The three-star admiral overseeing the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever says the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter must come down, or it will quickly become unaffordable.
In a meeting with industry reporters Wednesday, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, program executive officer for the F-35 said the $400 billion program remains on track, but that there are several areas of concern.
“The price is coming down, but it is not coming down fast enough,” Winter told reporters, promising a hard-nosed negotiation with Lockheed Martin over the price for the next lot of F-35s to be purchased this year.
“Right now, the cost we’re paying ... today if it’s the same cost ratio into the future, as our fleet grows from the 280 aircraft to the 800-plus that we’ll have by the end of 2021, we will be unaffordable in that the services’ budgets will not be able to sustain that,” Winter said. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Washington Examiner website.
Given the piecemeal coverage generated by the roundtable with Adm. Winter, we are posting below short excerpts from various media (including links) that provide additional information so as to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the event.
Defense Daily (Paywall)
The U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 Lightning II joint program office plans to modify more than 200 early-production jets to bring them up to newer configurations, the program’s leader said Feb. 28. Aircraft from Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lots 2 through 8 [will be upgraded].
Both Lockheed and the JPO continue to negotiate in good faith and are making progress, Winter told reporters during a roundtable Wednesday. However, [Adm. Winter] is not happy with what he sees as Lockheed’s lack of effort.
“They could be much more cooperative and more collaborative, and we could seal this deal faster. We could. They choose not to, and that’s a negotiating tactic,” he said.
The top F-35 program official wants to know the true price tag of the Pentagon's costliest weapons system.
"To better inform our target glide path, I want to know what it truly costs to produce the aircraft," said Navy Vice Admiral Mat Winter, program executive officer for the Pentagon's F-35 joint program office.
"The number of quality escapes [and what we call production line defects] needs to get better," Winter told reporters during a roundtable Wednesday.
Winter’s ordered a Deep Dive Initiative into the costs of the top 100 suppliers to the JSF program to see over the next six months how much it actually costs to build an F-35. Those suppliers produce about 85 percent of the value in the plane, he said.
Key to that will be figuring out how efficient the factories are, how much time workers actually spend making parts, and assembling the aircraft without making mistakes.
On another front to save money, Winter said the government will begin shifting work on 68 aircraft subsystems from contractors to government depots so industry can focus on production.
The Wall Street Journal
The Pentagon is pushing to make the F-35 combat jet cheaper and will take over some repair work to prevent the world's most expensive military program from becoming unaffordable. (…/…)
The Pentagon said that taking on some of the F-35 repair work will free companies working on the program to make spare parts that have sometimes run short. Adm. Winter said just over half the fleet of 280 jets is available to fly because of spares shortages and quality issues.