F-35 Challenges

The F-35 program will have to “skinny down” its ambitious program of upgrades beyond the baseline 3F configuration, program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said at ASC15 Tuesday. Neither the US nor the partners can afford the cost of the Block 4 as it now stands, Bogdan said. “We have to afford keeping the F-35 relevant,” he noted, and only the most relevant improvements should be in the initial block. Over the next three years, the upgrade program will get “smaller and leaner” and seek to gain improvements through “efficiencies and concepts of operation.” The system design and development phase cost $50 billion, he added, and the subsequent upgrades shouldn’t rival that cost.