Vice Admiral Mat Winter downplayed the reorganisation of the F-35 joint programme office (JPO), in remarks at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland on 11 April.
The Department of Defense plans to eventually divide management of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II programme between two offices: one managed by the US Navy and Marine Corps, and another led by the US Air Force, according to a letter sent to Congress in March from Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment. The 20-year-old JPO, which currently handles the fighter programme, will ultimately be disbanded. Though, there is no definite timeline for the transition.
The reorganisation is a natural result of Congress directing the Department of Defence to conduct a study in 2017 on the effectiveness of the JPO and shouldn’t be a surprise given the phase of the of the F-35 Lighting II programme, says Winter.
“Every weapons system in the United States at some point has changed its programme office management structure to reflect the realities of the programme phase,” he says. “The organisational alignment, and how we will execute, that will continue to mature and be assessed every year.”
Winter also said some planned changes to the F-35 programme are already underway.
“The majority of those elements (in Lord’s letter) are either incorporated or being incorporated because they make sense,” he says.
For example, he pointed to the existence of programme deputies for the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.
Winter did acknowledge that managing the F-35 was different from other weapons systems in some ways, however.
“The current F-35 enterprise programme phase is not like any other programme office that I have been associated with,” he said. “We will be in full sprint, in development, production and sustainment for the next 20 years.”