GAO Recommends Limiting Annual Production of JSF

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The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends that the DOD will limit the annual production quantities of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to no more than 24 aircraft per year until each variant’s basic flying qualities have been demonstrated in flight testing now scheduled in the 2010 time frame. DOD non-concurred, believing its current strategy provides a balance of technical risk, financial constraints.

The research determines that that total program acquisition costs (through 2027) soared by $31.6 billion, resulting in a 12 percent cost increase, per aircraft (based on 2004 estimates). Furthermore, despite reaching a major milestone flying the first development aircraft, schedules established in 2004 have not been met. Despite these delays, the program still plans to complete development in 2013, compressing the amount of time available for flight testing and development activities, meeting all but one key performance requirement.

"JSF continues to pursue a risky acquisition strategy that concurrently develops and produces aircraft" the GAO study determines. While some concurrency may be beneficial to efficiently transition from development to production, the degree of overlap is significant on this program. Any changes in design and manufacturing that require modifications to delivered aircraft or to tooling and manufacturing processes would result in increased costs and delays in getting capabilities to the warfighter. Low-rate initial production will begin this year with almost the entire 7-year flight test program remaining to confirm the aircraft design. Confidence that investment decisions will deliver expected capability within cost and schedule goals increases as testing proves the JSF will work as expected. The JSF program also faces funding uncertainties as it will demand unprecedented funding over the next.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its study of the $623 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program today (March 15, 2007). This is the third report mandated by US Congress. Its purpose was to review the program’s progress in meeting cost, schedule, and performance goals since 2004, when the JSF program was rebaselined to address technical challenges, cost increases, and schedule overruns.



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