Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Next Steps

Now that the election is over, I have time to spend on this blog, a new venture for me, kindly set up and co-managed by Dave McKay

My name is John Corbett, and I've been a keen student of military hardware for years. The F35 issue has interested me not so much because of the pricing issues (new jets always cost at least three times the initial budget) but because we've never had a good discussion of what kind of jets we need for what kind of missions.

My preference, for any type of critical military hardware, is robust and rugged, more truck than race car. Also, cheaper is better, because you can get more for the same amount and it doesn't hurt so bad when you crash one (we crash our jets quite a bit)

In an essay posted at the beginning of this blog I discuss some of the options, including the Saab Gripen, which can land and take off on 500 feet of gravel, and can be serviced and refueled by five guys and a truck. That's what I mean by robust and rugged.

Not only is the F35 not robust and rugged like that, it doesn't really exist, and maybe never will. It's behind schedule, over budget, and one of the three variants has been cancelled. Customers around the world are getting cold feet and ordering new jets. It's only flown about 100 times, and there are only 14 in existence. It's not really a plane yet, and may never be.

This is why I'm not all steamed about the new Conservative majority being able to go ahead and buy the F35. I don't think they will simply because I don't think it will ever get out of development and into production. We'll have to buy something else in the meanwhile, and the reasoning that goes into that choice will be valuable.

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