Progress on the F-35 strike fighter is “slow and steady,” and that’s as it should be, said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program manager. The program is so “vast” and “complex,” with so many interconnected activities that “you just can’t really move fast,” he said on Sept. 17 during his speech at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference. These linked activities include flight test, operational training, and simultaneous initial production and software development, he said. Program officials have resolved all of the biggest issues with the F-35 found in recent years—helmet problems, a brief engine situation, an arrestor hook redesign, accelerated lightning strike protection—and are in the process of implementing the fixes, he said. They have not discovered new serious issues for a while, said Bogdan. He said he’ll hammer on affordability and that he’s established a “cost war room” with top contractors and government managers to find better solutions to operating cost issues in order to knock the $857 billion lifecycle cost number down as much as possible.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.