GAO: F-35 Program Has ‘Stabilized’

The Pentagon’s F-35 Lighting II is now twice as expensive as program officials originally envisioned, but a long-time critic of the program still praised the joint strike fighter’s recent successes.

Over the past 12 years, the F-35 program’s estimated cost has grown from an estimated $231 billion in 2001 to $390 billion. The estimated cost of a single aircraft today runs about $137 million, that’s just about double the $69 million cost estimate program officials offered in the beginning.

The Government Accountability Office criticized the program in March, calling it a “financial risk” and questioned it’s long-term affordability.

But the government watchdog group softened its stance at an April 17 hearing before the House Armed Service’s Tactial Air and Land Subcommittee.

“In the past two years, the program appears to have stabilized to some degree,” Michael Sullivan, director of Acquisition and Sourcing for the GAO, told lawmakers.

After the 2010 Nunn-McCurdy breach in the program, the Defense Department and the services “restructured the program and did some very good things in our opinion about adding reasonable costs, limiting requirements and adding schedule and some manpower to the program,” Sullivan said.

Since then, the program has now delivered all 14 developmental aircraft, more test flights are taking place on a daily basis and more progress has been made on “one of the highest risk areas which is software management,” Sullivan said.

Service leaders maintain that F-35’s variants will give the U.S. military an edge in the future, but they worry about the program delays that have forced them to extend service lives of aircraft such as the Harrier out to 2030.

To date, the Pentagon has spent about $28 billion to buy 121 F-35 aircraft and development flight testing is about a third of the way complete, Sullivan said.

“The program still has tremendous challenges ahead,” he said. “There are still significant risks with the helmet mounted display system.”

And software development for the “full-up integrated war fighting capability” still has a long way to go, Sullivan maintains.

Some lawmakers pressed service officials at the hearing to discuss why the proposed fiscal 2014 defense spending plan seemed more concerned about proposed spending efforts on existing aircraft.

“We need the F-35; it’s not going away,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and the ranking member of the subcomittee.

Sanchez questioned why the Navy wants to spend $900 million in upgrades to the F-22, a plan that averaged about $370 million a piece, she said.

“What are we doing?“ she asked. “What are we buying giving the pressures we have?”

The upgrades, which total about $5 million for each of the Navy’s 180 F-22, will improve the radar ground mapping on the aircraft, helping it find targets better, Navy officials said. It also improves the data link capability. The upgrades are scheduled to last until fiscal 2018.

About the Author

Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • Guest

    I doubt they are “the Navy’s 180 F-22…”

    • dani40H

      Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) Caught in Multiple Scandals. http://emergingcorruption.com/2010/11/rep-loretta…

      This woman is a proven trator to America and what the heck is she doing on this committee? why is she not in jail !

      • blight_

        I blame lazy populace for failing to vote out their idiots.

        Then again, if your constituents are bad, maybe they’ll pick people that represent their values?

        I’m really tempted to just throw my vote away and vote third party. If enough of us do, we’ll put a wrench into the one-party-fake-two-party system.

  • Lance

    You cant call that Billion dollar boon dongle a success anyway need more F-22s less crap like JSF!

    • STB71

      Like the F22 hasn’t been a POS. How many of it’s own pilots has it killed?

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        True. But, its is widely recognized (except for a few anti-american people lurking out here) as the best fighter aircraft in the world ever. The F-35 has this bread crumb trail that leaves some to believe it can’t take on the enemy’s fifth generation aircraft. Also, I would imagine that the F-22 program was, believe it or not, cheaper, as roughly 67 billion USD is less than over 350 billion. So really, the F-22 was kinda a bargain, at least against the F-35. The oxygen problem was really tragic; but I am certain that it has been corrected, or is on the verge of being so.

        • Restore Palestine

          BS ENTERPRISE mental BS

          enough said.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Apollo 17!

    • Guest

      Dumb Ass!

  • James Hasik

    Lance’s screed was barely coherent, but perhaps less encouraging is Matt Cox’s confusion over just who flies the F-22, and his arithmetic concerning the costs per airframe.

    • Nadnerbus

      Yeah, Navy, Air Force, what’s the difference? Joint everything has made all that stuff obsolete.

      • Lance

        Not saying the Navy fly’s F-22s but the F-22 was a far superior aircraft the F-35 sucks and is being copied by China.. More true fighters are needed F-15 upgrades and SE versions and reintroduce the F-22 is far better for America’s security than a crappy JSF.

