JSF Hits Money Wall

JSF-climb.jpg

Colin has advanced the story broken by InsideDefense.com this morning about huge cost estimates that could dramatically restructure the Joint Strike Fighter program.

A preliminary Pentagon cost estimate that the F-35 could cost as much as $17.1 billion more than currently planned is prompting calls from congressional sources for the program to be reassessed and restructured.

The congressional sources also wryly noted this seemed to raise questions about the wisdom of Defense Secretary Robert Gates recent trip to the F-35 plant in Fort Worth to show his support for the program. One aide scoffed that the new cost estimates were no surprise to anyone who hasnt drunk the JSF Kool-Aid.

The new cost estimate comes from the JSF Joint Estimate Team, formed this summer by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

Two congressional aides familiar with the program said. the cost estimate seemed to indicate that the approach of developing, building, flying and testing planes as they come off the assembly line known as concurrency may pose too much program risk in the short term and should lead Defense Secretary Robert Gates to scale back the emphasis on producing and testing planes and trim the number of planes the Pentagon wants to buy in next years budget.

Be sure to read the entire story and to troll over to Inside for the the JET gouge. As one intelligent observer noted when he heard the news: “this could mean the end of manned combat flight”…

— Christian

  • ohwilleke

    This almost always happens because big defense contracts are awarded on the basis of estimates of cost, but are rewarded on a cost-plus basis.
    No one would bid the contracts if there weren’t significant budget flexibility because no one really knows with any reasonable accuracy what it will cost to build something that is cutting edge tech like the F-35B in advance. The cost undercertainty mostly comes from R&D and prototyping. A deal like the F-35 is so big that no company can afford to gamble on the possiblity that it will lose money, or that its profits won’t be expropriated if not in the current deal, in a future one or through a tax.
    Designs with established designs purchased by second tier military power and in cases like the latest U.S. Arleigh Burke class destroyer buy or a host of Air Force buys of improved versions of old planes are much more amenable to fixed price contracts with the kind of accountability you see in normal consumer markets.
    But, predictability isn’t the only problem. Another problem is value. When you have only one buyer for a whole range of unlike products, figuring out how much each one is worth is not an easy task. You don’t get the “wisdom of crowds” effect you do in a normal marketplace where many participants with limited budgets and real life needs have to reach a balance. The federal government has considerable flexibility to use bond issues and different tax policies to spend different amounts on defense. You don’t know if the choice was the right one until you have a war and then it’s too late to change your mind in the short to medium term.
    The fact that there is only one buyer or consortium of buyers, and a very small number of eligible sellers in the market also means that the DOD often has to choose between eliminating from contention a firm that hasn’t met past promises, and having a monopoly seller or no seller at all who can make what it wants.
    There is also what economists call “lock in.” Once you pick a big company to build a particular design of a major system, it can be much more expensive to kill the program and find a replacement with someone else. This makes systematic underbidding a good strategy. You could run the procurement office strategically, ruthlessly killing off government contracts who might be the only source of something the U.S. DOD might need in the future for failures in current contracts. But, few senior procurement bureacrats have the guts and the longevity in office to maintain that strategy long enough for defense contractors to take it seriously.
    One could adopt middle ground between fixed price contracts used for established designs and commercial off the shelf buys, and the cost-plus structure commonly used, with the size of the “plus” part based on the accuracy of the bid price. But, while cost and profit seem easy to distinguish when you are looking at the forest, down in the trees they can look very similar.
    The best solution may be to have a government owned enterprise handle a much larger share of the R&D efforts (a la “Q” in the James Bond novels) and act as its own general contractor to a much greater extent. In general, if you must deal with a monopoly or near monopoly, the best solution is often to acquire the seller. In this sccenario, the government owned enterprise would subcontract only for contributions where there is a competitive market.
    The trouble with this solution is that American politics has a high ideological commitment to the idea that economic activity should almost always take place in the private sector. This is both a cause and an effect for a variety of reasons, for the fact that the U.S. isn’t particularly good by international standards at getting things done effectively through civil service bureaucracies. Getting civil service bureaucracy right in the U.S. Department of Defense is particularly hard, because it is already one of the largest organizations in the world, with two and a half million employees before even considering employees of defense contractors who have almost no other buyers.
    Most other government provided services that employ this many people (universities, K-12 education, hospitals) are organized at the state and local level in the U.S. in order to prevent any one government organization from getting so big that no one who can be hired to do the job of running it is up to the task. This isn’t a viable option for most of the jobs that the U.S. DOD does (e.g. fighting foreign wars).
    Government agencies in the U.S. have much lower senior management pay than comparable private sector jobs, so finding someone competent to run large government agencies requires a element of prestige or charity from the manager. This is often in short supply.

