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.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:10:32 GMT
Two New Hampshire communities damaged by storms are getting federal help. Lincoln will get more than $4.5 million for a bridge repair from Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA also awarded Lebanon more than $3More >>
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Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:58 GMT
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This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:06 GMT
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro. The film is called "The Address". It follows the 50 boys at the Greenwood School in Putney who have learningMore >>
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:03:58 GMT
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself. Claremont police tell us that the man was cleaning his gun Saturday night when it went off. He was taken to the hospitalMore >>
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:59:53 GMT
This towering ice fortress is dazzling visitors to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. "Yeah, this is a wow moment," says visitor Millie Gabriel. "It's an incredible feeling to see people really light upMore >>
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Sunday, March 9 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:53:41 GMT
When the Wild Center in Tupper Lake was looking at maple education programs, they hit a bit of a snag. "I took a survey of the 31 acres here at the museum and we only had one maple tree on the property,"More >>
The Community Maple program has been going for three years now, allowing people to take the sap from their backyard and learn how to turn it into syrup.
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:44 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:44:12 GMT
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March! PANCAKE BREAKFAST This year is the 20th annual Franklin Fire Dept. Pancake breakfast at the Franklin Central School. They serve more than 2,000More >>
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March!More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>