Quoting a single, anonymous source, InsideDefense.com today reported that the Pentagon’s Joint Estimating Team (JET) has concluded the F-35 faces another multi-billion dollar overrun and more schedule delays. If true, the JET might have simply re-affirmed the conclusions in last year’s report (click here — see page 8) , which projected a nearly $7 billion overrun and a two-year delay. Or JET’s outlook for the program could have worsened over the past year, as the InsideDefense.com story suggests.
The Pentagon won’t confirm the InsideDefense.com article, or even comment on whether the JET has finished their work. The JET is a composite of the secretary of defense’s cost analysis improvement group, and estimating teams from each of the services.
Whatever the status of the JET report is, however, Lockheed Martin disagrees with the conclusions. The company has released this statement in response to the InsideDefense.com scoop:
Lockheed Martin and our industry partners recognize the Joint Estimate Team’s earnest efforts to predict F-35 program costs and schedules as part of the annual DoD budget planning process. However, we disagree with their conclusions, which we believe are driven by legacy-based assumptions regarding the time required to deliver the remaining SDD aircraft, complete development, and conduct the flight test campaign.
The program is early in the flight test phase, so it is much too soon conclude that the expected payoffs will not be realized. Lockheed Martin acknowledges that modest risks to our cost and schedule baselines exist, but we envision no scenario that would justify a substantial delay to completion of development or transition to production milestones.