Thanks to the Pentagon’s support, the  embattled F-35 program passed a tough test  Wednesday as a key Senate appropriations committee reviewed the aircraft’s worth.

Top military officers told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense Wednesday that there is no alternative to the fighter plane.

Over budget and behind schedule, the F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, will be flown by the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The F-35  is built by Lockheed Martin, but its engine is manufactured by Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut.

“The F-35 will form the backbone of our tactical aircraft fleet for many years, and will replace our aging fighters with a dominant, multi-role aircraft capable of projecting power,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh III.

Even the program’s critics said it would be wasteful to begin again after investing more than a decade and $44 billion on the Joint Strike Fighter.

It’s likely Congress will approve the president’s funding request of $8.7 billion to fund the F-35 program next year. But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, who chaired the hearing, seemed skeptical of the United States’ most expensive defense program.

“The Joint Strike Fighter has had its share of problems over the decade,” he said ”Frankly its history reads like a textbook on how not to  run a major acquisition.”

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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