Senior U.S. Air Force leaders recently reemphasised their support for the F-35, calling the fighter the “cornerstone” of the U.S Air Force’s tactical capability.

The remarks were intended to clarify “recent erroneous media coverage” incorrectly claiming that the ‘U.S. Air Force has admitted the F-35 program has failed’.

During a February 25th news conference at the U.S. Air Force Association’s Aerospace Warfare Symposium, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, debunked this claim, stating that “the F-35 is the cornerstone of the U.S. Air Force fighter fleet” today and in the future.

Brown, the U.S. Air Force’s top uniformed officer, confirmed that the programme of record is 1,763 F-35As, and clarified that the U.S Air Force is “not going to take money from the F-35” to fund the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) plans.

On February the 26th, Acting Secretary of the U.S Air Force John Roth added that the F-35 is “the core airplane going forward”.

The F-35 project office are keen to stress that the jet is delivering transformational capabilities “today”, and that the programme is mature and growing.

“The vital interoperability of the 5th Generation F-35 binds 13 allies and partners with the United States in air dominance and enabling critical joint capabilities. The ability of the F-35 to forward-deploy and operate in hostile environments, side-by-side with our allies, is critical to maintaining a credible deterrent posture and reassuring front-line allies.

The 5th Generation F-35 is more than a fighter jet, it’s a powerful force multiplier with advanced sensors and communications suites that significantly enhance the capabilities of networked airborne, surface and ground-based platforms – sharing critical information in the Joint-All Domain Operations (JADO) battlespace.”

To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 620 F-35s and the global F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 365,000 cumulative flight hours.

Nine nations are currently operating F-35s on home soil; 10 services have declared F-35 Initial Operational Capability; six services, including the U.S. Air Force, have employed the F-35 in operational missions.

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Challenger

I’ll try to get the first comment in before the deluge! It’s not a failure by any stretch and they will clearly end up operating a lot of them – but by the same token it’s not quite the all singing, all dancing 5th gen platform for an affordable sum that was previously touted. From what I’ve read it’s capabilities are formidable but naturally compromised by having 3 variants and so many roles. The engine wear is a cause for concern and the through life support costs are reportedly even steeper than expected for a modern stealth fighter. In my… Read more »

George Royce

Hear hear.

Sean Crowley

The problem with F-35 is it is further away in ability than the F-15 was to the P-51 , anyone who has had anything to do with the “the Future” as it is called will only advise scrapping of all other assets on account one F-35 is better than a plethora of different systems . I am stating now the Typhoon is incapable of combating the 35 , i repeat , the Typhoon is not capable of engaging the 35 .

Spyinthesky

You can repeat that as often as you like but true battlefield conditions are rarely predictable in that way, especially as conflicts develop. They rarely work out as expected and so much depends on the prevailing conditions at any given time. Much of the time the F35 will indeed be a very powerful asset and under ideal conditions will likely dominate the air war but that is far from inevitable all of the time especially a decade and beyond from now and if it’s not able to take advantage of its true strengths then its clear weaknesses may well make… Read more »

Jonathan

Yes but can a typhoon intercept a TU22 over the North Sea or strike a military base. As far as I’m aware there is presently no requirement for typhoon to engage and destroy our own or Allies F35. the only question that needs answering is can the whole mix of likely deployed assets ( F35B, typhoon wedge tail etc) as a package deal with any likely realistic adversary. clearly the F35 as the first fifth generation aircraft of its type deployed gives some massive advantages, but no one is talking about doing away with modern forth generation fighters for the… Read more »

Daveyb

The F135 is having issues and is the main reason why the aircraft’s time at top speed has been limited. The power turbine blades have a ceramic coating on them the is suffering hairline cracks when the engine is operating at max power for “long” durations. According to P&W there is nothing inherently unsafe when operating an engine with the ceramic coating cracked. Yeah right! The F135 has had loads of issues since 2006, especially when used in the F35B, where the aircrafts motion changing from forward flight into the hover was causing vibrations in the power turbine blades root… Read more »

LongTime

How dare you use facts and reasoning George, didn’t you know we must only listen to the social media Air Marshals screaming reaaasuuuurch??

Watcherzero

Air Force Chief of Staff C.Q. Brown Feb 2021
The Air Force will consider a “clean sheet design” for a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter as a direct replacement for the F-16s currently in service. “I want to be able to build something new and different, that’s not the F-16—that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and uses some of our digital approach.” “The study will be complete in 2023.”

