WASHINGTON (AP) — The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s record on cost, schedule and performance has been a scandal and a tragedy, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told senior Pentagon officials Tuesday during a withering critique of the most expensive weapons program in U.S. military history.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said during an oversight hearing held by the committee that the aircraft’s development schedule has stretched to 15 years, deliveries of the F-35 have been delayed, and costs have skyrocketed.
“It’s been a scandal and the cost overruns have been disgraceful,” McCain said. “And it’s a textbook example of why this Committee has placed such a high priority on reforming the broken defense acquisition system.”
Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall and Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program manager, said the they are “making solid progress” with the F-35 and are confident of overcoming the challenges.
“The F-35 is no longer a program that keeps me up at night,” Kendall said.
The Pentagon plans to spend close to $400 billion to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The budget request for fiscal year 2017 includes $8.3 billion to purchase 63 aircraft. The F-35, which is being designed to meet the specific requirements of each of the services, cost over $100 million each. Bogdan said he anticipates reducing the per-unit cost of the Air Force’s version to under $85 million by 2019.
McCain quizzed Bogdan on how many people are needed to oversee the F-35 program. The general told him there are about 2,600 people and it costs $70 million a year to operate the program office.
“The information that I have is it’s nearly 3,000 (people), and the cost is $300 million a year, “McCain said. “But $70 million a year to run an office is … pretty disturbing.”
This article was written by Richard Lardner from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Online Degrees & Certificates In Cybersecurity
American Military University's online cybersecurity programs integrate multiple disciplines to ensure you gain the critical skills and management practices needed to effectively lead cybersecurity missions – from government or private industry. Learn from the leader. American Military University is part of American Public University System, which has been designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.