One of the biggest arguments for the $240 billion Joint Strike Fighter program is that the jets will be stealthy -- able to evade the next-generation air defense systems that countries like China might eventually install. But, it turns out, the JSF may not wind up being quite so stealthy, after all.The "U.S. Defense Department ha[s] downgraded the stealth capability of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters," the AFP reports, "meaning the planes would be less able to evade radar detection and enemy attack than earlier believed."
Australia's defense minister "expressed concern March 14 at news that the new generation U.S. warplane that was to be a cornerstone of Australias future air force will not have the stealth capabilities..."Peter Goon, a former air force flight test engineer, told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper the change in the JSFs stealth rating would mean the difference between the warplane appearing as a marble and a beach ball on enemy radar...Dennis Jensen, a government Member of Parliament and former defense analyst, recently said he did not think the Joint Strike Fighter would be a match for the Russian-built Sukhoi family of strike jets that are or will be operated by air forces in Asia, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.Meanwhile, the Limeys are still skittish about plans to cancel the JSF's alternate engine, made by Rolls-Royce. "Britains top weapons purchasing official said his country would be unable to buy the F-35... unless agreement was reached on technology transfers with the United States," Reuters reports.(Big ups: BB)