Thursday, March 23, 2017

F-35 Program Office still not happy about price...signals the Navy WILL get Super Hornets...

via Breaking Defense.
Two top Pentagon officials laid out a multi-pronged push to lower the price of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter below $80 million apiece. The chief of the F-35 Joint Program Office, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, and the director of defense pricing, Shay Assad, are underwhelmed by contractor Lockheed Martin‘s  cost reduction efforts so far. Instead, they said, contractors need to invest more of their own money in reducing cost — with suitable incentives from the government — and streamline the byzantine supply chain.
This is what caught my eye though, from the same article...
 “The F-35C model vs the F-18 (review), that’s drawing nearer to end but it’s not over yet,” Bogdan said. He’s submitted data on the F-35’s current and projected performance, cost to procure, and cost to operate, he said, which is now being reviewed against Super Hornet data provided by the Navy.

“I don’t think the answer is an either/or,” Bogdan said. “You can’t substitute a Super Hornet for an F-35C in the high-end fight (i.e. against Russian or Chinese radars and anti-aircraft missiles). You might be able to afford more Super Hornets, but they’re going to die in the high-end fight, and I don’t know how economical that is.” But, Bogdan continued, “we’re not only go to fight a high-end fight.” There are plenty of operations in lower-threat environments where the Super Hornet is perfectly suitable, he said, and with its current fighter shortfall, the Navy needs as many planes as it can get.
A couple of things...

1.  People discounted Trump's push for lower prices on the F-35.  Lockheed Martin's chair woman gave him full credit for pushing the price down.  What's surprising is that suddenly the Program Office wants the price below the magic 80 million tag.

2.  Is the push for an even lower price the result of the strong dollar?  Unless they get the price dramatically lower then we will see allied air forces crippled by lack of airplanes.

3.  Bogdan all but stated that the Navy will get it's Super Hornets.  Seems like he knows the numbers and knows that the F-35 will perform poorly in the review.  I think he's trying to shape the news in the best light possible.  Expect news stories on how the Navy needs planes now and can't wait a couple more years for the F-35.

4.  What happens to the USMC?  Will they be the sole operator of F-35's aboard big deck carriers?  Will they be forced to buy Super Hornets?

This is a pretty good article but as usual questions that should have been asked were left on the table.

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