The memo from the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation makes very clear that the constant stream of positive pronouncements made by the Joint Program Office and Air Force generals have been false.and then this...
This latest DOT&E memorandum undermines one of the fundamental arguments in favor of the F-35 in the CAS role: that the F-35 will need to provide close air support in places with high levels of enemy air defenses, a mission that would require stealth capabilities. But the battles in which CAS is needed don’t generally take place in areas where there are high levels of enemy air defenses. The memo points out that close air support is normally conducted in low-air defense threat environments. This is a simple acknowledgement of the “close” in close air support. When close air support is discussed, it is important to consider the entire military system, both air and ground forces. These forces support each other mutually. By the time the ground troops who engage the enemy in close combat get involved, our military has already cleared out the heavy air defense. And the enemy ground troops will not be dragging around bulky, lightly armored, slow-to-move, hard-to-resupply “high threat” missile systems into the battle area because they will be too busy maneuvering and dodging bullets in the ground fight.This is a must read. For the first time I've seen a publication take apart the lies that surround the F-35 point by point.
Beyond that, the F-35’s ability to perform any CAS right now is extremely limited. As the DOT&E memorandum says clearly, “The F-35A in the Block 3i configuration has numerous limitations which make it less effective overall at CAS than most currently-fielded fighter aircraft like the F-15E, F-16, F-18 and A-10.”
Its quite refreshing.
Now we know why the services are rolling out pilots to try and bolster the program. The generals know that they lack credibility and hope that they can hide behind the skirts of fighter jocks.
It won't work.
All they're doing is jeopardizing what little respect remains for the military (generals involving themselves in the political mess are helping too but that's another more tragic and perhaps more dangerous tale to tell later).
Say it with me F-35 fan club. Death spiral. They'll never buy the programmed number of F-35s. The program office is trying to hold the line because they know the planes are worthless and need massive upgrades. LM is holding the line because they know that the costs won't go down and the program could be canned at any moment.