The F-35 fighter program has successfully completed developmental testing, and begun entering the military fleets of three U.S. services and a dozen allies. It is a highly survivable, versatile warfighting system that will preserve U.S. air superiority through mid-century, but now the military needs to implement a support framework that can keep the aircraft ready and reliable at an affordable cost. New aircraft always cost more to sustain than mature ones, and there are plenty of opportunities for saving money as F-35 operations and support processes are refined. Nonetheless, only an optimist would expect media coverage of the sustainment challenge to provide more balance and context than the often misleading accounts of the F-35’s development. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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