Release of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) final operational requirements documents (ORD) has slipped by up to four months, threatening further strain on an already tight concept demonstration phase schedule and budget.

It was revealed during the roll-out of Boeing's two X-32 demonstrators that the ORD is not expected to be completed before March or April.

The Joint Requirements Oversight Council had been due to release it by the middle of December, but what is termed a "scheduling conflict" has forced a delay. The ORD will freeze the JSF's specification and requirements.

Lockheed Martin had earlier warned that if there was an ORD delay, more cash might be needed, particularly if it stipulated significant design changes to the preferred weapon system concept (PWSC) over and above those already outlined by the draft ORD (Flight International, 1-7 December). Both contractors were awarded $750 million of government development funding for JSF, but are not allowed to spend their own money on the project.

"There could be a cost impact," says Boeing, but adds that based on the draft ORD, it does not expect significant changes. Boeing plans one more PWSC design iteration, configuration -373, while Lockheed Martin hopes to stop at configuration 230-5 being refined.

Even if the ORD does come out by April, reconciling the two designs could take until July. The JSF programme office has just completed its review of progress at Lockheed Martin following the mid-year release of the draft ORD.

Once the ORD reconciliation process is finished, the contractors must submit bids in November for the engineering and manufacturing development phase.

Source: Flight International