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F-35 Price Dropping But Not Enough for the Pentagon

Seaman Lance Gilinksy stands lookout watch on the fantail of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) while an F-35C Lightning II, from the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 approaches on Dec. 8, 2017. US Navy Photo

ARLINGTON, Va. — The F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter production is ramping-up, but the Pentagon’s official in charge of the program warns the current $94 million to $120 million cost per jet is still too high and could become unaffordable if more savings can’t be squeezed out of the manufacturing process.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the Pentagon director of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, detailed where production now stands and provided a sketch of where he’d like production to be in the near future.

Winter’s team is in the midst of negotiations with lead F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin to set a price for the next group of F-35 jets – Lot 11 – the Pentagon will buy.

Lockheed Martin submitted its Lot 11 proposal about a year and a half ago, but Winter said the first offer from Lockheed Martin didn’t arrive at the Pentagon until more recently. Winter conceded he had hoped to have the deal finalized by the end of 2017.

The negotiation might be dragging on, but Winter both his team and Lockheed Martin are negotiating in good faith.

“I will tell you I am not as satisfied with the collaboration and the cooperation by Lockheed Martin,” Winter said.
“They could be much more cooperative and collaborative. We could seal this deal faster. We could. They choose not to, and that’s a negotiating tactic.”

More importantly, Winter stressed the prolonged negotiation is not delaying Lot 11 production. The component parts are purchased a year before the first aircraft is built, so work on Lot 11 has already started.

An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 sits on the flight deck prior to flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). US Navy Photo

Winter wouldn’t share the Pentagon’s target price for Lot 11, only saying it will be lower than what was paid for Lot 10. At the same time, Lot 11 will mark an increase in production, with 130 aircraft due for delivery. In comparison, when completed by the end of 2018, Lot 10 will have delivered 105 aircraft. Lot 9 had a delivery of 66 aircraft.

“We are on the ramp,” Winter said.

Marillyn Hewson, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, touted the increasing F-35 production during a Jan. 29 conference call with Wall Street analysts, according to a transcript from investor analysis site Seeking Alpha. Hewson said Lockheed Martin expects, “To deliver approximately 90 jets this year, an increase of over 35 percent from 2017 as we continue to progress to full rate production in the next few years.”

Lockheed Martin officials predict a production rate of 150 aircraft per year will be achieved within the next couple of years.

However, even with production increasing and the price-per-aircraft is decreasing, Winter expressed alarm the price isn’t dropping enough. Next week Winter is scheduled to appear before the House Armed Services Committee, and it is likely the program’s cost will be a topic of discussion.

Through Lot 10, the vast majority of production has been focused on building the mature designed F-35A – the Air Force variant – with an average cost of $94.3 million per jet, according to Lockheed Martin. The Marine Corps vertical lift F-35B variant and the Navy’s arrested landing F-35C variant both had a cost of more than $120 million per jet in Lot 10.

Winter has a team investigating 100 suppliers in the F-35 supply chain to identify places where production can be improved, reducing the problem of parts that aren’t manufactured correctly or where the production line can be more streamlined.

“The price is coming down but it’s not coming down fast enough,” Winter said. “We don’t know to the level of granularity that I want to know, what it actually costs to produce this aircraft.”

  • Eyes open

    94-120 million per plane!! Yikes!! Upgrade what we have in inventory, or open the lines back up to boost inventory of the FA-18 and bring back the Viking. Is there no alternative to this costly aircraft? Isn’t any other nation looking into their own design? As a comparison, how much did it cost to build the Harrier?

    • Horn

      $30m in the 90s, so about $50m now.

    • $94 million for a cutting edge jet that hasn’t even reached full rate production is actually extremely good. A Super Hornet (an evolutionary design with less advanced avionics and no stealth) costs $70 million apiece after 2 decades and 500 planes. The foreign competition is far worse with Rafale running around $90 million and Typhoon costing $110 million.

      I’m not sure why you would want to compare the F-35 (a 35 ton supersonic multirole fighter) to the AV-8 (a 15 ton subsonic ground attack plane with limited avionics).

      • CharleyA

        The Navy and Marine Corps variants are the jets that cost ~$120M btw. The USAFs F-35A is the “cheap” version @ $94.5M. So the F/A-18E/Fs @ $70M look a lot more attractive, especially considering they support every weapon in the inventory, vs. the F-35s limited load out options.

        • The reason the 35A is so much cheaper is because we have procured almost twice as many of them as B’s & C’s combined. And now that the B is ramping up production, its costs have fallen significantly below those of the C as well. If the Navy stops buying single digits worth of F-35’s each year, than the C’s cost will also start dropping. Finally, the 35 is going to carry all of the weapons the 18 does (actually more when you consider the foreign weapons it’s being cleared for).

          • CharleyA

            F-35 will not carry Maverick, Harpoon, SLAM-ER, HARM, aerial mines, LRASM, and others; while the Super will carry F-35 weps like NSM/JSM (if the Navy actually buys them,) SDBIIs, etc. Additionally, the Super Hornet is being upgraded with weapons middleware that will enable it to easily adopt any weapons developed for the F-35.

            The Flyaway cost for the F-35C never drops below $112M (FY20), and starts to climb again in FY22. Conversely, in FY19, F-35B will cost $118M, and increases steadily from there.

          • Maverick and HARM are being replaced by JAGM and AARGM, which are slated for F-35 integration. Likewise, Harpoon is being replaced by LRASM, which, while not officially funded, is already being talked about for integration on the F-35. That only leaves SLAM-ER, a Harpoon derivative that we haven’t procured since 2008 and Quickstrike, which is just a Mk 80 tailkit.

          • CharleyA

            When is the integration happening again? Block 4.x? 2022? 2024? 2026? Block 5? It’s pretty clear from the Navy’s acquisition plans that they want to buy a developed aircraft that can use weapons we have in the inventory today, not in the mid 2020s – hence the 125+ Super Hornets we are buying between FY18 and FY23.

          • ShermansWar

            No blocks are funded past block 3F is my understanding. Block 4 is notional and desired, but as yet unfunded, far as I know, and no guarantee it happens, not unless more money is kicked in, Lockheed is under no obligation to ever produce it as things stand today if i understand correctly.

