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”.
Bogdan said he was confident the F-35 program would remain on track and on budget if he was given the discretion to deal with any cuts.
The risk is that money is cut from the $6 billion set aside for the development program by the end of October next year.
“I need every penny of that $6 billion to get over the finish line,” Bogdan said. “If they take money out of development something’s going to have to give. I’m either going to have to push the program out or I’m going to have to shed capability.”
Budget cuts aside, Bogdan said he was confident of bringing the cost of each plane down to around $90 million by 2013, compared to around $120 million now.
Budget cuts have already forced Italy to scale back its F-35 orders, and Turkey has delayed its purchases by two years. Orders from Japan and Israel have buoyed the project, and additional Israeli orders are expected in 2013.
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.