$400 billion F-35 jets generated one job per $3 million spent but are not even ready for combat training

Pat Garofalo, “The F-35: Mo’ Money, Fewer Jobs,” U.S. News & World Report , 23 January 2014

If there were a Congressional Boondoggle Hall of Fame, the F-35 fighter jet program would surely merit entry. Officially the most expensive weapons system in history, the cost of manufacturing the jets has increased a whopping 75 percent from its original estimate, and is now closing in on $400 billion. Over its lifetime, the F-35 program is expected to cost U.S. taxpayers $1.5 trillion, between construction and maintenance of the jets, if they ever all materialize.

Oh, and did I mention that the plane doesn’t really work?

So how does such a project stay afloat? Because of jobs! Lockheed Martin, the defense company charged with delivering the jets, claims the program supports 125,000 jobs in 46 different states. That $400 billion for 125,000 jobs would be a lousy deal – at $3.2 million per job it would far cheaper to cut every one of those workers a $1 million check. But beyond that, there’s good reason to believe that Lockheed’s estimate is overblown.In a new report for the Center for International Policy, William Hartung claims the number of jobs created by the F-35 is more like 50,000 to 60,000, and that the number of states in which it supports job creation is also far lower than Lockheed would have us believe.

According to Hartung, Lockheed uses a much larger ratio of so-called “indirect jobs” – jobs created by companies that supply materials or other services for the F-35, or jobs created when those working on the F-35 spend their wages – than the academic literature warrants. Applying a more realistic ratio brings the job creation estimate down considerably. (Lockheed, of course, contests Hartung’s numbers.)

“The bottom line is that the F-35 creates fewer jobs and affects fewer communities than Lockheed Martin and the other producers of the aircraft claim,” Hartung wrote. “This means that Congress and the executive branch can feel free to debate the future of the F-35 based on its strategic merits, not pork barrel politics.” …

Read the full article here.