Cutting F-35 Sustainment Costs

The F-35 program is shooting to reduce sustainment costs by another 10 to 20 percent, according to Pentagon officials. Defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall, speaking after an F-35 steering group meeting on June 12, said he doesn’t think “that’s an unreasonable target.” F-35 program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said there have already been “modest reductions” in lifecycle costs; up to nine percent already. To attain an additional 20 percent in savings, “we have to have specific plans, which we’re putting in place,” he said. Plans include the cost war room, already in operation, that pulls together representatives from every aspect of the program to discuss cost-saving measures. There will also be investments by the government and the contractors in more efficient processes and technologies. Kendall said discussions with maintainers working at Eglin AFB, Fla., where F-35 training is underway, have been “very valuable” in identifying smarter and more affordable ways to operate the jet. “On the more recent aircraft with the fixes in, we should be seeing results pretty quickly,” said Kendall. Two key metrics will be cost per flying hour and mean time between failures, he said. (See also Ask the Maintainers.)