The current issue of Proceedings (1) has an article about the worsening tactical aircraft shortage and the role the F-35 plays in it. The author’s recommendation is fascinating. He suggests that the Navy drop the F-35C and, instead, buy the same number of F-35A’s. Because the “A” model costs $79.5M less than the “C”, the author claims that for each “A” the Navy purchases they can get a “free” Super Hornet. The F-35A’s could be returned to the Air Force, warehoused, or whatever; it doesn’t matter. This course would maintain the overall purchase numbers that are vital to the Air Force and State Department (foreign sales) and yet provide the Navy with new Super Hornets.
It’s becoming clear that the F-35C is not well suited to carrier life and represents little improvement for the Navy over the Super Hornet. The author’s suggestion is an intriguing alternative!
(1) United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Averting the Navy’s Tactical Aircraft Crisis, Ensign Anthony Robinson, June 2013