UPDATED: Lockheed Statement, Other Details
Defense Secretary Robert Gates will reportedly be told in a Tuesday meeting that the Joint Strike Fighter program will need $2.5 to $5 billion more than currently budgeted and also faces significant schedule delays.
The meeting is to discuss the Technical Baseline Review, which will feed into the November 22 Defense Acquisition Board meeting. THe TBR covers the current SDD phase of the largest conventional defense acquisition program in U.S. history.
The preliminary information about the meeting comes from Winslow Wheeler, a longtime congressional defense budget expert now with the Center for Defense Information. Wheeler would only say that his source was in the federal government. But he has been right more often than not with such information and is very well plugged in.
Wheeler sent several reporters an email over the weekend that said:
The "A and C models will need another 12 month delay;"
The Marine's B model "will slip" two to three years;
The program "will be budgeted with another $2.5 billion to $5 billion;"
The Capability Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) "will re-estimate the O&S for F-35 as 1.5 times that of any aircraft being replaced
We contacted several Pentagon spokespeople who declined to comment, saying the information, was, in that wonderful Pentagon phrase, "pre-decisional.: Of course, if there's some good news or some really, really bad news, it won't be pre-decisional. Then it will be information important to the people of America who deserve to know what their government is doing.
Lockheed Martin wouldn't say much: "It would be premature for Lockheed Martin to discuss the results of the TBR until the findings of the DAB have been released," spokesman John Kent said in a prepared statement.