Previously F-35A was due to replace the US Airforce retiring older generation F-16 aircraft but a study has been launched on a new cheaper aircraft.

Supportive Bloke

The issue you run into, with all of this is the SpaceX vs NASA approaches to speeds and costs.

Sometimes it is healthy to start with a blank sheet of paper and not carry a bunch of assumptions and habits forwards.

With fast prototyping now being reality it might be the time to break free of all of that.

Someone will snort with derision and say it takes X time and costs Y to develop: but in doing so are really just repeating the problem.

John Hampson

The USAF are buying F-15’s. Now Aviation Weekly 21st Jan 2021. reports, quote, “U.S. Air Force officials are talking about ordering new Lockheed Martin F-16s two decades after signing the last production contract.” It continued, ” Over the previous two decades, Air Force leaders consistently called for transitioning their roughly 2,100-strong stable of fighters to an all-stealth fleet of Lockheed F-22s and F-35s.” So why are the US AIR FORCE now buying a 50 year old designs if the F-35 program delivering on its promises? One thing that certainly was not promised was that the F35 would be the most… Read more »

Peter S

I think the F22 is more expensive,just. The problem is not that it is more expensive but several times more expensive. F16 costs @ $8000, F18 @$10000, F35 $30000+(the Harrier wasn’t cheap either). This high cost also means a higher number of man hours needed to keep it flying. It is this poor record of availability
that is causing most concern about an aircraft intended not only for high end missions but also all the less demanding ones as well.

Meirion X

Of which I told you before, for the USAF and ANG units to replace their F-15C/Ds.with new F-15EXs.
The USAF never intended to replace All of it’s fighters with just 1700 F-35As. There would still be a big shortfall! Some F-15Es are to be replaced by F-35As, including those based in the UK, later this year.so the USAF would still need to replace F-16s to make up numbers

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
John Hampson

And I have told you before you are wrong. The USAF said they would never buy another non stealth fighter. For example, “Aviation Weekly 21st Jan 2021. That broke the news , quote, “U.S. Air Force officials are talking about ordering new Lockheed Martin F-16s two decades after signing the last production contract.” It continued, ” Over the previous two decades, Air Force leaders consistently called for transitioning their roughly 2,100-strong stable of fighters to an all-stealth fleet of Lockheed F-22s and F-35s.” So why are the UA AIR FORCE now considering buying a 50 year old design if the… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

This has mostly been peddled by ‘journalist’ David Axe in Forbes and National Interest who is a hack and a clickbaiting, poorly researched clown. Anything he writes isn’t worth wiping your arse with

Meirion X

Totally agree!

Sceptical Richard

The F-35 is suffering from exactly the same problems encountered by every major aircraft programme I’ve ever been involved with, namely: Takes a lot longer to bring into service than originally thought. Costs a lot more to procure and operate than originally thought. Key technologies fall short of delivering what was promised. Operational workarounds have to be developed to cope with shortfalls. MTBUR of certain key LRUs shorter than expected, sometimes by a factor of as much as 100! Critical bottlenecks in logistics chain affecting the supply of some key components. Software glitches and patches everywhere you look. Predicted availability… Read more »

ChariotRider

Yeh! Nicely summed up Richard.

Remember MRCA – Must Refurbish Canberra Again! The Tornado matured into a very capable aircraft with a fine record.

The Buccaneer was severly under powered when it first entered service, but the S2 variant was another huge success. Even early versions of the Spitfire and Hurricane suffered from power loss when they went into a dive..!

New tech. always has issues.

Cheers CR

Nick C

I always thought that MRCA stood for Much Regretted Cardboard Aircraft? But you are right, it matured into a very capable aircraft, and the F35 will do the same.

Spyinthesky

I have seen papers from the Air Ministry 1938 where many of the top brass deemed the Spitfire already outdated and the end of an era of aircraft already coming to its natural end. It’s why the initial order was so few to be replaced by Whirlwinds which was deemed to be the future of fighter design and after that was cancelled the Typhoon by early 42. Few know that now with the way events actually turned out. That said they had a point as the Hornet by 1946 proved. Had the whirlwind had the right choice of engines and… Read more »

Robert Blay

Exactly. The key difference with F35 is that it was born into a world of the Internet and social media, with lots of information, and disinformation available to anyone with a smart phone. The problems it’s going through are no different from those that the F22, Typhoon, F16, F15 faced back in the day. And the project is enormous, which reflects the cost. The guy’s and girls who fly it certainly love it, and it’s going to be in service for a very long time. ?

