The Pentagon's pursuit of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jet has been a heartbreaking one. If you're a taxpayer, the program's estimated $1 trillion price tag probably breaks your heart a little bit. If you're an aviation enthusiast, the constant whittling away of the do-it-all aircraft's features, which in many cases actually amounts to adding weight and taking away maneuverability, must hurt a little bit too.
If you're just an everyday American, though, you should be downright shattered that after a decade and a fortune spent, the F-35 will actually be more vulnerable than the aircraft it's replacing. At this point, the Pentagon is literally rewriting its rule book so that the dumbed-down superjet will pass muster.
The Defense Department's annual weapons-testing report reveals that the military actually adjusted the performance specifications for the consistently underperforming line of F-35 fighter jets. In other words, they couldn't get the jets to do what they were supposed to do, so they just changed what they were supposed to do.
"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35A, reducing turn performance from 5.3 to 4.6 sustained g’s and extending the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by eight seconds," reads the report drafted under J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation. (The F-35A is the standard model, so to speak, that the Air Force will use. The line also includes the F-35B, the Harrier-like vertical-landing version built for the Marines, and the F-35C, a Navy version that's optimized for aircraft-carrier takeoffs and landings.)