Air Force to start operational testing of F-35http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2011/07/defense-air-force-to-start-opeval-test-f35-071511/F-35 Lightning II Programhttp://www.jsf.mil/GAO: Joint Strike Fighter-Restructuring Places Program on Firmer Footing, but Progress Still Lags [pdf]http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11325.pdfUnited States Senate Armed Services Committeehttp://armed-services.senate.gov/National Museum of the USAFhttp://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/index.aspOver the past twenty years, there has been significant concern over the rising cost of certain military projects in the United States, and in times of fiscal austerity the Department of Defense has had to defend certain projects vigorously. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a public outcry over the cost of the B-2 Spirit (or "Stealth") bomber, as each one cost over $900 million. Today, there are similar worries surrounding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which as a whole, will be the most expensive military-industrial program in history. The original contract for these planes was signed with the contractor Lockheed Martin in 2001 and the basic idea was that all of the aging tactical aircraft in the United States would be replaced with over 2400 F-35s. The hope was that the construction of this tremendous number of planes would benefit from manufacturing economies of scale and the involvement of eight foreign partners who would also purchase some of the aircraft. Critics of the plane have argued that the design of the aircraft is entirely too complicated and that using the same aircraft to fulfill a wide range of roles is unnecessary. The most recent cost estimates from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from May 2011 indicate that the average price of each plane in what are known as "then-year" dollars had risen from $69 million in 2001 to $133 million today. Given the high cost of the F-35 Striker, some military analysts have remarked that it may be the last manned strike fighter aircraft built in the West. The first link will take interested parties to a good piece on the F-35 Strike Fighter from last week's Economist. The second link leads to a piece from the Air Force Times about the initial testing of the F-35 Strike Fighter. Moving on, the third link leads to the official homepage for the F-35 Strike Fighter program, complete with photos, videos, and news updates. The fourth link leads to an official report from the Government Accountability Office from April 2011 on the progress of the Strike Fighter program. The fifth link leads to the official homepage of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. Here visitors can view live webcasts of their hearings, along with looking over their publications and press releases. The final link leads to the homepage of the National Museum of the US Air Force on the Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. Looking over the site may inspire a trip to the Museum, and visitors can read about their exhibits, learn about their operating hours, and also check out some of their collections.


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