Skip to comments.Gates Tries to Get F-35 Program Back on Course
Posted on 02/03/2010 10:47:53 PM PST by iowamark
The Joint Strike Fighter was supposed to be the program that broke the mold, proof that the Pentagon could build something affordable, dependable and without much drama.
But rather than being the Chevrolet of the skies, as it was once billed, the fighter plane, also called the F-35, has turned into the Pentagons biggest budget-buster. And with worries growing that the rise in costs could overwhelm other programs, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates fired the general in charge this week and said he would withhold $614 million in fees from the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin...
The Air Force, the Navy and the Marines are planning to buy more than 2,400 of the planes. But any delays could force them to spend billions of dollars on less advanced fighters to avoid a shortfall. That, in turn, would reduce their orders for the F-35, driving up the price for each plane and forcing them to cut orders further.
The main problem, some analysts say, is that even with recent improvements in acquisition practices, the military persists in buying new weapons systems before all the kinks are worked out...
Other industry officials said they had heard that Mr. Gates was likely to name Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, commander of the Naval Air Systems Command, to succeed General Heinz in overseeing the program. And given that Mr. Gates has had to backtrack from his praise for the program, he now has even more on the line in holding it together.
(Excerpt) Read more at finance.yahoo.com ...
I have been on both sides of Air Force systems contracting. I can say that most overruns are caused by chasing new changes. The EC (engineering change) process is guaranteed to increase cost. There was on Army program that went on for over a decade and never produced anything because of constant changes chasing new improvements.
I am sure there are a lot of Lockheed fans out there, but it just seems to me that Lockheed has a habit of milking any contract they get for all it is worth.
Not to mention, some very underhanded sales tactics.
Their hardware is usually pretty good, once they have worked out all the bugs. But they are definitely the Ferengi of Defense contractors.
I am normally not a Gates fan, but I really and sincerely hope he rips them a new anal orifice, cracks their heads together and gets them to stop FUTZING AROUND and build the damn airplane!!
PS All changes must be approved by the program manager.
Almost all aircraft reach their potential on about the C or D model. That goes way back. Check out the P-51 Mustang. Nobody wanted the A model but by the D model there was no better fighter in the air.
I can say that most overruns are caused by chasing new changes. The EC (engineering change) process is guaranteed to increase cost.
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