The average unit production cost (APUC) for the F-35 is now predicted to be as high as $112 million in current dollars, according to a Pentagon review of the program conducted later last year, which led to a restructuring of the program. The APUC estimate does not amortize the cost of system design and development (SDD). That cost has now risen by $3.2 billion, to $53.2 billion.
If Lockheed Martin is to be believed, there’s not much wrong with the F-35 program. In a briefing here yesterday, vice president F-35 business development Steve O’Bryan stuck doggedly to the company mantra that development is moving right along, with plenty of accomplishments despite the slow pace of flight testing.
Confirmation of the serious problems in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development came yesterday when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dramatically fired the Marine general running the program. Maj. Gen. David Heinz, the program executive officer, took the blame for the delays and cost increases that have mounted in recent months. Gates also withheld $614 million in performance fees from prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
Sikorsky’s X2 compound helicopter reached another milestone last month by completing two test flights that included full engagement of the high-speed tail propulsor for the first time. In one hour of testing conducted during the two flights, the aircraft flew at speeds up to 52 knots in one test and 42 knots with the propeller providing forward thrust in the second flight.
Israel’s Urban Aeronautics is ground-testing its unmanned Mule fancraft, an unconventional rotorcraft featuring two shrouded main rotors in tandem configuration that should one day have a manned version for rescue missions in cities. The first untethered flight of the Mule, originally scheduled to take place in the spring, has been postponed until September or October.
Sikorsky’s X2 compound helicopter reached another milestone last week by completing two test flights that included full engagement of the high-speed tail propulsor for the first time. In one hour of testing conducted in the two flights last Tuesday, the aircraft flew at speeds reaching 52 knots in one test and 42 knots with the propeller providing forward thrust in the second flight.
Another airshow, another photo opportunity with the F-35 partner nations. Lockheed Martin assembled this group of representatives from the nine countries that are part of the program here yesterday. They all received a newly minted coin mounted in a plaque.
Israel intends to order 25 Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth-generation fighters, with an option for 50 more. If it wants them quickly, as expected, the news could help some other international partners in the Joint Strike Fighter program.
Vision Systems International, a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins, has received a $54.1 million contract to begin production of Gen II helmet-mounted display systems for the F-35 Lightning II. Lockheed Martin awarded VSI the contract to deliver 52 displays and 30 aircraft shipsets. These HMDS components cover the requirements for Lots 1, 2 and 3 of F-35 low-rate initial production.