If you’re not on X, you may have missed that the US military lost the most expensive weapons system ever. Not only did they lose it, but they had to resort to crowdsourcing information to find the weapon system.
I diligently watched the news last night, looking for updates and coverage of the missing F-35 Lightning II, but found little to no mention of the “zombie plane.” However, the event spawned some of the best memes on social media and several hilarious inside jokes on veteran forums.
Debris from the plane was eventually discovered in a field not far from the origin base, and it appears no one was injured or killed this time. However, the entire episode raises some serious questions about managing our defense spending and holding our defense industry accountable.
If you are concerned or angry about the US losing a $150 million F35 to Cuba, remember that Biden left $7 billion worth of military weapons, ammunition and vehicles in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/gJWxzmBkEg
— General™️👀🇺🇸🦅 (@TheGeneral_0) September 18, 2023
Return to M. Milley when you find him
This Sunday, an F-35 fighter pilot was ejected from his plane for unknown reasons. The plane was missing until last night, when the debris was finally found in a field near Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina.
Leading up to the discovery, Joint Base Charleston felt the need to ask the public for help finding the plane by releasing a phone number for citizens to call with information. When I first saw the message from the base with the phone number I had to dive pretty deep thinking it was a hoax or maybe a headline from the Babylon Bee – unfortunately it wasn’t.
Many wondered how the US military could possibly lose a fighter jet. Questions that came to mind both on social media and in my own head included:
- Doesn’t this thing have a tracker or transponder?
- What would someone say if they ‘found’ an F-35 when they call the 1 800 number?
- How long can a fighter jet fly independently?
- Did China hack the fighter jet and fly it to Cuba?
- Did someone else hack the fighter jet and plan to use it as a missile, 9/11 style?
- Did aliens kidnap the fighter jet?
— Fettuccine Split (@FettuccineSplit) September 18, 2023
The latter is just for fun; But as with the revelation of UFOs, the likelihood that we will discover the truth behind why the pilot ejected and why the military had such a hard time finding the plane will likely remain a mystery.
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A real lemon
If you’re not a defense nerd like me, let me introduce you to the F-35 Lightning. Some versions of this Lockheed Martin brainchild can take off and land vertically and hover in place, in addition to advanced stealth capabilities.
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The stealth aspect generated copious puns, noting that the fighter jet might even be too stealthy for the Pentagon. One F-35 will cost you about $80 million, not including required maintenance and upgrades.
The Government Accountability Office estimates that the entire F-35 program will cost approximately $1.7 trillion, including the program’s acquisition, operation and maintenance costs, making the F-35 the most expensive weapons program ever. According to this pilot, it is also the worst weapons program.
By my count, this crash brings the F-35 to eight total crashes since its inception. While it sounds like a cool military toy, it has been grounded due to several issues, including not being able to provide oxygen to pilots and also not being able to fly within a 25-mile radius, wait for it… lightning .
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That’s right, the F-35 Lightning is afraid of thunder just like my children. Two years ago, the New York Times called the program a “boendoggle,” and most of DC admits it’s a terrible investment.
However, that hasn’t stopped Congress from pumping more money into the fighter jets, with Canada, Germany and Japan also buying F-35s from Lockheed. If you’re one of the few big guys in town, you don’t have to worry about business damage if you produce a crappy product.
Biden was asked about his thoughts on the F35 and he said he is not a big fan of Ford Trucks. 🥴
— The annoying Italian🍷🇺🇸 🇮🇹 (@sayitnspinit) September 18, 2023
It’s not just the plane
The F-35 is terrible, but if you pay closer attention, it’s more than just this particular weapon system that has problems. Acting Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith has ordered all Marine Corps aviation units to implement a two-day “pause in operations,” or what we veterans would call “down days.”
The purpose of the two days is to discuss aviation safety issues and best practices, as the following statement from the Marine Corps explains:
“This withdrawal is being made to ensure the service maintains operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft with properly prepared pilots and crews.”
This latest crash is the third Class A aviation accident in just six weeks. A Class A accident involves property damage of at least $2.5 million or loss of life.
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Last month, an F/A-18 Hornet crashed in San Diego, killing the pilot. A few days later, an MV-22B Osprey crashed in Australia, killing three Marines.
Both incidents are still under investigation, but it begs the question: are our weapons systems all bad, or are our pilots unsafe? It could be a combination of both that should keep you awake at night.
— UFO CHRONICLES PODCAST🎙️𝕏 (@UFOchronpodcast) September 18, 2023
Nothing to see here
The United States spends more on defense than the following ten countries combined: China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and Ukraine. This week, the House of Representatives is trying to pass an $826 billion defense bill.
Those who stand in the way of this plan are being shamed by neoconservatives and Democrats, who claim they don’t care about the troops or national security. But I would say they probably care more than any other group in DC.
Let’s go back in time and look at the recent Department of Defense performance report:
- The Pentagon failed its fifth consecutive audit and was only responsible for 39% of its $3.5 trillion in assets
- Pentagon leaders claimed there were indications the Afghan government would hold out
- General Mark Milley underestimated the Ukrainian army and said it would fall within 72 hours
- The DOD “missed” Chinese spy balloons during the Trump administration
- The Pentagon discovered a $6.2 billion accounting error for Ukraine
But hey, let’s keep raining taxpayer dollars on an organization that has become adept at failing.
Joint Base Charleston officials said last night after the debris field was found:
“This accident is currently under investigation and we cannot provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigation process.”
I’m sure, let me guess: no real answers will be revealed, but more money will be spent on the F-35 Lightning. The downfall of this country will be our abandonment of future war heroes and hawks on the Hill.
In the meantime, the Pentagon should talk to Apple and see if they can get a feature like Find My Plane – this could ease future embarrassments.
Have you seen my F35? pic.twitter.com/SmKstqIW9h
— Ramble_Rants (@ramble_rants) September 18, 2023
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