Meirion X

Agreed again, the same with the Harrier in the beginning!

Jonathan

Yep if you go back to 1916 even a success story like the SPAD VII had low production numbers and initial problems and faults. If we decided to stop every aircraft programme because of initial reliability problems we would still be using balloons.

Daniele Mandelli

Oh dear….Awkward.

John Hartley

Let us be honest, early lot F-35 were expensive, unreliable, limited capability dogs. However, from lot 8 onwards, they have got better & cheaper. The USA has approx 100 early lot dogs, while the UK has only 4. It does mean that if the carriers need a minimum of 48, you have to buy at least 52, to allow for those early 4 dogs. I am looking forward to block 4 software & engine 2.0 upgrade.

Meirion X

I wonder if the 3 early orange wired F-35Bs, used by 17Squ(OEU), will ever be brought back to the UK?

Daniele Mandelli

Don’t see the point.

Nigel Collins

“Senior U.S. Air Force leaders recently reemphasised their support for the F-35, calling the fighter the “cornerstone” of the U.S Air Force’s tactical capability.” While at the same time making this announcement? “The United States may field a new fighter aircraft type by fiscal year (FY) 2029, according to a related contract notification posted on 4 March.” Note the part which says, “or next-generation platforms that may join the air force or navy inventory before the end of fiscal year 2029″ Sounds more to me like keep buying the F35 to help us pay off this trillion-dollar program and help… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Apparently, “Integrated Review” will finally be published on March 16, Downing Street confirms.”

Nigel Collins

It’s interesting to read how next-gen fighters will be constructed from now on and confirmation of my above link.

Potentially, a huge saving in both time and cost overruns. Link courtesy of Lordtemplar!

https://theaviationist.com/2020/09/15/the-u-s-air-force-has-secretly-built-and-flown-a-full-scale-demonstrator-of-its-next-generation-fighter/

Rob

Just like every other cutting edge aircraft it will take time to mature the design and learn how to use it. The F35 is a fantastic jet utilising stealth tech and massive advances in digital tech. I bet, just like the F4 Phantom, we will look back on the F35 in 30 years time as a ground breaking, war winning aircraft.

AlexS

F-35 failed to what was supposed to be the common fighter of USAF replacing F-16. Now USAF call it a Ferrari…

With USAF buying new F-15 50 years after its first flight and seeking a F-16 successor it is clear that F-22 and F-35 failed as successors. They are too expensive/complex.

John Stott

Dont forget too you need complex and expensive kit to bomb tribesmen! ?

Nigel Collins

Don’t panic, he’ll be safe until at least 2030! ??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlCu7jGzqRg

Robert Blay

A couple of well aimed Paveway 4’s will make quick work of those sheep and donkeys ?

Meirion X

F-35A is also to replace the F-15Es like those based in the UK. Yes Alex, the USAF has planned to replace F-15C/Ds with more of a air superiority fighter most likely in the mean time, with F-15EXs.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

“F-35 failed to what was supposed to be the common fighter of USAF replacing F-16.”

It would be unaffordable to replace all the F-16s with F-35As in the USAF’s and ANG inventory. Some F-35As are to replace the F-15E, Strike Eagles, including the 48 that are based in the UK later this year. The USAF and ANG will need find to another aircraft replace the rest of the F-16s in the inventory.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
AlexS

And that was not how F-35 was sold.
Also i quite remember USAF saying all future aircraft will be stealth…

Lordtemplar

Maybe the author should read annual GAO and DOT&E reports before writing this opinion piece. Still over 800 faults that need fixing, 10 of which are Cat 1 Operational costs are still nowhere close to the targetted $25k per flight hour Not to mention the fact that USAF has purchased new parts (wings…) to extend A10 life until 2050. Ordering new F15EX, currently developping NGAD by 2030, and now talking about a new clean sheet F16. Furthermore the Navy still has no operational F35C on its carriers, delaying purchases while modernizing and buying new F18 ASH, meanwhile working on the… Read more »

Robert Blay

And yet despite all that, the aircrafts capability excels. The RAF/RN are loving it, and is re-writing the book on how we conduct modern air warfare. In 10 years time it will be a different aircraft again from those flying today. It took over 16 years in service to get the Typhoon to it’s much promised swing role capability. And project centurion cost another cool £425M. And the Escan radar will cost another arm and a leg. (But it will be an amazing bit of kit)?

Lordtemplar

FYI Typhon was designed as an air superiority fighter fom the start. They added swing role capability later because they needed a solution for Tornado replacement.