        • Mr. Horrible

          Can I get a copy of this week’s Pre-Algebra assignment?

        • Gaylord_Gaylordson

          You’re an aerospace engineer? Nope. Didn’t think so.

          Just shoveling out more of the groupthink, online-sourced conventional wisdom. F15 SE’s will die in droves against F35s…wait for Red Flag.

  • Davis

    Anyone tired of this same old song and dance coming out of the GAO. I’ll believe all this when I see it but fortunately or unfortunately, history has shown I’ll continue to be disappointed.

    • WRG01

      I’m not giving you thumbs down or up. Just want to ask, do you know what the GAO is and what it does? They don’t sing and dance…they analyze, assess, recommend and arbitrate. There really is no more non-politcal, professional and cost-effective apparatus in the federal government.

  • JohnB

    In my opinion, the legislator summed up the essence of the JSF program in a pretty catchy slogan:

    “The F-35; it’s not going away”

    • Belesari

      So its like a STD?

      • blight_

        HIV, especially. Or herpes.

  • oppervlakkig

    Made me think of an article from Winslow Wheeler who criticized the GAO for being biased and for errors in the review procedure. For those of you interested: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/22/…

  • oblatt1

    Yep stabilized on unaffordable failure.

    Actually a huge effort has been made to sweep the risks and failures under the carpet - to make the program as presentable as possible. This is Lockheed’s surge to try to keep the failed program going. The idea that is if you roll out one major flaw every 12 months for the next 20 years it’s much better than letting people know about them all now.

    • William_C1

      You might need to adjust your tin-foil hat a bit, you forgot to call it a deathtrap.

      • LPF

        Tinfoil hat ? read up on the starfighter and how many german pilots were lost due to that POS.

        Lockheed is to the USA what BAE is to the UK I mean seriously have these two companies produced ANYTHING that didn’t cost 5x more than the original price? the F35 was supposed to be a F16 replacement..not at 137Mill a pop it won’t!

        • William_C1

          The reason the Germans lost so many Starfighters is because they were using a high performance interceptor and air defense fighter as a low level ground attack aircraft. It wasn’t designed for that.

        • Josh

          When was the last time a major project has been delivered on time and on budget? Go ahead, I’ll wait. It’s the same logic used by all contractors. They claim it will be cheaper and faster than the opponents and then when they get the contract they say there has been delays.

          The F-35 is estimated to be about $60-70 million once in full production. Why are you comparing the estimate price price in 2025 to the price for the 2013 prototypes? Do you know about anything that you are talking about?

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Uh, does the P-51 count? Hows about the B-29? Was the B-52 late? I don’t remember if the F-15 was behind schedule.

          • Josh

            Congrats. You were able to find 3 projects, all from around the time of WWII, that were delivered on time. Though I can’t find the estimated project costs but I highly doubt they were on budget. I was hoping for more modern projects as they are FAR more complex and sophisticated than ones from 1940.

          • STemplar

            VA class subs, although they used hard lessons from Sea Wolf.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            So the F-15 was World War 2 technology? Same with the B-52? Was the A-10 behind schedule? Apache? Arliegh Burke? Yes, we do have programs that run over cost and are late, most notably the F-35. But take a look at some other technology.

          • LPF

            The F15 was money no object project. The A10 was built with known tech , essentially integration with a big ass gun. The apache is a basic gunship, again , the etch was well knwon and understoodod, and the burke class is essentally scaled down ticonderoga class cruisers, the most important part the randars and missle integration was already done. They were built becuase the tech was understood, not based on well we can do this in a couple of years times if all the r&d goes well!

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Apache basic? Then what are other aircraft? Da Vinci mock-ups? R and D for the Burkes? Huh? They aren’t tiny Tikes, they are almost completely new. Yes, they may use upgraded tech form the Tikes, but keyword: upgrade. A-10, yes, did use old tech, but shooting off an engine and letting it still fly has to count for something. And the F-15 was designed to take on the best of Russia at the time, and functioned marvelously. Also, it replaced the “Phantom”.

          • Charles

            He delivered on your request, so you move the goalposts-nice technique! Let’s see what facts you produce in your fallback position…what’s that? You “can’t find” any data to support your argument? Maybe just say you “highly doubt” your opponent is correct, that’s amazingly credible. You lose at the Internet, go away

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            F-15 information. http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/aurev…
            B-52 (Federation of American Scientists) http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/air/bo…

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          If you want the conversion from fourth to fifth generation:
          F-15 is to F-22 as F-16 is to F-35. Please excuse the money bit.

