The news about the F-35’s inadequacies keeps rolling in. A month ago, we learned that software problems meant that the F-35 wouldn’t be able to fire its gun for the first few years it is in service. Now, it turns out it won’t be able to use a bomb critically useful for close air support (CAS) missions until 2022. Military.com reports:
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots will have to wait until 2022 to fire the U.S. military’s top close-air-support bomb after the Small Diameter Bomb II enters service in 2017, JSF officials explained.The Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) is an upgrade from previous precision-guided air-dropped weapons because of its ability to track and hit moving targets from up to 40 miles. However, the F-35 will not have the software package required to operate the bomb loaded onto the fifth generation fighter until 2022, officials said.
The U.S. military is the most expensive in the world, and it prides itself on providing the best for its soldiers in all situations. That’s why this development is especially disturbing: the ongoing budgeting fight has F-35 fans in Congress and the Pentagon trying to retire the beloved, proven A-10 “Warthog,” which is famous for its CAS prowess, in order to fund the F-35, which is not as adept. It gets worse, too. Recently it has come out that the F-35 partisans have been knowingly distorting the numbers to make the F-35 look better and the Warthog look worse in order to bolster the case for the former, a program already more expensive than any other in U.S. military procurement history.It was never clear that the F-35 was going to be that good a plane in the first place—a RAND Corporation review famously concluded that the new plane “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.” But with the software necessary for the weapons platform to actually use its most important weapons lagging years behind the deployment date, it seems our outmoded procurement policies have wound up trumping other concerns—including the effectiveness of our fighting force.