Robert Blay

Typhoon was designed from day one to have a secondary air to ground capability to originally replace the Jaguar. It is first and foremost an air superiority fighter, but swing role was a requirement going back years ago.

Daniele Mandelli

Correct. When we were to buy 250, it was originally slated to replace the Jaguar and the last of the Phantoms!

Not the GR1, not the F3.

That went down well.

Robert Blay

I love the Typhoon, it’s a fantastic capability, but it’s taken a hell of a long time and money to get it where it is today. Can you believe it first arrived with the RAF back in 2003! Time sure does fly ?

Meirion X

At least the USAF is extending the A-10 life, is good news. I doubt very much NGAD will be ready by 2030!
And what’s to say if the NGAD program over runs?

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

Mistaken thread!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Lordtemplar

Why would the NGAD not be ready by 2030? There is no Tempest demonstrator yet and that is due in 2035.
The NGAD demonstrator did some test flights last summer so the program has reached a significant milestone.
https://theaviationist.com/2020/09/15/the-u-s-air-force-has-secretly-built-and-flown-a-full-scale-demonstrator-of-its-next-generation-fighter/

Last edited 1 month ago by Lordtemplar
Robert Blay

Any 6th gen that enters service is to replace F22 and Typhoon ect, not the F35. And no way will any be in service in 9 years time or less. The idea that we suddenly have the money to develop a F22 type aircraft or a UCAV on steroids in less then a decade is a tad wishful thinking to say the least. The Americans may well have a demonstrator of some kind flying, but that’s a very long way from somthing entering frontline service.

Nigel Collins

A must-read if you’re interested in the design phase of Tempest. “The key to meeting its ambitious schedule, says BAE’s Christie, will be model based systems engineering (MBSE) – testing and validating in synthetic environments. Though simulation is not new, increased computing power, better engineering models and higher fidelity means that MBSE offers industry a way to concurrently design and test at the same time, without waiting for the traditional design-test-validate-redesign-test loop of previous programmes. Indeed, one of the Tempest partners, Saab, has already got experience in MBSE in the form of its involvement with the Boeing T-7A Red Tail… Read more »

Daveyb

I wouldn’t base the assumption of rapid progress based solely on the T7. When it is compared to the Tempest’s requirements, the program and aircraft are incredibly basic. Designing an airframe, putting some engines in it, then validating the flight software is the easy part. Just look at how quickly Lockheed Martin got the X35 up and flying, Then compare how long its taken to get the production model to a combat ready state. As always since the 1980’s, it is the systems and their integration that have caused the delays – did somebody say blue circle? How long did… Read more »

Jon

You guys are missing a huge time cost. Remember HMS Scimitar and HMS Sabre? These were two small fast patrol craft based in Gibraltar. In 2017 the MoD said they were to be replaced by 2019. There was no technical issue, the cost was small, just a routine replacement of two old ships with something off-the-peg. After a couple of years, out came the invitation to tender. For another year we heard nothing. Then toward the middle of 2020, already a year late, we learned they would be replaced temporarily by two Archer class ships, fifteen years older than they… Read more »

Meirion X

I seen reports that USN is to take the USS Carl Vince out to sea for a test run with some F-35Cs soon.
The USN has modified some of the newer carriers to take them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Robert Blay

Also. F15EX is to replace old F15C’s. F35 isn’t intended to replace F15, F22 was, but they didn’t buy enough. And the USAF has been trying to get rid of the A10 for years, but Congress won’t allow it. And F16 talk is to replace air national guard F16’s, not frontline USAF units. And F35C for the Navy is mainly due to modifications required to the carrier’s to operate F35C. They need new jet blast reflectors, avionics updates to handle the huge amount of data the jet produces, new classified avionic bay’s, and introduce Osprey capability that can carry a… Read more »

Peter S

Not sure your point on ANG is right. Plans have already been announced for ANG units to get F35A by 2024. So the aim will surely be to re equip full-time F16 squadrons first.

