March 10, 2017 - The world’s most expensive weapons project appears as though it will live to fight another day.
Despite criticism from President Donald Trump, who called the costs of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet “out of control,” the House earlier this week passed H.R. 1301, the $578 billion defense spending bill for 2017.
The bill includes $8.2 billion to purchase 74 F-35s. While the aircraft has demonstrated recent improvements, it has been plagued by cost overruns and technical failures since its 2001 inception. The life cycle of the program is estimated to be 53 years, representing a total cost to taxpayers of over $1 trillion -- more than the operations cost of the Iraq War.
Lockheed announced last month that it had reduced the cost of its latest delivery of jets by more than $700 million after Trump tweeted criticism of the program. While the president took credit for the savings, the costs of the program had already been falling.
Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35, has given over $12 million to members of Congress from January 1, 2007 to the present.
Lockheed Martin has spent $128.2 million on lobbying the federal government since 2008. The Bethesda, Md.-based company is consistently the biggest corporate recipient of tax funds, having received $36.2 billion during the 2015 budget year.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee and sponsor of the spending bill, received $103,200 from Lockheed Martin between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. Lockheed Martin is his top contributor.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, received $102,750 from Lockheed Martin between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. Her subcommittee oversees the legislation that funds the F-35 procurement program. According to OpenSecrets.org, Granger received more money from Lockheed Martin than any other member of Congress during the 2016 election cycle. A major Lockheed plant accounts for more than 10,000 jobs in Granger’s Fort Worth congressional district.