Order Code RL30563
F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Program: Background, Status, and Issues
Updated August 29, 2008
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
U.S. Air Force Fellow
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Program: Background, Status, and Issues
The Defense Department’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is one
of three aircraft modernization programs in tactical aviation, the others being the Air
Force F-22A fighter and the Navy F/A-18E/F fighter/attack plane. In November
1996, the Defense Department selected two major aerospace companies, Boeing and
Lockheed Martin, to demonstrate competing designs for the JSF, a joint-service and
multi-role fighter/attack plane. Lockheed Martin won this competition and was
selected to develop and produce the JSF, a family of aircraft including conventional
take-off and landing (CTOL), carrier-capable (CV), and short take-off vertical
landing (STOVL) versions for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, the
United Kingdom, as well as other allied services. Originally designated the Joint
Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program, the JSF program has attracted
considerable attention in Congress because of concerns about its cost, effects on the
defense industrial base, and implications for U.S. national security in the 21st century.
The JAST/JSF program is designed to address the high cost of tactical aviation,
the need to deploy fewer types of aircraft to reduce acquisition and operating costs,
and projections of future threat scenarios and enemy capabilities. The program’s
rationale and primary emphasis is joint-service development of a next-generation
multi-role strike aircraft that can be produced in affordable variants to meet different
operational requirements. Developing an affordable tri-service family of aircraft
with different (but similar) combat missions poses major technological challenges.
If the JSF is to have joint-service support, the program must yield affordable aircraft
that can meet such divergent needs as those of the U.S. Air Force for a successor to
its low-cost F-16 and A-10 fighter/attack planes, those of the U.S. Marine Corps and
the UK Royal Air Force and Navy for a successor to their Harrier STOVL aircraft,
and the U.S. Navy’s need for a successor to older F/A-18s and a complement to its
F/A-18E/F fighter/attack planes.
This report discusses the background, status, and current issues of the JSF
program. Additional information and analysis can be found in CRS Report
RL33543, Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress, which also
discusses the Air Force F-22A, the Navy F/A-18EF, and the Marine Corps V-22.
The JSF program is also addressed in CRS Report RL33390, Proposed Termination
of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F136 Alternate Engine; CRS Report RS21488, NavyMarine Corps Tactical Air Integration Plan: Background and Issues for Congress;
and CRS Report RL31360, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): Potential National Security
Questions Pertaining to a Single Production Line.
This report will be updated as events warrant.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Design and Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Program Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Funding and Projected Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Development and Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Production Quantities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Potential F-35 Bases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Allied Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Current Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Concurrency of Testing and Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Affordability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Projected Fighter Aircraft Inventory Shortfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Implications for U.S. Defense Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Congressional Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Appendix A. JSF Key Performance Parameters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Appendix B. JSF Procurement Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
List of Figures
Figure 1. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Figure 2. Defense Acquisition Management Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
List of Tables
Table 1. JSF F-35 FY2009 Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Table 2. JSF F-35 FY2008 Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Table 3. JSF F-35 FY2007 Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Table 4. JSF F-35 FY2006 Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Program: Background, Status, and Issues
The F-35 Lightning II, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is developing and
building a family of next-generation tactical aircraft for the Air Force, the Marine
Corps, and the Navy, as well as for export.1 As now projected, the JSF is the Defense
Department’s (DOD’s) largest acquisition program in terms of cost and number of
aircraft to be produced and the longest in terms of procurement duration. Current
DOD plans call for production of 2,456 aircraft in three versions over a 28-year
The U.S. Air Force’s program of record is to purchase 1,763 conventional
takeoff and landing (CTOL) versions of the F-35 to replace its current force of F-16
Falcons and A-10 Warthogs. In February 2003, Air Force officials announced its
intentions to analyze acquisition of the STOVL JSF to improve future close air
support (CAS) capabilities.3 To date, however, the Air Force has not committed to
purchasing other variants besides its CTOL platform. While speculation continues
as to the procurement intentions of the USAF (the largest purchaser of the F-35), the
Air Force official position still remains at 1,763 CTOL F-35s.4
The Department of the Navy (composed of the Navy and the Marine Corps)
plans to procure of 680 JSFs. The Marine Corps plans to field the short take-off
vertical landing (STOVL) version of the plane to replace its current fleet of AV-8B
Harrier vertical/short take-off and landing (VSTOL) attack planes.5 The Navy plans
to procure a carrier-capable version — termed a CV — to replace older carrier-based
Unlike the F-22A Raptor, the F-35 was designed for export from the onset and will be the
first U.S. export of a stealth aircraft.
