The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme office plans to issue Boeing and Lockheed Martin with final design specifications by March, clearing the way for the conclusive Preferred Weapon System Concept (PWSC) tendering process to begin.

Release of the final operational requirements document (ORD) was due in December, but was delayed by a scheduling backlog. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council is now expected to give its approval of the ORD later this month. The ORD, which freezes the final design requirement, forms the basis of the much more detailed model specification.

"The model spec is the blueprint for the contractors and we're finishing that now. In March the contractors will be given that and a request for information and in November they're going to give me their proposals back," says Maj Gen Mike Hough, JSF programme director.

Apart from the ORD slipping, the programme remains on track, claims the JSF programme office. The PWSC proposals and the results of the Boeing X-32 and Lockheed Martin X-35 flight demonstrations will be evaluated and selection made in April 2001.

Hough has sought to dismiss recent contractor concerns that a late ORD and possible further changes would have an impact on tight concept demonstration phase budgets. "We're done, the contractors know it all. There is no fuzz, no surprises or 'gee I didn't know that'. There may be some tweaking, but that's it," he adds.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have not been permitted to spend their own money to make PWSC design changes and improvements during the ongoing review and reconciliation process and while the ORD was being evolved. Once this is completed, they will be allowed to use their own funds to refine their final proposal submissions.

"They can tweak them to increase their competitive edge," says Hough. "The basic requirements and threshold objectives will not change. In the ORD it says they have to go Mach 1.5- they're not going to get any more stars for going Mach 1.7 or 1.8."

Source: Flight International