By Michael Mullins
The F-35 program surrounding Lockheed Martin’s long-anticipated new “fifth-generation” fighter jet has not created as many jobs as the major weapon’s supplier said it would, according to critics.
Having initially promised the F-35 program would support 125,000 jobs in the U.S., William Hartung, a longtime critic of the $392 billion contract, argues the actual jobs created are closer to half that number and further alleges that Lockheed “greatly exaggerated” the real amount to win political support.
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“The claims about the F-35 as a job generator are an argument of last resort for a program that has been plagued by cost overruns, performance problems, and questions about how many are needed,” wrote Hartung in the report, according to Reuters.
A director of the Arms and Security Project at the Washington-based Center for International Policy, Hartung published a book in 2010 highly critical of the defense contractor titled “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.”
In his analysis, Hartung estimated that the actual number of jobs created by the F-35 program was closer to 50,000 to 60,000, while claiming that in their pitch to Congress, Lockheed made campaign contributions in excess of $11 million to lawmakers who played a role in ensuring the project’s funding.
Additionally, Hartung contested Lockheed’s claim that significant work was being done on the F-35 in 46 states.
According to the security analyst, more than half the jobs created by the F-35 program were in Texas and California. In total, Hartung claims that 70 percent of the jobs created were in the above mentioned states as well as three others: Florida, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
Lockheed Martin fired back against Hartung’s claims in a statement released this week in which it claimed that 32,500 direct jobs and 92,500 indirect jobs were created as a result of the F-35 program, Reuters reported.
The defense contractor added that as production increased, so would the number of jobs created by the program.
“We calculate the jobs impact for our programs using methods accepted by industry and leading economists,” Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said in the statement.
According to Rein, Lockheed’s jobs multiplier was similar to the one used by Boeing, the No. 2 supplier to the U.S. Defense Department, Reuters noted.
Referred to as a “fifth-generation” warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in use by foreign governments around the world.
As of September, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.
Having started more than 10 years ago, the fighter’s development has cost $392 billion to date, despite having had an original price tag of $233 billion. The ballooning cost reportedly stemmed from delays and cost overruns.