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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on February 23rd, 2013 at 7:46 am

$396 Billion F-35 Suffers Another Setback

» by in: US Military

The Joint Strike Fighter continues to be the poster child for a poor Pentagon acquisition program:

WASHINGTON – All Joint Strike Fighter operations have been suspended after an inspection revealed a cracked turbine blade in an engine at Edwards Air Force Base in California, officials said Friday.

The blade has been sent to Pratt & Whitney’s Engine Facility in Connecticut for more tests, but all F-35s will remain on the ground until the investigation is finished and experts determine what caused the crack, according to the Joint Strike Fighter program office.

The Marine variant of the fighter jet had just resumed flying last week after an engine malfunction prompted a 30-day suspension.

The $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, is seven years behind schedule. The jet is still in the test and development phase and not yet fully operational.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in December that the Joint Strike Fighter will see its first overseas deployment in 2017, to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan. [Stars and Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link, but the amount of money spent on this program $396 billion is absolutely staggering. Does anyone think the F-35 will actually be fielded to Iwakuni as expected?

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  • Obama's Speech Coach
    8:18 am on February 23rd, 2013 1

    Meanwhile some large group of folks are making money while 0bama punches the rest of the nation’s military to the groin with unnecessary cuts… I note with disdain that White House Staff numbers and salaries are going up again…

  • Ut videam
    10:12 am on February 23rd, 2013 2

    Grounded due to recurring engine problems… this was bound to happen after they cancelled the alternate engine.

  • raid
    8:10 pm on February 23rd, 2013 3

    its $396 billion in total , if they buy all the jets , not how much they have spent so far .
    either way its a complete waste and the costs will keep going up

  • Leon LaPorte
    11:10 pm on February 23rd, 2013 4

    1. Yes. The inept, ignorant Obama is orchestrating all of this. I think there might be this little thing called congress that is equally to blame (and completely responsible).

    It’s funny the other side was calling Bush all these things and now this side does they same thing. In the meantime, the people running both parties are laughing all the way to the bank. But keep blaming Obama, or Bush, or David Rice Atchison for a it matters. :roll:

    All new sophisticated weapons programs have had problems…

  • 2ID Doc
    11:35 pm on February 23rd, 2013 5

    #4 Leon, this was a boondoggle from the start. They are trying to create the “magic” aircraft that will do all things for all services, jump off of an aircraft carrier (Navy) but fly from a nice long runway (Air Force) & jump off an aircraft carrier and fly from a STOL/VTOL location(Marine). So it has to have folding wings for space but fixed wings since the AF has no need for space restrictions, along with rotating wings for the Osprey replacement (that was barely fielded). And I won’t mention some will be attack/fighter aircraft but also need to have a bombing capability as well. The real thieves are the corporations who have bought the Congress & Senior Generals so they can pull this robbery off, at the expense of our air capability force-wide.

  • Leon LaPorte
    11:37 pm on February 23rd, 2013 6

    5. This is well understood. And it all began well before Obama or Bush, both of which are simultaneously evil geniuses and inept boobs!

    But, many of the congressmen who approved this program are still there……..

  • Liz
    9:14 am on February 24th, 2013 7

    When they closed the F22 line they had to pay Lockheed hundreds of millions in compensation. It was announced that the line could never reopen because it would be too catastrophically expensive to do so (more hundreds of millions) but they were really excited about this theoretical new plane with only one engine that would only cost 35 million a copy.

    A few (much smarter) folks said, “hey, couldn’t we just use the models we already have? The UAE, for instance, has a much better version of the F16 and they’ve already absorb all the testing and development costs. Lockheed (and Congressional cronies) said, “no way! This thing we have on paper will cost about the same or even less!” Thus the start of the kafkaesque endeavor. Now they are talking about reopening the F22 line. And our newest F16s are about thirty years old…they are hoping to drag them out to seventy at least.

  • JoeC
    1:20 pm on February 24th, 2013 8


    The military put out the requirement for what they wanted in the next generation aircraft then there was a competition between groups of corporations to see which could satisfy the requirement at the best price. The Lockheed team’s prototype won.

    Of course many of the promises and commitments made at that time have been “amended.” Yes, this plane is not living up to its original promise, but then, almost none ever have. It was fated to have design and systemic problems and increased costs. Exceeding expectations and coming out under original costs estimates is unheard of in a program that size.

    I know the plane has and will have many more issues, and I don’t like it. But let’s be fair. One cracked fan blade does not by itself indicate a design or systemic problem. Gounding the fleet is just a prudent precaution. Especially since it’s technically still in development and testing phase.

    I am more concerned that it seems some of the services seem to want to rush it out into operational status ahead of the budget slashings before all (I mean most) of the bugs are worked out.

  • Glans
    2:13 pm on February 24th, 2013 9

    A fighter? That was some kind of aeroplane in the Great War almost a hundred years ago. Now we have drones.

