Skip to comments.No more money to cover F-35 delays, says USAF
Posted on 03/23/2012 6:16:52 AM PDT by Yo-Yo
The US Air Force's top civilian leaders say that orders for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be cut if costs continue to rise.
"We have told the contractor and the programme office that there is no more money," USAF secretary Michael Donley told the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 20 March. "To the extent that if there continues to be cost growth or challenges it's going to be paid for by tails."
Donley said that a fiscal year 2013 budget decision to defer production of some aircraft will cost money, but that those numbers are not yet available. Some of the deferred conventional take-off and landing F-35As would be bought later, "or not at all", he added.
Frank Kendall, the US Department of Defense's procurement chief, told the same committee he believes the F-35 programme is "now on a course to stability". The DoD is continuing to work to reduce costs, he said.
Outgoing USAF procurement chief David Van Buren said that Lockheed will be awarded a contract for only 25 aircraft under its sixth low-rate production lot, down from the 31 authorised by Congress in FY2012. But the DoD could award additional contracts for up to six of the remaining lot six aircraft at the same time as lot seven negotiations, he said.
The DoD will decide how many jets will ultimately be bought based on how well Lockheed does on cost reductions, Van Buren added.
The US Government Accountability Office's Michael Sullivan, who was also testifying, said that the cost of retrofitting aircraft that have been built will continue to rise. There are still four more years of potential changes due to discoveries during flight test, he said. However, he believes that the biggest discoveries have probably been found.
Meanwhile, Vice Adm Mark Skinner, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the US Navy for research, development and acquisition, testified that the service is continuing studies on a new "sixth-generation" F/A-XX fighter that would replace its Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the 2030s.
You start out wanting X number of planes. Then the costs go up, so you order fewer planes. The lower number makes each airplane even more expensive, so you order even fewer.
Eventually you buy a fraction of what was originally anticipated.
If the government would buy what it originally asked for vice changing their minds hundreds of times causing contract changes and delays and then every 2 - 3 years you get a new guy in charge who wants something completely different you end up with failed defense acquisition programs.
Seen it numerous times over & over.
Both military and civilian managers have disregarded history. Successful military aircraft have almost always been improvements of forerunners. F-3F, F-4F, F-6F, F-8F. F-101, F-4. B-29, B-50. B-19, B-17. P-3B, EP-3. P-3A, P-3B, P-3C. Dauntless, Helldiver. A long list. The F-22 will not be used unless Iran or China starts a war. The F-35 is the latest version of the F-111, a fighter/bomber that was good only for recon and ISR. Same for the A-5.
Has not the design been “frozen” or are they finding areas that need to be changed? I didn’t know the plane was still a YF-35 prototype...I thought they were coming off the line.
Where are the cost overruns? Did LockMart underbid the price and is now paying for it?
Yes, the basic design has been frozen, but as flight testing continues, new issues are appearing that need to be addressed before full rate production can begin. The laundry list of issues is too long to repeat here, but if you are sincerely interested, here is a report from the GAO dated April of last year. It is slightly out of date, but not by much. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11325.pdf
Also, in today's world, an aircraft like the F-35 consists not only of aluminum and titanium, it also consists of silicon and tantalum, and millions upon millions of lines of computer code.
It is the software and firmware as much as the actual flight hardware that is lagging in development.