The test team is “making good progress [though] I don’t want to be euphoric about this,” Kendall says. He noted progress in addressing deficiencies found in the aircraft during earlier testing, including shortcomings in the helmet-mounted display, engine and complications with the tailhook design for the F-35C.
Meanwhile, Kendall says the Pentagon is continuing to address concerns about the cost of ownership for the F-35. Recently, the Pentagon’s Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation group submitted a report to Congress that listed no reduction to the $32,000 flying hour cost of the F-35, despite strong focus on lowering it for more than two years.
Bogdan has suggested that for at least one customer, the Netherlands, it could be as low as $24,000 per flying hour.
This issue is set to be at least partially rectified for the U.S. services during Kendall’s program review in advance of a full-rate production decision.
“I can tell you that the number is coming down,” he said. “I don’t know if it is coming down dramatically, but it is coming down”