John McCain is ragging on the F-35 again? Say it isn’t so, FighterSweep Fans. It appears as though the good Senator, despite the staggering amount of DoD money pouring into his state–thanks to the Air Force and Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter units at Luke AFB and MCAS Yuma, has more unkind things to say about the program. Citing cost overruns, timeline delays, and performance, McCain called the program “a scandal and a tragedy.”

Sen. John McCain slammed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s troubled history Tuesday, saying it “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”

The development of the Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth jet, has been beset by spiraling costs and schedule delays. The program’s price tag is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes — almost twice the initial estimate.

McCain, an Arizona Republican, called the cost overruns “disgraceful” and noted that the F-35 program had originally promised 1,013 fighters by fiscal year 2016 but had only delivered 179.

McCain added that the plane’s delays meant that “the last F-35 will be delivered in 2040,” and given that potential adversaries like China and Russia were investing in modern aircraft technology, he said he “cannot fathom how this strategy makes any sense.”

John McCain on F-35: "A Scandal And A Tragedy"
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) talks to reporters after a closed-door Senate Armed Services Committee briefing. (Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

He made the comments while chairing a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the F-35.

In his testimony, the F-35 program’s executive officer, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan acknowledged the problematic development, saying it was sometimes “slower” than he would like. But he defended the current status of the plane, adding that he was “confident the current risks and issues we face can be resolved and we’ll be able to overcome future problems and deliver the F-35’s full combat capability.”

But Bogdan confirmed that the Air Force’s variant of the strike fighter would be delayed by an additional 60 days and would not reach initial operating capability, its minimum usefully deployable form, until October 2016.

The original article can be viewed in its entirety right here.
(Featured Photo courtesy of AP/The Arizona Republic, Mark Henle)