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NY Times: Time to Reassess Costly F-35 Program

After years of missed deadlines and cost overruns, it’s difficult to take the Pentagon’s word when it comes to the F-35 fighter jet. Just a few weeks ago, the program once again fell short of expectations. The F-35 was supposed to make its star debut at an overseas international air show where government officials and defense contractors appraise new aviation technology. Instead, the jet was grounded due to an engine failure, unable to make the trans-Atlantic flight.

The New York Times used the incident as a jumping-off point for a criticism of the program in its Sunday opinion pages.

From the editorial:

Although a safety board is still analyzing the problem, the Pentagon and the contractors are confident it was a temporary glitch. But trouble has dogged the F-35 since development began 14 years ago. The program was supposed to prove that the Pentagon could build a technologically advanced weapon affordably, without huge delays. But the $400 billion price tag is 42 percent higher than the 2007 estimate. The cost per plane has doubled, and it will not go into full production until 2019, six years late.

…Common sense evaporates when it comes to big-ticket weapons, and members of Congress are being heavily lobbied by deep-pocketed defense contractors. In approving the 2015 defense bill recently, the House Appropriations Committee voted to buy 38 new F-35s, while the Senate committee agreed on 34, which is how many the Pentagon had requested.

Even budget hawks aren’t pushing to restrain or seriously reconsider the program. But a serious reappraisal is long overdue.

Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project On Government Oversight Winslow Wheeler is well-known for referring to the F-35 as “the jet that ate the Pentagon.”  Read his most recent analysis of the plane here.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Budget, Joint Strike Fighter, DOD Oversight, Defense, Waste, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Avery Kleinman

Submitted by Dfens at: July 30, 2014
It's funny how they always think we need to reconsider the program, but never think we need to reconsider the procurement system that continually leads to one failed program after another. The F-22 program cost $100 billion and provided us with an airplane that cost $175 million each. The F-35 program is on track to cost 3 or 4 times more and provide us with an airplane that will cost $188 million each, but, hey, let's cancel the F-35 because clearly the next great airplane program the military comes up with will cost less.

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