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Negotiations continue between Lockheed and the Pentagon

Negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin started last year to iron out all the details for the purchase of 32 F-35 fighters. The reason negotiations on pricing have dragged on for so long is due to the Pentagon's use of new pricing data according to Defense News. DOD officials are now using what's being called a "should-cost" estimate for the purchase of the F-35 fighters based on data from the previous four F-35 purchases.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall, says that the Pentagon's move to "should-cost" estimates were used to develop a "bottoms-up cost estimate based on that previous history."
“We started negotiations on the government side with a very well-documented set of costs, called the should-cost, and then we were able to compare that to the bid that we received, item-by-item, line-by-line,” Kendall said during a July 16 meeting with a small group of reporters in his Pentagon office. “Going through and trying to resolve the differences has been the process that has taken so long.”
Kendall also notes that once negotiations conclude, "We’ll be in a very good place to go ahead and negotiate for future lots."

A group of Lockheed F-35B Lightning II fighters [Source: Lockheed Martin]
The Pentagon has been working hard to put pricing pressure on Lockheed Martin for F-35 purchases despite reducing the number of aircraft required over the next five years by 179 units. Typically, every time purchase plans are reduced by any partner nation, pricing for the F-35 increases.
Kendall also believes that sequestration, or mandatory spending cuts that will go into effect in January, will not affect every F-35 acquisition contract. Sequestration only applies to funding that is not yet obligated according to Kendall.

The Pentagon is fighting for every penny it can save on the F-35 fighters as the overall lifetime cost of the F-35 program continues to soar.

Source: Defense News

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By Apone on 7/18/2012 12:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong here but I've always known the F-35 to have originated from a joint-nation (NATO) effort to create a financially practical high performance multi-role (jack of all trades) jet fighter for the contributing NATO countries. The F-22 is designed for Air Superiority (rule the skies) which is different. Same thing with the F-14 vs F-18. It's not that the F-14 is high end and the F-18 is low end; The F-14 was designed to rule the air only while the F-18 C/D can do dog-fighting, bombing, reconnaissance, mid-air refueling other aircraft, etc. (The F-18 E/F "Super Hornet" takes the C/D's capabilities up a notch as it's been upgraded with bigger wings, bigger fuel tank, more powerful engines, etc.)

When the F-35 came out, it was marketed as the low-cost complement to the F-22. It was supposed to have a good percentage of the capabilities of the F-22 at a greatly reduced price. All the hype was surrounding the F-22 and its capabilities and the F-35 was just going to be the watered down, less capable, more numerous fighter.

I don't think the F-35 was marketed as a watered-down version of the F-22 necessarily, again the F-35 is a multi-role fighter so it's designed to be flexible since it's a multi-role fighter. For example, its variants include a vertical take-off version (F-35B) for the Marine Corps and the Navy version (F-35C) is a little smaller so it can launch and land on an aircraft carrier. Also the F-22 was exclusively developed for the United States Air Force while the F-35 was a NATO effort which means many countries who contributed to its engineering development will buy a fleet of F-35 for themselves.

But now that the price has escalated out of control, they're trying to market it as "the most sophisticated, most capable fighter ever".

I agree, seems like Uncle Sam is rationalizing the F-35's overbudget situation and I'm still scratching my head as to why the U.S. originally wanted over 2000 copies of the F-35 and 750 of the F-22 upon program development launch. (As if 350 F-35's and 150 F-22's shouldn't suffice to complement existing military fleet in trying to keep America safe...)

By Manch on 7/18/2012 1:10:32 PM , Rating: 3
He had it right with the high end low end analogy. The f35 being a joint strike fighter has technology that can be shared with other countries vs the f22 which is US only. The f35 does lack a lot of tech that the 22s have. That being said its a multirole fighter like you said designed to do everything good, but not great.

Now he f14 F18 and the F15 f16 pairings were developed on two trains of thought that came out of the Korean War and Vietnam conflict.

In Korea our kill ratio was about 21:1, in Vietnam it fell to about 7:1

From the Korean conflict we thought that dog fighting was a thing of the past so we started developing planes that were fast in a straight line but no need for turning performance.(think drag racing vs rally). This led ultimately to the development of the F4. During the vietnam conflict we realized oh crap this doesnt work as well as we thought and btw we still need machine guns too!(Orignal F4 was missiles only).

