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Subject: Status of F-35
LB    8/6/2009 4:54:38 AM
It has not seemingly gotten much attention but the Joint Estimating Team reported months ago that the F-35 would be delayed in leaving development phase from 2014 to 2016. Furthermore the flight test program called for 300 flights this fiscal year and I believe less than 40 have flown with 2 months left. Thus it seems the flight test program is seriously behind schedule. This current information would seem to support JET's view from last year rather than the more optimistic view of the Joint Program Office. Exactly how would the F-35 leaving development in 2016 impact the current purchase plan?
 
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LB    multiple posts   8/6/2009 4:57:47 AM
I apologize for putting this up 4 times.  Perhaps the admin could please remove the other three?
 
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gf0012-aust       8/6/2009 5:47:46 AM

 Exactly how would the F-35 leaving development in 2016 impact the current purchase plan?
well, none of the dates marked for RAAF on JSF IOC have changed.... and AFAIK, none of the others are revising theirs up as well.

the only thing thats changed for us is that we now have nominal dates for UAS capability... 
 
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LB    Are there any concerns   8/6/2009 4:39:41 PM
It would seem that given a two year delay between the forecast of the Joint Program Office and what in fact happens together with a flight test program that appears far behind schedule that the current purchase plan would seem to be less than realistic.  Moreover, accelerating purchases would seem irresponsible.  It seems that JET, which is pentagon staffed and reports to same, provided much of the data that GAO used in it's recent reports and that perhaps GAO has a bit more of a point than perhaps would commonly be assumed.    
 
 


 Exactly how would the F-35 leaving development in 2016 impact the current purchase plan?

well, none of the dates marked for RAAF on JSF IOC have changed.... and AFAIK, none of the others are revising theirs up as well.




the only thing thats changed for us is that we now have nominal dates for UAS capability... 


 
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gf0012-aust       8/6/2009 5:25:21 PM
again the problem is that there appears to be a tendency to look at preferred parts of a project when levelling criticism.  eg the sensor development, systems integration is ahead of time - something that GAO still fails to come to grips with when looking at the overall project life.

this project is just as complex due to the way the platform is evolving as the Virginias - and one could argue more complex in parts than the Space Shuttle.

I'm more than happy as an indivdual to level criticism at any project which is spun up and where substance is of debate - but I really think that JSF has been attacked by more than its fair share of zealots 

Again, and possibly unfairly assumed on my part, I reckon that the bulk of people parroting the hand wringing problems wouldn't know a project if it hit them in the arse.  

for me there is a blurring of the attitude on procurement in general, developments in general, expectations and impact upon peoples preferred options ( F-22 - JSF,  F14 and Shornet, DDG-51 - DDX, Seawolf - Virginia - SSGN being examples)

Are there going to be problems, sure, like any project.  Is it the end of the world?  does it warrant the hand wringing?  is the US going to be caught with its pants down?  I don't think so.  Blaming a single program for a Govts (and the Militaries directed) budgetary decisions is a really long draw of the bow - and that is often the tendency and action  of the more entusiastic critics.
 
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gf0012-aust       8/6/2009 5:30:51 PM
re my prev, not intended as a criticism of your question, just me sounding off in general.

eg my pet hate is the Shornet (or Boeing in general), I'd much rather see Typhoons in the RAAF as interims over Shornets.  So I can be just as much a zealot as anyone else. :) 
 
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mustang22       8/6/2009 10:19:03 PM

re my prev, not intended as a criticism of your question, just me sounding off in general.




eg my pet hate is the Shornet (or Boeing in general), I'd much rather see Typhoons in the RAAF as interims over Shornets.  So I can be just as much a zealot as anyone else. :) 

Not criticizing, just curious...why the dislike for the Super Hornet? Especially since Congress is looking at it as a cheap alternative to fill the AF's fighter gap.
 
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gf0012-aust       8/7/2009 1:04:55 AM
Not criticizing, just curious...why the dislike for the Super Hornet? Especially since Congress is looking at it as a cheap alternative to fill the AF's fighter gap.
a number of reasons. and not just technical.

politically I think we should have kept a mixed force from different countries.  I'm pretty well pro-US on most tech issues, but we do always need to keep our partners on our toes so that they don't take us for granted.  I'd say the same if our big partner was the UK - then I'd probably bat for the Shornet if we'd gone to Typhoons without an assessment.

I initially disagreed with the JSF assessment as a cart blanche decision (variations of above) - but  see as us compromising the procurement process even further by letting Boeing in without a full runoff

I disagreed with the way that Boeing made the pitch 18-22 months ago - it was the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman approach 
 
I happen to believe that the Typhoon is the better platform - and think that we could have got a better deal in light of above.  I'd rather see a weasel typhoon than a growler :)

all of this is counter balanced by the fact that:

The USN did some serious favours for us
JSF has turned out to be far better than my previous hostile self would have acknowledged - and thats because I've been able to get better information on itr due to my job
that at bleast we'll get a Growler option if the threat changes
that we're going to give them back circa 2025 depending on how soon we bring in an active UAS strike role and JSF's don't get reduced (and its possible that there could be more if the numbers stand up) 
 
 
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Goanna       8/7/2009 3:23:26 AM
"I happen to believe that the Typhoon is the better platform - and think that we could have got a better deal in light of above.  I'd rather see a weasel typhoon than a growler :)"
 
But what was the chances of getting Typhoons with SH's capability within the timeframe which we wanted..?
 
