The top officers in the Navy and Marine Corps defended their most expensive program, Lockheed Martin’s troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while acknowledging the way the Pentagon buys such weapons is not merely broken but “constipated.”
“There’s no alternative for the United States Marine Corps to the F-35B,” Commandant Gen. James Amos said at the opening session of the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference. “I want to make that crystal clear to everybody in the audience.” All the great aircraft of the past have gone through teething troubles in development, said Amos, a pilot himself.
“Speaking for the Navy,” added the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, “I need the fifth-generation fighter, and that [F-35] provides it, so we’re all in — but it has to perform. It has problems; it is making progress.”
“I do not at this point believe that it is time to look for an exit ramp, if you will, for the Navy for the F-35C,” continued Greenert, who in the past has damned the Joint Strike Fighter with similar faint praise.
Their commitment to the aircraft aside, both men acknowledged – in response to a pointed question from Reagan’s Navy Secretary, John Lehman — that the procurement process which produces systems like the F-35 is a mess. “The process is constipated,” said Gen. Amos. “It’s broke.”
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