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Defense Internals – F-35s

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Defense Internals – F-35s

Obama’s looking to slash F-35s – kills the entire program
Reed 10 (Jon, writer @, JPG

Late yesterday afternoon, news broke that a presidentially-mandated panel is recommending the military slash numerous big-ticket weapons programs, including the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, as part of an overall proposal aimed at dramatically reining-in government costs. The panel calls for the Air Force and Navy to half their planned F-35A and C-model buys through 2015 and for the Marines to completely lose their short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B. The greatly reduced numbers of JSFs would be supplemented by purchase of “new” F-16s for the Air Force and F/A-18EF Super Hornet buys for the Navy. These recommendations fly in the face of all the planning done by the Air Force officials in recent years who have put all their eggs in the F-35 basket and refused to consider buying new versions of F-16s or F-15s. Navy officials seem to have hedged their bets a little by recently buying an mix of 124 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to offset a looming fighter gap. Obviously, the Marines would be in the toughest spot if the recommendations become reality with their aging fleet of F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers and EA-6B Prowlers that are all supposed to be replaced by the F-35B. All of this begs the question; if (and it’s a big, big if) these cuts are approved by decision-makers will they throw the F-35 into the death spiral that program-watchers have warned about for years? Reduced buys mean cost hikes which in-turn lead to more reduced buys from international partners, etc.Teal Group Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia sees all of this as a “seriously worst-case scenario, but it’s a dire prospect.”If this nightmare scenario for the F-35 does come to fruition, the fate of the program could indeed hang on the international partners’ resolve to stick with it, according to the analyst. “If it went ahead (I doubt it, but you can’t write off the possibility) then much would come down to the international partners,” Aboulafia said. “If they kept the faith, the program could keep costs from skyrocketing, and avoid a death spiral. If they don’t, the program would definitely be at risk. However, eliminating the B version would also save development and production costs, and probably keep the program from following the F-22 death spiral model.”

F-35 on the chopping block
Fenholz 11 (Tim, staff, National Journal, 2/3,, accessed 7-1-11, CH)

House Republicans are proposing to slash $74 billion in discretionary spending this year, and have included a surprise cut of $16 billion for defense and other security programs. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to file a budget resolution Tuesday using unilateral powers granted to him by new House rules. Under those rules, his overall budget numbers will amount to marching orders for the House Appropriations Committee, which will have to decide on the specific cuts. Because House appropriators have the authority to set specific limits for all categories of discretionary spending, they could choose to ignore Ryan's call to allocate some of the cuts to security programs. Alternatively, the security cuts could simply hit programs that Defense Secretary Roberts Gates has already targeted for cancellation, such as the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle produced by General Dynamics and the Army's surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missile developed by Raytheon. Gates has also put the Marine Corps' troubled version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a Lockheed Martin program, on a two-year probation that free up cash this fiscal year. Overall, the proposed cuts would be the largest one-year reductions in decades. But they fall short of the House Republicans' campaign promise to roll back non-security discretionary spending to 2008 levels, or the $100 billion in cuts for this year alone. Indeed, the proposed cuts are smaller than they first appear, because they are based on President Obama's budget proposal for 2011 -- which was never enacted. Compared with 2010, the proposal would cut total discretionary spending by only $35 billion.
F-35 is affordable – but austere budgets will force trade-offs
Defense Daily 11 (5/20/11, “Senators Want To Study Alternatives To F-35”, lexis/nexis) JPG

McCain added he sees the F-35 program as being at a "watershed moment," where officials must prove the aircraft can be delivered on time and budget because of the "austere defense budgets for as far as the eye can see." Carter maintained that the Pentagon "didn't come up with any better alternatives to the Joint Strike Fighter" during a so-called Nunn-McCurdy review triggered by an F-35 cost breach. "We want it," he said. "At the same time, it has to be affordable, and at the moment in its projections it's not. I think we're determined to make it affordable, and those who are performing the work for us share in that objective.” The Pentagon now estimates the average cost per aircraft is $95 million in fiscal year 2002 dollars, up from an estimate last year of $80 million derived by the F-35 program office, according to Christine Fox, director of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office. The CAPE last year estimated the $95 million cost, in FY '02 dollars, but had to analyze whether it's figure or the program office's estimate was most accurate. That current per-unit F-35 cost, adjusted for inflation, is $133 million in FY '11 dollars.

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