          • Duane

            Nope … Block 4 got initial funding several years ago, and is on track for completion and deployment within 2 years. The Program Office has planned out a new block every 2 years thereafter, and are looking at intermediate sub blocks to speed new weaps and sensors and ECM to the fleet as they become available.

          • CharleyA

            No. Block 4 has been divided into 4 sub-blocks. The first sub-block – 4.1 – is delivered Q2FY21 and is mostly software enhancements. Block 4.2 will include a major hardware upgrade – TR-3 – and is scheduled for delivery Q1FY23. Subsequent sub-blocks deliver every two years beyond that, meaning full Block 4 capability will not be complete until FY27. The program plans to release software incremental and reversional (aka bug fixes) updates every 6 months or so.

          • Duane

            Nope – entire blocks will be issued every two years after Block 4 is released … with sub blocks about every 6 months as new weapons are developed. The limiting factor is not software .. it is the constant development of new weaps. What you treat as a “bug” is actually a feature of the F-35. From the early 2020s on, new weaps will be designed first and expressly for the F-35, and then as can practically be done, adapt those weaps to legacy aircraft.

          • ThomasB

            The integration is happening at a pace the Navy can afford. The F-35 program has been on for years..they could have developed requirements for the AARGM-ER earlier. They didn’t, and unlike say Norway that did for the JSM the Navy will have to wait longer to first develop a weapon, and then go and integrate it with platforms. If they wanted an AARGM external carriage capability, those requirements too could have been built in. But they weren’t.

          • Rocco

            Agreed

          • I think you have correctly stated the Navy’s position, I just think that position is short sighted. If the Navy had pushed the F-35 program as hard as the Marines have, it could have Lightning squadrons at sea today and the money being spent improving the Super Hornet could be spent on the 35 instead. Take LRASM – it’s slated to be integrated with the 18 this year and there is no reason they couldn’t be doing that for the 35 instead.

            Sure a Super Hornet is a good plane today, but with fighters now lasting 30+ years should we really keep buying more of a warmed over 1970’s design when the Su-57 and the J-20 have both reached IOC? How useful is a FY23 Super Hornet going to be in 2053?

          • Rocco

            Agreed…But the F-35C was having issues especially with vibration on launch off ship! With this going on plus the cost & the fact that aircraft shortage is becoming a problem The new ASH Incorporated in the block 3 is going to fill in the gap.

          • Duane

            The Navy was less behind the curve on
            aircraft availability with their C model than the Marines were on their B model, who chose to forego SLEPing their Hornets or buying SHs in favor of going 100% fifth gen VSTOL and CTOL

            It should also be noted that integrating a radical new design carrier launched aircraft is a much more daunting job than doing the same with ground based or VSTOL aircraft due to the added strsses, hazards, and complexity of cats and traps. It was always planned that the C model would require an added 3 to 4 years to make IOC and regular carrier deployments.

          • Rocco

            That’s not totally true!! The more F-35’s the Marines by the cheaper the unit price!

          • Rocco

            It would make sense as you said to push for more F-35C models for the Navy but because of development issue’s plus the fact that the Navy has the biggest budget spending to worry about besides aircraft!! Like Carriers to put aircraft on ! Other ships etc!! FYI the SH isn’t just a warmed over 80’s design!! It’s entirely different other than looks alone. But valid comments.

          • CharleyA

            Super Hornet is contemporary with the F-22. Boeing designed the F-22’s avionics system, and improved it – along with advances developed for Boeing’s entry into the JSF program, for Super Hornet Block II. Block III Super Hornets will have new panoramic cockpit displays and the third iteration of MSI (which JSF calls “sensor fusion) along with other avionics upgrades. The improved displays are to be backfitted to the F-35 during Block 4 mods. Point? NOT “warmed over 1970s” tech.

          • Duane

            The Navy is buying the SHs because the C model is not yet IOC, which will be next year, and also because F-35 will not be up to full production capacity (mid to upper 100s per year, all three variants, for both US and foreign buyers) until 2020.

            In the meantime, the Navy’s fleet of Hornets and oldest Super Hornets are now worn out and need replacing now, and are so poorly maintained that at any given time well under 50% of the F/A-18 fleet is flyable at all. Buying new SHs now and for the next 5 years makes good sense while F-35C goes operational, F-35 production ramps up to meet demand, and naval pilots get trained on the F-35.

          • Rocco

            For once I agree with your point!

          • ShermansWar

            Jagm is a hellfire sized weapon, not in the same class at all as Maverick, not in size, range, or warhead weight. 10 lbs of explosive vs a couple of hundred makes them 2 completely different weapons.

          • It does seem somewhat odd, but that is the official line. I’m guessing that the larger warhead on Maverick has become less useful now that we have so many different PGM’s and it’s small range advantage over Hellfire can be negated with newer rockets.

          • Freeway Joe

            The NGF will never happen and the Navy will forever use the Super Hornet because the NGF will not carry all of the Rhino’s weapons and won’t come in at the same cost. Good luck with those J-20’s armed with Hypersonic weapons..One way to get the Navy from thinking away from cutting edge stuff is to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. I wonder if they have ever considered banning talking about things like A2AD and potential adversary stealth aircraft and weapons.

          • Duane

            F35 will deploy JASSM-ER and LRASM, neither missile is IOC yet and integrating them on all the warbirds that will eventually deploy them, including both the A and C models internally, and the B model externally, will take another 4 to 5 years.

          • El Kabong

            100% nonsense.

            Go read up on the Harpoon replacement and the NSM.

          • Rocco

            Lol

          • Duane

            The F-35 can carry literally any weapon that any other US fighter can carry in a combination of internal plus external stations. The F-35 carries a higher total weaps payload than a SH. The only physical restriction on the F-35 is the internal weaps bay geometry for full low observable capability, which of course the SH is incapable of. The A and C models can carry internally any weapon in the “2,000 pound class” that is 14 feet in length or less, which includes virtually all modern smart weaps such as all JDAMs, most GBUs, the Harpoon, LRASM, JASSM-ER, NSM, SDB and SDB-II. All it takes is individual integration of each weapon onto the F-35 via software update, which is the exact same process that applies to every other warbird for deployment of any munition. Except that weaps integration is easier and quicker on the F-35 than on other fourth gen aircraft like the SH, which often require expensive retrofits of sensors and fire control electronics on the old birds.

