More Stories About Planes

This is not a story about the F-35. It’s a story about the corrupt and broken process that brought the US taxpayers the F-35.

a g-222, looks like a C-130


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force wasted $549 million on faulty Italian-made cargo planes for the Afghan government and no one involved in the deal has been held to account, according to a new report by a government watchdog.

Neither a former U.S. Air Force general who was heavily involved in the project nor the company that sold the flawed aircraft to the Pentagon has faced prosecution over the program, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in the report obtained by NBC News.

I’m shocked. Someone in the airforce approved an expensive project that turned out to be a disastrous boondoggle?

$40k in scrap is what’s left of a very expensive plane.

Since these aircraft are Italian-made and are not F-35s, they have been declared “useless scrap”:

The Pentagon bought 20 G222 cargo aircraft from Alenia North America in 2008 but the planes proved unreliable, with long delays to secure the delivery of spare parts, maintenance problems and numerous complaints about their safety from Afghan pilots. The program was suspended and the planes were destroyed and turned into scrap metal in 2014, selling for $40,257, according to the report.

Fortunately, the F-35 program has not had maintenance problems, complaints about the safety of the aircraft, unreliability, and long delays in the supply chain. $40,257 in scrap is 1/10 of the cost of one of those whizz-bang F-35 helmetocracies.

The former Air Force officer “had a clear conflict of interest because he was significantly involved with the G222 program while on active duty, then retired and became the primary contact for Alenia on the same program,” the inspector general’s report said.

When someone formerly involved in a program retires and goes to work for a beltway bandit, it’s called “Monday.” There are some rules, that you can’t consult directly on a project you were involved in, and that you must wait two years before you lobby anyone who was below you in your chain of command. Even those ridiculous rules are bypassed frequently by careful line-drawing inside organizations (“he’s not lobbying for that programme, he’s just on our board of directors and he’d like to meet with you in that capacity.”)

To be fair, it’s not as though the entire aircraft was scrapped. You can bet that someone made good money by selling those turboprop engines.

The total cost of the planes, initially, was $549 million. In terms of the overall Pentagon budget, it’s not even a drop in the bucket.


  1. John Morales says

    The total cost of the planes, initially, was $549 million. In terms of the overall Pentagon budget, it’s not even a drop in the bucket.

    Pentagon budget: $721.5 billion
    Cost of planes: $549 million
    Ratio: 0.00076

    One bucket: 9 litres
    One drop: 0.05 ml
    Ratio: 0.0000055

    0.0000055 of $721.5 billion is $3.97 million — one drop in a bucket.

    So, 138 drops of the bucket.

  2. John Morales says

    Just basic fact-checking. I have determined Marcus was employing hyperbole.

    “A million here, a million there, before you know it you’re talking real money!”

  3. lochaber says

    maybe it was a less viscous fluid in a bigger bucket?

    Most of the buckets I deal with day-to-day are closer to ~19 liters

    So, using one of my work buckets, and acetone, I think we could get that down to ~30-40 drops

  4. publicola says

    John, one can only marvel at the workings of your mind. (Still, I got a chuckle out of it.)

  5. sonofrojblake says

    Oh, if we’re doing pointless pedantry, let me have a go at a picture caption:

    a g-222, looks like a C-130

    Well, yeah, in the same way a Boeing 737 looks like a Boeing 747, which is to say it’s (a) much slimmer and smaller and (b) has a couple of engines missing off the wings compared to the larger plane. But other than that it looks like the other thing, in that they’re both planes with wings and engines…

    The question is, does anyone care?

  6. komarov says

    I think this kind of fact checking is important and John Morales was right to bring it up. It clearly demonstrates the urgent need for a budget increase.

    P.S.: Acetone works, but is it really volatile enough to be an apt representation of pentagon money?

  7. Sunday Afternoon says

    #7, sonofrojblake asks about aircraft pedantry:

    The question is, does anyone care?

    I do – thanks! :)

  8. DrVanNostrand says

    Surely there must be some proper definition for the Imperial unit “bucket”. Like the daily amount of waste in King Henry’s chamber pot or something. Historians, get on this!

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