US Marine Corps reaffirms the faith with the F-35. The Marines will buy the carrier as well as the STOVL variants - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 16 March 2011

US Marine Corps reaffirms the faith with the F-35. The Marines will buy the carrier as well as the STOVL variants

Photo: the first two production F-35 fighters undergoing final assembly at Lockheed Martin

The Pentagon is hardly backing off --- contrary to what opponents of the F-35 JSF love to believe --- from the large-scale induction of this fifth generation strike fighter into the US military.

Make no mistake all ye sceptics! The Joint Strike Fighter will sport the IAF roundel by 2020. I'm not so sure about the MMRCA.

A press release from the American Forces Press Service is pasted below.

Navy and Marine Corps leaders sign agreement on purchase of fighter aircraft

09:40 GMT, March 15, 2011 WASHINGTON | U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leaders yesterday signed an agreement by which the Corps will join the Navy in buying the F-35 joint strike fighter variant designed for aircraft carriers, service leaders announced on Monday, March 14. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos signed a memorandum of agreement on Monday on the purchase of F/A-18E/F and F-35B/C fighter jets they say will improve air capabilities for both services.

Under the agreement, the two services will buy 680 F-35s. The Navy will buy 260 of the F-35C carrier variant, and the Marine Corps will buy 80 of the F-35Cs, along with 340 of the F-35Bs, a short-take off, vertical-landing variant. The Corps will assign five of its air squadrons to flying the F-35Cs in the Navy’s carrier air wing, the agreement says.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in January that he was placing the F-35B on the equivalent of two years probation due to testing problems with the STOVL aircraft.

Monday’s agreement demonstrates the commitment of Gates, Mabus and Roughead to the purchase of the F-35B, Thomas E. Laux, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for air programs, said during a press briefing. “These quantities match the fiscal 2012 budget request,” he said.

The F-35Cs will be assigned to the Navy’s aircraft carriers, while the “B” variants are assigned to L-class ships, Laux said. “Our priority is to do testing of the F-35Cs on the carrier,” he said. “We will learn a lot about the F-35Bs on the L ships” to determine if the STOVLs may be used on carriers.

The agreement reflects the “enduring partnership” of Navy and Marine Corps aviation, Laux said. Training for the aircraft will be “completely integrated,” and there will be only one pipeline, he said.

The combination of F-35B and C variants, along with the F-18s, will improve the services’ advance air capabilities, service officials said.

“Together, the Navy and Marine Corps are stronger than they are alone,” Laux said. “Together, we are more formidable than we are apart.”


  1. What do you mean it will spot the IAF roundel. The IAF already plans on the PMF in the 5th gen air superiority and the AMCA as the fifth gen strike fighter roles. The fact that the US Marine Corps Backs it is a positive sign for the F 35 programme, but doesnt mean India will buy it. I dont even want to hope on it.

    The F22 has proven to be one of the costliest aircraft to maintain. It requires some 20+ hours of service for every 1 hour of flight (read that somewhere). We need more info on these sort of stats on how an F 35 will eventually perform before we even decide to try it out.


  2. i didn't know prophecies and prediction were also mr.shukla's specialty, well until now at least. last i heard, IAF was to announce MMRCA by this month end (or at least before this year ends in special circumstances) but now it seems - as broadsword puts it - theres no MMRCA but F35 that IAF will be inducting. well im not too sure either if F35s will be sporting IAFs roundels but shukla saab really sport some rare stubbornness. guess that leaves us with time to wait for prophecy to come true.

  3. They can buy F-35 because they have F-22 to complement it. They can use F-35 while at war with countries without advanced technologies and fighters like Iraq and Afghanistan.
    They will never use F-35 against a country like China, which unfortunately is our primary concern.

  4. Yawn...phir se F-35 ka rona?! IAF roundel by 2020?? To AMCA kahan jayega?

  5. An article on the flight test programme of the F35 would be in order. Of the 3 variants, which one will India sport by year 2020?

  6. have u been bribed Mr. Shukla????

  7. Wowww... IAF roundel by 2020... While experts are worried about the severe teething problems thats hampering the F35 (mainly STOVL) program ( i dont know on what basis you are so sure about it and even doubting the MMRCA... serious competition for nostradamus i suppose... On top of this we are not even a development partner... Royal Navy is backing off as well... May be u r right in one way... Who ever is in need of money seems to get it from India... and the beauty is we are so proud of it also... calling MOTHER OF ALL DEALS... LARGEST DEFENCE MARKET IN THE WORLD... blah blah blah...

  8. LOL Broadsword, after this umpteenth story on the F-35 you seem to be trolling your own blog.

    Now about the MMRCA what do you know that no one else does?. There are reports on other defense sites of the pressure the US is putting on the MOD to get their MMRCA planes selected.

    hmmm.... here is my conspiracy theory. We might select any one of the euro canards, one company[US] will scream 'Graft'. Process will get stuck somewhere in the outer reaches of the solar system. We will then be presurrised to move in for sams toys[F-35].

    You know you may just be right.

  9. According to me F-35 is nothing but a fully loaded gadget plane. The loopholes and drawbacks have not been studied. Only the glorified advertisement (or one sided US praise) is circling around the internet.
    The idea is to DEFEND the country. It has to be a practical balance of use and price. You always talk about the gadgets it has in it that are unbeatable. But you've never considered or you don't know how much it will cost to maintain? How much will the new engine cost to buy and maintain? will the replacement parts be readily available? Will Uncle Sam sell it with several locks (tech transfer and radar codes)? With locks it will just be a big white elephant.
    Any how, like most tech savvy person craves to get his hands on the new toy launched in the market, you are crazy to get this toy. Let me remind this toy is VERY VERY expensive one and least to say will come with several strings attached.

  10. YAAAAAWWWWWNNNNN !!!! Who cares ? Mark my words - the F-35 will be $ 150 gazillion dollars each by the time it is ready for roll out. We don't need another white elephant in our arsenal...we have plenty of them already :) ! Good try - Mr. Shukla but no thank you !

  11. Dude, you are seriously delusional... who cares what the Pentagon does? Do a reality check... get a grip...this is getting embarrassing

  12. On the contrary Mr Shukla, being in IAF I can assure you that if no American fighter makes it into MMRCA (which is highly likely and you will find out in the coming months).
    The IAF will surely not buy an American bird at least till 2040 or 2050. They have their hands full with the LCA, MCA, PAK FA and MMRCA.
    Besides what the Pentagon plans is always very different from what they actually procure.

    So Dream on pal.....

    @Fg 0ff - IAF No2 sqdrn

  13. you tend to propagate your own american propaganda silently onto people ....kinda psych ops.....Hats off......

  14. Parminder Grewal16 March 2011 at 21:09

    F-35 was supposed to be used by the marines and navy right from the start. They had kept the design requirements of Marines in mind right from the start. This is no big news

  15. I too feel like theres a big possibility of F-35 sporting IAF's or IN's colors.
    No one can deny the distinct capabilities of an VTOL aircraft, Navy loves its Harriers.
    F-35 is only possibility as VTOL in future, Yakovlev was the consultant so it got best of both worlds.

  16. Some of the commentators here need to realize that N-LCA is in development and N-AMCA is in the pipeline. I see no place for F-35B/C in our Navy.

    As for Shukla ji's recommendations for the IAF, I really don't see the point of MMRCA itself, other than for tech transfer, as we have LCA, AMCA, FGFA to meet our future needs. Where in pete's name is F-35 going to fit in?

    Don't you see the irony in adding an F-35 to the long list of varying platforms IAF has to deal with in the near future (both domestic and foreign) while it's very birth (in the American armed forces' context) was to do away with multiple platforms?

  17. hmm slow news from Broadsword these days...u quit reporting or what?

  18. "Make no mistake all ye sceptics! The Joint Strike Fighter will sport the IAF roundel by 2020. I'm not so sure about the MMRCA".

    You are dropping political bombshells with these sort of prophecies. Wonder whether there will be pandamonium in the parliament after opposition reads this. But we need a serious debate on F-35 vs MMRCA on parliament and on national television before coming to a conclusion.

    @Fg 0ff - IAF No2 sqdrn

    With each passing day, even I(proponent of MMRCA) is becoming increasingly sceptic about MMRCA. Is there a game being played behind our heads? The game is; delay the MMRCA deal, then say it is old technology compared to emerging 5th gen technologies and dump it. A direct fight is going on between Robert Gates and Saint Antony and lets see who blinks first. The first round has been won by Antony(postponment of Indo-US strategic dialogue as Antony is busy campaigning for elections).
    But must say I would like to see IAF making a choice between Su-34/Rafale/JSF for their future strike fleet.

    @Ajai: I can't predict at this time,but I would love to see F-35 take off and land on Indian Navy's IAC3 onwards. Not so sure about IAF.

  19. @Fg 0ff - IAF No2 sqdrn

    Sir, would request you and if by some means possible, ACM Naik to read the article(about MMRCA) whose link is posted below: Unfortunately our country is run by elected government and not military and our government is a little bit US or may I say pentagon oriented.

    @Ajai: My apprehensions about MMRCA in my earlier comment on this subject today is slowly coming true. But I still want this deal and JSF to be different projects and I want both to happen simultaneously.

