Senior Pentagon officials testified before Congress last week on the status of the tri-service F-35 fighter program, and the news was mostly positive. According to a joint statement by the Navy’s acquisition czar and the Air Force general overseeing the program, “The F-35 program is executing well across the entire spectrum of acquisition, to include development and design, flight test, production, fielding and base stand-up, sustainment of fielded aircraft, and building of a global sustainment enterprise.” Even the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, who never seems pleased with any program, stated in his most recent annual report that “almost all measures of performance have improved over the past year” on F-35. Developmental testing is 80% complete without any show-stoppers, over 170 of the planes are operational, and costs are coming down on each successive production lot. So F-35 is looking like a winner for the three U.S. services and dozen foreign partners who will fly it. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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