Originally posted by intelgurl
The Bush administration has instructed the Air Force to cut $12 billion from their spending over the next 6 years. This move has forced the Air Force
to restructure it's spending priorities - changes are now being put forth that will impact the F-35 acquisition. These changes will be seen in the
2008-2013 budgets and will mean a reduction in the Air Forces' F-35 purchases by 72 aircraft. The F-35's growing costs were cited as the reason the
aircraft was targetted by the Air Force's planning office.
The naval buy has already been halved way back in the 2001-02 budget process by the two services originally deemed 'most desperately in need of salty
LO', remember? Why didn't anybody's sphincter loosen then, eh?
The Marines having agreed to 'volunteer' another 35 jets to the cause last year and the USAF only 'doing their part' to pass the buck on is just a
game of reverse musical chairs in terms of who's still sitting at the table when last call brings the tab over. Indeed, I'm half thinking the
services /hope/ to push things infinitely rightwards until either We The People bail out their sorry program at four times face cost (under a new
administration). Or Congress wakes up and smells the red ink before killing it off altogether.
The latter becoming more and more likely now that the whole world sees the JSF as the 'next generation' cash cow that it is. One utterly outmoded,
by cost, with the advent of UCAVs and IAM and NCW. Indeed, the only good thing left in the program is the tech base and industrial offsets and those
will have been whored out long before this thing hits it's final production decision whose own when-as-how-much outcome will be a function of how
high the bidding will go before the rats start to jump ship 'with nary a Tier' between them.
My bet is of course on the Brits to first-bail as they have a long established reputation of stalking military programs only to back out once they
know what they need to and have gotten others to commit to something they _never could_ afford. Not that I can blame them really. Who wants to be
/stuck/ with Euro-FACO rights on an expensive toy fighter likely to be known as 'Lockheeds latest F-104G'?
From where I'm sitting, the only interesting thing left to be really resolved from this whole mess is the Marine:Navair hook up. It's obvious that
the former is about to die an ugly death as an 'independent air arm' directly integrated with their own forces but the question is whether they
think they can pull a STOVL rabbit out of the hat with a min buy of 60-100 jets at the end of the F/A-18 HUG-a-Bugs life. Of course, the Navy has to
be /insane/ to think that a 10 squadron commitment of F/A-18Cs now is worth buying into a 3 squadron 'expeditionary reserve' (landbased) equivalent
of F-35B as JSF-later to support deployed Marine assets in this so called conjoined force. Not least because the F-35B will never work well within a
CVTOL big deck environment so whatever the Corps has left to bring to the game as total squadron counts will not only be too few but likely third-tail
incompatible within the existing airwing operational system.
At the same time, I have a feeling that the squids are not going to be suckered (as they were with the A-12) this time. And the way this may shake
out is for the USN to make great noises about sustaining S-Hornet production through the last possible lot on the last possible day (LIII if not IV)
before 'switching over' to the JSF as the primary strike aircraft only after it's too late. Not in 2009-10 but 2012-14. Playing for time in the
hopes that THEY can have their manned system allotment filled out, when 'sigh, we have no choice' but to drop the JSF like a hot rock and buy deep
into N-UCAS. Leaving the Gyrenes and the Blue Suit Mafia sucking wind as they step out from what is actually the smallest of the JSF contracted lots.
The Corps will then be left with truly ugly choices inherent to attempting to buy into a JSF production lot for the B model with virtually noone else
to sustain their HIGHLY unique variant. Or trying to sustain a Hornet F line winding down through low rate production (the worst point to buy into an
ancient airframe concept). Or accepting tired Bug-Es as the Navy makes room for new A-47s. Given as they are 'too manly' to go all-uninhabited and
they have wanted /real bad/ to stop being the Navy's RAG for most of the last half century, it will be to laugh seeing who is last to leave the table
on a 'one name, three planes' JSF program that has essentially paid for the CTOL model production three times over as the only variant with the
residual production scalar economics worth doing.
I especially will enjoy any sightings of USAF polished brass balls clanking away in a crotch kicked hobble as they too are forced to accept crippling
primary service costs for an export program that nobody else wants. But they will have to take if they too don't want to be stuck which 'continuing
a fine Navy tradition' of bringing squiddian airframes (F-4/A-7) ashore. This time without a pilot.
So tell me, what will be the comparitive cost of the F-35 with the F-22 be when it's down to 500 A + 100 B and Navair is down the street with the
only 'complete' force structure of manned/unmanned levereaged airpower, bent over puking in the gutter from laughing so hard?