The head of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program expects the $400 billion fighter jet program to lift itself out of the concurrency “rut” by about 2017 or 2018 as the number of aircraft and engine faults discovered during developmental testing continues to decline.
Last week, the Government Accountability Office warned that the costs associated with retrofitting already-built Joint Strike Fighters will likely increase as the Defense Department ramps up procurement quantities over the next five years. The services plan to purchase another 339 aircraft through 2019 at a cost of $54 billion, despite 40 percent of the developmental test program remaining.
Speaking at the Norwegian-American Defense Conference in Washington April 17, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the concurrency overlap and the number of new discoveries has come down significantly over the last few years, but conceded that the 130 airplanes already in the field will all need to be retrofitted at some point.
“This program started with an immense amount of concurrency,” the general said. “We are going to find other things wrong with this airplane because we have testing left. Our job is to figure out how, once we find those things, we get it into the production line and stop building airplanes that are not appropriate for what we found — and then putting a program in place to get all of the other airplanes out in the field upgraded to that new capability or to remove those deficiencies.”
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