The Heritage Foundation recently had a blog post by Steven Bucci up that made some pretty strong statements concerning critics of the F-35. They’re worth reviewing:
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as the F-35 is known, is designed to maximize both capability and survivability. Its production methodology was developed to allow for faster fielding of the aircraft and calls for incremental improvements in the design as early models roll of the line. Safety is not sacrificed, and the process known as “concurrency” puts the best available plane in the hands of the warfighters as soon as possible. It also allows for cuts in cost per copy as efficiencies build upon one another.
Unfortunately, forces that never wanted the nation’s pilots to have this aircraft in the first place are now trying to pull a bait and switch. They are saying that there is too much concurrency, and they want to slow down production of the JSF. This would drive up the cost per unit of each JSF and probably force some of our allies to cut the number of planes they have ordered. These cuts would further drive up cost, creating a vicious cycle of cost increases.
I’m not a believer in most conspiracy theories, so I’m somewhat less inclined to lay off what is happening on “forces that never wanted the nation’s pilots to have this aircraft”. Certainly there are critics that have made it their near-term life’s work to see this program killed. And they don’t offer much of any credibility as a replacement. But I'm not sure there’s an orchestrated effort of any sort at work.
That said, I think Bucci is dead on in his assessment of concurrency and its value as well as his points about the negative effects of production cuts and slow downs. Those appear to be undeniable truths.
Over at the Elements of Power blog, SMSgt Mac points to the predictable track this will take with a great graphic. Interestingly he made the graphic in 2006 and the aircraft in question was the F-22. See if any of this sounds familiar:
The danger here is a repeat of the disservice that was done by ending the acquisition of the F-22 well before it should have been ended. Fresh from that victory the critics are trying for a repeat.
It would be the worst thing that could happen for our future national security if they were to succeed.