More Turbulence Ahead?

Fresh off of a major restructure earlier this year, the Defense Department’s F-35 strike fighter program may be facing additional schedule delays up to three years and cost increases approaching $5 billion. Reuters news wire service reported Tuesday that these are the draft findings of a comprehensive program review conducted to help prepare Pentagon officials for a defense acquisition board meeting on Nov. 22 to discuss the F-35 in depth. Software issues and technical problems with the F-35B short takeoff and landing variant are the causes of the new delays, which would also impact the Air Force F-35A model and Navy F-35C version, according to the report. The F-35 is already the costliest weapons program in DOD’s history, with an estimated price tag of $382 billion. As part of the recent restructure, DOD officials added 13 months to the fighter’s development. Coming out of that restructure, Air Force officials had expected to field the first combat-ready unit of F-35As in early 2016. (See also Bloomberg report)