Wednesday, December 14, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump wants to slash the F-35 fighter program because its cost over-runs were out of control. Chances are he won't succeed even though the fighters cost $100 million each. Why? Because Lockheed Martin, the builder of the aircraft, has carefully spread work across many Congressional districts and insulated itself from public criticism. No matter that the fighter is 11 years overdo and the lifetime cost of the fleet will exceed a trillion dollars. The program is pork, especially at a time when much cheaper drones are taking over tasks such as picket duty and air-ground attacks. Although the F-35 build has been a scandal for more than a decade, Congress keeps pumping money into it. Fortunately, it is likely the last manned fighter that will ever be built and given its cost that is a good outcome. The military-industrial complex has been out of control for decades and it is time to rein it in. If Trump can cut the cost of the F-35, more power to him.