Sleazy Military Contractors Are Crying Foul Over Drones -- They Stand to Lose Billions
This article first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation.
All the talk about drones focusses on their “morality.” But there's a funny thing about morality talk: most of it seems to come down to money. This time's no different.
The worst thing about drones is that they’re cheap. That’s interfering with the vacation-home budgets of a lot of very sleazy DoD contractors and their pet Texas congressmen, and that’s why you’re hearing a consensus around how “immoral” drones are.
Remember this: Drones are a threat to the sleaziest acquisition program in the history of defense contracting: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. There have been some pretty disgusting lemons in the sorry history of the DoD — you just have to think back to SDI, also known as “Star Wars,” to find a weapons system that not only didn’t work but was never meant to work — but I’d have to say that the F-35 is an even bigger con job than Star Wars.
Don’t just take it from me — serious hawks who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to military aviation are saying this. John McCain, who crashed a few fighter jets in his time, joined Robert Gates when he was still SecDef to go public with what every Pentagon insider already knew: The F-35 is a godawful piece of boondoggle junk, and nobody wants it.
I can’t sum up the F-35 better than McCain did:
"It has been an incredible waste of the taxpayers' dollar and it hurts the credibility of our acquisition process, our defense industry…[and]…reinforces the view of some of us that the military-industrial- congressional complex that President Eisenhower warned us about is alive and well."
So there’s the lineup: In the blue corner, everybody with any decency or sense. In the red corner, a bunch of Texas Congressmen who own stock in the companies involved. My money’s on the Texans, I’m sorry to say, because there’s just too much money to be made on the F-35 for these pigs to pass up.
I'm talking about more money than you can possibly imagine. Guess how much each F-35 is supposed to cost. (That’s not what it’s actually going to cost, which is always way more, just what they say it’ll cost.) You may think you know that fighters are expensive toys, but let’s play The Price Is Wrong — write down your guess.
The correct answer is “$200 million for the base model.” Two. Hundred. Million. For just one billion dollars, folks, you can get five of these dogs, which will do almost as well as an F-16 that cost about 8% of what we’re gonna pay for the F-35! That, folks, is what the F-35 backers consider a deal too wasteful to resist.
Now let’s move on to advanced math, with lots of extra zeroes, to figure out how much the whole program will cost. We’ll make it a story problem: “If the American people are stupid enough to pay $200 million for each barks-like-a-dog F-35, and they go through with the planned purchase of 2,443 of these flying cash dispensers, how many billions in treasury bonds will we have to sell to the Chinese just to line the pockets of some sleazy Texas congressmen and their contractor pals?”
Let’s see, that’s $200,000,000 X 2,443 = $488600000000. Call it five hundred billion dollars, with tax and gratuity. Half a trillion. Remember that scene in Austin Powers where the UN laughs when Dr Evil demands “one…MILLION…dollars”? Well, at DoD Procurement, they’d laugh even harder if he’d said, “One…BILLION…dollars.” They don’t even get excited until you’re into the hundred-billions. Millions and billions are for little people, like taxes.