What Do You Think? Is the Lockheed F-35 Worth the Cost?

F-35 from Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

One of the most expensive military aircraft in the world, the F-35 from Lockheed Martin, is still having issues.
The American aerospace company Lockheed Martin made the Lockheed F-35, which is a cutting-edge fighter jet. The F-35, also known as "Fat Amy," made its maiden flight in December 2006 and is now in service with a number of different air forces, including those of the United Kingdom and the United States (Marines, Navy, and Air Force). The F-35 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter with speeds and maneuverability that few other planes can match. It also has stealth features that most other planes can only hope to get. This is all well and good, but there is a small catch.

The costs associated with the F-35 fighter jet are substantial. a staggeringly massive sum of money. Due to the high cost of maintaining a stealth aircraft that can also take off and land vertically, its expected service life has been pushed back to at least 2070. The F-35 has been heavily criticized due to its high price tag and its complex design, but now that it is finally in service, we can see its true potential. The F-35 could be one of the most expensive military aircraft ever built, with a price tag of up to $1.7 trillion.

Some Issues Remain With This Aircraft

Although it has become a mainstay of the United States military and other air forces, the F-35 still has some teething problems. It's too expensive to operate, and the cost of making another 2,000 would likely bankrupt a company. Business Insider estimates that it costs about $35,000 per hour to keep the plane in the air. When put next to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, that's a difference of about $22,000. American history will be written by the F-35, which has become the largest weapons program ever. However, Hill AFB, Utah-based F-35 pilot Captain Spencer "Ghost" Weide claims the aircraft is a game changer.

This is because its abilities, especially its stealth, work together quite well. Naturally, the F-35 has been used in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Aircraft maintenance costs contribute to the total price tag. This includes creating, operating, and servicing the fleet, which should number around 2,500 units by the end of its useful life. Lockheed-Martin knows that this is a problem and that not every country will be able to use the F-35 in this way. The F-35's history is common knowledge at this point.

The Origins of the F-35 and Its Initial Problems

Lockheed-Martin was given the contract to make the F-35 in 2001. However, because the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy all needed different versions, they had to make the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. The Marine Corps needed the F-35B's VTOL capability so it could replace AV-8B Harriers. The Navy needed the F-35C because it would eventually replace the F-18 Hornets that were already in service. The Air Force also needed it because it would eventually replace the F-16 and possibly the almost irreplaceable A-10 Thunderbolt. But things would quickly get out of hand because the F-35B is too heavy and would need to be redesigned to allow VTOL flight. The A and C models were consequently affected and required revision.

Although it was planned for all three variants of the F-35 to share around 75% of their design to reduce costs, the need for tougher landing gear and larger wings on the F-35C meant that it had to be designed from scratch. They ended up only disclosing about a third of their plan. The decision by the Department of Defense to rush the F-35 into production without proof of good performance and with a lot of new technologies did not help. By 2021, the US military will have received about 500 F-35s, and it is hoped that another 2,000 are on the way.

The F-35 program is kept afloat by export sales

As of this writing, Lockheed has already exported around 600 F-35s to countries like the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. As a result, the plane is currently in mass production, and the US military can expect to receive around 150 of them by the end of 2022. Unfortunately, the Pentagon has not yet said that testing is done and production can start at full speed. Somewhat bafflingly, around 600 problems with the plane have been found.

The F-35 Has a Promising Future

As its name implies, the F-35 is essentially an expensive flying computer. Its ability to self-diagnose means, however, that engineers will have a head start in fixing it, or at least know where to begin. The stealth design of the F-35 has many benefits, one of which is that it hides the heat signature it gives off to radar. Accordingly, there are many benefits to using the machine. If the price tag cannot be lowered, however, the military may reduce the number of planes it orders. The F-35 has a very promising future.

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