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  • "Frustrated" May Be Putting It Mildly
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 3:10 PM on Nov 19, 2010

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates' spokesman Geoff Morrell says his boss is "frustrated" by the bad news emerging from VAdm Dave Venlet's review of the Joint Strike Fighter program. While no decisions are expected out of Monday's Defense Acquisition Board meeting, Morrell says, "any decisions will be made by the secretary himself, and likely as a part of the 2012 budget review."

    Previous reviews "have not fully illuminated the issues of the program", Morrell says, and Venlet - appointed in May after Gates fired the previous JSF Program Office director, Marine Maj Gen Mike Heinz - has found "additional issues that are of concern", including the fact that earlier reviews understated the amount of software that remains unwritten.

    It's hard not to think about the horrible tale of the General Dynamics/McDonnell Douglas A-12. In that case, it was then-defense secretary Dick Cheney who discovered the program was in bigger trouble than he'd been told.

    This is now the second such revelation for Gates. He fired the Air Force's top leaders in 2008 because they opposed canceling the F-22, and terminated the program the following year, after getting advice that all was going well with JSF.

    Then, the delays announced in March were supposed to take risk out of the flight-test schedule - without having to absorb the full 30-month delay that had been predicted by independent estimators in late 2009.

    Gates is not going to follow Cheney's lead (the consequences were even more horrible) but the fact remains that the 11th commandment - "Thou shalt not make the boss look bad" - has been flouted on a cosmic scale, and someone is going to have to answer for it.

    Tags: ar99, jsf, gates, tacair

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