President-elect Donald Trump

James Mattis Affirms F-35 Support

January 12, 2017


Secretary of Defense designate James Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 12. Below are excerpts from the hearing testimony that address the F-35. We have emphasized in bold key statements.

SENATOR BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): And I think you agree, too, because you mentioned our support for Israel that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is important to our strategic edge in the world and to our allies like Israel and others around the world, including at NATO, that will depending on it.

MATTIS: Yes, sir. Many of our allies have bet their air superiority on the F-35 program. And it bonds us tightly together with them.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (TX-R): So one of the things we discussed, was the need to maintain air superiority going forward. And you referenced that need just a minute ago. And — and I think an important piece of that, is the F-35 program which — which I believe successful completion of the F-35 program is — is critical to future mission success.

Both for us and — and for key allies, like the United Kingdom and Israel. And right now, we have over 200 F-35s fielded today. And just this week, the Marine Corps began the first F-35 overseas deployment.

Now, all of us are concerned about limiting costs and that’s — that needs to be a focus going forward. But can you highlight for this committee what separates the F-35 from Legacy aircraft and the advantages it provides to our military in — in future combat situations?

MATTIS: Senator, the F-35 is critical for our own air superiority in the future because of its stealth characteristics and some of its electronics capability that’s inherent to the airplane which actually magnifies each individual aircraft’s capability.

But it is equally important, if not more so, to some of our — to some of our allies. And I say more so because this will be the total fighter strength to their Air Force. So to them, it’s — it’s an all- in sort of situation.

So the F-35, the president-elect is — has talked about the costs of it. But he has in no way, shown a lack of support for the program, he just wants the best bang for the buck.

CRUZ: Sure. I look forward to working closely with you to strengthen that program.
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