The F-35 may well be the last damned Top Gun opportunity the U.S. Navy offers—and not just because the Defense Department will be out of slack on its credit cards after they finish paying for the damned boondoggle. Yes, the F-35 is just a tad underperforming and overcosting. As David Axe noted for Reuters last year:
The Lockheed Martin-built F-35 — which can avoid sensor detection thanks to its special shape and coating — simply doesn't work very well. The Pentagon has had to temporarily ground F-35s no fewer than 13 times since 2007, mostly due to problems with the plane's Pratt & Whitney-made F135 engine, in particular, with the engines' turbine blades.
This at a total cost currently running at about $1.5 trillion.
But the Navy is done with sticking the likes of Maverick and Goose into cockpits—it's placing its bet on robots! Yesterday, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told attendees at the Sea-Air-Space 2015 conference:
For example, as good as it is, and as much as we need it and look forward to having it in the fleet for many years, the F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.
Never fear, we can have cost overruns and epic technology fail on drones, too.
But, and I ask this sincerely: Will drones ever bond over a game of beach volleyball? I think not. The Top Gun remake is going to suck. More.