  • Chuck

    Maybe the F22 is so expensive after all?

  • Chuck

    Maybe the F22 isn’t so expensive after all?

  • Big Daddy

    If you look at this aircraft the first thing you have to question is it’s combat worthiness. It falls under the let’s make one aircraft do everything. That never works, causes cost over runs and eventually gets canceled after wasting BILLIONS of dollars. Business as usual for the DOD.
    Single engine, limited air to air weapons…..what kind of aircraft is this?
    Sorry there was nothing wrong with the aircraft we have, they just needed upgrading and to build some new ones.
    I knew this was going nowhere as soon as I read about the F-35 years ago. Just like the Army’s Sgt. York, you instinctively know it’s going to be a complete failure.
    We have great aircraft already, the A-10, F-15, F-16, F-22, B-2, B-52, B-1 make for the best group of aircraft in the world, nothing matches it. The Navy/Marines are the ones who really needs new aircraft. IMO the F-14 needed to be slightly redesigned and upgraded and that would have been enough until unmanned aircraft could start being used.
    As usual the DOD lays an egg, the dud of the 21st century. By the time they fly they will be outdated. Like designing a propeller aircraft after WWII. It was outdated before it would have flown.
    Cancel this abomination!!!!!!! The biggest joke is the VTOL version, yeah that will really be a great combat aircraft….NOT. I can see them all constantly being repaired and upgraded with a very near zero combat readiness.

  • Vitor

    The F-35 doesnt stop going overbudget because it’s take for granted, since the US of A promised it to a lot of allies (Norway, Israel, England and some others).
    Since it has zero risk of being cancelled, why they would rush it when they can always bet the Pentagon will inject more money? The F-35 shows how the current procurement model is bankrupted. In the past, companies would make their own projects with their own means and try to sell it to the goverment, almost done. They werent profiting during the research and design, so they had be efficient. Now that the DoD subsidizes the R&D and the companies already profit during it, no hurry to delivery the final product.
    So we have the F-35, a plane that is inferior to one that already exists (F-22) taking more than a decade to be done, while the F-15, a plane that was far ahead of any other of it’s time took less than 5 years, and the enginners didnt have all those fancy CAD software and computer power to assist them.

  • Mat

    LM knows this is only aircraft option for the future US forces so they are going to ” milk the cow ”as much as they can as cancellation is unlikely as is any competition in US purchases,so why not be good company and generate maximum dividends for shareholders and fat paycheks for the CEO’s and hundrets if not thousands of ex military brass that retire and start working for LM even tough they have no practical knowledge useful to the firm ,it is just a delayed kickback,for all the favors they do while serving.

  • Mat

    To counter this problem Russians have design firms that design aircraft and built pre series aircraft after that it is the best bidder that gets the job building them ,this system has been well developed in WW2 to make certain that best aircraft could make it to the front in quantity.This way you have much more competition and control.In US case this would be like LM won the design competition but if boeing can build it better,cheaper faster they get the job of building LM designed fighter and vice versa.This i think would slash costs big time as suddenly you would have competition every step of the way.

  • Mat

    Super hornet even if it is a commercial success story it is quite poor upgrade,as not enough R&D effort was made into aerodynamics ,problemsw iwth intakes,it has to fly with outward canted pylons that separate without hitting the plane but that also mean that speed,range,load,stealth is far from what was promised so you got quite a bastard of a plane but since nothing better is on US navy menue they have to stick with it and until F35 comes buy more even tough its crapy airframe.And in contrast to original F/A18 dont se many customers lining up and even those that do are mostly looking at Growler EW version.F15 and F16 are brilliant designs compared to Superhornet and as we see still competitive and with room for upgrades.

  • Big Daddy

    There was nothing wrong with the F-14 other than the airframes got old.
    Same for every aircraft in our inventory. They are all workhorses and are still better than other aircraft. The Israelis continue to modify those aircraft and love the F-16, has anybody seen what they did with them?
    So we have to spend billions of dollars on aircraft that will out of date before they enter service.
    What’s wrong with the F-22 that cannot be fixed? better yet what’s wrong with the F-15? Nothing.
    The Navy and Marines blew it big time. I cannot think of an instance that our aircraft was out fought. You can run all the Sims you want to with other countries. We have the best designs, it just a matter of keeping them fresh with improved engines, avionics and modifications to their shell for better stealth.
    We are on the verge of building unmanned combat aircraft, lets put the F-35 money into that and bypass every other country. That’s were the leap of technology is. Sorry fly boys you’re out of a job, you’re obsolete. Let’s see any MIG pull 9+ G’s and travel easily at Mach 3+, yet being half the size, that’s what a drone can do. And you can probably build them at a rate of 3 to 1 cost wise.

  • Bob

    This super fast fighter is so cool!
    I just love the smoke coming from the wing tips.
    That alone! Just has to be worth millions.
    I like to play video war games, does anyone else here like to play video war games?
    My father wanted to be a Marine, but since Viet Nam was happening he decided to become a preacher.
    Then in 1973, he decided to merry my mother and become a used car salesman.
    Then he got beaten to death and died by an enraged customer in a bar alley at 3:15 AM.
    Then my mom went bact to her old job, working as a topless truck stop strip parlour hat check girl.
    Then she went to Bakersfield and got lost.
    I am an American that is proud of my heritage.
    Anyone that doesn’t support Obama 100% is a traitor.

  • Tim

    Very simple buy a bunch of euro fighters and more uavs , I wonder if the pentagon has the balls ???
    Eurofighter cheaper , less hours to maintain , asraam and ready to go .
    F35 is nothing more than a bomb truck , stealth is only any real use on bombers and air to air as by the time the jsf is used the skies will be clear . A joke of a project

  • Colonial-Marine

    Eurofighters? Buy Eurofighters? Insanity.
    How about we strip $18 billion from the hundreds of billions set aside for ineffective “stimulus” projects and provide it to the F-35 program since it is such a key component of our future plans. Also produce more F-22s which we know work!
    If the F-35 continues to run into serious problems, we cut our funding for it. Then we start a new program focused on developing a single-engined 5th generation fighter without a STOVL variant. Without then need for commonality with a VTOL version of the design, development of this new aircraft will be much more straightforward. After this program we can look at producing a replacement for the AV-8B again.

  • dan

    The unwanted and unnecessary Second Engine that Congress is INSISTING be developed for the JSF eats up how much of that estimate?
    Weapons systems aren’t going to come in on time and on budget until the executive branch heeds the Word of Ike - in the meantime, this “second engine” thing seems like a blatant case of super-pork - a taxpayer money pit that does nothing but gum up the money works, ultimately slowing the project further.
    My question - has that second engine pork barrel project been factored into the cost estimates…. or not? If it hasn’t, what is the real figure going to look like?

  • Jeff M

    $18 billion? Is that all?
    Hey I’ve got an idea, what about a tax on something, something that’ll “generate” $20 billion in revenue? Then this JSF program will actually be MAKING US MONEY!!!!!!
    Dude, we should be doing this everywhere, just come up with some taxes to pay for stuff. It’ll be great.

  • JH

    One aide scoffed that the new cost estimates were “no surprise to anyone who hasn’t drunk the JSF Kool-Aid.”
    Most of the readers here have ODed on JSF kool-aid.

  • http://www.ogigames.com

    I mean JFS’s are really frightened.
    Lover of http://www.ogigames.com

  • http://es.ogigames.com

    What’s the JFS ?
    http://es.ogigames.com

  • Everly Waverly

    Seeker-
    As it turns out that’s exactly what I did, unknowingly and there I discovered all those redundant posts, thanks, I’ll try not to let it happen again…In fact I’m going to try now!!!

  • Valcan

    I have a idea dump the damned Stealth crap.
    For the F22 its one thing its a all around performance aircraft. But for a cheap, multirole multi service fighter/bomber? no.
    Focus on EW capabilities,performance, and cost.
    And i have to agree how much of that was taken by the new engine? And how much is pork crap.
    And hell us the stimulus money on it sure does more than its doing now atleast it can do something and will provide jobs.

  • Everly Waverly

    Sorry about the multiple posts but nothing was showing-up and I was getting a notice to re-do the security code, again sorry…

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Guys,
    It time to call this what it is Lockheed is trying to jack the DoD for $17 billion, most likey to make up for the lost profits from the canceled F-22 program. The market place at work.
    So the lets tackle the really big question (as the late Novak and Evans would say) why do we need the F-35 in the first place?
    Lets take a look at who the bad guys are maybe that would justify this buy. There are three, India, China and Russia. Of the three believe it or not the country with the most robust fighter threat to the United States is India.
    India has at least 780 fighters in its armed forces. The inventory included 274 Mig 21’s, 105 Su-30’s and about 100 Mig’27’s. The rest are small numbers of aircraft from France and the UK. India has the first 6 Mig 35’s and will develop and produce the Mig 35 (under Russian license for both countries). Thats the big threat, now lets go to the want a bes, but not quite ready for the big leagues countries of China and Russia.
    China. Homegrown J-10 (Israel Levi air frame, Russian, engine, French avionics, and weapons from Israel and France) The PLAAF have committed for a domestic buy of 120 to perhaps 160. The J-12XXS, the Chinese home grown next generation fighter (a copy of the Su-27) 6 built, no more in manufacture all six are on Hainan Island. The PLAAF has as of 2008, 79 Russian Su-27 and the PLAN has 24-48 Su-30MK2’s. There are some of each on order from Russia but are on hold (2008) until some currency and payment problems can be worked out. The rest of Chinas air craft are the J-4’s, J-6’s and a hand full of J-8’s grounded because of the US military embargo (the US provided some parts for the J-8) J-8’s. None of these aircraft are considered a threat by the USN or the USAF.
    Last and least, is Russia. Total number of fighters is 650 of which as of 2007, 291 are grounded. They are mostly Mig 31’s, and a hand full of Su-27’s and Su-30’s (maybe a hundred total, number grounded is not known). The Russian Federated Air Force (the old Soviet structure has ben consolidated into a single force) is staffed at 65% of authorized manpower and 40% of its bases are un-useable for flight operations.
    No back to the Evans and Novak question, do we need the F-35 at all. None of the air craft mentioned above are competitive to the US’s F-15E/F’s, F-16D’s or the F-18 E/F/G’s in technology, weapons systems, numbers or in pilot quality. There is nearly a zero chance that any of these countries could possibly field an aircraft in either quality or in numbers that would even present the mildest of challenges to either the current USN or the USAF.
    The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the above data ( I know some of you will look up the numbers,and find different ones, big deal, it doesn’t change the argument) that in really there is no justification for the purchase of the F-35 at all.
    Like the Army’s ARH-66 Comanche program, cut your loses and cancel it.
    ALLONS,
    Byron Skinner

  • seeker6079

    Everly Waverly:
    To solve the multiple posting problem, do this: After posting, even with the error message, open up the same page in a new tab, and hit refresh. Your post should be there, even with an error message.

  • Vitor

    Hey Byron,
    How the hell India is a potential threat to the USA? Extrelemy apart in the geographic aspect and already with a good relation. One must be really paranoid to consider India a potential threat.

  • curtis

    We Could have bought 4-500 F-22s already. But everyone, including Sec Gates, was so convinced that the F-35 could cheaply and reliably fill the gap. Whats the guestimated acquisition cost
    Don’t count chickens, and their associated costs, before they hatch. This show ain’t over, the development is only going to get more expensive.

  • JH

    Maybe the A.F should have proposed that the ATF (F-22) was to replace ALL of our fighters, not just the F-15. Designed the F-22 to have a little more air-ground capability and call it a day. Oh no, we need 2 fighters though….

  • SMSgt Mac

    I usually avoid Christian’s Friday-Stir-The-Pot posts because it draws the more general Military.Com luddites,
    Minor point first: LM has an ongoing dispute with the JET estimate, based upon their (the JET) insistence on estimating future costs based upon on legacy aircraft program structures and not the JSF test approach. Anti-JSFers commenting would of course know this already…. IF they had bothered to follow the links provided to ground, and cast about a little on the web on their own. Only ELP and those who agree with him on his well known and oft repeated criticism of the JSF test approach might have a beef with LMs position.
    I personally think LM WILL overrun the budget by some amount, because while the total budget would be substantial enough normally, the annual underfunding and juggling of amounts in different pots of money by the Congresscritters and DoD will be the driver. Which leads me to…
    Major point second:
    Christian, I know you get to rub elbows with these un-named ‘Staffers’ that like to whisper in the press’ ear on a non-attribution basis which lets them shape the information battlefield at their Master’s bidding. Tell them for me that they are a bunch of lying, gutless self-serving weasels (and I’m not the only one that knows it).

