F-35 Delayed Again

The Pentagon confirmed on February 16 what Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn had announced the day before — that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will be delayed with approximately one year.

The delay is due to the integration of additional test craft that were mandated under an aggressive restructing of the program initiated earlier this month. Defense Secretary Robert Gates budgeted a further $2.8 billion to finance an extended version of the F-35 at the time while withholding over $600 million in performance fees from Lockheed Martin.

The Pentagon is requesting $10.7 billion in its 2011 budget to continue development on the F-35 and purchase 43 of the planes.

Since 2002, the costs of the Joint Strike Fighter program have risen by nearly $100 billion. Responsible are delays and weight issues with the vertical take off and landing version to be operated by the Marine Corps

With the program two years behind schedule, the Congressional Research Service projects that the F-35 will end up costing somewhere between $80 to $100 billion per plane.