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JSF partners to march on Washington

written by australianaviation.com.au | February 24, 2012
F-35B BF-02 during recent external weapons carriage testing.

International partners in the F-35 JSF program are set to meet with US Defense officials in Washington next week to express their dissatisfaction at the continual slowdown in US service acquisition numbers.

Many of the partners slated to buy F-35s early in the production run – including Canada, Australia and Italy – reportedly are disappointed at the Obama Administration’s proposal to delay acquisition of as many as 179 F-35s from about five low rate initial production (LRIP) lots, leaving partners facing higher acquisition costs for their early build aircraft. The slowdown has been attributed to ‘concurrency’ issues found during testing and production, which will see early build F-35s require structural modifications at a later date in order to meet their projected life-of-type.

But concurrency issues are not new to fighter programs and industry sources indicate those found on the F-35 to date have been caught much earlier and are of an “order of magnitude” fewer than those found on previous programs such as the F/A-18A-D and F-16. They say claims by Pentagon acquisition head Frank Kendall that the slowdown is due to the concurrency issues are really a cover for budget cuts under the US’s ongoing fiscal crisis.

Australia is scheduled to take its first two F-35As from LRIP 6 which is currently being negotiated for delivery in 2014, with four more in LRIP 8 and eight F-35As in LRIP 9. These first 14 aircraft will be required in order to commence pilot and maintainer training in the US from 2015 before returning to Australia in 2017 to establish an initial operating capability (IOC). But US plans to push the 179 aircraft out beyond these lots will see a price rise of up to US$10 million per aircraft due to lower economies of scale.

Comments (7)

  • Dane


    Finally operators are manning up to take on the US government for causing the cost of the F-35 to increase. Washington must have known slowing flight testing down was going to have a flow on effect to the cost of the final product. It’s certainly interesting that this happened despite budget cutbacks in many F-35 user nations, including the US. They’re slowing production down due to budget restrictions yet this is actually adding to the sale price. seems like someone didn’t do their homework prior to slowing down production.

  • Roger


    Dame, have they slowed testing or just concurrent production? I think just the concurrent production. There is another article detailing LM to ramp up testing. I think that the aim is to get the testing out of the way ASAP so as to get less retrofitting of early F35 blocks later.

  • Roger


    Sorry Dane, Not Dame

  • Dane


    thanks for the correction Roger, must’ve got my wires crossed

  • Pontious


    Ah. We have a new word “concurrency”. What it really means is that if you don’t build and test a prototype you get caught out. Airbus built 32 A380’s before the production settled down. Boeing will get there after about 65 787’s. Really all orphan aircraft. The reign of the bean-counters means that you can’t put up a business plan that includes prototyping. So we all pay happily ever after. Airbus are back-pedalling on the A350 to achieve a degree of predictability in early production. The A400m is a better example. Recently the first production version commenced assembly, after most of the test flying was finished.

  • John N



    Are you trying to say that the A400M is a “good” example of how an aircraft should be built??

    The program is currently running 3 years late, it is many many billions over budget, in fact at one stage there was the threat of it being cancelled if more money wasn’t invested.

    South Africa has cancelled its order, the UK and Germany have cut their orders.

    And there are reports that the aircraft is over weight and won’t meet its performance requirements.

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