    • William_C1

      Also, no sane company would follow such an idiotic strategy. Lockheed makes a greater profit if they sell more aircraft, get contracts for upgrades and further developments of the aircraft, and contracts for other supporting systems. Doing those things means satisfying the customer. If they fail to do so they sell less aircraft, other companies are more likely to get the work for retrofits/upgrades/whatever, and their reputation is harmed, which will impact their chances of winning future contracts.

  • Will Leach
  • Mock4

    I think she means Air Farce (LOL) not Navy…

  • Professor Ski!!!

    Just cancel the dame program!!! We need to start fixing our economy by ending this defense welfare. We can better allocate the money tot wards cheaper more effective weaponry and technology.

    • Josh

      Really? Defense budget is what is wrong with our budget? Okay, whatever you say.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Well, my question is what happens to that 900 Billion that was officially spent?

    • 5th Gen JetMan

      Hey dweeb cancelling the F-35 will not fix the economy; in fact if you knew anything about aerospace and it’s supporting industries you would know how many HIGH paying jobs are tied to the program. The three corp. alone LM Aero, Northrop, and BAe have thousands of people on the program. Now count the jobs for thousands of domestic suppliers supporting the program - they will go on the dole DUH. The leading edge technology developed for the jet has already made its way to other platforms. Over 3,000 sorties have been flown without a Class A mishap no other concurrent acft. program can say that! Of course while you were stocking shelves at Home Depot you missed that tid bit.

    • Guest

      Another Dumb ass!

  • BlackOwl18E

    This is complete garbage. The GAO has lost all respect in my eyes. They have lost their spine.

  • Tribulationtime

    “appears to have stabilized to some degree,” . Rock-solid statement! Looks like GAO keeps a kind of doubt about some things.

  • Woody

    The F-35 has been in development for 17 years starting with the JSF development contract in 1996. 17 YEARS!!!!! We are killing ourselves with these terrible timelines. the aircraft is going to be half way to obsolete when it is finally operational and the initial technology benefits will have been minimized. Same applies to our ships and armored vehicles. Where’s Kelly Johnson when we really need him?????

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Sadly, Mr. Johnson is no longer with us. He would seriously disapprove of this whole thing. But I disagree about it being obsolete. Much of the money spent is to keep the aircraft up to date.

      • Woody

        True, but again the timeline is too long in my estimation. I work in the field for both Naval vessels and aircraft. In previous life was a Navy Airborne RADAR operator and later a Navigator/Tactical Coordinator. I Interact with the Fleet operational users and feel their pain. We deal with it every day and I am still frustrated.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Yeah, this plane is taking WAY to long. Go back to managing the defense industry like in the 60’s and 70’s! They got things done back then.

    • Josh

      The F-35’s first flight was in 2006. Why are you dating back all the way to 1996 when the government first announced they wanted a JSF? If you want to look at it that way, in 1981, the USAF said they wanted a new air superiority fighter and it wasn’t until 2005 it got introduced. That’s 24 years. I suppose you also think that F-22 program was a failure and should have been cancelled because it took a long time to develop?

      • Woody

        Josh, Never said they should be cancelled. We need them. I’m am frustrated with the timeline from development to operational introduction.

      • ziv

        I wonder what we would get if we asked Boeing and LockMart to build a next gen medium bomber with off the shelf technology for a fly-off within two years. By not re-inventing the wheel it would seem like they could move much faster and have a working jet in much shorter time. But it would take someone like Kelly Johnson to ramrod a job like that and big corporations don’t promote guys like that any more.
        I understand the desire to build a joint strike fighter but demanding STOVL was a huge mistake.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Agreed. Personally, I think Lockheed should have taken Boeing’s offer as a sub-contractor, or possibly having this project be joint between the two companies. I don’t know what Lockheed was thinking when they turned down. I just hope that we have Kelly Johnson out there soon.

  • PhantomPains

    Just terminate this albatross already. Write it off, and start again.

    Can we just blame the USMC and their VTOL for the entire F35 debacle. Without that technical hurdle, the F35 program and airframe would be very different, and actually would be a world beater fighter bomber. Not some compromised behemoth that is not good at anything other than C4ISR and battle space management. Did they forget about the F4 experience, when putting this plan together decades ago? How is that multi-service buy working out now? 380B dollars of pain and impotence.

