Navy Official Questions Need For JSF Variants

Navy Official Questions Need For JSF Variants

Aug 25, 2011

By Bill Sweetman
U.S. Navy Undersecretary Robert Work told the Navy and Marine Corps in July to provide lower-cost alternatives to the Navy’s current tactical aviation plan, and to examine the consequences of terminating either the F-35B short-takeoff/vertical-landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter or the carrier-compatible F-35C. Work is seeking decisions in time for the 2013 budget submission.

Work also directed service leaders to study whether the Navy and Marines could operate fewer than the 40 squadrons of JSFs currently planned (supported by 680 aircraft, divided equally between Bs and Cs) and to look at the possibility of accelerating development of unmanned alternative systems. Canceling both the F-35B and F-35C was not identified as an option.

The instructions were included in a July 7 memo from Work to Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley, Vice Chief Of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and assistant Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford. Work told the leaders to form a team to develop three alternative tactical aviation force structures, respectively representing cost savings of $5 billion, $7.5 billion and $10 billion across the future years defense plan. Ultimately, Work expects to determine “the best-value alternative, factoring in both cost and capability.

“This relook must consider every plan and program,” Work wrote. “Even cuts to long-planned buys of JSF must be on the table.” The team also was specifically charged with defining “the key performance differences between the Block 2 F/A-18E/F with all planned upgrades, F-35B and F-35C.”

The quick-look analysis was due to be completed three weeks after the memo date, that is, by July 28. Results have not been disclosed.

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