Fifteen of these aircraft will be purchased with RDT&E funds and will be used for
Lorenzo Cortes, “Air Force to Study Acquisition of F-35-B STOVL JSF,” Defense Daily,
February 13, 2004; Gail Kaufman, “U.S. Air Force Wants STOVL JSFs,” Defense News,
February 12, 2004; and Christopher Castelli, “Overall Impact of Air Force Interest in F-35
STOVL Variant is Unclear,” Inside the Navy, March 1, 2004.
Marc Selinger, “Jumper Confirms Air Force Plans to Cut Joint Strike Fighter Purchase,”
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, December 15, 2004.
The U.S. Marine Corps and the UK Royal Navy and Royal Air Force operate versions of
the AV-8A/B Harrier aircraft flown by these services since the early 1970s. CRS Report
81-180, The British Harrier V/STOL Aircraft: Analysis of Operational Experience and
Relevance to U.S. Tactical Aviation (out of print; available from the author at 7-2577).
aircraft. The exact division of the Department’s 680 F-35s between the two variants
and the two services has not yet been determined.
An additional 738 aircraft are expected to be ordered by the JSF development
partner nations of the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, the
Netherlands, and Norway.6 The United Kingdom is anticipated to be the largest
foreign purchaser of the F-35, with a projected 138 STOVL aircraft.
Figure 1. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
The JSF program emerged in late 1995 from the Joint Advanced Strike
Technology (JAST) program, which began in late 1993 as a result of the
Administration’s Bottom-Up Review (BUR) of U.S. defense policy and programs.
Having affirmed plans to abandon development of both the A-12/AFX aircraft that
was to replace the Navy’s A-6 attack planes and the multi-role fighter (MRF) that the
Air Force had considered to replace its F-16s, the BUR envisaged the JAST program
as a replacement for both these programs. In 1995, in response to congressional
direction, a program led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) to develop an advanced short takeoff and vertical landing (ASTOVL)
Current anticipated partner orders: UK: 138; Italy: 131; Australia: 100; Turkey: 100;
Canada: 88; Netherlands: 85; Denmark: 48; Norway: 48. Michael Sirak, “F-35 Nations on
Track to Sign New MOU, Says JSF Program Office,” Defense Daily, November 20, 2006.
aircraft was incorporated into the JAST program. This opened the way for Marine
Corps and British Navy participation.7 The name of the program was then changed
to Joint Strike Fighter to focus on joint development and production of a nextgeneration fighter/attack plane. And unlike the so-called “joint” Air Force/Navy
TFX program of the 1960s, program proponents note the JAST/JSF program has
been truly “joint” from its inception.
During the JAST/JSF program’s 1994-1996 concept development phase, three
different aircraft designs were proposed by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and
McDonnell Douglas (the latter teamed with Northrop Grumman and British
Aerospace) in a competitive program expected to shape the future of U.S. tactical
aviation and the U.S. defense industrial base.8 On November 16, 1996, the Defense
Department announced that Boeing and Lockheed Martin had been chosen to
compete in the 1997-2001 concept demonstration phase, in which each contractor
would build and flight-test two aircraft to demonstrate their concepts for three JSF
variants (conventional takeoff/landing, short-field takeoff/vertical landing, and the
carrier takeoff/landing). On October 26, 2001, DOD selected a team of contractors
led by Lockheed Martin to develop and produce the JSF. The three variants —
CTOL, CV and STOVL aircraft — are to have maximum commonality in airframe,
engine, and avionics components to reduce development, production, and operation
and support costs.
Mainly because of their projected costs, three tactical aircraft programs are
being analyzed by both Congress and the Administration to determine the best
combination of the types and numbers of aircraft to meet the future needs of the
military — the emergent JSF program, the Air Force F-22A program, and the Navy’s
F/A-18E/F program. Congressional decisions on these programs will have important
implications for defense funding requirements, U.S. military capabilities, and the
U.S. aerospace industry.
