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John Noonan @noonanjo
, 7 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt It's a mixed bag. F-35 is largest and most controversial weapons program in history, designed and built in a different strategic environment. The development has been an utter mess and the price tag is a trillion with a T. It's replacing 7-8 very different aircraft.
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt the sustainment costs are eye watering and SASC proposed cutting 3 jets just to pay for the maintenance on the rest of the fleet. It represents everything that's wrong with how we buy weapons today. Massive buy that takes 25 year vs. smaller fleets built every 3-5 years.
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt it has an utterly confounding global supply chain spread out across 49 states and a dozen countries, responsible for 300,000 damn parts. 9 allied countries also are in middle of purchasing the aircraft (well, 8 allies and Turkey).
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt but here's where I part with that chain. I've talked to F-35 pilots from the Air Force to the Marines to the Royal Navy. They all say the same: This bastard can fight. F-35s at Operation Red Flag killed everyone. 20:1 kill ratio against modernized NATO all-weather attack jets.
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt It's a flying sensor platform optimized for high-end fights. The standoff capabilities can penetrate sophisticated Russian and Chinese integrated air defenses, its radar is eye-wateringly good, and 4 of the damn things killed 5 mock radars without being targeted once in exercises
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt Much has been made about its troubled development history, but I think that's overstated. Consider a jet we designed almost 50 years ago. It was a mess in development. Many of the same arguments, "too heavy," not "long enough legs" etc. Too expensive. And lost a few early.
@ComfortablySmug @ephillyt That jet was the F-15, the most successfully air-to-air fighter in history.

So F-35 is a giant gamble. We don't know if it'll pay off, or if the Russians/Chinese have already cracked how to kill it. Maybe it performs as well in combat as in exercises. Maybe not.

A mixed bag.
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