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Saturday, May 30, 2015

‘Fundamental Change In Direction’ For F-35; Kendall Floats Plan To Buy 450 Planes

F-35B Lightning IIAs I watched the seemingly endless string of F-35Bs take off from the deck of the USS Wasp earlier this week, I was struck by how routine it all seemed.

During eight days of flying, the F-35Bs flew 108 sorties, racking up 85.5 hours, deputy Marine Commandant for aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, told us on the phone this morning, conceding it was “a low number of hours, really, because the jets were light-loaded…” Low hours, maybe, but that’s the first time these planes were put through their paces in anything like regular military circumstances.

Routine is not what we’ve come to associate with the F-35 program over the last decade. Instead, we’ve thought of overweight planes, ballooning costs, design flaws, unresponsive companies (Lockheed Martin), balky software and magic sensors that just didn’t seem that magical.

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