The military will work through its directed review of the F-35’s capabilities, related to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, though the top Marine Corps officer in charge of aviation expects it will confirm the military’s established plans. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Jan. 26 directed the Pentagon to review the costs of the F-35 program and compare the F-35C and F/A-18E/F operational capabilities to see if the advanced Super Hornet can compete with the F-35C as a “cost effective fighter aircraft alternative.” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the deputy commandant of aviation, said he will work on the review, and expects both Boeing and Lockheed Martin to make their case for their respective aircraft. However, Davis said, his “sense” is that the review will validate the importance of having a fifth generation aircraft. On Monday, Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said USAF will have limited involvement since the review is focused specifically on the Navy’s C model, but fifth generation aircraft do have “much different capabilities” that separates them from legacy aircraft.
While the Air Force is keeping a seemingly optimistic outlook about the future of its MH-139 Grey Wolf fleet, despite problems receiving FAA certification, another of the service’s helicopter programs is being prematurely curtailed—and officials are already considering what might come next.