F-35 Incentives

The F-35 steering committee, comprising US program leaders and international partners, met at Eglin AFB, Fla., this week. On the agenda was the financial challenge of each user buying its planned inventory of the jets. Pentagon acquisition czar Frank Kendall said the United States faces a problem with the budget sequester, and “can’t make a firm commitment” on the number it will buy. Other countries “have the same financial challenges we have,” but everyone agrees on “the need for stability” in the buy targets, he told reporters during a teleconference on June 12. The committee is exploring whether to offer “financial incentives” to partners to buy their planned allotment, since any cuts in production “raise prices … for everybody,” he said. The United States is looking at F-35 multiyear contracts as one way to cut costs, though “we’re just beginning to think about that,” said Kendall. He also said the committee discussed “the next round of improvements” for the F-35, beyond the Block 4, which comes after the initial version is deployed.