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Lockheed's Response to NYT Editorial was Misleading


The following letter was submitted to the New York Times in response to their July 28 editorial, "Rough Ride for the F-35," and Lockheed Martin's response to that editorial.

To the Editor:

The Lockheed-Martin response to your July 28 editorial, “Rough Ride for the F-35,” was misleading. It asserted “65 percent of flight testing has been completed” without explaining that is only for “developmental” (i.e. engineering) testing. The tougher “operational” (i.e. combat-user) testing will not even start until 2016.Testing to date has already uncovered a long stream of problems.

Your July 28 editorial advocated either buying fewer F-35s and retaining more F-15s, F-16s and F-18s (while modernizing the extraordinarily effective A-10), or halting F-35 production while finishing operational testing to understand just what the F-35 can or cannot do effectively.

The nation should do both: we have already paid for 179 F-35s, more than needed for this stage of tests. With a fraction of the savings from upcoming F-35 purchases, we can continue to modernize the A-10, keep a larger number of existing aircraft and start a combat effectiveness-based, truly competitive prototype program to buy more effective fighters at lower cost. Let the F-35 then compete against what we have available to us in 2019.


Pierre M. Sprey
F-16 and A-10 Co-Designer

Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight

Winslow T. Wheeler
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information & Project On Government Oversight

Image from the U.S. Air Force.

By: Winslow Wheeler
Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight Mr. Wheeler's areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems

By: Pierre Sprey

Photograph of Pierre Sprey Pierre Sprey consulted for Grumman Aircraft's research department from 1958 to 1965, then joined Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's "Whiz Kids" in the Pentagon.

By: Danielle Brian
Executive Director, POGO

danielle brian Ms. Brian's areas of expertise include: National Security, Government Oversight, Wasteful Defense Spending, Ethics, Open Government, Whistleblower Issues

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Joint Strike Fighter, F-35, DOD Oversight, Media Criticism, Defense, A-10

