F-35 programme stable, but costs may rise slightly

Washington DC
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The US Department of Defense's mammoth tri-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme is relatively stable, but there could be some small additional cost increases.

"I don't anticipate any cost growth-[not] anything near scale that you described," says acting Pentagon procurement Chief Frank Kendall in reply to a question by Senator John McCain on 29 March.

Kendall was testifying during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Kendall was nominated to become the next Department of Defense acquisitions chief by President Barack Obama when his predecessor Ashton Carter became the deputy secretary of defense.

f-35 credit lockheed martin 
 
Kendall says he hopes any cost growth would be far less than $10 billion when answering another question posed by McCain.

But he says there will be additional problems that are going to be discovered on the programme. That will cost some additional dollars.

The programme was recently restructured yet again after a series of cost increases and delays. The F-35 programme's costs have risen by $150 billion since its inception.

The F-35 follows a long line of delayed and over-budget programmes.

"I'm not confident that any defence program will not experience an overrun," Kendall says. "That would be quite a statement after the last 50 years of history."

Concurrency between designing, building and testing the aircraft simultaneously has been blamed by senior US officials for the programme's various maladies.