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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
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Friday a Navy SEAL convicted of battlefield misconduct should face a board of peers weighing whether to oust him from the elite force, despite President Donald Trump's assertion that he not be expelled.
"I believe the process matters for good order and discipline," Spencer told Reuters, weighing in on a confrontation between Trump and senior Navy officials over the outcome of a high-profile war-crimes case.
A military jury in July convicted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of illegally posing for pictures with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter but acquitted him of murder in the detainee's death. Gallagher also was cleared of charges that he deliberately fired on unarmed civilians.
The Air Force has identified the two airmen killed in a training accident on Thursday as Lt. Col John "Matt" Kincade, 47, and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, 23.
Kincade and Wilkie were killed at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma during a training mission involving T-38C Talon aircraft, the Air Force said. Two T-38s were training in formation when the incident occurred during the landing phase, according to a press release.
A Marine lance corporal has become the first female Marine in history to graduate the Basic Reconnaissance Course, earning the military occupational specialty of 0321 Reconnaissance Marine.
Lance Cpl. Alexa Barth completed the 12-week course on Nov. 7, said Maj. Kendra Motz, a Marine spokeswoman. Barth previously graduated from the Corps' Infantry Training Battalion-East, earning the MOS of 0311 Rifleman.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- By day, Arik Rangel works as a U.S. Coast Guard operations specialist third class, but when the spotlight hits, his stage name and personalty -- Arik Cavalli -- takes over.
Rangel, born in San Marcos, Tx., was raised by a single mother with three sisters. He didn't want his mother to have to support him after high school, so he honored her and his country by joining the U.S. Air Force in 2012.
He worked as a senior airman in the Knowledge Operations Management field and was in the Air Force reserves for three years. In 2015, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard as an operations specialist and is currently stationed at Fort Wadsworth.
A new documentary tells the heroic story of the first Marine to earn the Medal of Honor since Vietnam
More than 15 years ago, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham gave his life to save his fellow Marines on the streets of Husaybah, Iraq when he leaped upon a grenade. In 2007, he became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
In the years since his death, his story of courage and sacrifice has been told and re-told. His Medal of Honor citation is read to Marine recruits during the Crucible at boot camp. And his name adorns the USS Jason Dunham, where his dress blue uniform rests in a clear display case on the quarterdeck, a solemn shrine to a young man who gave his life for his brothers in arms.
Now, Marines who served with Dunham are sharing his story in their own words, and a small group of military veterans and film makers are helping them do it as part of The Gift, a crowd-funded documentary film chronicling his life, and legacy.