F-35 Concurrency was “Acquisition Malpractice”

In retrospect, hurrying the F-35 strike fighter into production was, to say the least, a big mistake, according to the Pentagon’s acquisition executive nominee. “Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done. But we did it,” said Frank Kendall, acting acquisition czar, during a Center for Security and International Studies-sponsored address in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Kendall said the department made “optimistic predictions” when it started production that it had good-enough design tools and simulations and modeling such that it wouldn’t have to worry about discovering problems with the aircraft in testing. That “was wrong and now we’re paying the price,” he said. The F-35 program “is probably an extreme example” of transitioning from development to production too early, said Kendall. On the bright side, all three F-35 variants “are making progress,” he noted. “We’re committed to that program. It is the future of tactical air for the Department of Defense.” Further, “we don’t, at this point, see anything that would preclude continuing production at a reasonable rate,” he said. (CSIS’ transcript of event) (CSIS webpage of event with audio)