NEW JET FIGHTER WILL TAKE TAXPAYERS FOR A RIDE The Department of Defense (DOD) recently awarded the biggest military contract in U.S. history to Lockheed Martin to build the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) despite major concerns about potential cost overruns and doubts about the technological reliability of the jet fighter.
Cost Overruns Appear Certain But Govt Doesn't Care
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Lockheed Martin beat out Boeing to build the JSF, which will be sold to the Air Force, Navy, Marines and British forces. Estimates put the contract's worth at $200 billion. That amount could skyrocket depending on whether additional allies decide to purchase the plane. The current agreement is for about 3,000 jets with delivery beginning in 2009.
The contract provides a huge boost to Lockheed Martin, which now will dominate the military jet market for decades to come.
The loss of the JSF contract, essentially takes Boeing out of the warplane business. With previously announced layoffs of up to 30,000 by year's end, the company says that more layoffs could come as a result of losing the JSF contract.
Congressional investigators have also raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the experimental JSF technology. A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation determined that the JSF project could go dramatically over budget because the technology is not fully developed at high enough standards to warrant moving forward. The DOD wants to keep the price of the JSF relatively low, but technological problems will result in delays and sizable costs increases during production.
Generally, the initial objective of jet fighter design is to develop the needed new technology to a point where there is a low financial risk. If one technological aspect is not mature enough then a ripple affect will be felt throughout the project. To determine whether a technology is mature enough the government uses technology readiness levels (TRL) and considers TRL 7 an acceptable risk level to begin the engineering phase. As of last April, none of the eight critical technologies for the JSF were at TRL 7 and only two were at TRL 6.
The Defense Department said that they have assessed the technology and determined that the technology is ready. The GAO strongly disagrees and argues that the project should be slowed down. There is evidence that the enterprise is at a standstill, with no progress made on the technological front since April.
The Joint Strike Fighter is a new age jet for a new century. The Defense Department has stressed that they want the costs to stay low, but if the critical technological components are not up to par then delays will ensue and costs will rise by billions. If nothing changes in the near future, this jet fighter is a cost overrun waiting to happen.
If you would like more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500
ext. 110 or by email
at email@example.com. TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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