  20. I am pretty sure the Navy will will buy them, the F-35B/C seem very promising and both pilots from US and UK seem to be very happy with all its capability. Offcourse a new aircraft will have some teething problems and these will be sorted out noting that USAF, USN etc. by far the largest, most experienced users of aircraft in combat seem very much committed to the F-35. I would certainly love to see the F-35 in IAF/IN roundels, i think a good order of 250 ( 150 F-35A, 50 F-35B, 50 F-35c) would just fit in perfectly. Add to that 250 LCA mk-2, 250 PAKFA, 250 AMCA, 270 MKI and MRCA 230. F-35 i am sure is the ideal replacement for the mirage/ mig-27 roles in the future. A large order would certainly come with good amount of TOT. We'll be the only country in the world to operate 3 stealth fighters, all of them quite different but yet very useful.

  21. I think a plane like the A-10 can kick ass for ground support, not the F-35 for IAF.

  22. Heights of deterioration of standards. Total Lifafa journalism.

  23. I am neither supporter of M-MRCA nor of JSF. If i can a pick, i'll M-MRCA.

    JSF may sound all rosy but fact must not be forgotten that it is second in line to F-22 and there will be thousands many more points to negotiate. The JSF today is on sale as a never before 'data-fused', 'network-centric' flying gizmo with a sweet little add-on named 'CISMOA'. And this CISOMA is something IAF is not going agree on , at least their present stand says so. Interesting part is that without it, she is not getting even a bit of JSF capability. Wonder, like C-130J, can IAF manage non-US, off the self arrangement? And if IAF manages somehow, will it not be a completely new aircraft having all the difference in world with original JSF.

    Now, i wonder, what's the advantage in buying JSF (without CISOMA) if equally capable AMCA will be joining three years after its possible induction?


  25. I think, F-35 is never going to be visible on the Indian radar either from this side or from that side.

  26. Rameez:

    The F-22 requires 20+ hours of service for every hour of flight, so we should not buy the F-35?! Huh? Just explain that plz... are we the USAF taking revenge for the F-22?

    Anonymous 20:22:

    AMCA kahan jayega? AMCA IAF mein aayega... kabhi na kabhi... kahin na kahin... koi na koi to aayega!

    Anonymous 21:48

    Have I been bribed? Alas, I'm so small that nobody even wants to bribe me. Sob!

    Anonymous 02:23

    You're trying to be funny, I suspect, but you've inadvertently hit upon what is very likely to happen. Except that it will not necessarily be a US company that cries foul.

    I really enjoyed your comment about trolling my own blog. What a delicious thought.

    Fg Off - IAF No 2 sqdrn

    For such a junior officer --- if at all you're in the IAF, which I'm almost certain you are not --- you have a very clear idea about what will be bought and what will not!

    A child prodigy clearly! When I was a colonel with 22 years of service, I hadn't the foggiest idea about which tank would be bought next.

    Manmohan Singh:

    I propagate American propaganda? Oh yeah! Like the story exposing Lockheed Martin's offset proposal... and the sacking of the Lockheed Martin chief in India.

    The problem with so many of you is that you cannot rise above your Indianness. If anyone disagrees with you, don't bother trying to argue with facts; instead, simply try to discredit him/her.

  27. "We need more info on these sort of stats on how an F 35 will eventually perform before we even decide to try it out."

    Read completely.

    The major service issues with the F22 were found to be in its radar absorbing skin.

    The production F35s were planned to be made stealthy by utilizing stealthy structural components itself rather than a separate radar absorbing coating. This was expected to be a low maintenance stealth technology as opposed to the one used on F22. However with testing and validation, large amounts of radar absorbent coating was found to be neccessarry even for the F35, atleast the earlier prototypes.

    I dont know about the final production models, but I maintain that we wait and see how these sort of stats for an F 35 turn out to be before we jump of the bandwagon. Probably soon after Israel adopts the F35. The Israelis afterall rely on strike aircraft as an alternative to long range artillery and pay a lot more attention to aircraft reliability.

    The F22 despite being the supreme air dominance fighter as per its claims, has a pretty low mission ready rate and this is one of the reasons the USAF is capping its order. Majority of the technologies in the F35 are ported from the F22. We should wait until at least a squadron of F35 is operated by atleast two airforces before we even consider it.

    So if our airforce should jump on a bandwagon from the initial risky phase itself, jump on the AMCA bandwagon. I believe the DRDO intends the AMCA to have the same mission roles the F 35 has.

    As for the Navy, if they're going for an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System etc in the IAC 2 onwards, then the F35 might be an awesome choice. Because the americans plan on using the EALS on their Gerald Ford Class of Carriers and the F 35 is probably well suited for it.


  28. I take great offense that you did not choose to reply to my comments :P hehe... just kidding.

    But, (assuming MMRCA is scraped) I would really like to know your understanding of the role F-35 would play in IAF in the future, in light of the other ongoing projects like the upgraded Su-30MKI, LCA-Mk2/3, AMCA & FGFA.

