Warmongers in Washington, D.C. are demanding billions of additional dollars be routed to the U.S. military in current and future budgets … even as their next generation fighter jet continues to be the poster project for Pentagon waste and incompetence.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter – a plane which is years late, billions of dollars over-budget and of dubious combat effectiveness – is dealing with perhaps its most serious problem yet.
Two new reports – one from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and another from the Department of Defense’s Inspector General – highlight “systemic nonconformities” with the plane’s Pratt and Whitney engines.
“We believe that DOD has a long way to go to achieve its engine reliability goals as engine reliability at this time is extremely poor,” the GOA report concluded.
The U.S. House has launched an investigation into the plane’s engine issues – which surfaced as the Pentagon officials requested billions of dollars in new funding for the chronically mismanaged program.
In 2001, the Pentagon announced plans to build 2,866 F-35 fighter jets at a total cost of $233 billion. As of 2012, it was promising fewer than 2,500 jets at a total cost of $400 billion. In other words, the cost per aircraft had more than doubled from $81 million to $161 billion – with the program running more than seven years behind schedule.
The latest cost estimates? According to the military, the F-35 program will cost taxpayers between $850 billion and $1.1 trillion. Although independent experts say the true cost is much higher – upwards of $1.5 trillion.
“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive, and possible the most error ridden, project in the history of the United States military,” David Francis of The Fiscal Times wrote last year. “But DOD has sunk so much money into the F-35 – which is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over the 55-year life of the program – that the Pentagon deemed it ‘too big to fail’ in 2010.”
Wow … this thing is just a metaphor for government, isn’t it? Bad performance results in more money, which results in even worse performance, which results in even more money …
It’s the new “American way.”
The F-35 has been a debacle from the beginning. In addition to its recently revealed engine issues, the plane’s software is screwed up, its flight control and helmet display functions don’t work, its fuel tank needs to be redesigned, it is vulnerable to lightning strikes and it won’t be able to carry its most advanced weapons until 2022 at the earliest.
No wonder military analysts have found the F-35 to be woefully deficient going head-to-head against the newest Chinese fighters.
“The F-35 is double inferior,” the analysts concluded after their tests, saying the plane “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has been a consistent supporter of the program – despite its serious cost overruns.
“We want the planes,” Graham said in 2010.
Last fall, Graham praised the F-35 program again – singling it out as one of the reasons he opposed so-called defense spending “cuts.”
“When we deploy our military, I want it to be overwhelming, I want it to be decisive, and end it as soon as possible,” Graham said. “I don’t want to have anybody on the other side having the same capability as we do. And to keep distance from the enemy means you have to innovate.”
Really? Because this strikes us as one exceedingly curious definition of “innovation.” Just as the $4-6 trillion “War on Terror” struck us as an exceedingly curious definition of keeping Americans “safe” from the threat of global terrorism.
Maybe Graham is so keen on the F-35 because he believes it will be an essential weapon in the war against Iran that he’s so desperate to launch.
“If the Iranian nuclear program cannot be peacefully resolved, which I hope it can be, and there is a need one day to engage the Iranian nuclear program to stop the ayatollahs from having a nuclear capability then that means you have to go deep into Iran which has some sophisticated air defenses,” Graham said.
For those of you keeping score at home there’s no way this ends well … for your wallet, your liberty or your future safety.