            By the early 2020s, the F-35 will have integrated and deployed far more modern munitions than the Super Hornet has today.

          • Hugh

            And I guess the variant for catapult and arrester wires is naturally more expensive, and so too the ski jump version……?

            I wonder what are the comparative costs and capabilities of the latest Russian and Chinese aircraft which could result in affordably large numbers, with pirated advanced technology which might not be quite as good? (Some years ago there was talk that the F18s and ordinance were outperformed by MIGs in wargames in SE Asia.)

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!!!

            “(Some years ago there was talk that the F18s and ordinance were outperformed by MIGs in wargames in SE Asia.)”?

            That fake “RAND Corp.” report they actually had to release a press release about saying they NEVER did?

        • El Kabong

          100% made up.

          Cite your Sub-Par Hornet cost source.

          • Rocco

            Thanks

          • CharleyA

            President’s Budget for FY19, published last month. I’m sure you can find it. I’d link it for you, or post the actual page, but USNI doesn’t allow that – which they should because it would help shut trolls down.

          • Duane

            White House budget requests are meaningless exercises that are always DOA in Congress. Only Congress can appropriate funds, and when it comes to defense, Congress is lousy, still no FY2018 appropriations bills enacted more than 5 months into a 12 month year.

      • Rocco

        The New ASH is around 80-85m! Not the the Navy is using all the tech from the prototype.

        • CharleyA

          Rockstar, get it right when you are quoting costs and variants. There is no “ASH,” but there is “Block III” Super Hornet. Jets ordered from FY18 on will be built in that configuration. Actual data from the Navy’s FY19 budget request shows FY19 Flyaway Unit Cost (FUC) at $68.6M, while FY19 FUC for F-35C is $120.9M, and FY19 FUC for F-35B is $118.5M.

          • Rocco

            Screw you with the rock star it’s called ASH aka block 3 I know that. I already have all that info.

          • CharleyA

            I can only judge by what you write, and what you have written is incorrect. So get it right, or don’t post disinformation.

          • Rocco

            Prove what I said is wrong!!!

          • SOEJINN

            Comparing apples to oranges. A non stealthy 4th gen platform that will result in higher combat losses to a 5th gen platform with different capabilities and higher kill ratio.

            It’s like saying we don’t need automobiles, stick to horses. True, there are situations where using a horse could/would be better, but new technology and progress won out.

          • CharleyA

            Quaint rationalization, but ponder me this: Why does the Navy continue to buy the Super Hornet if it is unsurvivable (in your view?) Do you know more about air warfare than the naval aviation establishment? The Navy intends to keep the Super Hornet in service until 2043.

          • Does the naval aviation establishment know more about air warfare than the USAF? Because its going all in on the F-35. I think the only reason the Navy is sticking with the 18 is because pretty much everything needs to be replaced and ships are taking priority over aircraft.

          • El Kabong

            Why don’t you know about the 20-30 odd years of continual combat operations the USN/USMC has been engaged in?

            Their fleet of fighters is WORN OUT.

          • Rocco

            Because the A behind Charlie is an AS$!!

        • El Kabong

          100% made up.

          See, I can pull numbers out of the air, too!

          • Rocco

            That’s not made up!! Air combat magazine a few months ago bid the story on current & future aircraft with costs.

          • El Kabong

            So…NOT from say, the USN, government or manufacturer?

          • Rocco

            Yes as the author is a former pilot has flown many US & foreign aircraft plus has inside Intel. I’m sure he wouldn’t publish wrong information.

          • El Kabong

            Hilarious!

            They don’t have biases, do they?

            Nah…

            Still waiting for a credible source….

          • Rocco

            Everything is hilarious to you!! It’s actually correct for target price based on what goes in the jet!!

          • El Kabong

            Yeah, so?

            Watching you squirm is amusing.

            STILL waiting…

      • Eyes open

        Both are VSTOL. That is the only reason I chose that aircraft.

        • Rocco

          The F-35B is not vstol! If that what your referring!

          • Eyes open

            You’re right. It isn’t VSTOL. It is STOVL! That according to the F-35 website. So it is a vertical take off and landing like the Harrier. Which, again, I was using as a reference point. The F-35C is the carrier variant and the F-35A is the standard runway model for the Air Force.

          • Rocco

            Agreed!! I had a big time argument with some idiot last week on here who insisted that the F-35B is a VSTOL aircraft! Made claims that videos on line show this when it was actually landing!!

    • CharleyA

      And this cost is before the “Block 4.x” upgrade cycle that introduces capabilities we already have with the Super Hornet, so add a bunch more money to the budget to cover it.

      • ShermansWar

        yah this. current funding for 3F doesn’t come anywhere near what the F-18 can field far as weapons go.

        • El Kabong

          Like what?

      • El Kabong

        “…that introduces capabilities we already have with the Super Hornet…”?

        List them.

        Stealth? Nope.
        Internal weapons carriage? Nope.

        • CharleyA

          The Super Hornet has signature reduction features, and will add more in Block III, however it is not VLO. At IOC, the F-35C will have no anti-ship or anti-radiation missile capabilities.

          • Duane

            Stop it with IOC. The F-35C WILL deploy any weapon capable of being carried on any US fighter, it is merely a matter of integration, which also has to be done on any fighter or attack aircraft. The Super Hornet was not “born” suddenly in the 1990s with full integration of all possible weaps that existed at IOC, let alone all of the new weaps that have been integrated on the SH since then.

          • El Kabong

            That’s cute.

            What’s the RCS compared to an F-35?

            Which would you fly into the face of modern Russian or Chinese IADS?

            The F-35 uses PGM’s and the NSM is being integrated onto it.

      • Duane

        No … Block 4 integrates weapons that are not only not integrated on the SH but are not yet operational on any other US aircraft, such as SDB-II (if it is ready for IOC in time, GBU-54, and partner nation weapons such as a new UK and Turkish long range AAMs, plus integration of sensors and ECM that exist on no other aircraft on the planet.

