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Pentagon Looking to Cut F-35 Buy

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According to Bloomberg News, the Pentagon’s upcoming budget request, expected to be released next month, will propose cutting the military’s overall F-35 purchase by eight aircraft—bringing the total number of F-35s requested in FY 2015 to thirty-four—down from the forty-two aircraft that the Pentagon had originally expected to purchase.

Even more interesting to us, though, is that according to Bloomberg, the Pentagon will only request two F-35Cs (the Navy’s carrier-launched variant) in FY 2015. Last week, we noted that the Navy had asked for a three-year pause in acquisition of the F-35C, but an early press report indicated that the Pentagon had blocked this proposal.

Part of the Navy’s motivation in seeking a pause in procurement might be that the service may not want or need such an expensive stealthy fighter. According to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, “We appear to be reaching the limits of how much a platform’s inherent stealth can affordably get it close enough to survey or attack adversaries.”

Another possible explanation for why the Navy requested a pause in procurement might be due to the acquisition practice known as “concurrency development,” in which the military purchases highly sophisticated weapon systems before they have been fully developed, evaluated, or tested.

For the F-35, this means that Pentagon weapons testers are constantly identifying problems with the aircraft which require costly retrofits and redesigns. The Pentagon’s top acquisition official, Frank Kendall, hasn’t minced words when discussing the F-35’s acquisition history: “Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice….It should not have been done....Now we’re paying the price for being wrong.”

Well, apparently, the Navy isn’t interested in paying the price for being wrong and would instead prefer to spend constrained resources on aircraft that cost a fraction of the price and are fully operational today.

Please join the Project On Government Oversight in urging Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to support the Navy’s reasonable request to put a hold on the purchase of more F-35Cs.

Image from the U.S. Navy.

By: Ethan Rosenkranz
National Security Policy Analyst, POGO

Ethan Rosenkranz Ethan Rosenkranz is the National Security Policy Analyst for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Joint Strike Fighter, F-35, Federal Acquisition, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Ethan Rosenkranz

Submitted by Mickey Mouse at: June 4, 2014
We need the FY 35 advanced fighters, however, not at the proposed hundreds of aircrafts, it is an extravacant, political , unpractical acquistion.
Submitted by Dfens at: February 25, 2014
Sure, let's kill the F-35 program now after the defense contractors have already taken their cut of the $200 billion we've spent on development of that airplane right off the top. Obviously the next program is going to be better. The defense contractors have already told us that the next one will be better, and POGO believes them. Don't you?
Submitted by bobwwest at: February 24, 2014
The top 10 politicos that vote in favor of continuing this waste of our nation's fortunes should be required to take a ride-along on one of the first 100 foul weather carrier landings attempted by this joke of flying weapons system. The program will assuredly end before the 10th actual landing is successfully accomplished!
Submitted by Save our Skies from F-35's at: February 23, 2014
We here in Vermont also asked for a pause , but Senator Leahey put pressure on the deciding committees to make their decision. Their was a conflict of interest for Leahy which could involve his in laws the Pomerleau's and a commercial opportunity that involves the land around the airport. Leahy should have recused himself , instead he forced the decision. Save our skies from the F-35's! These fighter jets being shoved down our local throats in Vermont. This disgrace of corporatism has gotten to big to fail , so we keep throwing good money after bad. They are having this failure of a fighter jet reside on top of our most livable of cities Burlington , Vt. and many surrounding towns. We have to live in fear of a crash from this jet and put up with the deafening decibels in our residential communities. They closed Plattsburgh NY Air force base in the nineties. to save money. What a joke , close an airforce base to save money, only to spend like drunken sailors. Then Congress funnels money to Lockheed Martin ie. "corporate welfare" to keep the MIC well greased and create jobs. Any other private business venture would have folded after six months. No accountability ,no accountability. Fighter jets belong on military bases not on top of residential communities. This is the real malpractice tragedy. Our Vt Guard used to have "weekend warriors" /National Guard . It now has become our full time military fighting our wars. Our local airport has now become a military base to house these nuclear bombers. Fighter jets on top of our rural residential communities will not only harm our tourism industry and the Vermont Pure and the mystic of being a escape destination. Fighter Jets constantly killing our quality of life and putting us at risk from a crash. " Save us from this dreadful occupation ! I am bitter and disillusioned.
Submitted by Lamont Cranston at: February 23, 2014
they're hedging their bets for canceling the F-35 and are already considering replacement craft being called the 'Next Generation Air Dominance'
Submitted by Old nun at: February 22, 2014
Money that is being spent unnecessarily. Yet we cut Food Stamps!!! What is wrong here?
Submitted by as at: February 22, 2014
I fully support the Navy's decision to postpone purchase of the F-35c. Besides the fact that this hugely expensive aircraft isn't tested fully it it high time we looked for more humane ways of protecting our interests
Submitted by Joyfulone at: February 22, 2014
Thank you for this wonderful article. The United States spends more on defense spending than the next 27 industrialized countries combined and 26 of the 27 countries are our allies. This money could be used to strengthen our infrastructure putting people to work and help the people that are still unemployed. Again, thanks for an article that states facts! Joy, Mission Viejo, CA
Submitted by Pancho at: February 22, 2014
The problem with this is that the contracts for supplying the parts for this boondoggle were carefully spread out in hundreds of congressional districts around the country, so there's a mock "constituency" for building this crap, at the ready.

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