  • John

    >>> “Pentagon cost estimate that the F-35 could cost as much as $17.1 billion more than currently planned”
    Here we go again. The US military procurement process is a fraud perpetrated on the taxpayers to benefit the military-industrial complex.
    Every single program costs 3 times as much as initially projected and yields one third the promised benefit.
    I would love to see some administration, someday, pull the rug out from under this scam.

  • JH

    Idea: UF or Universal Fighter competition to become the only fighter-bomber in the Air Force.

  • JH

    Idea: UF or Universal Fighter competition to become the only fighter-bomber in the Air Force.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Vitor,
    I used India as an example just to show the absurdity of the F-35 buy. Of the three countries India along with China and Russia, India has the best air force by a large margin.
    I do not think that at this time or in any for seeable future India nor Russia or China are a threat to the United States. Which come back why do we need the F-35 or even the F-22. These two legacy weapons platforms are useless, why expend any more resources on either?
    ALLONS,
    Byron Skinner

  • Charles

    This means we should probably prolong the design competition aspect of things. I mean, shouldn’t all of this stuff been worked out BEFORE we chose LM over Boeing?
    Allegedly we liked the LM design that used a fan instead of jets for VTOL (a la Harrier); but considering AF is the dominant procurer wouldn’t it have been better to hold off instead of picking LM just for how much better it’s VTOL mode is, even before one discovers how many problems an aircraft has?
    Maybe we should re-open the competition and let Boeing come back to play.
    Maybe we should pay IAI to design a next-gen fighter while we’re at it.

  • Jonathan

    Hello, Christian, hello, All:
    Been watching for a while, and wanted to come in.
    I’m military, but I don’t want to reveal my branch with rank (Too late for you, AF Chief). But I intend to be friendly. Aggressive, but friendly. So I’ll follow Byron’s lead and go with my given name: Jonathan
    Is it too late in the thread to go big? Because I’d like to:
    a) Agree with those here that maintain that $18B is nothing.
    b) Make the moral argument for the JSF.
    I propose that we move ahead with it regardless. It is not a waste of money to buy a combat aircraft. There are customers already expecting it. There are training and maintenance dollars involved in the program, and there is the recruiting and retention consideration for the agencies involved.
    I see no EPIC FAIL to point to regarding United States aerospace community -military and civil- as it relates to it’s air sovereignty platforms. Finally, the Air Force does not deserve to have it’s core competency reduced (air superiority) because it’s a victim of it’s own success. Neither does the Navy, for that matter - but that’s another post.
    This program is the current main effort of our entire fighter and attack capability, both operating Departments, and the entire DOD. I don’t think that it was a good idea to go this route - for the valid reasons that JSF opponents are making here. But proposing cancellation at this point over cost growth is not a serious position.
    No, that’s not right. I do not believe that proposing cancellation over cost growth is a defensible position. But I’m prepared to hear the argument.
    Nescit Cedere!
    Jon

  • jonathan

    “This means we should probably prolong the design competition aspect of things. I mean, shouldn’t all of this stuff been worked out BEFORE we chose LM over Boeing?”
    Exactly right, Charles. And yes, it was.
    Nescit Cedere,
    Jon

  • Charles

    I think we should recall that there is a good design, and then there is a good design that can be scaled efficiently for production without copious overrun. Competitions are usually for the first, with the unspoken implication that a good design also has a good industrial plan, or, that we are willing to pay any price to get that better fighter, regardless of how much it costs to scale up production.
    An example of the first is the Tiger Tank. An example of the second is a T-34.
    Perhaps procurement needs to be reformed such that your production plan is also a component of whether or not you are getting a contract. Thus not only is design a consideration; but how efficiently you can get it into production.
    I mean, it’s all and well that the mfr got socked to put together five demo aircraft, but because the mfr can afford to be inefficient with five, the United States has to pay for that inefficiency for hundreds of aircraft or more?

