When Lightning Strikes
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are reposting the following article, which was originally published by FreedomWolf on December 3rd, 2012, due to an update on the status of the F-35 fighter jet. Recently, all F-35s have been grounded because of a “crack in the turbine blade of one of the planes.” US Represented feels that this discussion needs to be revisited in light of the considerable sum of money invested in this project.
Picture courtesy of Michael Spooneybarger / Reuters
After long delays, budget issues, and a two-year probation, the United States Marine Corps will take delivery of a the first F-35B Lightning II attack fighters. The 121st Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)-121) will be the first Marine squadron to fly the new plane and has undergone a refit and upgrade to its hangars and airfields in preparation.
Budget overruns, technical malfunctions, and structural issues have dogged the program from the beginning, making it the most expensive weapons development program thus far. After ten years in development, the project has cost over $385 billion and is projected to exceed $1 trillion over the next 50 years.
According to Colonel Pete Field (USMC Ret), the Marines’ F-35B variant is the most complicated of the three designs, primarily due to its vertical takeoff and landing capability. This caused it to be heavier than initially predicted, and it had to be lightened substantially. However, Colonel Field believes this could lead to structural problems in the future. “We won’t know for two or three years,” said Field.
The F-35B will replace the aging AV-8B Harrier “jump jet,” which has acted as the Marine Corps’ close air support aircraft for two decades. With more advanced avionics, stealth technology, and the ability to take off and land in confined spaces, the F-35B will make a highly flexible addition to the Navy and Marine Corps ground attack element.