ate Friday afternoon, less than a week after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued dire warnings about the pending defense cuts, the Pentagon announced that it had grounded its next generation F-35 fighter because of engine problems. This was the second time in two months the plane has been taken out of service.
Friday afternoon is Washington’s preferred time to release bad news and hope reporters, already thinking about the weekends, will turn a blind eye. But after this latest failure, the problems with the F-35 are simply too numerous to ignore.
Equally impossible to ignore is the $1.5 trillion price tag for one of the biggest failures in Pentagon history. $1.5 trillion is the cost of operating the air craft for 55 years, an amount that has been consistently increased as the program drags on. It’s the most expensive weapons system the Pentagon has ever commissioned. And as problems mount, there are growing concerns that the F-35 will never fly a combat mission.