I've never doubted that the Lockheed Martin F35B can be made to work if the will is there, but if the USA's internal politics take precedence over her international agreements, then I am sure technical grounds will be "discovered" for dropping the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant.

Despite the US Air Force belatedly considering the F35B for the close air support role, political threats remain: Lockheed Martin F-16 groupies who see no need for any JSF variant, except the F35A (which ought to be as much like an F-16 as possible), and those in the US Navy who are using the F35C not just to equip a new generation of super carriers, but to justify them.

The USN might be better off with 20 or so 48,000t STOVL carriers rather than the maximum of 10 (or fewer?) 90,000 CV juggernauts that can be afforded.

Matthew Spencer Bedford, UK

Source: Flight International