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Reassessing the F-35 Fighter Jet Program

Marco Wertheimer

Posted on January 10, 2022 17:43

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Why the US should keep its prized air weapon while better planning around its program's flaws

When the F-35 fighter jet was first conceived in the 1990s, it was envisioned to be a centerpiece of US defense by filling unique roles for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy. After two decades, F-35 production for those three military branches has finally arrived in full force. However, the development of this plane has taken much longer and has been much more expensive than its designers planned. It is thus vital to examine the value of the F-35 program and the degree to which American spending thereon should change going forward.


The F-35 boasts a singular array of technological assets. For instance, its electronic warfare capabilities are unrivaled, with its jamming system being able to deceive or suppress enemy radar to help the plane avoid detection. Further assisting its detection-avoidance features is its stealth airframe, which is designed to minimize radar contact. Moreover, the F-35’s fighter capabilities let it clear airspace of enemy aircraft, and its strike capabilities allow it to destroy ground and sea targets. From an affordability standpoint, the F-35 has made sizable strides, with production costs steadily falling with every new production and its flight-per-hour prices having fallen by 40% since 2015.

There are ample reasons to doubt the wisdom of spending as much on the F-35 as the US currently plans, however. To start, the F-35 is extremely expensive to build and maintain. Going forward, US taxpayers can expect to pay $1 trillion+ for the F-35 over its 60-year life span. In the short term, they are paying around $36,000 for every hour of its flights, with its costs being kept high by hundreds of structural deficiencies that are still being corrected. There are also widespread doubts about the F-35’s value for conducting routine patrols of American airspaces and strikes against enemy insurgents that pose no threat to high-altitude jets and other missions that don’t require the F-35’s top-flight technologies.

Ultimately, in considering these two perspectives, the F-35 program should be preserved for decades to come. Nonetheless, the US should reduce its F-35 purchases below current project spending levels. The main reason the F-35 program should be retained is that the plane’s stealth capabilities, which no other American fighters have, make it indispensable. Warfare against technologically-advanced foes, such as Russia and China, demands that fighters from the US and its allies possess them. In addition, as production costs continue to fall and sales from F-35 exports to a wide array of allies rise, the plane’s budgetary burden will only decrease with time. These cost reductions notwithstanding, it makes great financial sense for the US to use older aircraft, such as the F-16 fighter jet, to conduct missions that don’t require the full range of the F-35’s technological innovations and for the US to reduce its new F-35 purchases accordingly.

Marco Wertheimer

Posted on January 10, 2022 17:43

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Source: FOX Sports
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Rod Melton Jr. scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, D

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