February 1, 2010: F‑35 Joint Strike Force Office Restructured

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced restructuring of the F‑35 Joint Strike Force Office. The purpose of the restructuring was to provide increased oversight of a program that had fallen behind in meeting key benchmarks. Gates also had withheld $614 million in performance fees from lead contractor, Lockheed-Martin, “since the taxpayers should not have to bear the entire burden of getting the JSF program back on track.”  Secretary Gates announced a change in program leadership, which had been headed by Marine Maj Gen David R. Heinz. A three-star officer yet to be named would replace him.

Joint Strike Fighter is a development and acquisition program intended to replace a wide range of existing fighter, strike, and ground attack aircraft for the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. After a competition between the Boeing X-32 and the Lockheed Martin X-35, a final design was chosen based on the X-35. This is the F-35 Lightning II, which will replace various tactical aircraft, including the US F-16, A-10, F/A-18A-D, AV-8B and British Harrier GR7, GR9s, and Tornado GR4. The projected average annual cost of this program is $12.5 billion with an estimated program life-cycle cost of $1.1 trillion.

The JSF program was the result of the merger of the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) and Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) projects. The merged project continued under the JAST name until the engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) phase, during which the project became the Joint Strike Fighter.  The CALF was a DARPA program to develop a STOVL strike fighter (SSF) for the United States Marine Corps and replacement for the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The United States Air Force passed over the F-16 Agile Falcon in the late 1980s, essentially an enlarged F-16, and continued to mull other designs. In 1992, the Marine Corps and Air Force agreed to jointly develop the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter, also known as Advanced Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (ASTOVL). CALF project was chosen after Paul Bevilaqua persuaded the Air Force that his team's concept (if stripped of its lift system) had potential as a complement to the F-22 Raptor.  Thus, in a sense the F-35B begat the F-35A, not the other way around.


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