The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme office is again having to consider allowing Boeing and Lockheed Martin to use company funds to complete the programme's on-going concept demonstration phase as the competitors struggle to stay within the $750 million budget allotted to each team.

The issue of contractor money has returned to the fore after the release of the final operational requirements (ORD) document. Boeing says it wants to submit company funded work as part of the preferred weapon system concept (PWSC) final design reconciliation in June. The programme office says it is "incorporating contractual language" to this end.

"To prove to the customer that we meet all their requirements-I want to be able to show them all the data. What we're doing with the government is finding a way to cost particular tasks with corporate funds to be able to discuss that data with them," says Frank Statkus, Boeing JSF general manager.

This represents a reversal of last year's decision to trim back on the Boeing and Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems concept contracts to keep within budget and avoid a potentially ruinous private spending war.

Boeing dropped its last planned design iteration 375 expecting to be able to complete the ORD final reconciliation with 374. The last reconciliation showed its short-take-off landing version was still 45kg (100lb) short of the critical bring-back capability. This was despite design changes incorporated into 374, including removing 0.45m (18in) from the fuselage.

Boeing corporate funds have been used to resolve this as well as shortcomings in providing the programme office with sufficient documentation to prove interoperability. Statkus declines to disclose the amount of funds needed.

Meanwhile, the two competitors are awaiting the anticipated release of the Department of Defense's revised JSF acquisition strategy. Observers agree that the previous "winner take all" strategy will not survive and provision will have to be made for the loser to share in the winning programme.

Source: Flight International