Navy Times website has a short article about new problems with the F-35 (click here for link to article). The problems cited are fairly technical so I won't bother repeating the descriptions here. Read the article for the full story. Instead, I just want to highlight a couple of points.
This aircraft is still in the developmental stage (has been since the Civil War, I think!) so uncovering new problems shouldn't be surprising or particularly disappointing. However, this aircraft is also in production as part of the military's concurrent design/build philosophy. That's where you begin building production versions before you've completed testing of the prototypes. While there may be some theoretical cost savings, the reality has proven to be a never-ending series of backfits to production aircraft to incorporate the new fixes. Obviously, retrofits are far more expensive than the building it correctly the first time. DoD has been taken to task by numerous agencies for this practice and yet continues to do it.
Making a mistake the first time is called learning. Making the same mistake over and over is called stupidity. The Navy attempted the exact same concurrent design/build with the LCS and LPD-17 and both failed in an epic manner.
Moving on, the article points out that attempts to save 11 lbs of weight resulted in a 25% increase in aircraft vulnerability. Talk about a poor trade-off! Again, this is exactly the kind of unwise trade-off that resulted in the LCS losing it's cathodic protection as a cost savings measure. Unfortunately, that deletion lead to the extensive corrosion problems which cost far more to repair and retrofit than any cost savings ever could have generated.
As described in the article, the limitations on the aircraft's performance envelope are striking at this stage of development.
The F-35 program is a money pit if ever there was one. I know that there are a lot of sunk costs that have already been paid and supporters would argue that we're almost there and we can't abandon a nearly complete aircraft program but there simply has to come a point where you cut your losses and walk away. There seems to be no end to the problems with this program and no realistic end in sight. Take away the 360 degree targeting system which doesn't yet work, anyway, and this aircraft is simply a legacy Hornet or F-16 with a bit more stealth. Whether the magic targeting system will ever work as advertised is a doubtful issue just as the LCS magic modules will never work as advertised.
It's time to cut our losses. I can't believe that foreign countries haven't started to walk away, yet.