La Pologne souhaite acquérir des missiles de croisière américains

30 nov. 2016 | Par Guillaume Belan

La Pologne a demandé à Washington l’achat de 70 missiles de croisière Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).

Equipé d’un moteur turbopropulseur plus efficace et d’un volume de carburant plus élevé , la version ER du JASSM atteindrait une portée de plus de 930 km. A l’instar du missile français Scalp, le JASSM est un armement destiné à être utilisée contre des cibles protégées de haute valeur. Avec ce missile, la Pologne deviendrait capable de frapper le territoire russe.

Le contrat éventuel est estimé à 200 millions de dollars et inclut une mise à niveau des F-16C/D polonais.

Source: Air&Cosmos

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Boeing T-X Headed Toward First Flight

By: Valerie Insinna, November 29, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Boeing-Saab T-X trainer is on track to fly by the end of the year after completing afterburner engine runs last week, Boeing officials said.

Only a few more major tests remain before the plane makes its inaugural flight, said program manager Ted Torgerson during a Nov. 23 interview ahead of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).

“We are clicking off all of our test points, we have tested around somewhere around nearly 1,200 test points on the jet on ground tests,” he said.

The next test involves putting the plane, engine running, through the motions of a flight — takeoff, climb and landing — with the aircraft tied down to the runway, Torgerson said. The company will also check how the airplane responds to simulated system failures. After that, a Boeing-Saab board will clear the aircraft for flight, and the Federal Aviation Administration will certify it. Finally, the company will conduct low-, medium- and high-speed taxi tests before flying the jet.

“We’re looking to fly soon, before the year is over” Tom Conard, the company’s T-X capture team leader, reiterated during a Tuesday briefing at I/ITSEC. “And as we’re preparing that jet to fly, our flight crews are training in the training system devices to prepare them exactly what they’re going to see in the jet.”

A second Boeing T-X was revealed to the press during a September rollout ceremony shortly before it went through structural proof tests. The company is currently powering all of the systems on the airplane, will fuel the plane in a matter of weeks and plans to move quickly through tests for an early 2017 flight, Togerson said.

The Boeing-Saab team is competing against one other clean-sheet design, manufactured by Northrop Grumman. Two other teams are banking on less risky existing designs. Lockheed Martin has partnered with KAI to offer the T-50A, a version of the Korean company’s T-50 trainer. Raytheon joined with Leonardo and CAE on the T-100, which uses Alenia Aermacchi M-346 as the basis.

If all goes according to schedule, the Boeing-Saab plane will fly around the same time as the US Air Force issues its final request for proposals, which officials have targeted for a December release. The service has already put forward several draft request for proposals, which detail threshold requirements as well as objective requirements that could knock hundreds of millions of dollars off a company’s total evaluated price.

Boeing, for its part, has stressed that its clean-sheet design was tailored specifically for the threshold requirements, and officials have not detailed how close it can get to the objective.

« We’re going to meet all the requirements and growth provisions for the future,” Conard said. « It has no radar, it has no weapons, it is not doing anything except advanced fast jet training. »

Asked whether Boeing plans to incorporate such features for potential opportunities currently under discussion by the Air Force — such as an exercise of light-attack aircraft that could inform a program of record, or a proposal to hire industry to play the aggressor role in training exercises — Conard demurred.

“We’ll look at that after we win T-X,” he said. “We’ve got to win T-X, and then from there we will able to adapt and work in future variants. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Source: defensenews.com

Armement : encore un succès de la France (Thales) en Australie

Par Michel Cabirol  |  24/11/2016, 10:00  |  572  mots

Le contrat de modernisation obtenu par Thales vise à doter les systèmes sonars des sous-marins australiens de la classe Collins des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine (Crédits : ministère de la Défense australien) Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Un premier contrat de 70 millions d’euros.

Et encore un succès de la France en Australie dans le domaine de l’armement. Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Le montant de ce contrat s’élève à 100 millions de dollars australiens (soit 70 millions d’euros) mais il pourrait atteindre plusieurs centaines de millions d’euros si l’électronicien obtient les prochaines tranches concernant la production et l’installation des sonars.

