“This latest setback appears to call into question some of the recent determinations and actions of Department of Defense senior leaders regarding the development of this critical but troubled program,” McCain said in Thursday’s letter. “Other senior Department leaders appear to have foreseen this latest delay and cost overrun.”
Since awarding aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin a $6.1 billion contract for 150 F-35A jets for the US Air Force, the Defense Department has been negotiating with Lockheed in hopes that bulk-ordering of the aircraft could cut the price to $80 million per aircraft by 2020.
McCain, a Republican who represents the state of Arizona in the Senate, added in his letter that taxpayers are entitled to a detailed accounting of the cost, schedule and contractor performance associated with technologically impressive but highly expensive weapons programs.
Since its introduction in 2006, the F-35 has been criticized as a failure and plagued with multiple problems, including with its logistics systems, avionics processors, landing gear and fuel tank design. The cost of the F-35 program is projected to exceed $1 trillion.