New program executive officer for the US Department of Defense’s F-35 program, Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan has told Avalon Airshow media that the aircraft’s development program should be judged on where it is heading rather than where it has been.
“The first point I’d like to make overall is: don’t expect me to be a cheerleader for the F-35 program. That’s not my job. My job is to execute this program. If I start becoming an advocate or a zealot for this program, I lose my credibility,” he said.
“One of the biggest problems I have is an awful lot of people with opinions on this program and not a lot of people with the facts. And those opinions are based on what I would call the tragic history of this program. This program is getting better and is better than what it was a few years ago.”
Outlining a range of past problems, Lt Gen Bogdan said it was easy to see how and why the program’s past led many people to be cynical. “Since we rebaselined in 2010-2011, this is a different program and it is getting better. It is not getting better nearly as fast as I would like it to, but … since 2011, we have fundamentally met every milestone. We are stable and on-track to meet that new plan.”
Lt Gen Bogdan said that despite the problems experienced in the past, he was confident in the ability to deliver a more advanced, survivable jet to the RAAF and other partner nations.
“Relative to the schedule, if the plan which Australia intends on moving forward with stays to IOC in 2020 with the [initial warfighting capability software Block] 3i, I will tell you that Australia doesn’t have much to worry about,” he said.
“Why? Because in 2015 I have to deliver the same capability to the US Marine Corp. Eight months later I have to deliver the same capability to Italy in 2016, then in the middle of 2017 I have to deliver the same capability to the Israelis. Then there will be a three year wait until we deliver to the Australians.”
“So even if I screw this up royally – and I do not intend to do that – I’m pretty sure I’ll meet Australia’s 2020 date.”