However, the public is ill-served when that criticism ignores or doesn't include information that is damaging to their premise but important to the context of the debate.
Yesterday in the Washington Post, blogger Brad Plumer wrote a post entitled "Should the Pentagon buy more planes - or Spain?"
The intent was to illustrate the cost of fielding the F-35 for 55 years. The oft seen figure is 1.5 trillion dollars, the equivalent to the GDP of Spain. Obviously he wasn't lobbying for buying Spain, but instead was trying to illustrate a point.
He drew his information from a defense critic named Winslow Wheeler who has a tendency toward outrageous overstatement:
A final note on expense: The F-35 will actually cost multiples of the $395.7 billion cited above. That is the current estimate only to acquire it, not the full life-cycle cost to operate it. The current appraisal for operations and support is $1.1 trillion — making for a grand total of $1.5 trillion, or more than the annual GDP of Spain.* And that estimate is wildly optimistic.What Wheeler - who is an advocate of keeping and improving the current 4th generation fighters while scrapping the F-35 - doesn't bother telling us or Plumer is we'd have to "buy" Germany to fulfill his recommendation.
Yes, that's right, the cost of continuing to field all of the different 4th generation aircraft we now have, using the very same assumptions used to determine the F-35's future cost, would be approximately 4 times that of the F-35.
I don't know about you but that seems to me to be a significant bit of information that one might want to consider when weighing the matters at hand. It actually makes the F-35 a bargain, price wise, plus the fact that unlike any of the 4th gen jets, it's stealthy too.
Let me see ... I can plan to pay 1.5 trillion over the next 55 years for a state-of-the-art stealth jet and game changer or 4 plus trillion over those same number of years for aging and obsolete air frames?
I'll take Spain, thank you.