The last time I remember writing something about the long overdue and over-budget F-35 fighter plane, it was July 2013 and it was another short bit about how the Department of Defense was going to buy even more of a plane that is already costing at least 70 percent much as originally advertised but, well, you know, shit happens…
Last February, The Fiscal Times wrote a daming expose on "The Pentagon's Incredible $1.5 Trillion Mistake":
Equally impossible to ignore is the $1.5 trillion price tag for one of the biggest failures in Pentagon history. $1.5 trillion is the cost of operating the air craft for 55 years, an amount that has been consistently increased as the program drags on. It's the most expensive weapons system the Pentagon has ever commissioned. And as problems mount, there are growing concerns that the F-35 will never fly a combat mission.
Now Reuters is reporting that
The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013, even as U.S. officials were voicing concern about China's espionage and military buildup.
According to Pentagon documents reviewed by Reuters, chief U.S. arms buyer Frank Kendall allowed two F-35 suppliers, Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc, to use Chinese magnets for the new warplane's radar system, landing gears and other hardware. Without the waivers, both companies could have faced sanctions for violating federal law and the F-35 program could have faced further delays.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a report on the matter in March.
Another fun fact: If the Pentagon gets all the F-35s it wants, it will possess 15 times the number of planes that China has. Assuming at least some of those rustbuckets work (and aren't carrying Chi-Com hardware that is beaming info back to Beijing), we should be pretty safe from that air war over the Pacific everyone is predicting to commence any minute now.
Oh yeah, and while we wait for the GAO report to hit the newsstands, suck on this: The United States already accounts for fully 40 percent of the planet's spending on military and defense spending rose by 80 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2001 and 2012. And somewhere in Arizona is a military aircraft graveyard packe with over $35 billion (with a b!) in never-used and nearly-new planes.