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
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
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.