06:28 GMT +326 March 2017
    Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

    Air Force Secretary: No Substitute for F-35

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    Don't go taking our F-35s, outgoing US Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James said Friday.

    Her comments were directed at President-elect Donald Trump's remarks about swapping out the Lockheed Martin fighter jet for cheaper models, notably Boeing's F/A-18.

    The Air Force needs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the A-10 Warthog, two polarizing but indispensable planes, she told Defense News.

    "The Air Force does not view the F/A-18 and the F-35 to be substitutable at all," she said. "They fulfill different requirements."

    Trump in December tweeted, "Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!" That would be comparing "apples and oranges," James told an Air Force Association breakfast, Defense One reported.

    "It does not fulfill the same requirements," she said about the older F/A-18. "It's a very fine fourth-generation fighter. The F-35 is an extremely fine fifth-generation fighter…It's a cut above anything the pilots have seen before and we need it and we want it in the inventory."

    Trump has also tweeted about F-35 costs being "out of control." The program, which has been criticized on both sides of the aisle for delays, cost overruns and performance failures, is expected to cost $400 billion over the next few years, more than double the initial estimate. This makes it the Pentagon's most expensive program, CNN Money pointed out.

    Trump's tweets are viewed as negotiating tactics intended to get both of the massive munitions manufacturers to offer better deals. Trump has said he intends to negotiate directly with Boeing on the costs of operating Air Force One, for example.

    But as far as the Air Force is concerned, the F-35s are "crucial" and "performing magnificently," according to James.

    "The leaders of the Air Force will have the opportunity when the time comes to advise the president-elect on this," James told Defense News. "But based on everything I know, the two are not interchangeable and the Air Force has not expressed interest in the F/A-18s."

    She also defended postponing the retirement of the A-10 Warthog, an aging plane that has been subject to sunsetting suggestions for the past two years. Its fortunes have been saved by the need for slow, low-flying planes that can withstand ground fire to support troops.

    "Our feeling about the A-10 is that we would suggest certainly delaying the retirement," James said, according to Defense One. "It's been extremely helpful in the fight overseas against [Daesh] as well as for presence in the Pacific and in Europe."

    The Air Force has said budget constraints led to its original plan to retire the A-10. Eventually, it and other old planes will have to be grounded to free up funding for new projects, James said.

    But for now, hands off our planes, was the message.


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    Warthog, A-10, F-35 II Joint Strike Fighter Program, F-35, fighter jet, US Air Force, Air Force, Donald Trump, Deborah James, Deborah Lee James, United States
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    • avatar
      But for now, hands off our planes, was the message.
      Yeah, but they are THEIR planes. I think these military officers forget that they are working for the people, and when the people want a change, don't just ignore them. Costs are too high. give something up.
    • avatar
      The A 10 could be modernized with NO NONSENSE modernized equipment. Why the A 10 needs to be like an F 22? NO.
      It could be modernized in it's role ONLY. without POTATO PEELERS.
      The F35 have different functions and should be good at it.
      And NOT many countries have capabilities against an F 35. Mostly those that can try something are U.S PUPPETS that MUST do as they told.
      But yes. Eliminating some costs is good. The SILENT F15 could compare in many areas with the F 35.
      Of course NOT remotely in many areas. But could play a good alternative, while the F35 is real ready.
      Giving F35 to Israel was a GIANT STUPIDITY. NO ONE but maybe IRAN and Russia can challenge it.

      Unfortunately the MESS against Russia is all to get TRUMP to be enemy of Russia.
      Now CLINTON is completely out of the W.H equation.

      And about the PLAN to challenge TRUMP at congress, be ready for disappointments. He NO POLITICIAN, and is NOT against congress.
      But have an ARMY of advisers about how to tackle it.

      Best be ready for NEGOTIATIONS. But TRUMP is RIGHT!! That plane is TOO expensive. I'll probe it against a flu of misappropriations,. I mean, it goes UP yearly!!!

      ONLY Obama;s FORMULA to calculate COLA said there was no inflation. Otherwise, F 35 costs should be as high as 6 years AGO.
    • avatar
      They should just bite the bullet and buy the Russian SU 35
    • avatar
      agreed, no other aircraft has had the same embarrassing amount of public snafus in its brief lifetime.
    • avatar
      K.Tin reply todatt(Show commentHide comment)
      datt, .no china has got 4 SU 35 and they will reverse engineer it and make new and sell it at cheaper price to different countries. Usa needs to be ahead so they will go with f-35
    • avatar
      K.T. But does China have the new 'S' variant they are entirely two different planes if China reversed engineered the latest variant they would have a world beater that US could not produce under 100 million.

      The big questions is do they have the 'S' variant? which has a newly developed engine and the latest 6th gen avionics and sensors plus stealth modifications and coatings on plane.

      As far as i'm aware Russia was to supply a small batch with mixed specs and strict conditions subject to massive penalties for licensing infringement.
    • support
      Politics aside, IMO the programme can be retrieved and put back into the black all the way around if, as with the WW 2 era F4U Corsair carrier aircraft programme and the equally troublesome Phantom II F4D programme, eight things are done:

      1. Kick out the "innovators" through what is known as locking in or freezing the design then conduct changeover of engineering staff to reliability and QC/QA reliability engineers;

      2. Re-source the project "bridge money" (cash on hand used to finance building the prototypes and production units to cover the time from order to the time of completion and subsequent billing) thereby kicking the moneychangers out of the government procurement temple. The US taxpayer is paying for the project money through using bank financing close to four times over in interest and flotation fees;

      3. As with the Osprey and other aviation and othe rnaval power plant projects, switch over to marinized Rolls Royce power plants from Pratt & Whitney and/or GE;

      4. On corrective action procedures for sorting out defective design elements, break that function down into small teams who all are accountable to one perpetually angry person (at Hughes Aircraft Tucson, it was the Man In Black whose name you need not know but he got the job done) Every Russian aviation and military contractor performs their work under th einfluence of one person and the company bears that person's name. This is but one of those reasons why it is done that way. Personalized design bureaus work through giving the workers a focus in the same way churches strengthen through having popes. bishops and Grand Metropolitans;

      5. End sole sourcing of anything. Always put procurement out for competitive bid; and

      6. The government should always own free an dclear the final design of the aircraft not the vendor.

      7. Penalties for test pilot deaths owing to design flaws are not enforced. They must be or no one will take the Feds seriously. Wives of test pilots do not want money in lieu of their husbands, they want their husbands alive or at least justice if their husbands are murdered by negligent design.

      8. DCAS and DCAA should be re-consolidated back into one auditing agency, the Defense Contract Audit Systems Management Agency. It worked, it was nimble, it was agile, cost-controlling, responsive and for the most part met all programme goals, whatever project it took on. Making two separate agencies out of one was and is a complete failure in this instance and is the prime source of unsupervised "Why did we do that?" types of design and manufacturing errors.

      The above is how the F4U Corsair and the Phantom II F4D were sorted out, also AMRAAM, TV Maverick, the Harpoon and the Patriot missle's safe-arm device problems.

      The real problem is that there is no such degree'd discipline called "military engineering financial history & administrative history" IMO.
    • avatar
      What F-35 is supposed to do is link with Aegis radar and missiles to give particularly smaller nations capability to wage a major missile attack from Aegis anywhere within range whether from land sea or air utilizing any missile firing facility in NATO.

      That's what she really means which is a highly politicized position for her to take she is in essence batting for NATO.
      Incidentally a new promo video was released last week with these features mentioned in detail.
      So it will really come down to whether Trump wants to support NATO in what would be a irreversibly powerful position over the world and once smaller nations have this power can it be controlled for world peace and a multi power sharing or will it serve only NATO aligned nations against the rest meaning we are back to square one and WW3 will be between the 23 NATO aligned nations and the rest of the world? Trump must scrap this plane.
    • megargy
      James is just protecting her future salary !
    • support
      As an hilarious aside, how Hughes Aircraft financed its purchase orders was by using their own money so that they could directly pocket the interest earned at the allowable prime rate. Their financial clout came from residuals from RKO Pictures, patents and proprietary intellectual property licenced out under trademark law, Hughes Tool diamond-tipped oil well drillhead sales, and other in-house resources. Also, like Chrysler and others, they asked for no money from the Feds suring WW 2 but only the right to call in the debt owed to them by the Federal government at some future date. Hughes Aircraft did not have to call in that marker until the Feds busted up Hughes Medical into a separate non-ownership vehicle in the mid-1980's. In effect, Hughes war production was a money-losing but necessary tax write-off so that Hughes could pocket their earnings from other industries.

      Lockheed needs to change their business model and become a bit more syncretic in their structure. Maybe they should buy Lionsgate Studios lol

      It is always stupid to finance purchase orders using othe rpeople's money unless you use a factor charging a one-time 7 points of simple interest. The financial company ends up owning your manufacturing plant which they will then crash into a few trees at high speed then sell off the scrap parts to competitors for cash.

      That is what is happening to Lockheed. This has already happened to General Electric. I hope all of Jeff Immelt's engineers quit to work for Siemens, Doosan Babcock, Rolls Royce and Magellan Aerospace. Canada, the UK, France and Germany are more pro-American than General Electric of Schenectady, NY.
    • sapper
      They don't like the idea that the gravy train will come to a grinding halt!!!
    • avatar
      Infidel Cartmanin reply todatt(Show commentHide comment)
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