What’s Plan B?

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) bluntly stated during his air and land forces panel hearing last week that it’s “quite possible” the F-35 delivery schedule “will slip again” and “even more possible” program cost will go higher, forcing the Pentagon to buy fewer aircraft. He declared, “It strikes me as sort of crying out for a Plan B.” Smith stated his concerns at the House Armed Services panel Guard and Reserve budget hearing, asking to have an answer for the record to the question: “What are we going to do to make sure that we have the fighter attack aircraft fleet we need.” Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, Air National Guard director, acknowledged that ANG has some of the oldest fighters, making its fleet recapitalization “a little more imminent” than for the active force and said, “It is essential that the [F-35] program as restructured stay on target.” (Smith’s opening remarks; Wyatt’s written testimony)