South Korea would be the eighth foreign country to make a firm commitment to buying the F-35, joining the Netherlands, Britain, Italy, Australia, Norway, Israel and Japan.
ASSEMBLED IN TEXAS
Lockheed is anxious to lock down the production plan so it can buy additional $5 million assembly stations for the Fort Worth, Texas, plant where the jets are built.
Kendall’s office is expected to spell out its requirements for continued rigorous oversight of the F-35 program next week. Maureen Schumann, Kendall’s spokeswoman, declined comment on the expected acquisition decision memorandum, or ADM.
The Pentagon restructured the F-35 program in 2010, adding $6 billion to its development effort and slowing down production to reduce the number of possible retrofits needed since the plane was being produced as it was still undergoing testing, an approach known as “concurrency.”
The F-35 program has also been subjected to intense oversight in recent years, including a 2012 review by the Pentagon inspector general’s office of program quality that found over 800 issues on each jet built. Lockheed and the government say they have made significant progress since then.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who runs the program for the Defense Department, was sharply critical of the contractors when he first took over last year and later accused them of trying to “squeeze every nickel” out of the government.
But in September he told an Air Force audience that while he wished the program was “further along,” relations with the contractors were improving.