Pentagon’s $1.5 Trillion F-35 Better at Killing Its Own Pilots than Enemy Combatants

February 5, 2016   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
February 5, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) As is typical for the Pentagon’s continuous mismanagement of its enormous budget, the F-35 fighter program — with its $1.5 trillion cost to taxpayers so far — continues to be fraught with complications and failures.

According to an 82-page report released Monday, myriad flaws still plague the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, including an ejection system likely to break the necks of pilots under 136 pounds.

“Testing showed that the ejection seat rotates backwards after ejection. This results in the pilot’s neck becoming extended, as the head moves behind the shoulders in a ‘chin up’ position,” the report states.

In fact, less hefty pilots of all F-35 jets have already been restricted, as this issue is ongoing. According to the report, after recent failures of the ejection system as tested using 103- and 136-pound manikins,

“[T]he Program Office and Services decided to restrict pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying any F-35 variant … Pilots weighing between 136 and 165 are considered at less risk than lighter weight pilots, but still at an increased risk (compared to heavier pilots). The level of risk was labeled ‘serious’ by the Program Office based on the probability of death being 23 percent, and the probability of neck extension (which will result in some level of injury) being 100 percent.

Lockheed Martin manufactures the fighters, but severe deficiencies listed in the new report call to question whether the F-35 program — which is “currently the most expensive in history,” as RT reported — should continue at all. In fact, the Pentagon has already spent over $400 billion, nearly twice its original estimate, on almost 4,500 F-35s. To attempt to keep costs under control, the military has proposed a “block buy” of 270 planes; but as the report asks:

“Is it premature to commit to the ‘block buy’ given that significant discoveries requiring correction before F-35s are used in combat are occurring, and will continue to occur, throughout the developmental and operational testing?

“Is it prudent to further increase substantially the number of aircraft bought that may need modifications to reach full combat capability and service life? As the program manager has noted, essentially every aircraft bought to date requires modifications prior to use in combat.”

Not surprisingly, politicians — including Bernie Sanders — have cashed in on the F-35 program, despite its flawed manifestation. Though Sanders’ supporters often, and somewhat mistakenly, point to his anti-war stance, in 2014 the senator proudly brought the F-35’s manufacturing to Vermont — despite outrage from activists. Sanders argued the benefits would go directly to his state’s National Guard and economy, while blatantly ignoring the known flaws in the program — as well as the enormous costs.

The F-35 program might have been doomed from the beginning, considering the decision was made by the Pentagon to begin building the fighters before they were fully tested.

Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, executive officer of the F-35 program, said there were “no surprises” in the new report, according to“All of the issues are well known to [us], the U.S. services, international partners, and our industry team,” he stated, noting the analysis does indicate progress has been made.

That progress may only exist in the eye of the (budget) beholder, though, as Maxim noted Bogdan’s rather predictive statement from 2012 about the already issue-ridden F-35 program: “I don’t see any scenario where we’re walking back away” from it.

Apparently not.

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Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  3. The author missed the point about ejection seats. The seat is built by Martin-Baker and well respected for their high survial rate while ejecting at all airspeeds from zero to 600 kts at all roll positions from vertical to inverted and G-loading from negative to positive 6 Gs. The real problem is the helmet, which weighs far more than a regular helmet due to it's built in heads up display – HUD – and 'shoot where the pilot looks' technology. It's like putting a bowling ball on someone's head then ejecting them. It needs to be lighter: Or added later as the tehnology evolves; or dispenses with.

    The HUD helmet is a system that the Russians have used for years and the USA puts on Apache AH64 helicopter pilots. Granted, chopper pilots can't eject, but the Ruskies have it all figured out in their fighters. Maybe we should buy HUD helmets from them. There is also a system that attaches a tether to the helmet that pulls the head back into a head rest on the ejection seat when the ejection seat fires. We used it in the F101 starfighter.

    The problem isn't the jet: Its the acquisition process that puts pork in every congressman's trough. Given free reign LM could easily build the jet cheaper, faster and better like they did the F101, the U2 and SR71.

    Lockheed-Martin is building the F35 on a fixed price per lot basis. That fixed price disappears with any customer-proposed changes to the system or schedule, so it becomes a staredown as they wait for the customer to point out the obvious then charge dearly to implement it.

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  5. The problem with the F-35 is simple. You cannot build a plane with a body more like a turkey than a bird that flies. As far as the ejection seat is concerned, why not figure out how the Russians build theirs. At an air show one of their planes malfunctioned and the pilot ejected at 300 feet and survived. Their ejection seat became the talk of the town, with many air forces seeking information.

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  7. John AC Forster What is 'turkey like' about the shape of the F35? It's just small. If you dislike the shape, what do you think of the F4, B52, EB58?

    As far as the seat goes, The MB seat worked flawlessly from 120 ft with a rate of descent of almost 8000 ft/min in a Thunderbird crash. There's not much room to improve.

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