Lockheed says leaked F-35 study “not definitive”

Lockheed Martin has issued their full rebuttal to a leaked Naval Air Systems Command study that raises alarms about the F-35′s affordability. I publish it here verbatim, as well as the study itself. You be the judge.

Lockheed’s statement

Lockheed Martin and the JSF Program Office estimate that life-cycle support costs for the F-35 will be significantly lower than those for the F-16, F/A-18 and the AV-8B based on our acquisition approach, Air System design, detailed cost models and economies of scale.
Unlike previous fighter development programs, supportability is a major contractual requirement on F-35, with half of the program’s Key Performance Parameters dedicated to sustainment.
F-35 has a design requirement to be twice as reliable and take half the time to repair as the airplanes it is replacing.  These requirements influenced every design trade, aircraft configuration decision, and component selection, as well as the strategy for performance-based logistics. 
Achievement of our supportability goal is accomplished through rigorous system qualification testing and the application of new, advanced diagnostic and prognostic technologies.  F-35 Air System design criteria have imposed the most stringent reliability, logistic footprint and sortie-generation rate requirements of any fighter program.
In addition, with more than 3000 aircraft in the baseline program and potentially 4500 aircraft with additional Foreign Military Sales, the program economies of scale are unprecedented and will be a significant economic factor favorable to F-35. 
F-35 will most certainly be less expensive to operate than different platforms operated in small numbers by individual services, allowing countries to share training, maintenance, overhaul, repair and supply costs.  Also, F-35 is procuring the spares along with the original production parts to reduce sustainment costs.
All of these improvements are reflected in the F-35 Program’s annual detailed life cycle cost estimating process which involves all participating services. This process looks at every element of the life cycle costs for the next 65 years. The NAVAIR figures cited in the leaked internal document are an independent assessment and are not definitive.
The F-35 program is committed to working with the JSF Program Office and Naval Air Systems Command to develop the most accurate estimate possible of F-35 life-cycle support.

NAVAIR study


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14 Responses to Lockheed says leaked F-35 study “not definitive”

  1. Weaponhead 15 January, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Chart’s 4, 11, 12, and 13 are blank for me. Anyone else having this issue?

  2. EG 15 January, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Blank. They were probably deleted for nefarious purposes. :)

  3. Stephen Trimble 15 January, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Sorry about the missing slides. I didn’t catch that earlier. I don’t understand why they are not appearing, and our tech support in London has gone home for the weekend. I’ll try to fix next week. You’re not missing much on those slides, if you’re worried about it. The key slides (9 & 10) are showing up.

  4. EG 15 January, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Oh sure, go ahead and reassure us! You’re part of the evil industrial military complex. :)

  5. Stephen Trimble 15 January, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    I wish! Anybody seen a stock chart for a news media business lately?

  6. ELP 15 January, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    Since the Navy has a plan-B if the F-35 doesn’t cut it, lets consider this-

    Lets compare the Super Hornet Block II and the yet to be proven F-35C

    -Super Block II;

    —You always leave the deck with a gun (not counting G)

    —Known price

    —A radar system and defensive avionics that are very good; after all a lot of the Block II effort is what would have ended up in Boeings variant of the JSF.

    —Two engines over water. Proven time and again when the Hornet community has had to put one engine back to idle or off and return to base.

    —Two aircrew attack as needed. Like it or not the Navy is wed to the ability to have two aircrew attack where around half of the Supers are setup this way. Combine this with the Block II avionics and one has a lot of versatility. This also makes it a superior CAS aircraft compared to anything the F-35C can be.

    —Buddy tanker

    —SHARPE recon pod

    —Buzzword-“Fused avionics” – Passive sensors, AESA, Helmet, ATFLIR work well together under Block II. Certainly well enough to justify the price.

    —When you compare defensive avionics, the F-35 comes up short. Where the F-35 has a limited in-band jammer facing forward (the AESA radar) and some expendable decoys, the Super Block II has an all-aspect jammer including the ability to use the ALE-55 as a jamming emitter. Towed decoy being “notional” in some later F-35 Block. That leaves the F-35 still short of an all-aspect defensive jammer. This is important to consider when affordable-export-friendly stealth goes naked to a variety of threats. LM stating after the F-117 shoot-down that even a simple turn can increase one’s RCS by a factor of 100 or more.

    Can the Super face an S300 or S400? No. But neither can the F-35 with no super-cruise and extreme altitude to reduce enemy weapons no-escape-zones. The fantasy trip of the Navy having a “day-one” stealth aircraft works if the threat is legacy IADS like Allied Force in 1999.

    —With safe easy handling the Super Hornet is about the safest aircraft in this class ever to hit the carrier deck. The safety metrics since it entered the fleet are outstanding.

    When the Navy was asked what they wanted with the JSF, the answer was two-engines, two aircrew and 1000 mile radius. Two points for the Super Hornet.

    So will the F-35C ever bring value to the carrier deck? Who knows? So far the majority of flight testing since 2006 has been with a non production representative aircraft. The F-35C is yet to do one cat-shot or trap. CF-1 was rolled out when? When will it do its first flight? The program is yet to shorten the time between roll-out and first flight. The F-35 was hawked to the Navy as “affordable”. When will that be?

    Navy budgets that include big expensive grey floaty things can only take on an aircraft with a known lowish price. The F-35C has to rise to that challenge. The Navy does not have to rise to the claims and spin produced by the F-35 program.

  7. EG 15 January, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    The navy will save the decks at the cost of the F-35.

  8. Obamanite 15 January, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    EG, on that (F-35 vs. carriers) we agree completely. I said exactly the same thing elsewhere.

  9. jack 16 January, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    my eric havent you come a long way, it wasnt that long ago, i saw you on a forum telling a naval pilot how terrible his sh blk2 was and how wrong he was about the new radar

    how long do we have to wait before the f-35 will be a good plane and you will be bagging the next acquisition

  10. airplanejim 16 January, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Lockheed says leaked F-35 report is not definitive.
    Sort of like the F-35 flight test schedule, isn’t it?

  11. RunningBear 17 January, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Download! No one yet has yet estimated the impact of downloading all of the systems logs from each and every flight that all of the F-35A/B/C will provide. The development of that database is a staggering opportunity and the most impressive tool the maintenance and operations organizations will have. Incipient detection, predictive and preventative analysis will impact both testing and operating these platforms. Since the plane is all electric, it will have little systems to be left to physical or visual inspection by the flight and maintenance crews. This is monumental and unparalleled in the history of aviation. Compared to the legacy a/c this will be a quantum leap in reliability. I question the ability of the auditing groups to factor this ability into their “dated” projections. Their is no existing system that allows 15 test a/c and 2500 production a/c to continuously update the operating and maintenance databases from all systems. Awesome!

  12. Mars HQ Regiment 17 January, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    Perhaps something behind NAVAIRs leak had something to do with honestly misinforming ‘econemies of scale’ benchmarks being thrown out the window and starting from that new mark?

  13. Weaponhead 18 January, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    A predictive maintenance database, yes it sounds awesome. I just wonder how big that learning curve will be? My guess is it will be a POS for at least 10+ years and suck up truckloads of development $ as they continue to tweak it unitl it actually works. It will also likely drive huge parts shortages and unneeded maintenance actions as all of the false posititves get processed. I’m not saying this can’t be eventually accomplished but, as with most of the F-35 programme, it is another “promise” that is very far from proven.

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