The Atlantic has detailed in a feature piece what they call “The Tragedy of the American Military.” The story covers a few different aspects of modern military culture, and spends a great deal of time discussing the F-35 program. James Fallows, the author, points to the F-35 as one example of the “audacious high-tech ventures,” and “costly and spectacular failures,” which mire the Pentagon.
The condensed version of this plane’s tragedy is that a project meant to correct some of the Pentagon’s deepest problems in designing and paying for weapons has in fact worsened and come to exemplify them. An aircraft that was intended to be inexpensive, adaptable, and reliable has become the most expensive in history, and among the hardest to keep out of the shop. The federal official who made the project a symbol of a new, transparent, rigorously data-dependent approach to awarding contracts ended up serving time in federal prison for corruption involving projects with Boeing.
There is no lack of controversy surrounding the development of the F-35. Despite concern and protest over its cost, the F-35 is on track to be incorporated into the American military. Back in November, we reported on the aircraft’s first carrier landing. The pilots from the trials, according to a Lockheed Martin video, say that the F-35 has “preformed very well.”