The US Congress has threatened to reduce funding and slash production numbers of the F-35 JSF in FY2011 if the program fails to achieve revised cost and schedule goals this year.
A bill, dubbed ‘HR 5136’, has been introduced to reduce the F-35’s development budget by 25 per cent and further cut the FY2011 aircraft buy from 43 to 31 aircraft if Lockheed Martin fails to complete the scheduled 394 test flights in FY2010 (to September 30). To May 1, 60 test flights had been completed in FY2010, but the accelerating addition of aircraft to the test fleet is expected to see this total rise significantly. A Congressional statement said the funding was dependant on “requirements that the timeline, as laid out by the contractor and by DoD, be met.”
“It’s a critical program,” said Democrat Representative for Washington, Adam Smith. “It’s replacing almost all of our fighter attack aircraft over the course of the next five to 20 years. We have to make sure that it works and functions.”
The program was significantly restructured by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in February following cost and schedule blowouts, and subsequently incurred a ‘Nunn-McCurdy’ cost breach in late March.