The “Less Ambitious” F-35 Program

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz confirmed Wednesday at a Washington conference that the Pentagon would slow F-35 production in the early years, making adjustments first in the Fiscal 2011 defense budget. (See F-35 Ramp-up Slowed) However, contrary to some reports, he doesn’t “think it will be years.” Scwhartz said simply, “We came to the conclusion that the path we were on was too aggressive.” Now, he said, the Pentagon plans to reduce concurrency in development and testing, lengthen the test period, and produce more test assets. In his words, early production would be “less ambitious.” He praised new Pentagon acquisition boss Ash Carter for acting “aggressively” to rein in the program, which Schwartz said, like all advanced, high-tech programs, simply takes time. He noted, though, that F-35 software development actually is beyond that of the F-22 program at the same time period. (From reporting by John Tirpak)