‘Data deluge day’ for F-35

You probably thought when Secretary of Defense Bob Gates killed the Lockheed Martin F-22 last year, it was a good thing for the F-35. I’m not so sure anymore. I think Gates simply shifted everyone’s target. As the MOST EXPENSIVE WEAPONS PROGRAM IN HISTORY, Lockheed’s F-35 program, with its nearly $11 BILLION ANNUAL PRICE TAG (and that’s only the US-funded portion), faces F-22-like scrutiny, but now with an unprecedented level of public disclosure.

I spent most of my day reading the 25 reports posted by the Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA), an unexpectedly public archive that tramples all over the proprietary secrecy usually reserved for aerospace assembly lines.

The DCMA’s disclosure is an extraordinary and unprecedented gesture. Sure, many pages are redacted, but, even so, I do not believe that a major weapons program has ever faced this level of exposure.

How do we interpret all of this data? Carefully.

DCMA reports, by their nature, have to be a bit unfair. DCMA’s auditors aren’t looking to provide a balanced perspective. The monthly action reports are about finding problems — and fixing them. That said, the DCMA reports show the F-35 has been having more problems than even some of its critics realized, and they haven’t been getting fixed either. It will take me another day or two to process all of it.

Meanwhile, the F-35 data dump keeps rolling.

Ashton Carter’s office has released an acquisition decision memorandum on the F-35 that postpones full-rate production 13 months. It adds another year of low-rate production, plus adds four jets to the flight test program, including one new carrier variant and three converted low-rate production aircraft.

Last, but not least, a scathingly critical report on the F-35 program has appeared in Holland. Johan Boeder, a software entrepreneur who tracks the global F-35 supply chain on Saturdays and evenings, has posted an English-language briefing on the F-35. Boeder first presented the brief two weeks ago before the standing defence committee of the Dutch Parliament. His findings are worth reading.


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11 Responses to ‘Data deluge day’ for F-35

  1. aeroxavier 2 March, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    100 millions($)/each in 2010

    for me the prob is the f-35 was one plane like f-16 but furtiv(5th gen). and they can’t make that because f-22 can be catch by latest radar.

    many country need choice one plane not really the better or take one other

    i remember about netherland choice, the f-35 win by 0.01 point against the french rafale (but in this time f-35 have not the prob and the cost like today and rafale have proposed the f4 version superior of f-35)

    f-35 can lose some partners and in USA

  2. Prometheus 2 March, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Johan Boeders Numbers are even worse then what I thought…

  3. Ozzy Blizzard 2 March, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    F-22 like scrutiny is in fact a non sequitur in regards to a significant reduction or cancellation of the program. The F-35 is the only game in town, and unless congress is happy with a significant reduction in USAF force levels and capability they will play ball. There is no other choice.

  4. Jeb 2 March, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    The day that the F-22 got the blade, I said on the Ares blog that it was only a matter of time before the F-35 found its neck in the guillotine. Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

  5. Stephen Trimble 2 March, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    Ozzy, I would submit to you there are always options. What did the US Army do after canceling RAH-66 despite investing $7 billion?

  6. dave 3 March, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    stephen,are you suggesting u.s start from scratch?
    i do not believe that option has a chance.
    main reasons:u.s total current aircraft are stretched
    almost to their limits.(past the point of no return).
    this late in r&d(2 years from active service…o.k maybe 3,, that would not surprize me).
    feb.3 2010 r.gates and mullen rejects further superhornet orders(that to me is a SIGN that f-35 is not to far behind delivery,probably 1 to 2 years not good but not surprizing either)when you take in account that is the norm for military or commercial aircraft.
    11 billion per year you are correct,you have to consider this isnt france’s defence budget
    this is u.s defence budget 11 billion equals 2% of budget,couple that with gates&mullens comments that stats”most important”refering to the f-35 procurement.again this is from the top(easy to find).
    not blogs or news writers or want some people or goverments WANTS to believe.
    realistic options:(what i believe will happen)

    elevate the prices about 15% to 20%(no goverment will like it, but i guarantee you all goverments already expected it) again the norm.
    in the long run procurement for u.s,instead of 2443 aircraft reduce about 10% which will be about 2200 aircraft and have the x47b or derivitive make up the difference in the recon. role.
    so thats what i believe the outcome will be, we just have to wait about 25 years to see how far im off.

