By Martin Matishak - 07/08/14 01:37 PM EDT
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee are brushing off the latest setback to the $400 billion and counting F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which resulted in the grounding of the military’s jet of the future.
“I just want to keep it going,” said Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeGOP chairman: Kids are ‘brainwashed’ on climate change Feds withdraw lesser prairie-chicken protections A GMO labeling law that doesn’t require English? No thanks! MORE (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the panel. “It’s too modern to fail. If we’re going to maintain superiority over other countries, we have to have that, we can’t do without it.”
“When you develop a new system like this you’re going to have hiccups,” he said.
The latest hiccup for the F-35 came on June 23 when a fire erupted aboard a jet as it prepared to take off from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Late last week, the services ordered their entire existing fleet of fighters grounded until further notice, indicating a larger issue with the aircraft.
The grounding could prevent the F-35 from being showcased at air shows in the United Kingdom next week.
Development of the F-35 began in 2001, and the aircraft has since become the costliest weapons program in U.S. history. It is already seven years behind schedule and around 70 percent overbudget, despite decreased U.S. orders for the plane. The jet’s contractors are Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney.
Nine other countries have also placed orders for the F-35, which can take off vertically like a helicopter.
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain granddaughter comes out in support of Clinton With reservations, moving toward Hillary Clinton FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton closes out Democratic convention MORE (R-Ariz.), a longtime critic of military spending, said the U.S. has too much invested in the F-35 to pull the plug, even as he criticized the problems.
“In some ways it’s too big to fail, but it’s a debacle. We’ve been fighting this battle of cost overruns and glitches for a number of years,” McCain told reporters. “It’s classic example of the military-industrial-congressional complex.”
Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedDems to GOP: Admit Trump is 'unfit' to be president Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting US urges China to be calm in wake of South China Sea ruling MORE (D-R.I.) acknowledged the latest problems are serious, and said the military branches meant to fly the F-35 — the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — should “re-look at the whole schedule” for the effort.
Still, he said, such problems “are not unusual in a very sophisticated development program like this.”