Heinz Smacks Pratt Over F-135 Costs

Heinz Smacks Pratt Over F-135 Costs

UPDATE: White House Issues NO Veto Threat Over F-136.

The Navy’s top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, used the roll-out ceremony of the carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter to send a stark message about the planes to Lockheed Martin and its suppliers: “They must — they absolutely must — be delivered on time and on budget.

The reason is simple. The Navy’s F/A-18s are being flown at higher rates than originally planned and they are wearing out. Several senior defense lawmakers have been pressing the Navy to admit to a “fighter gap” and commit to buying more F/A-18s but the service has essentially pointed to the F-35C and said, we are buying that plane and it will be on time. Roughead noted this during his roll-out speech, saying the F-35 “will relieve our aircraft as they age out.”

I asked the admiral about the study by the Program Analysis and Evaluation office at the Pentagon which found that there is no fighter gap if current US capabilities are analyzed. The Pentagon has refused to share this report with Capitol Hill, according to aides. Roughead admitted he was familiar with the report, which he would not discuss, but said nothing had been decided and nothing would be until the Quadrennial Defense Review had chewed the issue over and come up with a recommendation.

In other JSF news, the program’s top officer, Marine Brig. Gen. David Heinz, took Pratt and Whitney to task for quality control problems with its F-135 engine that have resulted in up to 50 percent of parts being thrown away because they do not meet the high standards required by the JSF program. “I am pushing very hard on Pratt to do better,” Heinz told me when I asked him about cost increases in the engine program. He said he expects Heinz to improve to the point where 80 percent of parts meet his standards. Heinz’s criticism come at a crucial point in the debate over the second engine program, with the Obama administration pressing to kill the F-136 and the Senate having voted last week to do just that.

Heinz would not be drawn on whether he supported a second engine program, which Congress says is necessary to spur competition and lower costs. When I pressed him, Heinz noted that there are historic tests of engine competition, a clear reference to the famed engine wars of the F-16 program. If congressional aides or their bosses were to press him for an answer consistent with his best military judgment I bet he would tell them they need a second engine program to keep the heat on Pratt.

And the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy in which it repeated its F-22 veto threat but it did not directly threaten a presidential veto. Instead, it included very carefully calibrated language stating that the “president’s senior advisors would recommend” he veto the House defense spending bill should funding for the F-136 engine “seriously disrupt the F-35 program.” That’s a lot of qualifiers and removes the sting of the direct threat of a presidential veto.

Full disclosure: Lockheed Martin flew myself and some other journalists to Fort Worth for the event on one of their planes and put us up at a hotel.

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The obvious question is which schedule and which budget? They are already years late and the SDD and Program costs have increased by 50% or more. With the move to firm fixed price DoD contracts, why not make LMCO sign one now, they are farther into development than the other programs that are having FFP forced on them?

We should hope that the Admiral will also put heat on the Navy to not keep adding on last minute nice-to-have items. Still — the Navy is compromising a lot to agree to take a single engine aircraft. They are gonna lose some pilots when the engine coughs far from a carrier deck.

From the weekly standard blog:
Obama Demands $60 Billion in Savings From Military Fighting Two Wars
This is the same Barack Obama who asked the entire federal government to come up with $100 million in savings over the next year and couldn’t deliver on deadline. Yet the military, actively engaged in two hot wars and fighting a global war on terror, or counterinsurgency, or contingency operation, or whatever the euphemism of the day is, will be asked to cut six hundred times as much in order to “pay for new priorities to be set by the Defense secretary, a top Pentagon official said Tuesday,” according to the latest report from CQ’s Josh Rogin:
The order from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is based on an assumption that there will be no real growth in defense budgets over the next five years, a radical departure for a department whose budgets have increased more than 80 percent since 2001.…
One of the driving factors so far in the evaluation is the prospect that defense budgets largely will be static in fiscal 2011 through fiscal 2015, said David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force transformation and resources.
The military services must “find offsets” to make room for the new capabilities that Gates wants to add or expand, he said. “They’re now busily looking for those billpayers,” said Ochmanek. “That’s how the zero growth assumption manifests itself.”
Zero growth for our troops. Zero growth for the defense of our country. And all the while, ballooning deficits to pay for health care, stimulus spending, car companies, and a $20 million dollar vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. Republicans are busy fending off ObamaCare (and having some success), but I suspect that when the dust settles on all Obama’s domestic initiatives, and assuming there is at least some marginal economic recovery over the next 18 months, this gutting of our nation’s military may well be the most fertile ground for Republicans in the midterm election — and in 2012.

To be fair, the cuts being made (as far as I can see)have no direct impact ongoing conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanstan, but none of that has anything to do with Lockheed Martin delivering the F-35 on time.

This engine discussion is a repeat of the F22 Engine procurement process. The engine success or failure will drive the production process. Airframes, Avionics, software, Logistics, Weight reduction programs, all can continue. BUT if the engine is delayed, the first flight seemingly never gets done.
A second engine type poses as many problems as just doing one type correctly. The manufacturers simply want to be sole source.
Our F22 Engine was unique. Had a host of requirements, all met, reasonabley close to schedule, but cost a ton. Today, that engine is meeting or exceeding its MTBM and MC rates. Building an aircraft for mulitple uses, across 3 DOD forces is da… difficult. We owe a lot to the folks on the Monitors, striving to get it right.
Support LM as well as you can. LM has always stood for the US Armed forces since hector was a pup. LM and its vendors are the prime source of our DOD employment. The OBNA views them as an easy tho knowledgeable target. Watch for continued Aesopian strikes. The end is the Demise of the DOD production force.
Semper Fi


Please leave RNC propaganda to the RNC blogs. We need real analysis to the consequences of our military personnnel’s lives vs. equipment purchases.

