F-35 Bookkeeping…

May 10, 2013

F35As defense secretary, Robert Gates withheld $614 million from Lockheed Martin in 2010 for its lackluster work on the $400 billion F-35 fighter program, the most costly weapon system ever bought.

Source: F-35 Bookkeeping | TIME.com.

A few hundred million here a few hundred million there and before long you are talking about real money. It is totally unfathomable to me how we could spend $400 billion on one plane design!  But it seems that the $614 million that Gates took away was actually just delayed. He planed on giving it back at a later date. I can only hope that Secretary Hagel is a little more stingy with my tax dollars.

I like to figure, especially when my money is being spent, just what something is going to cost me and what benefit will I glean from it.  For the sake of this post let me assume that I am in the military aircraft buying mode. I can’t possibly see that actually happening even in a moral support thing but lets assume it anyway.

At an estimated $140 million each these planes will be by far the most expensive ever built. I’m sure a very big percentage of that cost is justified as being about pilot safety.  Being stingy with my own money I can’t see why we don’t shelve this whole thing and build a few more pilotless drones to replace them.

The F-35 is as above costed at $140 million each and is estimated to cost about $600/hour to operate. The MQ-1 drone, which is currently the primary drone of choice costs about $4 million each and cost about $3.50/hour to operate. So getting my calculator out I can buy thirty-five drones and still save money and of course risk no pilot’s lives. If I were the enemy which would I be more fearful of, one super expensive plane with a pilot on board, or thirty five drones circling over head.  I don’t know much about the terrorist business but I would expect the later.

I hope there are at least a few bean-counter left in Washington to figure this stuff out. I know the drone industry is much like the fighter aircraft business who see this cash-cow and are trying to figure out how to add more bells and whistles to drones to drive up the costs and therefore their profits so we might just have a short window of opportunity to make a decision here. If they don’t have enough calculators in the Pentagon I would be more than willing to send them a few of mine. I seem to have plenty of them around.


7 responses to F-35 Bookkeeping…


    Of course there is the arguement that drones are a part of inhumaine war.
    We have found another thing to agree on here.

    bTW – my son said that the Army does not need any more tanks, but the congressional district in Ohio got the contract continued. We currently give these away as soon as we buy them!



      We need a 50% sequester dedicated to the DoD equipment plans (ha). I’m not in favor of drones either but just wanted to take that side for the comparison being made. But is any war humane?



    My daughter once worked for a major defense contractor as an accountant. The government contracts were very lucrative of course. However, they constantly changed their minds about what they wanted, modified what they wanted, and cancelled after spending millions of dollars. Many employees are hired and let go then rehired based on these contract fluctuations. No doubt those who hold political office at the time influence the whole shebang. So much waste and inefficiency…and yes, corruption.



    NOOOOO! The huge problem is that it IS being run by private industry! Think Haliburton (an oil company) and Boz Allen (an accounting firm)- huge players of this multi billion dollar industry. The main thing holding military back is Congress. We have to get big business out of defense industry. The changes in contracts that Jane refers to are often NOT made by actual soldiers- but by private suggestions to Congressmen. (Son studied acquisitions at West Point). The industry makes way more money by modifications and changes (sort of like the road works industry in the East).
    I like the idea of 50% hold on all military equipment.

    I am all for just getting out of the war business….”but where will all those people work?”
    AGGGG! It is a never ending circle.



      Janette, I just finished a future post about unemployment and the military so you are upstaging me again 😉 It should be out in the next week or so. It is just my opinions so not worth much though…. But we all have opinions don’t we?

      At least if we privatized it, it wouldn’t have 535 different cooks around the pot as it does now. But this is one area, and probably the only one, where I agree with the Tea party; DoD definitely belongs with the government.



    You might think about expanding it to unemployment and the military industry – which hires five to one over the military!