WASHINGTON, (BM) – America has for many years used the flagship F-35 as the most successful and high-tech stealth project in military history, not only for the US military but for the world as well.
In recent months, and especially in recent days, information that is worrying about the future of the F-35 program is increasingly emerging.
In a recent hearing in the House Armed Forces Committee, it became clear that only one part of the aircraft is capable of performing combat missions, exactly one-third of the entire available F-35 fleet.
The problems are serious and have been around for many years. The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are still litigating who owns and is entitled to the F-35 program codes and this is the one of the problems.
Washington’s political circles continue to argue that the state is making too much concessions to the manufacturer, which could prove to be a serious problem that would determine Lockheed Martin as a monopolist in the military market.
Just a few days ago, the Pentagon was complaining of damages and defects, which are already starting to happen frequently. According to military analysts at the Pentagon, the F-35 has a long time to respond to military capabilities and targets for their implementation.
The source of this information is Bloomberg’s US edition and a statement by Robert Becler, responsible for US weapons testing.
According to him, planes are failing more often than acceptable and maintenance costs are increasing significantly.
Increasing support costs are cited by increasing threats from Russia and China, as well as from Islamic terrorist groups. At least such an explanation was given some time ago by US President Donald Trump.
All this leads to a clear and long silent fact – the program has problems maintaining aircraft combat readiness. Spare parts for all aircraft are missing, many of them do not receive timely system updates due to poor, timely or lack of funding.
There are even problems in the logistics that have to transport planes to accomplish tasks across the globe.
All of these internal conflicts are not good for the US F-35 Navy, but many partners are also likely to begin to hold the US accountable for the manufactured F-35s that are in service in many other countries.
Australia, for example, found a problem with corrosion. We recall that on May 2019 the Australian defence officials have been urged to consider round-the-clock dehumidification systems at an Air Forcebase near Newcastle to curb the corrosion risk for its fleet of Joint Strike Fighter jets.
Auditing and consulting firm KPMG was tasked with doing a report on the “intergranular corrosion mitigation options” for the 72 F-35A fighter jets, bought by the Australian Defence Force for $17 billion.
Concerns over the risk of metal stress and cracking were raised in 2017, the year before the next-generation fighters were due to come to Australia.
The FOI report obtained by the ABC said of the three bases where the jets would be based, only Williamtown, near Newcastle, had been identified as having potential problems.
The risk is posed by salt and other climatic conditions.
On the other hand, Turkey’s withdrawal from the program due to the purchase of the Russian C-400 proves to be an even greater challenge to the existence of the F-35 program.
Experts estimate that Lockheed Martin’s losses from this US government action would be close to $ 1 billion. The task of the US is to find a replacement for Turkey to produce with the same quality and at the same low price if it wants to keep the F-35 competitive in international markets.
Donald Trump may have relied on sanctions against Turkey as punishment for buying the S-400, but so far they have not been plowed.
They may never be implemented, as Turkey still holds a large trump card in its hand – a military base Incirlik where a large number of US troops and equipment are located.
Yes, the F-35 is for sale. But if these problems continue, the question is – how long?
Because if that continues, this aircraft could turn into the most costly failure of the US military industrial complex.
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