In 2016, the Pentagon was confident enough in the troubled F-35 program that it extended the fighter’s projected service life from 2064 to 2070. Now, some of the $80-million aircraft may be written off well before then, despite spending 15 years in development and less than a decade in service.
A few weeks ago, a top general indicated that the Air Force is considering retiring older F-35s instead of retrofitting them with the many upgrades and fixes that have piled up throughout the fighter’s short time in service. The Marine Corps may also be forced to retire some of its F-35s in a few years. A recent Pentagon report warned that the aircraft’s many structural problems, some of which are still unresolved, could mean that older aircraft could cease to be airworthy as soon as 2026. Worse, it’s still not clear whether upgrades which were applied to later production models have actually improved their durability. Many of the Marines’ F-35s could end up serving out less than a quarter of their anticipated lifespan. […]
According to a former employee, the F-35 project has become as much a jobs program as a national defense priority. And the Project On Government Oversight has extensively reported on Lockheed Martin’s incompetence and corruption throughout the two-decade-long program. If Lockheed Martin were a serious organization as it was during the Cold War, it wouldn’t operate like this. And if the Department of Defense were run by serious people, it wouldn’t allow defense contractors to engage in fraud, waste, and abuse on this scale. Lockheed Martin might be drawing the most fire right now over the F-35, but the company’s behavior is emblematic of a defense establishment with severely distorted priorities. Läs artikel