President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to dramatically cut the waste in Washington. He plans to make good on that promise and has targeted one of the most wasteful programs at the Pentagon.
The Pentagon’s program to deliver the most advanced joint strike aircraft has exceeded the originally planned budget in both costs and deadlines. The family of multi-use fighter jets was first conceived in October of 2001 after the X-35 by Lockheed Martin was chosen as the winner of a concept design competition held by the Pentagon. It has been plagued by delays and cost increases ever since.
In 2012, Foreign Policy called the F-35 Joint Strikefighter “The Jet That Ate The Pentagon.” Amidst constant problems, some members of Congress have consistently questioned the reliability of the plane and argue that the increasing costs may not be worth the time and trouble.
However, supporters of the program argue that it is just too big to fail.
“Everybody has kind of got to have it, so they’re not going to suddenly scrap it and start over,” said Gordon Adams, professor of foreign policy at American University. “Whatever problems it encounters, we’re going to buy it.”
“This month, we learned that the Pentagon has increased the price tag for the F-35 by another $289 million — just the latest in a long string of cost increases — and that the program is expected to account for a whopping 38 percent of Pentagon procurement for defense programs, assuming its cost will grow no more.”
That statement was made four years ago in 2012. Of course the costs did grow and Trump has now set his sights on the over-budget and over-deadline program.
The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
Last Monday, the New York Times reported on Trump’s tweet:
As the New York Times pointed out, Trump has began a pattern of calling out specific wasteful projects. It was only last week that the President-elect criticized Boeing’s $4 billion in wasteful costs of upgrading Air Force One.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
CNN reported last July on the F-35 program’s staggering long-term costs, “The price tag for all of these benefits, however, is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes — almost twice the initial estimate.”
“To maintain and operate the JSF program over the course of its lifetime, the Pentagon will invest nearly $1 trillion, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO),” CNN noted.
The F-35 has become the most expensive military project in history amounting to nearly twice as much as it cost to put a man on the moon. If Trump plans on cutting waste in Washington, this would be one program in desperate need of presidential oversight from a man with an eye for business.