How do we avoid disaster with the F-35 and not let it be cancelled with a complete halt on work? It will be difficult and maybe even impossible given that it was poor and limited thinking that got us into the tac-air disaster in the first place.
I suggest the following:
Stop LRIP production of the F-35. The F-35A, B and C will become X-35A, X-35B and X-35C falling into an open-ended test program that will use these airframes to learn what works and what does not over the long term.
Jobs will be lost. But not as many as the outcome of the pending program failure as we see it now.
Lessons learned will spill over into USAF and Navy requirements for a new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. There will be a CV variant and a CTOL variant. No STOVL.
The requirement should include the following:
2x1000lb internal carry of weapons. The F-22 main weapons bay will be used for this design. There will be a gun on both variants. Again, the F-22 configuration with lots (compared to the F-35) of ammo. There will be a HUD and JHMCS system. There will be a bubble canopy for better rear visibility. It will have two motors on it. The same ones used in the F-18 Super Hornet. It will have an internal self-defense jammer and towed decoy. Low observable quality will be robust and maintenance friendly over ultimate-stealth.
The end joint strike fighter could be a mixed vendor deal where Boeing and LM work together. Any foreign sales will be traditional FMS. It will not be an ultimate fighter but a good strike fighter that should work well with the F-22.
F-22 production will be started up. This could take a few years just to get the supply chain restarted. This means that refurbs on old fighter aircraft continue.
1. Upgrade path
4. Long term sustainability initiatives
- US and export for ABC's (Australia, Britain, Canada).
- Export version of B, for non-ABC's (Israel, Japan)
- Technology demonstrators (D-1,D-2, D-3 and so on) for a variety of F-22 initiatives: IRST, Cheek AESA, LO external storage, 2 aircrew, etc.
1. Follow on of B from what was learned from D model
- Follow-on of C from what was learned from D model
All of this will be very hard to do to pick up the pieces left from a raft of poor air power leadership since the end of the Cold War. However, it beats the alternative of faith-based insanity sponsored by the failed F-35 team.