Marine Keeps Mum On Plan B

The Marine Corps’ top requirements officer declined to say Tuesday whether the service has developed an alternative plan to fill any fighter shortfall that would seemingly arise if the Pentagon leadership were to axe the F-35 short takeoff and vertical landing variant. The Marines are depending upon this aircraft to replace their aging Harrier and F/A-18 fleets. However, following Britain’s announcement last month to back out of buying the F-35 STOVL, there has been speculation that its costs would spike for the remaining users, leading the Pentagon to dump it as well in favor of proceeding with just the Air Force F-35A and Navy F-35C models. But Lt. Gen. George Flynn, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said he has not seen anything indicating prohibitive cost increases. “Based on the initial briefs I’ve seen, there does not seem to be a significant increase in costs for the aircraft, but that’s for the budgets and the programmatic folks to deal with,” he told defense reporters during a meeting in Washington, D.C. (See Shorting the F-35)