There will be no new planes for the U.S. Marine Corps as delays force old F/A-18 Hornets back into service.
The USMC was due to upgrade its fleet with new F-35s, but software issues have delayed production of the stealth fighters until the end of next year, according to Defense News
Rather than follow the Navy's example and buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, the Marines opted to refurbish 30 retired planes from Davin-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, otherwise known as the Boneyard.
Boeing is getting the planes ready and expects to bring the older F-18 fighters to a "C+" standard, according to a 2014 contract with the Corps, Fox News reported
. The Marines lacked sufficient numbers of combat-ready aircraft in April, blaming budget cuts for an inability to repair older planes or purchase new ones.
According to Corps data, of the 276 F-18 Hornets currently available, only 30 percent are airworthy. U.S. military spending has fallen by over $130 billion since 2010, and the nation's armed forces face difficulty in keeping skilled mechanics and engineers from finding careers elsewhere.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican and former Naval aviator, called the F-35 program "a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance," CNN reported in April
. The 2008 GOP presidential nominee referred to the skyrocketing cost as "disgraceful" at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on learning the price tag had reached $400 billion, nearly twice what was planned.
While over 1,000 jets were expected to be operational by this year, less than 200 have been delivered. After personnel at the top of the F-35 program testified at the hearing, McCain said, "the takeaway from this is that we are making progress, that we have challenges that lie ahead, but there has been some significant improvements as opposed to some years ago."
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