May 21, 2007:
The U.S. Air Force got caught trying
to perform a little procurement slight-of-hand. It went like this. During
recent budget discussions with Congress, the air force requested $230 million
to by an F-35 fighter, to replace a $24 million F-16 lost in Iraq last year.
But a government auditor noticed that the F-35 would not be delivered for three
years, and that the air force was also asking for permission to retire more
F-16s (and thus save on maintenance costs) this year and next. Why not retire
one less F-16, to replace the one lost one. Oops. Besides, the F-35 being
requested was to be used for flight training, while the F-16 was lost during
combat operations, and was assigned to a combat unit. Double oops. Congress
ordered the air force to retire one less F-16, to replace the one lost.