For the next design, some in the AF and the Navy both wanted massive weapons platforms that could out turn, out burn, and kill anything and everything. Better if you can destroy your enemy before you are ever in range, and if they do get in range make sure you have the capability to punish the hell out of them and then get the eff out. These platforms were and still are expensive. The other train of thought was we needed a lean highly agile dog fighters that can get up close and personal. And they wanted a lot of them to swarm the skies. The result was a compromise or merging of the two ideas which resulted the dynamic duo system we have now.

Of course there are other platforms that are highly specialized (A10s) and others that were converted (A4s). Some older planes are repurposed (RF4).

The problem with the f35 is they want it to be everything but the f22, including all of those other jobs of the highly specialized AC. They want to use them for ISR, sear, FB, etc. and it cant. Plus all of these additional goals they have in mind has created the ever moving goal post.

In this regard the f35 is supposed to be the 22s little brother. I realize that other countries are buying them, but most of those countries dont maintain a standing military the way we do($$). Matter o fact, for them we're that gigantic dude standing behind them making sure nobody effs with them at the bar so they dont need all the platforms we do.

The reason we wanted so many was because these two platforms were meant to replace everything with an F, or and A in its designation. The logic of having a common platform was that it would make things cheaper in the long run and our current fleet is aging pretty badly.

Sorry I tired to just get the gist of it all but I thnk I got a bit lengthy.

By Solandri on 7/18/2012 4:45:15 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with the f35 is they want it to be everything but the f22, including all of those other jobs of the highly specialized AC. They want to use them for ISR, sear, FB, etc. and it cant. Plus all of these additional goals they have in mind has created the ever moving goal post.

I've said this before - that's the real lesson from the F35 boondoggle I think. They tried to make it do everything, on the theory that by having a shared airframe for all this they could reduce costs.

Nuh uh. One type of airframe will be better for some tasks, a different airframe will be better for others. When you try to make one airframe which can do everything, it ends up horribly expensive, and horribly mediocre at any one of those tasks.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

By Manch on 7/18/2012 5:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
yup, theres a reason why A10s arent being retired, and the 15s/16s are recieving additional block upgrades. Its because this damn 35 cannot replace them.

The 35 should have been a f18 replacement and they should have sourced for a single engine platform for the 16.

By Bad-Karma on 7/18/2012 11:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the A-10s are being retired, just not in mass. In case you haven't noticed many of the airframes are reaching their service life and are being unceremoniously rolled into the boneyard at Davis-Monthan.

Each conflict the birds serve in hastens the approach to its end of service life.

The last one produced was delivered from Fairchild in 1984. Of 715 produce less than 350 are still operational. of which the USAF just put 5 more A-10 squadrons on the chopping block for the late 2012/13 (roughly 100). And I count less than 50 retired A-10s at the AMARC boneyard each at varying stages of cannibalization and reclamation smelting.

You can modernize the systems and put on new wings, but regardless, once the airframe itself reaches its service life the bird has to be retired. The current service life is projected out to 2040, but already the USAF has been retiring whole squadrons wholesale of the oldest airframes first. Any newer birds in the chopped Squadrons will be sent to still active squadrons with their older birds being AMARC'd

2.) Every airframe continues to receive block upgrade throughout it's service life. Just because a new bird come along with similar or identical missions doesn't mean the older one is immediately discontinued. There have been lots of different aircraft with similar or even identical roles that have overlapping service, sometimes even for a decade or more.

By Manch on 7/19/2012 2:14:15 AM , Rating: 2
The A10 was supposed to be given to the Army, then they decided to wholesale retire them, and then and they reversed the decision due to the delays with the F35 and the realization that it still has its uses. Its loitering capability far exceeds an F16s for providing CAS.

Yes they are reducing the numbers and the retired ones will be cannabalized. This has been the practice for most aircraft out of production.

As far as service life goes, many ac are well past their original service life. A lot of 15/16s are well past their original service life and have had them extended hence the additional block upgrades. I dont know where you're trying to go with point 2.

