1. The book on America’s biggest boondoggle:
Last week, the Government Accountability Office issued the latest report on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, warning that “delays in testing of the jet’s software may hinder delivery of the warfighting capabilities the military services expect” for an additional 15 months. This means that the jets are unlikely to be ready until August 2016, at the earliest, instead of what had been a July 2015 deadline.
This GAO report was the latest of 15 issued by the government watchdog since 2001. They catalog a mind-boggling series of cost over-runs, delays and denials of reality that make the F-35 a parody of defense contractors (led in this case by the Keystone Cops at Lockheed Martin), Pentagon and Washington dysfunction.
The plane was supposed to begin being delivered in 2010, with the total cost projected at a record-shattering (and much attacked) $233 billion. By last year the official acquisition cost was estimated to be $390 billion — though that is likely to rise with this latest delay.
Meantime, reports persist, from the GAO and elsewhere, that the plane has bugs that still haven’t been fixed and that it will never deliver all the capabilities promised.
Because the Pentagon has now decided to purchase 14 percent fewer planes than first planned (down to 2,443 jets from 2,852), the cost per plane — not counting amounts to be added by these new delays — is now $159 million. That’s almost double the original $81 million per plane.