With the estimated total life time cost of the F-35 projected to be greater than the current GDP of Australia (.9 – 1.2 Trillion Dollars). The total F-35 project is equal to 8.5 percent of the 2010 GDP of the United States. Currently the United States Government income is about 10-15 percent of GDP (depends on who's number one uses), and United States Government expenditures are about 23-25 percent of GDP (same as before, who's number). Can we really afford a puppy with such large feet (F35 Program)?
With an estimated maintenance cost to be at least 30 to 40 percent per flight hour greater than the aircraft they are replacing. With the U.S. Navy trying to figure out how they are going to get replacement engines for the F-35 out to the fleet (too big, or too heavy) . With each F-35 airframe containing more hazardous materials than the airframes they are replacing, complicating and contaminating the maintenance environment. Can the United States government afford all of the airframes the Department of Defense has programed to purchase?
Would we not be better off from a budget and defense posture stand point to reduce the number of F-35 aircraft, and augment them with upgraded versions of the “Legacy” aircraft?
Block improvements to the F-16, Block upgrades to the F-15E, follow on upgrades to the F/A-18 E/F, granted these are not the next generation aircraft. But just how many next generation aircraft are there out in the world, and is the United States going to be fighting all of them at once?
Except in the initial phases of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, stealth aircraft have played no role in the daily support operations. The workhorses of these operations are the current generation/legacy aircraft. The aircraft that we are burning through the airframe hours are not the fighter and bombers, but the cargo and utility airframes (C-130, C-17, KC-135, KC-10) (UH-60, CH-47, CH-53).
The need for stealth aircraft appears to date only required in the initial and early phases of operations. Once the enemy ground based air defense have been reduced to rubble, and the enemy fighter/interceptor capacity has been destroyed either by direct combat, or by airbase destruction, the need for stealth is not required. What is required after this initial phase is the ability to put ordinance on targets, typically in the CAS/BAI mission.
It is not that the F-35 is a bad aircraft, far from it, it has out standing physical performance. But like its other stealth counter part the F-22, which has not come close to meeting the RFP’s maintenance requirement, the F-35 is already way behind the power curve in meeting the RFP’s requirements for maintenance. The F-22 has gotten better, but based on the observed rate of improvement it will not meet those requirements before the program is retired.
The strain of both of these aircraft on the logistic train when deployed will be overwhelming. Now it is not a problem, but as these two aircraft pickup more and more of the daily operational burden, the strain will be evident, and will result with the various commands being forced to going back to ask for more funding to shore up their respective logistic systems.
The aircraft at the currently projected numbers will eat the Dept. of the Air Force and the Dept. of the Navy, and consequently the American people out of house and home. It is just too expensive in the quantities contemplated. We need a dog to protect our house, just not this one.