Panetta: F-35 Needs Careful Oversight

Defense Secretary nominee Leon Panetta assured lawmakers Thursday that he wants the United States to have “the very best” in terms of fighter aircraft. “I know the F-35 is the [air]plane that’s being developed as the next-generation fighter. But I also know that there are extensive costs associated with how that plane is being developed, and I think we have to watch it very carefully,” said Panetta, currently CIA director, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), in whose state Lockheed Martin assembles the F-22, had asked Panetta if he would be committed as Defense Secretary to preserving US air supremacy. “I want to assure you that one of my responsibilities . . . is to take a very hard look at all weapons systems and make sure that they are cost-effective and that they are, in the end, providing the very best [that] our forces need,” added Panetta.