No JSF Alternative?
I am starting to think the principle reason the USAF wants the enormously expensive yet under-performing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is their passion for toys and new things. The back-breaking cost and the alternatives available matters little to the air generals just so they can get new airframes. Here is more from Politico:
“There are no alternatives to that in our system,” Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley told reporters last week. “Yes, you can build the 4.5-generation, enhanced-capability F-15 kind of capability. But really, there are no good alternatives to the F-35 at this point. This is a program to which we are deeply committed.”
I couldn’t disagree more. Not only are the legacy planes quite capable since they can carry the same advanced weapons as JSF (going with out motto, smart weapons don’t need smart platforms), but then you must consider the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and their successful debut in numerous combat situations. These have been performing stellar service in all theaters of war, and as long as there are enough air superiority fighters available, should be able to substitute for most if not all missions expected of the F-35.
So I think the Pentagon’s plans for 2000 JSF total is outdated and not at all in sync with modern warfare. But if you buy fewer planes, then the price goes up prohibitively. Did you notice the cost I posted earlier for the 43 JSF for next year of $195 million each? We can’t afford anymore mediocre platforms at gold-plate prices, all for the sake of tradition.
The last century JSF needs to be stopped now before further damage is done, keeping only the F-35B to replace the ancient Harriers for the Marines and foreign V/STOL equipped navies. Buy about 500 legacy fighters for the USAF and concentrate on new and better UAVs, which are the future.