Most expensive fighter in history now ready. Kind of. Not really.

August 5, 2016 by Adam Day

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been an ongoing headache for successive Canadian governments. And for the American government. And for pretty much everyone else, as well.

More than 15 years after it was announced and ten years after it first flew, the fighter is still beset by production problems, skyrocketing costs, and some major public perception issues.

While Canada was once on board to purchase the planes, that plan has been officially shelved. Except for that maybe we’re considering buying them again. It’s hard to say. On June 24, 2016 the Liberal government quietly paid $32.9 million to stay in the F-35 program, bringing the total spent on the jet by Canada to more than $300 million.

Now though, there is at least the appearance of good news where the F-35 is concerned. The U.S. Air Force had declared the jet has reached Initial Operating Capability and is now ready to be deployed in combat.

Except it’s far from ready. At least according to reporting from the increasingly influential U.S. writer Tyler Rogoway.

“The F-35 program has chronically shared an absurdly bright view of the F-35’s progress, even though the facts have suggested otherwise,” wrote Rogoway. “The reality is that the F-35 … was put into production and has now been pushed to operational status long before testing has concluded. In fact, the jet has not even started operational testing, which has been pushed back to early 2018.”

The reality seems to be that the F-35 has been declared combat ready well in advance of being actually combat ready, all in an effort to put a shine on an increasingly dull product.

In Canada meanwhile, the debate about which fighter jet continues. It was recently announced that our options consist of:

1) Boeing (Super Hornet)


A US Navy (USN) F/A-18F Super Hornet, Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41), Black Aces, Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California (CA).
Navy Camera Operator: TSGT ROB TABOR, USAF – ID:DFSD0609181 – Public Domain

2) Lockheed Martin (F-35)


A U.S. Air Force pilot navigates an F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
MSgt John Nimmo Sr. – Public Domain

3) Dassault (Rafale)


French Raf
A French Air Force Rafale B during Operation Serval in Mali, 2013.
By Capt. Jason Smith- Public domain

4) Eurofighter (Typhoon)


A German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon during takeoff.
Krasimir Grozev – Public Domain

5) Saab Group (Gripen)


A Swedish JAS-39 Gripen returns to the play areas of the Arctic Challenge exercise Sept. 24, 2013, over Norway, after taking on fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker. The JAS-39, in coordination with aircraft from other nations, formed a Blue assault force, which had to bypass or neutralize an opposing Red force attempting to stop them from an overall objective outlined in the day's scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Christopher Mesnard/Released)
A Swedish JAS-39 Gripen.
U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Christopher Mesnard/Released – Public Domain

So we may end up with the F-35 yet.




  • Einar Davison

    Pick the best aircraft suited for our national defence and international duties. Don’t pick the aircraft because it has all the latest greatest gadgets that may or may not work. Keep in mind also that one day that drones which can pull greater G’s, carry more weapons and stay aloft for longer period will be fielding in less than 20 years. Do we spend billions on the F35, when maybe we should be starting to look at what is going to make the F35 obsolete. My humble opinion only.

  • Oh sure! Let’s just keep making bigger and better machines of war till we blow the whole planet up! I think it’s time we all stepped back and looked at what we’re doing to this world.

  • Paul Fredenburg

    So I have been researching this issue for some time now and have gone to many legitimate aviation sources. Why have I only barely heard of Tyler Rogoway before? He is a journalist who started out in the blogosphere. His credentials are hard to find. (I tried). Why don’t you go to some of the more legitimate sources. Since a big issue here, try the CDAI. They have far more knowledgeable people researching and writing on this issue. Rogoway lost all credibility when he suggests that the USAF and USN are stacking the deck with regards to testing. Well if the story does not match the narrative, attack the source. That is commonplace in journalism. The truth is not in the attached article.

  • ron bates

    unless the government commits to 100 fighters or 99.5 almost and they are F18 Hornets dependable ready forget it stick with 65 Hornets

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