The Pentagon has taken over cost-cutting efforts for the F-35 program, which has been plagued by years of cost overruns, production delays and technical problems. The Defense Department rejected a cost-saving plan proposed by contractors including principal manufacturer Lockheed Martin as being too slow to produce substantial savings. Instead, it gave Lockheed a $60 million contract “to pursue further efficiency measures, with more oversight of how the money was spent,” The Wall Street Journal’s Doug Cameron reports. F-35 program leaders “say they want more of the cost-saving effort directed at smaller suppliers that haven’t been pressured enough.” The Pentagon plans to cut the price of the F-35A model used by the Air Force from a recent $94.6 million each to around $80 million by 2020. Overall, the price of developing the F-35 has climbed above $400 billion, with the total program cost now projected at $1.53 trillion. (Wall Street Journal, CNBC)
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”