The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a long in-development, government-funded stealth fighter made by Lockheed Martin. Designed to replace up to seven different fighters, it could potentially do everything from night stealth missions to tank destruction to vertical takeoff, but it has been plagued by technological problems. Its other salient feature? It is the most expensive fighter jet developed. Ever.
Pro Publica put this infographic together presumably to highlight the absurdity of current budget logic at the Pentagon. So far the F-35 program has cost a whopping $84 billion, which is almost twice the amount the Pentagon is supposed to cut this year. Rather than rein in the F-35 program, Pentagon leadership has made cuts to a tuition program that in 2012 cost $194 million and reduced the amount of time the U.S. Navy spends at sea.
One important number missing from this graphic: 2,000. That's the number of people who work for the Pentagon on the F-35 program itself. To give some context, Centcom, the U.S. military command office for an area encompassing the Middle East and Central Asia, and which oversaw both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, also has a staff of 2,000.
Is it possible for the U.S. to ever attempt a military program more expensive? We have to wade into science fiction to find an example: the Joint Strike Fight is more expensive than Iron Man, but it is cheaper than a Death Star. Except, wait, the Obama administration already ruled that one out.
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Interesting numbers, seems like a huge waste of money... I wonder how many hospitals you could build or how many doctors or engineers you could train with 397,000,000,000$
To be fair a large portion of that money is pretty much training engineers or driving engineers to be trained.
And yet Brazil is 3/4 the size of the USA has no wars with no one and no one wars with Brazil.
Perhaps, our government creates and finds its own problems, to grow and maintain
its own self-importance, as in the politics and money of this plane!
But hey, who needs social security or affordable health care and Medicare?!(Sarcasm)
Japan, after the world war, could not really develop its military, so it put its taxes into its industry, and people. Now look how they GROW and with greeat Qaulity as well!
This is what Eisenhower warned us about in his 1961 exit speech. The military industrial complex is a cooperative arrangement between defense contractors, Congress, and the Pentagon. Each of these three groups push for more spending for their own reasons.
Eisenhower duped the military industrial complex into creating Interstate Highway System in 1956. The excuse was that the event of war, a robust transportation network would be required to mobilize the nation. In truth, Eisenhower wanted that money to go to something that directly benefited each citizen, instead of creating a potential tool of their oppression.
It takes strong leadership to keep these powerful forces in check. Unfortunately, our current representatives have had difficulty performing even the most basic functions of government.
Yeah, this 'airplane' is a real piece of somethin or other. I keep seeing people here and there trying to defend this steaming pile of greasy pork by referring to other planes that were plagued by problems. EXCEPT. I've actually read the Pentagon Report. I've looked around and found FOOTAGE. Do you know that it missed critical development timelines that were set in 2001 on these 650 million dollar machines, ON EVERYTHING? So they deliver basically a plane that rolls on wheels, can take off, but CAN'T BANK IN AIRSPACE? Cool. 650 mil. A plane to defend our nation with that can't freakin bank. So, these things fly level for a minute or so, then they can climb 4000 ft max, then level off, then climb...AND THAT'S THE BEST OF THE PERFORMANCE. There's no rear view vantage from the cockpit. Radar that works until it doesn't, but when it does work you can't trust it either because it still ain't.; So anything requiring radar-scratched. And that defined benchmark is scrubbed just like ALL THE REST OF THE BENCHMARKS ON THIS 650 MILLION DOLLARS PER UNIT SO FAR PLANE.
The Marine model is such a cobbled and crammed thing that it doesn't even function and they've given up on those 650 million dollar per plane failures.
NOW WE SEE why they destroyed all the F-14 stuff. It worked and cost less by a factor of what? 20-1? So our guys had to wrench on em all the time once they got old. At least they flew. At least they had real world class performance. If we put modern systems in place of the fly-by-wire and some of the more stress prone areas, that plane could be upgraded, weigh much less, and do much more.
Scrap a plane project and balance the budget for 10 years. Who knew?!
Here is a good topic for the US government to invest in for national security, verse this black hole plane.
And people call me conspiracy theorist for wondering like so many millions of us now; are we being deliberately exposed to attack by those in our own infrastructure?
No, you say? HOW CAN ANYONE TELL?
With the preponderance of pork in DC it's no wonder they average the highest obesity of any major city......
First, congrats to PopSci on achieving eleven non-spam comments in a single article.
As for the topic: I'd prefer a balanced budget, more economic leverage against emerging super powers, and affordable universal healthcare ...over a fleet of F-35s.
All you lefty liberals that seem to think that we don't need a plane like this understand one thing. The Chinese and the Russians are building the same plane from the plans that were acquired when Lockheed got hacked by the Chinese 3 or 4 years ago. If we let them have air superiority, it's all over for us. Period.
