H/t reader squodgy:
“Ha ha ha ha ha ………bureaucratic incompetence and military industrial complex greed makes one useless but very expensive cocktail.”
– New US fighter jet on course to becoming ‘one of history’s biggest white elephants’ (Independent, May 10, 2015):
A plane so technologically advanced that it would give Britain and the US air superiority in any future conflict and billed as the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, could be one of “the biggest white elephants in history”, according to a former defence minister.
And while costs of the F-35 spiral and delays run into years, another commentator has warned that “our skies and seas are vulnerable”.
The aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, was designed to replace the Harrier jump-jet, which went out of service in 2011. The UK once envisaged ordering 150 F-35s, to be ready by 2012. Three years on, the F-35 is still far from ready to fly in combat and the cost of a single jet has risen from £33m to £87m. The UK has ordered only eight to date.
Britain’s Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey speaks at International Institute for Strategic Studies (AFP) Not one of the 131 jets built so far is combat-ready. And The Independent on Sunday can reveal that the entire fleet is having its engines removed and fixed, to guard against a repeat of a test-plane engine fire that grounded the fleet last year. Pratt & Whitney, the engine’s makers, came up with an ad hoc solution to friction overheating the engine; cutting a groove in the engine seal.
It is yet another setback in a long series of delays to the Joint Strike Fighter programme, in which Britain is a partner with the US.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) insists the UK fleet will have the “warfighting capability required” by 2018 – six years late. However, former armed forces minister Sir Nick Harvey said there was “not a cat in hell’s chance” the F-35 would be combat-ready by 2018. “I don’t recall … having heard anyone suggesting that these things could be used in combat before 2020,” he said. Asked if the fighter had become a white elephant, he replied: “You could argue it was already one of the biggest white elephants in history a long time ago.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon CBE, who was Chief of the Air Staff when the F-35 was first discussed in the 1990s, branded the small number ordered by Britain as “a joke” and accused MoD officials of being “in denial” over the ability of Britain to run a “serious air force”.
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fighter jet prepares to take off on September 27, 2014, at the Akrotiri British RAF airbase near the Cypriot port city of Limassol Britain’s ageing Tornados will be out of service in three years, leaving the UK with a maximum “offensive capability” of 60 aircraft, he said. “The Saudis [were] using up to 100 aircraft in their campaign in Yemen. We couldn’t put 100 aircraft into the air to save our lives.”
On cost, he added, the jets were now close to “unaffordable” and “it will be token numbers we will be able to afford unless there is a radical change in thinking by the Government”.
John Marshall, of the Defence Synergia think-tank, said: “This aircraft is massively expensive, technically and operationally flawed and unlikely to enter full and proper operational service for several more years.”
Britain’s F-35s and its new aircraft carriers “are scheduled to declare an integrated Carrier Strike Initial Operating Capability by 2020”, according to the MoD. But current plans mean a carrier designed to have 36 F-35s on board will have just 12. This means “aircraft numbers will be unable to carry out operations effectively whilst … protecting the carrier herself”, said Captain Marshall.
“With the full amount spent on the F-35 at its disposal, the U.S. could afford to purchase every person on the streets a $664,000 home.”
– NATIONAL SECURITY ALERT: F-35 STEALTH FIGHTER SPY COVER-UP (Veterans Today):
“AN UNPRECEDENTED DISASTER”