Loren Thompson points to a recent Congressional hearing about the F-35 that must have driven the critics of the program to drink:
Thompson sums up reality however:
In one of the most positive congressional hearings the F-35 fighter program has seen since it was awarded to an industry team led by Lockheed Martin in 2001, Senate defense appropriations subcommittee chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) yesterday endorsed the military need for the plane and signaled satisfaction with the program's progress. Durbin's verdict is significant because he only recently took over the chairmanship of the subcommittee and was viewed as having an open mind on the F-35's future. After hearing from the most senior officials responsible for the program in the hearing, though, Durbin seemed to be persuaded that past problems with the Pentagon's biggest weapons program have either been resolved or soon will be.Look, it's not all sunshine and roses for the F-35 from here on out, there's still a long way to go, but it appears that all of what the services want in their future fighter is what the F-35 will deliver. It also appears that the program is under control and doing much, much better. And that seems to have sent some of the critics over the edge, leaving them few alternatives but to turn to neighborhood rabble-rousing as has Winslow Wheeler (as reported in POLITICO's Morning Defense):
Some residents from South Burlington, Vt., are banding together to fight the possibility of the F-35 Lighting II being based in their backyard. Despite support from Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders for the plan to replace an F-16 plant with the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighters, the South Burlingtonians complain the aircraft will be too loud.Reduced to a NIMBY activist.
Tomorrow, the group will simulate how much noise the F-35s could make at the South Burlington airport, according to an event invitation circulated by email today by Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington.
“We don't want to do this, and we apologize upfront to all Vermonters,” the email says. “We don't want to expose anyone to the staggering noise generated by an F-35 warplane. We don't believe in it.
Unfortunately, we are forced into doing this demonstration so that you can hear for yourself with 2,200 pounds of extremely sophisticated audio equipment the actual colossal noise generated by an F-35 and so minimized by all our Vermont political, business and military leaders.”
The group says it wants “elected political leaders to hold a public hearing, to meet with affected citizens and to discuss the threat posed by the F-35 basing in Vermont to children, homeowners, renters, immigrant communities and entire towns,” according to the email.
Thompson sums up reality however:
Senator Durbin indicated at several points during the hearing that he understands how crucial air dominance is to every other facet of modern warfare. He wants U.S. warfighters to have the best technology available, but he also wants to make sure money isn't wasted acquiring it. So while Durbin has now added his voice to the positive assessments of F-35 being rendered by everyone from the Government Accountability Office to Senator McCain, no one should assume that the challenges F-35 faces are over. Integration of on-board software still must be completed, production costs must be reduced, and sustainment practices must be clarified. The good news coming out of yesterday's hearing, though, is that more and more bright, open-minded people like Senator Durbin think the F-35 effort is on a path to doing those things successfully.Graff