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EricJ

JSF program faces steep cost overruns

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The Joint Strike Fighter program is facing $38 billion in cost overruns and could be delayed by more than two years, according to a government report urging defense planners to re-evaluate the program.

 

The delays could affect the Navy’s schedule for the carrier variant of the plane. The service is already facing a fighter-jet gap with F/A-18 Hornets projected to die out before they’re replaced by the JSF. Service officials say they plan on buying more F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets to bridge the gap.

 

The almost $1 trillion program — the largest in defense history — has already ballooned more than $23 billion during the past year of development because of changes in procurement costs, according to the Government Accountability Office’s March 11 report.

 

Additionally, three separate defense offices found that initial cost estimates for the program were understated by $38 billion and that development will be delayed by 12 months to as much as 27 months, the GAO said.

 

It’s a red flag warranting an independent, life-cycle cost-estimate review of the entire program, the GAO said. Such a review should come before a review already planned for 2013.

Shift from testing could create problems

 

Last year, program managers put into place a Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan, since they feared almost-certain cost overruns in the plane’s development phase. That plan shifted money away from testing and toward management reserves, which cover expenses related to technical issues that can emerge in development — engineering drawings, production materials and labor, for example. But the decision to put that plan into place came with a consequence, the GAO said.

 

Moving the money increased the risk of not completing testing on time, and not finding design problems early enough to prevent them from becoming costly, the report states. Furthermore, the report says the plan did not take up the issue of why the cost overruns were occurring in the first place.

 

“Two-thirds of budgeted funding for JSF development has been spent, but only about one-half of the work has been completed,” the GAO reported.

 

Concerns such as these in early government assessments could spell trouble for the services counting on the aircraft in the long term, said Bob Work, a defense analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

 

The JSF program’s reach across the services is wide. The fighter’s F-35A version, which will perform conventional takeoffs and landings, and the F-35C carrier variant are favored by the Air Force and Navy, respectively. The Marine Corps wants the F-35B short- takeoff/vertical-landing variant.

 

The Navy Department plans to buy 680 F-35s, which covers both Navy and Marine versions. The first operational Marine version is scheduled to join the fleet in 2012, and the first aircraft carrier version in 2015, Lockheed Martin spokesman John Smith said.

 

Smith said he didn’t have a Navy/Marine breakdown of the total 680 number, but Marine Maj. Eric Dent said the Corps plans to buy 420 aircraft.

Delay may be disaster for Corps

 

Delays with JSF delivery will exacerbate the problem of aging aircraft, Work said.

 

“How the JSF goes will really have an impact on all the services’ plans,” he said.

 

Furthermore, significant delays could threaten the Corps’ STOVL version, already under the gun because of disagreements among Navy and Marine leaders as to how it should be incorporated into the fleet, Work said.

 

“The Marine Corps has pretty much bet the farm on JSF,” Work said.

 

The magnitude of the JSF program prompted a congressional mandate that the GAO review its progress incrementally. The attention could be just beginning.

 

“Any hint of an overrun is just going to raise the level of scrutiny and interest,” Work said.

 

Despite the findings in the GAO audit — one of about a dozen assessments the program undergoes each year — the JSF program remains on target, countered a project spokesman.

 

Even if the total cost for the F-35 over its planned 35-year service life does adds up to $1 trillion, as the GAO report indicates, that’s still less than the total cost for operating all the varieties of aircraft it’s replacing, Smith said.

 

The F-35 Joint Program Office prepares an annual Selected Acquisition Report, which estimates the procurement cost, Smith said in an e-mail. The next report will be issued “in the near future,” he said.

 

“The bottom line is — and I’m not being flip about it — we have to take a step back and, if you remember our job is to produce all these things we described and do it in a responsible manner, this is one of the most cost-effective programs out there.”

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Whats it really matter fiscal responsibility jumped out the window during the Reagan adminstration and now were at 9.3 trillion. We already spend more than the entire world combined on defense so whats the point of even acting like the real world consequences of uncontrolled spending matter right now.

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Let's keep "Voodoo economics" out of this. Not that I disagree with you, but this isn't the place for PoliScience..

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Exactly right.