By Bad-Karma on 7/19/2012 3:54:54 AM , Rating: 2
The Key west accord of 1948 forbids the US army from having fixed wing aircraft except for some recon and medivac assets. In 1990, Congress decreed that some USAF A-10A’s and OV-10 Broncos be turned over to the Army and Marine Corps beginning in 1991, but later had to reverse that decision due to the provisions of the Key West Accord.

That being said the USAF has never really relished having or fully supported the CAS role. Traditionally the USAF has been ruled by heavy bomber or fighter guys. Even though the current Chief of Staff of the Air Force is a C-130 guy, the old SAC vs TAC mentality is still in place and rules the USAF. CAS just doesn't get the focus or budget. The A-10 was always the unloved ugly duckling that powers to be don't want around but also can't get rid of.

Don't get the aircraft service life confused with the individual airframe service life. Just because we have had 15s & 16s in the inventory since 1974 and are expected to stay in service past 2025, doesn't mean that each bird is expected to last for 50+ years. That some birds can get service hour waivers or extension after a tear down and refit doesn't mean it is cart-blanch to the whole fleet. If we could we wouldn't have hundreds of them in the boneyard while we have to put up with birds on active duty that are barely airworthy.

When an airframe reaches it's final service life, it's done, there is no way to safely sustain operations with that airframe. Block upgrades don't usually address major structural components in the body unless it is a minor component. Usually when a bird is put out to final pasture it is because the frame or structure itself has approached or exceeded it's expected usage hours and is in risk of developing metal fatigue. The body of the airframe itself is not usually considered entirely repairable and it must be retired at its expected service hours. Also, when the purchase contract is finally closed the jigs,dies and associated machinery needed to produce those parts are traditionally ordered destroyed by congress. Frame members and ribbing are not parts that are usually kept in inventory. And the only place left to get those structural components are from the planes already retired, which are most likely there because they are near or over their service life.

My point on them being retired is that the A-10 fleet is rapidly dwindling. And as less and less aircraft have to shoulder more and more of the mission the rate at which they consume both parts and service life only increases and perpetuates a zero sum game.

By Manch on 7/19/2012 9:25:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the AF has had a love/hate relationship with the A10s. Not because they have issues, but because defies the predominant philosphy in the AF. Air-Air. They were hell bent on getting rid of them until they proved themselves during the first gulf war. They then realized the stupidity of F16s taking there place and killed that idea. They want the F35 to replace it, but we dont have them yet.

Im not confused about the two. With the advancements in metalergy, testing they have been able to certify, retrofit some platforms to keep them in the sky. Doesnt always work out. (F15 cockpit separates from plane while in the air). Other advancements have allowed us to extend the planned service life of others. You're right. block upgrades dont normally address them but sometimes they are combined with retrofits.

By Just Tom on 7/20/2012 10:41:39 AM , Rating: 2
The Key West Agreement is simply a policy paper. Congress can revoke its provisions legislatively anytime it wants. And even under the KWA the Marine was allowed an air component, which is why there are Marine air wings. If Congress had 'decreed' the Army was to have A-10s the Army would have had A-10s.

By Bad-Karma on 7/19/2012 1:01:35 AM , Rating: 2
He had it right with the high end low end analogy.

No, he does not have it right. Aircraft are developed to fill an intended role or mission.

The F14 was spec'd in the 50's and designed in the late 60s at a long range carrier based interceptor to replace the conglomerate of 50s & 60s era fighters. However, it has never been considered an accomplished up close dog fighter, no matter what the Top Gun movie told you.

The F-15 was from the beginning an Air Superiority fighter based around the energy maneuverability theory. It was designed to replace the venerable F-4s and F-100 series in the air-to-air role. Basically the F-4's mission was separated between the two, yet still continued to serve into the 90's. Also the remains of the F-100 series were still around but being relegated to the ANG & reserves until finally exhausted. It wasn't until the 80's that the 15 was given a ground strike ability in the E model. But I assure you, if the USAF had had its way in the 60's and 70's and with unlimited funding you would see an almost all F-15 air-to-air and air-to ground fleet with little room for the 16. And continuing with that same unlimited funding you'd see the F-22 eventually filling both roles as well.

