Last week, U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, had the chance to check out the F-35 fighter jet from the inside. Airplane maker Lockheed Martin brought a mobile cockpit demonstrator to the congressional office building to show members of Congress what it’s like to pilot the plane.

The F-35 has been the subject of much criticism. The plane will reportedly cost more than $400 billion to produce and is more than a decade behind schedule. A security breach may have provided Chinese hackers data about the project and the plane was criticized for having navigational, operational, and technical problems that a Department of Defense report said made the jet a danger for pilots.

The project was started immediately after Sept. 11, 2001. Full production is expected to start as early as 2019.

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“In 2001, we thought we’d be done a long time before now,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan said in a release earlier this month.

The Pentagon has not been shy about the problems with the F-35. A report released by the Department of Defense’s Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, detailed many of the issues that have plagued the project.

Those issues included problems with the Block 2B software system, which handles the plane’s navigation and weapons accuracy. In addition, a redesigned fuel tank was shown to have a risk of unintentional explosion, the plane was vulnerable to lightning if it flew more than once every 12 hours, the in-helmet display was glitchy, particularly during combat situations, and the basic operations software was “behind schedule, has several capabilities delayed or deferred to later builds, and has been fielded with deficiencies,” according to the report.

Larson, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, nonetheless uses glowing terms to describe the F-35.

“The F-35 is being recognized around the world as a game changer in defense. Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines produced in East Hartford, Connecticut, this aircraft plays a critical role in maintaining our nation’s military superiority,” he said in a release.

United Technologies, which owns Pratt & Whitney, was Larson’s second-largest donor in 2013 and 2014, individuals and political action committees associated with the company providing $26,050 for Larson’s re-election efforts.

The Air Force, in a release issued this month, said the problems with the F-35 were par for the course, and had been solved.

“Every program has technical challenges,” the Air Force’s Bogdan said. “You find things you don’t expect and you have to fix (and test) them.”

Himes Seeks to Define and Prohibit Insider Trading

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act, introduced last week by U.S. Rep. James Himes, D-4th District, would make insider trading a federal crime which, thus far, has not been the case.

“The absence of a clear statutory prohibition on insider trading has left us with an amorphous body of case law instead of bright lines around what’s legal and what isn’t,” Himes said in a release. “This haziness opens the door to letting wrongdoers walk free, and provides uncertainty to those who are genuinely trying to operate within the bounds of the law.”

Columbia Law School’s John C. Coffee Jr. said in a release issued by Himes that the proposed bill “updates the law to cover computer hacking and other newer forms of misappropriation, but does not overcriminalize.”

The measure specifies that it is illegal for a “person to trade on material, nonpublic information when the information was wrongfully obtained, or when the use of such information to make a trade would be deemed wrongful,” and illegal to share information on a stock tip when that information was wrongfully obtained.

“Wrongful” information is defined in the proposed bill as information that has been obtained through “theft, bribery, misrepresentation or espionage, a violation of any federal law protecting computer data or the intellectual property or privacy of computer users, conversion, misappropriation or other unauthorized and deceptive taking of such information, or a breach of any fiduciary duty or any other personal or other relationship of trust and confidence.”

Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.

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