“What the foreign partners worry about is the stability of the program writ large,” said the official. “We’re solving the technical challenges. There are no showstoppers there, although they’re not cheap.”
U.S. military budgets are slated to be cut by nearly $500 billion over the next decade, an amount which could double unless Congress acts in the next week to avert spending reductions known as “sequestration”.
After the latest F-35 grounding, a former Australian defence minister in the Labor government, Joel Fitzgibbon, criticised the country’s military commanders for their “obsession” with the troubled F-35.
“I think there is an almost obsession with the JSF within the uniformed ranks. This is their brand new toy,” Fitzgibbon, who still holds a senior government role, told local media.
Bogdan said he was not aware of a single partner country in the aircraft wavering in their commitment to the fighter.
“When they buy their airplanes is a different story and I won’t comment on any of the partners’ notions of when they do that,” he said.
Lockheed is building three different models of the F-35 for the U.S. military and eight countries that helped pay for its development: Britain, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway.
The Pentagon plans to buy 2,443 of the warplanes in the coming decades, although many analysts believe U.S. budget constraints and deficits will reduce that number.