  29. "The problem with so many of you is that you cannot rise above your Indianness"...

    Dude chill out! The world contains many jerks and some read blogs... this is humanness and not just patented by Indians...

  30. I think we should go for F-35. We need best from all world to face China and Porkistaan.
    But we will buy F-35 only when it will not come as pain in a**. We need to partner this programe. Who knows once we know all from this program, we can create space war machines.

  31. Is selective blindness another 'Indian' affliction? For this blog seems to be blind to the criticism of the F-35 for the sake of peddling an absurd argument.

    The marines, navy and airforce have to support the jet because there is no alternative, 'no plan B'. However the 10,000 or so additional design changes now forseen means it will be a long time before their support (and money) turns into combat aircraft.


  33. @Shukla da,
    Yes, you may be dead right about your comments on Fg Off - IAF No 2 sqdrn that he is not from IAF. He is saying he is from 2nd squadron(which is based out of Kalaikunda,West Bengal)and the MKI he flies has a large cross section, but point is are MKI's based in Kalaikunda except during joint exercises????

  34. Anonymous 00:51:

    Not sure if you're quite right there. I would suggest that you visit a cross-section of defence blogs (I'm sure you already do) and compare the quality of the discussion on foreign (US, Chinese especially) with the discussion on Indian/Pakistani blogs. You'll agree with me after such an exercise that, in the latter category, the debate most often boils down to "You've been bribed by XYZ" or "Don't post here, you're a Pakistani".

    The latter is particularly hilarious! Pakistanis are not supposed to have views? Or is there a Line of Control in cybersphere which they are not supposed to cross and enter Indian blogs.

    The real reason is that most visitors to blogs don't have coherent arguments to post. In the absence of those, they have per force to resort to defamation.

    When Broadsword first started out, we had only that category of visitors. Now, thank heavens, we have lots of really good visitors, many of whom don't agree with me on the F-35. That is something that I can live with and argue about reasonably... and even live quite happily with differences in opinion.

  35. Your article as well as the various comments pro as well as anti are quite entertaining. Whatever our WISH maybe, the selection of aircraft is not within our realm.

    The babooos, netas and the guys with vested interest would have started lobbying for their choice of aircraft long before a particular MMRCA aircraft was recommended by the IAF.

    The final selection rests with the idiotic politicians who have their own agenda. Given the choice, MMS would root for a US aircraft given his role in the Indian/US nuclear deal. The US is also dangling the UN Security Council seat carrot and the great strategic partnership.

    Whether IAF gets the F35 or whatever super-duper plane ultimately depends on the financial position of India. Can it afford to spend tens of billions USD just to acquire a limited number of planes? Would that number be enough to thwart the sino-paki axis? Have we invested enough in R&D and in a military industrial complex to churn out critical components that are imperative in a large scale war where OEMs may not provide the necessary parts because of governmental sanctions or because of geo-politics.

    What is the need of the day is a large number of 4th generation fighters and bombers that should deter any adventurous enemy.

    India should invest in billions to kick start cutting edge systems needed for future 5th generation aircraft such as AMCA, FGFA or even 6th generation aircraft of the second half of the 21st century.

    India should air for self-reliance rather providing hard earned money to foreign defence industries to sell to us aircraft at inflated prices. The money given overseas would be better spend locally which would generate a lot of employment opportunities to Indians and establish a knowledgebale and skilled work force.

  36. @ajai / broadsword

    There is a chance that a young officer from IAF knows what aircraft would be bought next while a Col doesn't know what tank would be bought next reason is simple as this; Fg 0ff - IAF No2 sqdrn may be a photocopy assistant helping with photocopying documents (some might have contained been related to mmcra) while you didn't work as a photocopy assistant.

  37. @Broadsword who wrote:"..."Don't post here, you're a Pakistani".

    The latter is particularly hilarious! Pakistanis are not supposed to have views? Or is there a Line of Control in cybersphere which they are not supposed to cross and enter Indian blogs."

    >> Convergence in a debate is reached when objectives and interests are the same. When posters have diverging interests due to rival nationalities as facilitated by cyberspace the debate can NEVER reach a meaningful conclusion and becomes endless. They the Pakistanis have a right to opinion but disrupt the debates posing as indians and due to their different objective derail our discussion to go against our interests. Hence the opposition to them. Luckily US/China don't have such mindlessly trolling rivals.

  38. "When Broadsword first started out, we had only that category of visitors. Now, thank heavens, we have lots of really good visitors... "
    Well this is exactly i thought off... but didnt post it first due to want of brevity in comment... Most of them start with something... generally nothing... but as time goes by they would tend to become wiser with knowledge.... so you should be happy as long as there is more participation... still there will be exceptions... and for god sake dont generalize Indianness...


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