The 18 was the runner up to the F-16 in a 1974 contract bid for a USAF lightweight fighter. The bid was in response to congress curtailing the number of 15s the USAF could purchase (just like now with the 22). The 16 filled its role really well, but when multinational air forces expressed interest in the design, upgrades and modifications developed it into a sound mulit-role platform.

After pursuing the A-12, which was eventually canceled,the USN later picked up the 18 with some mods to help replace it's aging and antiquated A4/A6/A7 fleets, until a better solution came along. That it was later able to take over portions of the 14s mission is a testament to the airframe. However, the US Navy routinely looks at developing another dedicated air superiority fighter, but politics and development costs keep knocking it out of reach.

Knowing that Congress wouldn't never fully fund a full load out of F-22s the USAF this time planned ahead for it and brought the 35 into development. But once again, a thoroughbred horse put together by a committee winds up as a camel.

So all you're really seeing is taking what used to be the roles of a fleets of 5-10 different aircraft being compressed into 1 or two airframes to help "try" to save budget and logistic requirements. However, it just becomes absurdly expensive when you try to shove that many different missions and systems into one airframe. The 35 is just a further compression in that idea.

So what I'm trying to get at is that there isn't really an intentional HI/LOW acquisition concept. It is the strategic layout being curtailed by successive congressional budget cuts over the last 60+ years that necessitates the merger of roles into fewer and fewer airframes. i.e budget dictates stopgap measures and in the end you never get an aircraft that does every item as well as multiple dedicated airframes.

By Manch on 7/19/2012 3:01:59 AM , Rating: 2
Never called the the F14 an up close dog fighter. It like the F15 have massive stand off capability and was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter. Granted the Navy required other roles of it but its primary job was air superiority.

The F14 wasnt spec'd in the 50s it was born because of the TFX, as in the TFX doesnt work for us give us a better design. TFX got canx'd. Grumann submitted the design to the Navy in 68.

Yes alot of people in the AF wanted a lot of F15s but they were costly so they also got the f16, which is what i said so ??

The F18 is not the runner up to the F16. This is a common misconception. Its a completely different design. The only thing it shared with the F16 competitor is the dimensions of the floor in the cockpit. Everything else was completely different.

The hi/low analogy is just an easy way to explain the compromise both the Navy and the AF achieved from two competing ideologies and also an easy way to describe the pairings. Where the F14 and F15 are crammed with all kinds of goodies, the f18 and f16 are pretty barebones in that regard.

By Bad-Karma on 7/19/2012 4:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
Never called the the F14 an up close dog fighter.

Right, but you said that it was paired with the F-18 and it's not. It was also never considered an air-superiority fighter. As a generational philosophy the F-14 was developed as a long range fleet interdiction fighter. The next generation of thinking brought the 15 which was developed to dominated the fight in all aspects of air to air combat. Which means everything from long range to in tight fur balls, ie. air-superiority. So the when the F-18 came along it was never in the same league as the F-14, simply two completely different missions sets.

In the late 50's the US Navy already had the specs for the aircraft that it wanted to be the follow on to the, then relatively new, F-4. When Kennedy came into power Robert McNamara rolled the USN's request into a similar requirement from the USAF into what became the TFX program. When the F-111B was unable to meet the navy's needs the USN bowed out and Grumman used the original basis for the F-111 to re-engineer it into the F-14 without having to start completely from scratch.

And yes the F-16 was chosen by the AirForce over the YF-17 which after some modifications became the F-18.

Yes alot of people in the AF wanted a lot of F15s but they were costly so they also got the f16, which is what i said so ??

I agree that the hi/Low statement is a simple analogy but it doesn't fit. The way the pairings came out was due to budget shortfalls and the 16/18/35 became a stop gap measure, not through an active strategic vision like it was stated.

By Manch on 7/19/2012 9:14:28 AM , Rating: 2
Check your link bro. F-14 was the Navy's primary Air superiority fighter. Look under the design section too. Check the wiki on air superiority also. It's listed there as well. Im not saying that the f14 wasnt an interdiction platform, but that doesnt make it not an AS platform either. Interdiction was the primary goal of the TFX, VFX changed that.

