Point | Counterpoint: Should the Pentagon be spending $400 billion on fighter jets?
Monday, 04 March 2013 22:17
The F-35 program has demonstrated nothing but failure. If the United States was going into another war (pointless or not), then the $400 billion weapons program that also happens to be the most expensive ever by any country would be acceptable.
However, the country is not heading towards another major war and spending cuts mandated by sequestration which kicked in Friday, March 1 call for defense spending cuts. The F-35 program has been on the books and delayed for over a decade since it was approved shortly after 2001.
The total price of the program was initially set at $233 billion with initial development costs being $34.4 million. The overall program cost today stands at $396 billion dollars with initial development costs of $57 million. The Pentagon’s most recent estimate of the lifetime cost for the F-35 weapons to be $1.45 trillion. This number has seen speculation because a third of it is factored from inflation and inflation is very difficult to predict half a century from now.
The Pentagon has revealed several flaws with the planes as well. The F-35 B was banned from flying 25 miles within a thunderstorm for fear of “fuel tank exploding.” The F-35 has had spec downgrades that include runway length and flight maneuverability.
The Pentagon changed the procedures of their F-35 flight test because the jet was accelerating and turning as well as needed. F-35 models have been grounded twice after being deemed “unsafe to fly.”
What was initially described as the “affordable,” fighter jet has proven to be nothing but a catastrophic failure and needs to be cut.
Right message at wrong price tag
The U.S. has held a simple, but highly effective policy since the late 1940s. The essence of the policy can be summed up in the words of our twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, “speak softly, and carry a big stick”. If we keep the “awe factor” of our armed forces capabilities at such a scope that challenging us in conventional warfare would lead to your complete and total destruction, you as a hostile force, will be deterred from engaging us.
This is how the thermonuclear annihilation of the human race was avoided during the Cold War. The United States, the Soviets and, to a lesser extent, the Chinese realized that if we were to ever have a conflict where everyone went in with the “big guns,” the world would be destroyed. It was mutually assured destruction.
Now, there are no more Soviets and the Chinese appear to be happy with dominating the manufacturing sector. This is why we do not need a $400 billion weapon system. I say this for the sheer fact that we could never use it and we really do not need it.
I am a stanch supporter of a strong national defense, but there is such a thing as overkill. We are currently in a conflict with groups of people who are light-years behind us in technology. Terrorists groups do not have super-sonic jets with guided missile systems.
These planes are to act as a scarecrow to the Chinese, Russians and any other possibly threatening state. We can keep the respect of possibly hostile nations without so huge of a price tag. We, as a nation must do a better job at keeping things in perspective. In the future, let us hope we can break off a branch and not carry the whole tree with us.
Worth every penny
The F-35 is a fifth-generation stealth fighter/bomber aircraft designed to replace the old F-16 and F-18 fighter/bombers that were originally built in the 1970s. But is it worth 400 Billion dollars of tax payer money? To answer this you have to compare it to its predecessors and competitors.
The F-35 is more flexible, easier to maintain, more powerful and has a longer range than the F-16 and F-18 and it is stealth. Another benefit to the F-35 over its predecessors and another reason the high price tag is worth it is its electrohydrostatic control system.
This new control system, unlike its predecessors hydraulic control system, allows for almost instant control without the need for hydraulic fluid. This new system lowers the weight of the aircraft, needed for the VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) F-35B. This is another benefit, the VTOL system allows for helicopter type take-offs, this increases the amount of carrier based versions could be housed.
Although it is just cool to look at, it is capable of eliminating the enemy from a distance without the target knowing. Plus, it is designed to be the second best air-to-air fighter constructed, second to its cousin the F-22, also stealth.
But, the main reason it is worth every dime is because of the threats being created around us. With China’s J-20 program, a stealth fighter designed to be capable to take down the F-15, F-16 and F-18, and Russia’s Sukhoi PAK FA stealth fighter, also designed to combat the F-15, F-16 and F-18, the United States must be ready to defend its borders.
But, we are not in the Cold War anymore, why worry about other nations? That is another discussion summed up by this, the moment a great nation appears weak is the moment that nation is no longer great but falls to other tyrannical nations.