MrDadrox, I am a lefty liberal but you are absolutely right. I have a proposition that would potentially fix this loop hole and stop China from hacking, or at least make it much more consequential for them. Every time China hacks our system to "steal," our property we will charge them the same amount it cost us for its research, development, and deployment. This charge will be subtracted from our debt to China. China you stole our F-35 plans. We'll charge you circa $1.5 trillion dollars for our efforts. Thank you for your business and no you still wont be able to make a plane that flies as well as ours. If they want to steal they should pay the price. Nothing is for free and if you broke in you bought it.
www.joesid.com - Where interactive 3D meets The Web.
Neither military might or technology won the cold war. The Russians lost when their economy collapsed. If we continue to spend money with reckless abandon, the US will suffer the fate of the Soviet Union.
We have F-22s for air superiority. The F-35 was supposed to be an economic multi-role work horse, not a super fighter. Yet per unit cost projections are approaching that of the F-22. We do need an aircraft to replace our 1970s era fighters like the F-16. But the F-35 is way too much money for very little capability.
How many hundreds of billions does it take. The F22 turned into a joke as well and has never seen an actual combat mission. For much, much money less they could have simply upgraded old (affordable!) fighters.
-develop need multi tracking headgear like for the F35 and adapt if for the F16 and other fighters
-develop a composite frame for every new produced "old design" fighter
-give the ''old design'' fighters more stealth features in their new composite frames
-integrate the newest radar technology in the ''old design'' jets
By doing it this way step by step you can slowly continue to upgrade your jets to all the latest standards and for much less money then designing a fighter from scratch. In fact almost everything US defense companies do goes way, way over budget. Since they already have the contract who can stop them. They might have been better off buying Eurofighters and producing them locally.
"Only in America."
Never before have I seen such an obsession with military defense.
TANGSTAN, your plan has all the practicality of a former congressmans dream.
The F35 is not insane. Being a policeman for the world is what is insane.
Greenmatrix, The last red flag war game, "A" F22 took out 64 enemy fighters with out a loss. The euro fighter would not last a minute with the F22. (neither would the F35)
ONLY IN AMERICA DOES A GOVERNMENT CRAM $90.5 BILLION DOLLARS INTO 65 PLANES THAT CAN'T FLY; AND KEEP POURING THE MONEY INTO THE PIT.
IT IS A BAD DESIGN THAT DOES NOT WORK AS ADVERTISED. GET OUR MONEY BACK. HIRE SOMEONE THAT IS ACTUALLY PREPARED TO PERFORM INSIDE A MILITARY PROCUREMENT PROTOCOL AS IF THE PROTOCOLS ARE THERE FOR A REASON.
From a small business ROI perspective, Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is a tremendous success story.
We the "USA starving small businesses unrealized and failed wishes with proportionally reversed ROI" to a 6.5 Billion revenue on a 15.3 million lobbing expense.
If a 0.000235384615384615% lobbing expense can achieve 6.5 billion revenues, it is a great business investment for one employer. Never mind Iron Man, and much less Dead Star unless it was to hit closeer to home.
What about the millions of small businesses? Ruled out?
What if China was to collectively employee SB's here in the USA? Samsung has already open its new campus, getting closer to Apple. Then, would the USA government still charge China for hacking Government & Businesses? or reward China for reducing unemployment? We gave them the PC industry in the 90's they built, tested and shrunk them and now we migrated content to the clouds, where is much more easy to access. After all what is left to go after? Content, IP, new science & technology, or the environment? Honey, is there anything left to shrink? "Graphine" now...
As a military descriptive, someone would undoubtedly come up with something like "The 6 o'clock Duck"; because you can't see behind you if you are in the cockpit and it can't bank worth a damn and it's slow.
Democedes said it well:
“Neither military might or technology won the cold war. The Russians lost when their economy collapsed. If we continue to spend money with reckless abandon, the US will suffer the fate of the Soviet Union.”
I have said something similar to this many, many times.
My time in the army as a tanker was from 1983 to 1986 during the Regan years when part of the strategy of the U.S. was to pull the Soviet Union into a military spending contest and get them to neglect their already weak infrastructure.
It worked fantastic!
This was only 30 years ago and the people who are in congress now were alive and politically aware then. It absolutely amazes me that they are allowing the U.S. to go down the same path…crumbling infrastructure that is hard pressed to support the needs of the populace and an overly large military budget.
However, it is exactly the elected officials that are allowing this to happen that are benefitting financially along with the defence contractors from this policy the most. If the country goes bankrupt because of their financial mismanagement they are not going to suffer. It is the average family that is going to get hit the hardest.
