The tri-service F-35 fighter, by far the Pentagon’s biggest weapon program, is finishing up the most successful year in its history. Not only did Congress and the Obama Administration give the program increased budgetary resources last week, but every facet of the effort — performance, testing, operations, production and cost trends — looks positive. For instance, the 8,000-sortie flight test program is 78% complete without any major glitches, 160 planes have been delivered, ten bases are operating the fighter and the joint program office is slashing its estimate of life-cycle costs. In other words, the F-35 is looking more and more like the highly survivable, versatile, affordable fighter it was originally conceived to be. I have written a commentary on the F-35’s progress over the last year for Forbes, and you can read it here.
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