In a recent profile of Republican Senator John McCain, the New York Times described his new role as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee as the senator’s “dream job”—with one major caveat, of course. The profile does not say much about McCain’s specific plans as chairman, focusing instead on the leadership style he intends to bring to the committee. It discusses his desire to hammer the Obama administration about its various foreign policy failings, to bring in past foreign policy luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft for hearings on America’s role in the world, and it suggests he wants the job to cement his legacy as someone who did “the hard things.”

There certainly are a number of “hard things” on the agenda, but it is unclear whether McCain is willing to make the decisions necessary to resolve them. The Arizona senator and former presidential candidate has offered numerous sound bites on reforming Pentagon practices for buying weapons and controlling costs on current programs. But beyond his reliably hawkish prescription for whatever foreign policy crisis crops up, it is unclear what the new chairman plans to do about long-term problems that increasingly leave the U.S. military with less bang for the American taxpayer’s buck.

The military’s Joint Strike Fighter program is a case in point. As the most expensive weapons system in history, with a lifetime cost of over a trillion dollars, the F-35 is nothing short of a colossal mess. To his credit, McCain has been one of its most vocal critics. But his expressions of anger have not translated into useful action. Criticizing cost overruns is relatively easy, and McCain has not limited his wrath to the F-35—also weighing in on the excessive cost of the Navy’s new Ford-class aircraft carrier. What he has not done is called for cancelling either program or even reducing the number of buys.

While McCain has repeatedly expressed interest in acquisition reform to prevent similar overruns on future programs, such reforms will do little to address ongoing problems that plague a variety of programs. Will the new chairman use his position to push for cancellations in any current programs? As one of the leading opponents of the Air Force’s effort to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt—the most effective platform the military has for providing close air support—will he push to reduce the number of F-35s purchased as a way to clear funding?

Around the time it became clear McCain would replace the retiring Carl Levin as chair of the SASC, a number of reports surfaced that some in the defense industry were concerned about what his ascension portended for their bottom line. But as several analysts noted, it is unclear whether McCain will provide anything beyond sound and fury. Describing McCain’s approach to the “hard issues” for a reporter from Defense News, defense budget expert Gordon Adams argued that “With McCain, it’s not talk softly and carry a big stick.’ It’s talk loudly and carry a pencil.”

It may become clear soon whether Adams’ biting critique holds up. SASC hearings on the fiscal year 2016 defense budget will take place shortly. That budget will include funding for upgrades to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), another program riddled with performance problems and cost overruns for which McCain has not been shy about expressing his opinion. Does the new chairman plan to berate new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter over the myriad failings of the LCS or is he willing to push for more concrete action?