  • freefallingbomb

    To the poster Mr. Byron Skinner:
    You wrote:
    “India has at least 780 fighters in its armed forces. The inventory included 274 Mig 21’s, 105 Su-30’s and about 100 Mig’27’s. The rest are small numbers of aircraft from France and the UK. India has the first 6 Mig 35’s and will develop and produce the Mig 35 (under Russian license for both countries). Thats the big threat, now lets go to the want a bes, but not quite ready for the big leagues countries of China and Russia.”
    and then:
    “I used India as an example just to show the absurdity of the F-35 buy. Of the three countries India along with China and Russia, India has the best air force by a large margin. I do not think that at this time or in any for seeable future India nor Russia or China are a threat to the United States. Which come back why do we need the F-35 or even the F-22.”
    1) You DID write: “Thats the big threat…” (read above)
    2) I think that “Vitor” ‘s remark was a bit more subtle than that. What he (probably) meant was: Is the mere SIZE of a foreign airforce your ONLY criterium?
    Can NO
    1) peaceful
    2) ally
    of the U.S.A. ever have an airforce (or navy, or army, or space force, or missile force) twice or thrice as big as yours, without all you U.S. Americans crying out “capacity = intention” in wild paranoia?

  • Vitor

    @get backlinks,
    The correct phrase would be “The tax payer is the easiest thing to scam”

  • Valcan

    For the people who say there is no need for the aircraft at the moment so dont build them.
    Didint we try that once. Considering the research for the F22 and F35 has been going on longer than a decade do you really want to wait till a year before war looks likely to break out to start building weapons?
    I guess that means going to war with the military you have not the military you want.

  • get backlinks

    The government is the easiest thing in the world to scam.

  • duuude

    maybe the US gov should take the JSF program out of LM’s hands and break it up into the following pieces:
    carrier-based version for Northrop Grumman
    VTOL version for Boeing and British Aerospace
    and the conventional take-off version with LM and IAI.
    Maybe this “dream team” of aircraft makers can salvage something from this expen$ive mess.

  • duuude

    it does look like the F-35 will be the F-111 of the 21st Century.

  • Brian

    Bah. The crazies are out in force today. Some good comments, though, by several posters. As usual, SMSgt Mac and Ohwilleke give good commentary.
    Quite simply, this is not a normal capitalist endeavor. We have a limited group of producers and a very limited group of customers (limited, in fact, by act of Congress). When you ask a very limited number of companies to build a product that uses technology that is not yet developed, and you are the sole purchaser, yes, you’re going to spend a lot of money.
    There are many issues we’re dealing with here, and to pretend it’s just one thing (corporate greed/irresponsibility) is not only disingenuous, it’s harmful. Let’s look at some of the factors.
    First, we’ve got the very real issue of maintaining our own companies. This is why we can’t buy the Eurofighter. Lockheed Martin is one of the finest military aircraft manufacturers in the world. They’re based right here in the US. They employ a lot of people. By federal law, they can only sell equipment to the US government unless they get special permission via act of Congress. That special permission is rarely given. So basically, every dime that Lockheed gets comes from the US government and the US taxpayer. And that’s because of the way Congress set up the system.
    Congress put Lockheed in the position that the company needs the F-35 to stay in business. You cancel the F-35, there’s a good chance you kill Lockheed. That’s just the way it is. If you want Lockheed to remain in business, and to continue to produce aircraft, you’ve got to buy equipment from them. Whether that means new aircraft designs, or merely upgrade after upgrade of current aircraft, you’ve got to keep buying from them, or let them sell their stuff to someone else. There is simply no other option. If you want them to stay in business.
    Part of the problem takes place when Congress changes its order. Reduce the number of aircraft you’re going to purchase? Push back the start date on delivery? Slow down the rate of production? Include a requirement for a second engine? All those changes affect the bid. If Lockheed is expecting to receive (for example) the first payment for the F-35 in 2010, and now you push it back to 2012, well, that affects their 2010 and 2011 budgets. Their projected supply of money for 2010 and 2011 just went down. So you have to rework shipping schedules, change up which production lines you have open, lay off workers, change how money will be spent, put off purchases of new equipment, etc. I couldn’t afford it if my boss told me that due to budget concerns, I wouldn’t be getting another paycheck until March of next year (at which point, he would pay me everything owed from now to then). I might end up with the same amount of money, but the thing is, I need that money now. I’ve already budgeted for it. Lockheed is in the position where they can delay receiving some of that money, but they will raise costs to recoup expenses. Sort of like interest.
    So Congressional changes dramatically affect the price. If you are now required to wait on a second engine, that means you can’t finalize production plans. You can’t make contracts with the guys who supply the first engine. They can’t buy parts for their engine. You have to redesign the plane so that all the hoses and all the supports match up with the second engine, and you’ve got to be ready to go with with either design.
    All these issues are completely out of Lockheed’s control. They’re out of the Pentagon’s control. They’re Congressional issues. We could build the JSF much cheaper if we agreed to buy them in a certain time frame, and then just did it instead of delaying it or changing the requirements.
    Then you’ve got the issue of bidding on an uncertain future. Lockheed is asked to provide an estimate for costs of building something that uses new, experimental technology, putting it together in a way that has never been done before, and then producing that product amid constant changes that they cannot control. And if you tell Congress “the price will go up because no one even knows if its possible to build this thing, and then you’re going to change the requirements on us anyway”, then you don’t get the bid and you go out of business.
    If we want costs to be lower, we need to start purchasing equipment now, and not delay it. When you delay purchases, you drive up the costs.

