SASC hearing on F-35

CAPITOL HILL: As F-35 program officials prepared to testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee, they announced they were keeping back some $25.7 million, or 5 percent, of payments for the F135 engine used in the Joint Strike Fighter.

“Due to decertification of their Earned Value Management Process by the Defense Contract Management Agency, Pratt & Whitney is subject to a 5% withhold against all F135 propulsion deliveries,” F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in an email. “The total of this withhold as of end of February is $25.7M. This money will be held back by DCMA until the company fixes their internal business system used to track cost and schedule performance.”

The money withheld varies “from engine-to-engine and lot-to-lot.”

A Pratt & Whitney representative at the hearing, Matthew Bates, argued the company has “received approval from the DCMA on 95 percent of our corrective action plans and anticipate approval of all corrective action plans soon.”

He told me in an email that his company “is delivering F135 engines on time and ahead of contract, and we have not impacted Lockheed Martin’s schedule on the F-35 production line.”

Bates conceded that not all is perfect. “Of the thousands of specification requirements for the F135 engine, we have a small number of parts that do not meet requirements. When this occurs, there have been instances where a withhold or financial consideration has been paid by Pratt & Whitney. We are working closely with the program office to ensure even better quality and delivery performance,” he said, adding that Pratt has “reduced the cost of the F135 engine by more than 40 percent.”

During the hearing, the head of the F-35 program, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told Sen. John McCain and the rest of the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee that he has “a lot of time to catch up and be smart” with a possible program delay of four to six months. Bogdan continued to assert that he did not expect to miss the Initial Operations Capability date for the Marines — July 2015.
F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter

Best line of the hearing: Sen. John McCain, clearly a bit frustrated by Bogdan’s answers that he has things under control and was committed to transparency and to accountability, asked who has been held accountable for the F-35’s many problems over the last seven years. “Certainly Lockheed Martin hasn’t. They just jacked up the cost.”


  • Don Bacon

    McCain may squeek a little bit but he won’t squawk like he used to. His previous noise didn’t go un-noticed.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called DOD’s relationship with F-35 fighter contractor Lockheed Martin “one of the great national scandals” during a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, reported

    Along with a “chaotic” program budget, McCain cited repeated cost overruns during F-35 production that “have made it worse than a disgrace.” The senator called the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the government’s first trillion dollar acquisition program.

    We won’t be hearing about any national disgrace again. Luke Air Force Base west of Phoenix is projected to become the Air Force’s primary F-35 pilot training base and the largest F-35 base worldwide.

  • Jet Engine Supremacy

    Bring back funding for the F136. The competition between PW and GE has a lot to do with why the USA is the world leader in jet engines. Lower prices and better quality. PW went straight for the jugular after it got it’s monopoly.

    Jet engine technology is one of the few areas that the USA has remained far more competitive than any others. It would be a relatively small investment with substantial and lasting returns.

    • Curtis Conway

      The F136 should have never been cancelled. The United Technologies / Prott & Whitney Mafia killed it with innuendo and lies, got the parts spread to the 4 winds, and made sure the program could not be reconstituted even if the government changed its mind. One cannot even get its hands on all the GFE in one location. Someone should go to jail for this one. The USMC will need that extra 8,000 lbs of thrust when the F-35B deploys next year, they won’t have it. PW ought to be horse whipped.

  • chetdude

    Cancel this useless, expensive, noisy Piece Of Sh*t NOW!

    The “cold war” is over and the USAmerican People lost!

    • Wolfeye

      CW 2 is just about to really kick off

      • chetdude

        Trumped up bullsh*t — see my post above in response to your buddy…

    • ted weiss

      have you seen new russia in action .
      Between the unholly alliance btewwen Russsia and China and who else Iran?
      I would say the cold war is just starting .Enjoy the ride

      • chetdude

        You mean “Russia” pretending they’re the USA — “invading” other countries on trumped up pretexts… (the hypocrisy, it BURNS!)..

        Or China, one of our largest creditors, whose economy would collapse if USA, Inc. continues to collapse?

        Or Russia and China who are pissing away money on 5th gen fighter jets because USA is pissing away money on 5th gen fighter jets?

        I DON’T enjoy the ride. In addition to bankrupting the country for a bloated war machine this stupid sabre rattling side show deflects attention from the REAL deadly issues of our time, over-population, over-exploitation of our finite Planet and Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Climate Destabilization!

        That’s the HOT WAR, the byproducts of the obvious suicidal tendency of humans…

  • Don Bacon

    The delays in the F-35 development program, after twelve years, are a result of excessive complexity and mismanagement. There will be more delays. Development testing is only half done, the easier half. Only 13 percent of Block 2B software, which would provide only basic warfighting capability, has been verified.

    Meanwhile, the factor that makes the F-35 unique in the annals of materiel acquisition is the high degree of concurrency. In a properly managed program, prototypes would be manufactured and tested during the Milestone B phase of system development, and then full production would be authorized after sufficient test and evaluation at Milestone C, the full production decision point which for the F-35 is scheduled for April 2019. That’s two thousand nineteen, five years from now.

    The F-35 program defies these common-sense and includes a high degree of concurrency — production of hundreds of aircraft prototypes during the development phase. Concurrency, or procuring planes in the development phase, is technically foolish because it’s really faulty prototypes they are trying to build and sell, planes that must be rebuilt to production standards. Concurrency also results in very high unit prices (because of relatively low production) which kills foreign sales AND helps kill the program. The F-35 program can not survive without foreign sales, especially since the carrier variant doesn’t work.

    Therefore we should cheer F-35 concurrency.

    • chetdude

      Even if one accepts the “need” for this useless piece of crap, it’s like trying to “develop” a new automobile at the same time as producing and selling a bunch of the prototypes which keep catching on fire in garages, veering off the road and exploding, bursting eardrums since they’re 4 times as loud as other vehicles on the road and are dangerous to the driver if driven in the rain…

      How stupid are the USAmerican Sheeple(tm)? (Rhetorical question)…

  • Don Bacon

    they were keeping back some $25.7 million

    The US taxpayers paying for these F135 engines aren’t privileged and don’t know what these engines cost because Pratt refuses to divulge the cost, and gets away with it because of the weak F-35 program management.

    That said, the last educated guess we have on F135 engine price is $38.4 million.
    So they’re “keeping back” (if you believe them) less than the cost of one engine, in a program that has already included the procurement of over 200 engines.

  • F-35 Photographer
    • Don Bacon

      The F-35 has a fanboy in Turkey. Somehow that seems fitting, since we’re roasting a turkey.

  • Curtis Conway

    PW recently withheld requested information for reasons of competition?! They are the only game in town. Do we have a problem?