What ever happened to “Fly and Try before you buy”?

I read an article that said, the newer Russian and Chinese aircraft are better than the F35 and
why is the Navy purchasing newer engines for an aircraft not as yet in service? Why is the Navy purchasing an aircraft with inferior engines, and reads like it’s just inferior period.

Reads like Robert Mcnamara’s follies all over again.

Barry obama gutting national defense is republican propaganda chiefy?


We are headed in to a Joint Force Doctrine that puts most systems on evaluation for their potential to meet these critical goals.

Politics is of course a part of military procurement, but not at the expense of the most critical factors that the Joint Doctrine promotes to the warfighter.

Most people’s mindset cannot reach the 21st century realities of our military needs. Brainstorming requires a fresh outlook, taking nothing for granted with a lot of what if’s included in the process.

Your persistent call to gutting national
defense by our CINC and POTUS Obama may not be what you think, but actually a realization of military necessity to meet a rate of reorganization needed under best use of force scenarios in Joint Doctrine.

I think every blogger on this site should read this doctrine as a prerequisite for the 2010–2025 theatre doctrines. It would explain some of the misunderstandings as to why some actions are being taken at a rapid rate.

I love the sophicated weaponry and armoment we as a country have, but every year since the I’ve been involved with the military either serving and now retired. This budget thing was/is and always an issue. You newbie’s are starting to see this now also, me having served under 5 presidents I see nothing has changed. Programs get cut, advancements numbers tightened, base closings, force draw down, nice to do/have things stopped. I have to agree with Chief, the military is evolving and has been for sometime now. While some of the big war fighting machines are in question viewing our current, real threat and daily battles/fights, the justification for complete overhaul of very expensive hardware is once again and I mean once again being studied. I believe the last thing we want is to end up like Russia, a big military and nothing else, so there is balance. I expect to see some of the expensive things still being built but probably at a slower pace and more R&D going towards finding/tracking the terrorist, finding the WMD, terrorist bombs, defending missile attacks, stealthy weapons, and yes we’ve been fighting two wars with one in process of ending but neither requires the high tech very expensive weaponry we are currently building, and also we are not locked in a cold war with anybody so don’t get too delusional… You are still protected and protected well.

Yes the old F/A-18 fighter planes really need to retire, but the cost of replacing them is killing us more than the need. Overbudgets, that’s a killer, not politics so corporations ought to be held to a standard, that there is a cost for not delivering on time and on budget. And with that I agree with Admiral Gary Roughead.

I thought that my comment today about blushing Neanderthals was the 2nd most important that I have ever posted on the internet. I hope that the Central Committee is happy enough with it to promote me from a 2nd degree black belt to a 3rd degree black belt. Of course some one can always add in a very rude way that it had no effect because everyone already knows that Neanderthals blush.

Am I missing something about the desire to achieve at least 80% acceptable parts. Surely it doesn’t mean 20% of the parts being assembled in an engine are bad.

If it means 50% of the parts are failing inspection then whoever is building these parts had no control over their process. A number that low indicates extremely urgent attention required to avoid catastrophic schedule slips.

Now the issue of who is being billed for all this is probably too scary to know. I think the whole procurement process by the mil/ind/congress is a saber tooth tiger and about to implode under it’s own weight.

Tell me the vendor of bad parts pays for his rejects and not P&W/L-M/USAF/US taxpayers.

We are designing ever increasingly complex systems with ever lengthening production/development lead times that are then becoming obsolete with shorter operational lifetimes.

Every other Quadrennial Review we seem to pull an Etch-A-sketch and cancel big programs and claim we have all new requirements obsoleting what ever we are now developing. The F-22 is a good example.

I predict with building just a partial amount of airframes we will decommission the aircraft much sooner with the argument they are too expensive to continue to operate so lets just start of with a clean slate and design a new plane. Calcualte the development costs spread out over 186 airframes over half the lifetime planned. Now what is the cost per plane?

It’s not so much the money as it is just no consistency in the process. Who is in charge of the tanker fiasco? Who is in charge of presdential helicopters? Who is in charge of this 2018 AF bomber? And how on earth do they know it’s requirements if what we have now isn’t really useful? Do they seriously think they know who and how we will be fighting between 2020 and 2030?

Aren’t these the same people who argued for and then argued against the F-22? The F-35 was sold partly to support the F-22. Now the F-22 is being phased out to support the F-35. What happened? And how? And why will all of this be allowed to happen all over again?

such plams scare me in a way that reminds me of “political” involvement by the likes which we are all well aware of..too much loss of money and time„50%..80%..arem’t we capable of doing it right? sheez„„if 20% isn’t right who decides what 20% we can do without??? sounds at best a loss either way

Create 5000 of F22 and 5000 of F35, maintained it and be done with it. Most problem we have was in insurgency. Iraq and Afganistan is our present problem. Maybe Iran and N. Korea next year, hopefully not but we needed to be prepared (defense, physically, mentally and spiritually)and be ready whatever the world will throw at us.

“Tell me the vendor of bad parts pays for his rejects and not P&W/L-M/USAF/US taxpayers.” They do.

Doc Kern: “I read an article that said, the newer Russian and Chinese aircraft are better than the F35 and why is the Navy purchasing newer engines for an aircraft not as yet in service? Why is the Navy purchasing an aircraft with inferior engines, and reads like it’s just inferior period.” The F135 is essentially an F119 in many ways, and most of that engine has been proven out. The changes to the F135 are known improvements rooted in stringent testing of the F119. For example, the combustor is different from the F119’s as it has fewer parts, and utilizes a superior thermal barrier coating in the hot section.

Just curious… what was the article you referred to? I’d find it difficult to believe either the Chinese or the Russians have a superior plane in the wings. The F135 had a reduced design cycle as it’s basically a souped-up F119.


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