WASHINGTON, (BM) – Lockheed Martin and the production of fifth-generation F-35 fighters for the US military are facing difficult times. The Pentagon considers a strange decision – to replace the F-35s scheduled for replenishment in the US Army with the latest version of the F-16.
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On February 17, Charles Brown, commander of the US Air Force, told reporters again that 4++ generation fighters could replace the F-35s planned for production and commissioning. The reasons are not technical [although they exist – ed.], but rather financial.
According to the US Department of Defense, the cost of an F-35 is $ 44,000 per hour. Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon aim to reduce those costs to $ 25,000. However, this plan, although it has existed for years, has not been implemented. Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon still have time to meet it, as the US military deadline is 2025. However, there is skepticism about whether Lockheed Martin can reduce these costs to this amount, Garrett Reim said in his article.
It will not be a surprise if the United States prefers the F-16 to the F-35. Since last year, the Pentagon has begun investing more in the F-15EX, which should replace the F-15C.
Russia’s S-400 missile system could have an impact
In recent years, Russia has invested in the production of missile systems. The S-350 is the most common at the moment, but the S-400 is the missile system entering the market and may influence strategic decisions for the American F-35.
Charles Brown says threats to the United States are currently lower class. That’s why the government is considering buying an F-16. But these low-class threats exist now, and according to Brown, the next decade will be high-class threats.
Russia’s S-400 missile system is already there in the next decade, Brown said. “[However] I think if you fast forward to the next decade, the low-end fight in the future is very much a high-end fight. So, if you look at the proliferation, for example, of S-300 or S-400, or other aspects of things today, it’s going to be even more so in the future,” are his words.
Russia’s S-400 missile system is currently in service in Russia, China, Belarus, and Turkey. India is the fifth country to expect these air defense systems. They have been ordered, paid for, are being produced but didn’t deliver yet.
The Russians advertise the S-400 as a solution to the “problem” called F-35. Russian arms conglomerate – Rosoboronexport said the S-400 could intercept and react against and react against a stealth fighter within a radius of 150 km.
Brown believes that the Russian air defense system’s development and its equivalent, the S-500, could influence decisions about the production, upgrade, and delivery of new F-35s to the US Air Force.
Lockheed Martin claims that they will be able to reduce the cost of the F-35
Greg Ulmer, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin, said his company would have no trouble cutting fighter costs.
He recalls that this “exercise” has already been done and is still doing even now. 40% have already reduced the cost of various elements for constructing the F-35 in recent years. In the next five years, says Greg Ulmer, these costs will be reduced by another 10%.
Greg Ulmer believes that the F-35 is in a perfect, profitable, and strong position to achieve the set cost. However, do not forget to emphasize that this is not just a fighter, but a system within a system. Ulmer compared the F-35 to a precise, sporty car that has more support than other vehicles.
The United States planned to acquire a total of 1,763 F-35 fighters for its air force. Although there is no official order to reduce these fighters’ number, such action is implied, says Garrett Reim.
He recalls that a similar “fluctuation” seen in the actions of the US Marine Corps. According to him, the planned 420 fighters are already history, and the US Marine Corps wants to acquire only 120-130 aircraft.
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