McCain Calls F-35 Decision “Acquisition Malpractice”

The Pentagon’s decision to halt F-35 contract negotiations with Lockheed Martin represents “yet another symptom of our flawed defense acquisition system in general and the structure of the F-35 program in particular,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement released Thursday. McCain went on to say that “the decision to produce hundreds of aircraft, on a cost-plus basis, before the technology is developed and completed, and to do all of this, lot after lot, without an actual contract in place between the government and industry, is the height of acquisition malpractice.” The breakdown of talks over current production lots of the fifth-generation fighter jet means the government has unilaterally imposed a cost for Lot 9 production of F-35s—the largest such contract ever. McCain pointed to “acquisition reforms in last year’s and this year’s National Defense Authorization Act” that calls for the streamlining of the acquisitions process and the abolishment of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics position, currently held by Frank Kendall. (See also: And What About Lot 10)