F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Caucus Members Receive More PAC Money


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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Caucus Members Receive More PAC Money

By Daniel Baxter

December 14, 2011 - According to a joint analysis of campaign finance data by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) a new report shows House members of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Caucus received more than double in PAC monies from the primary contractors of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program than House members not on the caucus. 

Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Congressman Norm Dicks (D-Wash) launched a bipartisan, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Caucus back in November to provide Members of Congress accurate and timely information on the development, testing, and deployment of our next-generation fighter. Rep. Kay Granger and Rep. Norm Dicks co-chair the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus. 

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a development and acquisition program intended to replace a wide range of existing fighter, strike, and ground attack aircraft for the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and their allies. After a competition between the Boeing X-32 and the Lockheed Martin X-35, a final design was chosen based on the X-35. The above picture is the F-35 Lightning II, which will replace various tactical aircraft, including the US F-16, A-10, F/A-18, AV-8B, and British Harrier GR7 & GR9s, and the Canadian CF-18.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive program in Pentagon history which has been plagued by delays, cost overruns and defects. Five issues were found where major consequence issues have been identified, but root cause, corrective action or fix effectively are still in development: Helmet Mounted Display System, Fuel Dump Subsystem, Integrated Power Package, Arresting Gear System (CV variant) and a classified issue.  

Three issues were found where potentially major consequence discovery is likely pending outcomes of further discovery: Buffet, Fatigue Life, and Test Execution. Five issues were found where consequence or cost is moderate, but the number of moderate issues poses a cumulative concurrency risk: Software, Weight Management, Thermal Concerns, Autonomic Logistics Information System and Lightning Protection. The combined impact of these issues results in a lack of confidence in the design stability. 

In this time of budget cuts, some Members of Congress have suggested curtailing or delaying the Joint Strike Fighter program. Other members suggest that when countries such as Russia and China are testing their next-generation fighters, the Joint Strike Fighter program is an absolute necessity. In furtherance to their augment they suggest that our partners and allies such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel must have the strategic and technological advantage and maintaining air superiority will continue to be one of the most effective deterrents against threats from our common enemies such as Iran.


?Like the Joint Strike Fighter program, the JSF Caucus is about partnerships.  Our membership reflects the broad bipartisan support the F-35 has in Congress and part of our role is to make sure Members have the very best information possible so we can all make the best decisions possible,? said Granger, who is the Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and is a member of the Defense Subcommittee. 

?The F-35 program has reached a critical stage in its development as the most advanced multi-role fighter in the world.  It will be important in the years ahead for this broad coalition in the House of Representatives to support an efficient production schedule to assure that America and our international partners bring the aircraft into service as quickly as possible,? said Rep. Dicks, who serves as the ranking Democratic member of the House Appropriations Committee. So far 48 House members of congress have joined the bipartisan caucus. 

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Pratt & Whitney are the primary contractors. Together they have contributed $326,400 to members of the JSF Caucus in the first year of the 2012 election cycle according to a joint analysis of campaign finance data by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). 

The average member of the JSF Caucus received $6,094 which is nearly double what they gave ($3,077) to the average representative not in the caucus. In addition, individuals working for these firms also disproportionately direct their campaign contributions to these representatives, by giving almost twice as much money ($706) to those on the caucus verses ($387) for those not on the caucus. The co-chairs of the JSF caucus, Granger and Dicks received the largest money. Dicks received $29,500 and Granger received $45,700 from the JSF contractors. 

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; one is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant.

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