F-35 Program Doubles in Cost - Looks Like time to dust off all those old Phantoms down in Tucson!

Pentagon's future fighter aircraft doubles in cost By Mike Mount, CNN Senior Pentagon Producer March 12, 2010 12:32 p.m. EST
The cost of the F-35 aircraft has gone from $50 million a jet in 2001 to about $113 million. STORY HIGHLIGHTS The cost of the F-35 aircraft has gone from $50 million a jet in 2001 to about $113 million F-35 joint strike fighter is most expensive Pentagon weapons program ever Pentagon wants to buy more than 2,400 of the technologically advanced aircraft Even with delays, cost overruns, first planes expected in service as early as 2012 RELATED TOPICS Military Aircraft Technology Military Weapons Military Technology Washington (CNN) -- The cost of the Pentagon's newest fighter jet will be more than double the original price, solidifying the F-35 joint strike fighter as the most expensive Pentagon weapons program ever. At a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyers said numerous problems over the almost 10-year program have forced the cost of the aircraft to go from $50 million a jet in 2001 to about $113 million. That cost overrun has also forced the Pentagon to justify the program to Congress. Outrage about the cost among the Senate panel was expected, including that from the chairman of the Armed Service Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. "This committee has been a strong supporter of the JSF program from the beginning, however, people should not conclude that we're going to be willing to continue that strong support without regard to increased costs coming from poor program management," Levin said. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the ranking member, had been pushing for a hearing on the program. "The taxpayers are a little tired of this, and I can't say that I can blame them," McCain said. "It's a bit frustrating to hear the secretary of defense as short a time ago as last August to tell us that everything is OK," McCain said. McCain was referring to a visit to the joint strike fighter assembly plant last year where Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said most of the high risk elements associated with JSF's developmental program were largely in the past, according to McCain. The Pentagon wants to buy more than 2,400 of the technologically advanced aircraft. The F-35 program has had numerous technical problems, delays and slow productivity over the years, including an entire program restructuring in an attempt to reduce the skyrocketing cost. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Ashton Carter told the Senate panel that the program has fallen short on performance in the past few years. "That is unacceptable," he said. Despite that, the fighter jet program still enjoys strong support from service chiefs and congressional members because it touches numerous states. The F-35 program cost overrun triggered the Nunn-McCurdy law, which requires the Pentagon to tell Congress of significant cost increases. The law forces the Pentagon to justify continuing with the program. The Pentagon's director of cost assessment and program evaluation, Christine Fox, told the senators she expects the Pentagon will officially notify Congress under the Nunn-McCurdy regulation by April 1. The plane was designed to be the next generation fighter for the military and would have three variants. The Navy would have one for its carrier fleet, the Marines would use it to replace their aging Harrier jump jet fleet and the Air Force would use it as the service phases out the F-16 and F-15 fighter jets. The planes are being built by Lockheed Martin, and the program also has international partners who have been building parts for the aircraft. More than 700 of them would be sold to those partner countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. The fighter is the largest weapons program ever and Gates has been counting on it, as there are no immediate alternative programs to the F-35. Even with the delays and cost overruns, the first planes are expected to be put into service as early as 2012 for the Marine Corps. But the Air Force and Navy are expecting their first aircraft to be delivered by 2016, a two year delay for the Navy and a three year delay for the Air Force, according to Pentagon officials. Even as the program tries to field an aircraft in less than two years, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) official testified at the hearing that there are still no final costs associated with the program through its projected life ending in 2034. "To date, the department does not have a full, comprehensive cost estimate for completing the program," said Michael Sullivan, director of the acquisition and sourcing management team for the
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Musicman59 wrote:

I could have predicted that...in fact, I DID predict it as soon as I heard they were nixing F-22...idiots.
It's ALWAYS cheaper to cancel a paper airplane (like the F-35) than it is to cancel one that's in production...what did they expect?..
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
: : I could have predicted that...in fact, I DID predict it as soon as I : heard they were nixing F-22...idiots. : : It's ALWAYS cheaper to cancel a paper airplane (like the F-35) than it : is to cancel one that's in production...what did they expect?.. :     Another DoD program blowing out the budget. Gosh, when has that ever happened in the past?
    Despite all of the "outrage" from the members of the senile, errr, Senate, I expect it will go on. "Think of the children!", errr, "jobs!", yeah, that is it, "jobs".
    Given the recent furor over the Airbus A-400M, I wonder how excited they will be over this news? Yeah, I thought so, too.
                            Bruce
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I like bad!" Bruce Burden Austin, TX.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bruce Burden wrote:

