Pentagon stands by tough Joint Strike Fighter talk

Pentagon stands by tough Joint Strike Fighter talk

The Defense Department’s deputy secretary didn’t back off the sharp criticism levied Monday at Lockheed Martin by Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the incoming F-35 acquisition chief .

“We need a government-industry team that can work together. We’ve got to have that and I think Chris was saying that he has to have that with the Joint Strike Fighter program and I’m with him 100 percent. That is what we need and I think that’s what we’ll get,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference.

Bogdan said Monday the relationship between the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin within the F-35 program is the “worst he’s ever seen.” He told the crowd of Air Force officers and defense industry officials that there is no excuse for the delays in negotiating the F-35’s fifth production lot.


“It should not take 10, 11 or 12 months to negotiate a contract with someone we’ve been doing business with for 11 years,” Bogdan said.

A senior Air Force offical at the conference said Bogdan’s tough talk was the result of a boiling over of frustrations with negotiating the fifth production lot contract.

Carter trumpeted Bogdan’s success in negotiating the fixed-price contract for the tanker. Bogdan recently transition from the tanker program after he was nominated to succeed Navy Vice Adm. David J. Venlet as the F-35 acquisition chief. Carter said he hopes to see the same progress Bogdan achieved with the tanker contract in the F-35 program.

“Chris Bogdan is a tremendous program manager who brings a lot to the Joint Strike Fighter program as he did to the tanker program,” Carter said.

The deputy defense secretary admitted the F-35 is in “a very difficult time in the life of a program” saying the Pentagon is focused on controlling costs. Bogdan said he’s operating as if there is no money and no time left to add to the program.

Carter made a point similar to Bogdan Wednesday highlighting the need to keep sustainment costs low even in the early days of production. Government accountants estimate the lifetime sustainment cost for the F-35’s planned fleet of 2,443 aircraft could eclipse the $1 trillion mark.

Bogdan’s critiques don’t signal a waiver in the Pentagon’s commitment to the F-35 program, Carter said.

“We’ve wanted all three variants. It’s the center piece of our tacial air modernization program, but at the same time we have to control costs there,” Carter said. “And that means doing what we’re doing and that is sitting down together and scrutinizing every element across the structure of that program.”

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I think the translation here is that the money has run out. There is no more cost increases that can be explained away. The full comments by Bogdan were heartening, hopefully they translate into reality for the program.

One knock against “my Man”, vAdm. Venlet was the inability to identify the sustainment costs for the “teens”, for comparison. Seems to me, it was desired by all parties, to be left unknown. I’ll always wonder how much consumables could be added to each type, todate. It should add up to several pennies, maybe even $1T.

The real question I have is whether or not this is just talk. I’m hoping it will be followed by action.

Let the war of words begin.

After this weeks events in China, and their release of their new toy, a Twin Engine Stealth Fighter that pretty much looks like a clone of the F-22. The Pentagon knows that the US doesn’t have that “20 Year Widow” of Stealth anymore. So LM best start to figure out how they are going to “Solve All the F35’s Problems” pretty fast, or figure out where they plan on restarting the F-22 Line, or F-15SE’s & more Super Hornets are going to start looking pretty Good to the Pentagon.

Ashton should be careful. Lockheed will send their highly paid congressman to pay a visit.

“I think the translation here is that the money has run out.”

Yep. And the sequestration bomb hasn’t even gone off yet! There’s going to be a lot less money very shortly.

Wait until your typical Congresscritter gets told that they have one of two choices in the matter: vote to protect the rickety old National Guard base in their home district, or vote to protect the F-35.

I think we can all guess how that will shake out.

“Carter said he hopes to see the same progress Bogdan achieved with the tanker contract in the F-35 program.”

Reality check time.

The tanker contract involved taking an airframe related to an ordinary civilian airliner, that’s been in steady volume production for more than thirty years, and bolting some midair refueling hardware into it. Midair refueling itself being a technology dating back to the 1930s.

Describing this as a technological leap is like having an Olympic prize for successfully stepping over a roadside curb. And the crowd hold their breath!

The F-35 contract involves taking an airframe of unusual provenance that’s never been in high rate production, and scaling it up to the biggest fighter program in history. An airframe that’s supposed to combine, in one of its variants, supersonics and stealth and VSTOL, all at the same time.

No one has ever built a production supersonic VSTOL airframe. No one has ever built a production stealth VSTOL airframe. Now it’s proposed to roll all three together. At a price tag which replaces the F-16 unit for unit.

Nooooooooooooo problem.

It might be a bit exaggerated, but you make a good point.

Even with sequestration, there will still be a USAF Combat aircraft Procurement budget of course. It could be a fair assessment that USAF should be planning for around a $4billion annual combat air Procurement budget target. Considerably shy of the estimated $8-9billion required to procure F-35 under FRP, but 4Bn should be a doable and sustainable Procurement budget even with a Baseline Defense Appropriations of around say $475bn. Although it would require AF to cut fat and prioritize, sure, in order to maintain muscle.

