Senate Appropriatiors Keep JSF Production Levels Flat

Just a quick F-35 update. The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday voted to flatline F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production levels at 35 jets per year for the next two years. The original plan called for Lockheed Martin to ramp up to 42 jets per year by 2013. The Bethesda, Md., based-defense giant is in the midst of a $5 billion contract to build 32 jets this year.

Earlier this week the Senate appropriations defense subcommittee proposed the production limits along with a $695 million cut to the program’s budget in its markup of the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill which spends a grand total of $513 billion on defense.

Subcommittee chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hi — btw, read his bio, especially the World War II part, it’s insane.) said on Tuesday that the production slowdown is meant to give Lockheed a chance to weed out any potential problems before they make their way into too many production jets — a situation he fears will lead to costly retrofts down the road.

“For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing,” said Inouye, who also chairs the entire appropriations committee.

Moving over to ground vehicles, the appropriations committee also nixed the Army and Marine Corps $54 billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle effort citing cost growth and constantly changing requirements.

The bill was sent to the full Senate yesterday, we’ll see what happens next.


  • LanceKant

    Epic senator indeed.

    • STemplar

      I believe the word is Patriot.

      • blight

        Moreso considering he had the misfortune to be Japanese when the United States was fighting the empire of Japan. If he wasn’t in Hawaii, he and his family would likely have been trundled off to some internment camp and lost all their property.

        What’s interesting was that he was given a DSC in that action instead of the MOH, and it took until Clinton to reverse that.

        • Musson

          It’s important to remember that since we were reading the Japanese codes – we knew that many of those being interened Were actually working for the IJN. Also, over 5,000 Japanese living in this country had already applied for repatriation to Japan – and were much too big a security risk to be allowed to stay free. And, even today, many of the family members of the Japanese spies have no idea they were actually working for the enemy.

          However, those Japanese Americans who served in the US military were a credit to their families and their nation.

          • blight

            I’m working on that particular number. Wikipedia suggests:

            “When the government passed a law that made it possible for an internee to renounce American citizenship, 5,589 internees opted to do so; ”

            The primary source given is

            Which is in turn interesting reading…

    • mike

      Damn. The war is over when 2Lt. Inouye *says* it’s over.

    • Chimp

      They don’t make politicians like that any more.

      • blight

        Or, they don’t make people like that that elect to go into politics anymore. People don’t just pop into politics anymore..

  • And so begins the death spiral.

    • Sheepdog

      begins?? where have u been the last decade??

  • blight

    JSF will be capped at 188, just so we can say that we have more F-35’s than F-22’s.

    Next will be the F-36, F-37 and F-38, the spinoffs of the JSF program…or something.

  • Tee

    I hope they just Kill this program before we waste any more money on this ” Over Hyped, Under Preforming, One Size fits ALL Turkey ( being Nice) ”

    • jhm

      more money, man the totals in costs so far make my jaw drop everytime. I mean I guess its neccessary but still, that’s ALOT of money…

  • brian

    We should sell the F-35 to ROC so we can keep this program from imploding.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Someone shold note:
    If you elect to cut deliverables after your program is staffed up and running, you are burning dollars while running in place. I’d like to know what the costs of cutting the LRIP batches are. This would include not only the costs of LRIP production batches, but also the costs added by suppressing the learning curve needed to achieve full production rates. There’s also a PhD thesis ripe for the picking for some industrious candidate in this problem: Develop a methodology to trade off the costs of early production units having to be modified to later baseline configurations against the increased costs of production units with inhibited learning curves. The trick is to make the methodology transparent enough for innumerate policy makers to understand.
    Oh yeah! Somebody did…Google up: Deliver Us From Beancounters. (No quot. marks)
    Enjoy the weekend, boyz!

    • EngineerEconomist

      the thesis would not survive an oral defense and no degree should be awarded from an accredited institution. the community college of smsgt mac, texas, might be interested. JK BTW…

  • Black Owl

    We should kill the F-35 and buy more Super Hornets! The F/A-18E/F can stand toe to toe with anything our projected enemies will have for while and still perform better than or equal to in performance of our enemies’ aircraft. As for the J-20 and the PAK-FA, most of our enemies won’t have those planes for a while before it starts to matter. Even then, US Navy and Marine Corps pilots are much better trained in tactics and combat than any of our enemies. Unlike the F-22 the Super Hornet actually has an infrared search and track device so it is better to use when fighting an enemy stealth jet.

