Donald Trump talks about ‘invisible’ fighter jets, but they aren’t
The F-35 is not invisible. It is unusually small and designed to be less visible to radar than conventional aircraft.world Updated: Nov 24, 2017 09:24 IST
Donald Trump returned to a favourite subject on Thursday, telling a US coast guard audience the air force was ordering a new plane that was “almost like an invisible fighter”.
The plane in question, the F-35 , is not invisible, though it is unusually small and designed to be less visible to radar than conventional aircraft. Its development , however, has proved all too visibly costly and riddled with problems .
Trump first startled reporters with talk of an invisible plane in October, when he discussed the F-35 at a military briefing in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico.
“Amazing job,” Trump said then. “So amazing we are ordering hundreds of millions of dollars of new airplanes for the air force, especially the F-35. You like the F-35? ... You can’t see it. You literally can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see.”
He also said: “That’s an expensive plane you can’t see. As you heard, we cut the price very substantially. Something that other administrations would never have done – that I can tell you.”
According to the pool report of the president’s Thanksgiving Day visit to Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet, in Florida, Trump told his audience he had discussed the “invisible” plane with “some air force guys”. He asked them, he said, if it would perform in a dogfight like similar planes he had seen in movies.
“They said: ‘Well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it, even if it’s right next to it, it can’t see it,’” Trump said.
The coast guard members laughed, some perhaps aware that the president speaking to them about the air force was a reversal of his remarks in Puerto Rico in October, when he spoke to an air force audience about the coast guard .
Contra to his earlier expressions of pride about being responsible for a cut in the cost of the F-35 – a claim that experts have said is at best contestable – Trump also told coast guard members of his pride in having increased military spending.
“We’re ordering tremendous amounts of new equipment – we’re at $700bn for the military. And, you know, they were cutting back for years. They just kept cutting, cutting, cutting the military. And you got lean, to put it nicely. It was depleted, was the word. And now it’s changing.”
Trump also said “nobody has the equipment that we have” and added a variation on a contention made earlier in the visit and on Twitter on Thanksgiving morning : that everything in American life, military or otherwise, has changed for the better since he became president.
Trump began his remarks by congratulating the coast guard for its response to recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. He said: “You know, the coast guard, always respected, but if you were looking at it as a brand, there’s no brand that went up more than the coast guard, with what happened in Texas.”
(Published in arrangement with The Guardian)
First Published: Nov 24, 2017 09:23 IST