by Michael Lowrey
There’s talk of defense spending cuts. Such cuts may well be necessary but there’s also a good chance that they will have an impact here in North Carolina. Marine Corps aviation is a particularly vulnerable. The V-22’s current production contract expires in January 2013. The situation with F-35 may be even dire, with a senior Pentagon official now questioning whether all three versions of the aircraft are necessary and affordable. The Navy and Marines have been told to study whether both the consequences of terminating either the Navy’s carrier-based F-35C or the Marines’ STOVL F-35B as well as reducing the number of F-35 squadrons. The F-35B is already of “probation” for a series of development problems and additional questions have been raised recently about its vulnerability to G-RAMM (guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles) and the aircraft’s hot exhaust while landing.