Pentagon’s costliest program is one of its biggest debacles

Kudos to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and other congressional critics of the Department of Defense’s unconscionable cost overruns (article, “Levin seeks independent office to combat rising weapons costs,” June 3).

It’s simply incredible that the Pentagon continues to defend the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which accounts for nearly half of these overcharges, is years behind schedule and has failed to meet even basic safety requirements.

What possible defense can there be for a program that cost $300 billion to develop but so far has produced only a test aircraft that’s been grounded because of comprehensive design, performance and engineering flaws? DoD’s own testing director predicted “catastrophic failure” for the JSF if its airframe safety problems aren’t fixed.

The Government Accountability Office report said JSF’s total cost will be $1 trillion. The most expensive Pentagon program in history is also one of the biggest debacles. It’s time to follow the advice of military experts who advocate shifting funds from JSF to more successful, next-generation fighter jets.

McLean, Va.



Barr to peel away votes from McCain

From Howard Lohmuller

Andy Barr’s piece on Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) initiative to bolster limited-government Republicans does not mention the loose association Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr has with the group (article, “Paul ends campaign, launches new group,” June 12).

It is expected that many of the Paul followers will vote for Bob Barr rather than John McCain. McCain has irritated many conservatives with his stances on immigration, against domestic drilling and on global warming, as well as his cool attitude toward Christian groups. Some have estimated that McCain could lose 5 percent or more of the conservative vote to the Paul followers and more votes still to apathetic conservatives who stay home or vote for Barr.

Seabrook, Texas

Screenplay earnings should go to help vets

From Wes Pedersen

(Regarding article, “Webb could reap $1 million from screenplay,” June 13.) I sympathize with Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-Va.) revulsion over the military’s policy of repeated tours of frontline duty for GIs. If my son were in such a precarious situation, I would be tempted, as is the father in the senator’s book, to kidnap him to prevent the sort of damage to his body, his mind and his soul that others are enduring today.

If Mr. Webb can make a million dollars by selling the film rights to his novel, great. That won’t be profit in his pocket; it will, I am sure, become a substantial contribution to the GI victims of the current conflict.

Chevy Chase, Md.

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