In the correspondence confrontation between the fifth generation fighter F-35 and the Russian Su-57 "Lightning" was considered the favorite. Fans of the American military-industrial complex "with significance" pointed out that more than 500 aircraft had already been actually produced, and the total number of their flight hours exceeded 250 hours. Like, where is the "non-existent" Russian Su-000 before him, which is not good for all of them: there is no native engine, and the electronics are backward, and stealthtechnology "The wrong system." However, time shows that haste also does not lead to good, and it is also necessary to be able to distinguish between purely commercial interests and goals to create a truly formidable "weapon of victory."
Unlike the many ill-wishers of our country, we will not indiscriminately "blame" the American plane. The very concept of the fifth-generation stealth multi-functional fighter-bomber is very interesting. One F-35 was supposed to replace many other models of combat aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The "regular" F-35A, F-35B with short takeoff and vertical landing, and a pure deck F-35C were developed. Conceptually, it all looks very nice. Another, at first glance, a reasonable step was the involvement of other US allies in the NATO bloc in the F-35 program. The British invested $ 2,5 billion, the Italians $ 1 billion, the Dutch $ 800 million, the Canadians $ 440 million, the Turks $ 175 million, the Australians $ 144 million, the Norwegians $ 122 million and the Danes $ 110 million. In return, these countries received the opportunity not only to purchase fifth generation fighters, but also to keep their aircraft building enterprises afloat, which participated in international cooperation. For example, more than 35 companies from Australia are involved in the F-50 program, and an assembly line has even been opened in Italy.
But then, due to the great complexity, the cost of this project began to increase continuously and dramatically. According to some estimates, the United States' own expenses on "Lightning" in the next 15 years will amount to $ 379 billion, and in 50 years the total cost of this aviation program may exceed $ 1 trillion. Unsurprisingly, even in the United States, the F-35 is highly controversial. In a recent discussion in the US Congress, the head of the Armed Services Committee named Adam Smith stated the following:
I want to stop throwing money down this rat hole.
It sounds somehow not too uplifting. The professional military man Christopher Miller, who acted as head of the Pentagon from November 9, 2020 to January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden officially came to power, spoke out even more harshly. He called the F-35 Lightning II program "a piece ..." of something there, and what exactly, he left everyone to speculate on their own. But it was clearly not a scented soap that was meant. Why is Molniya subject to such harsh criticism not on Russian jingoistic resources, but in the United States itself? Is it really only a matter of unfair competition on the part of Boeing and its lobbyists in the generals and higher echelons of power, which fans of the American military-industrial complex are trying to transparently hint at?
No, everything is much more complicated than just a clash between the two largest defense companies. There are at least two big real problems.
At first, the American fighter itself does not quite meet the declared criteria of the fifth generation. During the tests, an incredible number of aircraft defects, numbering in the hundreds, were revealed. The developer has already eliminated a lot, but not all. The main complaints now include problems with the radio-reflective coating, which tends to flake off at high speeds, which is why the F-35 is no longer "stealth". Its engine is prone to spontaneous combustion and is not capable of flying at maximum speed for a long time. The aircraft is unstable, some of its equipment fails at a relatively low temperature of minus 15 Celsius. The software is buggy and conflicting with each other, which has already caused the death of the Japanese F-35 pilot. With all this, the real operational resource of the fighter turned out to be significantly lower than that declared during the design. After all this, you will inevitably think, is it worth so proud of the fact that more than 500 aircraft have already been produced and delivered, which turned out to be frankly "raw"?
Secondly, for the clients, who are crazy from such "happiness", the acquisition of the American "stealth" fighter is also a heavy financial burden. Here's what Popular Mechanics writes about this:
The United States and its allies are on the hook not only because of the purchase of the F-35 at a price of 110 to 117 million dollars per plane, but also because of the exorbitant cost of its flight hour of about 44 thousand dollars, fees for modernizing old aircraft, fixes many of the aircraft's shortcomings, paying bills for future upgrades and developing the sixth generation fighter.
In fact, this is the answer to the question of why the Lockheed Martin Corporation riveted and sold so many "raw" aircraft. Money does not smell, and it must continuously flow like a river into the pockets of the manufacturing company. "Raw" fighter or not, it does not matter. The allies of the United States are signed into an international cooperative or corrupt system, from which they will not go anywhere, and therefore they are simply forced to buy what they are selling, and then continue to pay fabulous money for the F-35 program.
Trillion dollars? Yes, it is quite possible that this is exactly how much Lockheed Martin, with the help of its lobbyists, will collectively pull out. Where is Russia to the Americans with our Su-57 ... We just do not know how.