GAO predicts F-35 future

Perhaps you’ve heard the F-35 development program is facing yet another one-year overall extension and an up to $5 billion cost overrun. The story was broken this week by DODBuzz, with a tip from Winslow Wheeler, and followed up by such wide-ranging F-35 observers as Bloomberg reporter Tony Capaccio, Loren Thompson and Bill Sweetman.

It’s arguable that the real scoop belongs to the Government Accountability Office. On page 7 of the 17 March 2010 report on the F-35 program, the GAO’s auditors predict:

“Additional cost increases and more time to complete development are possible. The preliminary estimate by the [Joint Estimating Team] projected as much as a 30-month extension in the schedule for completing development flight tests, more than the 13-month extension ordered in the restructuring. Defense officials acknowledge that the revised schedule for completing development, testing and supporting the full-rate production milestone is still aggressive. Also, the 2011 budget estimate does not include costs beyond 2010 for the alternate (or second) engine program. Should that program go forward, an estimated $1.6 billion may be needed to complete development in 2016.”


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17 Responses to GAO predicts F-35 future

  1. K 3 November, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    Prediction: The B STOVL version will be canceled. The second engine program will be scrapped.

    Anyone familiar with the history of VTOL development could see this coming.

  2. Aussie Digger 3 November, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    Winslow Wheeler, Bill Sweetman, Bloomberg, GAO? Bwahaha…

    Yeah. They’ve always been SPOT ON before in relation to the F-35…

  3. Ex-Airman 3 November, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Well well well… and so begins the death spiral.

    Now what does our honorable SecDef Gates have to say about this?
    Shrewd man that he is, he’ll probably note in his memoirs that his staff “misled him”, to embellish his legacy…

    He should do the nation and the Air Force a service by just admitting he screwed up and reinstate F-22 production. History will respect him for that.

  4. Ed 3 November, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    It would be extremely interesting to compare this to the original goals. I’ve tried to find them on the internet, but all I got was this crazy document claiming $28M – $38M flyaway cost and deployment in 2008…

    Lessons learned, hopefully?

  5. Herkeng130 3 November, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Bring back the F-22. This is an embarrassment. How much of this is Lockheed and other contractors part, how much is the Government at fault for changing the requirements?

  6. Amicus Curiae 3 November, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    It is too late for the F-22, but we will build you something that works just as good in 10 years for about $50 billion in development and $200 billion for production. Nevermind all the taxpayer treasure that was wasted already because of bad decisions. This time it will be different. I promise. I really do. Trust me. I am the prophet…the reformer…the redeemer…and so on.

  7. Fatal Vision 3 November, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    And Secretary Gates was so quick to kill the F-22 to ensure the survival of the F-35. He ought to be investigated.

  8. Atomic Walrus 3 November, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Anybody else find it ironic that GAO saddles the program with a $1.6 billion potential over-run for an alternative engine that the program has been trying to eliminate for years? Thanks, politicians…

  9. Eric Palmer 4 November, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    “Winslow Wheeler, Bill Sweetman, Bloomberg, GAO? Bwahaha…

    Yeah. They’ve always been SPOT ON before in relation to the F-35..”

    And don’t forget nameless internet trolls.

  10. Aussie Digger 4 November, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    Moi, a troll?

    That’s rich Eric. A troll is defined on wiki as someone who posts frivolous or inflammatory posts in online forums seeking an emotional response to the topic at hand or seeking to disrupt normal discussion.

    In other words, virtually everything you’ve ever written on the Internet since you became APA’s parrot.

    You do not contribute one single positive thing anywhere I’ve seen you post anymore, though it was only a few short years ago when you had a much more reasonable attitude and opinion than you do now.

    What has changed I wonder?

  11. Stephen Trimble 4 November, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Come on guys. Let’s try and behave and not call each other names, whether it’s troll, parrot or whatever. All opinions on F-35 are welcomed here.

  12. Aussie Digger 4 November, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Sorry Stephen, I’ll ignore Eric’s little digs (no pun intended) in future and hopefully find a way we can both contribute positively to the debate.



  13. Dfens 4 November, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    The contractor will work on this crappy program for 20 years, making a profit on every single day they can drag the program out. In fact, with this latest revelation the contractor should be able to add a few more years to their development program to make the airplane “more manufacturable”. Then, like Crusader, it will be canceled before they have to produce a single production airplane. Boy, that will be a victory for the US taxpayer. We will have spent trillions of dollars on development by that point and we won’t even get a sharp stick we can use to scratch our asses with.

  14. dude 4 November, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Fast forward: IOC in 2020; >$300 billion in 15 years.

    Between UCAV and smart munition, will F35 still be relevant by then?

    Will US economy be sound enough to field such an all-LO fleet and, as F35 is specifically designed to do, invade the next country?

  15. dude 5 November, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    According to an old GAO report, we already spent $1 trillion on fighter programs TWO YEARS AGO.,13319,163800,00.html

  16. FighterFan 5 November, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Is it really too late to reboot the F-22? After all, LM is preserving tooling and production expertise, and it’s been done before on the C-5, amongst others.

    Have some F-22 suppliers already gone? If so then it’s a cost issue to requalify others, but that’s no different from the DMS problems faced by current legacy platforms. Whatever it costs, it’s gotta be less than starting from scratch with a 6th gen replacement!

    If it all boils down to political will… maybe the new Congress? Hope still springs eternal.

  17. Bill 17 January, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Bring back the F-22, you have got to be kidding me, it is a high dollar pig. Lockheed Martians motto is promise everything provide nothing.

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