F-35 and V-22 Targeted by U.S. Fiscal Reform Commission
The U.S. National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform drafted a recommendation for large reductions in U.S. military spending in an effort to save $200 billion. The document suggests ending procurement of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and slashing the planned buy of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Specifically, the report cites the troubled history of the V-22’s developmental and maintenance issues, and proposes ending acquisition at 288 aircraft (about two-thirds of the planned buy) and substituting helicopters to perform some of the Osprey’s missions. The F-35B STOVL (short takeoff and vertical landing) version of the JSF for the U.S. Marine Corps would be eliminated entirely. Technical problems, schedule delays and cost overruns were cited as justification for terminating the 311-aircraft program and saving $41 billion. The commission also suggested further substitutions of F-16 and F/A-18 fighters for half of the Air Force and Navy’s planned purchase of 1,443 F-35s, comparing the stealthy jet’s unit cost of $133 million to the F-16’s $40 million and F/A-18E’s $80 million. According to the commission’s report, the Department of Defense does not need an entire stealth-capable fleet and could rely on a “high-low” aircraft mix. The panel emphasized that its recommendations were only a draft, and not a definitive proposal.