F-35 Production Rate Can Rise, Pending Progress

The F-35 program is clear to plan an increase in the strike fighter’s production rate, assuming further progress in some technical areas, determined Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall after a recent interim program review. Kendall now “believes the department is ready to ramp up F-35 production consistent with budget priorities,” reads a Pentagon statement provided to the Daily Report on Nov. 4. However, “before entering into any contract action that increases production rates,” he’s expecting the program “to demonstrate additional progress in software development, reliability, sustainability, and test,” according to the statement. Kendall signed out his findings on Oct. 28, one week after the Defense Acquisition Board’s IPR took place. The review is an annual evaluation not tied, in this case, to a particular program milestone. Kendall, who chairs the DAB, said earlier this year he expected at this review to green-light increasing production from about 30 aircraft this year to 44 next year. The IPR—described as an “informational status brief”—is held at this time because it “appropriately informs discussions and/or decisions for the President’s budget,” said a Pentagon spokeswoman. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan presented the brief.