Monday, August 12, 2013

F-35: Critics rehash same tired arguments

I stumbled upon an article in the Huffington Post that was highly critical of the F-35 program.  But a quick skim of the article revealed the same old stuff - dated opinion, cliche and partial facts.  Even the title wasn't original or fresh - "The Massive Government Train Wreck Nobody's Really Talking About".

"Train Wreck?"  That's so 2009.  Certainly anyone who has followed the program understands that it, like every program, had its problems early on.  But it has been pretty clear that the program has righted itself, testing has gone very well, it has met its milestones, production costs are coming down and we even have IOC dates set.

Hardly a "train wreck".  But then when you are committed to a certain line of reasoning or want to convey a certain opinion, such exaggerations are permissible,  even when it is clear that the current program is anything but that.

And, of course, there is this ancient canard:
An exclusive report from Reuters, published on March 29 2012, indicated that the total cost to build, develop and operate the planes over the next half-century would be $1.5 trillion.

What's $1.5 trillion? Well, even if you reduce the figure to take into account inflation, it's enough to cover any estimate of the outstanding student loan debt in America or patch up much of our the nation's aging infrastructure. 
Two points.  One, as pointed out many times, this is an apples and anvils comparison.  Defense is a Constitutional responsibility of the United States government.  It is required to both fund and field the best defense available.  What its responsibility is in the area of "student loans" is one that has been assumed for political reasons and it really has no business involving itself.  Infrastructure, on the other hand, was, until recently, mostly the responsibility of the states.   We talk about mission creep in the military - well, this author compares a real mission of the US government to an assumed one.  It's certainly not about saving money, which is clear - he just wants to spend it on other stuff.

Secondly, he never mentions that the $1.5 trillion cost is simply unsupportable as a valid number.  In fact, many of the assumptions that went into that cost estimate are no longer operative. Plus, it assumes inflation over a 50 year period which is nothing more than a guess at best.  More importantly, the F-35 program is the first program ever to have seen a cost put to it over a 50 year time frame.  As others have pointed out, if we looked at the B-52 fleet's total cost over half a century it would be just as costly.  And then there is the cost of 11 carrier battle groups over 50 years.  Or our strategic missile defense over the same time period.  

This is a propaganda point that is meaningless in reality.  We've always paid the price of having a premier defense.  This program is no different in that regard.

He then spends a bit of time telling us not to be too impressed with the falling price of the plane, because if you are, you are likely not going to believe the rest of the dated stuff he's tossing about.  Of course he never mentions the fact that costs are headed exactly where the manufacturer said they would.

Finally, we get to the real sigh-worthy reason he thinks we ought to scrap the F-35:
At the end of the day, constant investment in military technology is at best a crutch and more likely a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the current debate surrounding the F-35 program mostly involves the most cost-effective way to purchase the jets, perhaps our focus should be on how we can create a world where no country feels compelled to own 2,400 state-of-the-art killing machines. 
Well, Mr. Treadway, we're not going to see a world like that anytime soon.  And anyone who believes that skimping on defense is going to move us toward that idealistic hope is simply a fool.  These "killing machines" are designed to save lives - the lives of your countrymen.

And that doesn't come cheap.


1 comment:

  1. That guy Treadway crystallizes the left's belief about self-defense in the abstract. Focus on utopian ideas and repress concrete actions for self defense in the meantime. That is why the left is against "stand your ground" laws as well as armed citizens. That is why Obama is preaching a nuclear free world and not investing in our nuclear triad as he promised when getting the latest Russian arms control deal thru the Senate. This is also why Obama pushed DOD to take 50% of the sequestration hit.

    Treadway is running the left's playbook for the next 3 years. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the JSF is cancelled this year either.