A Review of F-35 Discussion

A Review of F-35 Discussion
A Review of F-35 Discussion

A recent article published at the Hill represents that “Pandora’s box” about F-35 is open now. Sean McFate, a professor at Georgetown University, ignited a new discussion reminding the House Armed Services Committee chairman’s recent claim: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a “rathole”.


”The F-35 is an allegory for everything that’s broken in our Department of Defence, which receives more money than the rest of the federal interagency, combined”, professor claims; “The F-35 is the most expensive weapon in history, with a projected lifetime cost of $1.7 trillion. That’s more than Russia’s GDP. … F-35s are also expensive to fly. Each hour in the air costs $44,000, more than twice the cost of the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Super Hornet. “

A Review of F-35 Discussion

Professor discusses how the aircraft was designed: “a flying Swiss Army knife that could meet the needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army. Instead, it proves the adage that a camel is a horse designed by committee” and states the F-35 cannot engage in dogfights, drop bombs and spy in as well as former aircraft: “The A-10 Thunderbolt, an aircraft introduced in 1977, is better at ground support missions.”


A Review of F-35 Discussion

When it comes to air superiority, the F-35 is not good at a dogfight; “According to test pilots, the F-35 is “substantially inferior” to the 40-year-old F-15 fighter jet in mock air battles. The F-35 could not turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane or dodge enemy gunfire. Similarly, the F-35 struggled to get a clean shot at a 1980s-vintage F-16.”

The article discusses that F-35 does not bring technological advantages. According to his own web page, “Where others tout technology and firepower as the keys to winning the future, McFate asserts that Western powers need to upgrade their strategic thinking, not their firepower.” So, the professor writes in article, “Those who live by technology die by it too. Unsurprisingly, the F-35’s 8 million lines of code are buggy, as are the 24 million lines running the aircraft’s maintenance and logistics software on the ground.”

 

A Review of F-35 Discussion

As a veteran from 82nd division, Professor says, “F-35 is already obsolete junk. The measure of any weapon’s value is its utility. The United States has been at war continuously since Sept. 11, 2001, yet the F-35 has flown zero combat missions.” Returning to his paratrooper days in the 82nd Airborne, he calls F-35, “That dog don’t hunt.”

F-35 requires a long time for maintenance. In Professor’s terms, “The F-35 is a hanger queen.” It cannot fulfil most of its missions as it cannot meet “the military’s longstanding 80 percent goal.”


Stating that “Congress wants to buy hundreds more, and make allies do the same” Professor claims that “the Air Force is quietly considering alternatives to the $1.7 trillion flying lemon.” According to the Professor, the U.S. should cut the expense on F-35 and “should achieve “information overmatch” against disinformation superpowers like Russia, Iran and China.

While professors’ claims are based on facts, some other points need to be discussed as well. The clues are hidden in the same article.

A Review of F-35 Discussion

Returning to the claims, Professor compares the projected lifetime cost of the single-seat plane with a Boeing 737-600 airliner; “Buying one costs around $110 million a copy, nearly double the price of a Boeing 737-600 airliner.” It is worth reminding that military aircraft are assessed with the mission they will fulfil, while passenger aeroplane with its financial efficiency.

Professor writes that “the F-35 cannot dogfight, the crux of any fighter jet.” But also in the same article, he reminds that “There has not been a strategic dogfight since the Korean War”. Two phrases bring a new question to mind; if the dog fight is no longer needed, should it be considered a master requirement?


Professor McFate also claims that technology is not always good; it kills you to: “Sometimes pilots have to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete while in flight to reboot the multimillion-dollar radar.” This claim requires an avionics expert to respond. However, as far as we know, radars are not run on Microsoft software, and there is no Ctrl+Alt+Delete / reboot operation. It must be an exaggeration or over simplifying. Furthermore, the Ctrl+Alt+Delete information refers to a paid page published five years ago. That page refers to an official page. The official page’s link is broken. As a result, It is not possible to verify claims from the original report.

A Review of F-35 Discussion

Sean McFate, is a professor at Georgetown University and an adviser to Oxford University’s Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. McFate is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.  The 82nd division is a light infantry division specialized in parachute assault operations in denied areas to respond to crisis contingencies anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith represents the Seattle-area district, where Boeing company headquarter is settled.