We’ve repeatedly noted the lunacy of concurrent development and production. The Navy tried it with the LCS and failed badly. They tried it with the Ford and failed badly. However, the F-35 is the poster child for the idiocy of concurrency. Now the consequences are starting to come out. We’re faced with a no-win choice: either rebuild these non-standard aircraft for exorbitant amounts of money on top of the already exorbitant amounts we paid to build them the first time around or leave them as non-standard, non-combat capable aircraft – essentially throw them away. Sure, we’ll use a few as maintenance trainers but most will have no purpose.
The National Interest website (1) reports,
“The new F-35 program executive officer, U.S. Navy vice admiral Mat Winter, said his office is exploring the option of leaving 108 aircraft in their current state because the funds to upgrade them to the fully combat-capable configuration would threaten the Air Force’s plans to ramp up production in the coming years.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Left unsaid so far is what will become of the 81 F-35s purchased by the Marine Corps and Navy during that same period. If they are left in their current state, nearly 200 F-35s might permanently remain unready for combat because the Pentagon would rather buy new aircraft than upgrade the ones the American people have already paid for.”
National Interest astutely notes that these “concurrency orphans” are the ones that cost the most money because they were purchased earliest in the program. These are the aircraft that cost $150M-$200M each.
Let’s look at that cost a bit closer.
For nice round numbers, let’s call it 200 concurrency orphans at $150M each. That’s a total of $30 billion !!!!!!!
$30B lost to concurrency.
That’s $30B worth of aircraft that will never be operational, never see combat, and will wind up sitting in storage somewhere while they are slowly scavenged for parts.
What could we have done with $30B?
- We could have bought 2 Ford class carriers
- We could have bought 16 Burkes class destroyers
- We could have bought 7 big deck amphibious ships
- We could have bought 337 advanced Super Hornets (2)
- We could have bought untold quantities of logistics support ships, minesweepers, ASW corvettes, and maybe, just maybe, a shell for the Zumwalt’s gun!
Worse, we are still producing non-combat capable aircraft and testing is still on-going so the final concurrency orphan tally will be markedly higher – perhaps 300 or so aircraft.
Come on, seriously, someone has to go to jail for this.
(1)The National Interest website, “108
F-35s Won't Be Combat-Capable”, Dan
Grazier, U.S. 16-Oct-2017,
(2)USNI News website, “Navy Wants to Buy 80 More Super Hornets for $7.1B Over the Next Five Years”, Megan Eckstein,