    • Rocco

      The Supper Hornet production is revamped!! What do you think the Viking is capable of now?? Nothing but maybe a tanker or recon!

      • Eyes open

        Exactly. PLus ASW that is was used for previously. And in those roles, it takes the pressure off of the FA-18.

        • Rocco

          Valid points as I used to see them on my ship ‘s but they are old & share no commonality with anything else therefore saves the Navy all around not to mention it’s a slow Bird.

          • El Kabong

            ???

            Look at the cost per flying hour of a Rhino vs a Viking as a tanker.

            Awfully foolish to waste fighter-bomber flying hours and carrier cycles on being a mere flying gas can, don’t you think?

          • While it is a waste, the question is whether it costs more to burn 18 flight hours using them as tankers or to develop, procure, and support an entirely new airframe just to fill the tanker role.

          • El Kabong

            Or use S-3’s…

          • Rocco

            Take it easy !! I wasn’t promoting the idea. Just what it’s good for 35 yrs ago!! FYI

    • Duane

      Virtually all of the updated fourth gen plus fighters today are selling in the middle to upper $100Ms flyaway. Those supposed $60-$70M fighters are obsolete fourth gens based on 1990s and early 2000s production costs, and lack the current state of the art radars, fire control systems, comms, and electronic countermeasures that even a $150+M fourth gen plus has, let alone the capabilities of a fifth gen plus like the F35.

    • El Kabong

      ???

      If cost is all you look at, go buy some Chinese/Pakistani JF-17’s…

  • Curtis Conway

    You get what you pay for. However, lifetime logistical support cost pale in the face of procurement costs. That is why you study it cold, build a solid product, and get the lifetime support package factored into the deal. When it comes to our National Defense, Boeing leads the way in investing in our freedom, whereas Lockheed Marin leads in Raping the Public for over a Decade . . . and they are going to ‘take us to the cleaners’ on lifetime logistical support costs with this ALIS deal (it’s not GFE) that the USAF generals cooked up with Lockheed Martin.

    There are so many things wrong with missions control, data that is operationally specific (CRYPTO, comms plan, weapons loadout, targets and ingress/egress route, etc.), and we haven’t even approached Nuclear Cert at this point . . . that one wonders ‘Who is running the Store?’

    • PolicyWonk

      Sir,

      If any program personifies this disaster that is DoD acquisition, the F-35 is it. But then again, so was EFV, FCS, Sgt York, Comanche, LCS, USS Ford, and DDG-1000 (that latter two were at least built to USN survivability standards – which offers some small consolation), among so many others.

      The best managed portion of the F-35 program, was the distribution of subcontracting across the lower 48 to ensure the program wouldn’t get killed.

      But you are indeed correct: the reaming of the US taxpayer is Far Far FAR from over.

      And now we’re simply throwing money at the DoD – AGAIN – without any plan/strategy/etc, presumably to ensure we’re going to waste a lot of taxpayer money.

      • Curtis Conway

        There is truth in what you speak. However, one of the elements of the development of the F-35, that the F-22 did not quite complete, was that integrated cockpit and combat system. There is nothing like it on the planet. Now if we could just get the procurement cost down a bit. Since ALIS is not GFE we will never know the truth about its development or maturity, and we haven’t even approached NUC Cert yet.

      • Rocco

        Agreed on all counts! ….But still doesn’t take away from what the JSF as a great jet! Just seriously mis managed !

    • El Kabong

      “..Boeing leads the way in investing in our freedom…”?

      LMAO!!!!

      Yeah, they couldn’t even get a AAR tanker program right.

      How many attempts did it take to get a re-hashed 767 forced on the USAF?

      Meanwhile, the majority of air forces are buying far more efficient A330’s…

      • Curtis Conway

        The KC-46A Pegasus Tanker is the most advanced and capable aerial tanker in the air today fully tested to MIL-STD. Its addition to the USAF inventory will increase their ability to support all air operations needing aerial refueling support, US or Allied. They will haul more cargo than the KC-135s it replaces. Thorough, careful, and much attention to detail IS “getting a AAR tanker program right”.

        • El Kabong

          LOL!

          What flavour is the Boeing Kool-Aid?

          What tankers are other countries picking?

          Try comparing the KC-46 to it’s rival the A330 MRTT.

          • Curtis Conway

            Their selections were driven by time & availability, and its specific capabilities available today that they needed. The RAAF Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a case in point. Take them to PAX River and put them under the EMP test and they are toast . . . literally. That is why the more conservative JASDF and Israeli Air Force are looking at the KC-46A Pegasus. The IAF is in combat all the time, and their platforms must be able to operate in that [mostly Russian threat] environment. The JASDF must be ready for their primary international competitor in their sphere of influence (China’s PLAAF/PLAN).

          • El Kabong

            Not performance and capability?

            Nah, that’d be crazy talk…../sarc

            Back up your claims.

            “…JASDF and Israeli Air Force are looking…”?

            LOOKING.

            *snicker*

            Israeli tankers operate in a threatening environment?
            Cute.

            Dumb tactic, but cute.

            Not like the JASDF doesn’t have a fleet of existing 767 variants….

          • Curtis Conway

            THEN, why are Israel and Japan in talks with Boeing for KC-46A Pegasus Tankers? Do a Google search on “Boeing Receives Contract for Japan KC-46 Tanker”.

          • El Kabong

            Wow….
            Because. They. Have. Existing. 767. Fleets.

            What did Australia, Britain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, etc., pick as the WINNER?

          • Rocco

            No comparison! I’m with Curt on this one!

          • El Kabong

            Hilarious!

            Fools seldom differ.

            Based on WHAT, exactly?

          • Rocco

            Who you calling a fool??

          • El Kabong

            If you have to ask…

  • b2

    Let’s see. Lot 11 and a real OPEVAL years away….. Really? What happened to acquisition, Mat with one T? Are the first 10 lots kept down in FL for the ” Potemkin Village Squadron” throw away’s? You can’t make this stuff up. BTW. Who’s gonna refuel this F-35C monster at sea? More Super Hornets? We in Naval Aviation are so “S & tattooed”…

    • El Kabong

      When will you amateurs start backing up the dreck you post?