Calling the YF-17 an F18 is like calling the 111's F14s. Does the 17 and 18 look similar? yes, but the end result is so different it ended up with a different designation. Again the dimensions of the floor pan is the only thing they share.

Yes they are paired, Air superiority & multirole fighter.

No next generation thinking didnt bring about the F15. These AC came out about 2years apart F-14 '74, F15 '76. They were both developed using lessons learned from Vietnam.

The Navy and the AF have to different req because they have different distinctive capabilties. Which is why they ultimately rejected the shared platforms.

Now theyre using this same logic and again its causing headaches.

Wikis are great but they too oversimplify. I suggest picking up Janes Defence. There are other books that dig into the weeds of these platforms.

By Bad-Karma on 7/20/2012 2:57:29 AM , Rating: 2
They used it as an Air superiority Fighter because that is all they had to fill the role. It doesn't mean the fighter could perform the task in all aspects of flight as the moniker would suggest.

The 14 and 18 were not paired in any such sense. You had an older generation fighter on its way out and a far more modern multi-role pushing the 14 into the past. Strike Aircraft operate usually on their own or in groups of two or more with Air Superiority fighters holding orbit well back from the SAM envelopes until needed. Multi Role fighter carry their own Air-to-Air weapons so that they have some form of self protection while on route or exiting the target. The 14 was primarily designed as a way to protect the fleet, although it was used several times outside of that role. So these aircraft compliment the Carrier's over all mission. But they were never paired.

And no the 17 and 18 are not that different, it was simply scaled up to handle the needed fuel, bigger engines, carrier landing gear and weapons integration. The avionics, structural framework, airfoils and such are all taken directly from the 17 to meet carrier operational needs. Pairing would be along the lines of weasels ingressing with strike aircraft or bombers. Or the way the USN usually pairs the F-18s with EA-6Bs. It's been found that the EA-6B just can't keep up so it's being retired and the EA-18G Growler is been hurried through production. That is a pairing.

Wiki meets a quick need for the post and has 95%+ of the correct info. More than ample for this forum.

However, while just down the hall from my office here at Wright-Pat is a library filled with not just Janes but every other reasoned published authority to include past current and future projects, some of which haven't yet seen the light of day. Better yet, The man in charge of the USAF F-15 program management and development sits about three doors down from mine. The guy responsible for 16s is on the other side of the hall from him. A-10s Office is just next door. 35 is still mostly working out of Edwards. or in seperate SCIFs. The USN has a liaison office in the next wing over. We all usually meet for lunch with whoever is available on Tuesdays.

By Manch on 7/20/2012 2:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
And your a program manager for?

By Bad-Karma on 7/21/2012 10:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
Not quite that level. But I do hold a position on the USAF Directorate Board for strategic vision, development and acquisition. Which programs I'm responsible for aren't appropriate for here.

By DennisB on 7/18/2012 4:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still scratching my head as to why the U.S. originally wanted over 2000 copies of the F-35 and 750 of the F-22 upon program development launch. (As if 350 F-35's and 150 F-22's shouldn't suffice to complement existing military fleet in trying to keep America safe...)

That's because you need 3 contingencies for war fronts and/or one for reserve. If you only have enough for one contingency you can only either fight or defend not both. And you can't have replacement or changed out your tired troops.

Since the situation can't really be saved, why not have 3 types instead of 3. The F-22 and F-35 are only needed for the vary front of the battle line. The less dangerous support/combat line can be done by any other types or drones.

By Jeffk464 on 7/18/2012 4:07:59 PM , Rating: 3
What about thecontingency where we go broke because these defense contractors are absolutely soaking the taxpayer?

By bjacobson on 7/18/2012 9:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
meh, its good for the economy right? interest rates low and headed even lower...

By Apone on 7/19/2012 12:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
Makes sense, thanks for clarifying. But wouldn't 250-300 units of the F-35 to each of the 3 contingencies and reserve be sufficient? (so about 1000-1200 total order) Honestly it still looks excessive originally asking for 2400+ copies....

By Manch on 7/19/2012 1:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
2400 copies were supposed to replace F16s, F18s, A10s, and AV8s. Plus this was supposed to be over the lifetime of the program, which accounts for ac loss, retirements, etc.

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