July 30, 2014

The wrong stuff: The F-35 vs. what U.S. airpower really needs in the future

By Kelley Sayler

The fact that the F-35 Lightning II isn’t making an appearance at the Farnborough International Airshow is the latest in a never-ending string of disappointments that have marked the plane’s controversial history.  From past challenges with tail hooks and tires to engine cracks and engine fires, life has never been easy for the F-35, which has even had to confront an embarrassing vulnerability to its namesake weather phenomenon.

Such setbacks might be acceptable — and expected — in a nascent experimental program, but the F-35 has already been in production for 8 years.  Indeed, largely due to concurrent testing and production, an approach that Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L Frank Kendall memorably referred to as "acquisition malpractice" (and one that hopefully will not be replicated any time soon), DOD will spend $1.65 billion merely to bring early-production jets up to standard.  Total program acquisition costs will reach $398.6 billion, with 55-year life-cycle costs surpassing the stratospheric $1 trillion mark, thus solidifying the F-35’s legacy as the most expensive weapons program in history.

Read the full post on Foreign Policy's Best Defense blog.

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • April 2, 2020
    Let Them Work From Home

    Earlier this week Defense One reported that senior military service branch representatives requested a one-month delay in the submission of their annual budgets, arguing that ...

    By Susanna V. Blume

  • Podcast
    • March 11, 2020
    Former top defense official Robert Work on "Intelligence Matters"

    In this episode of Intelligence Matters, guest host Admiral James "Sandy" Winnefeld (ret.) speaks with Robert Work, the 32nd United States Deputy Secretary of Defense for both...

    By Robert O. Work

  • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • March 10, 2020
    The Case for a Pacific Deterrence Initiative

    When war broke out in Ukraine in 2014 the Department of Defense moved swiftly to invest billions in near-term enhancements in Europe to address growing military-operational sh...

    By Randy Schriver & Eric Sayers

  • Video
    • February 26, 2020
    Army trade-offs within FY21 budget

    Susanna Blume, senior fellow and director of the Defense Program at CNAS, discusses the Army leadership’s approach to the FY21 budget. Watch the full conversation in Governme...

    By Susanna V. Blume

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia