March 6, 2013
More on the F-35 Concurrency Horrors
Attached is more insight into the disgraceful state of affairs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the largest program in DoD's history. This commentary by Winslow Wheeler, Director of the Strauss Military Reform Project, is based on the information in yet another official Pentagon DOT&E report. Read it and weep ... I especially uge that doubters, deniers, and non-believers take the time to peruse the entire official DOT&E report at this link, also referenced in Winslow's the first paragraph.
It is important to understand F-35's deplorable state of affairs is a typical albeit extreme example of where concurrency leads -- higher costs, decreased performance, stretched-out and/or truncated production runs, culminating in aging, shrinking inventories and rising costs of maintaining even low rates of readiness of combat forces. And the concurrency horrors of the F-35 are by no means unique, think F-111, C-5, V-22, F-22, and F-18E/F. To be sure, concurrency is not the sole cause of these aforementioned trends, but it is a major contributor.
But in the case of the F-35, even some parts of the Pentagon are starting to gag on the monster they have unleashed. In February 2012, no less an authority than Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's acting acquisition chief charactered the F-35's grossly excessive concurrency as "acquisition malpractice." (Congressional Research Report (RL30563), F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, see page 7).
Of course, Kendall's statement smacked of the pot calling the kettle black. Where was the concern by him or his predecessors when they could have done something about what is now a $1.4 trillion* problem? It is not as if the general nature, if not the specifics, of the inevitable F-35 mess was hard for acquisition managers to foresee -- if you doubt that, read my essay, JSF: One More Card in the House, published over 12 years ago in the August 2000 issue of the Proceedings of the Naval Institute.
* Estimated (as of 2011) life cycle cost for developing, buying, and operating 2443 F-35s for 30 years, assuming total production run, assuming no more unexpected problems, schedule slippages, and a full production run [source].
Director, Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO, POGO
Mr. Wheeler's areas of expertise include Congress, the Defense Budget, National Security, Pentagon Reform and Weapons Systems
The goal of the Straus Military Reform Project is to secure far more effective military forces and much more ethical and professional military and civilian leadership at significantly lower budget levels.
We would like to thank Philip A. Straus Jr. and family for their generous support.
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