I don't envy any TV reporter or producer the task of encapsulating the mammoth Joint Strike Fighter project into less than one hour of television. It's an impossible task, and Andrew Fowler's retelling of the saga on Australia's premier current affairs TV program Four Corners last night was perhaps as thorough as could be expected.
The major problem I had with the story (and other TV reports before it about the JSF) is that it chose the least credible people to defend the program: the manufacturer and the customers. Of course they are going to defend the JSF, and of course we are entitled to be sceptical about their assurances, since they have been wrong time after time. Lockheed Martin's Orlando Carvalho looked particularly evasive, though US Air Force Lt General Chris Bogdan did pretty well with a difficult brief.
What might have been more enlightening for the viewer would be to hear from critics who are not aligned with the program and who see its many flaws, but who back it anyway as the least worst option. Four Corners would not have had far to go for such a perspective. Hugh White, who featured prominently in Andrew Fowler's report, is just such a critic. But Hugh's thinking on this topic (with which I disagree) did not make it to air last night.
Photo by Flickr user Official US Air Force.