As Congress continues to pour money into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, significant questions remain about where billions of dollars already sunk into the program have gone.
In what appears to be another case of throwing good money after bad, the Senate Armed Services Committee recently authorized $9.1 billion to purchase 95 F-35s in 2021, 14 more than the Pentagon had requested.
The potential production boost comes even as members of Congress are raising concerns about the program’s ability to accurately track and manage spare parts through the supply chain. Spare parts mismanagement alone has resulted in $300 million in extra labor charges. This problem will only get worse as the size of the fleet increases.
A trove of documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight are additional evidence that the F-35 program is plagued with poor management and lax accountability.
Program officials estimate there may be $18.63 billion or more worth of taxpayer-funded F-35 property around the world that is not properly accounted for.
The F-35 program is the largest acquisition program in history, with an expected total cost of $1.5 trillion. Being too big to cancel, combined with the fact that the program’s architects deliberately scattered subcontracts across 45 states, ensures the program’s survival in the face of any political push-back and despite its dubious real-world value and performance shortcomings.
Being too big to cancel is also encouraging break downs in basic principles of program management. Several insiders told POGO that program executives have developed an anything-goes attitude that has led to mismanagement, a lack of accountability, and wasted tax dollars. (end of excerpt)
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