Design and Performance
Contrary to some misconceptions that the Joint Strike Fighter would be one
aircraft used by several services for different missions, the program focused on the
development and production of three variants with common components: a landbased conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version for the Air Force, a carrierbased version (CV) for the Navy, and a short take-off vertical landing (STOVL)
version for the Marines and the UK. The JSF program is a family of aircraft
performing similar missions, with a mix of components, systems, and technologies.
Since the early 1990s, DARPA had funded various STOVL projects expected to develop
aircraft to replace both U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and the UK Royal Navy’s Sea
Harriers. The merger of these research-development efforts with the JAST program in early
1995 cleared the way for U.S.-UK collaboration in JSF development.
John Tirpak, “Strike Fighter,” Air Force Magazine, October 1996, pp. 22-28; Philip
Hough, “An Aircraft for the 21st Century,” Sea Power, November 1996, pp. 33-34.
Component commonality among the three variants is projected to be at 70% to 90%.9
Many of the high-cost components are common, including engines, avionics, and
major structural components of the airframe. Former Secretary of Defense William
Cohen stated that the JSF’s joint approach “avoids the three parallel development
programs for service-unique aircraft that would have otherwise been necessary,
saving at least $15 billion.”10
The JSF will be powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which was
derived from the F-22A’s Pratt & Whitney F119 power plant. Consistent with
congressional direction in 1996, DOD established an alternative engine program
(F136), with the General Electric/Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team, to compete with
the F135 for JSF production and operations and support (O&S) contracts. In addition
to teaming up with GE on the F136 engine, Rolls-Royce is contracted to develop and
produce the STOVL lift fan system that will be used with both the F135 and F136
engines. The net cost-benefit of an alternate engine for the JSF program has
periodically been debated, and DOD has attempted to eliminate funding for the F136
(removing funding for the engine in the FY2007, FY2008, and FY2009 budget
requests).11 Congress has acted multiple times throughout the program’s history to
ensure continued DOD support for the F136.
All JSF planes will be fifth-generation, single-engine, single-seat aircraft with
supersonic dash capability and some degree of stealth (low observability to radar and
other sensors).12 Combat ranges and payloads will vary in the different service
variants. For example, as currently planned, combat radius requirements are 590-690
nautical miles (nm) for the Air Force, 600-730 nm for the Navy, and 450-550 nm for
the Marine Corps. All three variants are planned to carry weapons internally (two
2,000 lb. weapons for the CTOL and CV variant and two 1,000 lb. weapons for the
STOVL).13 All versions will also carry AIM-120 AMRAAMs (advanced medium9
Operational Requirements call for 70% to 90% commonality between all variants.
Lockheed Martin notes currently that over 80% of all parts are common on all three variants.
Clarence A. Robinson, Jr., “A New Fighter Paradigm,” F-35 Lightning II Commemorating
Letter from Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen to Rep. Jerry Lewis, June 22, 2000.
Transcript made available by Inside the Airforce, June 23, 2000.
See CRS Report RL33390, Proposed Termination of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F136
Alternate Engine, for more information. Also see “Dual Engine Development Could Saddle
JSF with up to $800 Million Bill,” Inside the Navy, August 5, 1996, p. 2; “Despite Demand
for Second JSF Engine Source, F120 Comes up Short,” Aerospace Daily, October 18, 1996,
p. 102; U.S. Congressional Budget Office, A Look at Tomorrow’s Tactical Air Forces by
Lane Pierrot and Jo Ann Vines, January 1997, p. 53.
Fifth-generation fighters combine new developments such as thrust vectoring, composite
materials, supercruise, stealth technology, advanced radar and sensors, and integrated
avionics to greatly improve pilot situational awareness. Currently, only the F-22 and F-35
are considered fifth-generation. Russia has a fifth-generation fighter under development and
it is due for its first flight in 2009.
