A week after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for a review of the F-35 program to “determine opportunities to significantly reduce the cost,” top US military brass are arguing for the Joint Strike Fighter’s place in the future of carrier aircraft.

Mattis’ review calls for an investigation of the cost of the entire F-35 program, but specifically for the carrier-based F-35C to fly off against Boeing’s F-18 Advanced Super Hornet package.

“My stake,” in the review “is only four squadrons,” or 67 aircraft, that will operate alongside the Navy aboard aircraft carriers, US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, who presides over Marine Corps aviation told reporters, as Breaking Defense notes. The Marine Corps has its own version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35B, but as a vertical-takeoff variant, it faces no risk of being replaced by the F/A-18.

But for the military at large, the stakes seem much higher. Hundreds of billions of dollars and 16 years of time have gone into the F-35 program, which was intended to provide planes for the Air Force, Marines, and the Navy. As of today, only the Marine and Air Force variants have been declared initially capable.


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Featured image courtesy of the US Navy.