Letters to the Editor

Expect F-35B delay, with consequences

Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed confidence that Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will receive five squadrons of F-35B aircraft by 2015.

Having worked with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, I give great credence to his announcement that there would be at least a two-year delay to correct "technical problems" with the F-35B.

The original cost of each fighter has doubled to $100 million. The model for the Marines might need to be redesigned, and The New York Times reported Gates was placing that model "on the equivalent of a two-year probation."

Due either to technical complexity or budget considerations, I think the F-35B will be either canceled or the numbers ordered severely reduced. The United Kingdom already canceled its order.

If the F-35B does not work out, the Marine Corps has choices:

  • Order the F-35C, the Navy version, to deploy on aircraft carriers, and either build more AV-8 Harrier IIs or advanced drone aircraft to deploy aboard amphibious ships. Because the F-35C does not have the F-35B's vertical take-off and landing capability, it would not generate increased noise nor require an auxiliary field for carrier landing practice.
  • If the number of F-35Bs ordered is reduced to replace only AV-8 aircraft, presumably these would be based in North Carolina.
  • I assume, if the F-35B is canceled or its numbers reduced, our chamber of commerce would lobby for F-35Cs to replace our current F-18s.

    Charlie DavisFripp Island

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