I got to see an AC-130 up close at LRAFB once and...dayyymm, that sucker is just bristling with firepower, like the flying fortresses of old. If we aren't gonna build more A-10s then I say the replacement is obvious as 1.- The AC-130 is a hell of a lot cheaper than an F-35 techno-turkey, 2.- The AC-130 is a hell of a lot tougher, 3.- the AC-130 can loiter a lot longer, and finally 4.- the AC-130 can carry a lot more firepower.
As for TFA....sigh, how long will it take before the DoD admits the F-35 is a giant techno turkey and pulls the plug? If the fighter jocks have to have their stupid stealth give 'em the F-15 Silent Eagle, which can run rings around the F-35. To me the saddest part is reports are the Chinese knock off is actually better than the original (which ain't saying much) thanks to not having to have the retarded vertical take off crap for the marines. What we need to do is give the marines an updated version of the Bronco or Dragonfly, which should be small enough they should be able to launch 'em off of just about anything, give 'em a baby flat-top to carry the things and kill the VTOL crap along with the F-35 once and for all.