The STOVL variant weapons load was reduced to assist with overall aircraft weight
reduction efforts in 2004. Background information provided by the F-35 Joint Program
range air-to-air missiles, with a range of about 26 nm/48 km depending on altitude14).
General Dynamics is under contract to develop the 25mm gun for the F-35. The
four-barrel GD-425 under development for the F-35 will be carried internally in the
CTOL version and externally in the CV and STOVL variants.15
Performance features regarding radar signature, speed, range, and payload were
determined on the basis of trade-offs between performance and cost, with the latter
being a critical factor. Program officials have emphasized that cost and performance
trade-offs are critical elements of the program, and were the basis for the joint-service
operational requirements that determined the selection of the Lockheed Martin
contractor team for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.16 The
1997 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) report observed that “Uncertainties in
prospective JSF production cost warrant careful Departmental oversight of the costbenefit tradeoffs in design to ensure that modernization and force structure remain
in balance over the long term.”17 In other words, production costs must be low
enough that these aircraft can be bought in sufficient quantities to maintain desired
force levels. Thus, the parameters of the JSF’s performance and operational
capabilities are subject to refinement for reasons of cost, technological developments,
and future threat assessments.18
The JSF program is jointly staffed and managed by the Department of the Air
Force and the Department of the Navy (comprising the Navy and the Marine Corps),
with coordination among the services reinforced by alternating Air Force and Navy
Department officials in key management positions. For example, Lt. General George
Muellner, USAF, was the program’s first director in 1994, with Rear Admiral Craig
Steidle, USN, serving as deputy director. Subsequently, Rear Admiral Steidle
directed the program, with Brigadier General Leslie Kenne, USAF, as his deputy in
late 1996 and his successor as program director in August 1997. The current director
is Maj. Gen. Charles Davis, USAF. Service Acquisition Executive (SAE)
responsibility also alternates, with the Air Force having that responsibility when the
program director is from the Navy Department, and the Navy in that role with an Air
Force director of the program.
Office, September 2007.
Steven Zaloga, “AIM-120 AMRAAM,” World Missiles Briefing, Teal Group Corp.,
January 1997, p. 5.
“JSF programs says gun system is ahead of schedule, under cost,” Aerospace Daily and
Defense Report, September 26, 2005.
“Tradeoffs Will Be Made to Contain JSF Costs,” Aerospace Daily, September 26, 1997,
U.S. Department of Defense, Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review [by] William
S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense, May 1997, p. 46.
The Joint Program Office notes that the F-35’s Key Performance Parameters (KPPs) have
not changed since Milestone B in 2001.
In 2004, appropriations conferees followed a House recommendation to direct
DOD to review this alternative management arrangement. House appropriators
believed that “management of program acquisition should remain with one Service,
and that the U.S. Navy, due to its significant investment in two variants of the F-35
should be assigned all acquisition executive oversight responsibilities.”19 Conferees
directed that DOD submit a report on the potential efficacy of this change. Prior to
the release of the DOD report, former Air Force Chief of Staff General Jumper was
quoted as saying that he also supported putting one service in charge of JSF program
acquisition.20 However, General Jumper highlighted the significant investment the
Air Force was making in the JSF program in response to the congressional language
favoring the Navy. In DOD’s response to Congress, the report noted the current
arrangement ensures one Service does not have a “disproportionate voice” when it
comes to program decisions and that the current system is “responsive, efficient, and
in the best interests of the success of the JSF program.”21 Since DOD’s response to
Congress in 2004, the issue of JSF program management has not been raised.
Funding and Projected Costs
The Defense Department’s quarterly Selected Acquisition Report of December
25, 2007, estimated the JSF program at $298.8 billion in then-year dollars for 2,456
aircraft, which equates to a program acquisition unit cost (PAUC) of $121.6 million
per aircraft. The average procurement cost (APUC) (which does not include R&D
or other costs) is estimated at $103.9 million per aircraft. The December 2005 SAR
noted that the JSF program breached a “Nunn-McCurdy” cost growth limit: unit cost
growth over 30% of the original Acquisition Program Baseline.22 The December
2007 PAUC and APUC cost estimates are, respectively, 38.8% and 38.0% higher
than cost estimates made in October 2001.
