Friday, June 25, 2021

Britain could (probably will) slow its purchase of the F-35


via Defense News.

“Its important for me to say to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and all the other [ contractors] that ‘It’s in your interest to keep through-life support costs down’ because simply, I don’t want to be held to a massive bill I can’t get out of,” he said.

“Also it’s important that we continue the planned integration of Meteor on the F-35, I don’t want to be put to the back of the queue for that and it’s in all your interests that if you want me to carry on buying F-35 that we keep a lid on those costs and that we are treated fairly integrating a European made missile [on the jet].

“We need more than 48 and we will invest in more than 48, but I’m not in the business of giving a blank check to contractors if they don’t play their part in cost controls, support and indeed making sure Britain’s developed capabilities are put on them [ the F-35], " Wallace told lawmakers.

Story here. 

The two issues?  Maintenance and weapons integration.  

Ya know it really comes down to the back end doesn't it?  Lockheed banked on making a ton of money on the back end thru a constant drip of maintenance contracts to keep the well primed for upgrades etc.

The problem?

Almost from the start this program went off the rails, we started seeing so called 4th gen fighters getting 5th gen features and when it comes to weapon variety the F-35 just doesn't have it.

It really was a tight fit for internal carriage of weapons and instead of simply saying to hell with it, they started trying to do a crash course to get stuff that fit.

Meanwhile the threat evolved, the style of combat evolved and big, long range, fast and more lethal warheads were desired.

So internal carriage became less important.

Which screwed the program harder.

It no longer matters how many more customers line up to buy the plane.

The F-35 did make it into service.  It won't be a long service but it made it. By 2030 this plane will start being withdrawn and either indigenous designs will take its place or we'll see next gen models zoom to the fore.

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