 
 
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LB    Observations vs Critism   8/7/2009 4:00:24 AM
I tend to agree with you about your comments.  Indeed the USAF really needs new airframes asap so if the program could be accelerated it certainly should be.  That said the pattern in modern fighter development has been getting the software right has always taken far more time and money than was forecast and the Joint Program Office forecasts zero cost growth in this area among other optimistic assumptions.  JET pointed out it's observed problems last year and now the flight test program is very far behind.  It seems to me that we are getting data supporting JET's forecast.  Frankly it would be far better if the Joint Program Office acknowledged the obvious problems with the flight test program and put forth a plan to get back on track as quickly as possible.
 
That said if they can do that quietly great.  One might be forgiven however for assuming that fixing the flight test program will cost more money and that politically nobody is going to admit that nor ask for additional funding at this moment due to various political factors.  
 
As an aside I agree with you that ideally a nation like Australia would be better of with two fighters from different nations.  That said I'm not sure either the Typhoon or F/A-18E/F really have the legs for Australia and to replace the F-111- though within their range both will get the job done.  Even the F-15E doesn't match the range of the F-111 or come close to it's low level capability.  In most respects the west did not produce a replacement for the F-111.   The A-12 cancellation haunts us still.  The F-35 is going to be a great aircraft and hopefully it's won't be delayed; however, a single engine single seat strike fighter really can't replace every twin seat aircraft in every mission area.  An EA-35 with one seat and one generator from the one engine is going to be a bit problematic to be kind.  So Growlers might have to do till we get enough capability in a UAV as I don't see an EA/EW Typhoon anytime soon either.
again the problem is that there appears to be a tendency to look at preferred parts of a project when levelling criticism.  eg the sensor development, systems integration is ahead of time - something that GAO still fails to come to grips with when looking at the overall project life.




this project is just as complex due to the way the platform is evolving as the Virginias - and one could argue more complex in parts than the Space Shuttle.




I'm more than happy as an indivdual to level criticism at any project which is spun up and where substance is of debate - but I really think that JSF has been attacked by more than its fair share of zealots 




Again, and possibly unfairly assumed on my part, I reckon that the bulk of people parroting the hand wringing problems wouldn't know a project if it hit them in the arse.  




for me there is a blurring of the attitude on procurement in general, developments in general, expectations and impact upon peoples preferred options ( F-22 - JSF,  F14 and Shornet, DDG-51 - DDX, Seawolf - Virginia - SSGN being examples)




Are there going to be problems, sure, like any project.  Is it the end of the world?  does it warrant the hand wringing?  is the US going to be caught with its pants down?  I don't think so.  Blaming a single program for a Govts (and the Militaries directed) budgetary decisions is a really long draw of the bow - and that is often the tendency and action  of the more entusiastic critics.

 
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warpig       8/20/2009 7:23:08 PM
The F-35 isn't crashing and burning yet.
 
"Planned IOCs remain 2012, 2013, and 2015 for the Marines, Air Force and Navy, respectively."
 
 
=======================================
 
 

 

Top DoD Official Says F-35 on Track

One of the top Pentagon officials overseeing development of the F-35 joint strike fighter says program managers are confident that work is proceeding close to schedule and won't have any more significant delays.

A team of Defense Department cost analysts, which a year ago predicted further delays and cost increases, has begun a new review of the F-35 development effort headed by Lockheed Martin.

Air Force Brig. Gen. C.D. Moore, deputy program executive officer for the F-35 program office, responded in writing to questions from the Star-Telegram about the program's status.

A year ago, the Joint Estimating Team (JET) predicted that it would take two years longer and at least $3 billion more to complete development and testing of the F-35, plus an additional $11 billion to reach planned procurement levels. The program office disagreed. Do you still disagree with that assessment?

The F-35 program team remains confident in its ability to deliver to commitments within the baseline program. The program continues to make excellent progress as demonstrated by an ongoing reduction of technical risk, successful maturation of processes and systems, and effective cost controls.

The F-35's most critical technologies are reaching maturity with all variant hardware designs nearing completion and software development more than 70 percent complete. Our integrated laboratory and flying test beds have identified and retired risks well before flight test at a rate unprecedented in previous aircraft development programs.

Eighty percent of test flights have concluded with no unplanned maintenance requirements -- a reliability rate that would be high for an operational fleet. Manufacturing precision is the best ever for a new fighter at this stage of production, with notable improvements in quality and processes as more aircraft enter production.

The JET estimate projected completion of the developmental and operational test phases by 2016 versus the [program office] estimate of 2014. The [Defense] Department added $476 million [in the fiscal 2010 budget request] to address near-term risks ... and agreed there were a number of critical events/milestones during FY09 and FY10 that would provide a better assessment of which estimate was more accurate.

Is the contractor team performing as planned and expected, given that key deadlines seem to have slipped considerably from the schedule put forth last year?

Despite the challenges inherent on this complex development program, the F-35 government/contractor team continues to perform effectively in meeting key schedule milestones, as we prepare to field the entire fleet of developmental test aircraft over the next year, as well as deliver the first production aircraft next summer.

Flight test flight activity has dropped well behind the revised schedule, roughly six months behind at this point. Is there a good explanation for why? Is this delay going to have a domino effect, or can delays be made up?

The test articles have taken longer to build than planned, primarily due to late parts and configuration changes. Production delays for each of the test jets averages [about] three months.

A variety of mitigation actions have been taken to eliminate schedule delays for future production deliveries. We have also taken measures to address the later than desired delivery of the test aircraft, and based on quantity of test assets, projected fly rates and experience to date in flight/lab testing, we're optimistic that the planned test program remains executable within the baseline schedul

 
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