As expected, the F-35 JSF program has been re-certified by the Pentagon as being vital for national security and as having no viable alternative in the wake of the program incurring a Nunn-McCurdy cost breach.
The Nunn-McCurdy wire is automatically tripped when a program’s projected costs exceed its original estimate by 50 per cent, and means assurances must be given that forward cost and schedule estimates are stable and the program is still required in order for it to continue. Perhaps in anticipation of an impending breach, a substantial restructure of the project was carried out in February by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates which saw 13 months added to the development schedule and program head Maj Gen David Heinz replaced by Vice Admiral David Venlet.
Also re-certified under the review were the US Army’s AH-64 Apache Block 3 enhancement program, and of particular relevance to Australia, the Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) communications project. The ADF has funded one of the six planned satellites under Project JP2008 Phase 4, in exchange for access to the entire constellation.