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posted by janrinok on Monday June 02 2014, @11:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the buddy-can-you-spare-me-a-dime? dept.

The US military's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is proving to be a pain in the neck in more ways than one. Not only did the Pentagon spend almost $400 billion to buy 2,400 aircraft - about twice as much as it cost to put a man on the moon - the F-35 program is 7 years behind schedule and $163 billion over budget. This at a time when cuts in the defense budget are forcing the Pentagon to shrink the size of the military. CBS 60 Minutes took a closer look at the troubled fighter plane a few months back, but their rebroadcast on Sunday evening seems like as good a reason as any to revisit one of the biggest ongoing budget debacles in U.S. military memory. David Martin gets an inside look at what makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the most expensive weapons system in history.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02 2014, @12:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02 2014, @12:09PM (#50167)

    I wonder if it would be more cost-effective to buy everyone in the Air Force a new custom Ford F-250 with a 12" body lift and 48" tires instead. Maybe that will satisfy their under-endowment complexes and we can stop pissing away money on an over-priced airplane with no enemy.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by jimshatt on Monday June 02 2014, @12:15PM

    by jimshatt (978) on Monday June 02 2014, @12:15PM (#50169) Journal
    But at this cost, we'll make sure we have an enemy.
    • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Monday June 02 2014, @02:16PM

      by zocalo (302) on Monday June 02 2014, @02:16PM (#50217)
      Please tell me it's going to be the bankers that loaned all the money for the planes.

      Pretty please?





      It's going to be drug smugglers and terrorists again, isn't it?
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday June 02 2014, @02:40PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday June 02 2014, @02:40PM (#50228) Journal

        And when can we expect airstrikes on their mansions in Westchester and "beach cottages" in the Hamptons? Can they do precision strikes on their gated communities within urban areas? Can the weapons in their package penetrate your standard panic room armor? Do they have air-to-ship missiles that can take out yachts?

        This is the real set of requirements for the next generation of fighter jets. Or perhaps the next generation of DIY drones built by a bunch of pissed off geeks. Either works for me.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by isostatic on Monday June 02 2014, @04:56PM

        by isostatic (365) on Monday June 02 2014, @04:56PM (#50293) Journal

        It's going to be drug smugglers and terrorists again, isn't it?

        No, it won't be the bankers

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Sir Garlon on Monday June 02 2014, @12:35PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Monday June 02 2014, @12:35PM (#50176)

    <sarcasm> Don't knock the F-35! The entire program may cost 10x more than the Harvard University endowment, but keep in mind that no F-35 has ever been shot down or failed to accomplish a combat mission!</sarcasm>

    (That's because no F-35 has ever been flown on a combat mission.)

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NCommander on Monday June 02 2014, @01:38PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Monday June 02 2014, @01:38PM (#50203) Homepage Journal

      You say this in jest, but if memory serves, the F-22 had a similiar record because no one wanted to commit something THAT expensive to active fighting. Extremely powerful aircraft, but almost never utilitized in areas where it could be shotdown.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Monday June 02 2014, @02:45PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Monday June 02 2014, @02:45PM (#50233)

        So the reason we have this aircraft is so it might be useful someday in a combat mission ... if we ever have a combat mission that cheaper aircraft can't do ... which we don't because we plan all the missions so they can be done by cheaper aircraft ... and that works fine ... as long as the cost overruns from the expensive aircraft don't lead to budget cuts that ground the cheaper aircraft that actually does stuff.

        *brain implodes*

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
        • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday June 02 2014, @04:54PM

          by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Monday June 02 2014, @04:54PM (#50292) Homepage Journal

          Incidently, I feel like a claim like this should be backed up. I don't remember where I originally read it (it was quite possibly in an actual newspaper), but I found this article on ABC News [go.com] which backs up the fact the F-22 has never been used in combat despite being in service for 5 years when the article was written (2011).

