The hard cold truth and unfortunate reality is that the F-35, despite being almost a religious experience to some of the proponent, is simply not a sustainable Program. There will just not be anywhere near the currently still assumed and expected Procurement orders placed in coming Fiscal Years, due to the indefinite austere budget environment. The presumed numbers of F-35 to be procured annually (under late LRIP lots and early FRP lots) will be significantly slashed further than they already have to date, due to additional restructurings. The jets sadly will never be 'affordable', just as the F-22 was expected and estimated to be 'affordable' even as late as 2005-2006 and produced in higher numbers.
Another critical flaw in the above assessments by the pilots is that the 'dream' jet is likely still another 5 years away from block 3 IOC for International partners and by then, who knows how many they will have been able to afford and what new, competitor capabilities they will be up against.
Moreover, the block IV (a critical update), as was originally required by allies as their baseline operational jet, won't likely be IOC until 2022 or even 2023! There could be all kinds of revolutionary 'game-changing' tactics, new technologies and asymmetrical capabilities by then -- including next-gen stealthy UCAV platforms proliferating around the world and whole new weapon classes -- which could chip away at the F-35's relevance. (Not to mention the reduction in F-35's relevance when the first F-22s retire).
But perhaps the most truly (scary) grotesque comment which probably stuck out to more than a few readers, was that of the LM test pilot boasting of not being able to wait until his son goes into combat as a Naval aviator flying the presumed F-35C. With all due respect...what kind of exploitative and arguably irresponsible comment was that? First of all, again, the 'test-pilot' has no expertise or any concept of which actual potential (superior) threats his son might have to face in the 2025-2030 time-frame (challenging parity), if he did in fact become a future Naval aviator! Besides... Nobody in the world today should be hoping for or glamorizing a fantastical combat experience for their son, as they might have done in ancient times.
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