Humble Pie in the Sky

There’s good reason to have confidence that the restructured F-35 strike fighter program will perform as expected, said Vice Adm. David Venlet, F-35 program executive officer, Thursday. “I believe that the ground rules and assumptions of what we can achieve going forward have a realism that was not in the previous plan,” Venlet told reporters at a press conference. The new plan is “drastically” different, he said. It has a management reserve, more conservative assumptions about the number of test flights per month, higher “re-fly” rates to repeat sorties that turn up anomalies, and more people on the software-development team, explained Venlet. Further, in general, the restructure has “opened up the pipe of capacity,” he said. The $4.6 billion added to the F-35’s development phase is spread among both government and industry to “properly resource those ground rules and assumptions,” he said. The new program schedule has “resilience in it, [it] can absorb discovery and learning, and move forward without going into the ditch again,” he asserted. Observers will see much more “humility” in the F-35 plan now, he added. (See also The F-35 Bottom Line from the Daily Report archives.)