The US Air Force’s F-35 project is the most expensive weapon ever built, a $1.5 trillion dollar fiasco that to this day has U.S taxpayers incessantly bleeding out cash to cover its repairs and upgrades. Now, the creator of one of the greatest fighter jets of all time has gone public and called this so-called eagle a “turkey”.
The F-35 is a multi-purpose fighter. Originally conceived from a concept in the 70s, it is a “Hi-Lo” quality mix:a cheaper, shorter range version of the F-22 Raptor that also has the capability of vertical take off and stealth technology.
Pierre Sprey, co-creator of the F-16, a multi-role aircraft still currently in use by 25 countries (including the US), has gone public in an interview with Canada’s “The Fifth Estate” and called the F-35, an “Air Force PR concoction” to make money for Lockheed Martin. Among other things, he’s ripped the airplane on literally every aspect of its functionality—from its take-off, gas consumption, maneuverability, to its dogfighting and air support effectiveness—stating it’s a “terrible” airplane that even a 1950s-era Mig-21 or French Mirage can knock out of the sky.
“The F-35’s real mission is to spend money” said Sprey.
While the total acquisition cost will be $1.58 trillion over the course of its lifetime—55 years— project setbacks have further hiked up prices. Lockheed Martin has issued a statement saying the program’s rise in price is “based on a number of variables that are subject to considerable fluctuation over the next 55 years, making the estimate inherently imprecise.” These imprecise estimates have raised the total cost $160 billion, due to changes needed to be made to the airplane and quantity adjustments.
For context, a recent study reveals that Obamacare is expected to cost around $1.5 Trillion in US taxpayer dollars over the course of the next 10 years. Another good comparison is what Americans pay for education every 10 years. Using an average, taxpayers pay approximately $1 trillion every 10 years for education.
So why, despite the fact that this project has been going on for years, are we bringing this up now? Because Republican Senator John McCain recently expressed “disturbing” concern over the matter after the Pentagon’s F-35 project manager gifted Lockheed with 85% or greater award fees, covering the cost of production for the project, because the unnamed project manager liked the guy at Lockheed and he said he’d be fired if it was under that percentage.
“This is, of course, is totally unacceptable. It is the kind of cronyism that should make us all vigilant against, as President Eisenhower warned us over 50 years ago, the military-industrial complex," McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor on Monday.
Despite all this opposition from legislators and experts, the project is still greenlit.
As if paying trillions of dollars for new technology to give us an edge on the battlefield were the motive, unfortunately that’s not the case. Back in January, a dual US-Iranian citizen who worked for the contractor that designs the F-35’s engines, Pratt & Whitney, was arrested shipping 44 boxes of technical information to Iran, and in 2007, China also managed to hack into Lockheed Martin and steal some of the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system technology which they then sported on their new J-20 Fighter.
Julian Reyes is a VR Producer for Fusion.