Here is another example of a massive Pentagon acquisition program that has gone well over budget and has not lived up to expectations:
Every time the Pentagon budget is vulnerable to cuts, we hear about the huge risks that would ensue. Defense jobs would get cut, depressing the economy. American military technology would fall behind. Terrorists would get a free hand. China would sneak up on us.
So with $55 billion due to be cut from the Pentagon’s budget next year, defenders of the military-industrial complex are once again warning of doom descending on America.
But it’s the Pentagon’s own wasteful spending that’s a much bigger threat. Pentagon procurement has become so convoluted and dominated by lobbyists that billion-dollar weapon systems are commissioned a decade or two before they’re actually fielded. Costs always rise, whether the weapon is relevant or not. Weapons are rarely junked, even when threats change–as they clearly did after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Instead, favored programs are merely reconfigured and assigned new capabilities, raising costs even more.
The F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, the Pentagon’s biggest procurement program ever, is the poster child for the kind of wanton spending the nation can no longer afford. The F-35, built by Lockheed Martin, got its start in the early 1990s, with the concept for a stealthy jet that the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps could all use, theoretically making it cheaper than a trio of different jets unique to each service.
It hasn’t worked out that way. The first official plan, in 2001, called for 2,866 jets costing a total of $233 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office. The latest plan cuts production to 2,457 jets, yet the cost has risen to $397 billion. The cost per aircraft has doubled, from $81 million to $162 million, and that’s without accounting for 10 years of inflation.
Budget analyst Winslow Wheeler–who calls the F-35 “the jet that ate the Pentagon”–argues that the total life-cycle cost of the program, including funds to operate and support the jet, could total a stunning $1.5 trillion or higher, which is more than the annual GDP of Spain. [US News & World Report]
You can read the rest at the link but to be fair the Pentagon is not solely to blame for out of control acquisitions programs because the politicians in Congress are just as much to blame for keeping defense spending programs alive that the Pentagon does not want.
Also the title of the article, “The F-35 Shows Why the Pentagon Deserves a Smaller Budget” I think is misleading because all giving a smaller budget to the Pentagon means is that the politicians will ensure wasteful spending like the F-35 remains alive while the cuts come on the back of US military servicemembers like what they are trying to do with ending military retirement and raising health care fees on retirees. So while the politicians and their political allies try to end the current military retirement system in order to save $150 to $350 billion dollars over 20 years, the F-35 is now at $397 billion over the next 20 years and growing with no end in sight.