Monday, December 10, 2012

F-35: Cornerstone of air dominance for the next 30 years

Vice Admiral David Venlet, who has been in charge of the DoD side of the F-35 program retired today.  Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter said a few words about the F-35 program at the retirement ceremony which should give pause to critics who continue to beat the "failure" drum for the F-35:
The F-35 will be “the cornerstone of air dominance” for the U.S. for more than three decades, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said today at a retirement ceremony for Vice Admiral David Venlet, who has overseen the fighter program since February 2010.

At that time, the program was progressing technically “but it had some serious problems with execution -- both process discipline and cost discipline,” Carter said. “These issues were leading to an erosion of support here at home, internationally, in Congress and with the taxpayer.”

The F-35 program today “is operating on sound footing, making real progress” and will succeed “with continued careful program management,” Carter said. 
In 2012, the program has stayed ahead on all of its testing points.  It is making marked progress, prices, while not yet where they will be, continue to come down, and it appears the Pentagon is preparing to ramp up F-35 production:
The Pentagon’s current budget plan calls for 29 aircraft in fiscal 2014, rising to 44 in fiscal 2015 and 66 in fiscal 2016.
As the number of planes purchased continue to rise, pricing will continue to come down as economies of scale and production efficiencies learned during low production rate orders kick in.


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