This week, Sen. Patrick Leahy wrote to a constituent, expressing concern with the cost of the military's newest fighter jet: the F-35.
The program is projected to cost $400 billion -- double the 2001 projection. It has also run into several production and technical delays since Congress first ordered the plane in the mid-90's.
In the letter, Leahy wrote: "The F-35 program has been poorly managed and is a textbook example of how not to buy military equipment." He said he would like to halt the program, but doesn't believe the bulk of Congress would agree, and therefore still supports stationing a fleet of the super-planes in Vermont.
"I'm confident that the contractor will get there and that we'll get an F-35 that is capable and meets the defense needs of our nation," said Vermont's new Adjutant General, Steven Cray. Cray said he believes the planes will touchdown at Burlington International by 2020. And he said he's glad to hear the Senator still backs the plane. "They're very expensive, very complicated systems," he said.
Stephen Pomeroy is a former Naval Aviator and is Associate Director of the School of Business and Management at Norwich University.
He said almost every military plane commissioned by the Defense Department since 1970 has come in significantly over budget. "We build airplanes in the Department of Defense the way Stutz built motor cars -- they're not in business any longer," he said.
Pomeroy said cost overruns are largely due to custom specifications and inherent hurdles in creating novel technology. The F-35 is designed to replace more than five planes across multiple military branches -- and near the end of their service lives. "If the United States is going to build a manned fighter aircraft, this is probably the best choice they have for now," he said. "If you think the world is going to be at peace perpetually, then we probably don't need it."
Politically, de-commissioning the plane would be nearly impossible. Production is spread over 45 states and is projected to employ more than 250,000 people.
Local opponents of the plane have said the jets could create an unhealthy environment for those who live near the airport, because the F-35 is louder than the current crop of F-16s.
Monday, December 9 2013 7:02 PM EST2013-12-10 00:02:29 GMT
A Shelburne horse owner is competent to face animal abuse charges.Investigators found several horses in terrible conditions -- along with horse carcasses -- on George Wilson's property earlier this year.More >>
Investigators found several horses in terrible conditions -- along with horse carcasses -- on George Wilson's property earlier this year.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 6:56 PM EST2013-12-09 23:56:21 GMT
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. It happened Saturday night on the Killington Road. Police say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson wentMore >>
A Vermont man admits being behind the wheel during a fatal accident in Killington but denies wrong-doing.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 6:42 PM EST2013-12-09 23:42:23 GMT
Police in New Hampshire are investigating an accident on Interstate 89 that claimed two lives. It happened on the northbound lane between Exit#18 and Exit#19 in Lebanon. The initial investigation revealedMore >>
It happened on the northbound lane between Exit#18 and Exit#19 in Lebanon, N.H. Saturday.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 6:40 PM EST2013-12-09 23:40:45 GMT
Icy conditions may have contributed to a fatal accident Monday morning in Burlington involving a school bus and a car.It happened on the beltline just south of the intersection of Plattsburgh Avenue. PoliceMore >>
A trip to school turned tragic after a car collided with a bus. The driver of the car died and one of the students saw it happen.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 6:34 PM EST2013-12-09 23:34:10 GMT
"It's nothing you ever expect to ever happen to you," said Linda Zeno.Zeno and her husband, Steve, have lived in their South Burlington home for three decades and always felt safe. Until an early morningMore >>
A South Burlington couple came face to face with an intruder lurking in their bedroom, and now they're demanding stiffer sentences for repeat offenders.More >>