During last week’s confirmation hearing for the Air Force’s top acquisition post, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) needled nominee Sue Payton about his favorite current Air Force programs–the F-22 and F-35 fighters. “There’s a great question now arising about the affordability of both the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter because of cost escalations associated with it,” McCain said. “Are you concerned about those overruns?” Payton said she was, in fact, concerned, but she chose not to return demagogic fire, replying that she would like to adopt some of the practices prescribed by the recent Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment panel (led by retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish). She said she wanted to ensure a “uniformity of effort” emerges between the requirements camp, the budget camp, and the acquisition camp. Payton said she believed that the F-22 and F-35 suffered from early mistakes that have rippled through the two programs. McCain’s retort: “Well, good luck.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.