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.”
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