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Financial concerns threaten the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program may face budget overruns due to provisions in defense authorization bills worth $700bn, according to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

POGO expressed concern that language used in the bills could limit the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s (DOT&E) ability to evaluate the combat effectiveness of new systems. POGO stated that this language could worsen the ongoing attempts to delay or avoid the planned operational testing of the F-35 versus A-10 close support capabilities.

The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act could jeopardize comparative tests conducted against legacy systems, POGO added.

POGO also claimed that the program managers have not revealed critical information about the safety of F-35s. Additionally, purchasing F-35s through a normal economic order quantity would have allowed the US Department of Defense to avoid legal requirements established for multi-year procurements to demonstrate cost savings.

The House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act have authorized the procurement of 440 F-35s through the Economic Order Quantity process. The F-35 program is currently entering the development and testing stage, and POGO warns that a premature rush into production before the completion of development and testing could create “concurrency orphans.”

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