Dear Mr. Hurd:
Thank you for contacting me about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
I support proposals to responsibly reduce the Pentagon’s budget. I believe the Pentagon can save substantial amounts by improving its acquisition system and leveraging the savings of the National Guard and Reserve. Reprioritizing defense spending will better prepare the United States to face its current and future security challenges.
I have heard from a number of Vermonters who have specifically questioned the value of the F-35. The F-35 program has been poorly managed and is a textbook example of how not to buy military equipment. The causes of the F-35 program’s present difficulties are too numerous to detail in my response to your letter; however, I believe the F-35 program is approaching a point where the military services and a majority of Congress will recognize that the jet is just too costly to proceed with purchases at today’s planned levels. That recognition may lead to a decision to diversify of our future fighter jet fleet, with the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps opting to modernize their current fleet of fighter jets and substantially reduce the total number of F-35s that they plan to buy. I do not believe, because of the huge sums taxpayers have already invested and because the F-35 is our only next-generation aircraft presently in development, that a majority of Congress or military leaders will support terminating the program entirely.
I have pushed and continue to push for a better approach to buying military equipment. I don’t think “one size fits all,” monolithic, ultra-expensive equipment is what our troops need, but enacting a change to the F-35 program at this stage will require the support of a majority of members of Congress. Please know that I am working to find savings in this program and elsewhere in the Pentagon budget to reinvest that money in other critical areas.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.
United States Senator