Le gouvernement australien devrait donner en 2018 son feu vert définitif au programme de modernisation et les contrats devraient ensuite se succéder sur une dizaine d’années en fonction des besoins de la marine australienne, a précisé le vice-président des systèmes de lutte sous la mer de Thales, Alexis Morel lors d’une conférence téléphonique. Il estime que cette modernisation doit permettre « à la marine australienne de maintenir sa supériorité sous les mers dans la région ».

Meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection

Thales aura pour mission de remplacer les antennes des sous-marins entrées en service au milieu des années 90 par des systèmes de sonars plus performants. Dans un contexte d’évolution permanente des menaces, ce contrat vise à doter leurs systèmes sonars des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine, estime le groupe d’électronique.

Premier fournisseur de technologies sonars à l’Australie, Thales s’appuiera sur une forte expertise locale et internationale pour moderniser les antennes cylindriques, les antennes de flanc et leur traitement à bord. Ainsi, les antennes cylindriques seront remplacées par des antennes cylindriques modulaires (MCA), élaborées par Thales au Royaume-Uni. L’actuelle antenne de flanc sera, elle, remplacée par une antenne de dernière génération développée par les équipes Thales en France.

Dans ce cadre de la modernisation des Collins, Thales Australia engagera des sociétés australiennes comme Sonartech Atlas et L3 Oceania en vue de préparer ce programme, a précisé le ministère australien de la Défense dans un communiqué. « C’est un exemple clair de notre engagement à renforcer le potentiel d’innovation de l’industrie militaire australienne », fait observer le ministre de la Défense, Christopher Pyne. Les travaux d’intégration des systèmes de sonars s’effectueront sur le site de Thales à Rydalmere, à côté de Sydney.

« C’est très bien pour Thales en Australie : cela permet de renouveler des compétences et des emplois et nous maintient dans une position importante dans le pays », estime Alexis Morel.

Une étape importante pour Thales

Avec ce contrat obtenu en Australie, Thales a en ligne de mire un contrat que le groupe pourrait décrocher courant 2017. Un contrat de plus d’un milliard d’euros en vue d’équiper de sonars de nouvelle génération les 12 futurs sous-marins que DCNS et Lockheed Martin (système de combat) doivent construire pour la marine australienne (34 milliards d’euros au total). « Dans le contexte du grand contrat sur les futurs sous-marins, c’est évidemment une étape très importante pour nous », estime Alexis Morel. « On ne vend pas la peau de l’ours mais on aborde les choses avec confiance », affirme-t-il toutefois.

« Aujourd’hui, nous avons l’assurance que la confiance du gouvernement australien dans Thales pour moderniser ses sous-marins actuels est renouvelée », assure-t-il, en précisant que le processus de sélection pour ce contrat n’est pas encore défini.

Source: La Tribune.fr

Ex Dutch defence chief stumbles to the rescue as MPs contemplate ditching F-35

Contributor:  Yousuf Malik
Posted:  08/29/2012

Flight of fantasy

The former chief of defence of The Netherlands, Dick Berlijn, and Dutch defence expert, Peter Wijninga, recently backed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme and their government’s bid to acquire the fifth generation fighter. This comes after the majority of Dutch MPs now back the idea of ditching the hugely expensive and much-delayed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is built by Lockheed Martin, the US defence contractor.

The pair were recently interviewed [in Dutch] by the popular news website NU for a well-meaning article meant to counter The Hague’s dismay with the growing cost of the stealthy aircraft. Berlijn and Wijninga suggest that any alternative fighter jets the Royal Netherlands Air Force might buy would be outdated and just as expensive, if not more expensive.

In reality, it is a complete flight of fantasy which also contradicts the rest of their reasoning.

With age comes wisdom

It is unlikely that the former Dutch defence chief, who would have been privy to negotiations, could have gotten his facts so wrong.

“This has to be a politically motivated bid to cloud the debate and mislead Dutch taxpayers,” said an inside source who wished to remain anonymous.

The NU article quoted Berlijn and Wijninga as saying that the options available to the Dutch, which include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen, and the French Rafale, were all outdated. The pair asked: “Who would buy a new car with 20 year old technology?”

The F-35 program office started life in 1993. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Audi vs. Buick: Next-war-itis?

Aware that the Dutch might prefer a sporty Audi to a Buick, Berlijn and Wijninga compare the F-35 to the high-end car manufacturer and suggest it would be insane to replace an Audi with a Buick. They assert that the whole discussion in The Netherlands is simply political.

“Arguments, which are supported by independent research by the Rand Corporation, seem not to matter anymore,” they lament.

I would certainly hope they weren’t referring to the leaked Rand Corporation report which said the F-35 « can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run » and which resulted in the Australian government controversially buying more F/A-18 Super Hornets from Boeing, a fighter aircraft manufacturer.

Berlijn and Wijninga further argue that if The Netherlands send their men and women on dangerous missions, they have a duty to give them the best weapons. Perfectly reasonable then but convenient they didn’t burden themselves with explaining how exactly the F-35 is the best weapon. General Motors, which makes the Buick, would probably disagree with the pair, asking which particular model they’re talking about? What year? What engine? Like the gorgeous ’49 Buick Roadmaster, the F-35 is a brilliant plane but it is the best weapon for what exactly? Red threat? Blue threat? Grey threat? Taliban in a Toyota Hi-Lux? Robert Gates’ “Next-War-itis”?

Air warfare is not about speed and manoeuvrability, they assert, but about being invisible and stealthy and being able to “take out an F-16 from a great distance.” But the F-16 is not flown by any adversaries the Dutch are likely to come up against. It’s aircraft like the Su-27, Su-30, MiG-29s and all their Chinese variants and newer aircraft that the Dutch and other F-35 customers need to worry about. The F-35 truly is not as fast and is limited by the range of its weapons, which are exactly the same as the ‘Buicks’ – the F-16s, Rafales, and the Eurofighters– that Berlijn and Wijninga are comparing it to.

Invisibility through stealth is not as awe-inspiring as the smug Audi driver might think either. The kind of stealth that the F-35 comes with offers reduced ‘acquisition’ for enemy radars looking for you in the X-band only. There are ways to ‘see’ stealthy aircraft using longer radar wavelengths as the former Yugoslavian Army Colonel Zoltan Dani famously did when he shot down the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk back in 1999. Furthermore, modern infra-red search and track (IRST) technology has now advanced to the point that stealthy aircraft are no longer invisible.

The 2008 press release attributed to Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin’s Executive Vice President, really stirred up the stealth debate:

“Simply put, advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access – all before the F-35 is ever detected, then return safely to do it again.”

In response, Aviation Week’s veteran journalist Bill Sweetman remarked, “Jeebus on a Vespa… I have been writing about LO [low observable; stealth] technology for 28 years and I have never heard anyone make a claim like this. Stealth means that you are hard to detect, harder to track and harder still to engage, but it doesn’t make you invisible, particularly after large explosions have alerted the adversary to your presence.”

How much did you say?

Perhaps most alarmingly, the NU article quotes Berlijn and Wijninga as saying that the “F-35 costs €88.5 million including training.” Are they talking about the two F-35s the Dutch bought? They certainly weren’t bought for €88.5 million. See Pentagon chart below.

Dismissing the French Rafale as an option for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Berlijn and Wijninga go on to say, « This aircraft has just been sold for €95 million each to India and is therefore more expensive than the JSF. »

The Rafale isn’t cheap but the two F-35s the Dutch bought probably cost in excess of €151 million [$190 million] each and they are incomplete as to final configuration and retrofit/modification cost (look at the lines for Unit flyaway cost and Weapons system flyawaycost, year 2010 in the chart above). The end of program final average forecast price for the F-35 aircraft on its own (without support, training or weapons and equipment costs) published in the 2011 U.S. Department of Defense F-35 Selected Acquisition Report is $78.7 million. To arrive at that price, the F-35 program office averaged the cost of 2,443 aircraft the US is meant to buy, and 716 aircraft that international customers are committed to buy over the total production run through to the year 2037. Tellingly, all 3,200 aircraft will have to be bought to realise that average figure. The Pentagon now projects that the cost of the F-35 program will be $1.45 trillion – up from $1 trillion a year ago. Costs are going up faster than we thought. That works out to a minimum average cost of $135 million per plane. Even that figure has only recently been made possible through creative arithmetic by estimating the total cost of the aircraft including operating costs spread over 50 years instead of 30 as was the original plan.

What about the Eurofighter then?

« This aircraft is absolutely not affordable and technically outdated. It has been sold for €271 million to Saudi Arabia, » remarks Berlijn.

The costs of the Eurofighter, Rafale and Gripen used by Berlijn have no source to validate what they are based on. Is that the cost of a single aircraft alone or the total cost including weapons, 20 or 30 years of support, logistics, training, etc. which is usually figured in to the published cost when a country buys a fighter jet? The Japanese cost per aircraft in their F-35 acquisition program is about $238 million per copy (42 aircraft at $10 billion).

“That’s quite a clever trick,” our source said. “When talking about the plane that he [Berlijn] supports, he gives you the price without engine, weapons, training or support over 20 years and when talking about the planes he wants to discredit, he adds everything in.”

That would be the cost of the Buicks with all the trimmings – go fast stripes, service and repairs for 20 years, 3 spare engines, 800 watt stereo, video entertainment system and the cute blonde from the TV ad.

“The plane Berlijn is pushing the Dutch to buy is the Audi – a fine car and arguably a lot more desirable than a Buick – but what he doesn’t tell you is that if you want the engine, wheels, lights or seats, you’ll have to pay a lot more.”

Perhaps Rob Meines from Lockheed rival Saab, which promotes the Gripen, best sums it up in the NU article: “Nobody knows what the JSF is going to cost us.”

Buick – 1. Audi – 0.

Source: Defence iQ

Pentagon Contract: Lockheed Martin

August 28, 2012

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Ft. Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $206,821,828 modification to a previously awarded cost-reimbursement contract (N00019-12-C-0070).

This modification provides for the System Development and Demonstration Phase I Increment 1, in support of F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) Air System for the Government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

This modification includes the development of the hardware and software for the Israel F-35A CTOL Air System from the initial requirements development to the Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

In addition, the post PDR of hardware only, will continue through finalized requirements, layouts, and build to prints, including production planning data.

Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas (60 percent); Los Angeles, Calif. (20 percent); Nashua, N.H. (15 percent); and San Diego, Calif. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2016. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Source: U.S Department of Defense

Lockheed and Oshkosh win US military’s JLTV EMD contracts

27 August 2012

Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh Defense have each been awarded a 27-month engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase contract for the US Army and Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme.

The contract share for Oshkosh and Lockheed amounts to $56.4m and $66.3m respectively, and involves delivery of 22 prototypes by each company within 12 to 14 months from the date of award, plus their support during government testing and evaluation of the prototypes.

First time bidder Oshkosh had proposed a variant of its latest generation Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV) for the contract, while Lockheed submitted a substantially lighter and more affordable version of its technology demonstration (TD) model, which already proved its capabilities during government testing.

Oshkosh Defense Joint and Marine Corps Programs vice president and general manager John Bryant said,  »The Oshkosh JLTV solution was designed with a purpose – to keep soldiers safe on future battlefields with unpredictable terrain, tactics, and threats. »

Lockheed Martin missiles and fire control business ground vehicles vice president said,  »Two JLTVs have been produced on an active manufacturing line, so we are already well prepared for rapid production and testing. »

Prototypes to be delivered by Lockheed include a utility carrier and shelter (JLTV-UTL), a two-seat prime mover with an open bed, and the four-seat general-purpose vehicle (JLTV-GP), while Oshkosh did not provide details about the variants.

Lockheed’s team includes BAE Systems in Sealy, Cummins Engine, Allison Transmission, Bosch, Meritor Defense, Lotus Engineering, L3 Combat Propulsion Systems and Vehma International of America, whereas Oshkosh competed independently for the EMD contract.

A third $64.5m JLTV contract was secured by AM General, which offered its blast resistant vehicle-off-road (BRV-O), by beating Navistar Defense, General Dynamics and Britain’s BAE Systems.

The multi-billion dollar JLTV programme is aimed at replacing the Army and Marine Corps’ fleet of ageing high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs), which have been in active service for over 25 years.

Around 50,000 vehicles are expected to be acquired by the army with options for additional units, while the USMC has plans to purchase 5,500 vehicles.

Source: Army Technology

BAE Confirms S. Korea F-16 Upgrade Deal

Aug. 6, 2012 – 10:41AM   |
By WENDELL MINNICK

TAIPEI — BAE Systems confirmed Aug. 6 that South Korea has selected the company to perform an upgrade to the avionics and electronics systems for its fleet of 130 KF-16 Block 52 fighters.

South Korea has not yet delivered the Letter of Request for BAE to be the sole source systems integration contractor, but the letter is expected shortly. The work will be contracted through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales program.

BAE Systems will perform a range of services, including systems engineering and integration, software and electronics engineering, obsolescence management, and logistics support. The work will be performed primarily at BAE Systems’ facilities in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

“This is a strategic international win for us, significantly expanding our aircraft upgrade and modification business,” said Dave Herr, president of BAE Systems Support Solutions. “We have extensive capabilities that span across BAE Systems, and I am confident that our team offers the best value to the customer.”

“This selection further demonstrates that we are a leading provider of integration, avionics and mission computers for F-16s, and we will continue to offer our capability to customers across the globe,” said Gordon Eldridge, vice president and general manager of Support Solutions’ Aerospace Solutions business area.

The total estimated addressable market for F-16 avionics upgrades is valued at greater than $3 billion internationally, covering more than 3,000 aircraft. BAE Systems supports 270 of the U.S. Air National Guard’s upgraded F-16s and 50 of the Turkish Air Force’s upgraded F-16s.

The company is now focusing on securing the upgrade contract for Taiwan’s 146 F-16A/B Block 20 fighters. BAE will be engaging Lockheed Martin for the contract valued at $3.7 billion.

Lockheed appears to have a strong lead in winning the competition. The company has a long relationship with Taiwan’s state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and Taiwan’s Air Force. AIDC and Lockheed signed a memorandum of understanding July 11 to form a strategic partnership to facilitate the F-16 upgrade program.

Source: DefenseNews

Après le Canada, les surcoûts du F-35 posent problème aux Pays-Bas

15/04/2012

Les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse américains que prévu. Au Canada, le programme d’acquisition de cet appareil est gelé

La question des surcoûts du F-35, l’avion de chasse américain construit par Lockheed Martin bat son plein. Ce dimanche, le ministre de la Défense des Pays Bas, Hans Hillen a indiqué que les Pays-Bas achèteront moins d’avions de chasse que prévu en raison de la hausse de leurs coûts et du fait que l’armée de l’air néerlandaise aura besoin de remplacer moins de F-16 qu’elle ne le pensait. Les Pays-Bas prévoyaient initialement d’acheter 85 F-35, construits par l’américain Lockheed Martin entre 2019 et 2027. Le ministre n’a pas précisé combien d’avions de chasse seront finalement achetés.

Un gonflement de 9 milliards de dollars de la facture canadienne

Au Canada, qui a commandé en juillet 2010 (sans appel d’offres) 65 exemplaires pour 9 milliards de dollars canadiens (autant de dollars américains), et 16 milliards en tenant compte des contrats d’entretien, la question des coûts fait rage depuis que le Vérificateur général du Canada (la Cour des Comptes locale) a reproché il y a un mois au ministère de la Défense Peter MacKay d’avoir fortement sous-estimé les coûts. Ceci en n’ayant pas « établi les coûts complets sur l’ensemble du cycle de vie » de l’appareil dont les coûts pourraient atteindre 25 milliards de dollars. L’opposition a aussitôt déclenché un tir de barrage contre le gouvernement conservateur.

Surtout, le rapport du Vérificateur a forcé le gouvernement à geler le budget pour l’acquisition des F-35, la plus grosse commande militaire du Canada. Aussi, ce gel pourrait se traduire par une révision à la baisse du nombre d’avions achetés. « Nous ferons l’acquisition du F-35 uniquement si nous pouvons le faire dans les limites de ce budget de 9 milliards de dollars », a déclaré le ministre associé à la Défense nationale, Julian Fantino.

Source: la Tribune

Le premier F-35 Lightning II hollandais sort d’usine

5 avril 2012

Le premier F-35 hollandais de pré-série est sorti dimanche dernier de la ligne de production de Lockheed Martin au Texas à Fort Worth.

Lockheed Martin va procéder à des tests sur l’appareil au sol et en vol avec ses pilotes maison. Si tout répond au cahier des charges, l’appareil de cinquième génération sera transféré aux Pays Bas d’ici l’été.

Il sera alors pris en main par les pilotes hollandais en condition opérationnelle. Le deuxième appareil, AN-2, n’est pas attendu avant l’année prochaine.

Source: Ministère de la Défense hollandais (defensie.nl)


Lockheed’s F-35 fighter jet under renewed pressure

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON | Tue Feb 7, 2012

(Reuters) – Key U.S. senators raised fresh questions about Lockheed Martin Corp’s $382 billion F-35 fighter program on Monday as the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer underscored deep flaws in the way the multinational arms program was set up from the start.

