F-35 Controversies and Counterclaims, December 2009
The $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could well become the largest single weapon program in modern history. With the next Quadrennial Defense Review on the way, however, tensions are rising for the program amidst claims of funding cuts, and the recent independent JET evaluation that placed the project $17.1 billion dollars over budget, and up to 2 years late. A recent flurry of disagreements offers DID readers both sides of the arguments; we’ll leave readers to make up their own minds.
One notable exchange began with an issue brief from Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute: “Four Reasons for Confidence in the F-35.” That triggered a somewhat acerbic response from another respected analyst, Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman, who has written books about the F-35. His Dec 2/09 piece “JSF Is Fine, Says LockMart Consultant” outlines his disagreements with Thompson’s brief.
The left-wing CDI is a somewhat predictable member of the critics’ roster. In a similar vein, the sunnier side features Australian Minister Greg Combet, who seems rather more sanguine about his government’s recent billion-dollar commitment. Lockheed Martin has also offered some substantive reasons for optimism, and says testing is behind but progress is ahead of normal metrics at this stage. For full coverage of the F-35 program, industrial arrangements, controversies, and contracts, see the DII FOCUS article “F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: 2009-2010.”