There’s good reason to have confidence that the restructured F-35 strike fighter program will perform as expected, said Vice Adm. David Venlet, F-35 program executive officer, Thursday. “I believe that the ground rules and assumptions of what we can achieve going forward have a realism that was not in the previous plan,” Venlet told reporters at a press conference. The new plan is “drastically” different, he said. It has a management reserve, more conservative assumptions about the number of test flights per month, higher “re-fly” rates to repeat sorties that turn up anomalies, and more people on the software-development team, explained Venlet. Further, in general, the restructure has “opened up the pipe of capacity,” he said. The $4.6 billion added to the F-35’s development phase is spread among both government and industry to “properly resource those ground rules and assumptions,” he said. The new program schedule has “resilience in it, [it] can absorb discovery and learning, and move forward without going into the ditch again,” he asserted. Observers will see much more “humility” in the F-35 plan now, he added. (See also The F-35 Bottom Line from the Daily Report archives.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.