          --
          Still always moving
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday June 02 2014, @08:30PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 02 2014, @08:30PM (#50394)

            You can read about it on wikipedia, but to save you the time, its an air superiority fighter and we've not been getting into battles with other air forces in quite awhile so they have approximately nothing to shoot down. There is a squadron seemingly permanently in the persian gulf which continuously harasses the Iranians ancient F-4 aircraft, but intercepting and following around and generally being pests toward each other isn't "real combat", although sooner or later someone's going to literally bump into someone else and cause an international incident. Those things happen. Other than the Iranians, there's no one to mess with.

            The block 3.1 first flew in '09 and added a really crappy air to ground capability (well, arguably about as good as my grandpa's B-24, it has less payload than the B-24 but more electronics than his B-24 had, so it probably comes out about equal ...), this is probably the origin of the waste of money commentary. So you can use an air superiority fighter as a crappy bomber, but its going to have (seriously) about 1/200th the payload of a B2 while only being about 1/10th the cost of a B-2, so thats a pretty dumb idea if there's any way to task a B-2 to do the job. Also I don't think block 3.1 has all weather air to ground, so its only useful for good weather. Basically emergency use, like if NK decides to invade SK as a last ditch effort we might have to have everything that can carry a bomb up there doin' something, however uselessly. Before block 3.1 first flight in '09 I don't think they had any air to ground capability at all. So whatever ABC news story is pretty silly because its not been in service for 5 years as of '11, as of '11 the very first F22 ever to have A2G capability had flown less than 2 years ago... and its probably all secret which planes and how many have been upgraded from 3.0 to 3.1 so its quite possible that a A2G capable F22 has not yet deployed to a combat area.

            Although adding an "emergency" A2G capability to the plane is intelligent from a military perspective, why add an emergency capability for free, its really dumb from a PR perspective because the usual suspects focus on the useless vestigal A2G feature like laser beams, as though its significant or deeply symbolic and meaningful. Which it certainly isn't.

            To some extent the reason why its the best plane in the world at shooting down other planes is because that's really all its good at doing. Not multi-role at all. Not a strategic bomber, not CAS, just shoots down other planes, like crazy. Its very "unix philosopy" make a tool that does one thing, one thing only, and does it excellently. Its opponents get all wound up about it not having an embedded mp3 player and so on all windows philosophy, but thats just not what it is.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by tangomargarine on Monday June 02 2014, @02:37PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday June 02 2014, @02:37PM (#50226)

    Call it a "special edition" Fnord F-9001 and give them a few patriotic bumperstickers. Now we're talking!

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03 2014, @02:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03 2014, @02:15AM (#50493)

      That would be the stealth edition, wouldn't it?

  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday June 02 2014, @07:14PM

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday June 02 2014, @07:14PM (#50371) Homepage Journal

    How did that idiotic comment get modded up? As if F-150s will take the place of airplanes?

    New military aircraft are always like that. When I was in the USAF the C5-As were stationed where I was, and they were brand new and suffered from all sorts of problems; landing gear not going down, engines falling off, system failures. They eventually got the bugs worked out and afaik those aircraft are still in service 40 years later.

    And "no enemies?" Take off those rose-colored glasses, kid. And don't forget, "speak softly and carry a big stick."

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by nitehawk214 on Monday June 02 2014, @09:14PM

      by nitehawk214 (1304) on Monday June 02 2014, @09:14PM (#50410)

      Since the F-22 and F-35 will likely never be used in combat since they are too valuable to risk; an F-150 will be just as effective for a faction of the cost.

      --
      "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Tuesday June 03 2014, @03:36PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Tuesday June 03 2014, @03:36PM (#50660) Homepage Journal

        You're talking about the US military, with bombs that cost millions apiece. A million bucks for one bomb! No equipment is too valuable for the US military to risk.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday June 04 2014, @03:10PM

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday June 04 2014, @03:10PM (#51124)

          The problem is the newer, expensive, high tech equipment actually performs worse in situations where you are going to get hit occasionally. Close air support with random AA guns firing up at you. The guns are already firing blind most of the time, so stealth doesn't help as much. Better to send an big ugly flying tank like the A-10. They keep flying when the do get hit because there is no sensitive electronics to harm.

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh