Commandant huddles with F-35 program managers

Dunford said F-35 program managers cannot add any weight to the Marines’ short-takeoff-and-landing (STOVL) variant without Amos pressing them about taking the same amount of weight off another part of the jet.

The Corps’ F-35 variant was last year placed on two years of probation by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates. New Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has yet to lift that, but Amos has said he is optimistic the probationary period will be lifted early.

A senior Marine Corps official recently told The Hill that the F-35 likely will always be a part of lists of military hardware programs that could be cut. It is the biggest weapons program in Pentagon history.


The program has plenty of supports and skeptics on Capitol Hill and in Washington.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDonald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE took to the Senate floor this week to call the program a "tragedy." McCain blasted cost overruns and called for prime contractor Lockheed Martin to be held accountable — and made to pay for — additional cost spikes.

But one F-35 proponent says “there's at least one front on which F-35 is excelling.” That's according to Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, also a Lockheed consultant.

“The pace of testing, which was a drag on program progress in previous years, is now running well ahead of the plan," Thompson wrote.