It’s now much cheaper to go to Hawaii. Recently, Southwest Airlines announced it would offer $98 flights to the islands
. Other airlines chopped fares as well. That’s not a surprise; consumers know that when they have more options, quality tends to improve and prices tend to drop.
As with the airline industry, so too with air planes.
The entire flying force of the American military — our Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps — is now depending on the deployment of a single plane: the F-35. Having just one model was supposed to save our country money, because it would theoretically be easier to repair or replace the jets if they broke down. It could also save on training time, design time, and manufacturing time. The jet, called the “Joint Strike Fighter” (JSF) would replace at least five other types of aircraft across the services.
Unfortunately, the attempt at streamlining has had exactly the opposite effect. The Navy needs planes that can do one thing: land on a short carrier runway. The Marine Corps needs planes that can do something completely different: land vertically in a war zone. The Air Force wants planes that can deliver payloads from a distance, oh and can sneak up on enemies using stealth technology. Three very different ideas, all being tacked on to one platform to be built by one defense contractor: Lockheed Martin. To be clear, one size does not fit all.
The jet is more like the Pontiac Aztek than a successful defense platform.
“For over two decades, the F-35 has been the symbol of everything that’s wrong with mammoth defense contracts: behind schedule, over budget, and initially, over-sold,” explains an in-depth piece in Popular Mechanics by a reporter who’s followed the F-35 throughout the jet’s life cycle. By trying to eliminate the natural form of competition that having several weapons platforms would provide, the Pentagon ended up creating an inefficient platform that couldn’t accomplish any of its widely ranging needs very well.
“Who gets the blame for a 20-year misadventure?” Popular Mechanics asks. The answer seems to be: Everybody lost the script. “In 2013, the GAO’s Michael Sullivan asserted that Lockheed had failed to get an early start on systems engineering and had not understood the technologies involved at the program’s launch. But a RAND study the same year found the three F-35 variants had drifted so far apart during development that having a single base design may prove to be more expensive than if services had just built separate aircraft tailored to their own requirements from the get-go.”
But it’s not too late to diversify, to provide more variety, and reintroduce competition. To be blunt, it needs to happen and it needs to happen now.
The Air Force, smartly, wants to upgrade and begin deploying the F-15X, to be built by Boeing. This jet is based on a platform that’s been delivering for decades. Our pilots are already familiar with the specs, and it’s ready to roll out. In fact, some allies have already deployed F-15X models, and we can take advantage of their experience to deliver a successful jet that does exactly what the Air Force needs.
Keep in mind this is an add-on. By deploying F-15X models, the military won’t be sidelining the F-35. “If they chose to have an order on F-15, it won’t be at the expense of F-35 quantities. I mean, I’m hearing that directly from leadership in the Pentagon,” Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson tells Aviation Week. It’s not an either-or, it’s a plus-plus.
Our military needs all the tools it can get to defeat our enemies. Having an updated F-15 makes sense, and will allow the Air Force to do more, more efficiently. Choice is good. Let’s make certain the Air Force has it.
Steve Gruber is a conservative talk show host with 25 affiliates in Michigan. "The Steve Gruber Show" launched in 2012 with just four affiliates and has grown into the most powerful name in talk radio across Michigan. Steve has been named “Best Morning Personality” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters five years in a row. His conservative, common-sense philosophy was developed during his time growing up in rural Michigan. Steve’s early career found him in several newsrooms including WILX, Lansing where he honed his investigative journalism and interviewing skills. He became the main news anchor of the station and before long was offered a job with NBC in Columbus, Ohio. While working for NBC, he covered the incredible launch of John Glenn, age 77, into space at Cape Canaveral, White Supremacists in Ohio, and the deadly game of selling prescription medication online. Steve was nominated for an Emmy in 2000. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.