Authors: Danielle Brian, Pierre Sprey, Winslow Wheeler

Submitted by Dfens at: August 18, 2014
We have to "get the money out of politics?" How's that going for you? I'll tell you how. "The analysts [Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern] found that when controlling for the power of economic elites and organized interest groups, the influence of ordinary Americans registers at a "non-significant, near-zero level." The analysts further discovered that rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process. The mass-based interest groups had minimal influence compared to the business-based interest groups. -- These same rich people clearly dictate POGO's policies and through them and others shape your attitudes toward what should be done. You want the F-35 program cancelled even though it does not benefit you one bit to have it cancelled. In fact, if it's cancelled now, you won't get a damn thing from it, and Lockheed will laugh at you all the way to the bank, and you just don't get that. It will simply vanish like so many before it. In fact, you'll be thankful when the program is shut down because you've been so completely duped by this scam. Ok, America, if you're that damn stupid, then shut it down and see what happens. You deserve to have your money taken from you, because clearly the rich are that much better and smarter than you are and democracy clearly has failed.
Submitted by Dfens at: August 18, 2014
The problem is that we award contracts to the company that does the best job lying. We pay that company more to screw up and drag out development for as long as possible, and we pay them more to jack the price of the vehicles they develop through the roof. Then we sit back and wonder why it happened, because, of course, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with these companies following the capitalist incentive for doing exactly what makes them the most money. Everyone knows that capitalism doesn't work. So we pay these "for profit" contractors $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend, and then we curse them for being "greedy" when they go ahead and spend themselves rich. But let's not ever change the way we buy weapons, because the procurement system works, just ask POGO. The next program will be better. We'll do it right next time. And they tell you that lie over and over again, because apparently Americans are stupid enough to believe it.
Submitted by woodguy11 at: August 17, 2014
we have already spent 400 billion on these plus ad the cost overruns. 236 of these are on order and the country is falling apart.we need to take some of this money and invest it in america. when was the last time we did this. stop the MIC
Submitted by jerryr at: August 16, 2014
Seems to me that POGO is really on the side of the taxpayers. They're trying to keep us from spending $200 billion on the F-35, right? All they can do is alert us, newspapers, and through them, Congress. But Congress is so corrupted by corporate money... See, we have to get the money out of politics, get Congress back to the will of We, the People, before we can solve our other big problems, like these fighter programs.
Submitted by JR at: August 16, 2014
When, in their infinite stupidity, President Obama and then Secretary Gates cancelled the F22A program, they cancelled the best fighter in the world. Why? Because by U.S. law the F22A can only be built for domestic use. Lockheed Martin plans on selling the F35 turkey to a dozen foreign countries. Do the math. 2,400 planes x 140 million dollars per plane. It's our military/industrial/government complex at its worst. Actually POGO, as many of us know, was a comic creation of Walt Kelly. POGO said it best..."We have met the enemy and he is us." With a new avionics package, the F22A would reign supreme. The 3 variants of the F35, including the CTOL (Navy carrier version) and VTOL (Marine vertical takeoff version) are inferior. The F35 does not have the range. Our carrier force will be in enemy missile range before they can be launched - brilliant. It's like a motor-sailer. That's a boat that does both things badly. It's not as fast as a motorboat, or as capable as a sailboat. It's the worst of both worlds. Cancel the F35 and revitalize the F22A. Let Lockheed Martin improve the F15 Strike Eagle for export if the poor dears need to make some extra cash.
Submitted by Randal at: August 15, 2014
I know we can't back out of the F-35 program. However, we could minimize our order and fit it to niche roles (i.e. VTOL variant especially. I noticed they made no mention of the F-22. That's interesting. F-35 was a poor concept from the start - "one size fits all" forces complexity and compromise.
Submitted by pat b at: August 15, 2014
The problem is the process, the F-16, and A-10 were developed by limiting the size and requirements of the aircraft. Wether it was sporty hot rods like the A-4 or a big bird like the B-52, the trick is making sure the requirements can actually fit inside the aircraft. until you have lead architects like Ed Heineman or Pierre Sprey and John Boyd, you will continue to have bad systems.
Submitted by Dfens at: August 15, 2014
Who are we competing against? Maybe you've heard of China? And there is this other country called Russia. But let's not worry. Let's keep pretending it's 1975 for another 30 years.
Submitted by Don Bacon at: August 15, 2014
Martin:--"Additionally, 65 percent of flight testing has been completed, and the program is on track to finish development by 2017." Beyond the testing mistake, the larger mistake is that development is scheduled to end in 2019 not 2017. The F-35 program is currently in Milestone B development phase. The Milestone C production decision, which would end development, is scheduled for 2019 according to the SAR. (Probably they won't make it, as we can guess.) Personal note: I wish you folks would key in on F-35 milestones as I have done here particularly because the peculiar concurrency aspect of the F-35 program leads casual observers to believe that the development prototypes being manufactured are authentic F-35 production planes and they are not. The excess prototypes, first called the "training fleet," have recently been labeled as "operational fleet." Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Submitted by JEGlackin at: August 14, 2014
Pull the plug! the F-22 spent 30 years in development and SEVEN years in service... And it still looks good next to the F-35. It is time to end MIC welfare. WHO are we competing against?
Submitted by Dfens at: August 14, 2014
Week after week POGO calls for the F-35 to be terminated because they are sure the next program will be better. That's the same thing they told us when they called for the F-22 to be cancelled, and yet is the F-35 program better? Exactly how many different fighter jet programs are we, the US taxpayers, supposed to fund before one of these programs does get "better"? 1 more? 100? 1000? We spent $200 billion on the F-22 only to get 179 jets. We've spent about the same now on the F-35, but this time we would get 0 jets for our money. And what POGO doesn't tell you is that Lockheed made $20 billion on F-22 and has made another $20 billion on F-35 and, frankly, they don't care if F-35 is cancelled because they'll make another $20 billion off the next great fighter program and $20 billion more off the next one after that. So I ask you, who is POGO really doing a favor for by calling for the cancellation of this program? Are they helping us as taxpayers, or are they helping the defense contractors? Right now, we as taxpayers are out $200 billion for the F-35 and don't have a single operational airplane to show for the money, while Lockheed has already cleared a large fortune skimming their cut right off the top. So you tell me, whose side is POGO really on?

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