Lockheed-Martin/F-35 Lightning IIAir Superiority Fighter
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of new, cutting edge single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; the F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant.
The F-35 incorporates a wide range of new technologies for stealth, multi-mission capabilities, and sustainability. The F-35 was designed with the entire battle space in mind. This aircraft will serve the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and its data-sharing capabilities will also be of great use to troops on the ground. The F-35 is considered the most flexible, technologically sophisticated multirole fighter ever, a multirole fighter that replaced critical features of seven legacy aircraft.
But the F-35 has been in production for over fifteen years and the current total US investment in the F-35 lightning program since 2006 is $282 Billion. The total lifecycle cost for the entire American fleet is estimated to be US$1.51 trillion over its 50-year life, or $618 million per plane.
This has critics concerned.
The estimated program cost of the F-35 program is $1,510,000,000,000. To put that in prospective, the International space station cost $150 billion, meaning the US could have built TEN International Space Stations for the cost of the F-35 program. The Space Review estimated in 2010 the cost of Apollo from 1959 to 1973 as $20.4 billion, or $109 billion in 2010 dollars ie the cost of the Moon landings and numerous Apollo missions were less than 1/15 the cost of the F-35 program. The program has now cost more than Australia - the entire continent of Australia. The entirety of World War I only cost about 6 trillion, adjusted for inflation.
Critics contend that 15 years ago, $10 million per plane was considered an impressive sum. They point out that our military programs has somehow grown to 60 times that when the price of groceries has merely tripled and salaries have hardly budged in that time. The point out that people in the third world beat AK-47s out of scrap metal in garbage dumps and kill efficiently with them.
Some worry about the privatization of America's military. Some people point out that just before the Soviet Union collapsed, it experimented with 'privatization' which took things the nation rightfully owned and handed them off to 'private' owners with no expectation of any public benefit in return. Those critics say the f-35 program is the same, only with larger sums of money involved.
Critics of the F-35 program say it is overpriced, overengineered, overambitious and underperforming. They say the F-35 is inferior to the F-15SE and arguably inferior to the F-18 Super Hornet, both of which are orders of magnitude cheaper. They point out that one could purchase five F-18SEs for the price of one F-35 which carry a larger payload, use a trusted airframe with widely avaliable spare parts. They point out the planes currently available actually fly and are already combat capable. The F-35 has been in development for over 15 years.
Critics also say the US was dunder-headed to think that one airframe could fill all the roles that were placed on the F-35 program. They say that is the reason the F-35 why the plane has taken so long to develop - too much money for too many compromises.
They point out the F-22 was indeed expensive, but it was focused on one goal: air superiority, a goal that it does indeed succeed at.
Critics darkly whisper the F-35 was doomed to fail as soon as the military believed they could pull off a replacement for a dozen specialized airframes with one universal airframe. They say even the Russian military recognized you can only do so much with a Flanker, and kept more specialized airplanes like the SU-25 and MIG-31 for their designated roles.
Time will tell as to whether the F-35 is a cutting edge wonder-weapon, or an expensive boondoggle that wastes tax-payer money.
The F-22 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine. It is 13 squares long and 9 squares wide (at its wingtips).
Cargo Capacity: 50 lbs
Top Speed: 2249 (235) (estimated)
Hit Points: 58
Purchase DC: ?? (59?)
Restriction: Mil (+3)
Special Qualities: Hard to aquire by radar (DC 45 Computer Use)Plot Hooks
The development of this new stealth aircraft promises to be a game-changer for the region. The PCs are American or British adventurers, military specialists, or independant security contractors and must learn more about this new aircraft
The PCs are responsible for securing the new F-35 Lightning II as it makes its way to airshows around the country. The public is prohibited of taking pictures of the new stealth fighter, but foreign spies are intent on snapping photos, even sneaking past barriers to snap a few shots.
As above, but the spies have pilot skills and are actually trying to steal the thing. (Spycraft?)
The PCs are test pilots, hired by Lockheed-Martin to test their new F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.
A new type of stealth aircraft is making its presence known in a no-fly zone. Could someone have stolen a F-35 Lightning II? Or is someone else developing a similar aircraft. The PCs must find out,
The PCs are military pilots and while test flying the new F-35 Lightning II are engaged in combat by an as-yet unknown new type of stealthy aircraft. What is it, and who is developing it?
The PCs are foreign spies (Spycraft?) posing as journalists and must snap photos of the new F-35 Lightning II aircraft. They might even be called upon to steal one, or steal blueprints relating to its construction.
The PCs are engineers or techies and are called upon to build or provide information crucial to the building of a new stealth fight airplane. It's only later that they learn the information is being handed off to a country that is hostile to the US.
The PCs are adventurers, and have become stranded in an airport where the new F-35 Lightning II is being tested.
The PC are aircraft technicians and are must fix a damaged F-35 Lightning II. State TV and the press at large is launching a press conference rgarding this new stealth fighter and time is of the essence -- President Obama does not like to be kept waiting. It's a race against time to make the F-35 Lightning II air-worthy again.
The PCs are diplomats, and the developemmt of the new F-35 stealth aircraft will cause tensions arouind the world, especially in countries hostile to the US. The PCs must smooth things over with the leader of foreign countries.
The F-35 stealth fighter is the newest plane in the skies, and a foreign dictator wants one. What foreign dictator *wouldn't* want a new stealth fighter airplane? It would easily rule the skies and position him as a major power in the area. The dictator will stop at nothing to make one his. The PCs are either morally grey and must procure one, or, more likely, are trying to stop him from getting his hands on one.
Someone sabotages a F-35, so that it malfunctions in mid-flight during a live state TV broadcast, possibly to embarrass the US as they unveil their new stealth fighter jet. The PCs must find out who is responsible.
The PCs live in the future (d20 Future) and the shiny new F-35 Lightning II is little more than a technological relic and an archaic curiosity, rather like how a Model T appears to us in the present day. It's only value is as a historical collectible, and someone has used a matter transporter to steal one right out of an aviation museum, or out of a wealthy private collector's hangar. The PCs must find out who is responsible for the theft, and it's a race against time to crack the case.