The $100 Billion Equation: Design, Cost and the Joint Strike Fighter
Cranfield University
undated, November 2018

This is a presentation by Cranfield University at the Royal Aeronautical Society's International Powered Lift Conference, held in Bristol, UK, Nov. 13-15, 2018

The Joint Strike Fighter program aimed to throw out old defence acquisition and engineering practices in order to do things faster, cheaper and better.

In 2002 it was noted that, regarding the JSF:
“In the current era of rapidly evolving technology and uncertain threats, it is no longer acceptable or affordable to take from ten to fifteen years to develop a new weapon system” (Ref. 1)

That the early hopes of the JSF program have not been realised is not news. What is lacking is an understanding of why. If it was tackled in such an innovative way, why has it repeated many of the problems of past projects?

This presentation seeks to answer this by looking at one aspect of the JSF. It looks at a historical case study, centred on the flight control system, and associated costs. It looks at how design choices and acquisition approaches affected the project.

It concludes by highlighting how engineering education, practice and the procurement of powered lift air vehicles might be improved. This includes eVTOL air taxis, where approaches similar to those of the JSF are currently being tried.

Full text
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