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F-35 ‘Costs Have to Continue Coming Down:’ JSF Deputy

Posted by Colin Clark on

Paris: In another clear signal that the heat is on Lockheed Martin to substantially bring down the costs of the biggest acquisition program in US history, the Nr. 2 man in the program told reporters here that costs have to keep going down.

“Much of that will play out” in the nascent negotiations on the next tranche of planes to be contracted, LRIP 5, Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D Moore said at a press briefing on the program.

He also unveiled some very vague information on the highly sensitive stealth testing the Air Force version of the plane —the F-35A — is undergoing. Early results, he said, look “very promising” and closely match what was predicted. Given that a significant reason for strong Pentagon support for the plane rests on the fact it is stealthy that is an important marker to note.

He did note that they have not yet performed such tests on either the Navy or Marine versions of the plane. The Marine’s STOVL version of the plane varies significantly from the Air Force version. The lift van doors and other parts related to vertical takeoffs and landings will be especially challenging. However, as Lockheed so often notes, the plane has stealth designed in so if tolerances have been adhered, to they should be OK.

Norway officially announced that it will buy four F-35s for training. But Rear Adm.Arne Røksund made it clear — especially in light of cost and schedule “surprises” that have had allies fuming, that Norway expects the U.S. to buy its Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile. Røksund got all elliptical when pressed on whether that’s what he was doing in full view of the international press, but there was no doubt.

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