      • b2

        Dreck? Is that a technical term?

        • El Kabong

          It’s a term that describes what you’re spewing.

    • Duane

      Given that the F-35C has a built in range advantage on internal fuel over the Super Hornet of more than 40%, and it refuels just like any other fighter, what is your point?

      • b2

        Can we be sure? Has it been OT’d- NO. The F-=35 is all glossies with that Potemkin Village Squadron down in NW FL DoD has allowed to happen!
        Poster child for all that is wrong with USG procurement…

    • Rocco

      Go fly airfarse

      • b2

        Go back to work at LM bus development!

        • Rocco

          Hahaha!!😂

  • Curtis Conway

    I’ll giver you that, and up you one whith the USAF round of F-35 Program Office Management that enable the F-35 manufacturer to continue to own ALIS, as their solution to problems they could not seem to conquer otherwise. Much of our ‘out of control’ cost containment has occured when programs were governed by a Plan of Action & Milstones that is overly burdensome, and dictates things contractually required where management teams may find ‘limited value’ served in the final product, but someone gets a huge amount of money to put the peg in the hole regardless of shape. I am still stung and discipointed in the ALIS decision, and its affects on the program of which only LOCKMART knows and understands the ramifications. Maybe Israel had it right!!!

    • DaSaint

      Every component on that plane, including the engines, should have at least 2 or 3 sources, and be annually competitively bid to ensure the best price possible. The problem we face as taxpayers, not just here but internationally, is that defense firms are few in number, and therefore because of lack of competition – and national interest – get to charge whatever they want for an item, be it a ship, aircraft, or missile.

      Opening up to international competition always lowers prices, but nationalistic sentiments generally and sometimes understandably rule the day. Case study: Canada.

      • El Kabong

        Parts production IS open to bidding from all F-35 partner nations.

      • Curtis Conway

        That is why at least one optional manufacturer whould be US.

  • omegatalon

    It’s difficult to keep lowering the price of something when the Pentagon keeps adding things to their wish list; it’s why the F-35 program is such a mess because if Generals want more capabilities and moving the goal post further down the field as they need to wait til the next Block

    • Duane

      The F35 program is not “in a mess”, and the only capabilities and features being added are the ones always programmed in. It is the world’s only softwear upgradable fighter, designed to be perpetually upgraded every 2 years.

  • DaSaint

    Threaten to halt production unless you get your price. Demand that you’re not paying more than $80M and stick to it. Force them to find their own efficiencies by competitively procuring all components. Procure more Super Hornets w/conformal tanks, until they come around.

    • ShermansWar

      85 mil was the program target IIRC.

    • And when the contractor points out that it can’t make planes at a loss? We just shut down the program and keep flying 1970’s aircraft for rest of the century?

      • DaSaint

        Have you checked either Lockheed Martin’s Annual Report or viewed their stock lately? When you do, come back and tell me how much $5-10M per plane will hurt their EBITDA.

        • $2b in 2017 and $5b in 2016. Lot 11 will have 130 aircraft so they would lose $0.65-1.3b or 13-65% of their total profit because of just one program. That’s a pretty good way to loose investors. But what happens when every other program manager sees that tactic succeed and tries it himself?

    • Duane

      There is zero reason for the PM to go all Donald Trump on this. He’s just posturing. That’s what everybody does in a negotiation.

      • DaSaint

        All DT! Love It!
        Some are better negotiators than others. The USG isn’t generally very good at negotiating unless several options exist.

  • Sir Bateman

    I still say that Congress and the DOD were out of their freakin minds attempting to replace a half dozen or so different tacair platforms from three different service branches with one aircraft with three different variants.

    Even then I’ve read that other than the engine, cockpit and software there’s actually very little commonality between the three different versions, which was supposed to be its big selling point.

    I can’t believe that Congress and the DOD allowed themselves to go down this path again when they had the F-111 to look back upon. That’s probably the most infuriating thing about defense procurement, that is the same lessons have to be learned over and over again.

    • The F-111 failed because the Navy wanted a high altitude interceptor while the Air Force wanted a low altitude attack plane. That is not the case with the F-35. Further, It’s not like their asking the F-35 to replace the B-52, the F-15, and the KC-135.

      Of the planes it’s replacing, the F-16 and the F/A-18 are direct competitors around the world and were even originally built for the same program (the 18 being a modification of the YF-17 that lost to the YF-16 back in the early 1970’s) and replaced the same plane in both services (the F-4). The A-10 and the AV-8 are both attack aircraft like the A-7, which was quite successfully replaced by the F-16 & F/A-18.

      The F-35 is estimated at 20-25% commonalty. Across 3 variants that’s 60-75% – add in all the money saved through common testing and support and you have effectively developed 2 airplanes and gotten the 3rd for free. I think that would be considered a good choice.

      • Rocco

        Kudo’s !! BTW that fly off was in 78 I believe I still have the air combat magazine!! Lol

      • Sir Bateman

        All things considered some sort of “joint” fighter aircraft program between the USAF and USN probably wasn’t an altogether terrible idea and was probably quite feasible. However where things really went off the rails from what I gather was the VSTOL variant, I’ve heard that within the aerospace industry that those in the know refer to it as the herpes version, in that the engineering problems it brought forth “infected” the A and C versions.

        • Rocco

          Seriously!! It’s a night & day over the harrier!! Much easier to fly & Land!! The only difference is it’s a STOVAL aircraft in operation.

          • Sir Bateman

            The F-35B variant may very well be night and day over the Harrier, however the penalties it has placed upon the A & C variants as a byproduct of its VSTOL requirements are undoubtedly an impediment.

          • Rocco

            How so? You talk like you have information but can you provide source!! Or you just saying because you don’t like the aircraft!