    USMC should get out fixed air altogether, Dump that Harrier and dump the F35. Let the Navy and AF get a plane they deserve.

    USMC dreamed it up, Lockheed fracked it up.

    • ace529321

      The harrier is actually a great system and it promotes ingenuity. The concept of VTOL eliminates the need for a airstrips and opens the possibilities for some great tactical advantages. Such as the ability of having many planes taking off and landing at the same time. The VTOL concept pairs the practicality of a helicopter with the speed and fire power of a fixed wing aircraft

      • PhantomPains

        And in real life. an airfield attack has never happened, will never happen. I know why they justify this crap, but I want them to join reality. I can dream up any scenario to spend and then justify billions, but that is IRRESPONSIBLE.

        The Harrier is difficult to fly, and useless, and not worth the expense and training. People need to make decisions about what we need not need, and we don’t need VTOL. If the USMC want an F35, that is one thing, but don’t make the Navy and AF pay for your crappy idea, and get crappy CTOL versions. It should be the other way, Clean sheet CTOL first.

        The only way I will be for VTOL is if Boeing perfects it using their pulse jet technology.

        • johnvarry

          Airfield attacks will never happen? Im sure the Arabs thought that before the IAF knocked theirs out. Maybe thats why NATO and Warsaw Pact both trained for it and developed weapons designed to take out runways.

          The entire reason for the Harriers existence was fear of runways being knocked out. Harrier was designed to operate without runways.

          The AV-8A was difficult to fly and killed lots of pilots. There were originally now AV-8 trainer aircraft so first flight was literally do or die. AV-8B was redesigned to make it more stable and easier to fly.

          • blight_

            JSF-B is STO/VL. If you crater the runway then you can try VTO, but with severely reduced payload.

        • Mike Aller

          Airfield attacks have in fact been common in warfare. The Harrier has been a proven sucess and the F35 B will be even better, a Super Harrier. The Marines air wings have performed brilliantly in battle and deserve to be continued. Finally , having the F 35 B deployed aboard our Navy Helicopter Assault Carriers gives the Navy several extra tactical carriers that it can deploy without having to send a Super Carrier.

      • UAVGeek

        Might want to look at ordinance delivered and pilots killed with the AV-8. It’s not a pretty picture….

        • tiger

          There are many planes a lot worse.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Well, my question is why do we need STOVL aircraft? I mean, the bulk of our force for the navy is in carriers. And the NON-STOVL F-18 takes off without having complicated lift fans. Just a steam (or soon to be electromagnetic) catapult. I see that these aircraft will need to take off from smaller escort carriers, but whats wrong with a ski-jump? Really, the entire concept for STOVL isn’t, in my mind, justified, as I am more concerned in air-to-air and air-to-ground performance, not land from air to ground or takeoff from ground to air.

      • johnvarry

        STOVL can operate in conditions CATOBAR carriers cant.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Like what? Honestly, where will STOVL help you in the field? If you need a plane that can take off from a short runway, add a ski-jump to your carrier.

          • tiger

            Ship design is not a “This old House ” project. Adding a ramp is not as simple as installing a BBQ grill.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            No one said it was. But I am saying that on our smaller “escort” carriers, it might be a worth investment. And I would think it would be cheaper than the entire F-35 program (which isn’t a hard target to beat).

          • johnvarry

            For Instance in Falklands Conflict FAA Sea Harriers were able to launch and recover in heavy seas during a winter storm that would have grounded conventional carriers. The Sea Harriers were able to move to center of deck where the movement of the deck was minimal and hover timing the pitch of the deck for landing. On take off the pilots timed the pitch up to launch with to get the extra momentum.

      • tiger

        Because CVN’s can not be everyplace. Aside from France & Brazil, Most of the other Naval units use the Harrier. They are due for replacement.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          China and Russia don’t use the harrier either. Now, the Harriers do need to be replaced. But with VTOL or STOVL aircraft?

          • tiger
          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Well once again, why? I mean, if you want to get off a carrier, either have a CATOBAR arrangement, or get off a ski-jump.

          • blight_

            Russia has mig-29k. Their short-takeoff aircraft from their aviation cruisers use ski-jump.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            But its not called a Harrier.

    • johnvarry

      Blame Lockheed for mismanagement, corruption, greed, and incompetence. I haven’t seen a defense program this incompetently mismanaged since General Dyamics defense project fiasco’s of 80’s and 90’s.

