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Military Leaders Praise F-35 at Congressional Hearing

February 16, 2017

In what can only be described as the latest clear-cut evidence that the F-35's 5th Generation capabilities are what the warfighter needs for the future, U.S. military leaders from across the services gathered to testify before congress on the progress of the program Feb. 16.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the state of U.S. tactical aviation, particularly the state of the F-35 program. Conversations on the F-35’s capabilities, maturity and operational readiness dominated the discussion. Testifying before the committee were:

  • USAF Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer
  • USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation
  • USAF Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements
  • USN Rear Adm. Dewolfe Miller, III, Director, Air Warfare

The statements about the current state and future of the F-35 program from top-ranking members are a testament to work of the entire F-35 enterprise to develop and produce the most advanced aircraft in history. See below for what they had to say at the recent hearing about the F-35.

USAF Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer, addressing price of the jet dramatically decreasing:

“An F-35A model costs approximately $94.5 million. It is the first time an F-35 has been below $100 million to purchase. We believe we are on track to continue to reduce the price of the F-35 such that in FY-19, with an engine, including all fees, the F-35A model will cost between $80 - $85 million.”

USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, addressing F-35B dominating its opponents:

“I’ll tell you that I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 37 years, flying Marine tactical airplanes for 36. I’ve commanded our Weapons School. I have not seen anything like this in the entire history of my time. We just had what we call a Marine Division Tactics Class done in Beaufort, South Carolina.

We had a scenario out there that was a 20 versus eight. Twenty bad guys against eight good guys. In those eight good guys were four Marine F-35Bs. Basically, the 20 guys had a very bad day – I will leave it at that… One of the pilots talking about all the kills they made, and the majority of the kills came from the F-35… He was a CAT I student in our fleet replacement squadron. This was his graduation exercise. We have brand new guys coming out of the training pipeline flying this airplane who are operating like Marine veterans who have three or four years’ experience.”

USAF Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements, addressing F-35A amazing performance at Red Flag:

"The maintainers continue to produce combat-ready aircraft at impressive levels. The team deployed 13 F-35As [to Red Flag] and executed 207 of 226 planned sorties, with zero maintenance non-deliveries, and maintained greater than a 90 percent mission-capable rate. Nineteen sorties were mission-cancelled by the Red Flag staff for weather, not due to F-35 limitations. That is simple an awesome effort. And as you know, most fighter pilots will tend to exaggerate their claims and capabilities, but this morning’s report with the 15-to-1 kill ratio is actually a little bit off the mark. Looking at the numbers, it was 20-to-1. The airplane is doing exactly what we need it to do."

These comments are evidence of the immense impact the F-35 has had on the men and women who rely on the jet to maintain superiority on the ground, over the seas and in the skies. To see more from the hearing, watch this video.