    The Super Hornet with the international upgrades is equal in stealth to the F-35 from the front. Both the F-35 and the Super Hornet are not stealthy from the rear. The only difference in stealth capabilities is that the F-35 is stealthy from the sides, where as the upgraded Super Hornets are marginally less stealthy from that aspect. Paying billions of dollars more so that we can have fewer aircraft with a marginal increase in stealth from the sides and a total decrease in all other capabilities is retarded. F-35s will never be allowed to fly over a combat zone below 30,000 feet. Can you imagine what would happen if only one of them got shot down and it’s technology was studied by Russia or China? The F-35 can’t even handle small arms fire and close air support is vital to our marines and soldiers. We can’t replace the F-16, F/A-18, and definitely not the A-10 with these delicate stealth jets. When you mount external weapons on the F-35 its performance basically becomes that of an F-16, with four times the cost. The Super Hornet with international upgrades will cost less than half the F-35 and gives roughly equal performance in stealth as well as better performance in all other areas:

    By killing the F-35 many people say the money spent on it will go to waste. We will be wasting more money buying the damn jets in quantities that will hurt our already bad economic situation! We did produce a lot of new technologies when making the F-35 so the money wasn’t a total waste, but the main factor is that we would save so much more money than we lost if we just canceled the F-35 and starting buying upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Our strike fighter capability would not be lost at all if we did this and we could make literally two Super Hornets for the price of one F-35, in some cases more than that depending on how many quantities the Super Hornet is bought in.

    • Ben

      Can you imagine the massive loss of trustworthiness should the U.S. cancel the F-35 program, this late into development, when many other partner nations – Italy, the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. have all been banking their trust on us to deliver a product? The U.S. would never sell another thing again.

      • Black Owl

        Sell them upgraded Super Hornets, Silent Eagles, and Falcons for a cheap price. I don’t care. It’s not worth our economy. We are already in enough debt as it is. Cancelling the JSF would indeed be embarressing, but if this embarressment significantly helped our financial situation it would be worth it.

        • Sgy Jmack

          But in reality is will not help us. It will bring us down so far, so fast it is more than an embarassment, it will be a major fiasco.

        • jhm

          well, if they lose confidence in our products, well…

          • Sgy Jmack

            It’s not the products that we have to wory about, it’s the overall functioning of our Government and Country as a whole.

      • FtD

        i can’t imagine those partners’ signs of relief when they hear US cans the program…. seriously, the planes are getting way too expensive to buy & maintain whether or not LM sales said otherwise

    • William C.

      The Super Hornet is not a valid alternative for the long-term. If you think the F-35 isn’t enough to match the J-20 and PAK-FA, the Super Hornet certainly won’t. As for your idea that neither of these aircraft will matter due to the timing involved, the F-35 is to be a long term solution. Yet further Super Hornet purchases would have to be interim aircraft, pending the arrival of something better. What will that something better be?

      A Block III Super Hornet or F-15SE, while featuring reduced RCS, cannot hope to match the F-35 in terms of stealth. There is simply no way you can made an existing fighter as stealthy as a 5th gen design built with stealth in mind like the F-22 or F-35.

      I presume you mean light anti-aircraft weapons as opposed to small arms, since a guy firing his AKM in the air isn’t much of a threat to a fast-mover. No fighter is very survivable against multiple light cannon or HMG hits with the exception of some dedicated attack aircraft like the A-10. The A-10 is a unique beast and I certainly hope it stays in service for a long while to come. The F-35 is pretty comparable to the F-16 or other modern single-engine fighters in terms of how well it can resist battle damage. While the F-15 and F/A-18 do have the benefit of a second engine, they are still pretty fragile.

      There is simply no way a F-35 will cost as much as two brand new Block III F/A-18Es or F/A-18Fs. Also how is building these things bad from an economic standpoint?

      • Sgy Jmack

        You can’t talk logic here pal. Didn’t you read the rules at the top of the page?

      • Sgy Jmack

        Apparently some on here think it is better to retro fit a bunch of old or aging planes that will be out of service in a few months or years any way. Talk about waste!!!

        • William C.

          Exactly. Plus I can’t think of a single area in which the F/A-18 has superior performance. Maybe in maximum external payload but that’s about it.

          • Sgy Jmack

            Not to mention that the Naval Carrier Planes only have a limited shelf life, and the A/F’s planes have far over reached theirs as it is. Talking to Pilots on Luke, they are furious about flying the antiquated planes we have, especially when you compare the newer ones our allies have with better avionics than WE HAVE.

          • blight

            That’s the joy of being a second or third adopter. America (as first adopter) would have the oldest airframes and the largest fleet, and not enough dollars to add the same same toys as the foreign customers.

