Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II is a radar-evading stealth fighter jet whose cost overruns and development delays have generated many headlines. This program, which has yet to be deployed in a combat capacity, was commissioned by the Pentagon in 1995 and has a projected cost of $1.5 trillion over the next 55 years, making it the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history. What hasn't been the subject of as much ink, however, is the antiwar Democratic socialist senator who supports keeping the program in his state of Vermont: Bernie Sanders.
The plan is for the Vermont Air National Guard based at the Burlington National Airport to be the first to get the plane, replacing the aging F-16s, starting in 2019. It will be the first time the Air Force puts a new fighter bomber at a commercial airport in the U.S. And it has triggered a backlash among local residents over noise and other environmental issues. Last week, a federal judge heard arguments over a lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force regarding F-35 fighter jets.
During his recent Democratic primary campaign, Sanders contrasted his policy proposals with the more hawkish ones put forth by former Secretary of State and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, so his involvement in a costly project for the military industrial complex may seem to clash with his rhetoric. In a February article called "Bernie Sanders Loves This $1 Trillion War Machine," The Daily Beast took the senator to task for this very thing.
"The socialist trumpets his antiwar record," the article said. "But he doesn't mind expensive war machines — if they're based in his home state."