The unusually blunt talk about the most expensive U.S. arms program came a week before the release of a fiscal 2013 budget plan that is expected to postpone funding for 179 warplanes until after 2017, a move that has Australia and other international partners questioning their own procurement plans.

Cuts to the F-35 program are part of the Pentagon’s plan to start implementing $487 billion in defense spending reductions over the next decade.

The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee blasted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision to lift a « probation » imposed on the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 a year ahead of schedule, saying the move appeared premature and was not vetted with Congress.

Senator Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, and Senator John McCain, its top Republican, cited continuing cost overruns on the F-35 program and said Panetta had wasted a chance to « focus Lockheed Martin’s attention and disrupt ‘business as usual’ in this multibillion-dollar effort. »[ID:nL2E8D6IKK]

They said Lockheed’s fourth production contract for 32 F-35 jets was expected to overrun its target cost of $3.46 billion by $245 million, and that the cost of retrofitting planes already built would add $237 million more to the program’s budget.

Panetta last month threw his support behind the F-35B model, which takes off from shorter runways and lands like a helicopter, during a carefully orchestrated visit to a Maryland military base where the warplanes are being tested.

But a week later, he told reporters the Pentagon would further slow procurement of new F-35s to allow more time for development and testing — news that could prompt the eight international partners to cut or delay their orders as well.

Australia has already said it is rethinking its plans to buy 12 jets, Turkey has put off buying two jets, and Italy may follow suit, according to FlightGlobal. The other partners are Britain, Denmark, Norway, the Netherland, and Canada.

« ACQUISITION MALPRACTICE »

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition chief, said the U.S. military was committed to the program, but he told industry executives at a Washington think tank that the United States was clearly « paying the price » for starting production of the new jets years before their first flight test.

« Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done, » Kendall said in remarks after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Initial development work on the fighter began in 1996 under the Clinton administration. Lockheed then beat out Boeing Co to win the program in 2001, early in the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Kendall said the plane’s problems so far were typical of those seen with other fighter jets and there was nothing that would prevent continued production at the current low rates.

The F-35 has completed about 20 percent of its required testing and should accomplish an additional 15 to 20 percent of testing in each of the coming years, Kendall said.

Lockheed, which says the F-35 will account for 20 percent of its revenues once it reaches full production, insisted that the program was continuing to make good progress, citing Panetta’s decision to lifted probation for the Marine Corp variant and better than expected flight test results for 2011.

Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said the U.S. government’s plan for concurrent production and development would have affected any winning bidder. He noted that most fighter plane programs had some degree of this concurrency.

« Lockheed Martin has worked hard during the past decade to cost effectively meet government procurement requirements, » he said, noting that each successive batch of F-35 jets had less « concurrency » costs — the cost of retrofitting already built planes to deal with problems found during testing.

Kendall said the Pentagon had counted on improved design and simulation tools to catch possible problems before jets went into low-rate production, but those design tools failed. He said he hoped no more serious issues came up in coming years, which would allow Lockheed to increase output and cut costs.

« The key to getting the cost down on the F-35 is getting the production rate up and we need to do that as soon as we’re ready to do it, but we’re not ready to do it yet, » he said.

TAKING AIM AT COSTS

President Barack Obama last month nominated Kendall, who has held a series of jobs at the Pentagon since 1982, to permanently take over as chief arms buyer. The Senate must approve the nomination, but no hearing date has been set.

Kendall, who had been the deputy chief arms buyer for the past two years, said he was already working on various initiatives to rein in chronic cost overruns and schedule delays on other major weapons programs, as well as service contracts that comprise about half of Pentagon procurement spending.

He discussed measures to train acquisition officials, review and analyze requirements to understand the full cost of programs before they are launched, and underscored the Pentagon’s commitment to maintaining the defense industrial base.

Kendall also warned that there were no simple, single-point solutions, including the fixed-price contracts favored by lawmakers and Pentagon officials on the F-35 program and others.

He said the United States was not facing another « procurement holiday » and cuts to weapons programs would not be as steep as after the end of the Cold War.

But he said the cuts would approach those post-Cold War levels if lawmakers did not reverse another $500 billion in spending cuts that are due to take effect in January 2013.

Source: Reuters

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Richard Chang)