 

The problem with the program is quite literally they're putting all their eggs in one basket. If it works, great. If it fails, though, it will be the most spectacular failure in history as well. In the late 80s/early 90s there were to be several different programs to replace them, but in the post-Cold War drawdown it was decided it would save money to make a "one size fits all" plane with the belief that technology would now allow us to do what we could not in decades past.

However, while our AIRCRAFT tech has improved, MANAGEMENT tech is the same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. (Cue Talking Heads...)

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I HATE that song!

 

Maybe we should just ask for all our money back from LM and use it to just buy a fleet of superflankers. A kid playing C&C games would probably be better at procurement than the people we have doing it. They'd build a balanced force at least. Putting all your eggs in one basket is dangerous, and futue conflicts aren't going to have the same pathetic air defense we've had the luck of encountering over the past 20 years.

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Procurement laws are literally 180 degrees from common sense.

We can't just buy PCs for our use at this base. No, the law REQUIRES we not order direct from Dell or wherever but instead purchase them through a 3rd-party middleman that is a "minority owned/operated business." Why? So they can get some defense spending dollars! Just so the bigger companies aren't the only ones profiting, despite the added costs to taxpayers, inefficiencies (multiple issues with incorrect orders over the years), and plain stupidity of the idea.

 

In other words, you CAN'T do the logical and cost-effective thing because the LAW says you're not allowed to! That's Congress, passing laws to generate jobs for their consituents even while forcing them to pay higher/more taxes to cover it! :blink:

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Maybe we should just ask for all our money back from LM and use it to just buy a fleet of superflankers.

 

I found this on Wiki.

 

On August 4, 2006 the US State Department imposed sanctions on Sukhoi for allegedly supplying Iran in violation of the United States Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. Sukhoi is now prohibited from doing business with the United States Federal Government.[3]

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Just some info that was left out of the article...

 

Not that we haven't had setbacks of our own doing, but one large reason that 2/3's of the JSF Devl budget has been spent, is because the government is continually decreasing that budget, but not removing requirements. We lost over 200 million from fiscal '08, and over 100 million from fiscal '09.

 

This has caused us to decrease the number of aircraft we're building for flight test, and now flight test will take longer. Longer means more cost. Last I heard we were waiting on gov approval to move more of flight test to the simulators and the avionics test bed aircraft, instead of the aircraft, to make up for some of this.

 

To add to that, more requirements are being added to the aircraft, but no more money is added for these new features.

 

Finally, several things that were designed by us, then evaluated and approved by the government, are having to be revisted because they have changed their mind. Again, for no additional money.

 

The management reserve that the article speaks of, part of it's purpose is to cover such changes in requirements, but it's been all but spent.

 

Also know that a good chunk of the devlopment cost is split out over each airframe. So when the eventual reduction in aircraft purchases come, prices will go up, ala F-22.

 

Before you say ______ could build the same airplane for cheaper, maybe you should get yourself in a situation to know everything that is going on a mission capable F-35, and see if you make the same comment.

Edited by JSF_Aggie

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And JSF_Aggie should know....after all, he is in the program. You can that crap until you are blue in the face but when I have question, I ask him.

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And JSF_Aggie should know....after all, he is in the program. You can that crap until you are blue in the face but when I have question, I ask him.

 

hummmmmmmm that's why of JSF cames 1st in nickname! :rofl:

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Well, I got something to ask about the JSF. Is the Americans is the one bearing the development costs of the JSF, or there are other contributors (considering that there are more than about 5 air forces that are interested in getting the F-35)?

 

The last time America had a almost-general plane for the AF, Navy (and probably Marines) was the F-4...

 

Was asking the bit about the air forces, considering that our lovely neighbour down south (Singapore) are planning to obtain JSFs...

Edited by kct

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Well, I got something to ask about the JSF. Is the Americans is the one bearing the development costs of the JSF, or there are other contributors (considering that there are more than about 5 air forces that are interested in getting the F-35)?

 

The last time America had a almost-general plane for the AF, Navy (and probably Marines) was the F-4...

 

Was asking the bit about the air forces, considering that our lovely neighbour down south (Singapore) are planning to obtain JSFs...

Check wiki to find out who's paying roughly what: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-35_Lightning_II

 

And what about the F-18 that seems fairly generalised.

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