Mises Wire

The Trillion-Dollar F-35 Fighter Program Does Not Make Americans Safer

Overspending on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program does not make America any safer. The president’s military spending increase is based on the false premise that more spending equals more security. More spending may even make America less safe by spending us into bankruptcy.

The F-35 program is expected to cost well over $1 trillion when it is fully operational and deployed. That massive investment will serve to enrich government contractors while giving interventionist politicians an offensive weapon of war. This program was created as a “too big to fail” scheme where once the government starts the process of making these fighter jets, they will have spent so much money that they can’t back away. The F-35 program is a bad deal for the taxpayer while promoting a policy that will make these same taxpayers less safe.

It appears that the massive amount put into the program has purchased a lemon of a jet. The program has been troubled from day one and is currently experiencing some padding of the contract. On September 11, 2020, Bloomberg reported, “the Pentagon’s five-year budget plan for the F-35 falls short by as much as $10 billion, the military’s independent cost analysis unit has concluded, a new indication that the complex fighter jet may be too costly to operate and maintain.” The plan for the F-35 for the next five years was an estimated “$78 billion for research and development, jet procurement, operations and maintenance and military construction dedicated to the F-35 built by Lockheed Martin Corp.” This $10 billion mistake is going to fall on the shoulders of an already overtaxed taxpayer.

One big problem with this massive spending on one defense program is that it gives interventionist politicians the tools of war that they desire. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program contains a number of versions of a stealth fighter jet that can engage other aircraft and conduct military strikes. The goal is to use these aircraft as the primary fighter jets for the air force, navy, and marines. These can be used as offensive weapons in the hands of politicians who desire to engage in the endless war policies that have left the United States vulnerable to attack. This is a very expensive program that will not provide $1 trillion in security for American citizens.

Typical with government defense contracting, there have been numerous problems that have shifted significant increased cost onto the Pentagon. Defense News reported recently that the contractor was trying to stick the taxpayer with the cost of spare parts for the F-35. According to Blomberg, the taxpayer received more bad news: “the F-35’s total ‘life cycle’ cost is estimated at $1.727 trillion in current dollars.” That is an insane amount of taxpayer cash and “$1.266 trillion is for operations and support of the advanced plane that’s a flying supercomputer.” When pressed by Bloomberg, a Pentagon spokesman bragged that a Pentagon “cost analysis office projects that the average procurement cost for an F-35, including its engines, is dropping from a planned $109 million to $101.3 million in 2012 dollars.” Only in Washington would a bureaucrat brag about ripping off American citizens by just under $8 million less as a deal for the taxpayer.

While some support this flawed program no matter how much it costs and actually advocate spending more taxpayer cash on it, Americans want that $1.7 trillion spent at home and not on a transnational defense spending program to defend other nations.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is not worthy of a massive investment by the taxpayer when it does not make America safer while also being a poorly negotiated government contract that has stuck the taxpayer with a massive bill.

Image Source: Stuart Rankin via Flickr
Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. 

Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

Become a Member
Mises Institute