Follow us on social


Failing F-35 fighter grounded once again

A faulty engine caused the $1.7 trillion boondoggle fighter to crash during a December quality check.

Military Industrial Complex

Defense News reported on Wednesday that defense contractor Pratt & Whitney is suspending its deliveries of new F-35 engines, following a setback on a Texas runway last month. Video from the December 15 incident shows a Lockheed F-35B Lightning II crashing during a quality check and the pilot ejecting. 

Last Friday, in the aftermath of the incident, Defense News first reported that Lockheed Martin had “announced it halted acceptance flights and deliveries of new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters” due to the ongoing investigation. As a result, Lockheed Martin delivered seven fewer aircraft than the 148 that they were contracted to deliver in 2022. According to that report, “A source familiar with the program told Defense News the investigation into the Dec. 15 mishap found that a tube used to transfer high-pressure fuel in the fighter’s F135 engine, made by Pratt & Whitney, had failed.” 

Pratt & Whitney, which is a subsidiary of Raytheon, and earlier in December received a $115 million contract from the Department of Defense for an F135 engine enhancement program, told Defense News that they would not comment since an investigation into the crash was ongoing. 

Problems relating to the F-35’s engines are nothing new. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from April 2022 revealed that Pratt & Whitney delivered only six of 152 F-35 engines on time in 2021, “primarily due to quality issues that required resolution before engines could be accepted by the government.” And yet, through last year, Congress continued to fund the F-35 beyond the Pentagon’s requests. As Nick Cleveland-Stout noted in RS last year, the FY 2020 Defense Appropriations Act allocated funds for 22 more F-35s than DoD had asked for. 

The F-35 aircraft additionally has been mired in other major problems. Dan Grazier wrote for RS in March that a non-public 2021 Pentagon’s Director, Operational Test & Evaluation testing report “showed that engineers are still trying to correct 845 design flaws. Their challenge is compounded by the fact that new problems are discovered almost as fast as the known flaws are fixed.” 

Beyond consistent quality issues, the F-35 is also among the most expensive Pentagon programs ever. As a letter signed by a transpartisan group of organizations — including the Quincy Institute — last summer exclaimed, “Over the service life of the fleet, the F-35 program is projected to cost the American people $1.7 trillion. This is roughly $5,000 for every man, woman, and child in the nation.” 

In the more than 20 years since Lockheed Martin won the competition to develop the F-35, more than $62.5 billion has been spent on the program’s research and development, according to Grazier. “Despite all that time and resources, the F-35 remains an underdeveloped aircraft,” he writes, “it will still take years to complete the design during a process program officials have dubbed ‘modernization’ but is really a second chance to finish work that should have been completed during the initial development effort.”

The latest mishap involving these engines caused the F-35 Joint Program Office to pause deliveries on December 27, and to ground a number of F-35s. It is unclear at this time how many aircraft were grounded or how long the groundings will last. 

F-35A Lightning II's from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017. The aircraft arrival marks the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility or any overseas location as a flying training deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
Military Industrial Complex
Report: Iran says it won’t strike Israel if US gets Gaza ceasefire
Iranian President Rouhani and President-elect Joe Biden (shutterstock)

Report: Iran says it won’t strike Israel if US gets Gaza ceasefire


Iran has told the United States that it will attack Israel directly unless the Biden administration secures a ceasefire in Gaza, according to an Arab diplomatic source who spoke with Jadeh Iran.

The ultimatum follows an Israeli attack on an Iranian diplomatic facility in Damascus last week. The source told Jadeh Iran that a ceasefire could also lead to progress on other aspects of the U.S.-Iran relationship. This comes following mediation by Oman between the U.S. and Iran.

keep readingShow less
Congress needs answers before sending more aid to Ukraine

President Joe Biden is seen with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson as he departs from the Friends of Ireland ceremony on the House steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on March 15, 2024. (Photo by Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto)

Congress needs answers before sending more aid to Ukraine

Washington Politics

Many are seeing the current impasse over the future of U.S. aid to Ukraine as the ultimate manifestation of congressional dysfunction. Following several attempts, the Senate in February passed a $95 billion bill that includes most of the Biden administration’s previous requests, minus border funding. That bill sits in limbo in the House, with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who, while signaling he wants a vote on it, has so far been unwilling to bring it to the floor.

Last month House Democrats introduced an arcane “motion to discharge” petition, which could allow supporters to bring the bill to a vote if 218 members agree. While 191 have signed the petition, the odds of finding another 27 appear daunting, given the number of progressive Democrats who oppose military assistance for Israel, and opposition by Republicans to bypassing the Speaker.

keep readingShow less
Is Israel's plan to draw the US into a war with Iran?

An anti-Israel banner with pictures of the Minister of Defence of Israel, Yoav Gallant, Chief of the General Staff of Israel, Herzi Halevi, Commander of Israel's Navy, David Saar Salama, The Deputy Chief of General Staff, Amir Baram and Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Tomer Bar is seen following a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's consulate, adjacent to the main Iranian embassy building in Damascus, in a street in Tehran, Iran, April 2, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Is Israel's plan to draw the US into a war with Iran?

Middle East

The latest Israeli heightening of violence in an already violent region presents the Biden administration with one of its biggest challenges yet in keeping the United States out of a new Middle East war.

Israel’s bombing of an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus, killing a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and several other Iranian officials in addition to at least four Syrian citizens, was a marked escalation. Besides being as much an act of aggression in Syria as many previous Israeli aerial attacks, hitting the embassy compound constituted a direct attack on Iran.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis