Print 26 comment(s) - last by caonimeiaaa.. on Jul 31 at 9:33 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: typo
By AssBall on 7/28/2011 6:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
You are completely right, on so many levels.

Engineers should design our defense products, not politicians and bureaucrats.

RE: typo
By FITCamaro on 7/28/2011 11:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
Its not that engineers don't design and build it.

It's that the documentation and other red tape as well as the military not knowing what they want makes the costs go well beyond the "best case" bid that is required to win the contract.

RE: typo
By inperfectdarkness on 7/29/2011 7:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
yes, to design--but that's it. warfighters should still be the ones coming up with the ideas. they're the ones using the machines in combat; they're the ones who have the best idea of what is needed, what will work, and what could be made better.

and for the record, the current climate is "reap what you sow". there's been a HUGE push to cut down on what is supposedly "wasteful, dead-end programs". that's all well and good; not every potential defense program will bear fruit. the problem is, we have insisted on ZERO fruitless endeavors; i.e. no weapons systems fielded that end up being of marignal use.

so now we insist upon the programs that we DO keep, having to have "everything" included in the plan. more gets added in after-the fact. programs get modified excessively and budgets overrun.

if we stick with limited-scope programs, and stipulate that "changes" have to be relegated to block upgrades later during service life, we can do much better at keeping costs down--even if we occasionally have to kill programs or early-retire certain systems.

comanche should never have gotten the axe.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki