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Even Sen. John McCain Thinks the F-35 is a “Disgrace”

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

A turkey is a turkey no matter your political persuasion.  In a nomination hearing for Deborah Lee James for Air Force secretary, conservative Republican Senator John McCain had choice words for new weapons procurement at the Pentagon.  He called the F-35 program “one of the great national scandals that we have ever had in terms of the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” despite being assured time and again that the program had finally turned the corner.  He called the “consistent series of cost overruns…worse than a disgrace”.

Sen. McCain didn’t save his ire only for the overpriced and underperforming F-35, but the newest class of Navy carriers as well.  The USS Ford is “$2 billion over the estimated cost” a problem that has “no end in sight”.

We wholeheartedly agree with Sen. McCain’s assessment of weapons procurement at the Pentagon that too often runs wildly over their original cost estimate, at the same time the Pentagon cries wolf about budget cuts that will leave the defense budget well above the Cold War average.  While tens of thousands of kids loose Head Start slots and seniors are denied Meals on Wheels, the “American people at least deserve an audit of what the United States military is doing.”

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There’s No Saving This Turkey

ACrippled by a fundamental design flaw that’s driven so many cost overruns and leaves American pilots vulnerable to abler foreign rivals, it’s time to admit the obvious: the F-35 needs to go.  Originally cast as a cheap all purpose fighter with a single frame usable by all three Service branches, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has morphed into an ungainly boondoogle; it’s per unit cost has almost doubled, while the total lifetime program cost has soared to $1.5 trillion.  The heart of the F-35’s troubles lay with the Marine Corps’ insistence on a jump-jet variation of the JSF, whose uniquely wide architecture has comprised the capabilities of the Air Force and Army variations to the point where the F-35 is seriously outclassed by older Russian and Chinese jets, not to mention future fighter jets with air superiority missions in mind.

As recently admitted by the Marine Corps, the jump jet variation isn’t really necessary, and with so much treasure and American pilot’s lives on the line, it’s time to consider what the Service’s future will look like without the F-35.  The Pentagon could continue to invest in upgraded F-16’s and F-18’s whose capabilities are more than sufficient for the foreseeable future, while a new acquisition process can begin for an air-to-air and an air-to-ground fighter like the F-16 and A-10, rather than the jack of all trades but master of none, F-35.  After billions already spent on the JSF, it may seem like it’s too late to cancel, but with billions more yet to be wasted that could be spent investing in kids, education, and veterans, it’s time to consider alternatives.

To read the article, click here.

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About Those New F-35 Cost Estimates…

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F-35B STOVL variant

Recent cost revisions have been released to the media trumpeting a $300 billion cost reduction over the life of the F-35 program from $1.5 trillion to a mere $1.2 trillion.  These new estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. The Pentagon has based these new estimates on revised assumptions about operations and maintenance, but given the 50 year time horizon for the program, there’s no basis to declare these new cost assumptions are any better or worse than those that informed the $1.5 trillion estimate.

The Pentagon is claiming that lifetime costs for fuel, spare parts, and repairs has decreased, but that’s impossible to project over this time horizon; and the Marines have made a major revision to how their jump jet version of the F-35 will operate.  The Marine Corps insisted on a STOVL version of the F-35, whose near $200 million price tag was justified on the grounds that the Marine Corps needed jump jet capability 80% of the time.  The Marine’s are now insisting that their F-35’s will fly in STOVL mode only 10% of the time.  This dramatic reversal calls into question not only the necessity of the expensive F-35B variant, but the frame modifications imposed on the Air Force and Navy versions that drive so many cost overruns and performance issues.

The revised Pentagon estimate makes another shocking assumption: that lifetime maintenance costs will decrease by bringing those operations in-house rather than contracted out through private vendors.  If the Pentagon can perform maintenance in-house for lower costs than private contractors, then what’s the Pentagon’s justification for spending billions on contractors to perform maintenance across the services right now?

