The Pentagon’s defense acquisition board, which was to conduct a major review of the F-35 program in early October, now will not conduct the major milestone assessment until Oct. 22, at the earliest, due to the partial federal government shutdown, according to a program official. The DAB, chaired by Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall, is scheduled to look at new lifecycle cost projections for the multiservice fighter, review progress on a variety of technical issues, and decide whether to give the nod for higher rates of F-35 production starting in 2015. In June, after a summit of Office of the Secretary of Defense, service, international, and contractor leaders, Kendall said he expected to approve higher rate production at the October DAB review. The meeting is also expected to bless the new lifecycle cost estimates, which are 22 percent less than the previous ones.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.