So far, so good.
But what happens when the annual output rate basically triples from 2010 to 2012 (12 to 32 + a few foreign orders), then almost quadruples from 2012 to 2014 (32+ to 118+)?
program manager Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, who I interviewed last month, told me he
already is seeing the strains of simultaneous ramp-ups for both JSF and the 787
as he visits production sites worldwide. "I'm fighting for space in the plant that's
for 787 stuff,"
program is hoping to cope with this phenomenon by investing an extra $1.5
billion in upfront tooling, mainly to bring second-source suppliers, such as
Behind the scenes, the US and UK industry partners are working intensely with other foreign manufacturers that will serve as second source suppliers on critical parts in the full-rate production phase. Northrop Grumman's Randy Secor, a vice president for the F-35 program, told me earlier this month that TAI's employees have been trained on the production line with Northrop's mechanics and assemblers. "Lack of a critical part at a single supplier will stop you dead in your tracks," Secor said.
But F-35 industry officials are also realistic about the difficulty of staying on track as the production rate escalates after 2012. Secor told me that he expects "huge challenges" with meeting the one aircraft per day target after 2016, but it is achievable if the entire industry team works together to solve the problems that arise rather than pointing fingers.