David Axe
The Daily Beast
March 16, 2016


Officials are finally admitting the F-35 fighter has turned into a nightmare—but it’s too late to stop the $400 billion program now.

Way back in the early 2000s, the U.S. military had a dream. To develop a new “universal” jet fighter that could do, well, pretty much everything that the military asks its different fighters to do.

But the dream of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter turned into a nightmare. The program is six years behind schedule and tens of billions of dollars over budget. And now, 16 years after the JSF prototypes took off for their first flights, top officials are finally owning up to the trauma the $400 billion fighter program has inflicted on America’s finances and war readiness.

In a remarkable period, beginning in February and lasting several weeks, senior officers and high-ranking bureaucrats finally publicly copped to the warplane program’s fundamental failures.

But the timing of the military’s mea culpa is … interesting. For at the same time as the admissions of guilt, the F-35 was passing several bureaucratic milestones that make it more or less impossible to cancel. Too much money’s already been spent. Too many well-established jobs are at stake. Too many F-35s are already rolling out of the factory.

The Pentagon can clear its conscience of the jet fighter’s misdeeds because doing so is, at this late hour, consequence-free.

Officials previously admitted that the new jet lacks maneuverability, that its testing is way behind schedule and that its software is still incomplete. More recently, military leaders revealed that the three versions of the F-35 jet aren’t nearly as compatible as the military had promised they would be.

Plus, one official conceded that the planes are so expensive that re-equipping all of the Air Force’s fighter squadrons with them would compel the flying branch to first cut a fifth of the squadrons.

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