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On the job just five weeks, the new deputy in charge of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program says the relationship between his office and the plans's manufacturer Lockheed "is the worst I've ever seen."
“We will not succeed on this program until we get past that,” [Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan] said in a discussion on the F-35 at the annual conference of the Air Force Association, a nonprofit civilian organization that promotes aerospace education. “We have to find a better place to be in this relationship. We have to.”
F35A Joint Strategic Fighter
F-35A 5th generation jet-fighter
A spokesman for the giant aircraft manufacturer mumbled some of the usual gobbledygook about a commitment to solving the challenges. Snore.

Bloomberg reports that the cost of the fighter-jet has risen by 70 percent since estimates were first made in 2001. But Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information, a former analyst with the Government Accountability Office, points out that this version of overruns understates the matter:

[T]he original $233 billion was supposed to buy 2,866 aircraft, not the 2,457 currently planned: making it $162 billion, or 70%, more for 409, or 14%, fewer aircraft. Adjusting for the shrinkage in the fleet, I calculate the cost growth for a fleet of 2,457 aircraft to be $190.8 billion, or 93%.
When operational costs are figured in, the GAO states, the three variants in the F35 fleet will cost $1.1 trillion over their 30-year life. Unsustainable, Wheeler says:
The F-35 should now be officially called “unaffordable and simply unacceptable.” All that is lacking is a management that will accept — and act — on that finding.
That, of course, won't happen at this late date. The GAO and the Pentagon and Lockheed keep pretending that every newest setback, every newest problem can be fixed. But the fundamental flaw, the big picture, never gets fully addressed.

One reason for that is the same reason the F-22 program is such a mess. The Project on Government Oversight reported a week ago about the flow of money from Lockheed to Congress in general and to the members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, which began hearings on the troubled fighter last Friday.

On average, members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces have received $6,130 this election cycle from Lockheed employees or political action committees, POGO found.

They weren’t alone.

Of the House’s 435 voting members, 386 received such Lockheed-related contributions, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The military-industrial-congressional complex has for so long had its talons deeply hooked into the political decision-making apparatus of our nation that it has become a cliché. Overspending is expected and accepted, despite brief flurries of concern. Once a weapons project reaches a certain stage, there is no turning back, except to reduce the numbers of each unit purchased.

The worth of the weapon, the actual need for it, the purpose it will serve, the capabilities of the foes it may face and the alternatives that might be substituted for it — including the alternative of not building it at all — are rarely topics for public discussion beyond that had by the policy wonks. Thus are built ever more complex weapons that we are told are essential to our national survival even if they bankrupt us.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Whose Side Are McCain's Advisors On?

Poor John McCain. In just a few short weeks he's gone from mocking celebrity, to using it as a crutch to bring in crowds for his own events...and unfortunately for him, it seems to be going to the crutch's head. And now he has senior advisors piling on.

Earlier today, McCain's top policy advisor, Nancy Pfotenhauer, appeared on MSNBC and was asked about Chuck Hagel (R-NE) saying that Sarah Palin lacked the experience to be president. Pfotenhauer said:  

So, I do believe that Senators tend to view other senate experience as the most important while the American people have shown in election after election that they view being governor of a state to be absolutely crucial. That's why whether it's Republicans or Democrats, I mean you go back through history and see why governors tend to do very, very well in presidential elections because the American people recognize running a state is probably the best training for running a country.
Was Ms. Pfotenhauer confused about who was at the top of the ticket? Or is she hoping the voters will forget?

Tweet of the Day:

Akin starts women 4 Akin group & somehow only woman they cld find was Dem tracker charged w/following him to all events http://t.co/...
@joshtpm via Tweet Button



Wow. There's no getting around it, Romney's 47% comments are the topic of the day on Kagro in the Morning. Greg Dworkin joined the show to talk polls, punditry & trends. And from there, it's a free-ranging discussion of the broader themes and the granular fine points packed into this bombshell, including a reading of the web-famous "Open Letter to that 53% Guy."


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