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Sun, Nov 30, 2008

Analysts: F-35 Development, Testing Costs Underestimated

Independent Team Predicts An Extra Two Years... And $15B More

A defense trade publication reports that an independent team of Pentagon cost analysts said that previous estimates of time and money required for development and testing of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II are too conservative.

Based on experience with other aircraft development programs, the independent team concluded the F-35 will likely require two more years and $15 billion more than Pentagon in-house program managers have predicted, according to Inside The Air Force.

A statement from Lockheed, also describing the internal pentagon estimate as "overly conservative," acknowledged "budget challenges" but expressed confidence to "complete the program at a far lower cost than forecast" by the independent team, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

John Young, Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, told Inside The Air Force the Pentagon's addition of $480 million to the F-35 testing budget for 2010 "is extremely prudent."

Young said Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England have made an optimistic choice, hoping that the predictions of Lockheed and program managers will prove to be more accurate.

If not, the Obama administration will inherit the decision of whether to delay production and shift funds to the development budget or to appropriate money earmarked for other defense projects to the F-35.



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