We would regret halt to F-35 fighter plane

OlympiaJuly 4, 2013 

A recent letter (July 23) cites problems with veterans’ benefits and calls for cuts in new weapon systems such as the F-35 fighter just entering service with the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

While naturally advocating for their benefits, I think military veterans of all services should support programs that will continue America’s dominance in air power. After all, it’s been seven decades since U.S. surface forces have experienced significant threats from the air.

Some now seem to take this for granted, but a continuing commitment to superior technology and training makes it happen. Settling for supposedly-cheaper older models is a recipe for disaster. With their 1970s designs and materials and external weapons stores, they show up much sooner on radar. Modern air defenses threaten them unless they are preceded by stealthier systems, like the multi-role F-35 and the F-22 air superiority fighter.

The F-35 is now emerging from a typical development cycle in which problems are found and fixed, and unit costs decrease significantly as production rates increase. Cancellation of the F-22 after just half its production run was a terrible waste that we may someday regret.

By all means support our veterans, but not by risking the lives of those who serve, now and in the future.

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