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Analysis

Lockheed's Response to NYT Editorial was Misleading

An Air Force F-35 Lightning II pilot prepares to refuel at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The following letter was submitted to the New York Times in response to their July 28 editorial, "Rough Ride for the F-35," and Lockheed Martin's response to that editorial.

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.

Signed,

Pierre M. Sprey

F-16 and A-10 Co-Designer

Danielle Brian

Executive Director

Project On Government Oversight

Winslow T. Wheeler

Director

Straus Military Reform Project

Center for Defense Information & Project On Government Oversight

Image from the U.S. Air Force.