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There’s No Saving This Turkey

ACrippled by a fundamental design flaw that’s driven so many cost overruns and leaves American pilots vulnerable to abler foreign rivals, it’s time to admit the obvious: the F-35 needs to go.  Originally cast as a cheap all purpose fighter with a single frame usable by all three Service branches, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has morphed into an ungainly boondoogle; it’s per unit cost has almost doubled, while the total lifetime program cost has soared to $1.5 trillion.  The heart of the F-35’s troubles lay with the Marine Corps’ insistence on a jump-jet variation of the JSF, whose uniquely wide architecture has comprised the capabilities of the Air Force and Army variations to the point where the F-35 is seriously outclassed by older Russian and Chinese jets, not to mention future fighter jets with air superiority missions in mind.

As recently admitted by the Marine Corps, the jump jet variation isn’t really necessary, and with so much treasure and American pilot’s lives on the line, it’s time to consider what the Service’s future will look like without the F-35.  The Pentagon could continue to invest in upgraded F-16’s and F-18’s whose capabilities are more than sufficient for the foreseeable future, while a new acquisition process can begin for an air-to-air and an air-to-ground fighter like the F-16 and A-10, rather than the jack of all trades but master of none, F-35.  After billions already spent on the JSF, it may seem like it’s too late to cancel, but with billions more yet to be wasted that could be spent investing in kids, education, and veterans, it’s time to consider alternatives.

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