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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

F-35 fighter jet sale shoot up

Germany, South Korea, Finland, Canada and more and more nation states are interested in having US-made F-35 fighter jet.

If the F-35 fighter were a typical Pentagon programme, July would be a significant month. It’s shaping up to be a normal month for the world’s largest weapons project.

Greece wants 20 or more multirole aircraft. Czech wanted 24.

South Korea will grow its F-35 fleet by 50%, to 60 planes.

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin agreed on the next three F-35 production lots at the Farnborough Air Show, with the goal of procuring 375 aircraft in three versions for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and abroad partners.

Read more: Germany to purchase 35 F-35 fighter jets from US

F-35 pilots, of which 1,700 have been trained, have logged over 500,000 flight hours.

Estonia-based F-35s aided Baltic air defence. They trained with Greece’s air force in the Mediterranean from Souda Bay, Crete. They exercised with South Korean F-35s in Northeast Asia.

Sea-based F-35s engaged in Pacific Rim exercises off Hawaii, and Australia stated it had opened the first full-service F-35 engine depot in the Indo-Pacific to support the 100 F-35s Canberra is buying plus those of Japan, South Korea, and U.S. services operating in the region.

Every friend desires and every opponent fears the F-35, the world’s most popular tactical aircraft.

With 830 aircraft delivered and thousands more to come—the U.S. expects to buy 2,456—F-35 will define air dominance into mid-century. The Pentagon wants to use them until 2070 and is actively upgrading them to “overmatch” foes (to use a favoured term of Pentagon jargon).

F-35 outperforms U.S. fighters without improvements. It defeats opposing aircraft 20-to-1 in exercises, performs more duties, and is easier to maintain. It’s the most reliable combined fleet tactical aircraft, by certain measurements.

Read more: Canada to buy 88 F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin

The F-35’s fate was once uncertain. The initiative was established early in the Clinton administration, when the fall of the Soviet Union reduced the need of investing in future military technologies.

Officials loaded the Joint Strike Fighter with performance requirements to avoid buying other items after communism fell.

The fighter needed to avoid hostile radar. Pilots needed unprecedented situational awareness. It gathered and processed tonnes of intelligence. It needed to be networked with other military planes. Three different military services had different needs.

It also had to be economical, bending the cost curve that had driven up fighter prices.

Nobody had ever combined all these features in one military aircraft. At program’s start, nobody could. Lockheed Martin led an industry team that met all “important performance requirements” and delivered each new production lot for less than the Pentagon had estimated.

Pratt & Whitney, which won the contract to provide each fighter’s engine, combined thrust, flexibility, and stealth.

Both firms and others supporting them provided money to my think tank, so I got a front-row seat when Congress threatened to scale back or abolish the programme.

Because of the program’s technological demands, lawmakers had reason to suspect good-news reports.

Companies delivered success, though. Lockheed and Pratt met performance goals after 9,000 flight tests, and they refined sustainment techniques to keep the fighters economical over a 50-year service life.