JSF Hits Money Wall

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Colin has advanced the story broken by InsideDefense.com this morning about huge cost estimates that could dramatically restructure the Joint Strike Fighter program.

A preliminary Pentagon cost estimate that the F-35 could cost as much as $17.1 billion more than currently planned is prompting calls from congressional sources for the program to be reassessed and restructured.

The congressional sources also wryly noted this seemed to raise questions about the wisdom of Defense Secretary Robert Gates recent trip to the F-35 plant in Fort Worth to show his support for the program. One aide scoffed that the new cost estimates were no surprise to anyone who hasnt drunk the JSF Kool-Aid.

The new cost estimate comes from the JSF Joint Estimate Team, formed this summer by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

Two congressional aides familiar with the program said. the cost estimate seemed to indicate that the approach of developing, building, flying and testing planes as they come off the assembly line known as concurrency may pose too much program risk in the short term and should lead Defense Secretary Robert Gates to scale back the emphasis on producing and testing planes and trim the number of planes the Pentagon wants to buy in next years budget.

Be sure to read the entire story and to troll over to Inside for the the JET gouge. As one intelligent observer noted when he heard the news: "this could mean the end of manned combat flight"...

-- Christian

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