America’s Next New Warplane: Worth It Or Not?

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

The F-35 is the latest and greatest addition to the U.S. military’s arsenal of war planes. Combining the stealth needed for Air Force missions, the vertical landing engine needed for close contact Marine missions, and fortified landing gear for Navy missions the plane is supposed to represent a versatile union among the military branches.

But what happens when that union causes cracks in the plane’s structure, limits operation capabilities based upon weather, and even causes some engines to explode?

Originally intended to save money by performing different functions for different military branches, the production of F-35’s has been elongated and hit record costs. Currently being produced by 1200 suppliers in 45 states and 9 other countries, the cost of a fleet is now estimated at $1.5 trillion dollars.

That’s the same as the budgeted cost of the entire Iraq War.

The price may be worth it if the aircraft could do what politicians have said it will be capable of, but that seems unlikely at this point. The F-35 has been known to blow up, crack prematurely, and sometimes can’t even fly in clouds.

The F-35 is meant to replace older plane models like the A-10, an aircraft originally created for the Army according to a seminar sponsored by the Strauss Military Reform Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But the cost difference in producing the F-35s vs. older models combined with the structural issues may be a warning sign.


A recent example of the plane’s implications occurred at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, when the base had to repaint fuel trucks from green to white in efforts to lower fuel temperatures. The base discovered that when fuel hit higher temperatures, F-35’s would experience a “shutdown”.

On top of stories like this, China has recently announced a new and improved warplane, the J-31. They claim the J-31 could beat the F-35 in combat.

If F-35 production doesn’t speed up and fix the kinks soon, it may be outdated and surpassed by new technology.


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