      USMC should get out of fixed air? When USN can perform close air support with the dedication that USMC pilots do then maybe. Until then USAF and USN are only interested in tossing JDAMS from 20,000ft away. Do USAF and USN pilots go through ground school and dig in the mud and live in the dirt for weeks learning ground combat? USMC pilots do.

      AV-8 sucks? Must be why AV-8 was praised by Stormin Norman as one of the most valuable and effective weapons of Gulf War.

      Is B model responsible for integrated sensors helmet not working? Is B model responsible for C models hook problems?

      What is weight difference between A model and B model? About 3,000lbs?

      IMHO USAF should have adopted C model with USAF refueling receptacle. C wing would reduce wing loading of A model.

    • Tiger
    • Mitch S.

      Not just the “B” that led to costs, it’s the stealth and fancy electronics (look at the issues with the software and the helmet).
      i’m guessing in the future most operators will not maintain the stealthiness of the majority of their fleet just keep some planes prepped for special missions and save maintenance costs on the others.
      Much stealthier UCAVs will probably be tasked with difficult penetrations.

  • F-15 Eagle Keeper

    All I have to say is: Why a single engine aircraft ? What happened to redundancy ?And don’t forget, this is one of the biggest pots of gold for ALL greedy, crooked politicians and law makers. Easy money !
    F-15 Eagle Keeper

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      F-15 is great, by the way. Now, I think your argument about one engines is valid, but over exaggerated. I mean, after all the money spent on the plane, I hope that the engines can hold up.

    • tiger

      This is not 1955. Your need for 2 jets is well overrated. Nobody would design a 8 engine B-52. Times change, so have jets.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        What, did the F-22 just disappear when I wasn’t looking?

      • crackedlenses

        See the developments of the F-15 and F-16. There is a place for both one and two-engined fighter attack aircraft.

  • jamesb

    ‘To Big to fail’ sound right?

  • dubweiser101

    Heard this all before… The title should read: “F-35 program is stabilized until the next scheduled delay’s.”

    Deja vu all over again.

    • BlackOwl18E

      No, it should read Lockheed Martin sinks teeth into GAO and succeeds in infiltrating them.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        KGB was dissolved when the USSR was broken up. But if you want the Russian Spy agency, or its foreign intel service, is called the SVR.

  • superraptor

    Where is Sec Def Hagel on this. Is he now te 4th Sec Def in a row who has drunk the F-35 coolaid?

  • wmcritter

    What we need more than anything is a successor to the A-10: a specialized ground combat plane to support our boots on the ground. It does not need stealth, or any of the other crap that inflates the cost of the F-35. It needs to be able to linger for long periods, take a hit, put a lot of hurt on the bad guys, be easily maintainable, and be affordable. The F-35 can do none of those things. 20 years from now, the A-10 will be retired and our boys on the ground will be dying needlessly because there is no longer any viable CAS aircraft. And no, unmanned drones firing a missile from 30,000 feet don’t count.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Why should be replace the A-10 in the first place?

      • johnvarry

        A-10 is getting old and there is a growing shortage of parts, especially low hour wing assemblies. Boeing was given a contract to build new zero hour wings about two years ago and last I heard was given a A-10 fuselage to take apart and digitize so they can use modern production techniques to build new zero hour A-10 fuselages.

        Once done Boeing will be able to build new A-10’s or at least reconstruct parts to keep A-10 flying indefinitely.

        Also want to point out Boeing says their is enough interest in new build OV-10 Bronco’s so is going ahead with their OV-10X program to build new zero hour OV-10’s with updated technology and cockpit

    • Jamesb

      Amen!…..

      What about a few Tuscano’s for Us not just the Afghan’s?

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        Firstly, its called the Super Tucano, made by Embraer. And while a Tucano can carry the US arsenal of bombs and rockets and whatnot, it can’t really take the place of, say, the A-10 or the F-15E as both of those aircraft I feel are much more flexible, much more technologically advanced, can be connected to other ground troops and AWACs, the planes can loiter, etc. All these qualities may or may not be present in the Super Tucano. Eventually, the role of these aircraft will be taken by the drone, and our modern CAS crafts (A-10s, F-15Es, B-1Bs on occasions, Apaches, some of our drones, etc) aren’t exactly biting the dust, so to speak.

