Navy Vice Adm. David Venlet, the Pentagon official charged with finally getting the F-35 program on track and meeting expectations, gave a positive progress report Thursday at a finance conference in Arlington, Va.
Venlet, who came to the program after running the Navy's aviation and testing operations, has been openly critical -- in a polite, political way -- of the program management prior to his arrival. Venlet has beefed up the engineering capabilities of the Joint Program Office to get a better handle on the technical challenges.
Venlet said a lot of the technical problems, which he and other government officials have acknowledged still persist a decade into the program, are being addressed, according to AOL Defense
The program executive officer for the problem-plagued F-35 said Thursday he has "great confidence" the multi-service fighter can deliver the oft-promised stealth and the sophisticated package of sensors. Vice Adm. David Venlet said he has "measured data" to show that.
In a late afternoon address to an audience of defense and financial industry representatives, Venlet said all the current problems with the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft that have been highlighted in the media and congressional hearings "are in the normal range of fighter aircraft development."
"If we stick with the fundamentals, stay with reality, I'm very positive about this program," Venlet said.
Ah, fundamentals and reality. Relatively rare concepts in defense acquisition, where fantasy, wishful thinking historically abound.
Venlet also, according to InsideDefense.com, acknowledged that the U.S. government's plans to slow production of the F-35 over the next five years by 179 planes will drive prices higher, at least in the short term.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will experience temporary cost growth in the short term due to a deferment of 179 aircraft over the future years defense plan, Vice Adm. David Venlet, JSF program executive officer, said today at a conference in Arlington, VA, hosted by Credit Suisse.
"We have shared with [international partners] pricing adjustments due to the 179 quantity move," Venlet said. "I have no indications that anyone's thinking about leaving the program."
He said the quantity adjustment will push the price higher in the near term and the price will come back down in later years.
Venlet also said foreign interest in acqusition of the F-35 continues despite delays and rising costs, Formal proposals are being prepared for South Korea and Singapore has expressed interest.
Other countries have also reached out to the JSF program, according to Venlet.
"There are others out there," he said. "I'm not doing any marketing -- they're coming to us. What I think they need is to watch us perform more."