Roby Defends F-35 Program, Reassures Community
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) on Monday defended the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program and reassured the Montgomery area community about the possibility of landing the F-35 mission after a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump criticized the new aircraft’s long and costly history.
Roby, who has been working to bring the F-35 assignment to the 187th Fighter Wing at Montgomery’s Dannelly Field, told WSFA 12 News she welcomed President-elect Trump’s concerns about spending, but explained that cost concerns for the F-35 were mostly in the past.
“The F-35 issues took place mainly in the research and development phase of the program, and that’s over and done – and paid for. The F-35 is in production,” Roby said.
“I think what President-elect Trump said was less about the F-35 and really more of a message to the Pentagon that this is something we’re going to take on to ensure that we don’t have these costs overruns with future programs.”
Last week, the Air Force announced that the Montgomery-based 187th Fighter Wing is on the short list of five Air National Guard units being considered for the F-35 assignment. The Air Force’s is expected to make a final selection of two Air National Guard units for the prestigious assignment in Spring of 2017.
Roby’s full statement is below.
"I don't think the President-elect was necessarily threatening the F-35 program itself, but rather using the cost overruns in years previous to send a message to the Pentagon about future procurements.
"There’s no question our Armed Forces need a next-generation aircraft to replace the F-16, and that aircraft is the F-35. What’s important to know about the F-35 is that the cost concerns mostly came in the development stage, which is in the past and already paid for. At this point it would be a mistake to throw away the significant investment already spent on developing this aircraft that is now battle-ready and in production. But, again, I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about. Donald Trump is known for his negotiation skills. It may seem unconventional, but I believe what he is doing is putting the Pentagon on notice that inefficiency and cost overruns won’t be tolerated for future acquisitions. And that’s a good thing. I’ve been an advocate for acquisition reform for some time, so I’m eager to see any specifics he might offer.
“I’m glad to see President-elect Trump is concerned about spending, and there have certainly been problems with cost overruns on military programs, including the F-35. The incoming administration and Congress must work together to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars when it comes to military programs. Part of that is not wasting past investments like the F-35, and I’m confident President-elect Trump and his advisers understand that.”