Lockheed dogfights F-35 JET

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.

This has been Lockheed’s point all along: the JET is basing their projections on the experience of previous fighter programs, such as the F-16, F-15 and F-4. But, according to Lockheed, F-35 development has engineering and simulation resources far beyond anything those programs ever had. In Lockheed’s view, the F-35′s few flight tests achieved to date is not a warning sign. In fact, Lockheed argues that it simply means it’s too early to judge whether the program office’s predictions are inaccurate. Lockheed says:


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.

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10 Responses to Lockheed dogfights F-35 JET

  1. Anymouse 23 October, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    You have to ask, if these new tools were so great, why have only 126 flights been flown out of 5000 in SDD? Why have all the milestones been missed etc.

    The trainwreck has been coming for a long time and Lockheed keeps saying ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’.

    The JET is made up of some very bright unbiased people who are trying to give the DoD the most accurate answer they can. I’m not sure you can say that about the JSF Program Office or Lockheed.

  2. Anymouse 23 October, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    You have to ask, if these new tools were so great, why have only 126 flights been flown out of 5000 in SDD? Why have all the milestones been missed etc.

    The trainwreck has been coming for a long time and Lockheed keeps saying ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’.

    The JET is made up of some very bright unbiased people who are trying to give the DoD the most accurate answer they can. I’m not sure you can say that about the JSF Program Office or Lockheed

  3. ELP 23 October, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Yes it is early in the flight test phase. It was early in the flight test phase last year. And the year before that.

  4. alloycowboy 23 October, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    I wonder how they determined that “X” number test flights are required. Seems to me with the F-35 endurance and aerial refueling once the test program gets rolling they should be able to start knocking off test cards rather quickly. But I will admit that thus far the F-35 test flight has been stuck in the mud.

  5. Weaponhead 24 October, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    So when you hear that:
    “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.”

    You also need to remember the program office said this in 2006:

    Janes 19 DEC 06: First Flight Report
    Brigadier General Charles Davis, the executive officer for the air force’s F-35 Program Office, said the successful first flight provides important evidence that the programme’s aggressive deadlines and concurrent testing and production schedules can be achieved.
    “It really proves the programme can step through a lot of the milestones we have planned over the next couple of years,” Gen Davis said…
    Gen Davis, however, said the programme is on track and he is working with Lockheed Martin to secure a contract for six conventional and six short take-off and landing variants in 2008.
    “We understand risks for schedules and we don’t see anything as a significant challenge,” said Gen Davis.

    So despite none of this (the F-35 program) being a significant challenge not much progress has been made and the program is slipping almost a year for each year of the SDD program. The only conclusion you can make is that they eare either extremely loose with the truth or delusional or both. Oh well, keep sending the $Bs.

  6. SpudmanWP 24 October, 2009 at 3:13 am #

    Recently, BF-1 completed 6 flight tests in a two week period.

    Remember that to reach the 5000 mark, they plan on having a 12-12-12 program. This means that in 12 months (Sep 2010) they plan to have 12 F-35s pulling 12 flights a month.

    As you can see in the BF-1 example above, they can already reach 12 a month with a single plane.

  7. 5th_Gen_BS 25 October, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Based on LM’s comeback on JET I guess the only reason they’re more than four months behind on production is that we’re measuring time using a legacy technique–the calendar.

  8. eric redding 26 October, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    Anonymously

    Why does no one ever ask why NAVAIR programs always seem behind schedule and over budget. Requirements creep, or more so — task creep are prevalent on their progarms. NAVAIR is notorious for infiltrating the lower level industry teams and demanding industry do things over and over again or to use alternative approaches (better becomes the enemy of good enough) and tacitly denying approval until every Government bureacrat has weighed in…often prolonging the schedule and negatively affecting the baseline plan of record.

  9. Mindi Buoy 24 July, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    Electronics are the greatest things in the world. Be sure to patent any product idea or invention you come up with. So that noone copies any of your ideas.

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