TL;DR (2-minute read)
- The F-35, developed by Lockheed Martin, is a revolutionary and controversial military plane that has been appraised for its next-era technology but criticized for its size and cost.
- It is estimated that over the next 50 years, the F-35 program will cost the American taxpayer $1.7 trillion when considering costs of maintenance and paying F-35 pilots.
- While the F-35 is costly, the economic, social, and military benefits outweigh the cons.
The F-35 is perhaps the jewel in the crown of the United States Air Force, perhaps the entire army as well. With an entire arsenal of revolutionary technology, the F-35 seems like the perfect weapon and opportunity that’s too good to pass off, but is it really? Being the “perfect” airplane also comes at a cost, and a colossal cost that is. The F-35 program will cost American taxpayers an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars over the course of its lifetime. So the question is, is the F-35 worth the cost or not?
Why the F-35?
The F-35 has been in the works for over 20 years, as part of a project to develop next-era stealth fighters. Its new technology includes a helmet that gives pilots a 360-degree view of the battlefield, an SVTOL system which allows the plane to take off and land vertically, and radar-evasion technology that puts all other planes to shame. It also excels in both ground combat and aerial dogfighting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The F-35 also has an economic and social benefits. The unprecedented size and scope of the project has also created a multitude of jobs. The size of the project is multinational, and as a result has strengthened ties with American allies such as Great Britain and Israel, as well as potential allies such as Turkey.
Why It’s Worth The Cost
While the F-35 program may be worth a staggering 1.7 trillion dollars (in terms of maintenance, paying pilots, and such), it is the overall cost of the project which will last up until 2070. Many argue that America should instead focus on issues such as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and healthcare, and while they are correct that those 2 issues are very important, they need to also recognize that 16% of the total federal budget is spent on the military each year, while 27% is spent on Medicare and health. And that’s just in one year. As said before, the F-35 program costs 1.7 trillion dollars spread out over the span of several decades. Also, the safety of the nation is something that cannot be ignored. Whether it’s insurgents or another nation, the F-35 guarantees American superiority over airspace, which usually ensures a victory. We can not be sure exactly when or where we will have to use the F-35, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.