The top leadership of the US Air Force (Air Force) has started talking about the need for new light fighters that will combine the expensive F-22 and F-35, as well as more budget jets. Forbes writes about it.
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This statement was made in February by Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown Jr. Thus, as the publication clarifies, the statement of a high-ranking American officer is a tacit admission that the F-35 Lightning II aircraft program has failed.
The Feb. 26 report indicated that the program was to produce thousands of fighters to replace almost all existing tactical combat aircraft in service with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. However, 15 years later, the US military had only 250 F-35s.
The article draws a parallel between the situation with these aircraft and the F-111 Aardvark two-seat long-range tactical bomber.
So, the magazine recalled that the project of the last aircraft was launched in 1961 and three years later the first fighter was produced. Then it was planned that the Air Force and the Navy would buy 1,700 of these aircraft. However, the machines did not live up to technical expectations, and their actual cost was five times higher than the design. As a result, the Air Force purchased about 550 F-111s exclusively for long-range attacks.
“The F-35 certainly has many of the qualities of the F-111. A single basic set of systems, packed into three generally identical airframes, should satisfy the needs of the Air Force, Navy (Navy) and Marine Corps (MCC), not to mention foreign operators, ”the newspaper writes.
Forbes noted that the admissions of Air Force leaders that they probably could not replace the F-16 with the same number of F-35s is not surprising. To do this, you need to either buy old-generation fighters, or launch a program to produce new ones.
At the same time, the chances of successfully developing a new, affordable light fighter for the US military are approximately 30%. Such prospects for the new program were predicted by Dan Grazer, an analyst at the State Oversight Project in Washington, the newspaper writes.
At the same time, the article admits that the program of the new aircraft may become as unsuccessful as the latest project of the fifth generation fighter.
In January, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, shortly before his resignation, held a press conference during which he called the F-35 fifth-generation fighter “a piece of …”.
Also in January, it became known that the Pentagon had postponed the full-scale production of fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers indefinitely. Combat trials have been postponed since 2017. The Ministry of Defense will name a new date for the research after the fighters pass an independent technical examination.