US committed to the F-35
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta yesterday reaffirmed the Defense Department’s commitment to the F-35 joint strike fighter program and to ensuring it remains within the defense strategy’s budget. The secretary spoke at a news conference following a meeting with Mexican and Canadian defense leaders here. ”As part of the defense strategy that the United States went through and has put in place, we have made very clear that we are 100 percent committed to the development of the F-35,” he said. “It’s a fifth-generation fighter, and we absolutely need it for the future.”
Acknowledging that the Defense Department has to be vigilant and provide as much oversight as possible as the aircraft continues to be developed, Panetta said Pentagon officials are confident that “this plane can do everything that it’s being asked to do in terms of performance. “We’ve been testing it, and we continue to evaluate it as we proceed,” he continued. “And we’ve made very clear to the industries involved in its production that they have to keep it within the cross-confinements that we’ve provided with regards to this plane.” Panetta noted the price of each aircraft varies from variant to variant, with three types involved in the program’s development. Canada signed on for the project’s production, sustainment and follow-on development phase on Dec. 11, 2006, along with Australia, and the United Kingdom.