The Pentagon is looking at increasing funding for the JSF program to the tune of US$300m (A$324m), delaying the aircraft’s development program by as much as 12 months, and offloading some of the program’s financial burden onto Lockheed Martin in an effort to remove risk to the program, according to reports.
Following a series of meetings with key Lockheed Martin and JSF Program Office (JPO) personnel in late November, the Pentagon’s chief acquisition officer, Ashton Carter proposed the changes as part of a wholesale assessment of the program. Other changes would include using low rate production aircraft in the aircraft’s flight test program, and bringing in additional software engineers.
On sharing the burden with Lockheed Martin, Carter was reported as saying “We don’t want to be in a situation where the government bears the cost of schedule slips all by itself. It is reasonable that risk in a program be shared.”
The proposed changes come in the wake of a September report by the Pentagon’s Joint Estimating Team (JET) which foresaw development delays of up to two years and a cost blowout of up to US$16.7bn (A$18bn) in the development program which is currently scheduled to end in 2015.
In the meantime, Lockheed Martin has taken delivery of the first low rate initial production (LRIP) electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) for the JSF program. The EOTS is an integrated forward looking infrared and laser targetting designator located in the aircraft’s lower forward fuselage.