To the Editor:
The Lockheed-Martin response to your July 28 editorial, “Rough Ride for the F-35,” was misleading. It asserted “65 percent of flight testing has been completed” without explaining that is only for “developmental” (i.e. engineering) testing. The tougher “operational” (i.e. combat-user) testing will not even start until 2016.Testing to date has already uncovered a long stream of problems.
Your July 28 editorial advocated either buying fewer F-35s and retaining more F-15s, F-16s and F-18s (while modernizing the extraordinarily effective A-10), or halting F-35 production while finishing operational testing to understand just what the F-35 can or cannot do effectively.
The nation should do both: we have already paid for 179 F-35s, more than needed for this stage of tests. With a fraction of the savings from upcoming F-35 purchases, we can continue to modernize the A-10, keep a larger number of existing aircraft and start a combat effectiveness-based, truly competitive prototype program to buy more effective fighters at lower cost. Let the F-35 then compete against what we have available to us in 2019.
Pierre M. Sprey
F-16 and A-10 Co-Designer
Project On Government Oversight
Winslow T. Wheeler
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information & Project On Government Oversight
Image from the U.S. Air Force.