NAVAIR awards $508 million contract modifcation for F-35 propulsion systems

US Navy awards $508 million contract modifcation for F-35 propulsion systems.

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $508,214,419 modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lightening II Lot VI low rate initial production advance acquisition contract (N00019-12-C-0090). This modification provides for the procurement of 18 F135 conventional take off and landing (CTOL) propulsion systems for the U.S. Air Force; six short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the U.S. Marine Corps; and seven carrier variant propulsion systems for the U.S. Navy. In addition, this contract procures three F135 CTOL propulsion systems for Italy; two CTOL propulsion systems for Australia; one F135 CTOL spare propulsion system for Italy; and one F135 spare propulsion system for Australia. This modification also provides for program labor, engineering assistance to production, non-recurring sustainment efforts, service and country specific requirements, depot activation efforts, and long-lead hardware. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (67 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (16.5 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (16.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2016. Fiscal 2012, aircraft procurement Air Force, fiscal 2012 aircraft procurement Navy, and international partner funding in the amount of $508,214,419 will be obligated at time of award, $422,680,150 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ($211,858,131; 42 percent); the U.S. Air Force ($210,822,019; 41 percent); and the international partners ($85,534,269; 17 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

In order to cut costs from the F-35 program it will be necessary to spend another $7.9 million

DoD awards $7.9 million cost reduction contract. Just one of those things that make no sense when you first read it, but hopefully makes sense after the contract has run its course successfully.

McKinsey & Company Inc., Washington, D.C., is being awarded a $7,963,647 firm-fixed-price contract (HQ0034-14-F-0004) to provide support to the F-35 operating and support cost reduction effort and the Collaborative Work Center. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 27, 2015. This contract was a sole-source acquisition. Washington Headquarters Services, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

PHOTEX: US Navy rolls out first F-35C carrier variant

131001-N-ZZ999-001 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (Oct. 1, 2013) The official party stands at attention during the rollout ceremony for the U.S. Navy’s first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft squadron the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Angel DelCueto/Released)

Watchdog finds 363 defects with F-35 … 147 described as major

Oh, no, my friends. The F-35 isn’t merely a gilt-edged albatross. It’s a gilt-edged albatross with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Pentagon Report: F-35 Program Struggles With Quality Management

Two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft ferry from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in May. (Lockheed Martin)

While there have been improvements, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program continues to struggle with quality management issues, according to a new report from the Pentagon’s Inspector General.

The watchdog found 363 issues, 147 of which it identified as “major.” The report defined major issues as “a nonfulfillment of a requirement that is likely to result in the failure of the quality management system or reduce its ability to ensure controlled processes or compliant products/services.”

Challenges identified in the report include the need for improved training, the need to improve criteria for acceptance of a plane, and unnecessary over-mixing of sealant used on the wings.

“Although it would be unrealistic to expect first production to be issue free, our contractor assessments indicate that greater emphasis on quality assurance, requirement flow down, and process discipline is necessary, if the Government is to attain lower program costs,” the IG wrote.

Inspectors found small improvements in the number of “quality action requests” needed for each lot of planes, with 972 requests per fighter in LRIP-1, 987 in LRIP-2, 926 in LRIP -3, and 859 in LRIP-4.

Similarly, there was a small change in the average rework, repair and scrap rates per aircraft, improving from 13.82 percent in FY 2012 down to 13.11 percent in FY 2013. The IG report describes these improvements as “only a moderate change.”

“F-35 Program quality metric data show improvement in scrap, rework, and repair rates and in software and hardware quality action requests per aircraft,” wrote the IG’s office. “However, the Government incurred and will continue to incur a significant cost for these issues, either through the previous cost-plus incentive/award/fixed-fee contracts or via quality incentives on future fixed-price incentive-fee contracts.”

The report was conducted between February 2012 and July 2013, a time period that saw dramatic changes to the F-35 program, including turnover at the top of both the Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin’s JSF team. Because of that time frame, the report is focused primarily on the first four low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots.

Lockheed and the JPO reached an agreement on LRIP-5 late last year, and announced Friday the details on lots six and seven, which top program officials have marked as a major milestone due to cost reductions.

The IG’s report focused on work done by Lockheed, in the role of prime contractor, but also inspected work done by five key suppliers: Northrop Grumman, the center fuselage integrator; BAE, the aft fuselage integrator; L-3 Display Systems, who handles the cockpit display; Honeywell Aerospace, managing the on-board oxygen generation system, and United Technologies work with the landing gear system.

Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney was not included in the report.

In an emailed statement, F-35 JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova called the report “thorough, professional, well-documented and useful to the F-35 Enterprise.” But the statement also noted that much of what was in the report has been previously documented and is being addressed.

“A majority of the findings are consistent with weaknesses previously identified by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), and do not present new or critical issues that affect the health of the program,” DellaVedova’s statement read. “The assessment contains 363 findings, from which, 343 corrective action recommendations (CARs) were generated. As of September 30, 2013, 269 of the 343 CARs have been resolved (78%), with the remaining 74 still in work with Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) in development, or approved by not fully-implemented.”

