Senators have chided the Pentagon’s F-35 program office for claiming $1.2 billion in purported savings from buying parts and equipment for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s fighter jet in bulk after an independent analysis found the benefit is likely to be half that.
Program office officials sought and won congressional approval last year to spend $661 million as a down payment on parts for 207 U.S. aircraft to be purchased in 2019 and 2020. The pitch was that this would save $1.2 billion for the U.S. and allies that buy the fighter, split evenly.
Officials testified to Congress last year that the estimated savings were validated by in-house evaluators, “an industry analysis and an independent assessment conducted by Rand Corp.” Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed was put on contract for the $661 million on June 8.
But an assessment by the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, sought by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona, found the savings will total $600 million, including $300 million for U.S. aircraft.
‘Dismayed’ by Inaccuracy
“While these savings are still significant,” the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the four panels that approved the money, said in the report on its fiscal 2019 defense spending bill that it’s “dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial estimates.” (end of excerpt)
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