WASHINGTON, D.C. -– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Defense’s acknowledgment of another schedule delay and cost overrun for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. Senator McCain also sent a letter to the CEO of Lockheed Martin regarding plans to reduce the cost of the F-35 program:
“According to a company press release, the CEO of Lockheed Martin gave President-elect Trump her personal commitment to aggressively drive down the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in light of concerns he raised about the program.
“These comments were surprising given that I have been recently informed the F-35’s system development and demonstration phase has been delayed another seven months, another costly stumble that will cost the American taxpayer at least $500 million. This is yet another troubling sign for a program that has already nearly doubled in cost, taken nearly two decades to field, and has long been the poster child for acquisition malpractice.
“With this latest delay, I am deeply concerned about the Department’s current plan for Follow-On Modernization. If the Department continues to repeat the mistakes of the past, more delays, more cost overruns, and increased retrofit costs will be the inevitable result.
“I am also disappointed the Department chose to downplay the cost of this delay. Given the challenges this program continues to face, it’s likely that the true cost could be more than twice the $500 million projection – draining the Department of critical funding it needs to train, prepare, and equip our military.
“The F-35’s dismal record on cost, schedule, and performance is a predicable consequence of a broken defense acquisition system. That’s why the Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to make it a priority to streamline our acquisition system while exercising rigorous oversight of the F-35 program so that we can finally deliver our warfighters the capabilities they need.
“Finally, if Lockheed Martin believes it is possible to aggressively drive down the cost of the F-35, it is time for the company to reveal its plans to do so to the Congress and to American taxpayers.”