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F-35C Catapult Launch  (Source: Navair)
Pentagon wants to spend less on subcontractors

The Pentagon is pressing hard to cut costs to as many programs as possible during the current budget crunch in Washington. The Pentagon and Congress been complaining loudly about the costs of the F-35 program coupled with the delays the aircraft has seen. The project is still moving forward, but there are some in Washington that think the cost of the new jet is simply too high.

The Pentagon is now looking to cut costs in the F-35 program by reducing the amount spent on subcontractors. So far the cost estimates for the program have been pegged at over $380 billion for the 2,400 aircraft the U.S. wants. An additional 700 aircraft have been ordered internationally. The Pentagon says that it has realized a lot of the money spent on the program is at the subcontractor level.

 "What we've learned is that a lot of the money that we're spending is at the subcontract level," Shay Assad said. "We're following money. We want to make sure we have a complete understanding of what we think a fair and reasonable subcontract price should be, and we do expect Lockheed Martin to develop their own position."

The costs of the F-35 program are expected to be more understood this fall when a review is complete. The Pentagon is currently getting ready for negotiations on the LRIP-5 of F-35 fighters. One place where money can be saved is by finding better ways to make common features across all the variants of the F-35.

"What we're finding is that we're getting much more precise about what is the commonality amongst these things and how should we build those common items, because that's where we'll save some money," Assad added. 

While the Pentagon is working to reduce the cost of the F-35 program, some estimates are saying that the first three production lots of the F-35 are exceeding cost projections by up to 15% to $918 million. The Pentagon will pay $635 million of that overrun to Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, the two lead contractors of the aircraft. The other $136 million will be met by reducing target fee.

Despite all the concerns with the cost of the F-35 program, the F-35C hit a major milestone this week. The Navy version of the fighter had its first successful catapult launch. The launch took place at the F-35 integrated test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

“It was great to be able to be a part of this milestone in the F-35C test program,” said Navy test pilot Lt. Chris Tabert. “Due to the hard work of the entire test team, the event went very well and I look forward to seeing the airplane operate from the carrier.”

The test team will execute a test plan over the next few weeks that will include more launches at varying power levels and dual-aircraft jet blast deflector testing and catapult launches using a degraded catapult configuration. The degraded catapult tests are to measure the effects of steam ingestion on the F-35.

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By mitchelvii on 7/28/2011 1:09:41 PM , Rating: -1
Well, the problem with this tech is that although impressive, there is no way this jet will compete with a swarm of 10 UAV's coming at it pulling 20 g's for half the cost in the future.

UAV's are the future.

By andre-bch on 7/28/2011 1:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
Who said it's supposed to compete with UAVs? By the time UAVs become capable of taking on fighter planes roles F-35 would be obsolete.

By Mudhen6 on 7/28/2011 4:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the problem with this tech is that although impressive, there is no way this jet will compete with a swarm of 10 UAV's coming at it pulling 20 g's for half the cost in the future.

Thank you for making it obvious that you have no idea what you're talking about. A UAV that is pulling 20gs is a UAV that is a sitting duck because it bled away all it's airspeed. Probably because some idiot thought it was a good idea to pull 20gs and expect to not get punished for it.

You never pull more Gs than you have to. That's one of the most important rules in ACM.

By AssBall on 7/28/11, Rating: 0
By Mudhen6 on 7/28/2011 10:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
Missiles can't afford to pull 20Gs either, "bro." I don't understand this fascination with high-G maneuvering, especially when you're lobbing BVR missiles.

By Owik2008 on 7/29/2011 3:39:29 AM , Rating: 3
His name is AssBall, what do you expect... You should have replied with:

I'm not your bro, guy... I'm not your guy, pal... I'm not your pal, buddy... I'M NOT YOUR BUDDY, GUY!

By ender707 on 7/30/2011 12:44:52 AM , Rating: 2
You, Sir, win the comment war.

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