US Air Force may soon realize that troubled F-35 program could become unsustainable faced with the threat posed by the advent of new missile technology.
After recently highlighting that the US’ F-35 fleet’s weapons system will have to undergo a series of software updates to account for technological advancements by adversaries, the House Armed Services Committee shared its new concerns in detail in its September report for Fiscal Year 2022
The report stated the Committee’s supports for the F-35 program, acknowledging its capability to fight against advanced integrated air defense systems when it’s finally installed with Technical Refresh-3 hardware and Block 4 software capabilities.
Yet it calls into question the actual affordability of the program for the taxpayer given the extraordinary costs to date – 20 years since its inception.
Committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Smith, has recommended the US Air Force earlier this month to invest in smaller, unmanned aircraft, since the costly multirole jet F-35 may not remain as modern as previously though it outperforms the F-16.
F-35 program has also received negative outlook within the July report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), projecting that the US Air Force will face incredible sustainment costs once F-35 operations reach their peak in 2036.
The watchdog warned that the projected annual sustainment cost overruns are not reversed and brought within the affordability constraints, there will be increasing and significant pressure over time on DOD’s annual budget as the number of the aircraft in the F-35 fleet increases.