Global implications, heavy investment, multiple U.S. and international partners, rumors of risk countered with blithe assurances that the modeling can't be wrong: does that describe Wall Street in the summer of 2008, or the Joint Strike Fighter program today?
The F-35 Lightning II, nee Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), exerts so much influence over the future of naval aviation that it-like some banks-is in danger of becoming too big to fail. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) has already deemed it so in a June 2009 press release.
Of course naval aviators are not in it alone. The U.S. Air Force is, in poker parlance, "all in" on the F-35 as well. With the termination of F-22 production, looming retirements of F-15s and F-16s, and no new bomber program, the Air Force has all its chips riding on the JSF. Simply put, as 2010 begins the stakes for the F-35 have never been higher.