Program cost increases and delays Some selected examples.
On 21 April 2009, media reports, citing Pentagon sources, said that during 2007 and 2008, spies downloaded several terabytes of data related to the F-35's design and electronics systems, potentially compromising the aircraft and aiding the development of defense systems against it. Lockheed Martin rejected suggestions that the project was compromised, stating it "does not believe any classified information had been stolen". Other sources suggested that the incident caused both hardware and software redesigns to be more resistant to cyber attack. In March 2012, BAE Systems was reported to be the target of cyber espionage. BAE Systems refused to comment on the report, although they did state, "[Our] own cyber security capability can detect, prevent and rectify such attacks."
On 21 August 2013 C-Span reported that Congressional Quarterly and the Government Accountability Office were indicating the "total estimated program cost now is $400b—nearly twice the initial cost". The current investment was documented as approximately $50 billion. The projected $316 billion cost in development and procurement spending was estimated through 2037 at an average of $12.6 billion per year. These were confirmed by Steve O'Bryan, Vice President of Lockheed Martin on the same date.
In 2013 a RAND study found that during development the three different versions had drifted so far apart from each other that having a single base design might now be more expensive than if the three services had simply built entirely different aircraft tailored to their own requirements.
In 2014, U.S. Senator John McCain blamed cost increases in the program on "cronyism".
Concerns over performance and safety The very last item is the best.
In 2006, the F-35 was downgraded from "very low observable" to "low observable", a change former RAAF flight test engineer Peter Goon likened to increasing the radar cross-section from a marble to a beach ball. A Parliamentary Inquiry asked what was the re-categorization of the terminology in the United States such that the rating was changed from "very low observable" to "low observable". The Department of Defence said that the change in categorization by the U.S. was due to a revision in procedures for discussing stealth platforms in a public document. Decision to re-categorize in the public domain has now been reversed; subsequent publicly released material has categorized the JSF as very low observable (VLO).
In September 2008, in reference to the original plan to fit the F-35 with only two air-to-air missiles (internally), Major Richard Koch, chief of USAF Air Combat Command’s advanced air dominance branch is reported to have said that "I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of the F-35 going in with only two air-dominance weapons." The Norwegians have been briefed on a plan to equip the F-35 with six AIM-120D missiles by 2019. Former RAND author John Stillion has written of the F-35A's air-to-air combat performance that it "can't turn, can't climb, can't run"; Lockheed Martin test pilot Jon Beesley has stated that in an air-to-air configuration the F-35 has almost as much thrust as weight and a flight control system that allows it to be fully maneuverable even at a 50-degree angle of attack. Consultant to Lockheed Martin Loren B. Thompson has said that the "electronic edge F-35 enjoys over every other tactical aircraft in the world may prove to be more important in future missions than maneuverability".
U.S. defense specialist Winslow T. Wheeler and aircraft designer Pierre Sprey have commented of the F-35 being "heavy and sluggish" and possessing "pitifully small load for all that money", further criticizing the value for money of the stealth measures as well as lacking fire safety measures; his final conclusion was that any air force would be better off maintaining its fleets of F-16s and F/A-18s compared to buying into the F-35 program. A senior U.S. defense official was quoted as saying that the F-35 will be "the most stealthy, sophisticated and lethal tactical fighter in the sky," and added "Quite simply, the F-15 will be no match for the F-35." After piloting the aircraft, RAF Squadron Leader Steve Long said that, over its existing aircraft, the F-35 will give "the RAF and Navy a quantum leap in airborne capability."
In 2011, Canadian politicians raised the issue of the safety of the F-35's reliance on a single engine (as opposed to a twin-engine configuration, which provides a backup in case of an engine failure). Canada, and other operators, had previous experience with a high-accident rate with the single-engine Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter with many accidents related to engine failures. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, when asked what would happen if the F-35's single engine fails in the Far North, stated "It won’t".
A 2014 Pentagon report found these additional problems:
- Only a third of the fleet is airworthy.
- The Inertial navigation system does not work.
- There is an unknown bug with the AMRAAM.
- DAS confuses the aircraft's own flare launches with incoming missiles.
- A single well-placed bullet can render the F-35B's vertical landing capabilities useless
So, with the exception of Senator McCain, where is all the Republican howling about spending failures in Big Government programs? Search for "Issa F-35 fighter" on the internet and find nothing...