even fit for training purposes. A comparison between the 1960s designed F-16, which Israeli technology has continually upgraded since 1984, and the F-22 and F-35, which have failed to meet their promised potential, demonstrates how using the best technological advances can – in the case of the F-16, they have enabled it to maintain its well-earned reputation as the finest fighter jet in the world – still. The US has employed all of these Israeli modifications into their entire fleet. Until the development of the F-22, when Israel was cut out of the development loop.