And of course this news comes conveniently only a few days after South Korea balked at the idea of purchasing a fleet of F-35’s, citing high per unit costs, and instead favoring the tried and true F-15.  Given all this, we’re hard pressed to celebrate a cost reduction from the most expensive boondoggle in military history to…still the most expensive boondoggle in military history.

Read the article here.

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The Choice is Clear

 

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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is not only a bum deal for the military, but each plane costs the American public critical investments in the our future prosperity.  Each F-35 we buy hurts kids, educational access and achievement, and public safety.  We simply can’t afford a $1.5 trillion boondoggle that has more to do with Congressional Pork than national security.  When you see the opportunities missed with each F-35 bought, you too will see that the choice is clear.

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Huffington Post Reports on F-35

The Huffington Post reports on the massive boondoggle known as the F-35.  As we have said before, the program is seven years behind schedule, and costs per plane jsf96_5091 have risen from $81 million in 2001 to an estimated $161 million today.  By 2037 the F-35 will have cost us $1.5 trillion, and it is far from operational.  The plane has been grounded twice this year because parts failing and difficulty flying through cloudy weather.  Meanwhile, current planes continue to perform admirably and cost only a fraction per plane.  It shouldn’t be surprising then that this exercise in Congressional Pork continues to exist while Lockheed Martin spends $16 million a year on lobbying and 67 of 92 political lobbyists come from the federal government.

To read the article, click here.

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Let Congress Know the F-35 is a Bad Deal for America

CF-1_flight_testJoin the petition with Moveon.org and let Congress know that our priorities should be to invest in America and not line the pockets of major defense contractors.  At $1.5 trillion and counting, the F-35 is the most expensive weapons-grade Congressional boondoggle of all time.  An army of lobbyist have lined up to protect the F-35 from any cuts from sequestration, meanwhile sequestration is hitting kids in Head Start and seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels.   We can’t let this stand.

Join the petition here.

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Join the Petition Against the F-35!

The most expensive weapons program in human history is a monument to Congressional Pork and misplaced priorities.  The American public is suffering through Acuts to Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and essential Nutrition benefits; meanwhile lifetime costs for the F-35 have escalated to $1.5 trillion and counting.  We urge you to sign on to the CREDO petition to be delivered to Members of Congress urging them to put the essential needs of the American public before the greed of major defense contractors.

To sign on, click here.

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NBC’s ‘Fleecing of America’ looks into the F-35

NBC News looks into the most expensive weapons program in human history.  While the Pentagon insists that the plane is now on schedule, mismanagement has dramatically increased the cost of the program and reduced the plane’s performance.  With billions already sunk into the F-35, ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big to cancel’.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Gravity Kicks In

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It’s only a matter of time

The Pentagon mulls plans to delay production of the most expensive weapons program in history.  No official decision has been made, but defense analysts predict that delaying full production could save between $1 billion and $2.5 billion per year from 2015 to 2019.  The planes would still be produced in limited quantities as they are now, but the 2015 date for full production would be pushed back.  This could cover a full 30% of mandatory spending cuts to the Pentagon over that time.  Industry analysts advising Lockheed contend that delays will increase long-term costs as foreign customers pare back their purchases of the oft delayed and over budget program.  However, this delay in production allows for more flight-testing.  This saves money, as technical issues are resolved before the planes are actually built.  It’s just as well that American taxpayers should fly these planes before we buy them.

To read the article, click here.

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If You Build it, They Will Come

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Applies to weapon systems too

In a hearing today the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee took on the F-35’s spiraling costs and increasing delays. Top Pentagon officials maintain that the program is on the right track, but concurrency threatens ever more overruns and delays.  In a stunning act of “procurement malpractice”, the Pentagon began ordering production of F-35 planes before any flight-testing had been done.  By the time the seventh round of procurement is complete, the Pentagon will have purchased 150 F-35’s with only half the necessary flight-testing complete.  As flight-testing reveals problems, manufacturing lines have to be halted and altered, and current planes have to be retrofitted. If Congress had asserted its oversight authority in the first place, the Pentagon would’ve flown these planes before we bought them.  Now American taxpayers are stuck with a ‘too big to fail’ weapons program.

To read the article, click here.