Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Trump's Acting Pentagon Chief Reportedly Said The $1 Trillion F-35 Is 'F*cked' And Never Should Have Been Made
The new defense chief, a former Boeing employee, has reportedly been extremely critical Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in private meetings, raising questions about whether he is bias in overseeing the largest weapons program in history.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who took over in the wake of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation, spent more than 30 years at Boeing before he joined the Department of Defense in 2017 as the deputy secretary of defense.
Although he signed an ethics agreement recusing himself from participating in matters involving Boeing, the new defense chief has continuously bashed a key program for one of Boeing's top competitors in high-level meetings at the Pentagon and other private gatherings, Politico reports, citing former government officials who personally heard Shanahan make critical comments.
Shanahan reportedly called the F-35 stealth fighter "f---ed up,' saying that Lockheed "doesn't know how to run a program."
"'If it had gone to Boeing, it would be done much better,'" a former official recalled Shanahan saying, Politico reported.
He is said to have "dumped" on the aircraft regularly, with a former Trump administration official noting that he kind of "went off" on the program last year. "He would complain about Lockheed's timing and their inability to deliver, and from a Boeing point of view, say things like, 'We would never do that,'" the former official revealed.
U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Brian West, watches his aircraft approach for the first time at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 14, 2011. Aircraft 0747 is the Department of Defense's newest aircraft. (U.S. Air Force/Samuel King Jr.)
In other private meetings, Shanahan has reportedly called the program "unsustainable," complaining about the cost in particular of the stealth fighters, with separate versions built for the Navy, Marines and Air Force. The F-35 is expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the life of the program, making it the most expensive weapon in US military history.
Current administration officials, however, told Politico that Shanahan's comments are being taken out of context, stressing that he is not advocating for Boeing. "I don't believe that's the case at all. I think he's agnostic toward Boeing at best," one official explained. "I don't think there's any intent to have Boeing favored in the building."
This is not the first time Shanahan's loyalties have been called into question. The Pentagon is supposedly planning a request for $1.2 billion for 12 Boeing F-15 X fighter jets, a decision that was made at Shanahan's urging, according to Bloomberg News. Air Force leaders had previously stated that there was no reason to buy these advanced fourth-generation fighters because these aircraft lack the necessary stealth capabilities provided by fifth-generation planes, according to Defense News.
Despite the allegations, Shanahan's office says he remains committed to the recusal. In public, he has spoken highly of the F-35 program.
"The F-35 is our future," he said in September at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference. "I think we can all agree that it is a remarkable aircraft, with eye-watering capabilities critical to the high end fight."
"I tip my hat to its broad team of government, industry, and international partners. Having worked on programs of similar size and complexity, I have enormous respect for your talent and commitment."
Read more from Business Insider:
- As the U.S. prepares to withdraw from Syria, the Trump administration still doesn't know what to do with hundreds of ISIS prisoners
- Watch the iconic U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane fly over the NCAA college football championship
- Taiwan is changing up its combat drills to fight off an invasion by China
- Wisconsin senator asks Air Force to investigate 'culture' of sexual misconduct in state Air National Guard unit
- Two Marine snipers have redeemed the Corps with a big win after its embarrassing loss to the Coast Guard last year
Investigation shows Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon was fired for alleged 'misconduct' but has not been charged
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
That's right, Superman is (at least temporarily) trading in his red cape, blue tights, and red silk underpants for a high and tight, a skivvy shirt and, well, he's still rocking silkies.
A first look at the 'CoD Modern Warfare' reboot shows juggernaut and ghillie suits return to multiplayer
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!