JSF Criticism Fatigue

The Joint Strike Fighter program is routinely derided for problems either long in the past or simply not true, and “I’m tired of this,” Program Manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Tuesday. Speaking with reporters in his Arlington, Va., offices, Bogdan acknowledged that before 2010, the program went years over schedule and $13 billion over budget, mostly to fix problems with the Marine Corps’ vertical takeoff F-35B model. “That money … is gone. There’s nothing we can do to get that back,” Bogdan said. Since the 2010 program re-baselining, though, the trends have all been positive, he noted. In the most recent selected acquisition reports—the Pentagon’s official program cost benchmark—Bogdan noted that research, development, test, and evaluation costs for F-35 have seen “no change in four years. We haven’t asked for a penny more.” Procurement costs have “gone down, folks,” with unit costs decreasing about $4 million a jet over each of the last three production lots, and “I expect Lot 9 and 10 will follow that same trend.” The biggest operating and sustainment cost factors—measured “50-plus years … into the future”—?are manpower, the cost of fuel, and inflation, which “we have no control over,” Bogdan noted. Even at that, estimates are dropping, he said. “Judge the program on … the facts … where it is now and where it’s going,” he asked the reporters present. He pointed out that he is neither a salesman nor an advocate for the program, and “if I was told to shut it down tomorrow, I’d do it.”