A few points.
PW is the only vendor. So any platitude they state on lowering costs is just that.
The idea that you can get an F-35 for $85M in the future is fuzzy because the article talks specifically about seperate orders for the airframe and the motor.
The other part of that is besides the current roll-away price, the aircraft has to actually...work...in a reliable fashion.
It also has to have affordable sustainment.
13 years after being awarded the JSF contract, LM is nowhere near having a finished jet that someone would want to buy besides the current loss-leader of a few prototype aircraft. This is also applies to foreign orders. What has been ordered thus far is mostly: prisoner's dilemma.
Seven years ago, Operation: LIGHTNING STRIKE was launched. What was it?
Block buys for foreign F-35s at an alleged, reduced price.
Talks on a coalition buy modeled on the original European-US commitment for almost 700 F-16s has begun with the JSF partners. Lightning Strike would combine US and international purchases planned for the seven years from 2012 to 2018 into a fixed-price coalition buy potentially totaling more than 1,300 aircraft.
The economies of a coalition buy would avoid the disincentive to purchase aircraft early, he says, but would require the US government to commit to multi-year procurement in 2012. This is two years earlier than planned and before the F-35 has completed operational testing. “The F-16 found a way, and it worked,” he says.
2007 was an amazing time. So, so long ago.
“Flight testing is the last and most expensive way to find and retire risk.”
Then, the jet was even more in question. Just like today, would you spend money on a product that is nowhere near finished? Operation:LIGHTNING STRIKE was a failure.
None of the eight countries that committed $4.5 billion to F-35 development has placed an order for production jets, although Australia and Canada have said they plan to.
The U.S. and Lockheed would like to secure orders to help lower the production costs of new airplanes. Israel will buy 20, but those will be paid for with U.S. military aid.
So today, dusting off that plan from 2007 isn't original thinking. It is unlikely to work. Various F-35 customers at the beginning of the year were supposed to sign up for F-35 orders of greater number. For the UK that was 14. Today it is 4. There are other partner countries that the cow town intelligentsia like Tom Dunson would call "quiters." Hint: Dunson was a far better program manager.
What else was going on in 2007? Plenty. From DID:
--March 22/07: The US military is trying to end the GE/Rolls Royce F136 engine program again in FY 2008, leaving Pratt & Whitney’s F135 as the only engine option for the aircraft (see Feb 10/07 entry). The US Government Accountability Office is asked to examine the issue, and releases report #GAO-07-656T: “Analysis of Costs for the Joint Strike Fighter Engine Program external link.” An excerpt:
“Continuing the alternate engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter would cost significantly more than a sole-source program but could, in the long run, reduce costs and bring other benefits. The current estimated life cycle cost for the JSF engine program under a sole-source scenario is $53.4 billion. To ensure competition by continuing to implement the JSF alternate engine program, an additional investment of $3.6 billion to $4.5 billion may be required. However, the associated competitive pressures from this strategy could result in savings equal to or exceeding that amount. The cost analysis we performed suggests that a savings of 10.3 to 12.3 percent would recoup that investment, and actual experience from past engine competitions suggests that it is reasonable to assume that competition on the JSF engine program could yield savings of at least that much. In addition, DOD-commissioned reports and other officials have said that nonfinancial benefits in terms of better engine performance and reliability, improved industrial base stability, and more responsive contractors are more likely outcomes under a competitive environment than under a sole-source strategy. DOD experience with other aircraft engine programs, including the F-16 fighter in the 1980s, has shown competitive pressures can generate financial benefits of up to 20 percent during the life cycle of an engine program and/or improved quality and other benefits. The potential for cost savings and performance improvements, along with the impact the engine program could have on the industrial base, underscores the importance and long-term implications of DOD decision making with regard to the final acquisition strategy solution.”--
Read everything at this link for a 2007 review. Shocked that Operation:LIGHTNING STRIKE didn't work out then? Hard to have confidence in the program today--as a buyer--when you still do not have a finished, combat-ready jet.
November is the first shot of the F-35C to land aboard the boat. I suspect they will find a way for that to happen.
Because any other result would be a disaster for the program. November is also one of those calendar events that if it doesn't happen, LM doesn't get paid as much. The F-35 program is just as much a stockholder LM KPI as anything else.
No one has demonstrated how to change an F-35B or F-35C engine while at sea. The F-35C is 15 percent overweight compared to its 2002 design configuration. And so many more issues.
All that and the F-35C doesn't bring anything to the carrier air wing that the Super Hornet already handles well and in most cases...better.
For less money.
If you want a shorter version of ALL of the F-35 issues as a rolling history, this clip is from the whole story (no sequels need). All the players are included. Yes it does take some thinking to stitch up that analogy. Beginning, middle and end.
You can read the how the F-35 fan-base media reports current events here.
-Time's Battleland - 5 Part series on F-35 procurement - 2013
-Summary of Air Power Australia F-35 points
-Bill Sweetman, Aviation Week and the F-35
-U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) F-35 reports
-F-35 JSF: Cold War Anachronism Without a Mission
-History of F-35 Production Cuts
-Looking at the three Japan contenders (maneuverability)
-How the Canadian DND misleads the public about the F-35
-Value of STOVL F-35B over-hyped
-Cuckoo in the nest--U.S. DOD DOT&E F-35 report is out
-6 Feb 2012 Letter from SASC to DOD boss Panetta questioning the decision to lift probation on the F-35B STOVL.
-USAFs F-35 procurement plan is not believable
-December 2011 Australia/Canada Brief
-F-35 Key Performance Perimeters (KPP) and Feb 2012 CRS report
-F-35 DOD Select Acquisition Report (SAR) FY2012
-Release of F-35 2012 test report card shows continued waste on a dud program
-Australian Defence answers serious F-35 project concerns with "so what?"
-Land of the Lost (production cut history update March 2013)
-Outgoing LM F-35 program boss admits to flawed weight assumptions (March 2013)
-A look at the F-35 program's astro-turfing
-F-35 and F-16 cost per flying hour
-Is this aircraft worth over $51B of USMC tac-air funding?
-Combat radius and altitude, A model
-F-35A, noise abatement and airfields and the USAF
-Deceptive marketing practice: F-35 blocks
-The concurrency fraud
-The dung beetle's "it's known" lie
-F-35's air-to-air ability limited
-F-35 Blocks--2006 and today
-The F-35B design is leaking fuel
-ADF's wacky F-35 assumptions
-Gauging performance, the 2008 F-35, Davis dream brief
-Aboriginal brought out as a prop
-Super Kendall's F-35 problem
-LM sales force in pre-Internet era
-History of F-35 engine problems
-JSF hopes and dreams...early days of the Ponzi Scheme
-2002--Australia joins the F-35 program