Saying the current plan, “may not be affordable” is putting it mildly. The long-term sustainment costs of F-35 have been pegged by GAO at roughly $1 trillion. Think about that for a moment. It’s hard to wrap your mind around something costing a trillion dollars. And as good as the GAO is at costing these things out, I have no doubt this estimate will continue to creep upward. Can the Pentagon afford such a massive investment, for a plane designed to be in the inventory for at least 40 years, when the nature of warfare in 2025, much less 2055 is unknowable?Uh...yeah....this is going from a travesty to a tragedy.
I certainly hope this initial operational capability designation doesn’t mean the Pentagon believes the F-35 is now eligible for Overseas Contingency Operations funding. The Marines asked to reprogramunspent contingency operations funds at the end of the last fiscal year to buy more F-35s. Thankfully, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee forcefully shut that down. But initial operational capability and Overseas Contingency Operations share one common root word: “operations.” People who care about fiscal sanity and sound budget practices should be watching for this.