"As a result of your hard work and the hard work of JSF's government and industry team -- and it's a tremendous team; I've had the opportunity to meet many of its members today -- the STOVL variant has made, I believe and all of us believe, sufficient progress so that as of today, I am lifting the STOVL probation."
What "sufficient progress"?
"It's not to say we don't have a long way to go; we do. We've got a long way to go with the JSF testing, and it's obviously not out of the woods yet. But I am confident that if we continue to do the hard work necessary, if we continue to do the dedicated work that all of you have been doing, that both the carrier and the STOVL variants are going to be ready for operations and are going to be ready for doing the work that they have to do, which is to help protect this country."
If something is "not out of the woods yet", what justification is there for lifting the probation? Who is advising this guy? This report shows that the whole of the F-35 program is far enough in the woods not to see sunshine.
"Secondly, we can't hollow out this force. We've made that mistake in the past. Every one of those draw downs I talked about, there were cuts across the board. They took big numbers, cut everything across the board, weakened everything across the board. That's hollowing out the force.
We are not going to do that."
By spending money we do not have on over-priced and under-performing weapon's systems we will do exactly that. Money wasted on the F-35 is money that can be better used for any other operationally relevant community.
"We know we're going to be dealing with a smaller force. It was going to happen regardless of the budget constraints as we were beginning to draw down. So we're going to be a smaller force. It's going to be leaner."And with that, you can forget any peace keeping operations because those are inherently manpower intensive. We already experienced this from the end of the Cold War up to 9/11. This includes the fact that Operations: USELESS DIRT 1 and 2 have taken resources away from nuclear deterrence and numerous conventional deterrence capabilities.
As a review: 9/11 happened because of poor airport and airline security; poor visa control and agencies like the NSA having a raft of clues something was up but not communicating that correctly to national security decision-makers. The nation-building nonsense of OUD 1 and 2 ate up a lot of resources best used elsewhere.
On a side note, (get this) we need the F-35 STOVL because the Harrier is crucial to fighting terrorism. Can it get more silly?
Many news sources have given Panetta a free pass with the F-35B probation story. The lifting of F-35B probation isn't unlike giving false hope to a terminally ill patient.