Presidential Panel: Cancel F-35B, Cut F-35A, F-35C Buys

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is recommending that the Pentagon cancel the Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 strike fighter and halve the Air Force and Navy F-35 buys out to 2015. Canceling the Marine Corps’ F-35B would save $3.9 billion in Fiscal 2015 and $17.6 billion from Fiscal 2012-15, according to the panel’s newly released draft findings. This move makes sense because the F-35B has had “technical problems, cost overruns, [and] schedule delays,” reads the draft document. The panel would also substitute F-16s and F/A-18Es for half of the planned Air Force F-35A and Navy F-35C buys. “DOD does not need an entire fleet with the stealthy capabilities of the [F-35], and could rely instead on upgraded F-16 and F/A-18E aircraft for half of their fleet, a ‘high-low’ mix,” states the document. These moves are part of the panel’s recommended $100 billion in defense cuts in 2015 (see above).