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This Air Force slide shows how the F-35 became a bottomless money pit from which there is no escape
Now we know why: Military briefing slides shown to then-president-elect Trump in December 2016 offer one of the most blunt Pentagon assessments of the notoriously unreliable aircraft in recent memory.
The briefing slides, obtained by The War Zone through the Freedom of Information Act, were shown to Trump by F-35 Joint Program Office chief U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan on Dec. 21, 2016, just over a week after the president-elect slammed program costs as "out of control" on Twitter.
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."
Things haven't improved much in the intervening years. The Pentagon's 2018 operational testing and evaluation assessment of the F-35 released in January detailed ongoing reliability issues that have aggressively truncated the airframe's service life well below official projections, with "no improving trend" among the number of aircraft available for training and combat missions.
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.
WATCH NEXT: An F-35 Fires 5 Paveway Missiles At The Same Time
A VA worker survived a shooting at his hospital. Now he's stuck in a 'bizarre' maze of federal workers' comp claims
RIVIERA BEACH — When a distraught patient opened fire at the VA Medical Center in February, Albert Gaines' long ago military training kicked into gear.
"When I saw the arm come up, I knew what was next, pow, pow, pow," said Gaines, who was doing his job, cleaning patient rooms, when gunfire erupted. "I hit the deck to minimize the target."
Now, three months after what his bosses at the hospital call "the active shooter incident," the 65-year-old Riviera Beach man still feels like a target is on him.
President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.
The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.
If the Pentagon had to take Consumer Math class in high school, they'd flunk.
The U.S. military—correction, the U.S. taxpayer—is spending more money to buy fewer weapons. The reason? Poor acquisition practices, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
"DOD's 2018 portfolio of major weapon programs has grown in cost by $8 billion, but contains four fewer systems than last year," GAO found.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on RFE/RL: Afghanistan.
KABUL -- An air strike has mistakenly killed at least nine Afghan police officers, including a commander, during a battle with the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand, local officials say.
They said that 14 officers were also wounded in the May 16 strike in the Nahr-e Saraj district , which is located outside the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Chuck Norris contains multitudes.
He's an Oklahoman and an Air Force vet, an actor and martial artist. The intensity of his badassery formed the basis of one of the earliest and most ubiquitous internet memes. He's a fictional member of Delta Force and a Texas Ranger, his beard a source of such virile endurance and strength that it makes Samson's biblical mane look like a bouquet of hobo pubes.
Now, Norris will live forever as the ultimate instrument of righteousness: an M1 Abrams tank.