New fighter jet causes US problems

F-35

F-35

The new fighter jet produced by Lockheed Martin called the F-35 was and still is supposed to be the most versatile and widely used fighter jet the US military arsenal. It was also supposed to be the replacement of the aging F-16 for many other countries which would bring significant business to Lockheed and the US in general.

However, as an article I found in the New York Times reports (click here to read it) the F-35 has had multiple delays and setbacks which have forced US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to fire his general in charge of the program from the government side and look for someone else in order to bring this very expensive program back from cliff. This type of scenario where the government orders a weapons system to be designed and built according to their needs and budget requirements have a long history of taking too long to build and end up being much more expensive than planned and too often end up being scrapped mid-way when some money was already invested and even more importantly, the military had already made plans assuming the systems were part of the overall arsenal only to have it fall apart and eventually yield little to no return in terms of actual product deliveries. The most recent story like this involved another fighter jet, the F-22 (the world’s undisputed best fighter jet in history), which the US military reduced their orders to 187 from 650-750 planes because the price was much higher than anticipated.

The F-35 on the other hand can not meet the same fate as the F-22 did because the US needs it to come to fruition. They have plans to order almost 2,500 of these planes which would be a very significant part of the overall arsenal and without it they would risk losing their air technology superiority which is crucial to national security and economic dominance. This is why this is a big deal in more ways than one. Of course, it is a big deal because of the sheer price tag of this program, almost $300 billion (paid for by tax payers), especially when the initial cost estimate was $200 billion. However, it is also important because they plan to sell hundreds of these planes to their allies as well which would bring an actual monetary return on investment and now those orders might be reduced.

Moreover, this weapons system represents America’s future military power and strength over the rest of the world which is essential to their continued economic dominance in the world as it gives them the respect and leverage to hold favorable negotiations with other countries on various fronts. It is difficult to assign an exact dollar figure to this point, but it is obviously very significant and important.