F-35 Will Cost Taxpayers As Much As $299 Million Per Plane in 2014
With the likely impending passage of the recent budget deal the Department of Defense continues to squeal about the inadequacy of a funding level of $572.6 Billion (of course this number does not include nuclear weapons costs allocated to the Department of Energy). This in spite of the fact that the Pentagon has enjoyed near record levels of funding for over a decade. So, as we slowly walk back the military budget to somewhere remotely near a version of fiscal sanity the usual suspects are coming out of the woodwork to stick it to guess who? Yes, that's right - the troops!
Recently a wide range of "experts" have sounded off on the need to screw over the same troops who have been fighting, dying, or ignominiously discharged from the service after multiple tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is to be done by cutting "personnel costs" which is code for limiting pay raises, forcing people out, and cutting cost of living increases for veterans on military pensions. Of course such costs are "politically sensitive" - which is another term for Congress critter's not wanting to look like they are screwing over regular folks (like active duty service personnel or veterans) when that is exactly the course of action their private sector campaign donors have decided upon and as such the course of action that the individually bought Representative or Senator intends to follow.
Now, there is no question that personnel costs have risen. Hmmm, what could have caused that? Oh yes, over a decade of major wars waged across the Middle East - including the ongoing war in Afghanistan even though it was nearly three years ago that we killed the asshole who attacked us on 9/11. To put that in perspective it would have been like waging active war in Germany three years after Hitler killed himself and the Allies finished crushing the Wehrmacht during the spring of 1945. Regardless, virtually anyone not named Wolfowitz or Rumsfeld (they of the Iraqi oil means war will pay for itself school of fantasy land) should not have been surprised that waging not one but two ground war's in Asia raised military personnel costs. What's more, who could have known that recapitalizing important military assets like capital ships, submarines, aerial refueling tankers, and so on would have gotten sidetracked by MRAPS, V-hull Strykers, M-1 Abrams TUSK upgrades, (all of which were very much needed in both Iraq and Afghanistant) and more....
So that brings us to 2014 and the Pentagon's current bind whereby in spite of spending years receiving a virtual blank check from the Bush/Obama administrations it now finds itself making the strategically significant pivot to the Pacific and concomitant need to reset its budgetary strategic priorities accordingly. And with money tight who gets the blame - why the troops and veterans of course. Now, outside of the winding down war in Afghanistan could there be any other line item in the Pentagon's budget that might be problematic? Let's see here...I don't know....oh what's this....how about anywhere from $182 to $300 million for each of the 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) the Pentagon will take delivery of in 2014.
Yes, that's right folks. Though the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have been on tour together lying up and down to anybody that will listen regarding a purported $60 million per unit cost for the JSF the cold hard truth is that each copy of the F-35A the Air Force receives in 2014 will set it back a cool $182 million. Of course this is a relative bargain compared to the Marine's $252 million F-35B, or the Navy's $299 million per unit F-35C. Would anyone care to see if perhaps these numbers could possibly have anything to do with the Pentagon's budgetary problems? Of could it be that other overpriced, under delivering weapons programs like the LCS might have something to do with these budgetary problems? Naw, it couldn't be our tax dollars subsidizing some of the most egregious corporate welfare give away's in history (the deeply flawed F-35 is set to be the most expensive weapons program ever) - it must be the troops and veterans that are to blame.