The F-35 Joint Strike Program may be the most expensive weapons program in modern military history, but it looks as though the new border wall is giving the beleaguered aircraft a run for its money.
On Tuesday, a government lawyer disclosed in a court filing to a federal judge in Oakland, California that Customs and Border Patrol personnel had only managed to erect 1.7 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico with the $1.57 billion Congress doled out for construction in 2018, Bloomberg News reports.
If accurate, the figures disclosed by the government would mean that each mile of fence costs $923 million, which absolutely does not jive with CBP's latest figure. From the Bloomberg News report:
A May 20 report by Customs and Border Protection on the status of the border wall specified that the $1.5 billion in 2018 funding is being used to update or build 80 miles of the border wall.
That includes 14 miles of new and updated wall panels near San Diego, which is expected to be finished early next year, and 13 miles of new construction in the Rio Grande Valley. It's not clear when that part will be finished.
The report doesn't state how much of the $1.5 billion has been spent to date, and doesn't contradict Letter's claim. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did hand out more than $800 million of the 2018 funding for new contracts, according to the report.
To be clear, the new cost-per-mile of $923 million disclosed on Tuesday would mean that each mile of fence has roughly the same cost as 10 F-35A Lightning II aircraft at the latest price of less than $90 million apiece.
That also means that, at this rate, that magic $5.7 billion in funds the White House requested for wall construction during last winter's government shutdown would only yield 6.3 more miles of fortifications.
Indeed, completing 1,000 miles of wall construction that Trump fixated on during his presidential campaign would cost upwards of an eye-popping $900 trillion — or, say, 600 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs that have projected lifetime costs of $1.5 trillion.