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Here is the full, unabridged ‘Letter to the Editor’ of the Times from the F-35 General Manager in response to recent ‘inaccurate articles’ on the F-35.

Dear Sir,

Your coverage of the F-35, “Trouble on Deck” (July 17), does not accurately reflect the current status of the programme, the aircraft’s capabilities, nor the detailed responses we provided to your questions.

We simply do not recognise your cost estimates, nor agree with the way you arrived at them. The costs of the jet continue to fall contract-to-contract with the most recent Lot 10 contract in February representing a 62 percent reduction in the F-35A price from the first contract in 2007. The F-35B that the UK is procuring is on a similar cost reduction curve that will ultimately bring the price of a 5 th generation F-35 down to that of older 4th generation fighters.

Many of the programmatic issues raised in your coverage are historic and have long since been addressed. The performance of the F-35 speaks for itself and the best people to ask continue to be the operators and maintainers who understand the aircraft’s full potential and capability – not long time critics who have nothing to do with the programme.

For example, earlier this year the former lead of the F-35 Integration Office, Brigadier General Scott Pleus said in an interview with Business Insider that “the capabilities of the F-35 are absolutely eye-watering. The airplane has unbelievable manoeuvring characteristics that make it completely undefeatable in an air-to-air environment.”

The F-35 is combat ready and already making a game-changing difference to the defence of a number of nations. We are in absolute agreement with the assessment of Wing Commander Beck – who has had a key role in testing this jet – that it is “the best aircraft [he has] ever flown” and we are proud of the contribution the jet will make to the defence of the UK, the US and our allies around the world.

JEFF BABIONE 
Executive Vice President and General Manager, F-35 Program, Lockheed Martin

24 COMMENTS

  1. The Times article was just a collection old criticisms reheated, a hatchet job. The journalist involved clearly set out on his venture knowing exactly what he was going to write long before speaking to any of the relevant parties, his clear lack of scruples and integrity means that his work should not feature in any serious publication in the future.

    • What a surprise…a journalist who doesn’t understand his/her topic but what about the rest of the media picking up on this rubbish. Talk about idle!

      • The truth is that the number of journos who know anything about defence can be counted on the fingers of one hand. If you want to get on it’s more important to know who’s in big brother or which Kardashian is doing what to whom than about the defence of your own country.

  2. Much of the criticism that the Times articles raised were based on a report produced by RUSI dated February 2016.

    The relevant points to me seem to be how the masses of data captured by the F35 is distributed to other assets.

    This seems to be a problem related to a lack of investment in UK infrastructure rather than the aircraft itself.

    For example the”wi fi” on the carrier is limited to a speed of 10 Mbps therefore any download of data from a returning F35 is going to take some time in the heat of operations when you assume other assets are using it as well.

    • The issue is, 10Mbs is actually quite a lot when you consider what’s being downloaded. The information downloaded, will be maybe a few kilobytes at the most. As well as that, the 10Mb data throughput can easily be upgraded if it’s found inadequate but I really doubt it will need to be to be honest.

  3. Newspapers once relied on copy sales to prove their importance, but now they are nearly all dependent on on-line readership, they are more likely to turn out click-bait . A well thought out, accurate piece will get fewer links than the garbage that most of them now churn out.

    • There is an old saying in the news trade ” dog bites man ” is not news but if the man bit the dog….?

  4. Sadly, once the bastion of informed and measured news and opinion our news, newspapers and media have increasingly become full of ‘Fake news’, celebrity rubbish and sensationalism. This has impacted on their reliability to fairly report facts and assist us all in forming a reasonably informed opinion – such a pity. Eventually this will surely lead to their demise and closure! In this case, I value the comments of the aircrew and maintainers of the F35 as the ‘press’ have little of interest to add!

  5. Mr Babione, Im sure as an intelligent man you would know that the Times is just as capable of producing unfounded garbage as our so called sensationalist Red Tops that is tabloid newspapers. Disappointing for us Times readers as we always hope they will report responsibly.
    I wonder if they printed your responce , if they did I have,nt seen it Would,nt be surprised

  6. Oh look, did a British newspaper stick one its green interns on the defence desk again.

    You’ll struggle to find any serious defence reporting in a British newspaper thesedays.

  7. Far cheaper alternatives were available and at only Mach 1.6, these aircraft represent a step back. Off the shelf purchases should have been considered.

  8. We must campaign for a dramatic reduction in this overall purchase in favour of simpler aircraft more suited to long coastlines which need patrolling.

    • By “We” you mean, the ‘momentum’ mob who have taken over Labour.

      Worry not Jeremy, the UK will also be purchasing a number of long range coastal patrol aircraft.

      • Actually, I haven’t worked out where TH is coming from yet. His/her basic principle seems to be that the UK should not try to be a global policeman and as such should cut all funding for expeditionary operations and concentrate on home defence. That could actually be taken as an extremely Trump-like “America first, America first, America first” philosophy. To hell with the rest of the world and trying to play our part in making it a better place. If another Holocaust happens then as long as the nasty people only slaughter innocents abroad and we are well defended and left safe then we can simply switch off the TV reports and go and play Sunday cricket on the village green. We might as well cut absolutely all overseas aid as well because if Johnny foreigner starves why do we care as long as we have tea and scones after our match.

        I’m afraid that I do not believe that the UK should relinquish all responsibility for playing a part in global policing. The threat of foreign intervention has probably stopped or tempered many atrocities on a national scale. We keep getting told that we are the 5th largest economy on the world (although that is pretty certain to be revised down when the next dollar-normalised rankings are announced). Why should we sit back and expect the USA to fund everything? We need to play our part and to do that we need expeditionary capabilities.

        I don’t think that TH’s suggestion reflects bleeding-heart lefty liberal (to choose a caricature) values but rather those of someone who wants to turn their back on the rest of the world and disavow all idea of us being global citizens of our precious planet. Sometimes force or the threat of it is necessary. To go back to the policing analogy, imagine what crime would look like in the UK if the police had a policy of never intervening to prevent any assaults or robberies but simply collected evidence and laid charges after the event and even then a trial could only take place if the suspect voluntarily submitted themselves for arrest since the use of force to detain them was not permitted.

    • You need to get out more, Th ,P8,s have been ordered at last for Maritime duty,s You seem to have your thoughts scrambled , F35,s
      are for air superiority.Lie down and have a rest

  9. The greatest threat is to the integrity of the coastline so TH is quite reasonable in suggesting more coastal patrol aircraft. The CASA used by the An tAerchór would be perfectly adequate if a dozen were purchased. As to why more than two squadrons of fighters is needed is a mystery.

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