A bipartisan coalition of Texas lawmakers has launched a united defense of the supersonic F-35 joint strike fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive project ever, against efforts in Congress to abandon it.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, one of its most vigorous Republican defenders, said dropping the program would be disastrous for American defense policy because the Pentagon has no backup for the jetfighter to be added to the air inventories of the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.
Twelve of the 48 members of the Texas congressional delegation, including Republican Rep. Kay Granger and Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes, have joined Cornyn in the fight to save the F-35, being built at a Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth.
The F-35 has been beset by design failures due to its multi-purpose mission. It was designed as a long-range fighter that also is supposed to be hard to detect.
As a result, the project, which was to be completed in 2002, has suffered delays and cost overruns. The final cost estimate has been put at $1.4 trillion over the next 50 years.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a former Navy pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and held prisoner for more than five years, tried to kill the program last summer. He called the cost overruns “a tragedy and a scandal.”
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