From Defense News:
The Pentagon's Defense Acquisitions Board of top weapons-buyers has recertified the tri-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. (Lockheed Martin)
The Pentagon’s Defense Acquisitions Board (DAB) of top weapons buyers recertified the tri-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program during a Feb. 21 meeting, but high sustainment costs might force the Pentagon to slow production down further or trim flight hours for aircrew, a senior defense official said.
The Pentagon had to recertify the program due to a 2010 breach in the Nunn-McCurdy rule, which occurs when the unit cost of a program goes above a certain level. The DAB meeting was chaired by acting Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall.
The Pentagon still needs to do some additional work on cost, the senior defense official said. Because of the way sustainment costs are calculated, affordability is still a problem, and that might mean that the number of aircraft bought in the near term might be further truncated or that flight training hours are curtailed, he said. The numbers are expected to fluctuate during the next five years.
Additionally, costs associated with military construction still have to be sorted out.
The Pentagon will issue a formal memorandum in the next few weeks.
“The actual decision of the acting [undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics] will come in a signed acquisition decision memorandum in the next few weeks, as soon as all the required certifications and documents are finalized,” Defense Department spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin wrote in an email.
“Among these are an updated acquisition strategy reflecting the business plan going forward, as well as a new acquisition program baseline, which will set cost, schedule and performance parameters for the life of the program.”
The plan right now is for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to buy a total of 2,443 jets — 1,763 F-35As for the Air Force, while the Navy and Marines will buy a total of 680 F-35B short take-off vertical-landing planes and F-35C carrier variants. The Marines want 340 F-35Bs and 80 F-35Cs while the Navy wants 260 F-35Cs.
Eight foreign partners are depending on the program: Australia, Canada, Britain, Turkey, Denmark, Holland, Norway and Italy. Additionally, Japan and Israel have committed to buying the jet.