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.
Australia, a close American ally, is considering doubling its fleet of 24 Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornets amid delays and setbacks in the F-35 project. That means Canberra could buy far fewer F-35s than initially planned.
Bogdan was also critical of what he suggested were leaks from Pratt & Whitney’s camp about the engine issue, which led the Pentagon to suspend F-35 flights last Friday.
Two sources told Reuters that Pratt & Whitney is 99 percent sure the fan blade problem that grounded the jets was not caused by high-cycle fatigue, which could force a costly design change, and the aircraft could be flying again within the week.
“Until all those tests are done and I see the results, I don’t know what’s going on,” Bogdan said. “However ... my gut would tell me it’s on the spectrum of the minor side - 99 percent is bold, flying next week is bold.”
Bogdan also gave the example of taking six months to close a deal with Pratt & Whitney for engines on its fifth bloc of jets, shortly after General Electric Co (GE.N) had been dropped as a second supplier of engines for the program, leaving Pratt & Whitney as sole supplier for the next 40 years.
“Now, you would think a company like Pratt & Whitney that was just given the greatest Christmas gift you could ever, ever get for a company would act a little differently,” Bogdan said.
Bogdan is flying back to the United States this weekend, just in time to hear about the future of U.S. military budgets, which 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”.