October 19, 2011 (by Jason Hodgkiss) - With reports of the cost of the F-35 program growing to about $385 billion, according to U.S. news sources, this has given rise to reports of one of the F-35 models could be cut due to budget limits.
F-35B BF-02 conducts initial sea trials over the Atlantic Ocean. The F-35B is the USMC Joint Strike Force variant of the JSF and is designed for short takeoff and vertical landing on Navy amphibious ships. The aircraft is operating with the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1).
Speaking before a House Armed Services Committee meeting (13 Oct 2011), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, stated in part "I am concerned about the three variants..., whether we can afford all three".
What indications are that the US Marine Corp's short-take off, vertical landing (STOVL
) version of the F-35B model, will fall with the need for the Defense Department (DOD
) seeking ways to save $450 billion.
How this effects, foreign partners like United Kingdom, Italy
, the Netherlands
, Canada, Turkey
, Australia, Norway
who have agreed to contribute US$4.375 billion to program, with increased pressure's to find fault with F-35 involvement.
Both Canada and Australia - existing F-18 Hornet users - have had pressure to review the possible stop gap purchase for the Super Hornet Version, and in the RAAF case to purchase more, while cancelling current involvement.
With continued success - despite the recent grounding - in the testing program alongside the early production model, arriving at training base's the Fleet has achieved several first from carrier steam catapult launch milestone
toward initial ship trials in 2013, to the landing of BF-2 safely on USS Wasp's (LHD-1) flight deck
, the first at sea vertical landing for the Marine Corps' F-35 JSF