Boeing is “spreading lies and half-truths” about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme in a “desperate and disgraceful” effort to bolster domestic and foreign sales of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, according to US Air Force Lt Gen Charles “CR” Davis, a JSF programme executive.
In an unusually candid, exclusive interview on the eve of the Farnborough Air Show, Davis blasted Boeing executives for making what he believes are grossly inappropriate statements about the health of his acquisition programme.
“If Boeing has to say something negative about JSF to sell their aircraft, that tells me there is something wrong with their aircraft,” Davis says.
Contacted for a response, Tom Bell, a Boeing business development official, said he was unaware of the specific comments that triggered Davis’ outburst, and so he could not give a direct response.
More generally, however, Bell pointed out that two JSF development partners – Australia and Denmark – have already acquired or are considering acquiring F/A-18E/F’s instead.
“People with greater insight than I are looking at the offerings available,” Bell said. “Let people draw their own conclusions about why.”
Davis says he has neither contacted Boeing executives about his accusations, nor does he intend to. Asked if he was waiting for Boeing to initiate contact, he quickly replied: “Yes, I am.”
Davis said he has read two recent articles – one in the US press and one in the foreign press – quoting Boeing executives saying the JSF programme would likely be delayed again and further exceed development costs by more than $10 billion.
It was pointed out to Davis that Boeing had delivered hundreds of Super Hornets on-time and on-budget, while the F-35’s programme costs have increased by about 50% and the development phase has been delayed more than 18 months since contract award in 2001.
Davis responded that the F-35’s record cannot be compared to the F/A-18E/F. The F/A-18E/F is based on an existing airframe and re-used the avionics of the original aircraft. “That’s the baseline they’re measured against. How hard is that?” Davis asked.
In reply, Bell said: “I think characterizing the F/A-18E/F as a just a simple programme is maybe a little simplistic in and of itself. Boeing is very proud of delivering increased capability at decreased costs and delivering real capability to the warfighter now.”