The problem is that F-35 is a heavily multi-national leveraged program. About all it would take at this point is for one of the partners to pull out, and the whole haystack could collapse. And with F-22 OOP, that will mean a LOT of jobs gone...and I haven't even thought about possible international impact on suppliers/manufacturers/jobs...yeah, people are going to get excited.
I know the Netherlands are already looking at alternatives, and a lot of Aussies would rather have F-22. If anybody else starts spending money on Super Hornets because they are here NOW, and F-35 overruns more or falls any further behind schedule, well...just read the checkbooks and do the math...
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Be interesting to see what the UK does. We are awaiting a General Election (est May 2010) so at the moment the government and the opposition parties aren't making too much noise about budget cuts because they don't want to hurt their position pre-election.
But it is clear that UK has a massive deficit which will need to address by whichever government is in power after May - I heard that the interest alone on the UK national debt is now greater than the any of the defence, eductation or health budgets.
I work in the defence business and we are expecting big defence cuts of some kind. The new carriers (along with their martitime F-35s) are a prime target - the programme has already be stretched out to reduce the annual spend (although this makes the total spend greater). The MoD are also trying to get out of the 3rd tranche of Eurofighters (if they can't cancel they will probably try and sell them on at a loss).
So the big UK programmes are under threat, especially with the publicity that the 'common' warfighter in Iraq and Afganistan is having to do without basic needs, so the public is coming out very much against the big programmes that they see as not needed.
Cheers,
Nigel
__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4943 (20100314) __________
The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.
http://www.eset.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nigel Heather the-heathers.co.uk> <nigel@ wrote:

How does the situation on F-35 compare (if in any way) to the effort to bring Typhoon to the field? Just curious...
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
UK are buying them to replace Harriers for both the RAF and Royal Navy.
To be honest I haven't heard much news about the aircraft on their own. I imagine the fate of the two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will be the decider. If they are allowed to continue then I believe the Navy will definitely get their JCAs (now called the Joint Combat Aircraft in the UK), although the numbers may be cut back - and then I couldn't imagine the RAF being left out.
The big risk is if the work on the carriers gets stopped - there is a big question over whether the UK needs such a large carrier-bourne fleet.
But stopping the carriers and the JCAs will hit British jobs hard so it is a decision that wouldn't be taken lightly. But if it weren't for the British jobs involved I reckon that both the carrier and JCA programmes would have been pulled by now.
Cheers,
Nigel
__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4950 (20100316) __________
The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.
http://www.eset.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nigel Heather the-heathers.co.uk> <nigel@ wrote:

Cutting back the numbers will only raise the unit cost of the aircraft...making it that much more likely to end up on the chopping block for being too costly. So that's a double-edged sword.

Yeah, that's a big kicker...but might the UK opt to buy the land-based variant instead, if the decision is made to short the carrier decks? That's the variant that's bid to be procured in the largest numbers anyway.

...delicate balance, this stuff.
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There are already plans to buy JCAs for the RAF to replace their Harriers. Trouble is, I think, the RAF's need is harder to justify than the Navy's.
If the carriers go ahead then the Navy JCAs are safe (maybe in reduced numbers) because although the carriers are big enough to support conventional take off and handing, they aren't that big and the UK doesn't have any convential carrier aircraft (though there is talk of a maritime eurofighter).
If the Navy get theirs, then it is almost certain that the RAF will get theirs aswell because of the rivalry between the forces.
But if the carriers get scrapped I wouldn't put any of my hard earned money on a JCA wager.
Cheers,
Nigel
__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4952 (20100317) __________
The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.
http://www.eset.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nigel Heather the-heathers.co.uk> <nigel@ wrote:

USMC is pretty much in the same...er...boat. Short deck LHAs, where VSTOL aircraft are the only type other than helos that can operate from those decks. In the USMC case the ships aren't in jeopardy, but their continued/full utility is hostage to the procurement of VSTOL JSF to an extent.
With no jets, I suppose they could just pack on more helos, but I'm not privy to what that would mean from a mission/force standpoint. So the Corps want those VSTOL F-35Bs...but both the B and C (Navy) numbers pale in comparison to the F-35A to be built for the international operator base to replace aging F-16s...so I'd expect the smaller numbers to fall off the plate first if it all comes down to budgets...time will tell.
But the Royal Marines and the USMC are pretty much in this proposition together...being that both forces need to replace their Harriers.
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nigel Heather the-heathers.co.uk> <nigel@ wrote:

