I Love the Military – But Not All Military Spending Is Lovable

Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org
Seton Motley | Less Government | LessGovernment.org
Not Good – for a LONG Time

God bless the military and all who honorably serve her.

We the People are incredibly fortunate to have a million or so men and women willing to volunteer to defend our nation.  It is an incredible sacrifice on their part – for which we should be exceedingly grateful.

As mind-bogglingly wasteful with our money as DC always is – the last place I look to get really frugal is the Defense Department (DoD) budget.

Is there waste, fraud and abuse contained therein?  Of course – it’s DC.

But I’d much rather…everything else in DC be cut to the bone and beyond – before we start seriously messing with the DoDs coin.

The very great Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin aptly captured this sentiment in his very great television show The West Wing.

An ignorant Lefty White House staffer is haranguing a military officer (whom she finds attractive – but she can not help herself) about $500 military screwdrivers and $400 military ash trays.  The officer responds by grabbing a wrench – and smashing an ash tray.  Eliciting the following exchange:

Lefty: “What was that?”

Officer: “A $400 ash tray.  It’s off the USS Greenville – a nuclear tact submarine and a likely target for a torpedo.  When you get hit with one, you’ve got enough problems without glass flying into the eyes of the Navigator and the Officer of the Deck.  This one is built to break into three dull pieces….”

And then the killer close:

Officer: “We lead a slightly different life out there – and it costs a little more money.”

I’d MUCH rather the likes of the Commerce and Agriculture Departments learn to do without.

All of that being said – some DoD spending is SO obviously awful…it becomes a gots-to-go situation.

Behold: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:

“A family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground-attack and air-superiority missions.

“It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant.”

There’s only one little problem.

F-35 Far from Ready to Face Current or Future Threats, Testing Data Shows:

“Navy’s F-35 version not ready for combat.”

That’s like a competitive eater being not at all hungry:

“The Navy’s version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, recently declared ready for combat, has netted unacceptably low ‘fully mission capable’ rates – meaning it’s in fact almost never fully ready for combat – according to a document obtained by the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Well that’s…fairly awful.  And this is where the uber-stupid DC mentality – really kicks in:

“The fact that the Navy is pushing ahead with the aircraft in spite of evidence that it is not ready for combat and could therefore put at risk missions, as well as the troops who depend on it to get to the fight, comes at the same time as the Pentagon’s annual operational testing report for fiscal year 2018 shows that the entire F-35 program, the most expensive weapon system in history, is not ready to face current or future threats.”

The F-35 is “the most expensive weapon system in history” – yet it is STILL “not ready to face current or future threats.”

For how long has the Navy been trying to get the F-35 “ready to face current (and) future threats?”  A depressingly long time:

“Sold in 2001 as a cheap multi-role fighter at a promised $38 million per plane, the troubled F-35, now at an average $158.4 million per copy, continues to dramatically underperform in crucial areas including availability and reliability, cyber-vulnerability testing, and life-expectancy testing.

We’re EIGHTEEN YEARS into trying to get the F-35 to be a worthwhile Defense investment.  And it STILL isn’t ready for prime time.  It isn’t even remotely close:

“Little or no improvement in the key availability, reliability, and flying-hour metrics over the last several years means too few F-35s will likely be ready for combat when they are most needed, now or for the foreseeable future.

“During durability testing, the Marine and Navy F-35s have suffered so many cracks and received so many repairs and modifications that the test planes can’t complete their 8,000-hour life-expectancy tests. The Marine version’s airframe life could be so short that today’s F-35Bs might end up in the boneyard as early as 2026, 44 years before the program’s planned 2070 sunset.

“Despite years of patches and upgrades, the F-35’s most combat-crucial computer systems continue to malfunction, including the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) maintenance and parts ordering network; and the data links that display, combine, and exchange target and threat information among fighters and intelligence sources.

“The program has not provided the resources necessary to build, test, and validate the onboard mission-data files that control mission accomplishment and survival.

“As in previous years, cybersecurity testing shows that many previously confirmed F-35 vulnerabilities have not been fixed, meaning that enemy hackers could potentially shut down the ALIS network, steal secret data from the network and onboard computers, and perhaps prevent the F-35 from flying or from accomplishing its missions.

“The all-important and much-delayed F-35 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation report—assessing whether the plane is combat-suitable and ready for full-scale production—may well not only be late (perhaps well into 2020), but may also be based on testing that is considerably less combat-realistic than planned. This is both because test personnel are forced to make do with incompletely developed, deficiency-laden planes, and the F-35 program has for years failed to fund adequate test-range hardware and realistic multi-aircraft, multi-threat simulation facilities.”

So the F-35 doesn’t function…in nigh any of the ways it is supposed to function.

(Does it actually fly?  Does it successfully make its way down a runway and achieve flight?)

And it will collapse in an exorbitant heap…nearly A HALF CENTURY before it was supposed to do so.

Most importantly – all of this un-readiness places the men and women operating this heap in grave danger.

And it wastes TONS of Pentagon money – that can be MUCH better spent…ANYWHERE else.

To paraphrase Jesse Jackson:

“End it – don’t mend it.”

Because from all appearances – the F-35 is un-mendable.

This first appeared in Red State.

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