I was reading a comment by an F-35 supporter on another blog – yes, there’s still a few F-35 supporters left despite all the evidence – and my reaction was pure visceral hatred of the F-35 program and, later, I wondered why I had that reaction. I’ve seen other weapon systems that had major problems and they didn’t elicit that kind of emotional response. The F-14, for example, started life with woefully underpowered engines that plagued it for much of its life and yet I fully supported the program while being disappointed in the engine development. I was never a fan of the F-18 Hornet and yet it never produced a gut reaction like the F-35. I think the Ford class is a colossal waste of money and effort but I have no particular emotional reaction. What’s different about the F-35?
After much thought, I believe I have an answer. I viewed other programs as inanimate, mechanical entities as, indeed, they are. By that, I mean that they were simply machines and, like all cutting edge machines, they had teething problems to overcome. I could live with that. Problems eventually get solved. No big deal. Even the F-18 Hornet, which I believed to have been a bad design that failed to acknowledge the realities of the strategic and tactical setting it was intended for was still just a machine that, over time, came to fit as well as it was able to into the role it was given.
The F-35, on the other hand, has become a living entity to me. It has lied to me, deceived me, and manipulated me – hence, my visceral hatred of the program just as I would hate any person who treated me that way.
I’m not going to go through the litany of technical issues. Those are well known and are just mechanical issues. I’m not going to go through the litany of strategic and tactical design failures. Those, like the F-18, are simply shortcomings that we will have to make the best of.
What I want to list is the personal animosity the program has towards me (and you!). For starters, the program was presented to me as if I was the dumbest person in the world and would blindly accept the host of magical level, fantasy capability promises that made up the F-35 concept. This is insulting beyond belief. It’s as if I walked into a car dealer and the salesman tried to tell me that the car would only need one tank of gas during its entire lifetime and might even produce extra fuel that I could siphon off and sell back to the oil companies. That’s utterly absurd and yet that’s almost the level of lies that the F-35 was based on.
Next, the accounting costs have been nothing but lies from day one and continue to the present day. General Bogdan claims the F-35 will cost under $80M in the very near future despite the actual budget numbers that show around $150M-$250M per aircraft. Again, that’s just a slap in the face to my intelligence. Browse the Internet and you’ll find constant stories about potential cuts in production numbers that program officials claim will only cause a 1% increase in price, if even that, and yet stories about some country potentially ordering five extra aircraft (out of a total planned production run of 2500 or so) contain claims of 10%-20% drops due to economies of scale.
The Marines declaring IOC when their own staged and manipulated test demonstrated less than 50% aircraft availability was just the program thumbing their nose at me and saying they flat out didn’t care what I thought or what the data showed.
The clearly manipulative ploy of the manufacturer setting up facilities in every state and most countries so as to make cancellation of the program politically impossible is abhorrent and, again, personally insulting.
I could go on but you get the idea. This program has lied to me, deceived me, manipulated me, and insulted me. This is why I hate the F-35.
How about you? Is the F-35 just another piece of equipment to you or do you have an emotional connection, good or bad, towards it?