Monday, January 19, 2009

The End of the Fighter Era

A well-written argument by Lewis Page at The Register on why so many people hate the F-35. It's not that it's a great fighter, it's that it's good enough to put a lot of the competition out of business, and that it's good at doing the unglamorous things that modern militaries actually do -- mainly beating up the forces of small nations equipped with second-rate surplus Russian designs, rather than going head-to-head with large numbers of state-of-the-art aircraft.
But to be honest, to an outsider it looks as though this sector could really stand to shrink quite a lot. The militaries of the West, it appears, continue to plough far too much of their straitened funds into exotic combat jets designed for unlikely wars, and not nearly enough into bread-and-butter infantry, surveillance platforms, helicopters, transport planes and so on.

The F-35 has some of the industry worried not because it's a waste of money, but exactly the opposite -- they fear that it could become the Model T Ford of combat aircraft (available in any color you like, as long as it's grey) and wipe out the competing manufacturers.

I still believe even the F-35 is far more expensive than what we need today. A second production run of A-10s would do a lot more good for today's military actions than any new fighter on the market.

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