Quote of the dayIt should really be a tic-tok strategy a small upgrade, followed up a much larger one. The ticks and the tocks can be separate programs.
While there are some 6th gen fighter programs being thrown around, there aren't any cheap 6th gen fighter programs AFAIK. The F-35 is likely to have a long life span, and should have a series of upgrades in a pipeline. There are what? 1000 F-35's currently flying around, that is already a huge fleet.
Money should be provided for both programs, the priority can be PW for low risk and the easiest upgrade for the existing fleet. If they want to keep selling F-35 going forward, they will need to incorporate newer technologies and capabilities.
Increasing the flight endurance of the F-35 would be a great way to lower cost per flight hour and get more hours out of the fleet.
Ultimately I think while you may be right, this PW thinking is flawed. China doesn't care about GE or PW. In the Pacific the F-35 is short ranged, all western fighters are. Carriers alone is not enough to fight China. In 10 years China will be approaching or matching US carrier capabilities in the Pacific. USS Ford sitting 200km off the Chinese coast isn't a threat, its a target.
The US is locked in competition with China. China isn't the soviet union, they have an economy, they have technologies and they a spending big money. They aren't on the other side of the iron curtain either, so the US MUST keep developing its technological edge.
Coasting is no longer a strategy for the US industrial complex. They are being outproduced for the first time, basically ever. The US has a technological edge, but its eroding and the quantitively edge is disappearing very fast.
The F-35 Market is a big one, it has sold well, everyone is on the band wagon. Failing to continue to develop this aircraft would be pretty much a collapse of allied airpower.
"USS Ford sitting 200km off the Chinese coast isn't a threat, its a target."
It's interesting when a military asset / capability becomes a liability.
Don't get me wrong carriers have a place.
But like all bits of kit, including the F35, it's the "when and where" that you employ it that is important to remember.
"USS Ford sitting 200km off the Chinese coast isn't a threat, its a target."............................................Brilliant!