WASHINGTON — Every year, the Pentagon and its corporate partners hash out contracts for individual low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots of the F-35 joint strike fighter. If the man running the program has his say, those days are numbered.
With the negotiations over LRIP 8 at a conclusion, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, is planning on negotiating LRIP 9 and 10 together. And come LRIP 11, he wants a whole new model of procurement in place.
“By next summer we will put out a request for proposal on LRIP 11 jets,” Bogdan told reporters Thursday. “That RFP will ask Lockheed to do a block buy for our partners. At least, that is my intention.”
A number of partner nations have already committed to large procurements of the fifth-generation stealthy jet, so bundling their orders together is just logical, Bogdan said.
But while a block buy could benefit international partners, the US would not be able to participate in such a buy due to acquisition rules barring a multi-year procurement until the jet enters full-rate production.
In other words, the United States would be paying more per F-35 model than a country such as, for argument’s sake, South Korea, which has pledged to procure 40 F-35A fighters through foreign military sales.
It’s all come down to today.
This year’s election cycle was the first one in which our group has existed. And it was one of the toughest we’ve ever seen when it comes to fiscal issues.
Many establishment candidates chose to ignore fiscal issues entirely, while even Republicans started running attack ads on opponents for supporting spending reform.
Because the deficit went down, temporarily, too many people simply forgot about cutting spending.
Despite these tough odds, though, 130 candidates signed their commitment to the simple principles of Reject the Debt. While making such predictions is always difficult, based on our most conservative estimates, we’ll at least double our elected pledge signers by the time voting is over.
Many people think of today as the end, the winding down of hard-fought battles.
In fact, the opposite is true. After today, the really hard work begins.
Especially if we head into the new cycle with self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives in charge, we have to redouble our efforts to make sure spending doesn’t skyrocket while no one is watching. We know from very recent history that Republicans and Democrats alike are prone to support irresponsible spending when they aren’t held accountable.
The time for relying on promises alone is long gone. It’s time to make sure these promises are kept.
Stay tuned. Today is only the beginning.
In case you missed it, last week, Sen. Tom Coburn released his final Wastebook, highlighting “the most outlandish government spending.”
And while waste, fraud, and abuse might not always count as the type of major spending that drives our national debt, these examples are instructive because they show that no department is immune from irresponsible spending — that every department desperately needs reform.
Some examples highlighted by Coburn include.
- Coast guard party patrols – $100,000
- Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000
- Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million
- Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition — $1 billion
- Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax free – $10 million
- Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million
And the list goes on and on.
Often, politicians like to pretend that there’s “nothing to cut,” that spending reform will be damaging and traumatic to normal functions of government.
Senator Coburn’s report shows the absurdity of such an assumption.
It’s safe to say every department wastes money. Every office can manage some cost-cutting. In such a dire financial situation, we simply can’t afford not to.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week yesterday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) provided a stark example of why many politicians — even Republicans who claim a commitment to fiscal restraint — lack credibility on the issue.
Often, establishment Republicans will say that big spending on certain discretionary programs they support is, well, acceptable because the real focus should be on entitlement programs, the major drivers of our debt.
While we think they are wrong to make any program a sacred cow, they are right that, at 60% of total spending, mandatory entitlement programs are a massive portion of our budget that must be addressed.
Unfortunately, though, too many of these politicians can’t even be trusted to take on what they say they will.
Politico reports the latest twist in what has been a challenging election season for fiscal conservatism [emphasis added]: