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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 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.

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