Taxpayers Cough Up for More F-35s the Pentagon Didn’t Ask For (excerpt)
(Source: The American Conservative; posted Dec. 09, 2019)
By Ross Marchand
At a tick below $62,000, U.S. median household income is high and rising steadily. Yet this handsome sum is only enough to keep one F-35 stealth fighter in the air for about an hour and a half. This (taxpayer) dollar-guzzling hunk of metal has attracted the ire of fiscal hawks for two decades, yet no one in government—and especially nobody at the Department of Defense—seems keen on shelving it.

This is a huge problem. Taxpayers deserve a cost-effective national defense, not bureaucrats attached to shiny boondoggles.

Now we’re finding out that the astronomical costs are driven by problems with the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which is supposed to help military staff examine technical information and plan military operations. Air Force Magazine reporter Rachel Cohen writes, “DOD is still figuring out when a rearchitected ALIS could become available.” And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

On November 13, Robert Behler, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office, testified before the House Subcommittee on Readiness and Tactical Air and Land Forces that the “Operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below service expectations. In particular, no F-35 variant meets the specified reliability or maintainability metrics.” Meanwhile, the program failed to meet the 80 percent mission-capable rate goal set forth by Pentagon leadership.

Service and operational standards remain low as costs continue to climb higher. At a lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is among the most expensive weapons ever devised. Indirect costs are even higher, since the F-35 requires the “cannibalization” of parts from other systems.

The Government Accountability Office notes, “According to prime contractor data, to keep aircraft flying despite parts shortages, from May through November 2018 F-35 squadrons cannibalized (that is, took) parts from other aircraft at rates that were more than six times greater than the services’ objective.”

By implication, monies devoted to other Pentagon operations are in fact being diverted to the F-35. The program, then, is less of a money pit than a black hole, sucking in dollars and manpower that would have been used better elsewhere. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the American Conservative website.


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