        • tiger

          The A-10 fans need to realize they will not fly forever. The Super Tucano costs less, is easier to maintain & Does not need a big runway. For most missions, it’s not doing anything it was designed for. Killing Armor.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Look, I can see the A-10 won’t fly forever. But can a Tucano have an engine shot off, part of its stabilizer, and its hydraulic systems shot and still fly? The A-10 has everything backed up three times. Tucanos might be good in small numbers, say as little sidekicks with bigger A-10s and F-15Es, but it simply can’t take the place of an A-10. And also, the A-10’s cannon is can kill armor. Add that to the weapons that the Tucano can carry, and you get the Warthog.

          • tiger

            You do not need a A-10 to shoot up pick up trucks with Mg’s on them.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            No, you don’t. You can use drones, tanks, F-15Es if the convoy is that large, Apaches, etc. Why spend money on such a plane then?

          • tiger

            You see everything as a nail……

          • crackedlenses

            You forget that our next war may involve enemies that possesses effective air defense.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            I would feel safer in an A-10 or F-15E when there are air defenses. A Super Tucano, though, would be like a toy in a minefield. That isn’t to say that the 15 and the A-10 won’t take fire, but it feels more like a stable platform.

          • tiger

            There is a place for a cheaper, easier to fix, short /rough field plane that is easy to fly. Thus the requirements for the A29 program.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Drones that could loiter. Use them from that mobile launcher that they have out in the field (anyone know what I am talking about?) Also, its important to note that a “field” plane couldn’t have the advanced weapons that the A-10 or F-15 can use because a “field” plane uses a “field” airport, and loading up JDAMS and other heavier weapons aren’t easy. (Except for the navy).

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            So we don’t dispatch effective A-10’s and F-15E’s in cases like this? What? I mean, why buy the plane, if we have the best CAS aircraft in the world (A-10). (Shut up SU-25 lovers, nobody likes you!)

          • tiger

            Your pushing that one size hammer again…..

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            A-10>Tucano. Why replace it then? The only thing that the Tucano MIGHT have for it is that it can fly off rough runways, but have we all forgotten how much ware an tear those props are going to go through in such areas? IE, the Flying Tigers.

          • Stratege

            “the A-10’s cannon is can kill armor.”

            Ohh.. really? What?
            A-10’s gun is useless against heavy armor.

          • johnvarry

            Aircraft have one advantage against tanks. Aircraft with big heavy high velocity armor piercing cannons can shoot tanks on top where armor is thinnest and over mechanical compartment at rear where by necessity there are vents and air intakes and exhausts.

          • Stratege

            They used A-10/GAU-8 in live shooting test against obsolete Soviet tanks:

            “Stolfi, Dr. R., Dr. J. Clemens, and R. McEachin, Combat Damage Assessment Team A-10/GAU-8 Low Angle Firings Versus Individual Soviet Tanks, February-March 1978, Volume 1, Air Force/56780/February 2, 1979.

            In this test an A-10 aircraft attacked two combat-loaded individual Soviet T-62 tanks in five missions totaling seven passes; technicians rehabilitated the two vehicles after each pass. The aircraft were seldom higher than 200 feet in altitude; firings were initiated between 2768 and 4402 feet and terminated at ranges of 1587 to 3055 feet at dive angles of 1.8 to 4.4°. The bursts ranged from 120 to 165 rounds.

            Altogether 93 DU rounds struck the tanks during the seven passes, including no impacts on one pass. The ratio of impacts to rounds fired was 0.10. Of the 93 impacts, 17 penetrated the armored envelopes for a ratio of perforations to impacts of 0.18. The report noted many of the side or rear impacts that did not penetrate the armor nonetheless extensively damaged the tanks’ exterior suspension components, whereas all the rounds that hit the tanks’ front caused minimal damage. ”

            And T-62 was an obsolete tank from early 60’s with steel (not composite) armor.

          • blight_

            Link is http://ia701506.us.archive.org/10/items/combatdam…

            The publicly available penetration in RHA is:

            69 mm at 500 meters
            38 mm at 1,000 meters

            That said, from same study:

            “3. Damage Assessment : The A-10/GAU-8 weapon system inflicted three catastrophic kills through projectile and/or fragment effects against stowed ammunition. The weapon system inflicted two additional 100% mobility kills through internal damage to transmissions, fuel tanks and external damage to track, suspension and drive components. One additional tank was fired on and missed and one tank suffered negligible damage from frontal impacts.”

            Bear in mind that these are passes against single tanks, combat loaded with mannequins. An actual attack would involve evading ZSU’s and aircraft with look-down-shoot-down capability.

