“F-35 may be unsalvageable” There goes $1.7 TRILLION!

The 2021 reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) are in, and they are not glowing.

On Jan. 14, 2021, then-Acting Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Christopher Miller labeled the JSF a “piece of [expletive].” Then, on March 5, 2021, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) called the program a “rathole,” and asked whether it was time to stop spending that much money for “such a low capability?”

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The JSF has become the embodiment of the DOD’s broken weapons acquisition system, which has been on the Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List since 1990. The F-35 was originally conceived as the low-end of a high-low strategy consisting of numerous cheap aircraft that would replace Cold War workhorses like the F-16 and A-10 among other aircraft. The plan was for the JSF to be complimented by a smaller fleet of more advanced fighters, to be developed later.

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The program has been under continuous development since the contract was awarded in 2001 and has faced innumerable delays and cost overruns. Total acquisition costs now exceed $428 billion, nearly double the initial estimate of $233 billion, with projected lifetime operations and maintenance costs of $1.727 trillion.



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