F-35B and C: Bummer of a birthmark?

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , , ,

As a super-massive defense acquisition program, the F-35 carries with it a bummer of a birthmark: the program is so big that large chunks of funding and capability can be schwacked by the programmers and budgeteers.  This tends to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic perturbations to other military spending efforts.

As reported by Bill Sweetman at Aviation Week & Space Technology,

For the first time in the history of the Joint Strike Fighter program, a senior Pentagon appointee has raised the question of whether one of the three versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 should be canceled to save money.

(Snip)

The instructions were included in a July 7 memo from [Navy Undersecretary Robert] Work… [who told] leaders to form a team to develop three alternative tactical aviation force structures, respectively representing cost savings of $5 billion, $7.5 billion and $10 billion across the future-years defense plan. Ultimately, Work expects to determine “the best value alternative, factoring in both cost and capability.”

“This relook must consider every plan and program,” Work wrote. “Even cuts to long-planned buys of JSF must be on the table.”

(Snip)

Under Work’s leadership, the Marines and the Navy signed an agreement in March under which the Marines would operate 80 [carrier-compatible] F-35Cs and 340 F-35Bs [the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing version].

Carrier-based UAVs and upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornets might lessen the warfighting impact of a reduced F-35 buy.

Last year, Work suggested in remarks to a Washington forum that forward basing and refueling on improvised airstrips—one of two pillars of the Marine case for the F-35B—would become much more hazardous in the presence of [Chinese] G-RAMM (guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles) threats.

I have seen the future and it will be (more and more) unmanned.

(image: flicker and check out thefarside.com as well) 

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