          • Sir Bateman

            Foxtrol Alpha in an article titled 7 Things The Marines Have To Do To Make The F-35B Worth The Huge Cost:

            “The short takeoff and vertical landing optimized F-35B is so capable
            because its close relatives, the USAF’s conventional runway operated F-35A and the Navy’s catapult and arresting gear (“cat and trap”) configured F-35C, paid a huge price aerodynamically and conceptually in order to include the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) requirement into the Joint Strike Fighter’s basic design. In the name of commonality, the F-35B, with its huge box-like central lift fan, along with its complex drivetrain and downward swiveling exhaust nozzle, basically
            handicapped the aerodynamics, and in essence the very concept, of its
            more conventional Navy and Air Force brethren. In other words, some
            would say that the F-35 was built as a STOVL aircraft first, and then
            adapted to a standard and carrier fighter second, instead of the other
            way around.”

          • Rocco

            Where ever that source is from has no idea what they’re talking about!!& If you believe them…. Well that’s your problem! When the jet is in flight the Fan door or the exhaust nozzle are closed!! The only impedance is that the B model has smaller wings!!

          • Sir Bateman

            It doesn’t have anything to do with the fan door, exhaust nozzles or smaller wings. It’s the fact that the F-35B has a giant lift fan behind the cockpit that has adversely affected the aerodynamics of the non VSTOL variants of the F-35.

          • Rocco

            Adversely!!!??? Seriously !! Here again you state something with out a credible source & you actually believe it!! You have know idea what your talking about. Stop embarrassing your self while your ahead !

          • Sir Bateman

            Here’s one for you:

            “The STOVL requirements have dictated most if not all of the cardinal design elements for all three aircraft,” said Peter Goon of the Astralia Airpower think tank.

            And another:

            “to fit both the F-35B’s lift fan and the bomb bays present in all three models the “cross-sectional area” of the fuselage has to be “quite a bit bigger than the airplanes we’re replacing,” conceded Lockheed exec Tom Burbage, who retired this year as head of the company’s F-35 efforts.”

          • Duane

            All three models need big internal weapons bays to fulfill their roles as VLO attack aircraft. What you call a “bug” is a feature.

          • Rocco

            Agreed

          • CharleyA

            Yes Bateman, stop using facts to form your opinion.

          • Rocco

            Agreed the facts he gets are unsubstantiated

          • El Kabong

            Yes, kids, cite some sources.

            Opinions are NOT “facts”.

          • El Kabong

            “Astralia Airpower”?

            LMAO!!!!

            Try using a CREDIBLE source. Not one that was publicly humiliated by RAAF senior commanders.

          • Rocco

            Yes it does as far as turn radius & rate , angle of attack & hard points!!

          • El Kabong

            ” It’s the fact that the F-35B has a giant lift fan behind the cockpit that has adversely affected the aerodynamics of the non VSTOL variants of the F-35.”?

            Prove it.

            Cite a credible source to BACK UP your silly claim.

          • Sir Bateman

            As I’ve already said I’ve provided direct quotes from two think tanks,
            two USAF Lt. Generals directly involved with the F-35 program and a
            Lockheed executive involved with the F-35 program, why don’t you start digging up some sources of your own disproving anything that I’ve posted.

          • El Kabong

            A BLOG is your source?

            *snicker*

          • Sir Bateman

            Do you have any sources refuting my concerns or am I just supposed to rely on your word that they’re wrong and you’re right?

          • El Kabong

            STILL waiting for you to prove your claim.
            Someone’s opinion is irrelevant.

            Cite some hard facts.

            Engines?
            Avionics?
            Structure?

            What parts?

          • Sir Bateman

            Again Lt. General Brogdan JSF program manager “told reporters afterwards that going into the F-35 JSF, Air Force, Navy,​ and
            Marine Corps planners anticipated three airplanes with 70 percent
            commonality. Instead, “it’s 20-25 percent commonality … almost like
            three separate production lines.” That commonality is chiefly in
            cockpits, displays…”

            And here’s another form Bloomberg for good measure:

            “The lift fan made the common fuselage bulkier than it otherwise would have been. That, in turn, increased drag and decreased fuel efficiency and range. Lockheed engineers also discovered they had to slim the F-35B by thousands of pounds to make it light enough to hover. The degree of commonality among the three versions of the F-35—the shared features—turned out to be not the anticipated 70 percent but a mere 25 percent, meaning that hoped-for economies of scale never materialized.”

            Again please provide something, anything that proves Genral Brogdan or any other other sources I’ve provided wrong.

          • El Kabong

            AGAIN,….Still waiting for credible facts from you…

          • Rocco

            Wrong we’re right!!

          • Sir Bateman

            That’s not a problem at all, now if you or one of the other posters who disagrees with Bloomberg and Lt. Gen. Christopher Brogdan could kindly tell me what the correct percentage of commonality actually is I’d be most grateful.

            Apparently 20 to 25% commonality is wrong. Is it actually 50%? 70? 90? or 100?

          • Centaurus

            Prove it , smiley !

          • Duane

            there are no “penalties” imposed on the A and C models by the B model

          • Sir Bateman

            Not according to former Lockheed exec Tom Burbage, who was head of the company’s F-35 efforts. Nor LTG Bogdan who was head of the JSF program.

          • El Kabong

            Cite your source…

          • El Kabong

            List them.

            Cite a credible source.

          • El Kabong

            “…however the penalties it has placed upon the A & C variants as a byproduct of its VSTOL requirements are undoubtedly an impediment.”?

            For ONCE, let’s see some facts.

            What EXACTLY are the “penalties”?

      • CharleyA

        Care to explain your math?

        • Any part that is in common only has to be developed once instead of the three times that three different aircraft would have required, meaning commonality needs to be multiplied by the number of variants to see the savings it has caused.

          However, I should have only multiplied it by 2 instead of 3 as the parts do still need to be designed so the actual number should be 40-50% savings from commonality. Still, that figure would only be for engineering and ignores the substantial savings from common software development and testing.

