While I was researching the topic of the F-35 I noticed a certain pattern in military politics which comes up again and again.
In the TFX program Boeing was the clear winner of the Request For Proposal out of 6 firms.The Source Selection Board wanted the Boeing prototype. Current Secretary of Defense (SecDef) McNamara ordered to restart the competition. SSB again found out the Boeing was the best deal, both Air Force and Navy favored Boeings design. SecDef McNamara ordered to restart the competion again. SSB still comes to the very same conclusion, McNamara ordered now the third time to start over. You may have predicted it, SSB stayed to Boeing, so McNamara ruled after 4 tries that General Dynamics (GD) get the contract.
In relation to GD the Boeing design offered a ferry range of more than ~1200 miles, 69% more load on fully extended wings (11% more on fully swept ones), 50% more nuclear bombs, twice more AAMs and weighted 2200 pounds less, GD's designs only offered more place on carriers.
The congress set up the McClellan committee and McNamara was asked to defend his decision, explicitly asking if vice president Lyndon B. Johnson which comes from Texas has influenced the decision. McNamara pulled out explanations out of his hat and - that was it. No cancellation of the contract and McNamara gets scot free.
In the book "The Pentagon Wars" from Colonel James G. Burton the Army actually threatened Burton with restationing to Alaska if he insists to make live-fire tests of the M2 Bradley which was actually his assigned task. After Burton send internal copies of the order to everyone remotely concerned and therefore leaking the document to potential whistleblowers the Army agreed to allow him to do his tests in writing. A while later some Army brass regretted the decision and tried to force him into retirement or restation him again and lied before Congress after it was asked if this order exists. Congress got finally the order in writing and had therefore proof that they were being lied to. And that was it - no repercussions for the people involved. Burton completed the tests and was sacked later, all the responsible people got promoted, some also got lucrative jobs in the private sector.
These are two examples of many others where I get the impression that the Congress is led on the line, you only need to be a good self-confident liar. You may be inconvenienced by being forced to visit the Congress, but you only need to sit it out because nothing can really happen to you, only uncomfortable questions. This is kind of strange because the senators in the congress are quite influential, so I thought they should be able to influence important equipment decisions for the armed forces.
While it may alarm the public, I sincerely do not see that congressional hearings influences the military decision if a project is cancelled, postponed, modified or otherwise influenced at all. The list is long: F-35, V-22 Osprey, RAH-66 Comanche.
Can someone come up with some important decisions on military projects influenced by congressional hearings?