1.58 Trillion Dollars and 20 Years Later F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Still Doesn’t Work
Yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Orrin Hatch stood up to give a speech of support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Why would he make the special effort to do this? Well, there are 10 separate business locations that profit from the production of the F-35. Also, since the very beginning of the F-35 project, Orrin Hatch has been taking money from the companies that manufacture the F-35.
Orrin Hatch has made a political career out of criticizing small instances of what he cites as government waste. For example, last year, Hatch slammed the IRS for spending $4 million dollars in office furniture.
How dare the IRS spend $4 million dollars on office furniture? Well, actually, the new office furniture was part of a larger program that reduced the amount of working space used by each IRS worker, thus reducing the amount of office space used by the IRS, leading to a $15 million reduction in spending by the IRS, as a part of the $1.2 billion dollars in budget cuts that the agency had achieved over the previous 5 years. Hatch didn’t want to talk about that.
Oh, but it makes such good political theatre for Senator Hatch to stand up and huff and puff about millions of dollars wasted by the IRS. It makes for excellent distraction…
…distraction from the much more significant government waste that Orrin Hatch enthusiastically supports.
The F-35 project has cost 1.58 trillion dollars – and the military airplane still doesn’t work correctly.
The latest in a long string of significant malfunctions in the F-35 is in its software system. A crucial piece of software that the airplanes depend upon, the Autonomic Logistics Information System, is exceptionally vulnerable, with data flowing through a single point that has no backup. The entire F-35 fleet is supposed to be dependent upon that single point, so if it fails, the entire fleet’s ALIS software goes down. Furthermore, ALIS has to be connected physically to a server, so when the U.S. military goes overseas into remote locations, the F-35 fleet won’t be fully-functional. Finally, the ALIS software has a habit of freezing up while F-35 planes are in the middle of a mission.
The advice of the F-35 team to pilots is that, if this happens while they’re in combat, they should just turn the airplane’s ALIS software off, wait for a bit, and then turn it back on.
This homespun piece of advice came along with a price tag for the ALIS software of $16.5 billion dollars. Now, in order to fix ALIS, military leaders are being told that they’re going to have to spend between $20 billion and $100 billion extra.
They’ve had 20 years to get the F-35 to work. It’s time to turn this wasteful military project off – and keep it off.