Days after the U.S. Defense Department signaled an improving relationship with Lockheed Martin Corp. over the cost of the F-35 fighter jet, Sen. John McCain called the program “one of the great national scandals.”
McCain, a Republican from Arizona and the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, was speaking during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider the nominations of several White House appointments, including Deborah Lee James to become the next secretary of the Air Force.
McCain criticized the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as the government’s first trillion-dollar acquisition program (including sustainment costs). Its repeated cost overruns “have made it worse than a disgrace,” he said. Despite recent efforts to reduce prices on the next batch of aircraft, “it’s still one of the great, national scandals that we have ever had, as far as the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars are concerned,” he said.
McCain, who also noted that the Navy’s new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier is more than $2 billion over budget, was responding to James’ comment that the current budget environment is “chaotic” and makes planning difficult.
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