Cuts Could Jeopardize On-Time F-35 Rollout, Official Says
April 24, 2013
The on-time rollout of the F-35 fighter jet in 2017 could be in jeopardy because of forced federal budget cuts, a key military official testified to Congress on Wednesday.
The monetary problems could lead to a loss of customers for Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth-based program, hurting the company.
Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, the Pentagon's executive officer of the F-35 program, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee that he has "moderate confidence" that the first two software upgrade phases needed to complete the program will be delivered on time. But he's less optimistic that the final phase will be completed as scheduled because of mandated budget cuts, known as sequestration, in the current fiscal year.
President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year would give $6.36 billion to build 29 F-35s for 2014 and would increase production to as many as 60 aircrafts a year by 2018.
The F-35 program's eight partner countries, including the United Kingdom, are carefully watching the growing cost of F-35s. The United States pushed back an order of 179 planes, which caused Italy to reduce its jet order from 140 planes to 90. Canada and the Netherlands, too, have cut back on plane orders, Bogdan said, though Singapore is showing interest.