Our Pentagon 'treasure': The F-35

by Mary Ann McGivern

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For Lent I’ve been pursuing the theme, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also” (Mt. 6:21). Our U.S. treasure resides, of course, in the Pentagon’s research, development, manufacture, ownership, sale and gift of weapons. This year we will spend about $700 billion at the Pentagon.

The Government Accounting Office published a list of Pentagon boondoggles -- procurement contracts that are both expensive and ineffective. It is difficult to get one’s head around that word “expensive.”

The planned F-35 fighter airplane, for example, will cost more than the GDP of Australia -- about a trillion dollars. So says Dominic Tierney in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine.

Some years ago I was at an arms briefing for contractors at a Washington, DC hotel. (In reply to my appeal, the organizers gave me a cut-rate $300 registration fee.) Among other things, I heard one speaker say that it would be a crime for our grandchildren to be flying F-15s and F-18s. We needed the F-35 -- it was a matter of justice.

He neglected to say that nobody else makes a plane that can climb a mile, going straight up; carry bombs and missiles; fly thousands of miles on a tank of gas; and land on a carrier ship. Really, I wanted to tell them that the F-15 would be just fine. And The New York Times notes that in 40 years only one of our fighter planes has been shot down.

There is plenty to be said about waste, fraud and abuse here. Where is the Tea Party when we need them? And then there is the cry of the poor which can’t be heard over the engine roar.

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