Yes, a real shocker. The Marine Corps brass is bullish, still and always on the F-35B, according to Reuters. No more probation soon, now that nasty old Robert Gates is no longer secretary of defense.
General Joseph Dunford, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told an investment conference that he was "pretty bullish" on the F-35B, the short takeoff, vertical landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
He cited progress in fixing technical problems and said the fighter jet met 98 percent of its test points this year.
Gates put the F-35B on a two-year probation last January and threatened to cancel further work on it unless technical issues were resolved. But Dunford said he was optimistic about the plane's future after a year of solid progress.
"It's no longer ... in the cross hairs," Dunford told the conference hosted by Credit Suisse and Aviation Week, noting that an engineering solution had been identified for every challenge that had arisen.
With the F-35 program among the big ticket items most likely to be scaled back due to looming budget cuts word in Washington is the Marines are trying hard to persuade the other services, Congress and others that their version of the F-35 is the best and should be adopted by the other branches. (Air Force and Navy brass reportedly doing the same for their aircraft).