Reach for the Skies

2012, Technology  -   22 Comments
Ratings: 8.90/10 from 41 users.

It's been billed as the smartest jet fighter on the planet, designed to strike enemies in the air and on the ground without being detected by radar.

But after a decade of intensive development, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is over budget, a long way behind schedule and described by one expert as "big, fat and draggy". So is this plane a super fighter or a massive waste of money?

Is this plane a super fighter or a massive waste of money? Reporter Andrew Fowler travels to the United States in search of answers. He goes to Lockheed Martin's top secret factory in Texas.

He also secured the first television interview with the Pentagon's new head man on the project, whose candid assessment of the JSF would chill many in the Defence Department: "Well let's make no mistake about it. This program still has risks, technical risks, it has cost issues, it has problems we'll have to fix in the future."

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22 Comments / User Reviews

  1. rvelez

    Dear jbeckham360 and other uninformed commenters,
    A Navy fighter requires a heavier airframe and metal alloys that resist salt water corrosion than an Air Force fighter. You simply cannot turn an Air Force fighter into a Navy fighter by merely changing the decals on the plane.
    History has demonstrated that the USMC must have their own air arm to provide close air support that they can call upon without having to go begging a Navy admiral or Air Force general for immediate close air support of embattled grunts.
    USMC require fighters than can operate from small deck assault ships and unimproved bases close to the battlefront. Air Force bases are too far from the battle front and Navy aircraft carriers cannot be expected to stay close to an enemy shore for extended periods of time to provide 24-7 immediate air support. That is why since WWII the USMC has had it's own air arm. In WWII the first offensive USMC operation was at Guadalcanal. USMC fighters took off from USN carriers and landed on Guadalcanal and REMAINED there to support the grunts. The USN carriers and supply ships immediately left the area as soon as the USMC fighters took off to avoid a counterattack. The admirals did not to risk their ships thus leaving the USMC to their own devices.
    Also there were no US Army Air Corps bases within a thousand miles to provide any kind of air support. That is why the USMC must have it's OWN planes!
    Think of it as a mechanic who doesn't OWN his own tools and must ask other reluctant mechanics to borrow their tools. You simply can't do your job without your own tools.

  2. awful_truth

    For the amount of money that has been spent on the F-35 JSF project already, (with nothing to show for it) they could have built several LFTR's (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors), and desalination plants providing safe nuclear power, and clean running water. Of course, the critics will tell you the LFTR is unproven. (translation - no plutonium for bombs) Since that didn't stop them from moving forward on the JSF, (unproven that is) and bypassing democracy again, (no tendering) they only thing they have to lose is an economy based on weapons of mass destruction. (sounds good to me)
    P.S: If you want to keep Lockheed Martin in business, redirect their energies, go back to the moon, and quit bombing everyone. (the world will love you for it)

    1. Daniele Paolo Scarpazza

      Or Mars.

    2. awful_truth

      Amen to that Daniele!

  3. Richard Neva

    I am not impressed for a weapon that is part of the arsenal of a country I fear! My own!

  4. jbeckham360 .

    The F-35 is a problem child. I say take all the remaining planes and sell them to Israel and let them fix it. Take the Raptor F-22 and build a lot more with a Navy version being added, slap the Marines for even asking for a plane that will never be needed by them, especially since the Osprey was developed for them. The thought that the Marines were even thought about with today's modern strike aircraft is a joke let alone since the choppers did all the work in Iraq with ease. VSTOL is a joke period in a fighter aircraft. For Britain it was a good idea but when you have thirteen massive aircraft carriers they are never needed. The fact is when you build a lot of F-22's the price will come down to the same as a new F-15 and that is no joke. Congress is stupid. Building these aircraft with other countries involved I knew would be a disaster and thought it was a dumb idea anyway just based on the national security factor alone. You never know when a new leader is going to have a certain nation piss off another, just look how well Obama is doing at that.

    1. Steve Perreira

      Dear Mr. Beckham: The F22 is certainly a better option than the F35. Drones are the future though, ESPECIALLY for lethal air to air combat. I just hope there are some smart allocations in the black part of the military budget for this scenario. The age of the manned fighter is rapidly coming to a close. In a matter of months, it is likely a drone will shoot down a manned fighter. Then the rest will catch on. As a pilot, I know the weakest link in flight is me! It's time to be humble and smart. That's who wins. Take care, Steve

  5. elliot

    Wake up people. Lockheed Martin is illuminati owned & 400 billion
    dollars just went into someones pockets. There's a 98% probability that
    the F35 project was inspired by 'The Producers'. The only difference
    being that the F35 will actually succeed in failing.

  6. TheRedMapleLeaf

    Heres hoping Canada drops the order!

  7. Glen

    All the money spent of arms would decrease poverty 20 times over..
    Drones are cheaper but don't include the ones in power.

  8. Guest

    The F-35 is tantamount to a SUV lemon - what a joke, Australia will regret this.

  9. Guest

    The F-35 is tantamount to a SUV lemon - what a joke, Australia will regret this.

  10. Whatsup

    aam641 first of all i like to say i would agree with your statement that their is confirmation bias. However F-22 basically are doing what the F-35 are doing, that being said i would say a true engage of the craft (if it ever see engagement) will be the best test.

    Note it is over budget and over time.
    Saddest of which is if you compare it to the Apollo mission (unknowable costs) and yet they got it done faster than this

    1. aam641

      If you must compare F-35 to a space project, STS would be a much fairer comparison (Apollo was a one-of stunt that involved the bulk of US aerospace industry).

      F-35 is over budget and over time. Most weapon projects are, it is almost to be expected. And a lot of the blame lies with DoD. They chose to skip a prototype a go straight into pre-production planes to save money and time. It didn't work. Likewise, cutting budgets to development will cost them more in the long run. The fewer planes you have for testing flights, the longer it takes.

    2. docoman

      It was not smart the way they arrived at the decision to buy the F-35 in the first place, without at least looking at all the available options and associated costs. If it was the best option for the best price, so be it. But to go against precedent and not offer tenders and evaluate all bidders is absurd, especially with that amount of money, and importance to Australia's defense.

  11. aam641

    This video suffers very badly from confirmation bias. It starts with the premise that F-35 is too expensive and will not work anyway, and then looks for people and quotes to confirm that opinion. Why are armchair generals given 10 minutes to expand on their theories and the F-35 test pilot is cut off after 10 seconds? Likewise, General Bogdan never gets a chance to say anything.

  12. TomazZzz

    OMG!!! some antient sukhoi would beetchslap this hog!!

  13. in_SANE

    The longer it delays, the better for the economy lol....cos after all the only reason these companies exist is to keep the projects running

  14. Goolaf

    Besides the idiocy of this project. There is no enemy for it to dispose of.

    1. John-Sebastian Barrera

      no enemy yet. I´m sure we´ll make one up soon enough.

  15. Sergio Bermejo

    Complete waste of money... Are you kidding me?

    1. Whatsup

      not a complete waste you still have the scrap metal