Akin makes unsuccessful attempt to tie F-35 funding to setting fighter's operational date

Akin’s amendment called for the Pentagon to provide an “initial operational capability date” by March 2013, or 50 percent of the procurement funds for the F-35 fighter would be fenced off.

Akin knew he was in for an uphill battle, prefacing his amendment by saying it’s the one members were told they were “supposed to vote against.”

He said that the $1.5 trillion project, the largest Pentagon weapons program in history, risked too much waste “if we don’t crack the whip.”

“The project should give us pause,” Akin said.

In offering his substitute, Smith said that threatening to take away funding for the F-35 sent the wrong signal to foreign partners on the F-35 program, many of whom have threatened to pull out as problems with the design have persisted.

If foreign countries left the F-35 program it could drive up costs even further, Smith said.

Smith’s amendment called for the Pentagon to provide an IOC date by Dec. 31, 2012, but it did not lay out any punishment if the Pentagon did not do so.

Akin said he didn’t think Smith’s amendment “would do anything at all.”

The Smith amendment passed on a voice vote, and it sounded like only Akin voiced a “no” vote.