What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson
November 2, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.


Navy pollutes water system

DECEMBER 14, 2016

Navy Contaminates Coupeville Wells from Navy OLF Training Site

Residents Warned Against Drinking, Preparing Food with Their Water

The Navy has delivered bottled water and warnings to the first of what may be many homes with contaminated drinking water that are located in the area of the Navy’s Outlying Field (OLF) near Coupeville.

At least two property owners, some of the first who took the Navy up on its offer to have their water wells tested, were notified by phone that their water contained toxic chemicals above EPA Health Advisory Levels.

The Navy’s testing of private and public water wells followed the October 11 discovery of toxic chemicals in an OLF drinking water well that signaled contamination of the underlying aquifer. The fear that perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) found beneath the OLF had spread beyond Navy property prompted a November 7 letter to more than 100 private and public drinking water well owners in a one mile radius.


Pentagon buries evidence of $125 Billion in Bureaucratic waste

By Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward
December 5, 2016

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.


Trump targets F-35 program

By Damian Paletta and Doug Cameron
December 12, 2016

Donald Trump took aim at the Pentagon’s costliest program on Monday, saying on Twitter the “program and cost” of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter “is out of control.”

This is the second defense program in recent days the president-elect has unloaded on for cost issues. Last week, Mr. Trump claimed the government’s second-largest defense contractor, Boeing Co., had run up costs in the development of new Air Force One aircraft.


Trump Tweet Targets F-35 Overruns

By Kyle Midura

December 12, 2016

The battle over bringing the F-35 fighter jet to Burlington took a turn Monday with a tweet by President-elect Donald Trump.

Just before a pair of F-35s touched down in Israel, a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump sent the manufacturer’s stock into a free-fall. “The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” he wrote, “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”

The F-35 accounted for 20-percent of Lockheed Martin’s total revenue last year. Morning trading saw shares in the company fall by more than 4-percent.

Some estimates place the cost of designing and building the planes at $400 billion — currently costing more than $100 million per plane.

Eighteen of the planes are set to land in Vermont in 2019. Vermont Air National Guard officials say they won’t speculate on the meaning of Trump’s tweet or what it means for the jets’ future here. They passed our request for comment to the Department of Defense.


F-35 unit cost

By Winslow Wheeler
December 22, 2016

On Dec. 12, 2016, president-elect Donald Trump asserted that F-35 unit cost was “out of control” through his preferred medium Twitter. On Dec. 19, 2016, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, in charge of the Joint Strike Fighter project, gave the press his version of things.

Multiple media outlets passed along the officer’s comments, but with no analysis of the completeness and accuracy of Bogdan’s assertions. The reports offered no context or alternative views on the stealth fighter’s actual cost per plane.

The general said each one of the Air Force’s F-35A would cost $102.1 million, while both the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs and and U.S. Navy’s F-35Cs would set the taxpayer back 132 million each. Those costs average to approximately $122 million for a “generic” F-35.

Bogdan got these numbers from the funds Congress set aside in the 2015 defense budget for what the Pentagon called “Lot 9,” just one of a number of planned F-35 purchases. In November 2016, the U.S. military was still negotiating the final deal with plane-maker Lockheed Martin.

Needless to say, the unit costs Bogdan gave the media were incomplete.


US Voters Favor Cutting Carrier, F-35, Overall Defense Spending

By Andrew W. Clevenger
March 8, 2016

A majority of Americans favor cutting the US defense budget in five out of seven key areas, including nuclear weapons and missile defense, according to a new University of Maryland survey released March 9.

Nationally, a majority supports modest budget cuts to air power ($2 billion), ground forces ($4 billion), naval forces ($2 billion), nuclear weapons ($3 billion) and missile defense ($1 billion). No majority emerged for either cutting or increasing the budgets of the Marine Corps or Special Ops forces.

In total, a majority of respondents would cut the defense budget by $12 billion. When broken down by party, a majority of Republican respondents would leave the defense budget as is, while the majority of Democrats would cut it by $36 billion (including $11 billion cuts to both air power and ground forces), a larger cut than the $20 billion cut supported by a majority of Independents.


Money for lobbyists to find military missions

By David Wichner
Feb. 28, 2016

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base would start losing its A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets as soon as the fall of 2018 under a new plan to retire the entire A-10 fleet by 2022.

The Air Force said in early February it would delay its proposed retirement of the A-10 ‘Warthog’ – a close-air-support jet that represents a mainstay of D-M operations – until 2022. Earlier attempts by the Air Force to mothball the jet by 2019 were turned back by Congress.

That announcement was cheered by A-10 backers in Congress, including Arizona Sen.John McCainand Rep. Martha McSally ,a Tucson Republican and former A-10 combat pilot, who led efforts that halted A-10 retirements the Air Force had initially sought to start in 2015.


New planes but no more airmen

By Phillip Swarts
Feb. 22, 2016

The Air Force is asking for an increase of $1.3 billion to its main operating budget in fiscal 2017, but it doesn’t increase end strength, according to budget documents released Feb. 9.

Top brass has requested $120.4 billion for FY2017, leaving Air Force end strength to about 490,000 airmen; the service will remain the smallest it has been since it was created. But the Air Force sounded the alarm Feb. 9 about its increasing responsibilities and the budget’s inability to keep up.


Sanders’ position on the F-35 contradicts his views on defense spending

By Sarah Sicard
Jan. 14, 2016

Though Sen. Bernie Sanders advocates for spending cuts, he also supports the costliest program ever funded.
Democratic candidate for president and Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders, seems to have contradictory policies regarding the Defense Department.

Within his platform regarding the military, he suggests that the U.S. military spends too much money on defense, and is known to staunchly oppose military engagement unless absolutely necessary.

In a town hall meeting in Iowa City, Sanders said, “We know that there is massive fraud going on in the defense industry. Virtually every major defense contractor has either been convicted of fraud or reached a settlement with the government …We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world. But I think we can make judicious cuts.”


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