Lockheed, the Senator and the F-22

by WINSLOW WHEELER

In a stunning new report on the F-22, GAO recommends no further funding for the aircraft until DOD provides a relevant justification. GAO also points out that the Air Force’s “cost saving” plan for a “multiyear procurement” will actually cost additional money. Meanwhile, as the Senate has been debating the 2007 defense budget, Lockheed has been giving Capitol Hill advice and direction – most welcome in Senator Chambliss’ office – on how it should be legislating on the F-22.

GAO recommendations and findings are rarely articulated clearly; often readers need to read the full report carefully and often between the lines. As someone who worked at GAO for nine years, let me try to explain:

In its new, June 20, letter report on the F-22 fighter to Congressman Bill Young, R- FL, Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, GAO states on p. 3:

“The value of this planned investment in modernization [purchasing F-22s beyond the 122 already paid for] is highly questionable absent a new business case that supports the minimum capability-based need, given credible current and future threats, and that considers various options that are both affordable and sustainable over time.”

And, later on p. 6,

“…it is highly questionable whether it is prudent to continue in the current path proposed by the Air Force.”

Finally, the recommendation on p. 7 reads,

”…we recommend that Secretary of Defense [sic.] delay further investments in F-22A procurement and modernization until [DOD] completes a comprehensive business case analysis that adequately considers alternatives, justifies the need for further investments, and reconciles the numbers of F-22As that are needed (i.e. based on credible current and future threats and considering other alternative approaches) as well as affordable and sustainable (i.e., based on current and expected DOD resource levels).”

GAO management would be horrified at my more stark characterization, but what this report is really saying is that

* DOD is unable to justify more F-22s;

* There is no current or future threat to warrant them, and

* They not affordable.

And, there’s more: the “multiyear” procurement plan the Air Force and Lockheed are advertising as saving money and are pushing hard on Capitol Hill will not save money, and it will delay the program. According to GAO on p. 7, “Therefore, the total additional multiyear procurement cost is $1.724 billion. Furthermore, it will add two years to the F-22A procurement program.”

Further, the Air Force seeks to add back into the program the air-to-ground capability that it claimed last year it was stripping out to save money. On p. 1, GAO points out, “However, the Air Force now plans to add a more robust ground attack and intelligence gathering capability not previously envisioned but now considered ‘necessary’ to increase the utility of the aircraft.” The cost, GAO says, will be and additional $4.4 billion between now and 2011.

Finally, GAO finds that the F-22 fails to technically qualify for the multiyear procurement plan the Air Force and Lockheed seek. On p. 5, GAO evaluates each of the six criteria and finds that the program fails on five. On the last criteria, whether the program will “promote the national security of the United States,” GAO offers the most devastating comment of the entire report, “No observation.” Put simply, given a chance to offer an assessment whether the F-22 – at any cost – would help protect America, GAO chose to pass. The very normal thing for GAO to do would be to quote what DOD or the Air Force asserts and leave it at that. In this case, however, GAO tacitly declined, implying – at least to this former GAO evaluator – that the agency could not stomach simply regurgitating official pabulum.

This GAO report is an interesting precursor to realities on Capitol Hill, where mega-corporations like Lockheed-Martin, the F-22s producer, continue to reign supreme – the dual Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff lobbying scandals (and subsequent congressional “reform”) notwithstanding.

Lockheed drafted an “F-22A WP Multiyear” information sheet to lobby in favor of the multiyear procurement plan. The sheet has been widely circulated on Capitol Hill; it is electronically dated (June 12, 2006).

Only days later some Lockheed’s same language miraculously appeared in an amendment to be introduced by Senator Saxby Chambliss, R. – GA, who represents the F-22’s final assembly plant in Marietta, GA. This amendment is electronically dated June 15, 2006.

Now read at the bottom of the Lockheed information sheet the important and operative part of the legislative language “recommended” by Lockheed to lock in the multiyear procurement: “…the Secretary of the Air Force may, in accordance with section 2306b of Title 10, United States Code, enter into.”

Now read the language of the Chambliss amendment: “The Secretary of the Air Force may, in accordance with section 2306b of title 10, United States Code, enter into.”

The only difference is some of the capitalization. (Beyond Chambliss’ direct lifting of this Lockheed language, the balance of the text of the amendment as regurgitated by Chambliss splits the multiyear procurement between that for the aircraft and that for its engine, which Lockheed’s combines into one subsection.)

It is further revealing that the text of the Chambliss amendment, as distributed by Lockheed, is a version that has not yet been formally introduced in the Senate and made available to the public. As one who worked in the Senate over three decades, I was surprised not to see the handwritten notations of the Senate clerk and the Senate amendment number – applied to all amendments once they are actually introduced – on what Lockheed is spreading around. Clearly, Chambliss’ office decided to share the final text of the [Lockheed] language with Lockheed before it was shared with the rest of the Senate and the public.

Is this evidence of collusion between Lockheed and Senator Chambliss? Surely not. Most probably, it was only telepathy.


Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information and author of The Wastrels of Defense. Over 31 years, he worked for US Senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office on national security issues. He can be contacted at: winslowwheeler@comcast.net.

 


 

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington