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November 29, 2012

New York Times portrays F-35 as "out-of-control" military program

The New York Times published a long, unflattering article about Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet program on its front page today, calling it an example of "how the Pentagon can let huge and complex programs veer out of control and then have a hard time reining them in."

Little of the information is new. Rather, the Times takes a view of the program from 20,000 feet, recounting years of delays, cost overruns and technical problems, laid against the new and pending budget constraints in Congress.

Held up as a poster child for an out-of-control military program likely to get chopped in future budget negotiations, the Times reports that some analysts believe the Pentagon will eventually order only 1,200 to 1,800 planes, well short of the 2,443 planned when the program began.

“It is simultaneously too big to fail and too big to succeed,” says Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a research group in Washington. “The bottom line here is that they’ve crammed too much into the program. They were asking one fighter to do three different jobs, and they basically ended up with three different fighters.”

According to the article:

With all the delays — full production is not expected until 2019 — the military has spent billions to extend the lives of older fighters and buy more of them to fill the gap. At the same time, the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $137 million from $69 million in 2001.

The jets would cost taxpayers $396 billion, including research and development, if the Pentagon sticks to its plan to build 2,443 by the late 2030s. That would be nearly four times as much as any other weapons system and two-thirds of the $589 billion the United States has spent on the war in Afghanistan. The military is also trying to figure out how to reduce the long-term costs of operating the planes, now projected at $1.1 trillion.

Lockheed's outgoing CEO, Robert J. Stevens, is quoted as saying that company officials were “working as aggressively as we can” to fix the problems and cut costs.

Not good publicity.

-- Steve Kaskovich

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Comments

john hawkins

Sure sounds like the F-111 again
Same song different performers

ACitizen

"Not good publicity."

Not a good program.

Union Worker

When upper management plays a round with tax’s payer money, they don’t care what publicity
See‘s or hears. It all about who pocket get filled. Not what the America people needs. Look at the F-111 and the A12 program. If the public could see how Lockheed work at the plant and how management work. The public would cancel all programs and find a another contractor. But we keep filling their pocket with money and life goes on like it never happen ! ! !

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