          • EngineerEconomist

            if the pilots are furious about flying antiquated planes, then they have the f-22 and f-35 programs and the USAF leadership to blame for it. a smarter approach would have been to start with proven designs, and improve upon them incrementally using mature technology, vs technology that still needd maturation. this approach would have yielded new planes sooner and at less cost, resulting in even more money being available for more improvements in national security…

      • FtD

        let the SH fights the terror war & get more F22 to deal with J-20 & PAK…. just think, Russians uses SU27 platform & done really well with variants like SU30, 33, 35 etc. so why can’t F22 do the same? it’s just waste of research dollars when already there’s a plane in service already. I suppose for the dollars sunk into F35, those money could build numbers of variants like carrier, bomber versions….. by then the cost per unit would’ve dropped considerably

  • Lance

    There will be no budget the House will overspend on defense the Senate will cut it. And both will NOT comprise. With cuts adding up I bet there will be more cuts in programs in the coming months.

  • Lance

    The key is too upgrade F-15s and buy more F-22s. The whole F-35 program is too big cut the B model off and adopt all C models to save money.

    • blight

      If we have to do triage, the most important part is likely JSF-B, especially as our allies with light carriers need Harrier replacements.

      • elizzar

        i’d have to check the partner country list for exact demands, but for instance the UK has now switched to buying C version as opposed to B version (assuming any are actually ever bought for our maybe carrier program …) … i think the main customer of the B version is the US marines?

        • blight

          I’m guessing the QE2 can launch JSF-C…but unless the ROK, Japan and other customers with short carriers sign on, I think you’re right. Just the Marines. And Italy.

  • STemplar

    It seems to me the Senate isn’t drinking the Kool AId anymore on promises about performance from the DoD and LM. I think that’s fine, any concerns about cost increase in the out years are overblown in my opinion, because this is a kind of put up or shut up cut in my mind. It’s the Senate saying they’re fine with paying more down the road as long as the thing works, which makes more sense than buying a bunch of something we might cancel still.

    • jhm

      ahhahahaha, wouldnt it be funny if we lowered their pay a bit and used it on other government needs? I know this sounds immature, but I find it awefully funny

  • superraptor

    if Rick Perry becomes President, an upgraded F-22 will be back. He considers its cancellation a great strategic blunder. I am hopeful.

  • J-12A

    if Rick Perry becomes President, an upgraded F-22 will be back. He considers its cancellation a great strategic blunder

    Read more:

  • Gary h

    why don’t we use some of this money and upgrade the A10 and give them to the Marine Corps for their close support missions? i know that there would need to be some mods needed for this, but i still think it could be done at a better price then the F35. just sayin’

    • elizzar

      or additional attack helicopters, too? they seem to have performed well in Libya compared to ‘fast air’ (i know the A10 is slightly different), with Apaches (and Tigers) operating form airbases and helicopter carriers.

  • ALPHA 486

    I helped push for the F35 and also pushed for it to have a second engine. Just recently, the Senate Committee is reconsidering and taking a second engine more serious. The F35 is one of the best birds we’ve built in a long time. Personally, I rank her right up there with the SR-71.
    Though, not a pilot but if I were, I would rather be in the F35 and I made that perfectly clear with Senator Hutchison.

    • EngineerEconomist

      of course the Senate is…. the Senate is responsible for much destruction of this country. the Presidency and the House are sensitive to the will of the American people, the Senate is the most defiant, insular institution in the country.

  • Kski

    Well I guess it can be said that of the few F-35s that do get manufactured will go the way of F-22 and its fuel efficiency, by staying grounded.

  • SteveB

    The Navy didn’t want the F35, and neither the Army or Marine Corps want the joint tactical vehicle. Both programs were shoved down the services throats by congressmen with jobs in their districts who build them, while the services are being forced to pay for them out of their budgets. That’s the ONLY reason we re providing input into testing and design.a

  • Tenn Slim

    This Senate move is typical.

    Make less, cut existing funds, and stretch out the process.

    On Line Production quality testing always trumps the after the fact testing.

    True enough, a Full Up Bird, integrated, and ready for testing flights will show the Intersices points of failure, or weakness. That is the purpose of FLIGHT Testing.

    To curtail production under the guise of “Production Testing” is absurd. Engineering simulations, design reviews, endless design meetings of the folks that create aircraft have a high rate of Production Testing success. Senators of WW2 days knowledge should be voted back to thier rocking chairs with a minimal pension.


    Semper Fi

    • EngineerEconomist

      see my post above. unless the American people can change the Senate, expect nothing to change.

  • Tenn Slim

    “Unlike the F-22 the Super Hornet actually has an infrared search and track device so it is better to use when fighting an enemy stealth jet. ”
    Having spent hours trying to align this particular piece of infrared machinery, I can say categorically, the alignment is so critical, that 1/4 inch off and the bombs go off target widely.
    This is a basic flaw in the whole concept of Laser or Infrared guided weaponry. Alignment, guidance, etal must be so precise for expected on target results that the Engineering Design process is extremely expensive.

    If we want to win a FUTURE war, we best be able to pay for it, get the very best, very latest technologies and swallow our old lines of thinking.
    Semper FI

  • TheForgottenMan

    Amazing how many unsubstantiated statements are made in these replies.