I noted the other day that the F-35C is slated to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2019 (history says that won’t happen!). That lead me to take a quick look at the JSF developmental history. The JSF developmental contract was issued in Nov 1996 with first flight occurring in Dec 2006.
In comparison, the F-14 Tomcat development effort began in 1968 with the issuance of a Request For Proposals. A contract was awarded in Jan 1969 with first flight occurring in Dec 1970 and IOC in 1973. The plane entered squadron service in 1974 with VF-1 and VF-2 aboard USS Enterprise. The last Tomcat was finally retired in 2006.
Are you grasping the differences in developmental times?!
From program initiation, here are the elapsed times for the two programs.
First Flight: F-14 = 2 yr, F-35 = 10 yr
IOC: F-14 = 4 yr, F-35 = 23 yr
Are you kidding me??! 23 years to achieve F-35C IOC even assuming that the 2019 IOC date is met, which it won’t, versus 4 years for the Tomcat.
In terms of technology, this plane will be pushing three decades old by the time it enters squadron service! After three decades we were retiring the Tomcat. After three decades, the F-35 will be just entering service. Yikes!
I know someone is going to pound out a reply that the F-35 is far more complex and technically advanced. Bilgewater! The Tomcat was every bit as revolutionary and advanced for its day with variable geometry wings and the Phoenix missile system which allowed it to engage multiple targets simultaneously at long range. Plus, the Tomcat development did not have the advantage of today’s powerful computer modeling and simulations or computer aided drafting and design.
I am continually blown away by the magnitude of the F-35 debacle.