The F-35 program is a large, defense-industry Ponzi scheme.
You have read the pitch in Part 1 and Part 2 in this Thana Marketing series about the F-35 program. Who are the players in this drama? Who are the marketeers and who are the believers? Let us examine a few examples.
The U.S. Government is guilty of misleading its trusted allies about the F-35 program. They have taken on part of the job of the defense-industry in marketing an expensive, complex and flawed strike fighter concept.
There is no other way to describe this than the military-industrial-congressional complex or MICC. No tin-foil-hat needed to reach this conclusion. The F-35 program (like other military procurements) was setup to insure loyalty from Congress.
The industry part of this would be Lockheed Martin who are the prime contractor for the F-35 program. Lockheed Martin does make a lot of very good defense products. However in the case of the F-35, they are off the rails. Their manager’s number one responsibility is to the share-holders. “We never forget who we are working for…”
LM’s Tom Burbage (a person who had a very successful Navy career and is one of the prime front-men for the F-35 marketing effort), has surprisingly (or not depending on your view of history) been consistent at making misleading statements to the U.S. Congress and our trusted allies. This includes a recent appearance in front of Australian elected officials where he claimed that weight concerns on the aircraft design were manageable. These statements were not true.
The Marketeers act like believers. However the believers are guilty of parroting what the marketeers say. Believers are unwilling or unable to perform any critical risk-analysis. Believers want to hear the good news and future blue-sky-marketing and/or thana-marketing because it offers hope. Add “appeal to authority” and other common fallacies all the live long day. Once believers that have something to gain from all of this get setup, they in-turn can become marketeers.
Night of the living dead.
Australia has both marketeers and believers. Our elected officials, who were gullible and only saw the $9B potential industry work-share on the PowerPoint slides, needed no more information. They were sold.
The Australian Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy (EDB) is made up of some very smart people. It is also made of some that have questionable motivation. Take for example the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office. NACC has offered no value-added protection of taxpayer money. They have become taxpayer-funded sellers of the F-35. Lockheed Martin states something overly-optimistic about the F-35 and the NACC logs the call as analysis.
Industry believed the marketing effort by the Australian Government. They took taxpayer money for aid. They lined up investors; improved production facilities, hired and trained people based wild, unproven, over-confidence. Then they went full-speed-ahead with rent-seeking behaviour. This included pushing their local elected officials to keep the faith.
And then the orders for the F-35 didn’t appear because the development team-leadership was incompetent.
Marketeers may be guilty of misleading people, but it is the believers who have now compounded the danger by not doing any robust analysis.
All that is left now is a growing mess on a large scale. The fallout from the F-35 debacle will cost billions and be a feast for the law profession. Lawyers do not depend much on faith. They will most likely find that there is some seriously damning documentation located in many government and industry offices around the world that showed multiple stacks of F-35 risks that were ignored all to keep the marketeers and believers (and thus the money machine) moving.
They will find out. It just may take some time. By then, we will have several seriously weakened air forces around the world and billions lost.
“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office brief to Australian journalists, 2002-
". . . US$40 million dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Media Air Commodore John Harvey, AM Angus Houston, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003-
" . . US$45 million in 2002 dollars . ."
-JSCFADT/Senate Estimates, Air Commodore John Harvey, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003/2004-
". . average unit recurring flyaway cost of the JSF will be around US$48 million, in 2002 dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Press Club Briefing, Air Commodore John Harvey, 2006
". . the JSF Price (for Australia) - US$55 million average for our aircraft . . in 2006 dollars . ."
-Senate Estimates/Media AVM John Harvey ACM Angus Houston, Nov. 2006-
“…DMO is budgeting around A$131 million in 2005 dollars as the unit procurement cost for the JSF. .”
-AVM John Harvey Briefing, Office of the Minister for Defence, May 2007-
“There are 108 different cost figures for the JSF that I am working with and each of them is correct”
-Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep./Oct. 2007-
“…I would be surprised if the JSF cost us anymore than A$75 million … in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92”
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO DMO, July 2008-
". . Dr Gumley's evidence on the cost of the JSF was for the average unit recurring flyaway cost for the Australian buy of 100 aircraft . ."
-JSCFADT/Media AVM John Harvey, Aug. 2008-
Confirmed previous advice i.e. A$75 million in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92,
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep. 2009-
" ...about $77 million per copy."
-Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Feb. 2008.