But that might afford somewhere in the neighborhood of around 22-25x F-35A unit per year. Maybe another 3–4 jets if they’re lucky and can come up with an extra $.5 billion or so annually for procurement.

Alternatively, AF could have been procuring (could procure) a mix of something like 40 operational, reliable, late model F-16 and F-15E+ units per year in the interim for a $4bn procurement budget.

To all: You might want to check Carter’s past performance as a DOD watchdog. He is “Neck Deep in the Big Muddy”. http://​www​.myspace​.com/​v​i​d​e​o​/​v​i​d​/​7​2​2​4​372
He had better entusiastically agree with the new boss. Don’t worry. It’s all talk, anyway.

“We need a government-industry team that can work together. We’ve got to have that and I think Chris was saying that he has to have that with the Joint Strike Fighter program and I’m with him 100 percent. That is what we need and I think that’s what we’ll get,”

That’s hilarious! Keep paying the contractors more to screw you, and the kind of “team” you get will be the kind of “team” you’ve always got with that method of procurement.

The production run goes through 2025ish. Then you add the life (30 years or so) of the last delivered aircraft. That’s why it’s 50 years. I agree it’s silly but there is a reason.

or maybe it’s longer than 2025 … it take s along time to make 2,500 of them then the last ones are in service for a long time.

There isn’t a whole lot to do about the sustainment cost when most of it is the pay for the military pilots, mechanics as well as the fuel. WHat one could do is ask for a comparison of the number of mechanics used per squadron for the British, the USAF, the USMC and the USN .… just to compare … which taxpayer is getting the best deal?

There are a large number of superfluous jobs on this program. The only way to get the cost out is to cut. Keep the best and brightest to solve the technical issues, but hey …

Aren’t monopolies wonderful. Expect Lockheed to play hardball and the DoD to fold after having this little hissy fit. They’ve painted themselves into a corner and now they are surprised that there is no way out. Tragic planning and faith based “leadership”.

If they (DoD) were smart they would start planning for alternatives but time and time again they have shown the foresight of a turnip. I don’t expect that to change soon.

It is idiotic, but then again it was the fans in the DoD and LM that touted the commonality of platforms that was going to save vast $ in regards to sustainment. So it isn’t like the critics started the conversation, they are just pointing out that yet another facet of this program and justification for it was fantasy.

L/M doesn’t work well with ANYONE. Unfortunately for us, the Gov’t (read: DoD) has made them “too big to fail”.

The US government must cap the costs rigorously. If LM can’t meet the deadlines or has technical problems, then they will have to pay. See what they can do with a limited amount of money.

The only plane of the three variants that could really offer some improvements is the F-35B, the short take of an vertical landing version, which is supposed to replace the harrier. I don’t see any point in replacing F-18 super hornets or F-15 strike eagles with this plane. It’s aeronautical performance is no better than an F-16. If you add all the latest avionics, sensors and electronics to the F-16, you would have a comparable airplane for far less than half of the price, except for stealth, i.e. low radar cross section in particular frequency ranges. But, this is really a minor improvement over the F-16. A low radar cross section is not the be all and end all of fighter plane design.

So I would drop the F-35A and F-35C variants completely. If other nations are still interested in them, then let LM develop and sell these airplanes around the world. I doubt that it will work.

I have been told by pilots who have flown both the F-35 and the Block 60 F-16 that the later will do everything the F-35 will except stealth and STOVL. So it seems to me that a combination of new F-16E/Fs (Block 60+), F-15SEs, and additional F-22s would nicely satisfy the requirements for the next 20–30 years provided there was sufficient LRSAs available. Maybe the F-35B for the Marines to replace the “B” Harrier but I am not convinced that a new production “B” Harrier Plus wouldn’t suffice for that mission. All of this should fit nicely within the ever growing pile of funds being reserved for the F-35 program that still can’t land on a carrier.

We need the F-22 and F-35 as we need a dold in the head. Present inventory is more then enough to reteliate any world aircraft,1012

Worth noting that previous USAF aircraft which operated at altitudes at or above F-22 max altitude all required a full pressure suit for high altitude missions: U-2, SR-71, NF-104, RB-57. (So did Soviet/Russian aircraft with similar capabilities, e.g., MiG-25.)

When the F-22 came along, the USAF brass said that modified Combat Edge kit would suffice. Apparently it may not do so.

Unfortunately, the classic p-suit is not well matched to the F-22 quick-deploying, rapid-ground-turning mission model. Those suits are heavy and clumsy. A very long time is required to get suited and ready, and suit support requires a large crew of specialist personnel. That’s OK in occasional recon or test missions, but not in the more tightly scheduled F-22 world.

A case could be made here for a lighter, smarter, individually donnable p-suit in high performance, high altitude applications.

“20 Year Widow”.… paging Dr. Freud. Paging.…
Considering the gremlins dogging the F-22, that’s one whoppin big typo there tee. In my opinion, of course

The F-22 line was cut up.

No true; it was warehoused

It will be interesting to see what Chuck Hagel will do about the F 35 program given the cuts to come in DOD budgets.

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