F-35 program critics have a better track record than F-35 cheerleaders.
Shocking? Not really.
“People that really knew about this could have predicted the way it has gone,” said Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition auditing for the Government Accountability Office. “It’s pretty much a typical [defense] acquisition.”
The Pentagon and Congress ignored plenty of warnings. The Congressional Budget Office reported in March 1999 that JSF costs might be underestimated by as much as 50 percent.
A year later, the GAO told Congress: “To allow the JSF to proceed as planned — without maturing critical technologies — would perpetuate conditions that have led to cost growth and schedule delays in many prior DoD weapons system acquisition programs.” The GAO issued pretty much the same warning a year later, just before the contract was awarded.
“These increases were as predictable as the sunrise, and we’re not done yet,” said Winslow Wheeler, analyst for the Center for Defense Information and formerly a longtime Senate defense staff member.
The magnitude of the increases in F-35 costs are mind-boggling to anyone accustomed to such real-world undertakings as buying a car, building a house or even running a business.
In 2001 the Pentagon estimated that it would cost $177.1 billion, or $62 million per aircraft, to develop the F-35 and build 2,866 planes. Assuming some inflation and other cost increases, the price tag was projected to rise to $226.5 billion, or $79 million per aircraft.
Those figures have increased almost yearly. Pentagon number crunchers now estimate the development, production and all other costs of acquiring 2,457 F-35s (about 400 fewer than originally planned) could total $382.4 billion, or $155.6 million per aircraft.
Then there is the hype LM likes to preach lately that they are reducing costs on building the jets. This is pretty hard to believe when we don’t know what we don’t know because there isn’t enough flight testing done. Yes it comes back to the issue of mistake-jets.
When the F-35 development contract was awarded to the Lockheed team, the Pentagon said the contractors would “implement innovative management and business practices focusing on achieving affordable unit flyaway costs.”
But nearly nine years later, the Pentagon is singing a different tune. In the June 1 memo to Congress, Carter was critical of Lockheed’s performance in several areas.
Lockheed’s internal, government-mandated system for monitoring schedule, work progress and costs “was determined to be noncompliant with [Defense Department] standards. This situation is disappointing and unacceptable,” Carter’s memo said.
That means that Lockheed management had no good way of telling whether work was being done on schedule, what it was costing and reporting that information on a timely basis to the government. Lockheed’s net profit payments, which until recently were regularly awarded, were supposed to be based on its ability to monitor progress and costs and to report accurately to the government.
Similarly, Carter said Lockheed and the Pentagon office overseeing the F-35 program did not have good “risk management mechanisms” in place to alert company and government officials about technical or schedule problems that needed immediate attention.
There is some wisdom from the movie Tommy Boy. Maybe Boeing could try this in a sales pitch.
Let’s think about
this for a sec, Ted.
Why would someone put a guarantee
on a box? Hmm, very interesting.
Go on! I’m listening.
Here’s the way i see it, Ted.
A guy puts a fancy guarantee on the box ’cause
he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.
- Yeah, makes a man feel good.
– Of course it does. Why shouldn’t it?
You figure you put that little box
under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy
might come down and leave
a quarter, am i right, Ted?
What’s your point?
The point is, how do you know
the fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer?
“Building model airplanes” says the
little fairy. Well, we’re not buying it.
He sneaks into your house once,
that’s all it takes.
Next thing you know there’s money missing
off the dresser and your daughter
is knocked up.
I’ve seen it a hundred times.
But why do they put a
guarantee on the box then?
‘Cause they know all they sold
you was a guaranteed piece of shit.
That’s all it is, isn’t it? Hey, if
you want me to take a dump in a box
and mark it “guaranteed”, i will.
I got spare time.
But for now, for your customers’ sake,
for your daughter’s sake
you might wanna think about
buying a quality product from me.