The biggest single government boondoggle in global history has become even more exasperating for U.S. taxpayers.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighters have been slapped with permanent flight restrictions by the Pentagon because of deficiencies in the aircraft’s design.
Two of the three types of F-35 jet fighters are susceptible to damage to the airplane’s tail section, the Department of Defense recently discovered.
During sustained supersonic flight, heat buildup can compromise the F-35’s stealth skin coating, ruining the jet’s antennas. As a result, the Defense Department (DOD) strictly limits the amount of time the fighter jets can fly at high speeds.
According to DefenseNews, the flaw risks "pilot safety and call[s] into question the fighter jet’s ability to accomplish key parts of its mission."
The Pentagon reacted by limiting the F-35’s high-speed operations and restricting the jet to supersonic speeds for only short burst. Unfortunately, that means it may be impossible for the aircraft to conduct supersonic intercepts, or "maneuver at high speeds to avoid a missile or survive a dogfight."
At a total price tag of nearly $1.2 trillion, the F-35 fighter jet program is the most expensive acquisition program in American history and the most expensive military project the world has ever known.
By comparison, the total cost of NASA’s Space Shuttle program over its 30-year lifespan was a relatively paltry $196 billion. The Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bomb, cost about $29 billion in 2020 dollars.
Congress and the Pentagon have squandered the equivalent of the annual GDP of Mexico – the world’s 15th largest economy – to keep the F-35 program afloat. If the cost of the F-35 program were split evenly among U.S. taxpayers, each taxpayer would owe an eye-popping $8,346 for the scheme.
The expense of the F-35 boondoggle continues to mount.
Just last year, a plan to acquire and update jets for the program cost $22 billion more than promised.
In a scathing report to Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated the total cost of the F-35 program will top $1.6 trillion by the time a new round of updates to the jets are complete in 2026 — a date that can’t come soon enough for American taxpayers.
Despite its record-breaking expense, the F-35 program has always been dogged by problems.
A $17 billion diagnostic system developed by Lockheed Martin to alert maintenance crews when F-35 fighter jets need repairs or maintenance has been a disaster.
Mechanics told federal auditors that "they spend an average of 5,000 to 10,000 hours per year manually tracking information that should be automatically and accurately captured."
F-35 fighter jets have also been plagued by faulty ejection seats, issues with helmet-mounted displays and night vision cameras making it difficult for pilots to land the jets on aircraft carriers.
The aircraft is also tormented by spikes in cabin pressure causing "excruciating" ear and sinus pain.
In some cases, billion-dollar repairs have been required to address the problems.
In others, the issues remain and pilots must simply do their best to work around the glitches.
Washington, D.C.'s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused this year’s federal deficit to balloon to nearly $4 trillion. The national debt will soon top $25 trillion.
Lawmakers in Congress will soon be desperate to find places to trim wasteful spending from the government’s budget in order to get spending under control.
They should start by turning out the lights on the single most wasteful government program ever.
For decades, federal lawmakers have thrown good money after bad in a hopeless attempt to save the failed F-35 project.
Enough is enough.
Congress should immediately begin winding down the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
Doing so would save billions of dollars per year and end the prospects of putting America’s military pilots in jets that are unsafe to fly.
Americans’ tax dollars — and the lives of our brave fighter pilots — are too valuable to waste.
Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Read Drew Johnson's Reports — More Here.
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