Australia welcomes JSF restructure

The Act­ing Min­is­ter for Defence Jason Clare today wel­comed the restruc­ture of the Joint Strike Fight­er (JSF) Pro­gram by US Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates.

The restruc­ture fol­lows a detailed six month Tech­ni­cal Base­line Review of the JSF Program’s progress by the US Depart­ment of Defense to exam­ine the remain­ing devel­op­ment tasks and the resources and time required to com­plete them. 

The restruc­ture will see an exten­sion of the Sys­tem Design and Devel­op­ment phase and a reduc­tion in the pro­duc­tion rate in the ear­li­er batch­es of air­craft. The US will fund costs asso­ci­at­ed with extend­ed design and test activity. 

The JSF Pro­gram involves the devel­op­ment of three dif­fer­ent types of aircraft: 

1) the F‑35A Con­ven­tion­al Take Off and Land­ing (CTOL) vari­ant;
2) the F‑35B Short Take Off and Ver­ti­cal Land­ing (STOVL) vari­ant; and
3) the F‑35C Car­ri­er Vari­ant (CV).

Aus­tralia is pur­chas­ing the CTOL vari­ant. The US Air Force is also pur­chas­ing this variant. 

Sec­re­tary Gates con­firmed today that this vari­ant was on sched­ule and pro­ceed­ing satisfactorily. 

In 2010 it exceed­ed its test flight targets. 

Sec­re­tary Gates advised that the STOVL vari­ant being devel­oped for the US Marines is expe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant test­ing prob­lems and has now been placed at the back of the over­all JSF pro­duc­tion sequence. 

Mr Clare wel­comed the news that the devel­op­ment of the air­craft Aus­tralia is pur­chas­ing is on sched­ule and pro­ceed­ing satisfactorily. 

“It is less expen­sive and less com­plex than the oth­er vari­ants. The restruc­ture announced by Sec­re­tary Gates means it is now at the front of the pro­duc­tion queue”, Mr Clare said. 

Defence has advised that the restruc­ture of the US JSF Pro­gram will reduce over­all pro­gram risk to Aus­tralia and should not affect Australia’s planned intro­duc­tion date for the JSF

The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment approved the acqui­si­tion of the first 14 air­craft in Novem­ber 2009. The first two air­craft will be deliv­ered in 2014. The first 10 air­craft will ini­tial­ly remain in the Unit­ed States for pilot and main­tain­er train­ing. The remain­ing four air­craft are planned to arrive in Aus­tralia in 2017 for oper­a­tional test and eval­u­a­tion activ­i­ties with oth­er ADF equip­ment to achieve an ini­tial oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty in Aus­tralia from 2018. 

Defence has also advised it is con­fi­dent Aus­tralia has ade­quate buffers in place to with­stand any changes to the cost and schedule. 

“Aus­tralia has always adopt­ed a con­ser­v­a­tive approach to JSF cost esti­mates and has explic­it­ly includ­ed con­tin­gency funds and buffers to the sched­ule,” Mr Clare said. 

“While there is no need to change our cost and sched­ule esti­mates, Defence will con­tin­ue to assess options to ensure that cost and sched­ule buffers remain adequate.” 

A recent agree­ment between Lock­heed Mar­tin and the US Depart­ment of Defense to move to fixed price con­tract agree­ments – at a low­er price than inde­pen­dent esti­mates – has enhanced con­fi­dence in the costs for future JSF production. 

In Decem­ber last year Mr Clare met with senior US Defense offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton and inspect­ed the Lock­heed Mar­tin JSF pro­duc­tion line in Fort Worth Texas. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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