Σχόλια για την τρέχουσα κατάσταση του F-35
5 Νοεμβρίου 2011 Σχολιάστε
Αναδημοσίευση από το Aviation Week:
Posted by Bill Sweetman at 11/3/2011 3:20 PM CDT
Oh no. This is terrible. The program that critics of defense spending love to hate is becoming a normal acquisition program. What are the F-35 deniers to do?»
That’s how Dan Goure — vice-president of Lockheed Martin consultant Loren Thompson’s Lexington Institute — opens a diatribe published yesterday.
Goure is right, to a point. Like the V-22 (which he also cheerfully trumpets as a success) the F-35 is many years late and billions of dollars over budget. This is «normal» for the people who pay Goure, Thompson and a million other lobbyists.
Goure is wrong on a more basic level. Normal acquisition programs function within a complex set of rules, written into Federal law. One of those rules is that any major research, development and low-rate initial production program has to receive Milestone B approval before it starts, after review by the Defense Acquisition Board.
JSF Milestone B approval was granted in 2001, and was rescinded some 18 months ago when the program breached Nunn-McCurdy cost limits. The DAB was supposed to review JSF in May, in order to issue a new Milestone B. That was first postponed to June and then to fall, and there is no firm date set.
The result is that JSF is forging ahead and burning cash, without an official Pentagon assessment of full-rate production and operating costs. Does that sound normal?
Gore goes on to list the «unrelenting tide of good news» about the F-35. He does this by getting the good news wrong and leaving out the bad news.
«The STOVL variant, the F-35B, is about to emerge from the probationary period imposed on it by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.» The probationary period was two years, imposed ten months ago. The Pentagon could rescind it, but I don’t see any signs of that happening, or of more F-35Bs being added to the LRIP stream.
And Gates’ words at the time — that the F-35B was «experiencing significant testing problems (that) may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion» — still don’t sound quite like «show me it can land on a ship and you’re good to go».
«Remember the critics who warned that the exhausts from the STOVL JSF would melt deck plates?» No, Dr Goure, I don’t remember anyone saying that. Could you remind us, with sources? The Navy and DARPA have spent money, and indeed continue to spend money, because of concerns that the combination of exhaust heat and blast could cause fatigue over a ship’s lifetime and force costly repairs.
Test data from last month might have shown those concerns to have been overestimated, but we don’t know that yet.
Goure cites a story by regular DTI contributor Richard Whittle which quotes F-35 vice president and general manager Larry Lawson as expressing satisfaction with the rate at which costs are coming down. But on the other side of the coin, the JSF Program Office is demanding new contract terms — over and above the hard-fought-over LRIP 4 deal — to protect the customer from the costs of fixing design deficiencies that emerge in testing after the contract is signed.
And that, basically, is what Goure is talking about. Those changes, if forced through, will hit his client in the pocketbook. Hence the bluster, the talk of «deniers» — a word with loaded connotations — and the half-truths.
Not much different from the average Internet troll, plus an editor, a spelling check and more money.