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Senate wants assurance that F-35 will cost no more than stated  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
any cost overruns would be paid by contractor

The cost of the F-35 JSF continues to soar and delays continue to mount though the aircraft is now finally in production in some variants. As the aircraft stat to roll of the production assembly line, the Senate is taking steps to control the price of the fighter as the next low-rate initial procurement (LRIP) is set to enter negotiations.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has passed a bill on June 16 that required the LRIP-5 purchase set for 2012 to be at a fixed price. That means that any cost overruns in the development or production of the F-35 purchase will be absorbed totally by suppliers.

An emailed statement from the committee said, "The bill contains a unique requirement that the low-rate initial procurement contract for the FY11 lot of the Joint Strike Fighter (LRIP-5) program must be a fixed-price contract and the contract must require the contractor to absorb 100 percent of costs above the target cost." 

The previous LRIP-4 purchase uses a cost-plus award fee plan.

If the full Senate passes the bill, it will be legally binding. Defense News reports that the bill fully supports the Pentagon budget request for the F-35. The budget allots $3.2 billion to purchase Navy versions of the F-35 and $3.7 billion for the USAF version of the fighter. In total, the Pentagon wants 32 F-35 fighters in 2012 with 19 going to the USAF, seven for the Navy and six for the Marine Corps.

Defense News adds that a Defense Acquisition Board review to establish a new cost baseline for the F-35 has been postponed until this fall. The review has been rescheduled for late May before being reset to mid-June and the rescheduled again.

The effort to control the price of the F-35 program comes in part from the estimate that the F-35 program could cost as much as $1 trillion in operating costs.

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By Reclaimer77 on 6/21/2011 10:47:44 AM , Rating: 2
Nevertheless, I believe the "stealth" of the F-35 is being vastly exaggerated. My entire argument wasn't based on that one article. Although finding concrete details on the F-35's stealth is a bit difficult, for obvious reasons.

The F35 sacrifices everything that makes a great fighter - range, payload, agility - for a supposed huge advantage in stealth, that is to say, invisibility. Of course "stealth" is a relative term. Stealthy, compared to what? Stealthy, under what circumstances? Stealthy, for how long?

America's brass have informed Congress they're "discouraged" to discover that their country's lead in stealth technology is "eroding more quickly than anticipated."

It's beginning to sound that the F35 really isn't a long-term option. In fact it sounds like we're spending an enormous amount of money to acquire a paltry number of marginally performing aircraft that stands to be overtaken by superior technology fairly early in its projected service life. This is the sort of result you can expect when you're making your decisions ideologically.

Sorry but I still agree with the OP. And I really hate agreeing with him :P I still don't see how the F-35 is a better deal than the F-22, which was yesterdays fighter. In what areas is it even more advanced? None! It's a boondoggle.

By 91TTZ on 6/21/2011 11:01:00 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry but I still agree with the OP. And I really hate agreeing with him :P I still don't see how the F-35 is a better deal than the F-22, which was yesterdays fighter. In what areas is it even more advanced? None! It's a boondoggle.

The F-22 wasn't yesterday's fighter, and the F-35 is not supposed to be a replacement for the F-22. The F-22 is the high end fighter that's replacing yesterday's F-15, and the F-35 is the "low-end" fighter that supposed to be replacing the Harrier (F-35B), F-18 (F-35C), and F-16 (F-35A). The problem is that it's turning out to be an expensive low-end fighter. It's like getting an F-16 for the F-15 price.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/21/2011 1:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
You're being a bit too literal, or not enough. The F-22 came before the F-35, much before, and yet the F-35 is so woefully less advanced in almost every category. That's why I called the F-22 "yesterdays" fighter.

By 91TTZ on 6/21/2011 4:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
What I mean is that the US always uses a high/low tactic when procuring fighter aircraft. It will purchase a high end air superiority fighter in smaller numbers and then a lower end, less expensive fighter in more numerous quantities.

High End: F-15 Eagle
Low End: F-16 Falcon

High End: F-14 Tomcat
Low End: F-18 Hornet

High End: F-22 Raptop
Low End: F-35 Lightning II

While the lower end fighter is often procured after the higher end fighter, it's not supposed to be more capable than it, it's just supposed to be cheaper.

By Bad-Karma on 6/22/2011 4:38:17 AM , Rating: 2
You also have to look at the development history of the F22. The Air Force was very eager to get the bird even though the funding was fully available. The project creep from a pure air superiority fighter to one of "Can do everything" was as much about funds acquisitions than it was about capabilities.

A lot of projects, weapons systems, and R&D siphoned had their funds siphoned off to the F-22. Every month there would be some new feature added to the 22's list of capabilities. In turn you would see a weapon system somewhere else have not only it's mission infringed upon but a considerable amount of its yearly budget diverted as well. Each time congress would cut funding or production numbers on the 22, another platform paid the price. A lot of it came out of the ISR community budget.

The downside to all it is that the shear amount of data converging into the cockpit of the 22 can easily overload a single pilot. I've worked with them on and off over the years and I'll say this "No plane has ever cried out more for a second seat than the F-22." But you'll never hear a USAF fighter pilot admit that.

By Bad-Karma on 6/22/2011 4:41:35 AM , Rating: 2
"The Air Force was very eager to get the bird even though the funding was fully available."

damn, meant to say ----WASN'T

By Mudhen6 on 6/22/2011 9:17:57 AM , Rating: 2
Not saying you're wrong, but the idea of a second seat is preposterous in an F-22, given the costs in weight and fuel of a second seat/pilot. Part (or much, hopefully) of the problem associated with information overload should be alleviated with the F-22's "Sensor Fusion" design philosophy; it might be a bunch of marketing BS, but I don't think anyone can deny that the designers and engineers behind the Raptor realize the problem and have done their best to minimize it.

Or not present irrelevant information it at all. An F-22 pilot doing air-to-air doesn't need to know about all the ground-based SIGINT that his jet is detecting, just the threat rings of SAM sites, I would assume.

By Bad-Karma on 6/22/2011 1:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a proponent of a two seater in today's modern fighters. No-Way,No-How. But there is a lot of data moving about the battlefields that a fighter has no time to really analyze and interpret.

I'd love to really discuss this one with you but we are getting a bit too deep into the subject matter, we'd best drop this one.

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