Friday, March 8, 2013

The F35: Is Canada's New Warplane a Joke?

The F-35 Guide to Avoiding Radars, Accountants, and Reality

By Joe Saklatvala

The Producers tells the story of a theater producer and an accountant who want to create a Broadway flop. They borrow outrageous amounts from investors, knowing that nobody follows the money after a failure. After this pre-ordained disaster, they intended to abscond to Brazil as millionaires. The plan goes terribly wrong when the show turns out to be a surprise hit. Despite a pro-Nazi theme and a terrible cast, it succeeds. How did they get going wrong so wrong? Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon would take no such risks.

Here are the golden rules of making a successful fighter plane, which have been proven repeatedly over the last ninety years (with few exceptions):
  1. Fighters must be fast and agile
  2. ‘Multi-role’ aircraft seldom are, don’t try
  3. You can’t make a fighter out of a bomber (make it a fighter first, then later develop a ground-attack version)
  4. Never rely on any unproven concepts as linchpins
  5. Don’t start production until the aircraft works
The F-35 has broken all of them.

Has the F-35 been schemed by a joker seeking to highlight the insanity of military procurement? Or maybe somewhere there are two men in Hawaiian shirts packing suitcases? Even without any catchy show tunes, the F-35 is my favorite comedy.  It’s probably less funny to taxpayers around the world, however. (Check how much your country has already invested in the program before you feel too smug.)

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