The U.S. will ultimately spend $1 trillion for these fighter planes. Where’s the outrage over Washington’s culture of waste?
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an impressive aircraft: a fifth generation multirole fighter plane with stealth technology. It’s also a symbol of everything that’s wrong with defense spending in America.
In a rational world, U.S. military expenditure would focus on the likely threats that the United States faces today and in the future. And at a time of mounting national debt, the Tea Party would be knocking down the Pentagon’s door to cut waste.
But the only tea party in sight is the one overseen by the Mad Hatter, as we head down the rabbit hole into the military industrial wonderland.
The F-35 is designed to be the core tactical fighter aircraft for the U.S. military, with three versions for the Air Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps. Each plane clocks in at around $90 million.
So, how many F-35s do we need?
Washington intends to buy 2,443, at a price tag of $382 billion.
Add in the $650 billion that the Government Accountability Office estimates is needed to operate and maintain the aircraft, and the total cost reaches a staggering $1 trillion.
In other words, we’re spending more on this plane than Australia’s entire GDP ($924 billion).
The F-35 is the most expensive defense program in history, and reveals massive cost overruns, a lack of clear strategic thought, and a culture in Washington that encourages incredible waste.
Money is pouring into the F-35 vortex. In 2010, Pentagon officials found that the cost of each plane had soared by over 50 percent above the original projections. The program has fallen years behind schedule, causing billions of dollars of additional expense, and won’t be ready until 2016. An internal Pentagon reportconcluded that: “affordability is no longer embraced as a core pillar.”
In January 2011, even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a champion of the aircraft, voiced his frustration: “The culture of endless money that has taken hold must be replaced by a culture of restraint.”