Fighter Strategy Coming

The Air Force is developing a fighter force structure strategy that will resolve how to accommodate various outcomes of the F-35 program, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said Tuesday. The Defense Acquisition Board on Monday discussed the preliminary findings of the F-35 technical baseline review from F-35 program manager Vice Adm. David Venlet. The meeting did not produce any final decisions, and the board will meet again to discuss the F-35’s progress and prognosis, Schwartz told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. Hanging in the balance, though, is what the Air Force might have to do to extend the lives of its F-16s; hence the strategy, which Schwartz said “will be provided” to accompany F-35 information, presumably to Congress, along with the Fiscal 2012 budget proposal. Schwartz said while he has “concerns” about the F-35, particularly the delivery schedule, he thinks the F-35A model—the one the Air Force will use—is making good progress, racking up hours and test flights, and showing “software stability.” There have been “no failures or surprises” with the F-35A’s structure, “so that part of the program looks pretty good,” he said.