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.