America’s Defense Industry is a Corrupt, Incompetent Mess, by Chris Nagavonski

Like everything else the federal government is heavily involved with, the defense industry has become nothing more than a racket. From Chris Nagavonski at

In 2016, the Pentagon was confident enough in the troubled F-35 program that it extended the fighter’s projected service life from 2064 to 2070. Now, some of the $80-million aircraft may be written off well before then, despite spending 15 years in development and less than a decade in service.

A few weeks ago, a top general indicated that the Air Force is considering retiring older F-35s instead of retrofitting them with the many upgrades and fixes that have piled up throughout the fighter’s short time in service. The Marine Corps may also be forced to retire some of its F-35s in a few years. A recent Pentagon report warned that the aircraft’s many structural problems, some of which are still unresolved, could mean that older aircraft could cease to be airworthy as soon as 2026. Worse, it’s still not clear whether upgrades which were applied to later production models have actually improved their durability. Many of the Marines’ F-35s could end up serving out less than a quarter of their anticipated lifespan.

In both cases, “older” is a relative term: F-35 production started in 2006. The Marines’ F-35B model entered limited service in 2015, and the Air Force rolled out its F-35A variant just over a year later. And the F-35 isn’t the only expensive toy—almost $1.2 trillion for the entire program—that’s on the chopping block much earlier than originally planned. In February, the Navy announced that it would be decommissioning four of its Littoral Combat Ships: the USS Freedom, Independence, Coronado, and Fort Worth, the oldest of which only entered service in 2008. Meanwhile, the Navy is having trouble identifying a mission for its $16 billion LCS fleet, which will require another $61 billion to maintain and operate throughout its lifespan, assuming the rest of the ships actually remain in service as long as they’re supposed to.

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