F-35 Program Makes Significant, Solid Progress, Official Says
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Feb. 16, 2017)
(See Editor’s Note at bottom)
WASHINGTON --- Production of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter is on a good trajectory and is a necessary aircraft in the military's arsenal to battle high-end threats, service leaders told a House Armed Service Committee panel today.

Providing an update on the the F-35 program to the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces were Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, program executive officer, F-35 joint program office; Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe "Chip" Miller III, director of air warfare; Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commandant of Marine Corps aviation; and Air Force Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Harris Jr., deputy chief of staff, strategic plans, programs and requirements.

The program's development, production and sustainment have made significant and solid progress, Bogdan said.

"The fleet is rapidly expanding and we're flying F-35s in the United States, Italy, Japan and Israel as we speak," he said. "The development program is nearing completion within the cost and schedule boundaries put in place in the 2011 rebase line. And the program is also continuing to successfully ramp up production and accelerating a standup of our global enterprise."

The general said today's F-35 program is much different than it was five years ago when he became the program executive officer. It now has a fleet of more than 210 airplanes that have surpassed 73,000 flight hours.

Operational, Combat Ready

The weapons system is considered operational and combat ready by the Air Force and Marine Corps, Bogdan said, adding, "It is also forward-deployed today in Iwakuni, Japan, for the U.S. Marine Corps and operated in Israel and Italy by those F-35 customers."

The price tag for an F-35A model costs is about $94.5 million today, marking a first in costing less than $100 million, he said.

"We believe we are on track to continue reducing the price of the F-35 such that in [fiscal year 2019], with an engine including all fees, the F-35A model will cost between $80 million and $85 million," Bogdan said. "As part of this reduction, we have initiated a block buy strategy for our foreign partners and an economic order quantity contracting strategy for the U.S. services."

Driving Down F-35 Costs

The overarching priority is continuing to drive costs down in the F-35 program while delivering full capability to the warfighter, he said.

"We will continue to execute this program with integrity, discipline and transparency and I hold myself and my team accountable for the outcomes on this program," Bogdan told the panel. "Our team recognizes the great responsibility we've been given to provide the foundation of future U.S. and allied fighter capability for decades to come."

"The F-35B and the F-35C remain a top acquisition priority for the Marine Corps," Davis said.

He said he is becoming increasingly convinced the F-35 is a game changer and a war winner, and added the Corps "can't get those airplanes in the fleet fast enough to replace our F-18s and our Harriers," which on average are 22 years old.

With the fifth-generation F-35, "We're achieving astounding results in the highest threat scenarios and that across the range of military operations fight, with the F-35. It is changing things in a very decisive way," Davis said.

An Acquisition Priority

Along with the Marine Corps and Air Force, the F-35C is a Navy aviation acquisition priority, Miller said.

"The F-35C will form the backbone of Navy air combat superiority for decades to come," he said, adding its unique capabilities can't be matched by modernizing the F-35 fourth-generation aircraft.

With the F-35, the carrier strike group of the future will be more lethal, survivable and able to accomplish the entire spectrum of mission sets to include immediate response to high-end threats, the admiral said.

The nation needs the capabilities of the F-35C on its carrier flight decks, Miller said. "The aircraft's stealth characteristics, long-range combat identification and ability to penetrate threat envelopes while fusing multiple information sources into a coherent picture will transform the joint coalition view of the battlefield."

Harris said the airplane is doing exactly what the military needs it to do.

"The final F-35A fleet is growing and will become a dominant force in our fifth-generation arsenal, deterring potential adversaries and assuring both our allies and our partners at the same time," the general said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers should be aware that appearances before Congressional committees are often used as stages for senior Pentagon officials to make statements that are either unsustainable by fact, or shown shortly thereafter to be false.
This was the case of the last time Gen. Bogdan testified on the F-35 program, in April 2016 (“Testimonies Differ Inordinately At Senate F-35 Hearing”), to name the latest instance.
It was also the case with subsequent statements by Pentagon officials regarding the F-35, which prompted Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, to “call into question some of the recent determinations and actions of Department of Defense senior leaders,” and to formally complain to then Defense Secretary Ash Carter that statements by Gen. Bogdan “now appear to be inaccurate.”
We therefore encourage readers to be cautious when weighing the accuracy and significance of these statements, and not to take them at face value.)


Military Leaders Praise F-35 at Congressional Hearing
(Source: Lockheed F-35.com; issued Feb 16, 2017)
In what can only be described as the latest clear-cut evidence that the F-35's 5th Generation capabilities are what the warfighter needs for the future, U.S. military leaders from across the services gathered to testify before congress on the progress of the program Feb. 16.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the state of U.S. tactical aviation, particularly the state of the F-35 program. Conversations on the F-35’s capabilities, maturity and operational readiness dominated the discussion. Testifying before the committee were:

--USAF Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer

--USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation

--USAF Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements

--USN Rear Adm. Dewolfe Miller, III, Director, Air Warfare

The statements about the current state and future of the F-35 program from top-ranking members are a testament to work of the entire F-35 enterprise to develop and produce the most advanced aircraft in history. See below for what they had to say at the recent hearing about the F-35.

USAF Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer, addressing price of the jet dramatically decreasing:

“An F-35A model costs approximately $94.5 million. It is the first time an F-35 has been below $100 million to purchase. We believe we are on track to continue to reduce the price of the F-35 such that in FY-19, with an engine, including all fees, the F-35A model will cost between $80 - $85 million.”

USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, addressing F-35B dominating its opponents:

“I’ll tell you that I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 37 years, flying Marine tactical airplanes for 36. I’ve commanded our Weapons School. I have not seen anything like this in the entire history of my time. We just had what we call a Marine Division Tactics Class done in Beaufort, South Carolina.

“We had a scenario out there that was a 20 versus eight. Twenty bad guys against eight good guys. In those eight good guys were four Marine F-35Bs. Basically, the 20 guys had a very bad day – I will leave it at that… One of the pilots talking about all the kills they made, and the majority of the kills came from the F-35… He was a CAT I student in our fleet replacement squadron. This was his graduation exercise. We have brand new guys coming out of the training pipeline flying this airplane who are operating like Marine veterans who have three or four years’ experience.”

USAF Maj. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements, addressing F-35A amazing performance at Red Flag:

"The maintainers continue to produce combat-ready aircraft at impressive levels. The team deployed 13 F-35As [to Red Flag] and executed 207 of 226 planned sorties, with zero maintenance non-deliveries, and maintained greater than a 90 percent mission-capable rate. Nineteen sorties were mission-cancelled by the Red Flag staff for weather, not due to F-35 limitations. That is simple an awesome effort. And as you know, most fighter pilots will tend to exaggerate their claims and capabilities, but this morning’s report with the 15-to-1 kill ratio is actually a little bit off the mark. Looking at the numbers, it was 20-to-1. The airplane is doing exactly what we need it to do."

These comments are evidence of the immense impact the F-35 has had on the men and women who rely on the jet to maintain superiority on the ground, over the seas and in the skies.


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