    • Zak

      Before you send in that successor to the A-10 you’d better make sure you’ve got air superiority and you have negated enemy SAMs or you’ll get the same treatment the IAF got in 1973 before they took out the Egyptian and other enemy SAMs. If you’re assuming that we’ll have that taken care of then I’d agree with you that we just need an updated A-10.

      • Micheal

        Thats the exact point of the F-35, a stealthy plane that comes in and takes control of the air to path way for planes such as the A-10 and helicopters

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Well. When it works.

    • Spuds

      You DO NOT want to design a fighter that will “take a Hit.” Ridiculous - those designed that way usually do. I flew all models of F-18 for 13 years, I know what I’m talking about.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        Okay, Navy (assuming you are American) pilot, maybe I should be bring up the Navy’s own history of aircraft. Take a look at the entire US fleet of aircraft in world war 2. Yes, it was a war that was fought in the forties, but it can teach us about tactics. Also, all aircraft are designed with at least some survivability. Otherwise, the plane would be more like a abstract art compilation then, say, the Super Hornet. Also, whats wrong with a plane that can take a hit? A-10 can take extreme ground fire because its job is to fly into anti-air operations. I am sure that there is at least a little bit of armor on those Hornets you so dearly love to remember.

        • tiger

          Back to that history… Designs have trade offs. To gain protection you give up speed, agility, range & rate of climb. The A6M Zero used those design traits to be a better fighter vs. the F4F & other early foes.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Uh, Corsair. Also, P-51. Heck, through in the Spitfire. All these aircraft are considered some of the best of the war, and they all had armor, redundancies, and also had speed and agility. And that is the A-10 today, except of course the A-10 is a ground fighter.

          • tiger

            Goals met, but again trade offs. To gain those abilities you can use brut force or finesse. Big high horse power engines & Superchargers to offset aerodynamics & weight. The downside was fuel consumption. To gain range you needed drop tanks. On the other hand By use of materials, streamlining, etc. Jiro Horikoshi got the same job done with less power.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            P-38. Also, modern aircraft need drop tanks. Finally, the Super Tucano has a loiter time of about 9 hours. Link :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Tucano#cite_note-embraerpdf-145 Look for source number 145, it is a document (PDF format) that is from Embraer. About 9 hours? Sad. An A-10 can stand on station longer, and that, of course, includes drop tanks and air to air refueling. Same with the F-15. Both aircraft have a greater range that than Tucano. Keep the A-10s and F-15Es, maybe buy a few Tucanos for in case we just don’t feel like using the ultimate CAS fighter, and there you go. So yeah, once again A-10, F-15E > Tucano.

      • johnvarry

        There have been a number of aircraft that excelled at close air support specifically due to their ability to take damage such as P-47, Hs-129, Il-2, and Corsair to name a few. In Vietnam obsolete A-1 Skyraiders were low and slow and worked very well in close air support despite taking damage. A-10 was designed to take AAA damage. A SAM or MANPAD can hit a A-10 and take one out but its also possible to defeat missiles. Harder to defeat a gun with a human on the trigger and a A-10 in his sights. For that A-10 is armored and has triple redundancy. It has been proven many times over that A-10’s can survive damage that will take out a number of jets.

  • Peter

    I’m from the UK and how I wish we had never agreed to buy this plane! Sorry but I can’t see it as anything other than a rolling disaster. The VTOL version we’ve decided to buy is going to be too expensive, too short range and (I ‘m guessing) too prone to failures.

    We should have designed and built our own next gen carrier plane and sold it to the US!

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Hmm. Well, I think that the -35, when service, won’t be bad. But I don’t think that the Eurofighter and a Sea Gripen is the future. Both platforms, while powerful, are in jeopardy when considering newer Russian and, sigh, Chinese threats. Now, the talk of the US buying a next gen aircraft from the UK is just the old reminiscent of a long forgotten empire, lost to the Great War, Uprising, and American globalization.

      • LPF

        What like the harrier we sold you ? Nasa still uses the canberra bomber from the 50’s as well. Nice troll by the way

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Oh, the Harrier and The Canberra from the FIFTIES are Next Generation? Troll.

    • johnvarry

      BAE had designed a supersonic Harrier replacement that was still VTOL. Was supposed to be for FAA, RAF, and USMC but was cancelled and FAA went with Phantom II’s. The Suersonic Harrier IMHO looked alot like a SEPECAT Jaguar with lots of Harrier mixed in.

