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Possible cost hikes put the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in jeopardy

A recent report by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has raised concerns that new language in $700bn-worth defence authorisation bills could lead to increased costs for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.

POGO expressed concerns in a letter to the Armed Services committees, noting that the new language could restrict the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s (DOT&E) ability to evaluate new systems by prohibiting testing that compares legacy systems against new ones.

This could impede currently planned operational testing of the F-35 versus A-10 close support capabilities, as POGO warns the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act may jeopardise comparative tests conducted against legacy systems.

Both the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act have authorised the purchase of 440 F-35s through the Economic Order Quantity procurement process, however, POGO has noted that programme costs are rising and key information about the safety of F-35s is not being revealed by programme managers.

POGO has previously raised concerns that a rush into production before the completion of development and testing would create ‘concurrency orphans’.

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