USMC is pretty much in the same...er...boat. Short deck LHAs, where VSTOL aircraft are the only type other than helos that can operate from those decks. In the USMC case the ships aren't in jeopardy, but their continued/full utility is hostage to the procurement of VSTOL JSF to an extent.
With no jets, I suppose they could just pack on more helos, but I'm not privy to what that would mean from a mission/force standpoint. So the Corps want those VSTOL F-35Bs...but both the B and C (Navy) numbers pale in comparison to the F-35A to be built for the international operator base to replace aging F-16s...so I'd expect the smaller numbers to fall off the plate first if it all comes down to budgets...time will tell.
But the Royal Marines and the USMC are pretty much in this proposition together...being that both forces need to replace their Harriers.
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
: : To be honest I haven't heard much news about the aircraft on their own. I : imagine the fate of the two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will be the : decider. :     I expect your are right. With Argentina making noises about British oil exploration off the Falklands/Malvinas, that may be extra incentive to build some replacment carriers.
                            Bruce
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I like bad!" Bruce Burden Austin, TX.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Burden) wrote:

what internal crisis are the argies trying to hide this time? there's something very odd about a former colonial possesion going after a former empire. i don't know which i pity more. does the world need more death and hate?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
: : what internal crisis are the argies trying to hide this time? : there's something very odd about a former colonial possesion : going after a former empire. :     Like a few islands off the Maine/Canadian Maritines coast, I expect the Falklands/Malvinas are ignored, but a constant low value burr under the saddle - generally ignorable, but on occasion, can cause flare-ups.
    Given the price of crude, I can understand the Argentine government looking to protect/claim and patch they can. And given the Brits have been looking in the area recently, well, rumblings about the Falklands/Malvinas were bound to bubble up.
    I expect this is similar to the claims China, Phillipines and Vietnam(?) have on a patch of the South China Sea, and for much the same reason.
                            Bruce
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I like bad!" Bruce Burden Austin, TX.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Burden) wrote:

nothing like a species wide insanity cause by an obsession with movement and plastic.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@some.domain wrote:> <pre wrap>In article &lt;mjgon.18461$ snipped-for-privacy@newsfe21.iad&gt;, snipped-for-privacy@realtime.net (Bruce Burden) wrote:
&lt; snipped-for-privacy@some.domain&gt; wrote:

movement and

What do you have against silicone?
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Musicman59 wrote the following:

I agree. Bring back the F-4. It wasn't stealth, but the best all around aircraft since the P-47 Thunderbolt.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
willshak wrote:

http://www.ausairpower.net/Analysis-JSF-Thud-2004.html
...I dunno...I know a former F4 combat vet that has sat and detailed the weaknesses of the F4 to me...gimme more F-15Es any over F4s any day.
The F4 biggest utility was that it was able to be employed by mutiple service Branches...bet we never see that again. That doesn't mean it could hold a candle to/against any 4th-gen fighter.
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Rufus wrote the following:

But that's the point. Why not? It's always been an Air Force vs Navy in choosing aircraft. Isn't it just a matter of adding an arresting gear with the corresponding strength and foldable wings to make it Navy compatible?

I wouldn't know. Perhaps adding vector thrusting to the F4 would make it more competitive with the modern fighters. Sorry. I am an F-4 fan.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
willshak wrote:

No...it's FAR more complicated than just that, structurally. Mostly because every carrier landing is a hard landing. Just look at what it took to turn the YF-17 into an F/A-18A. Or to build a T-45A Goshawk out of the basic Hawk.
F-35 is an attempt at meeting in the middle in that at least two of the variants share a common center barrel structure, but even so..."similar" isn't "the same as".

Being an aircraft fan is one thing, the reality of air combat is another. The F4 (and the F-14, for that matter) did what they did adequately, but only for their time. And it's not just a matter of adding some new toy like thrust vectoring, but the combination of advances in materials, engines, airframe design, control systems, pilot/vehicle interfaces, armament, sensors, digital systems...you name it.
--
- Rufus

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.