          • CharleyA

            Oh, I understand the principle. But former PEO LTG Bogdan has stated the the aircraft are only 20-25% common. From Air Force Magazine:

            ‘All For One and All for All

            —JOHN A. TIRPAK3/14/2016

            ​It’s a pretty safe bet the Air Force and Navy won’t be teaming up on a sixth-generation fighter in hopes of saving money by having a mostly common airplane. Joint Strike Fighter program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, speaking at a McAleese and Associates seminar on Feb. 10, was asked if he’d recommend the next fighter also be joint. He wouldn’t rule it out, but “it’s hard,” he said. “I’m not saying [joint programs are] good, I’m not saying they’re bad. I’m just saying, they’re hard.” He told reporters afterwards that going into the F-35 JSF, Air Force, Navy,​ and Marine Corps planners anticipated three airplanes with 70 percent commonality. Instead, “it’s 20-25 percent commonality … almost like three separate production lines.” That commonality is chiefly in cockpits, displays, and “how you fly the airplane,””

            It’s interesting that he didn’t mention the engines. Although they share cores and other component and accessories, they are three distinct versions.

          • Duane

            20% commonality is bogus.

            All three aircraft have the same F135 engine, fuel system, the same sensors, the same computer brain (the heart of the aircraft), the same fuselage and cockpit, and share 85%of the same weapons and integration thereof. All official reports say 40+% commonality. And closer to 90% commonality on the most important stuff.

      • Rocco

        Agreed

        • Centaurus

          Disagreed !

          • Rocco

            Who cares!!!

          • Centaurus

            Hail to you Saheeb

    • El Kabong

      LOL!

      Meanwhile, technology allows aircraft to be multi-role…

      The F-111?
      Please…. That was a 60’s era Mcnamara debacle.

      “… I’ve read that other than the engine, cockpit and software there’s actually very little commonality between the three different versions…”?

      Where? A blog?

      • Sir Bateman

        I tried to post a direct link but it’s says that it’s waiting moderation from USNI.

        Any who there’s an article over on the National Interest on the F-35 where USAF Lieutenant General “Christopher Bogdan, head of the JSF program office, told a seminar audience that the three F-35 models are only 20- to 25-percent common, mainly in their cockpits.”

        If you have anything refuting this, I’m all ears!

        • El Kabong

          “… over on the National Interest…”?

          Hilarious!

          If you can provide ANY credible proof of it, I’m all ears.

          You have ONE, SINGLE story, that NO ONE else is reporting…

          • Sir Bateman

            Actually the National Interest article directly quoted Air Force Magazine, again I’d provide the direct link but apparently USNI isn’t a fan of allowing people to provide direct links.

            Again quoting Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, Joint Strike Fighter program manager, in Air Force Magazine in an article titled “All For One and All for All” date 03/14/2016 “, “it’s 20-25 percent commonality … almost like three separate production lines.”

            Again I’d love for you to provide something, anything, that directly contradicts that. I’d honestly like nothing more than to be proven wrong.

          • El Kabong

            Actually, you have NO credible proof.

            Let’s see a list of what, EXACTLY is NOT the same any longer.

            Engnes?
            Avionics?
            Structure?

          • Sir Bateman

            Lulz, if you’re unwilling to accept a direct quote from Lt. Gen Christopher Bogdan head of the Joint Strike Fighter program as stated in Air Force Magazine I’m afraid we’ve reached a bit of an impass.

          • Rocco

            Again a total biased rag!!

          • Sir Bateman

            So Air Force Magazine which is a monthly journal of the Air Force Association is “a total biased rag”?

            Which begs the question, which periodicals, journals, magazines, etc. do you consider to not be “total biased rags”?

          • El Kabong

            ZERO reporting by ANY credible source….

          • Sir Bateman

            Fine, find a source of your own disproving what those two USAF Lt. Gens. were quoted as saying in Air Force Magazine.

          • El Kabong

            STILL waiting…

          • Rocco

            Lol copy that

        • Rocco

          That blog is in comparison to the NY post!

          • Sir Bateman

            As I said in another post the National Interest sourced the quote from an Air Force Magazine article titled “All For One and All for All” date 03/14/2016.

          • Rocco

            OK that’s fine if the Airforce wasn’t biased.

        • CharleyA

          Allowing direct links to facts would shoot the trolls down, but alas USNI doesn’t allow it – probably to stop spam. Too bad, because there is a lot of disinformation and faulty opinion being spread on this forum.

    • Rocco

      Why is this a problem for you??? The F-4 Phantom was such a jet in all 3 branches!! If it wasn’t for this we wouldn’t have the F-35’s!! FYI the F-111 wasn’t a multi role aircraft!! Liberal!!

      • Sir Bateman

        The F-4 Phantom was originally designed solely for the USN whose principal mission was fleet air defense with a secondary capability as a strike aircraft. There’s a fairly long and successful track record of taking existing in service airframes and adapting and/or modifying them for roles that they weren’t originally intended for, such as the Phantom. The track record of joint service multi-mission aircraft designed as such from the beginning is decidedly less so.

        Additionally there was an article somewhat recently where some higher up at the Pentagon said that future tacair aircraft would be designed for a specific service branch, which is a de facto admission that the F-35 was the wrong path to take, much like the USN dropping the LCS for the FFG(X).

        • Rocco

          If you noticed my avatar picture is an F-4 Phantom. I know 1st hand as I was a Phantom PC! Multi role aircraft have been around for 50 yrs now. So I’m not in agreement. I get your point though as some ideas were not as intended. But the F-35 is here to stay like it or not. The only plane in service that’s great at what it’s sole purpose is the A-10!

          • Sir Bateman

            I’m not apposed to multirole aircraft per se. However I do believe that concurrently developing 3 different versions of what’s obstensinly the same aircraft for 3 different service branches with widely different mission and capability requirements was going to inevitably lead to many of the problems that have plagued the F-35.

            Taking an already successful aircraft, like the F-4 Phantom, that was originally developed to operate in a marine environment and adopting it for land based operations is one thing. The F-35 is a whole other kettle on fish, especially when the powers at be decided to toss in a VSTOL variant for good measure, which exacerbated the engineering side of things exponentially.

            I’m by no means advocating the outright cancellation of the F-35 program, merely that it was by no means the best route to take. It’s my hope that going forward Congress and the DOD will allow the USAF and the USN/USMC to develop and procure aircraft that are tailored to their respective needs.

        • Duane

          No – there is no tacit admission that the F-35 approach was wrong. All three services wanted a 5th gen attack aircraft, and DOD and Congress wanted to ensure that these new aircraft share as much as practical in parts and structures, to save cost, but much more importantly, to ensure jointness not only between US forces, but between US and allied nations, who also shared the cost burden The F-35 has been an outstanding success.