“This 2012 DoD IG report is based on data that’s more than 16 months old and majority of the Corrective Action Requests (CARs) identified have been closed,” a corporate response from Lockheed Martin read, while noting that all open CARs are scheduled to be closed “by April 2014.”

“When discoveries occur, we take decisive and thorough action to correct the situation, continued the statement. “Our commitment is to deliver the F-35’s world class 5th Generation fighter capabilities to the warfighter on time and within budget.”

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130930/DEFREG02/309300036/Pentagon-Report-F-35-Program-Struggles-Quality-Management

Pentagon considers cancelling F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, overseas partners may be in trouble

Yikes! A kick in the budgetary backside for the Pentagon as tough choices are being made between smaller forces, less new equipment, and reduced operations.

But this does not just affect the US military. There are 10 international partners involved in the F-35 boondoggle. In particular, Britain’s Royal Navy has predicated its entire 21st century naval aviation programme on the F-35B STVOL variant. Its new aircraft carriers are under construction without the cats & traps that would permit an alternative (such as the F/A-18E/F) to be substituted affordably.

Is it too late to restart the AV-8B production line?

Pentagon considers cancelling F-35 program, leaked documents suggest

F-35 JSF (AFP Photo / HO)

Leaked documents from a Pentagon budget review suggest that the agency is tired of its costly F-35 fighter jets, and has thoughts about cancelling the $391.2 billion program that has already expanded into 10 foreign countries.

Pentagon officials held a briefing on Wednesday in which they mapped out ways to manage the $500 billion in automated budget cuts required over the next decade. A slideshow laid out a number of suggestions and exposed the Pentagon’s frustration with its F-35 jets, which are designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. based out of Bethesda, Md. The agency also suggested scrapping plans for a new stealthy, long-range bomber, attendees of the briefing told Reuters.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to reporters on Wednesday and indicated that the Pentagon might have to decide between a “much smaller force” and a decade-long “holiday” from modernizing weapons systems and technology.

Pentagon briefing slides indicated that a decision to maintain a larger military “could result in the cancellation of the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 program and a new stealthy, long-range bomber,” Reuters reports.

When officials familiar with the budget review leaked the news about the F-35s, the agency tried to downplay its alleged intentions.

The F-35 program is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapon system. A fleet of 2,443 aircraft has an estimated price tag of $391.2 billion, which is up 68 percent from the projected costs measured in 2001. Earlier this year, Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program manager, condemned the manufacturer for “trying to squeeze every nickel” out of the Department of Defense.

Although the warplane is the most expensive combat aircraft in history, its quality is lacking. In February, the US military grounded an entire fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters because of a crack found on a turbine blade on one of the jets, marking the fourth time that a fleet was grounded because of manufacturing problems. In April, Bogdan told a Senate committee that he doubted the planes could withstand a sophisticated cyberattack.

But before the sequestration took effect this year, the Pentagon secured several contracts with Lockheed Martin to ensure the continued production and maintenance of the costly F-35s. This week, the Defense Department struck another deal with the company to produce 71 more jet fighters, claiming the costs per aircraft have been reduced by about 4 percent – an insignificant reduction when compared to the 68 percent price increase that has occurred since 2001.

After news broke of the Pentagon’s prospect to cancel the program, officials tried to control the damage of such an alarming statement that runs counter to the claims they publicly make.

“We have gone to great lengths to stress that this review identified, through a rigorous process of strategic modeling, possible decisions we might face, under scenarios we may or may not face in the future,” Pentagon Spokesman George Little told Reuters in an email when asked about the slides. “Any suggestion that we’re now moving away from key modernization programs as a result of yesterday’s discussion of the outcomes of the review would be incorrect.”

An unnamed defense official familiar with the briefing told Reuters that the leaked budget document indicated possibilities for a worst-case scenario. He admitted that the Pentagon considered scrapping the program, but said it was unlikely, since “cancelling the program would be detrimental to our national defense.”

Regardless of the Pentagon’s intent, Congress is responsible for authorizing Department of Defense spending, and has often forced the agency to make costly and unnecessary weapons purchases.

Last year, US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said that the US has no need for new tanks. But even though senior Army officials have repeatedly stated that there is no need to spend half a billion dollars in taxpayer funds on new 70-ton Abrams tanks, lawmakers from both parties have pushed the Pentagon to accept the useless purchases.

Earlier this year, an investigation revealed that lobbying efforts by Northrop Grumman have kept a costly Global Hawk drone flying, despite the Pentagon’s attempt to end the project. A defense authorization bill passed by Congress requires the Air Force to keep flying its Block 30 Global Hawks through at least 2014, which costs taxpayers $260 million per year.

The US spends more money on defense than any other nation, but lawmakers from both parties often insist that the agency continue to buy tanks and keep ships and planes it no longer needs. Although the Pentagon has expressed its frustration with the costly F-35 fighter jets, there is little the agency can do without congressional support.

http://rt.com/usa/pentagon-f35-stealth-bomber-963/

F-35 pilots and maintainers speak about the program (2013)

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is available in 3 variants, the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant and the F-35C carrier variant.