Archive for the ‘F-35’ Category

Why yes, the F-35 is a rock star

Having one contractor to meet all your needs has a certain appeal.  Generally the implied appeal is “to avoid waste.”

But is it possible that a second contractor, competing with the first, creates an incentive for both to avoid waste?

The problem with sole-sourcing almost anything is that it kills competition.  Without competition, cost concerns…aren’t such a big deal.

So in summary, let’s be blunt: competition is good.

John Lehman makes a compelling case for competition and says the Pentagon has the F-35 engine fight all wrong and that Congress has it right.

Using historical facts (wow, what a concept!  Proposing to use fact-based decision-making!), Lehman demonstrates the inherent goodness of competition as relates to the big three of acquisition programs, performance, cost, and schedule.


There are way too many zeros being tossed about…

From the 10 July 2009 Washington Post regarding the F-22 cancellation:

After deciding to cancel the program, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the $65 billion fleet a “niche silver-bullet solution” to a major aerial war threat that remains distant.

187 F-22s for $65 billion.  Cost per unit about $348 million each.

Here’s what DoD Buzz says about the F-35 as of 1 June 2010:

The price tag of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the military’s largest weapons program, has jumped once again and is now projected to cost $382 billion.

At 2443 planes, that’s a bit over $156 million each, and not the $112 million listed in the headline.  I guess the F-35 the non-niche, lead-bullet solution? Is it possible to make shipbuilding and space look like a bargain?

So if flying hour costs are about the same and assuming the F-22 is twice as capable (however that might be defined) as an F-35, it’s pretty much a wash, right?

Still, once flying hour costs are figured in, is is possible these planes will bankrupt the Air Force?

Of course the loss wasn’t the President’s, it was Secretary Gates’. The F136 is the General Electric/Rolls Royce engine for the F-35; the F135 is the Pratt & Whitney engine.

I don’t understand the heartburn: I thought we were supposed to have competition in our acquisition programs.

The numbers on the F136 vote were almost identical to the House vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which FWIW, was supposed to be considered after the DoD completed its DADT study.

The Joint Estimate Team (JET), which is described as “probably more reliable than the (Joint Strike Fighter) program office” has offered findings that say the F-35 is two years behind schedule. If true, this delay could add as much as $7.4 billion in costs to the Joint Strike Fighter program. On the other hand, according to the GAO, accelerating the JSF program–like DoD is talking about doing–could cost up to an additional $33.4 billion. Compared to the $1.75 billion the Senate decided to take out of the F-22 program the other day, these are significant.

The JSF program office has not changed the official production schedule, which calls for full rate production in 2014. The JET thinks 2016 is when that milestone will really occur.

It is often said bad news ages poorly. House appropriators appear to favor the JET’s argument–the appropriators reduced the JSF request for FY2010 by $530 million because they don’t’ think the program can spend all the money it has asked for.

Will this bad news affect the F-22 in any way? And what to make of the fact this information was released only after the Senate’s recent F-22 vote? Stay tuned…