F-35 Struggles From Lack Of Mission

An F-35 Lightning II assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Staci Miller/Released)

Last week, after Senator John McCain questioned the Marines’ claims that the F-35 was initially operable, the proverbial dog pile on the plane that can’t dog fight grew. Article after article explored the failings of the fighter and the services, who have turned production of the plane it into their top mission.

While the fighter might be their mission du jour, the fact of the matter is that the F-35 wasn’t built for a mission, according to Pierre Sprey. That is what Sprey, an original member of the fighter mafia told the listening audience of the James T. Harris radio show in Tucson last week. According to Sprey, the F-35 was built to accommodate technology, not accomplish a mission.

As the services pour billions into the plane to work out the kinks in the technology, Sprey and others are questioning why the services continue to waste money on an airplane that is already “outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better, as David Axe writes in his latest piece, F’d: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane.

Winslow Wheeler told Axe that in a fast moving battle the F-35 “is a dog … overweight and underpowered.”

Listen to the interview here

It is the lack of mission that has even the most hawkish wondering why hawks like McCain are not calling for a discontinuation of the plane’s development – especially in light of the limitations imposed by sequestration.

But in order to understand how the services can ignore the grim reality of the billions they have blown, you must first understand how they came to their decisions.

Sprey offered a fascinating glimpse into the motivations behind the design and current fight for the A-10, and those that now form the foundation for the F-35’s future.

It is the motivation of the A-10 designers that is at the core of its success. As the finest, most survivable aircraft in our nation’s arsenal, its primary function, and driving motivation was the protection of the finest, most survivable soldiers in the world.

In the case of the F-35, there is no guiding principle, and no guiding mission upon which the finest technology has been heaped. Because its primary value to each service is the extraordinarily large budget it demands, it has become of little value to all of them.

Check back tomorrow for the history of the A-10

Related articles:

GAO A-10 Report Prompts Question About False Savings Promises

“Experts” Make A-10 Fight Up Hill Battle

Senators join JTACs in A-10 fight

Meger scrubbed A-10, CAS gap for “brevity”

Air Force “Treason” Debacle Reveals Deeper Problems


  1. no mission may be the best thing that can happen to an F-35 and its’ driver cus if it gets one chances are it may lose that fight.. not a good thing.

  2. Anyone with an I.Q. greater than an egg plant knows this is just about giving more TRILLIONS of our tax monies to the GREEDY, WEALTHY, corporations that supply our military force’s. We need planes that can win against the MIG’S if it ever comes down to “dog fight’s”. Having the best pilot’s is of no use if they do not have planes that can insure that they will win.

  3. F-35 is a DOG! Ha, Ha we told you so! An Airplane with multiple mission will always be doomed to fly right. I bet it couldn’t fly away from a A-10. Lets see, the Air Force Brass wants to dump the A-10, F-15, F-16 and leave our ass hanging out. Remember the F-22 that they said was so expensive… the F-35 beats that record and yet the Brass cancelled the F-22 and wants the F-35 — Follow the money…

  4. Conner – Aviation Weekly – has some stories and this aircraft is a dog… it doesn’t do anything well – special special special is it’s needs which just don’t add up to a good ‘fighter in a real fight’ —- to bad that have wasted so much everything into this pile o crap.

  5. Attemping to do away with the A-10 that we know for fact saves lives and is a “Flying Angel” to our ground troops can only be another political ploy that ignores our troops wishes. Why not the B-52 bomber. Because when something is perfect leave it the hell alone. Like many people I don’t know a lot about the F-35. I can say that this article is a opinion piece and doesn’t convince me either way. There are no facts here to back up anything. I do know that all fighter planes take years and tons of money to get right. The Chinese and Russians have better and faster planes? I would think when you state something like that proof to back it up is warranted. The Osprey is still a work in progress. It has cost money and lives, but yet this project continues on.

  6. And yet the MIC continues to waste money on this monstrosity of an airplane that can’t win in air to air combat and or CAS. What a colossal waste of money and I sincerely hope that it won’t cost American lives, but as always, our best and brightest are only pawns in the money game aren’t they. Who cares if they die in combat or on the ground, the MIC made their money and the bureaucratic brass got a cushy job when they left the service didn’t they.

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