The F-35 was a bad plane, and it was supposed to be replaced with a magical F/A-18 Super Hornet-based magical fantasy jet, but now it is a good plane again. Boeing still wants to sell its F/A-18s though, so it’s got a new strategy: the thing is cheap!
Well, “cheap” is relative here, of course, because we’re still talking about fighter jets. But Boeing is touting $30 billion in savings over 20 years, according to Defense One:
Now Chicago-based Boeing, which in recent years had backed off its efforts to keep Joint Strike Fighters off the decks of Navy aircraft carriers, is circulating a one-page white paper making a case for fewer F-35s and more F/A-18s.
“The U.S. Navy currently plans to have a Carrier Air Wing mix of 3 squadrons of F/A-18 Super Hornets and 1 squadron of F-35Cs in 2028 transitioning to 2 squadrons of F/A-18 Super Hornets and 2 squadrons of F-35C in 2033,” the white paper reads. “This leaves significant capability gaps against emerging threats and under the current aircraft procurement plan leaves the Navy with a significant inventory shortfall.”
Boeing’s plan to sell less capable Advanced Super Hornets—a plane that does not exist in any production-ready form, and would not be as capable as the F-35—hinges on the money savings. If the government could save $1.4 billion a year, it could spend on a whole host of things instead, the thinking goes. And the Advanced Super Hornet would be Just Fine.
On the other hand, the average annual defense budget for the past 20 years is $490.8 billion per year. So even if Boeing’s math checked out, the U.S. government would only be saving .2 percent of its budget each year. And the F-35 is only getting cheaper, as was originally planned many years ago.
But maybe it won’t matter, as long as Boeing’s CEO is listening in on government procurement phone calls.
Rest assured, this will not happen. If it does happen, I will eat an entire plate of baked ziti. I hate baked ziti.