Aide: McCain will oppose Pentagon plan to pay for new F-35 fighter cost spike

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) will oppose a Pentagon request to transfer $264 million from other accounts to begin paying for a new $771 million cost spike, a Senate aide tells The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT
That news comes two days after McCain revealed this on Twitter: "Congress notified that first F-35 jets have cost overruns of $771M."

McCain, long a critic of the Lockheed Martin-led program, and one of the Senate's most outspoken and blunt members let his feelings about the new cost spikes be known in the same tweet. "Outrageous! Pentagon asking for $264M down payment now. Disgraceful," he tweeted.

The $771 million overrun covers the first 28 F-35s the Pentagon is buying. The Pentagon informed lawmakers on Monday of a need to move monies within its budget for a $264 million down payment, as the aide called it, via a reprogramming request sent across the Potomac River in June.

“I intend to strongly oppose future ‘reprogramming requests’ unless they can be fully justified to the American taxpayer," McCain said later Thursday in a statement.

“Any new requests for additional funding by the Department of Defense should be submitted to the Congress for formal review, debate, amendment, and approval by the appropriate defense committees and the full body of both Houses of Congress," McCain said. "This should be done as a request for emergency funding or be funded through supplemental appropriations legislation by Congress and offset against commensurate, identified cuts in spending.”

McCain and SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday to raise their concerns about the cost spike.

-- This story was updated at 5:23 p.m.

More in Defense

Feds warn ISIS targeting US military personnel

Read more »