Over the Shoulder

Key lawmakers briefed Wednesday behind closed doors about the state of the F-35 program said they would maintain “close oversight” of the mammoth procurement effort as the Pentagon works with prime contractor Lockheed Martin to rein in cost and schedule problems. Michael Donley, the civilian head of the Air Force, which has the largest stake in the three-service program, publicly stated this week that changes are forthcoming to control escalating costs and reset the faltering schedule. In a Dec. 16 statement, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, acknowledged that the F-35 program is “probably the most complicated and challenging” of DOD’s acquisition efforts, but they said they are “deeply concerned” and called the closed hearing “one step in continuing close oversight.”