Ankle Bracelet for F-35 STOVL

The Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 strike fighter escaped the chopping block Thursday, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates placed it on “the equivalent of a two-year probation,” giving its developers that amount of time to get it performing well, or else. “If we cannot fix this variant during this timeframe and get it back on track in terms of performance, cost, and schedule, then I believe it should be cancelled,” he said during a Pentagon press briefing on the Defense Department’s efficiency initiative and Fiscal 2012 budget matters. Gates said the marines’ F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing model “is experiencing significant testing problems,” unlike the Air Force’s F-35A and Navy’s F-35C, which “are proceeding satisfactorily.” The F-35B’s issues “may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion, changes that could add yet more weight and more cost to an aircraft that has little capacity to absorb more of either,” he said. As a result, he said he’s pushing the F-35B to the “back of the overall [F-35] production sequence.” (Gates-Mullen transcript) (See also DOD’s new F-35 fact sheet with detailed description of changes)