While Bogdan's briefing asserts that the "big, complicated" F-35 program is "critical to U.S. and allied air dominance for the next 50 years," one slide offered a uniquely forthright assessment of the airframe: at 6.5 years behind schedule and $13.5 billion over budget, the F-35 program has found it "difficult to overcome a troubled past."
Translation: This thing sucks, but there's no going back now.
A slide from U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan's briefing on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program presented to president-elect Donald Trump on Dec. 21, 2016.(U.S. Air Force via The War Zone/Freedom Of Information Act)
Trump was, surprisingly, vindicated. The day after the Bogdan briefing, the president-elect attempted to put his much-hyped powers of negotiation to work with a tweet threatening to turn Pentagon attention to Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet if F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin couldn't get the cost of the airframe under control.
"We're just beginning – it's a dance," Trump told reporters after his briefings, per The War Zone. "It's a little bit of a dance. But we're going to get the costs down and we're going to get it done beautifully."
Even worse: Just a few days after The War Zone published Bogdan's briefing slides, Bloomberg News reported that the F-35 program — already the most expensive weapons system in the history of warfare — had ballooned by another $22 billion in unexpected costs. And according to the Pentagon's Selected Acquisition Report cited by Bloomberg, it'll only get more expensive in the coming years as new upgrades are rolled out:
The increase to $428.4 billion from $406.2 billion in acquisition costs, about a 5.5 percent increase, isn't due to poor performance, delays or excessive costs for labor or materials, according to the Defense Department's latest Selected Acquisition Report sent to Congress last week and obtained by Bloomberg News.
Instead, the increase reflects for the first time the current cost estimates for a major set of upgrades planned in coming "Block 4" modifications, according to the report.
The F-35 program: Where the delivery schedules are made up and the budget doesn't matter.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Sunday accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of "aggressively" shadowing a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II plane over international airspace, in yet another sign of the increasing hostility between the two nations.
The encounter between the U.S. and Venezuelan planes occurred on Friday, the same day that the Trump administration announced it was sanctioning four top officials in Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency.
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)
Joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises scheduled for next month are going ahead, a top Seoul official said Saturday, despite a threat by North Korea to boycott working-level talks with Washington and possibly restart nuclear and longer-range missile tests.
(Reuters) - A former National Security Agency contractor was sentenced in Maryland to nine years in prison on Friday for stealing huge amounts of classified material from U.S. intelligence agencies over two decades though officials never found proof he shared it with anyone.