Meirion X

If overall F-35A numbers are cut due to budget restriction, expect ANG wings to be impacted mostly. Front line ANG wings like Alaska ANG will only get their wish fulfiled! The priority would be to fill USAF front line air wrings with F-35As. I think the Biden Admin will look for something to cut without impacting core defence priorities, so overall F-35A numbers could fall to about a 1000. Numbers will be made up by cheaper aircraft like F-15EX or new type F-16. I agree the USMC will get most of their wishes fulfiled with F-35Bs. The USN will most… Read more »

Daveyb

Not quite the whole truth. The USMC has used F35Bs, for support missions in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

I am surprised that no F35Cs have been operating off the Nimitz class, as I know the Ford isn’t cleared for use due to the issues with its EMALS and arrestor system. However, VFA147 is due to embark on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) towards the end of the year. VFA97 is now reforming with the F35C and is expected to be embark either at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.

dan

The news services today have absolutely nothing to do with reporting the truth anymore. They are all just pushing their own agendas. I stopped watching/reading “news” years ago and deleted all my social media accounts. Don’t miss any of the garbage at all! People need to start thinking for themselves again.

dave12

You are Trumpski supporter dan so reality and fact is not your strengths lol.

Lordtemplar

You don’t need to read the news if you don’t want to. Just take a look at GAO and DOT&E annual reports, they cover the F35 in exhaustive and acurate detail

Spyinthesky

Not specifically related to this but may be of interest, has anyone heard about the US launching a new programme into manned hypersonic flight options recently. Up to Mach 5 being examined with dual function/mode engines being specifically alluded to as a priority. It’s led to to P&W DUSTING OFF Its old blackbird engine design to examine the feasibility of improvements never originally incorporated plus new options since it’s demise that can potentially boost its performance. The report specifically mentioned that this will also be a boost to Reaction Engines efforts (plus another company I’m not familiar with) who’s engine… Read more »

David Nicholls

This remnds me of when Trump became president (2017). He was very derogatory of the F35 and its costs. I suspect that the new Democratic administration is doing the same. Also if the F35 is so superior why sould anyone fund the NGAD project?

Robert Blay

NGAD is to replace F22 some day. Not the F35.

Airborne

While not an expert on this subject, surely all modern developing weapon systems take time, problems are found and eventually rectified (or TTPs) are developed to mitigate them. This is more than a bomb truck or a missile carrier, it’s a network enabled asset which can carry out multi taskings, which previous had to be conducted by mission specific airframes. I don’t follow the narrative of we all buying American to support the next generation asset they will develop. Commonality of assets is important for NATO, and with more airframes in use than any other European built aircraft, surely we… Read more »

Robert Blay

How dare you use common sense! ?

AlexS

You can apply to F-35 what Pyrrhus said about his last victory against Roman army…paraphrasing:
If next generation is like the amazing F35 and there will not be an Air Force remaining…

There is no common sense in 30 years of fighter development.

Peter S

Worth looking at Defense News report of the comments by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. There is clearly growing concern about the F35 programme. Similar rumblings were widespread before Gates stopped the F22. I doubt that the same thing will happen, not least because F35 is exportable, but reductions in numbers and the development of a lower cost alternative are looking possible.

Nigel Collins

I think its called, looking for a way out without risking potential sales to foreign customers!

“WASHINGTON ― The House Armed Services Committee chairman railed at the expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on Friday, saying he wants to “stop throwing money down that particular rathole,” ― just days after the Air Force said it too is looking at other options.”

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2021/03/05/ripping-f-35-costs-house-armed-services-chairman-looking-to-cut-our-losses/

Derek

I do recall a US Senator describing the Harrier as the ‘most useless fighter aircraft ever made’. The US Marines didn’t seem to think so. I guess politicians say things to be heard by voters in their own state, maybe in a state that manufactures fighter aircraft?

One can’t deny development issues with the F35, some ongoing, but our pilots seem to think they are the bees knees so the next software upgrade may help clarify if their right.

Derek

… they’re right! Dammit!

Peter S

I wasn’t commenting on the merits of the aircraft but rather the political environment in which decisions about it are made. Adam Smith is long serving Rep for Washington State and is seen as a moderate Democrat. I don’t think his comments are motivated by any pork barrel consideration and he has no interest in cutting defence expenditure as a whole. I think his remarks have to be taken at face value. You are right about pilots reactions. The flight control systems seem to be working well. The problems are mainly with the sensor/ mission systems and the stealth coating,… Read more »

AlexS

The engines also last much less than expected.

Watcherzero

I just saw the article too. The Armed Forces committee Chairman was brutal! Ripping F-35 costs, House Armed Services chairman looks to ‘cut our losses’ (defensenews.com) “What does the F-35 give us? And is there a way to cut our losses? Is there a way to not keep spending that much money for such a low capability because, as you know, the sustainment costs are brutal.” “We have wasted a spectacular amount of money on weapons systems that either haven’t worked at all or who have not lived up to their promise. The failure we wind up tolerating is failure… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Watcherzero