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  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
After ten years and billions invested some in the Senate want alternatives to F-35

It's well known that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has turned into the most costly weapons program in history for the armed forces. When complete, multiple branches of the armed forces will use the F-35 and it will be sold abroad to allies.

The problem for some in Washington is that the delays in delivering the aircraft are mounting, as are the costs to build and maintain the aircraft over its lifespan. The F-35 program has been going for ten years now and some in the Senate Armed Services Committee are now indicating it's time to start looking for a backup plan. Most will find little sense in considering an alternative to the F-35 when it is finally so close to completion.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "It seems to me [prudent that] we at least begin considering alternatives."

The reason some in the Senate want to start looking for alternatives is the report published last week showing the costs to maintain the F-35 through 2065 spiraling to $1 trillion. Top acquisition official Ashton Carter has maintained that the $1 trillion figure will be reduced when he completes a "should-cost" review of the F-35 in the next few months. Carter is aiming at a 20% to 50% reduction in that $1 trillion figure.

Christine Fox, Director of the Pentagon cost assessment and program evaluation office, is skeptical of the cost reduction goals.

Fox said, "O&S [operation and sustainment] is hard. Whether we can get it all the way down to legacy [O&S cost levels] is something that I in my office doubt.” Fox points to the cost of fuel being hard to reduce over the life of the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin's general manager for the F-35 program, Tom Burbage, says that the sustainment costs for the F-35 can’t be fairly compared to the costs of older aircraft. He says that the F-35 was developed on performance-based logistics plan that is different from legacy sustainment process. He also notes that the F-35 O&S estimates are susceptible to ground rules legacy aircraft are not bound to.



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RE: No surprise...
By gamerk2 on 5/23/2011 3:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
For the record, the F15/F16 was meant to be as follows:

1: Expensive F15 as Air Superiority Fighter [Air Force/Navy]
2: Cheap F16 for multipurpose needs [Air Force/Marines]

Of course, the Navy wasn't sold on the F15, and walked away to make the F18 instead [Basically, an Interceptor that also had the F16's multirole capabilities]

Fast foward 30 years:

1: Expensive F22 as Air Superiority Fighter [Air Force]
2: Cheap F35 for multipurpose needs [Air Force/Navy/Marines]

Same EXACT program ideology, only the Navy didn't walk away this time to fund its own plane.

The main issue is cost overruns and lack of accountability, not the overall program direction, or "liberals". After all, the Defense budget is higher then its ever been.


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