Monday, February 27, 2017

The Marines apparently like the F-35 so much they want it faster

Yeah, this is a couple weeks old, but I've been as busy as a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest with this God-awful project, so sue me for being late. But the head of Marine aviation wants the F-35 delivered faster than is scheduled:
The pace at which the Marine Corps is getting its new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is “anemic,” the service’s head of aviation said this week, adding that the Corps could handle a much faster ramp-up.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy commandant of aviation, spoke highly of the Corps’ new fifth-generation aircraft. The first Marine F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, relocated to Japan in January in a transition that Davis said was smooth and without incident.
Right now, he said, the Marine Corps owns 50 F-35Bs in two operational squadrons, one training squadron, and a test unit. The service declared initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2015.
By the way, those are really small squadrons. Standard squadron strength used to be 24 aircraft plus spares. It is down to 16 planes for F-35 equipped squadrons now. If you want to plow through some really boring minutiae from the government about Marine air, it's here. Lt. Gen. Davis seems to really want more F-35s, faster:
Davis said he believes the Corps could accept up to 37 aircraft a year, between two and three squadrons’ worth. The current transition plan has the service receiving the last of the 353 F-35B and 67 F-35C aircraft it plans to buy in 2031, a rate that works out to fewer than 30 aircraft a year. The sped-up plan would see the Marine Corps complete its F-35 transition five years early.
The current schedule seems to keep planes like the AV-8B, Harrier (a vertical take-off and landing fighter), the FA-18 Hornet (a carrier-based fighter) and the EA-6B Prowler, an electronic-warfare aircraft that uses the Vietnam-era airframe of the A-6 Intruder carrier-based fighter, in service for a long damn time. The F-35 in its many variants is supposed to replace all of these aircraft, some of which, obviously, are more than 50 years old. More F-35s faster is a good idea in that respect. Also, the unit cost goes down the faster the planes are produced because of economies of scale.

Whether that happens remains to be seen. I wouldn't bet on it though.

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