Thursday, April 25, 2013

Budget cuts may hurt F-35, official warns

Budget cuts may hurt F-35, official warns, The U.S. Defense Department’s already troubled F-35 Lightning II program could experience even more turbulence due to recently imposed funding constraints, according to a key official.

Congressionally mandated cuts to the program, as well as across-the-board federal budget reductions, have “the potential to either stretch the development program out or reduce the capabilities we can deliver to the warfighter,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35’s program head, who testified April 24 before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel.

Bogdan also expressed concern that the amount of money available to buy aircraft could be shrunk, which would reduce economies of scale and drive up the unit cost of the remaining aircraft, Bogdan said.

The F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is being developed for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corp and Navy and for American allies. Over the past three years, the program has been restructured to try to fix cost, schedule and performance problems.

“While there is still risk in the program, I have confidence in the resilience of the plan to absorb expected further learning and discovery and stay on track, so long as it remains properly resourced,” Bogdan testified.

As part of its pending fiscal 2014 budget request to Congress, the Pentagon is seeking $8.4 billion to continue developing the F-35 and buy 29 jets.

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