Despite warnings of poor performance and spiraling costs from at least three oversight agencies, both Congressional armed services committees voted to add new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to the president’s appropriations request and approved a three-year block buy.
The final number has yet to be hashed out, but if the Senate gets its way, taxpayers will buy 94 F-35s in 2018. That would mean more than 800 F-35s would be purchased before the design has been fully tested.
Congress’s actions here are disappointing. What is even more disturbing is the justification provided for those actions in the House. (The Senate language is not yet available.) Buried deep within Rep. Mac Thornberry’s (R-Texas) “Chairman’s Mark” of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is a lengthy rationalization of the F-35 double-down plan. The authors of the offending appendix include lots of details, but they failed to give a complete picture. The full story, of course, would have undermined the current appeal for digging farther into the F-35 hole.
The report says the House Armed Services Committee “understands” the F-35 program has completed approximately 90 percent of the development phase. It is basing this understanding on testimony provided by the former program executive officer, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan and three other flag officers, on February 16. The witnesses—whose job it is to be boosters of the program—said it had essentially turned a corner and painted a rosy picture of its future.
The casual viewer of the hearing would hardly know there have ever been any problems with the F-35. It was like tuning into a heinous murder trial only during the character witness testimony for the defense. Perhaps that was the idea. Noticeably absent from the panel were any representatives from the Pentagon’s top weapons-testing office or any other independent analysts. Their presence would have changed the tone significantly since less than four weeks before the hearing, the testing office released a scathing, 62-page assessment of the F-35 program as part of its FY2016 Annual Report.
The F-35 program is still plagued with serious design problems and still requires years of testing before anyone will know if it is capable and suitable for combat. Nevertheless, the public would have no idea if all they did was listen to the carefully selected panel in February. (There no mention of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation report in the NDAA justification.)
Read more here: www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/congress-hypnotized-by-plane-that-cant-get-off-the-ground/
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