SAC Hammers Gates on JSF

The Joint Strike Fighter program has more than $6.5 billion in unspent money -- "more than the budgets of many entire federal agencies" -- and the first two production planes are a year late and the costs keep climbing, problems that the Senate Appropriations Committee says are symptomatic of Pentagon management problems. The panel said it considered cutting all funding for the country's biggest defense program.

The Joint Strike Fighter program has more than $6.5 billion in unspent money — “more than the budgets of many entire federal agencies” — and the first two production planes are a year late and the costs keep climbing, problems that the Senate Appropriations Committee says are symptomatic of Pentagon management problems. The committee cited “the lack of proper control in the defense budget process” and urged the Gates’ Pentagon “to regain control over its budget.”

How frustrated is the Senate panel with the management of the F-35? They say they considered scrapping all JSF funding for the year. All. Only the country’s “urgent need” for new fighters stayed the committee’s hand, the report says. Exercising restraint, the panel thinks 10 of the 42 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft requested by the Pentagon should be cut. That works out to $1.5 billion.

Finally, the SAC sent a clear signal to General Electric and Rolls Royce — and to the Obama administration — that the battle over the F136 engine for the F-35 is not over: “The incongruence of the insistence on canceling the second engine program which is a near model program and which most analysts expect would curtail long-term costs of the entire JSF program with equal insistence on the need to fully fund the JSF program is hard to rationalize,” the defense subcommittee report says.

We obtained a portion of the SAC report.