Joint Strike Fighter program is trillion-dollar boondoggle

Your otherwise solid article about funding problems for the F-22 (“Obama Pentagon could face billions in bills for F-22,” Nov. 20) asserted that the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to be cheaper than the F-22. That’s wishful thinking. The JSF’s development history provides no confidence that it is a cost-effective alternative; on the contrary, it’s the most wasteful, unnecessary military program in history.

Plagued by multiple delays and cost overruns of 50 percent so far, JSF is now estimated to cost taxpayers a total of $1 trillion, even though its engineering and safety flaws are snowballing — and it seems likely to be obsolete by the time it’s finally delivered. (JSF won’t be combat-ready for another seven years.)

Recent war games conducted for Australia resulted in JSF aircraft being “clubbed like baby seals,” according to a news report. As you reported, experts have found that the JSF “can’t turn, can’t climb and can’t run” even versus existing fighters. Russian and Chinese jets are trouncing JSF in simulated war games.

This is the state-of-the-art fighter that American taxpayers are paying $1 trillion for?

The U.S. faces a painful recession, a historic financial crisis, two wars, mounting bills for entitlement programs and the need to overhaul much of its military hardware. Spending $1 trillion on a fighter that can’t beat the competition would be embarrassing if it weren’t so tragic.

Washington

Aid inconsistency

From Dan Scanlan

According to The Hill story “Pelosi: Accountability is key to automaker aid” (Nov. 23), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may demand accountability and open books from the automakers in order for them to get the same kind of bailout she awarded AIG and the financial sector. It confounds me that companies that actually make something — cars, however shoddy — would get worse treatment than those companies that deal in abstract, useless financial myths.

Grass Valley, Calif.

Obama’s head start

From Denny Freidenrich, First Strategies LLC

President-elect Barack Obama was right to release his plans for economic recovery before taking office in January. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said, “We want to hit the ground running on Jan. 20.”

In response to Axelrod’s comment, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted, “During the first couple of weeks of January, we expect to have a package ready for the president’s consideration when he takes office.”

This timeline on economics makes sense. So does the principle of the next commander in chief acting now on Iraq, instead of waiting to take office.

I suggest the president-elect meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and assign them the task of formulating a withdrawal plan before Jan. 20. This way, on his first day in office, President Obama can sign off on the plan and jumpstart the process of ending U.S. involvement in the war.

The benefit of having a plan in place sooner rather than later is twofold: First, we can redirect the billions being spent monthly in Iraq to better uses here at home; and second, we can save American lives.

Our troops have done everything asked of them in Iraq. Why put any U.S. soldiers at risk one day longer than necessary?

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Welcome, friend

From Wes Pedersen

The news that Ted Kaufman (D) will be Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s replacement as senator from Delaware should cheer Washington’s lobbyist and public affairs community. He is one of us, and one of Joe’s.

And one of President-elect Barack Obama’s. And one of DuPont’s.

Chevy Chase, Md.

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