Air Force Grounds Turkey After Yet Another Incident – F-35 Over Budget, Under Performing (VIDEO)

U.S._Marine_Corps_F-35_Lightning_II_aircraft_assigned_to_Naval_Air_Station_Pensacola_fly_over_the_northwest_coast_of_Florida_May_15,_2013_130515-F-BU402-206 The problem plagued Lockheed F-35 has been grounded, yet again. This time, the planes engine caught fire. This comes on top of the laundry list of other issues, ranging from oil leaks, significant cracks in support structures to the advanced helmet system.

But why has this plane proven to have such a series of issues? It may stem from the very idea of the airplane in the first place.

In 1992, a program to create a next-generation light support fighter for the Air Force, Navy and Marines was begun. Called the Joint Strike Fighter, it called for a solution to replace the aging F-16, F-18 and AV-8B aircraft with a common solution.

Two proposals were accepted for evaluation, the X-35 designed by Lockheed who got help from the Russian firm Yakovlev OKB, which became the F-35, and Boeing’s X-32. Unlike the X-35, which was to produce a single airplane to fill all three roles, the X-32’s proposal was for a common set of components which would be shared between multiple aircraft, adopting an approach used previously by the Vought company for its highly successful family of airplanes, which used a common component pool for a variety of aircraft such as the F-8 and A-7.

When interivewed on the problems which the F-35, the designer of the F-16, Pierra Sprey, broke it down cleanly.

In Mr. Sprey’s analysis, by attempting to produce a single airplane to fill all of these envisioned roles the Department of Defense set itself up for failure. The continuing issues then are not viewed as the normal shakedown of a new airplane, but of a symptom of an inherent failure in the system. The Navy has all but withdrawn from the program, and now is ordering upgraded F-18’s. International sales of the plane have been evaporating. Now officers in the military are speaking on the record of the issues, almost unheard of.

The US needs new aircraft to replacing its aging fleet. The F-35 is looking less and less to be the aircraft which we need. Its price tag is difficult to justify if it simply can not do the job needed.