Pentagon officials took to PBS and the Pentagon press room to warn Wednesday about the impending sequester’s impact on military spending.
“We’re really trying to keep on protecting the country and delivering the defense under these circumstances,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on the PBS NewsHour Wednesday evening. “In some cases, that’s not going to be possible.” On March 1, assuming no White-House-congressional deal on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package over the coming decade, more than $500 billion in Pentagon cuts will kick in automatically, including a $46 billion cut between March 1 and October 1.
“Two-thirds of the Army active combat brigade teams, other than those that are currently deployed, would be at below acceptable levels of readiness,” Pentagon money chief Robert Hale said. “It could affect their ability to deploy to a new contingency, if one occurred, or if this goes on long enough, even to Afghanistan.”
Yet slightly more than an hour before Carter appeared on television, the Air Force slipped Lockheed Martin a little something extra to keep their fleet of F-22s flying:
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA8611-13-D-2850) with a ceiling of $6,900,000,000 for F-22 modernization…This award is a result of a sole source acquisition.
One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The F-22 program has become a parody of itself, and of all that is wrong and warped in the military-industrial complex.
Let’s review the bidding:
— The 188-plane program cost $67 billion, or more than $350 million per plane.
— Just over two years ago, the Air Force awarded Lockheed a similar $7.4 billion contract “for the development of system upgrades to existing requirements, incorporate new requirements, add capability and enhance performance in the F-22 Weapon System.”
— That’s apparently a total of $14.3 billion added to the initial cost of $67 billion — a 21% hike.
— The F-22 became operational in 2005.
— It has yet to fly a single combat mission, even as the nation has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya since the F-22 was ready for combat.
— We won’t even mention the woes plaguing the F-22’s oxygen system that compelled some pilots to stop flying the aircraft, and may have killed one of them.
This isn’t management. It’s malfeasance.
“We ought to constantly be asking ourselves, what kind of defense do we need? How much should we spend? Are we using our defense dollars wisely?” Carter said on PBS. “And the answer is, not in all cases…we, obviously, want to keep the costs of weapons systems down.”