  • ELP

    The biggest enemy to the F-35 program is the groupthink by F-35 program leaders.

  • operation7thwave

    Why would you want to build an airframe with the same performance capabilities and load limits as one we already have? Why would you want to put all eggs in stealth when adversarial capabilities are easily catching up with our abilities to out smart them.
    I say put more money into the F16 with new build airframes, and the F15 with new build airframes, new engines, canards, and avionics. Then for the marines, lets get them new build harriers and hornets. And the navy,lets keep the hornets. both airframes the same…new engines, avionics. The way I see it, our government likes to throw money at a project and then cry foul every time the costs soar. New build 4th generation fighters not only save money, but adds latest upgrades and capabilities into an already proven airframe. This keeps lockheed in business, international customers happy, and we save money.

  • duuude

    ho ho, so now it’s Congress fault. Since when did Congress make the Joint Strike Failure’s requirements? Brian is blowing smoke on behalf of LM. Good boy.
    Seems like it’s always LM going cap in hand for ever larger sums of money.

  • AMMO

    HAH! Totally called it when they canned the -22 for Over-inflated cost. Which POS is costing more now, B****es?
    Hey guys, guess what? We don’t have to worry about big bad China anymore. Although, if they ever decide to collect, the USA is going to have to sell the air force and fire all its govt employees. Oh well, I didn’t like money anyway.

  • Charles

    Brian: I was under the impression that Lockheed was doing pretty well, as they have F-16, F-22, C-130, the Orion CEV for the Ares rocket, and probably other less obvious things.
    Granted they’re a big company, but with F-22 and JSF they would have a controlling stake in the fighter business.
    In the future drawing out the evaluation process is the way to go. Don’t know if th government reimburses R&D during the initial contract process or not, so it could break a company. Of course, who wants a company on the ropes making your next-gen fighters?

  • Brian

    Charles, I’m not saying they’re gonna go broke tomorrow. What I am saying is that cancelling the F-35 and purchasing the Eurofighter (or some other non-American produced plane) would be devastating to them. The F-35 is a huge chunk of their business.
    AMMO, if China tried to “collect” the debt, they’d be cutting their own balls off. You know who buys their stuff? Us. You know much of their economy is based on the strength of US government bonds? They don’t want to hurt the US economy. That would cripple their own economy.
    Duuude, Congress has always been involved with the JSF’s requirements. Now while the initial involvement is along the lines of “we need a next generation fighter”, the fact is they’re involved from start to finish. They determine when the purchases take place and at what schedule, they mandated the second engine, they determine how many aircraft will be bought.
    Congress runs the show.

  • duuude

    Brian,
    The JSF is a Department of Defense program, not Congress. As if Congress was some monolithic entity involved in initiating and managing weapon projects. You are flat-out telling lies here.

  • steve

    DUUUUUUDE: Seriously? Did you sleep through civics and US government classes? You apparently have no idea who controls the budget in this country. It’s the Congress. The DoD has no real say on how much money they get or where it’s spent, they can only make requests or suggestions. Congress is the entity that says you will spend this much on the JSF for this many, end of story.

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  • stoka

    The US Government could have exported plenty of F22 Raptor’s to Australia and Japan. In the case of Australia, the Raptor would have been a far better choice of frontline aircraft to replace the F111 than the single engine, short range and slow F35. This may seem academic now, but in a future potential confrontation with China, this is going to be painful. Elsewhere I read a comment that Lockheed Martin killed the F22 through political influence to concentrate on the F35 and realize greater profits.
    Whether this is true or not, there has been a lot of dishonesty and foolishness in respect to the decision made to stonewall export of the F22