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VIDEO: Defense Analyst, Military Jet Expert Pierre Sprey on F-35’s – January 17

Pierre Sprey spoke in Madison on January 17 explaining many of the issues with the F-35, a program that he feels should be cancelled.

F-35s blow up if they get hit by lightning? They can’t fly if the sun is out and the jet fuel gets too hot?

They won’t be a defense for the Midwest, they can only fly short distances without being refueled and more. Pierre Sprey, Defense Analyst and co-concept designer for the F-16 and other fighter jets, spoke at the First Unitarian Meeting House about F-35s, and answered audience questions. The event was organized by Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin..

More about Pierre Sprey


Transcript of main talk below. Click the video and scroll past the transcript to see clips of audience Q&A.

I appreciate that handsome introduction. Let me start by quoting Mark Twain from about a century ago because he said something that’s very germane to what we’re all up against here.  He said in this country there are two things that are so disgusting that no American should be forced to witness them.  One is the making of sausage and the other is the making of legislation.  And among the most disgusting parts of the making of that legislation that I’ve personally witnessed up close and personal is the making of the defense budget. I raise that because everything that’s wrong with the f-35 for Madison is the result of that terrible disgusting process by which we put together our defense budgets.


So what’s wrong with the f-35? I’m gonna be very brief about fairly complicated subjects and I hope leave lots of time for you to ask questions about the part you’re interested in.  The ramifications of this can be endless.  What’s wrong with the f-35 for Madison is encapsulated. It’s an unconscionable amount of noise for a dense urban area. The f16 is already too noisy for Madison, as much as I’m committed to the f16 having worked on it.  Using the afterburner and the f-16 should never happen in a community as densely populated and as close to the airport.  The f-35, despite everything you’ve heard from its defenders, is substantially more noisy, substantially worse, more harmful to people’s health, to children’s development, people’s sleep and so on. It’s really loud as you heard from Chris and the numbers that are put out by the Air Force in the environmental impact statements on should be largely ignored.  They’re mostly concocted.


What else is wrong with the f-35 besides the obvious, the really obvious noise problem. The second thing is a safety problem that you may not know about. Let me start by saying that two-thirds of all airplane crashes or within five miles of the runway because takeoff and landings are more dangerous than any other part of the flight.  When an aluminum airplane crashes in a city, we’ve had that happen, it’s bad because the fuel burns the aluminum.  The plane doesn’t burn the fuel burns and you burn down a few houses.  We just had an incident a few years ago in Norfolk like that, fortunately nobody got hurt, but several houses got burned down.  When an f-35 crashes it’s not an aluminum airplane it’s what in the trade we called a plastic airplane.  Its composite materials which are fibers, carbon fibers, and it’s a very advanced form of epoxy.  The plane structure burns in addition to the fuel and when that plastic burns it’s incredibly toxic it is corrosive to lungs.  It lets out all kinds of carcinogens and so on when you add to that the stealth, remember this is not just a plastic airplane like some of the newest airliners, this is also a stealthy airplane.  Stealth is an order of magnitude worse. I cannot tell you the number of cases of people poisoned by stealth chemicals, even when they haven’t been burned, like production workers have had terrific problems from breathing the fumes of stealth coatings and when it burns, of course, the results are far worse.  If you think about it the crash of an f-35, I mean it’s fairly unlikely but the crash of an f-35 in a densely populated urban area like Madison would be a disaster way beyond a terrorist chemical attack. If you think of a couple of Isis terrorists coming here with a cylinder of chlorine and letting it loose somewhere, in a densely packed suburb of Madison that would be trivial compared to what a burning of 35 can do.  It can cover blocks and blocks and blocks, thousands of people can be exposed to very very damaging, lung corroding heavily carcinogenic fumes.  People don’t even know how to put out the fire.  That’s the other part, if such a disaster happened your local fire departments would have no idea what to do.  All this is too new to fire people, they don’t know what’s necessary.  First of all they don’t even know what’s necessary to put out an ordinary plastic airplane fire much less a stealth fire.  Much less
how to deal with the victims.  This would be a real real catastrophe.

Nuclear Capability.

Then in one sense,  maybe even even more dangerous than this possible crash scenario that I’ve just sketched for you, of even way larger consequence is the nuclear role of the f-35. The Air Force and the National Guard have told you that the f-35 can’t carry a nuclear weapon. The Secretary of the Air Force, I think, has told you that it has no nuclear mission.  Those statements are meaningless. The Air Force has a commitment to make every single fighter they’ve ever had since the early 50s, to make it nuclear capable and the reason they’re telling you that your f-35 won’t won’t carry nuclear weapons is because of the horrible mismanagement of the whole f-35 program. 14 years after it started they’re still busy designing this airplane and testing it and changing it.  No f-35’s neither the ones in Madison nor the ones the Air Force owns has any nuclear capability now, because they haven’t finished designing and testing it.  They’re right in the midst of it and it’ll be finished fairly soon. I guarantee you when they’re finished with that within 10 years the, Madison f-35 will have nuclear wiring because this is something again driven by money, driven by that horrible budget process that Mark Twain kind of pre-saged.  The Air Force will move heaven and earth to put nuclear weaponry on the f-35.

Why does nuclear matter?

Now why is that of consequence to Madison? This is a little a little complex I’ll go through it very quickly.  If anybody wants to know more I’ll answer questions.  There won’t be nuclear weapons stored here, that’s not the issue at all. The issue is that if you have an f-35 Squadron here it can be activated at any time by the President and since we now have this tradition that every time there’s little trouble in the world we deploy bombing airplanes to the trouble spot, at least in order to threaten people if not to actually bomb them. So your f-35 could easily be deployed in a crisis and I think that the crisis we’re talking about, we’re thinking about say on the Russian border there are countries that have big Russian populations like Lithuania and Ukraine.  You get some neo-nazi nut cases who decide they want to slaughter some native Russians in Lithuania or in Ukraine, the Russians would clearly move to threaten. Putin has already said he will do it and that would have every reason to do so they move up divisions close to the border. We have single-seat f-35 so that we’ve just deployed because some imagine possibly unstable president might deploy them, show his macho qualities and they’re sitting there on nuclear alert and a airstrip in eastern Poland within range of Russia.  And they’ve got fighter pilots sitting out all night with a nuclear weapon tucked up in the belly of the airplane on nuclear alert and it’s a frighteningly unstable situation.  What if that pilot is hung over? What if he has a sudden mental breakdown?  What if he’s, you know, himself a neo-nazi? This is the single most dangerous destabilizing aspect of nuclear weaponry. There is the single-seat fighter with the single pilot in control. There’s no other place in nuclear weaponry where you don’t have a crew to stop something from happening if somebody goes rogue. Think about that.