Maybe This Time

The Pentagon’s track record for producing the stealth aircraft that it spends lavishly to develop is pretty poor, says Barry Watts of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Speaking Wednesday at an F-35 panel discussion sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va., Watts said the Defense Department planned to produce 2,778 stealth aircraft from its first four operational stealth programs (F-117, A-12, B-2, and F-22). But it actually produced just 267. Watts said the US spent about one dollar in development for every three dollars worth of production of new aircraft in the Vietnam era. But in the post-Cold War era, that ratio has dropped to about $1.40 in production for every dollar spent on development, he said. He expressed hope that, perhaps, with no alternatives to the F-35, it “might be the first to break that historical trend.”