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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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RE: typo
By tecknurd on 7/30/2011 4:04:23 AM , Rating: 2
You do not know what you are talking about. For an engineer to make anything to be successful for the public, the engineer have to make and this means physically make something. Making in the computer just does not work compared the device being made and function in the real world. Simulations gives the engineer an ideal look of the device.

NASA have to go through hundreds or thousands of designs to make a successful rocket and moon lander. Using one model is suicide.


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