The F-35 Lightning II is one of the most expensive weapons programs the United States Military has ever conceived. The Lightning is a nearly $400 billion program and is the subject of much controversy in Washington. It is years behind schedule and 70 percent over budget, according to the Washington Post. There are a myriad of other issues present with the plane as well. The producers of the plane Lockheed Martin spread the development over 45 states, making the reduction of its budget almost impossible.
The amount of that is being spent on the project that is being primarily created to match up against potential enemies such as Iran, China and host of others who may possess anti-aircraft defense capabilities. According to the Washington Post, the country’s 2013 military budget is expected to be around $716 billion; due to budget cuts, that is down from $729 billion.
In contrast, the U.S. foreign aid budget was around $53.3 billion in 2012, according to Reuters. This is an astronomically small number in comparison to the budget for the F-35. A United Nations report from 2008 indicates that solving the problem of world hunger would cost around $30 billion per year, given that the budget for the F-35 Lightning could pay for the world’s hunger problem for over 30 years.
Oxfam recently put out a statement indicating the world’s richest 100 billionaire’s net income of $240 billion could end world poverty four times over. That means the cost of ending global poverty is about $60 billion. Given this startling and hopeful statistic, the cost of the F-35 Lightning II could end world poverty almost seven times over.
The F-35 program is also not being utilized in any current conflict around the world; it is being designed for potential enemies and conflicts. The fight against world hunger and poverty is just as important and has been noted as such by Robert Gates and a host of other defense officials.
The F-35 is a startling technical achievement and is going to be another price of America’s vast arsenal of weapons that perhaps may never be utilized in actual combat. The amount of money that the U.S. government is paying to create this astounding plane however has a host of other and immediate uses that could also make the world a startlingly better place in a very short amount of time.
The Admiral of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said he would be happy to hand over part of his budget to the State Department, “U.S. foreign policy is still too dominated by the military, too dependent on the generals and admirals who lead our major overseas commands and not enough on the State Department.” Admiral Mullen makes a fantastic point and one can only hope that those in Washington here him.
– Arthur Fuller
Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, Washington Post, Washington Post, The Borgen Project, CBS News, New York Times