The Aircraft that is Breaking Our National Defense


The modestly discerning reader has by now determined that my quarrels with the US Air Force are neither frivolous nor narrowly proscribed. And while the chosen lens often involves telling a story of dysfunction at street level, the grievances at issue reside at the highest levels, as do their potential remedies and the entrenched obstacles to those remedies.

It would be easy enough to object to the F-35 because it is over-budget by billions, unproven, cloaked in tireless and endless propaganda, and a total misfit for the predominating security environment.

But my objection is more specific. It’s that the F-35 is simply too expensive for the niche capability it provides, and when the Air Force tries to export it beyond that niche as a multi-role fighter, it is exposed as a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

As a “night one” stealth strike platform, it promises (though it’ll be years before it delivers) and important leap in capability. In just about every other capacity, it is somewhere between mediocre and toothless … at a cost that puts it in direct competition with other essentials, most pressingly other aircraft and the airmen to make them relevant in actual rather than imagined wars.

The F-35 is threatening to put the Air Force out of business. The cost of keeping the program moving is pushing the service into a seemingly endless chain of ill-advised decisions, from attempting to retire the A-10 to downsizing an already undermanned force by 19,000 airmen. The idiocy of these moves has tarnished the service’s image on the Hill and elsewhere, leaving officials’ credibility gravely wounded while airmen question whether they’re being led by combat-oriented generals or ornamental window-lickers as misguided as they are self-obsessed.

All of which is to say that the video below is as relevant and poignant now as when it was first released. the Air Force’s focus, priorities, and institutional direction are fundamentally wrong, and in no way is that more plain or vivid than in its dedication to purchasing more than 1,700 of these dull-edged stealth albatrosses. 

We need a balanced Air Force that can fight the wars it is given … not a niche service wishing for a certain kind of fight. After the air defenses are down, there will be a combined arms war to wage … and at least at this point, the F-35 is clearly not up to that task.

Worst news of all: if we insist on paying for this contraption, there won’t be enough money for the other things we need to do to defend this country adequately. The longer it lives in current form, the more damage we’re doing.

See also:

The Air Force’s F-35 Propaganda Effort

3-Star Denounces Comparison Testing

CSAF’s Public Unraveling on the F-35

The Little “Fighter” that Couldn’t

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