The management reserve account for the F-35 Lightning II fighter, designed to fund unexpected development cost increases, is running low. Contractor Lockheed Martin has therefore requested reductions in the number of test aircraft, test flights, and personnel, Bloomberg news reports (via Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Lockheed informed DOD that the management reserve account—which should ideally have $2 billion in it—could run out by the end of the year if changes to the testing regime are not made. “When you run out of your management reserve, it’s just like not having any insurance,” explained Sue Payton, Air Force acquisition czar. The news service reported that the account had declined to just $392 million. The contractor proposes cutting at least two aircraft from the flight-test program and shifting portions of the testing to simulators.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.