"When you look at China, and that phantom stealth fighter they rolled out a year ago, that was some nifty construction," he says. "If we're having trouble with it, what do you think the Russians are dealing with? Or the Chinese?"
He does, however, see the validity in developing a weapon and broadcasting that it could defeat an opponent's version. The Reagan administration touted a plan to develop the futuristic Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars," to protect the U.S. from nuclear ballistic missiles more than 20 years ago.
"It was 'Listen, guys. Don't even think about it. Because if you do, by the time you get it done, we're going to have something better than you have,'" he says. "That's not an invalid argument, but a billion dollars apiece [for the F-35], are there less expensive solutions?"
"I'm not a critic of the F-35, but it seems to me that when you think about what it needs to do and who it needs to do it against, I don't think there are a lot of credible threats in the world that you couldn't do for less money, and without a pilot," he adds. "We're in a situation where dollars count. And what's the best use of a billion dollars?"