With the invention of the nuclear bomb, lead the world to nuclear bomb competition and MAD.
The end result of MAD is economic bankruptcy and paranoia, undermining countries economic systems.
There are a few democratic countries that can dedicate more of its taxes to the welfare of the people and less war development and nuclear devices are actually fairing very well currently.
The USA should make itself less of a popular target, stop being the world’s police man or big brother and decide to take care more of its own people.
As an engineer, I'm on the fence with the F-35. It seems great on paper. Multirole craft, standardized parts and training. It's for export so we can sell them and earn back some of the cost.
But some of the tests and failures leave me scratching my head. Oxygen problems? Stress problems?
Aren't these things that are caught in simulations and the first few prototypes? Not after a few dozen are built? It screams of data being ignored, or just not gathered. Too many managers and not enough engineers.
Not really an infographic though, is it?
The projected costs to taxpayers is a bit misleading. For every DoD contract dollar paid to private companies like LM or PWC for the F-35, around 1/3 of that dollar gets immediately paid back to state and federal governments as income tax revenues.
@ riff_raff; So you are saying that just 2-3rds of the 90.5 billion dollars we have in those 65 planes is wasted? When the remaining third; 30 billion dollars, could easily have purchased 65 planes that don't operate worth a damn. Agreed.
At this rate we'll have to buy Typhoons, Rafales, and Gripens.
I Saw this post somewhere and saved it as it is the best break down on this subject ive seen.
original post by Jackson Rand
The rearward visibility i s the least of the aircraft's problems. It's most glaring deficiency is that the aircraft is utterly unaffordable. The biggest lie in Washington is this: F-35 cost sharing for Foreign Military Sales is based upon a total aircraft purchase of well over 3,000 aircraft, about 2,400 of which will be US. Everyone knows that the US will not buy 2400 F-35s, it is simply unaffordable. That means that FMS costs could well be two to three times the current estimate. All of the senior leadership running the program in the Pentagon, DoD, the Air Force, the Marines and the Navy knows this to be a fact and no one will admit it publicly. The original F-35A cost estimates were about $35 million in 2003. The Air Force paid more than $130 million per aircraft in 2012. What don't people get.
Beyond cost, the aircraft is too slow, carries two few missiles in a stealth configuration, has a service ceiling that is much lower than its competitors and its stealth qualities are only optimized at the nose. Its only competitive advantages are front quarter stealth and advanced sensors. As our adversaries develop counters to stealth and develop their own counter sensor suites the F-35 is in trouble. Even conventional fighters such as the Su-37 are faster, can carry six times as many radar missiles, and have a higher service ceiling. That means the current S-37 can out range (longer missile range because higher speed and ceiling), out gun (far more missiles), and when the F-35s shoot their two radar missiles and start running for home, S-37s can out run them and club them like baby seals from the rear where their stealth is not near as good.
The F-35 is America's Maginot Line. It is a bloated anachronistic program designed to fight a war that will not exist when it is fielded. This single program is larger than the next ten DoD acquisition programs combined. All of this for a decidedly mediocre jet.
There is a much better and cheaper solution. Sign multi-year contracts for F-15E+, F-16 Block 60 class, F-18G (if the force is not all stealth the AF needs Electronic Attack aircraft) and F-22s for the Air Force (70 to 100 aircraft per year are needed to sustain the current fleet.) Sign multi-year contracts for F-18E/F/G for the Navy and Marine Corps (50-75 per year are needed to sustain the two air fleets.) Retire the Harrier. Or, if the Marine Corps is insistent, simply re-manufacture them. The Marines do not need a stealthy $130 million dollar aircraft to do Close Air Support. That would free up resources for Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV...a.k.a X-45B both strike and reconnaissance versions) and the development of the Air Force's Next Generation Bomber (NGB). Let's put the R&D where it is needed (NGB and X-45) and not in a mediocre new fighter that we can pat ourselves on the back and call "stealthy." The combined R&D, test, and production aircraft would allow us to full recapitalize the fighter force over the next twenty years with a highly capable mix of F-22s, F-15Es, F-16B60, and F-18E/F/G. This force, when combined with UCAVs and NGB in 2030 would be unbeatable.
Modern F-15/16/18 are not newer versions of their 1980s counterparts. The are fundamentally different aircraft. Advanced avionics, radars, sensors and data links will make these aircraft formidable foes for the next 20-30 years. The F-22 remains the worlds only all-aspect stealth aircraft and it did not sacrifice speed, payload, ceiling, or stealth qualities the way the F-35 has.
It is time for some common sense. Cancel the F-35, field new versions of fielded fighters, re-open the F-22 line, and put our R&D money in NGB and UCAV. This is not rocket science. It is something those of us with military experience would call...a strategy.