I am debating myself about how dumb to label an article in the Atlantic magazine complaining about the F-35. I don't know if it's better to call it misguided, hypocrisy for it's criticism that the program is short-sighted while being short-sighted itself, ignorant of the air forces around the world, or just idiotic for having a heart attack about a plane and comparing a country with slightly more people than New York State to the entirety of the United States.
Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic's hyperventilating article about the F-35, also called the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an impressive aircraft: a fifth generation multirole fighter plane with stealth technology. It's also a symbol of everything that's wrong with defense spending in America.
In a rational world, U.S. military expenditure would focus on the likely threats that the United States faces today and in the future. And at a time of mounting national debt, the Tea Party would be knocking down the Pentagon's door to cut waste. But the only tea party in sight is the one overseen by the Mad Hatter, as we head down the rabbit hole into the military industrial wonderland.
The F-35 is designed to be the core tactical fighter aircraft for the U.S. military, with three versions for the Air Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps. Each plane clocks in at around $90 million. So, how many F-35s do we need? 100? 500?
Washington intends to buy 2,443, at a price tag of $382 billion. Add in the $650 billion that the Government Accountability Office estimates is needed to operate and maintain the aircraft, and the total cost reaches a staggering $1 trillion. In other words, we're spending more on this plane than Australia's entire GDP ($924 billion).
The F-35 is the most expensive defense program in history, and reveals massive cost overruns, a lack of clear strategic thought, and a culture in Washington that encourages incredible waste.
Money is pouring into the F-35 vortex. In 2010, Pentagon officials found that the cost of each plane had soared by over 50 percent above the original projections. The program has fallen years behind schedule, causing billions of dollars of additional expense, and won't be ready until 2016. An internal Pentagon report concluded that: "affordability is no longer embraced as a core pillar."
In January 2011, even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a champion of the aircraft, voiced his frustration: "The culture of endless money that has taken hold must be replaced by a culture of restraint." The F-35 is meant to be the future of U.S. tactical airpower, but the program harks back to the Cold War, when we faced an aggressive great power rival.
The world has changed. The odds of great power war have declined dramatically. We still need a deterrent capacity against China and Russia, but how much is enough? In a decade's time, the United States plans to have 15 times as many modern fighters as China, and 20 times as many as Russia.
The article's arguments are all pretty dishonest.
Tierney claims the planes will cost $1 trillion. That's right ONE TRILLION DOLLARS. He just left out a few tiny details. It's $1 trillion OVER A PERIOD OF 30 YEARS. Also, he uses a number from the GAO that includes not only the costs of buying the plane, but also the research and development costs as well as the total maintenance costs. I've never heard of lumping all of those costs onto any fighter. Can he say what all those total costs are for the F-15? F-16? F-18? If he can, he'll probably have to figure it out himself with a calculator because I don't think those costs have ever been calculated like that. Oh and Australia has a population of approximately 20 million people, just like New York State. It makes beaucoup sense to compare a small country to one of the world's largest. Gee, all that would have been nice to know, but let's just leave it out of the article so we can make our argument look stronger.
Secondly, he's got this argument: 2,443 planes! I mean WOW 2,443 PLANES? What's THE DEAL WITH THAT? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? ARE WE GOING TO WAR WITH THE KLINGONS OR SOMETHING? Of course this leaves out one tiny detail. The F-35 is going to replace most of the jet engine aircraft in the US military. That includes the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-117 Nighthawk, F-18 Super Hornet, A-10 Thunderbolt 2 and the AV-88 Harrier. The US has more than 2,443 of these aircraft, so obviously you are going to need a couple thousand planes to replace several thousand planes. Kinda helpful to know that, but of course let's leave that out to make our argument look stronger.
A third part of the argument is this:
COME ON, MAN, THE F-35 FLEET IS GOING TO BE 20 TIMES LARGER THAN WHAT CHINA AND RUSSIA'S GOT. DON'T BE DUMB, MAN. I think this really shows a massive amount of ignorance on the writer's part. Firstly, Russia and China have got so many new planes, I could fill up this whole thread with pictures of different aircraft. China is simultaneously producing J-10 fighters which are on par with the latest version of F-16, as well as J-11 fighters which are on par with the latest version of F-15. China also recently produced a stealth fighter that's in the same class as the F-22, and so did Russia. Do you really want to go to war with China in the future using an aircraft that's as good as what they're building RIGHT NOW? China's military is not transparent and their stealth fighter prototype came out ahead of schedule. You just want to cross your fingers and hope that they don't have their own F-35 on the drawing board right now?
Kinda dumb. That just about sums up the article.
Gratuitous pictures of aircraft will follow.