The headline in the Communist Party's English-language newspaper says: "F-35 fighter has become clumsy white elephant". The piece, labeled a commentary, is question-and-answer job with Chen Hu, editor in chief of the World Military Affairs magazine. Chen concludes the F-35 "has become an oversized monstrosity capable of doing nothing". Other excerpts:
GT: Why have the F-35s become so expensive?
Chen: ...The US military has often suffered financial losses because of the pursuit of versatility. Because manufacturers in the US are not owned by the state, they are used to producing complicated technology for more profits.The best way for them to profit is through entirely new models of aircraft, not gradual reform, which drives them into aiming for large-scale integration and producing multi-functional hardware. Another plane, the F-111, initially designed as an "all-round fighter", finally turned out to be useless.
GT: What does the US need to do now?
Chen: ... Some large-scale military hardware projects, like the F-35, seem to be nothing more than fishing trips designed to test the waters for new equipment and make as much money as possible.The original plan held up the F-35 as being less expensive, but that's fallen through. Since the research company wanted to pursue the maximum profit, it is impossible for them to set the price of new generation aircraft at the same level as old ones. The original price for the F-35 is $50 million. After the F-22 was withdrawn, the price of the F-35 was inevitably pushed higher and higher.
GT: What China can learn from this experience?
Chen: The experience of the F-35 is meaningful to China. Lots of countries are engaged in building fourth-generation fighters. Should we copy the US pattern, or work toward our own needs? Russia has designed their own fourth-generation fighter, the T-50, which is not exactly the same as the F-35 or F-22. The US requires that their own fighters can be used globally and are equipped with offensive functions. China, as a developing country, doesn't have the same demands.