11 January 2017
President-elect Trump has made a show of criticising the US arms industry for producing expensive weapons, particularly singling out the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is all just theatre, however, since he has few options other than continuing to buy from traditional US defence firms.
US President-elect Donald Trump is already starting to make his mark on US national security and defence. First, he nit-picked the costs of building a new fleet of Air Force One airplanes and called for “greatly” building up the US nuclear arsenal. More recently, he has complained that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) costs too much, instead requesting that Boeing, manufacturer of the rival F/A-18 fighter, to “price out” a “comparable” fighter, based on the F/A-18.
The F/A-18 is a good fighter jet – for certain things. It’s good for flying off carriers and for strike missions, and it’s good for smaller countries that probably cannot afford a state-of-the-art fighter like the JSF. But it is also getting a bit long in the tooth: the latest F/A-18 – the E/F version – has been in production for 20 years.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. An earlier version appeared in Asia Times.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 12/01/2017