U.S. senators decry soaring F-35 cost
Jets planned for RCAF now $1-trillion weapon: Mccain
HALIFAX • U.S. Sen. John McCain and two other members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concerns about the F-35 fighter plane on Saturday, a day after the U.S. defence secretary said his country was committed to the project.
“We’ve been very disturbed over the cost overruns that have characterized this weapon system. It is now the first $1-trillion (weapon) in history,” McCain told reporters, flanked by Democratic senators Mark Udall and Jeanne Shaheen.
“It’s not that we’re opposed to the F-35. We are opposed to out-of-control cost overruns.”
The Conservative government had been hoping U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s commitment to the program on Friday would close the issue of whether Washington would see the F-35 through to full production, despite major ongoing problems.
Mccain’s comments on the margins of a major international defence conference, however, highlight the tenuous state of the program, particularly since it will be Congress that must approve the billions that will be needed to get the plane off the drawing board and into the hands of the U.S. military and allies like Canada.
“I continue to hope that Lockheed Martin and the military will get their act together and get back on track,” McCain said. “We want the F-35 to succeed. We’re not opposed to the F-35. But we have obligations to our taxpayers.”
Despite ongoing questions about the program, the Conservative government has committed to buying 65 of the stealth fighters, arguing cost overruns and delays in the U.S. will not increase the price for Canada. It has said the cost will be $9 billion. Other estimates peg the total price at $30 billion.
Earlier in the day, Mccain and Udall were add odds about the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas.
“It strikes me that if we’re producing oil on our continent, we should put it to use here,” Udall said, but added: “There were some legitimate concerns in certain parts of the Midwest about water supplies. The only other liquid that’s more valuable is H2O itself.”
Mccain, however, was clear in his position.
‘We’re not opposed to the F-35,’ says U.S. Senator John Mccain. ‘But we have obligations to our taxpayers.’