The Pentagon will tell Congress that the Joint Strike Fighter is roughly 50 percent more expensive than it was in 2002 and will breach the Nunn-McCurdy cost limits “in a few days,” Pentagon acquisition czar Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Carter told the committee the cost increases were “unacceptable.” The Pentagon has “to wrestle this back into some realistic box.”
Unit costs will climb from $50.2 million to as much as $95 million a copy, Christine Fox, director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, said in her testimony
The Government Accountability Office’s director of acquisition and sourcing management testified that the GAO unit cost estimate is about $112 million. A congressional aide who follows the program told DoD Buzz that the unit costs were likely to be even higher. “You are looking at least $112 million JSFs, with estimates as high as $137 million – average unit procurement costs.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, wanted names. “I need to know whose fault it is,” she said. “Is it the contractors fault? How much at fault was the military?”
Carter told her he thought “there is responsibility on both the government’s side and the contractor’s side.” And he mentioned the removal of Maj. Gen. Heinz as program head along with elevation of the job to three-star level.
Even though Carter and his team have known the program was in trouble back in November, they won’t notify Congress until what would seem to be the all-too-appropriate April Fool’s Day. And they won’t finish the Nunn-McCurdy review required by law until this summer. Fox, director for CAPE, said in her testimony that, “the Department plans to complete certification review of the restructured JSF program by June, 2010.”
“The cost is really a tremendous problem,” Fox said under pressure from Sen. John McCain, top SASC Republican, who expressed disbelief that Fox could point in her testimony to the C-17 and the F-22 as “successes” for the Pentagon.