I think the front fell off

I’ve been keeping up with the F-35 saga rather closely. The amount of double speak coming from on high regarding this project just keeps reaching new levels. As soon as the bovine scatology seems it can’t get any worse, a new statement or press release or interview slathers on some more.

One area in particular is how the F-35 is (or isn’t) supposed to replace the A-10. One day it’s a direct replacement. The next day it’s not. It eventually got so convoluted, I decided to synthesize the various quotes, press releases and logic into the interview I wish I could have with the top command. (You get bonus points if you can pick out the actual quotes from the AF brass.)

Scene: An interview setting

Me: So you want to retire the A-10?
AF: Yes, we do want to do that.
Me: OK, why?
AF: Well, in these times of limited budget, we need to free up financial resources to make sure we can field the F-35. This is one of the tough choices that we had to make for the sake of moving forward and modernizing.
Me: OK, so the F-35 can take over the CAS mission of the A-10.
AF: Well, not really. It has never been our intent and we’ve never said that, so that’s not a plan.
Me: OK, so we’ll have no dedicated CAS support if we retire the A-10.
AF: Oh, no, we are definitely committed to the CAS mission.
Me: Well, without an A-10, how will you fulfill that?
AF: Oh, we are looking at moving forward with the A-X project.
Me: A-X?
AF: Yes, the project for the replacement for the A-10.
Me: Wait, so we do need a CAS aircraft?
AF: Yes.
Me: But we can’t afford to have the A-10 AND the F-35?
AF: Yes. Correct.
Me: So we get rid of the A-10 to allow us to buy plenty of F-35s, which can’t really do the CAS mission, and then we dive into the A-X project to give us CAS airframes to replace the A-10 we can’t afford because we really need a CAS aircraft?
AF: Yes, yes. Glad you see it now.
Me: So if we can’t afford the A-10 and the F-35, how will we afford the F-35 and the A-X?
AF: Oh, that’s easy. The economies of scale will kick in and when we purchase many, many F-35s, we’ll start saving money on a per-airframe cost, so that will means savings. And that savings can be funneled into the A-X.
Me: Savings apart from the $1 *trillion* dollar price tag the F-35 is currently at now?
AF: Yes.
Me: So to sum up, we spend a trillion dollars on the F-35, and to be able to spend that, we drop the A-10, and that will eventually save us enough money to afford the A-X?
AF: Yes, yes.
Me: Have you ever heard the phrase “the front fell off?”
AF: By all means, no….. why?
Me: No reason. Just thought I’d heard this line of reasoning before….

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