Any further cost
increase or problems with the $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
would mean reduced Pentagon purchases of the new warplane, being
developed and built by Lockheed Martin Corp, U.S. Air Force Secretary
Michael Donley told a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Donley said the latest restructuring of the program should allow the F-35 to continue with the "least risk."
he said the Pentagon's F-35 program office and Lockheed had been told
there was "no more money to put against contract overruns or problems.""To
the extent that there continue to be cost growth or challenges ...
We'll have to take down the number of aircraft that we have planned in
procurement to pay for that work because no more money is going to be
migrating into this program," Donley told the Senate Armed Services
Committee.The Pentagon's fiscal
2013 budget calls for postponing production of 179 F-35 planes to save
$15.1 billion over the next five years, as the U.S. military begins to
implement $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade.Slowing development would also avert costly retrofits if further issues arise during flight testing.
said the decision to slow down production would probably add some cost
to the program, but he said it would also save money if additional
problems came up during testing, necessitating retrofits of planes
already produced."It adds time to the program and that usually means costs," he said.
said the Pentagon was working on an adjusted cost estimate for the
program, with details to be shared with Congress later this spring.Pentagon
leaders have said they are not scaling back their plans to buy a total
of 2,443 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, but Donley's
comments indicate the procurement target may not hold indefinitely if
additional issues arise.Current
plans call for the Air Force to acquire 1,763 of the stealthy fighter
planes, while the Navy and Marine Corps would get a combined total of
680.Lockheed is building three
variants of the radar-evading supersonic warplane for the U.S. military
and eight countries that are helping to fund its development --the Netherlands, Britain,
Australia, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Denmark, Norway and . Israel and Japan also plan to buy the new fighter.U.S.
officials last week sought to allay concerns over delays and escalating
costs for the F-35, telling the eight partner nations at a meeting in
Australia that there would be no further delays on the program.http://www.reuters.com
|Liveleak on Facebook|