Ron D. Knapp
Professor Michael Meadows
Park University Internet Campus
A course paper presented to the School of Arts and Sciences and Distance Learning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
LG201 - Systems Engineering and Analysis
October 09, 2011
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program began with defense reviews conducted by the Clinton Administration after taking office in 1992. At the time, several government organizations were working on the next-generation strike aircraft. Following an intense competition, the U.S. Department of Defense on 26 October 2001, named Lockheed Martin lead Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team as the winner of the contract to develop the F-35 JSF. The F-35 team immediately entered the program’s 10-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The SDD period involves the development and testing of the entire aircraft system, including its manufacture. During SDD, the team was to build a total of 22 test aircrafts. Fourteen undergoing flight-testing, seven for non-airborne test activities, and one used to evaluate the F-35’s radar signature. Currently, JSF is the Pentagon’s most expensive program to date and has caused much controversy. The F-35 is designed to be the next-generation fighter for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The program has suffered significant setbacks and has been the subject of continuing reviews by the Pentagon to tamp down delays and cost growth. In fact, the $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program was intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that has 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing (STOVL) for the US Marines, and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version (CTOL) for the Navy. The F-35 was conceived as a relatively affordable fifth-generation strike fighter that could be procured for the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Navy, so that the three services could avoid the higher costs of developing, procuring, and operating and supporting three separate tactical aircraft designs to meet their similar but not identical operational needs. According to the JSF website, “affordability is the cornerstone of the F-35 program. It is achieved in large part through a very high level of common parts and systems across the three versions of the aircraft. Support costs are forecast to be about half that of present-day fighters, and streamlined assembly methods will cut production time significantly”; however, costs are continually soaring. The Air Force, Navy and Marines are all counting on the F-35. Procurement is planned to continue through 2026 and possibly beyond but it is already four years behind schedule and more than 50 percent over budget. Originally estimated to cost around $50 million a year, the new forecast is that some versions will cost up to $113 million an aircraft, due to test problems and delays. The delays and cost growth stem from a wing redesign, inefficient production, delays in parts deliveries by suppliers and test problems. The biggest factor was a 2002 decision to redesign the wing of the Marine Corps’ version to reduce it by more than 3,500 pounds. The program has continually endured hiccups throughout development and a system is of no value until it is deployed and operated. It is only then that the viability of the system design becomes truly known. Incorporating the right characteristics into the system configuration by design helps to ensure desirable operational outcomes. In March 2008 two of the eight JSF critical technologies were mature, three were nearing maturity, and three (mission systems integration, prognostics and health management, and manufacturing...