          • Sir Bateman

            Well former USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements Lt. Gen. James Holmes and USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan Joint Strike Fighter program manager as well as the Rand Corp. disagree with you.

    • Duane

      The F111 was a very successful penetrating medium bomber for the AF, but not a success for the Navy. Just as the F4U Corsair proved to be an extremely successful land based fighter for the Marines, but not a good carrier bird, whereas the F6F Hellcat proved out great on the carriers. And neither bird has a darned thing in common with the F-35 in its 3 models. The A and B models are already big successes, and the Navy is pleased with the C model integration that is ongoing and due to go IOC next year. The landing gear issue and AIM9X integration issues are fixed, and the Navy is already operationally deploying C squadrons on Nimitz carriers.

      • Sir Bateman

        My understanding is that once the bugs were worked out the Corsair turned out to be a half way decent “carrier bird.”

        At any rate I’d hold off on calling the F-35 A & B a “big success” until they’ve reached FOC. The B variant had a troubled Operational Test when deployed aboard the Wasp.

        Additionally while the C variant has had carrier trials the first scheduled deployed isn’t until 2020.

        • Duane

          The A and B models have already been successfully deployed in the most dangerous airspace on the planet, in ROK and Japan, with great success, and proven virtually unbeatable in Red Flag and USMC air combat exercises against the best fourth gen plus fighters piloted by the world’s best trained pilots. Until we experience a real shooting war with near peer enemies . . something that hasn’t happened in 73 years … then we won’t have any better indication of actual performance than that

    • Christopher Perrien

      One engine plane (over water). We can only hope every time one of these things sinks that at least a few 0-5+ careers go with it. Should rate the same as crashing a ship, but these will cost more.

  • El Kabong

    Oh, Duaney….

    Cite your source.

  • Sir Bateman

    I’m cognizant of the fact that successful aircraft have in some cases had development issues, e.g. the P-38, F4U, the F-14, etc. Nevertheless many of the issues that have plagued the F-35 are a byproduct of competing design and mission requirements from the three different service branches. The F-35 may very well develop into a successful aircraft but again it’s my assertion that the DOD would have been better off allowing the USAF and the USN/USMC to develop aircraft that were tailored for their specific needs. Given that proposed follow on fighter aircraft after the F-35 program are to again be service branch specific speaks volumes as to how the DOD feels about joint fighter aircraft developed as such from the beginning going forward.

    I really don’t know why you keep calling me a liberal. I wasn’t aware that disagreeing with the basic concept behind a specific weapons program automatically makes one a liberal. At any rate I’m actually a proponent of a large, well funded modern military, it just so happens that you and I disagree as to the inherent practicality and soundness of the F-35 program.

    • Rocco

      Lol…OK so maybe I’m wrong about you . Nothing personal sir you just at first came across to me that way. Normally most people of past & present military think highly of the JSF. Each branch has made each jet their own for their perspective missions!! Especially the Marines version!! I’ve talked to pilots personally on what they think of it both naval & marine versions. I saw for the first time a F-35A at an air show 2 actually. It even changed my buddies perspective of it!
      Unfortunately your main gripe came about because of political reasons ( the fact that LM stopped at nothing to protect against competition for getting the contract with the military & now foreign countries. In reality you feel each branch should of requested an individual plane of their own? This would of cost billions more plus time in developing. It would be a Crap shoot 💩! Plus we still have very good aircraft in service that have alot of life left in them! In my personal opinion I would of liked to see the Navy get the ASH version of the F-18! But it came too late. If it had not it would be a done deal as it would of been an easier integration. Too bad but the current block III Hornets getting built will get some of the ASH technology. Especially the conformal fuel tanks. Weapons will get put on as more testing & development & money in the budget can allow.

      • Sir Bateman

        Actually according to a Rand Corp. study the F-35 is likely to end up costing more than building separate planes for each service would have.

        • Rocco

          Not in agreement!! & Their the experts!!

          • Sir Bateman

            Well considering that USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements Lt. Gen. James Holmes and USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan Joint Strike Fighter program manager both essentially shot down the idea of developing and procuring joint fighter aircraft after the F-35 speaks volumes.

          • Rocco

            The only volume that speaks is your big mouth!! Your preaching to the choir here !!! FYI both of those Generals are retired!! & Guess who they work for?

          • Sir Bateman

            There’s no reason to get personal. According to the Air Force’s own website General James Holmes is currently the commander of the Air Combat Command. As for General Christopher Bogdan I haven’t a clue as to who he currently works for.

  • Sir Bateman

    I’ve provided information from two think tanks, two USAF Lieutenant Generals directly affiliated with the F-35 program as well as a Lockheed executive that was head of the F-35 program substantiating my concerns and I’m the one who’s brainwashed?

    • El Kabong

      LOL!

      ZERO links.

      ZERO facts.

  • Sir Bateman

    Just so we’re clear USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, Joint Strike Fighter program manager as quoted in Air Force Magazine, which is a monthly journal of the Air Force Association, is not in your eyes a credible source?

    • El Kabong

      ANYTHING other than one, single reference that NO ONE ELSE has published?

  • El Kabong

    Once more, for the money shot….

    Because. They. Have. Existing. 767. Fleets.

    You’ve been “Kabonged”! LOL!

  • El Kabong

    Dance monkey, dance!

  • El Kabong

    STILL waiting for some facts from you…

    Prove a negative?
    Hilarious!
    Typical, desperate tactic from someone who’s wrong.

    What EXACTLY isn’t common?

  • Rocco

    You a doctor!!!

  • El Kabong

    Waiting……Still waiting…..

    What EXACTLY isn’t compatible on F-35 variants?

  • Sir Bateman

    I think there’s a misunderstanding here, I cry uncle, you’re right and I am wrong, the commonality isn’t 20 to 25%, apparently it’s higher than that.

    I don’t know what the true percentage is and I don’t know which parts are or aren’t common.

    Now, given that I’ve conceded that you’ve won the debate, and you and I both recognize that my previously cited percentage of 20 to 25% is patently wrong, would you kindly inform me as to what the correct percentage is?