  7. aeroxavier 3 March, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    sure, 11bn$ is not much for USA, but you need know where go all money :
    -operation (irak,afgh) & maintenance : 283bn$
    -military personnel : 154 bn
    -PROCUREMENT (f35,ammunition…) : 140bn$
    -R&D : 80 bn$
    -military construction & family housing: 27bn$
    total 685bn$.
    in USA , navy and air force have 50% of def budget
    that was 70bn$ for new stuff/year.

    in 2009, 5 great aquisition
    -missile defense: 9.4bn$
    -f-35: 6.9bn$
    -carrier replacement: 4.2 bn$
    -f-22 (last aquisition): 4.1bn$
    -virginia class sub: 3.9bn$
    compare f-35 with that

    ok USA have growth def budget but they will have more 20 000 soldiers and they deployed 30 000 more soldiers in afgh .

    but don’t forgot others partners and the initial price of the f-35.this is before financial crisis.
    they will buy one exceptional plane for 50 ml$ and in the final they go buy one plane not exceptional for 150ml$ .
    don’t forgot f-35 would not be superior of one f-22, but f-22 was in tactic fight not superior of one rafale…

  8. dave 3 March, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    all goverments act in their own self interest!!!
    anyone that does not believe that… is a fool.
    150 million per f-35?.
    if that is the case why doesnt u.s continue making f-22′s at 142 million each and thats based on 187 raptors,not thousands so of course the price for the raptors would drop dramaticly.
    rafale m’s cost 92 million each without soon to be added upgrades.(and everyone is aware how desperate
    france is to sell rafales).
    air&cosmos 1/29/10 FRENCH ARTICLE describes how easily raptors took apart rafales several times, exact amount is not described.
    and i expected the magazine to make a rebuttal do to the fact theirs billion dollar deals at stake.
    so i understand u.s fanboys having some doubts believing french pilots TOTAL honesty as to what happened in dubai,as i understand french fanboys from
    having doubts about u.s pilots TOTAL honesty as to what happened in dubai.(if you are looking from a TRUELY neutral stance).not your side lies,my side dont…..really?????.

  9. aeroxavier 3 March, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    wait and see for the price .
    add r&d and don’t forgot initial price is based on initial command but command have not change for the price who is now. this is the prob.

    about rafale and f-22 they have make 6 “fight” and he have catch 1 time the rafale.and us pilot was impress about rafale agility.

    some question. you need be intelligent for know reality
    -f-22 is furtiv but for what in this exercice they don’t will see the rafale with spectra system on?
    -for what when the rafale can be sell, usa make all of possible for destroy that?
    -for what f-22 is going after many many years in one show when the rafale can be seriously be sale?
    -for what when this plane fly others plane need stay in the ground?
    -for what they don’t sell it in export?
    -for what they stop the program?
    -exept USA who have see furtivity of the f-22 with modern radar?

    if this plane is really invisible for what they don’t prove that?

    my response: f-22 was furtiv with old radar because he was made in this time.they have stop the program because this plane is to expensive and have lose his furtivity when latest radar can be buy by the world.USA don’t sell the plane because in the start he was “furtiv” but now this is because he was not furtiv, and if the world know that, US lose power of the spirit of all.they don’t deploy f-22 in the world for one reason; nothing need see it.
    f-35 would be multirole like the rafale, but he was make with f-22 technology and would be inferior of the f-22. this is one big prob for USA because the rafale can be take foreign sale and if he can see “furtiv” plane he can be the black beast of pentagon.see in brazil and everywhere the movment of USA for destroy rafale export

    or if you need eat US speech, f-22 better plane in the world he can shoot one plane in 100km and be furtiv of it.
    we will not show is capabilitie because we have make test in USA with f-16. but we close f-22 programm because he was to expensive and prefere take f-35 for his inferior capabilitie.we don’t sell this plane for allied because he was to expensive …no sry , he was the better.

    (bad english,but i was not stupid on the reality and don’t eat propaganda of all country i just see when logical situation turn in non logical situation)

    for testing one american you need ask one question
    in 1944, USA have debarqued for delivred france?
    if he say yes he was stupid but if he say no USA fight nazi regime because nazy was one menace of USA and they invaded europe for destroy it and take advantage of the winner after the russian have destroying nazi army and when they are taking space on german area.

  10. dave 4 March, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    not totally invisable but very very hard to detect.
    have you not wondered why u.s has put so much time and money into staelth(35 years).(100′s of billions of dollars).
    have you not wondered why so many countries are standing in line that wraps around the corner and waiting years to get there hands on it.
    or china keeps trying to hack into u.s computers
    for info on stealth.
    or russia STARTING to head down the same road(pakfa).
    aero,if you get a chance go to WIKIPEDIA.ORG
    read up on the f-117 then the b-2 and then f-22
    and draw your own conclusions,very interesting material.

  11. Cordless Radar Detector 22 July, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    There are more fools among buyers than among sellers.

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