Joint Strike Fighter program not the answer to jet shortfall

Roxana Tiron deserves high praise for her informative article on the impending shortfall of carrier fighter jets (“Debate over fighter jets intensifies,” April 20), which could seriously impair the ability of the U.S. to respond to crises across the globe at a moment’s notice.

However, Ms. Tiron neglected to note that no one expects the trillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter to arrive on time, which means that the Navy’s actual fighter shortfall will be much worse than the 129 planes predicted.

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The Government Accountability Office has noted that the JSF program has repeatedly made poor decisions — like cutting test aircraft and starting production before completing critical testing — that might help cover up cost overruns but virtually guarantee years more of delays. That’s particularly troubling given the poor track record of JSF engineering failures and redesigns in early stages of development.

And, as Ms. Tiron’s article pointed out, there’s little chance that the Navy can extend the life of its F-18s to 10,000 hours — even if we kept Navy maintenance crews working around the clock at an outrageous cost.

The simple answer to the Navy’s fighter shortfall is to purchase fewer JSF aircraft and use the savings to purchase more F-18 Super Hornets, which have next-generation capabilities similar to the JSF, have been proven in combat, and are ready to go into production today.

So why is the Pentagon betting it all on JSF?

Montgomery, Ala.


The writer was an operations specialist with the Navy from 2004-’08 and served two deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Gentleman pioneer in economics reporting

From Nelson Lewis, Fox News Channel

Irving R. Levine was my mentor and friend, and I was deeply saddened to learn of his death.

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I first met Mr. Levine while a journalism student at Lynn University, where he was dean of the College of International Communication. After I graduated in 2006, we remained in close contact and he encouraged me to move to Washington to take a job with the Fox News Channel. I’ll never forget our lunches together at the Cosmos Club. Eventually he implored me to enroll in Georgetown University’s graduate program in political journalism.

My first words to Dean Levine were as a freshman at Lynn. Aglow with youthful bravado, I informed him of my ambition to be the next Peter Jennings. Shortly thereafter, the phone rang, and on the other end of the line — to my great surprise — I heard the distinctive voice of Irving R. Levine inviting me to lunch. That was the beginning of my seven years of knowing Mr. Levine and his lovely wife, whom I call “Miss Nancy.”

Were it not for Mr. Levine — who co-founded the predecessor to CNBC, the Financial News Network — the entire financial TV news industry would not exist in today’s form. That keen ability to deliver the larger economic picture with such deftness quickly propelled him to national prominence. Mr. Levine will be remembered as a pioneer of American broadcasting. His precise delivery and unique ability to explain the intricacies of international finance in everyday language made him a top-notch raconteur, whom others have subsequently tried to emulate.

I will never forget standing in his office and having him patiently teach me how to tie a bow tie. His wit and sheer ability to explain the fine concepts of economics in his trademark professorial way paved the way for the new era of journalists covering finance. My grandfather, the late businessman J. Curtis Lewis Jr., who owned an NBC affiliate in Georgia, was also a tremendous fan of Mr. Levine’s insightful reporting.

Mr. Levine, you will be deeply missed, and you leave a large void in the field of television news. At your roast at the National Press Club the evening of May 8, where I spoke and was joined by your other admirers and contemporaries, one common denominator in our sentiments emerged: that you were a consummate gentleman and the quintessential foreign and economics correspondent. God bless, Mr. Levine.

Washington

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