  • USS ENTERPRISE

    The first sentence “… but a long-time critic of the program still praised the joint strike fighter’s recent successes.” was enough for me to realize that this ain’t going to be good. Now, I am a believer that a seriously uprated F-15 (like a funded F-15SE) or more F-22 would be great for the force in the air that belongs to the USA, but the government has shown its long standing commitment with this F-35. We will have to live through the -35 era for at least another 30 years. I hope the government doesn’t drastically cut its procurement number like they did to the -22, as that would be a massive waste of money. But the end, I think the comforting thing is this. The F-35 is a bit like the F-4 Phantom. In time, it will be a classic. And also, lets remember the great aircraft that replaced the Phantom. The F-15. I personally want to see what the successor to this will be. What will be the next F-15? (And the F-22 doesn’t count!)

  • Barry

    The Navy has F-22’s? So much for DefenseTech’s credibility.

  • STemplar

    The Titanic stabilized too, once it hit the bottom.

  • William_C1

    So the logic of some commenter is:

    GAO publishes report criticizing F-35 progam = GAO doing their job

    GAO notes improvements and stated that “In the past two years, the program appears to have stabilized to some degree” = OMFG LOCKHEED BOUGHT EM OUT CONSPIRACY!!!1

    Do any of you realize how stupid this logic is?

    • oblatt1

      contractor shill (who openly declares that contractors should just steal whatever they want from the American taxpayer) complains about GAO = more GAO credibility.

      • William_C1

        Where am I complaining about the GAO you America-hating fool?

  • Sweet Ol’ Bob

    There comes a time when you say, “Good enough.” We passed that point with the F22.

  • Sweet Ol’ Bob

    There comes a time when you say, “Good enough.” We passed that point with the F22.

  • Guest

    Sanchez really said the average cost of upgrades is $370 million per plane(F-22)?
    Your story “Sanchez questioned why the Navy wants to spend $900 million in upgrades to the F-22, a plan that averaged about $370 million a piece, she said.”

    Either this is sloppy journalism or Sanchez can’t pass 3rd grade math.

  • Mark

    Let’s see the F-22 at time of canceling was 127 million per copy… Hmmm

  • “Firecracker”

    I think the “Navy” should just rid of all their F-22s and make the dear Rep from CA happy. A very cheap budget cut. LOL.

    • blight_

      The AIr Force is eliminating its tank divisions, saving beeellions.

  • R Johnson

    I find the statement by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif extremely distressing that a member of congress is so poorly informed and in a position to make decisions concerning the US Military. Typical liberal hack that wants to dictates to the military what they want not what the military needs.

  • Alan

    Navy F-22s?? Must be a truly stealthy aircraft since no one has ever seen one…

  • baseballj1j

    Anybody posting on a website about military technology is already admitting how ignorant they are. Its amazing that people actually believe what anybody on this site has to say. W/O the proper clearance, nobody has the authority to comment on any 5th generation fighter/bomber airframe. Do you really believe anything would be made public about a program over 30 years ahead of any other countries air defense’s. Air superiority is everything in the new age of war. If this has been made public since the early 2000’s than we already have a 6th or 7th gen aircraft that none of us will ever know about let alone have public hearings over until we are too old to drive a car. WAKE UP…… The U.S. military has been 50 years ahead of any other country since the 1970’s in air superiority. Do you really believe any of us are privy to even a .10% of any information pertaining to that technology? I sure don’t. Just let the politicians fight and argue over money and trust that we as a country and our military will never give up air superiority EVER……

  • henri

    US has been running the race for developing new advanced aircraft, it seems the industry has lost this capability. Lockheed is certainly a solid and engineering dense enought company to support a consistent objective, no company can sustain and managed the developed of what we called in the oil&gas offshore industry a “multi-useless unit” suppose to do everthing in one and that eventually does nothing well enough to guarantee its superiority. Awful story which lay sunk the reassuring competitive advantage of our US Allied. Ideally politicians and miltaries would agree to a write off within a certain amount of time (say two years) and prepare resources re-allocation together with an alternative technical / commercial offer to the program partners nations.
    Here we still have our compact and efficient Rafale which does the jobs and easily compares to the Super Hornet.

    Friendly.

  • SFP

    In my opinion, the legislator summed up the essence of the JSF program in a pretty catchy slogan:

    “The F-35; it’s not going away”

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