I look forward to seeing what Cap Lion has to say about this one; he’s very damned knowledgable about this stuff, for reasons I won’t go into to protect his privacy.
This is the U.S.’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the next generation of American fighter jets. It has been in development since 1992. All told the program is slated to cost upwards of a trillion dollars.
And it is one of the most colossal pieces of shit ever created.
The F-35 is supposed to replace the F-16 and the A-10 (the Skydive and Powerglide planes.) Like the A-10 it’s supposed to be a fighter and a bomber, and is supposed to be able to carry a bunch more bombs than the F-22 (Starscream from the movies.)
It’s also supposed to be a single plane shared between the Marines, Air Force, and Navy. This is where the problems start.
“It famously lost in mock aerial combat within visual range (WVR), where its radar stealth is of no advantage, to an F-16 in early 2015, one of the planes the F-35 is supposed to replace as an aerial fighter. The F-35 lost repeatedly in air-to-air maneuvering”
“despite the fact that the test was rigged in its favor because the F-16 employed was the heavier two-seater version and was further loaded down with heavy, drag-inducing external fuel tanks to hinder its maneuverability.”
OVER A TRILLION DOLLARS
Now it’s true that many if not most of our successful military aircraft have been dismissed as staggering crap in the early going, only to later find their footing as flaws are identified and necessary adjustments are made. The P51 Mustang, to cite just one example, was kind of, umm, underwhelming until the D version, when the bubble canopy replaced the old razorback fuselage and the Allison engine was replaced with the Packard-built version of the Rolls Royce Merlin. It went on from there to become a true legend, and deservedly so.
That said, it’s also one of life’s across-the-board truisms—from aircraft to motorcycles to cars to tools to musical instruments to etc—that when you set out to design something capable of everything, you usually wind up with something incapable of almost anything, and excels at nothing. Too, the F35 has been kicking around since 1992; its flaws ought to have been identified and fixed by now, surely. Especially when you consider the Mustang’s first flight was in 1940, and it had been transformed into a world-beater a scant three years later. It remained in use well into the Korean war. Some countries’ air forces were still flying them in the 1980s(!).
Anyway, y’all feel free to kick this can around some yourselves in the comments. My own opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that we shouldn’t have been so quick to abandon the F22. I’d bet we’re going to be relying on our beat-up old F16s, F18s, B52s, and A10s to get the job done for a good long while yet.
(Via Weird Dave)