Skip to comments.Pentagon to take F-35B off "probation": sources
Posted on 01/19/2012 9:31:07 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Pentagon to take F-35B off "probation": sources
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected on Friday to remove the threat of termination that has been looming over the Marine Corps version of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet, according to multiple sources.
Panetta will announce on Friday that he is taking the B-model of the stealthy F-35 fighter off "probation" a year ahead of schedule, given the plane's progress on resolving technical issues, the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters.
The announcement will come during Panetta's visit on Friday to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland, where some 700 government and industry testers have been evaluating the F-35B model, which can take off from shorter runways and can land vertically, like a helicopter.
The decision would remove a black cloud that has hung over the entire $382 billion Joint Strike Fighter program since then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a year ago that the B-model should be canceled unless significant technical issues could be ironed out during a two-year probationary period.
The B-model is the most complex of three F-35 variants that Lockheed is developing for the U.S. military and eight foreign partners. [ID:nL3E7NK1HY] Lockheed expects the F-35 to account for about 20 percent of revenue once full production begins.
Tom Burbage, executive vice president at Lockheed, said the B-model of the plane was performing well and the company would welcome any move by Panetta to remove the F-35B from probation. "It would lift any doubt that this airplane is viable," he said.
Panetta's expected announcement
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Our guy who handles the F-35 oversight is plenty pi$$ed by this. Just when we’re at the point of maximum leverage over LM and the PM, SecDef pulls the rug out. Why?
One of my relatives is a test pilot for the F-35 (USMC).
What are you saying? I don’t understand your post.
It couldn’t be that the contractor is actually performing and delivering a product that is meeting the requirements as promised...</sarc>
I was waiting to see the Lockheed bashers start circling. You are the lead buzzard, it seems.
Panetta’s action will result in taking the oversight boot off of Lockheed-Martin’s neck. They’ll now be inclined to return to the pre-probation business as usual mindset.
It took longer for the defenders of Lockheed’s pre-probation performance to show up than I thought.
Not defending pre-probation performance. I have no personal stake in this. Just dont like to see contract manipulation on whim and politics. If the contractor is not performing, be swift to reprimand or cancel. If the contractor is performing, get out of the way and let him do so.
Govt oversight and moving requirements, while in some cases necessary, are, without a doubt, one of the main reasons contract costs are as large as they are.
While the oversight adds huge additional expense, it occasionally brings a contract in trouble back to success.
Changing requirements mid-contract can kill a program, and often has, with billions of tax payer dollars thrown away and nothing to show. That is not the contractors fault. That is Govt fault.
You do not understand the "mindset" of the majority of defense contractors and aerospace professionals, and your comment is condescending.
I have insight, though no direct involvement into F-35. The difficulty level of the program, on a scale of 1 to 10, was 20. Thousands of requirements to be met, and which are being met. Yet arm chairs nintindo squadron commanders bemoan (ie) that it cant go mach 2 fully loaded below 10k or whatever, with no knowledge of how the SERVICES actually want the aircraft to perform.
The engineers who design and build projects like F-35 are underpaid (compare aerospace pay vs software engineers for google) and do what they do for love of the work and country. If they dont meet the govt requirement its often because the govt did not know what it wanted in the first place and changed its mind along the way. Adding to the challenge is that the engineering pool in the country is dwindling, with not nearly enough graduating engineers coming into the work force.
So jump on the big business contractor bashing wagon out of ignorance if you wish. At least Lockheed is in the business of building something. Keep bashing and pretty soon we wont have an industrial base and we can all provide service jobs to foriegn tourists like Obama wants.
Thank you for your service. You seem to be my elder, and I have no personal quarrel with you. But unless you are currently representing the govt/customer on the F-35 acquisition, then I think my insight is a little closer to truth than yours.
Again, I am not on F-35, but I am involved in several other major acquisitions. I have seen govt acquisition managed both well and poorly. By managed I mean on the govts part. I have watched multi-billion dollar programs cancelled when they were performing simply because they were in some politicians sights. I have seen other programs performing incompetently and destined to failure from the start that the govt continued to fund to the tune of billions.
Good fighting tools cost money and require customer follow through, not wavering or bad decision making. Succesful programs are a govt industry PARTNERSHIP and both are responsible for success. The govt gets what it pays for. When you start a contract with costs based on a buy of X and halfway through you change the buy to X/2, there are cost implications. I could go on and on about govt "oversight" causing the contractor to unnecessary costs.
BTW, the ethics at Lockheed are far and away higher than Washington ethics these days.
So I am curious who you mean by "our guys who handle the oversight are pissed". Sounds like a chip on someones shoulder.
Just the word 'profit' could set otherwise fairly rational feds into fits.
It's really difficult meeting cost targets when large parts of what's expected were left out of the specifications. (I actually had to sit both engineers and federal evaluators down to explain that "implied" is not a valid requirement.)
Then there's changing govt. theories on contracting, when your customer "reinterprets" the contract so that what what was obligatory yesterday becomes a bad word.
Not to mention the government's oft exercised ability to make your life miserable, and work delayed or withheld, as an incentive to give in to new demands, like new work for no new costs.
Sorry, but my vote goes to LM.