Sun, Mar 18, 2012
Pentagon Officials Say No Further Delays Are Expected In The Program
Countries which have agreed to partner with the U.S. on the Joint Strike Fighter are understandably somewhat nervous as the cost if the airplane continues to climb and its delivery date gets pushed farther into the future.
Following a partners meeting in Sydney, Australia, Air Force Major General John F. Thompson, the deputy Joint Strike Force Program Executive Officer, said "We have been given the adequate time needed to execute the program." Some partner nations have been reviewing their orders for the F-35.
The nerves aer due in part to a third re-structuring of the program with prime contractor Lockheed Martin, giving the company additional time for development and testing. Reuters reports that Britain, Australia, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands have all expressed concern about delivery of the aircraft.
Japan has also reportedly made noises that it could cancel its orders if the planes get significantly more expensive.
The Pentagon has already scaled back its own plans to purchase the aircraft. It has delayed delivery of 179 of the fifth-generation fighters over a five year period for a savings of over $15 billion.
For its part, Lockheed Martin said that delays could add to the cost of the individual aircraft.
Britain said it would now wait until 2015 before deciding on a final number of airplanes it would purchase. Thompson said each partner nation must decide what is best for its national defense needs. Pentagon officials say they still plan to eventually acquire a total of 2,443 of the jets.
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