  • JoeC
    2:28 pm on February 24th, 2013 10

    Until we have air superiority combat drones that can clear out and secure an airspace we will need piloted jets.

    These slow moving easy to spot and shoot down drones we have now are easy targets. As a matter of fact, the military had been using forms of drones as targets for over 40 years. Pilots love it when the get to knock one out of the sky even with a warhead-less missile. I know some A-10 pilots who would also like to be cleared to gun one.

  • Leon LaPorte
    3:30 pm on February 24th, 2013 11

    Joec, 40 years is low balling it quite a bit. More like almost 100 years.

    from our friends at Wiki:

    World War I

    The first pilotless aircraft were built during and shortly after World War I. Leading the way, using A. M. Low’s radio control techniques, was the “Aerial Target” of 1916.[3] If developed further it was to have been used against Zeppelins. Soon after, on September 12, the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, otherwise known as the “flying bomb” made its first flight, demonstrating the concept of an unmanned aircraft. They were intended for use as “aerial torpedoes” an early version of today’s cruise missiles.[clarification needed] Control was achieved using gyroscopes developed by Elmer Sperry of the Sperry Gyroscope Company.[4]

    Later, in November 1917, the Automatic Airplane was flown for representatives of the US Army. This led the army to commission a project to build an “aerial torpedo”, resulting in the Kettering Bug which first flew in 1918. While the Bug’s revolutionary technology was successful, it was not in time to fight in the war, which ended before it could be fully developed and deployed.[5]

  • Liz
    3:39 pm on February 24th, 2013 12

    Joe C: “The military put out the requirement for what they wanted in the next generation aircraft then there was a competition between groups of corporations to see which could satisfy the requirement at the best price. The Lockheed team’s prototype won.”

    The above implies there was a lot of actual competition, but Lockheed doesn’t have much competition anymore, does it? There was a time when we had a Douglas, a Martin, a McDonnell, and Grumman and other airframe designer/manufacturers. Today there are essentially only two major airframe makers and a handful of companies making the components and software. This puts them in a position of power, and ultimately taxpayers foot that tremendous bill, with full support from the most influential politicians who want those planes in their states whether or not it is an efficient way to manage things.

    That said, of course, there is a monopoly on the customer side as well. The reason the JSF received such support had a lot to do with the fact that it is exportable and they already had a bunch of international prospective buyers.

  • JoeC
    4:12 pm on February 24th, 2013 13


    Yup. And most of those other companies folded or were consolidated during or as a result of the draw down in the ’80s when much of defense spending was drying up. Let’s see what we have left after the coming draw down. I hope we don’t have to contract our plane building to China.

  • Glans
    4:34 pm on February 24th, 2013 14

    No, JoeC, we’ll contract our drone-building to China.

  • Liz
    5:24 pm on February 24th, 2013 15

    #14: We could just outsource the computer hardware and software manufacture to China. Then they could cyber sabotage.

    Kind of like Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, or the Transformers. Except the drones wouldn’t be self-aware. And cats and dogs wouldn’t be actually working together.

  • someotherguy
    8:49 pm on February 24th, 2013 16

    Ehh more typical news of a program this size. Honestly this airplane will never see much actual use, it’s all paper, and that’s a good thing.

    Liz there is a reason the F16 is almost non-existent in our force these days (F/A-18 have replaced most), it’s dead in any sort of air superiority campaign. Air superiority is about flying faster and higher then your enemy while getting to within weapons range before their radar can detect you. Air superiority fighters have a mission of ensuring that enemy bombers and fighters do not get into your airspace. Bombers are for long range tactical strikes. The later can be done with drones the former absolutely can’t. Problem with “multirole” aircraft is they tend to sacrifice one aspect for another or end up being outrageously expensive. Their purpose though is to convince the enemy that you can do things they can’t and thus force them to spend money / economic ability to try to defend against you.

    Prime example was the XB-70 problem. At the time that aircraft would of been capable of flying into the USSR and delivering a nuclear package and doing so completely unmolested. And while the Russians had the missile technology to shoot them down, the radar and tracking systems required to accurately do so would of been so expensive to implement that it would of bankrupted them. There are even some conspiracy theories that we canceled it to prevent that exact scenario as it would of encouraged a preemptive strike from the Russians before we could finalize that program.

  • Glans
    6:54 pm on January 3rd, 2014 17

    The Pentagon allowed Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc to use Chinese magnets in the F-35. John Shiffman and Andrea Shalal-Esa report for Reuters, with editing by Michael Williams, Tiffany Wu and Grant McCool. Really, Grant McCool. I did not make up that name.

  • Bob
    7:32 pm on January 3rd, 2014 18


    I’m not sure how I feel about this, but…The said magnet has no affect on the plane’s ability to fly, so that’s a bit of a relief.

  • Liz
    8:34 pm on January 3rd, 2014 19

    I’m surprised they aren’t using the computer hardware from China. They do for most every other computer system in the DOD.


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