Lightning II Strikes Twice More

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Rodger Mallison / Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT / Getty Images

The F-35 was unveiled at Lockheed's Fort Worth plant seven years ago next month.

Thought Winslow Wheeler’s epic last week trying to nail down the cost of an F-35 Lightning II fighter was fascinating reading. Still waiting for someone to volunteer to make the contrary case.

Unfortunately, Wheeler simply charted the status quo: the nation has become inured to the notion that weapons, by and large, will cost more, take longer to produce, and do less than promised once operational.

It has been that way for so long, that it’s essentially the way the Pentagon and the defense industry ply their trade.

While strange, it may be understandable in the bizarre market that is the nation’s military-industrial complex. It’s a monopsony where – like a long-married couple – what outsiders see as perverse, those in the relationship see as endearing, or at least tolerable, given what they get out of it.

But that justification only takes one so far. A pair of stories that surfaced while Wheeler’s series was running tells darker tales about the F-35 and its backers:

— Over at the War Is Boring blog, David Axe reposts a piece he wrote for the Offiziere website about Lockheed Martin’s PR push to keep the F-35 flying. Every big-league defense contractor publicly relates its programs. But what’s happening at Lockmart, as detailed by Axe, is troubling.

— It’s even more troubling to read it right after Andrew Cockburn’s piece posted on Harper’s magazine’s blog about how the F-35 came to nest in Burlington, Vt., over the objections of its would-be neighbors.

Taken together, Winslow’s reporting and these pieces suggest Lockmart’s PR people have their work cut out for them, yet.