Since 2002, the JSF program estimate has increased by $100 billion due
primarily to a one-year extension in the program’s System Development and
Demonstration phase, a corresponding one-year delay in procurement (from FY2006
to FY2007), revised annual quantity profiles, and revised labor and overhead rates.23
Much of this increased cost and schedule slippage was incurred to address weightdriven performance issues in the development of the F-35B, the STOVL variant.
H.Rept. 108-553 (H.R. 4613), p. 234
Elizabeth Rees, “Jumper Supports Single Service Retaining JSF Acquisition Oversight,”
Inside the Air Force, August 6, 2004.
U.S. Department of Defense, Report to Congress on Joint Strike Fighter Management
Oversight [forwarded by] Michael W. Wynne, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,
Technology and Logistics, December 20, 2004.
JSF program breach of Nunn-McCurdy was also reported and addressed in the 2003 SAR.
The FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act directed a change in reporting based on
the “original” Acquisition Program Baseline resulting in a second breach of Nunn-McCurdy.
Summaries of DOD’s Select Acquisition Reports can be found at [http://www.acq.
DOD’s FY2009 budget requests $6.9 billion in JSF funding. As it did in
FY2007 and in FY2008, DOD proposes to eliminate funding for the F136 Alternate
Engine. The proposed termination of the F136 drew considerable scrutiny in the
109th Congress (second session) and 110th Congress (first session). Congress
stipulated in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (P.L. 110-181,
The Secretary of Defense was to “ensure the obligation and expenditure in each
such fiscal year of sufficient annual amounts for the continued development and
procurement of two options for the propulsion system for the Joint Strike
Development and Schedule
The JSF is in its seventh year of System Development and Demonstration
(SDD). Figure 2, below, from DOD Instruction 5000.2, Operation of the Defense
Acquisition System, depicts graphically the acquisition system and where SDD fits
into the process.25
Figure 2. Defense Acquisition Management Framework
Like some other aviation procurement programs, the JSF has experienced cost
growth, schedule slippage, and a reduction in production rates. For example, to
address growing weight-driven performance problems encountered early in SDD,
DOD extended the SDD phase one year and correspondingly delayed the F-35’s
scheduled first flight from late 2005 to the summer of 2006 (first flight occurred on
December 15, 2006); the beginning of low-rate initial production shifted from 2006
See Conference Report (110-477) to accompany H.R. 1585. See CRS Report RL33390
for more information about the F-136 Alternate Engine Program.
JSF program milestones: Concept Development (CDP) in November 1996. Milestone B
reached on October 2001, with program successfully completed the CDP exit criteria.
Critical Design Review for the CTOL and STOVL variants were completed in February
2006, with the Defense Acquisition Board approving Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP)
in March 2006.
to 2007. Currently, SDD developmental flight testing will conclude October 2012
and the SDD contract period of performance will end a year later.26
In June 2005, DOD officials reported that weight reduction efforts were
successful and approved the revised development schedule.27 Extending SDD and
producing aircraft at lower annual rates, however, contributed to increased unit cost
growth. Rather than request additional funding, JSF program officials instead paid
these costs by spending approximately four-fifths of its $2 billion in “management
reserves.”28 Faced with an impending contract over-run, DOD cut two test aircraft
from the F-35 program and reduced the number of SDD flight tests.29 The goal of
these cost-saving measures was to help bring the management reserve account back
up to about $1 billion, which is considered an acceptable amount to complete flight
The JSF is expected to remain in production at least through the 2030s. Current
plans call for the JSF to be manufactured in several locations. Lockheed Martin will
build the aircraft’s forward section in Fort Worth, TX. Northrop Grumman will build
the mid-section in Palmdale, CA, and the tail will be built by BAE Systems in the
United Kingdom. Final assembly of these components will take place in Fort Worth.
Italy is working with Lockheed Martin and the Joint Program Office on the potential
of erecting a second final assembly and checkout facility in Italy.30
In 1996, preliminary planning estimated over 3,000 aircraft: 2,036 for the Air
Force, 642 for the Marines, 300 for the U.S. Navy, and 60 for the Royal Navy. In
May 1997, however, the QDR recommended reducing projected procurement for the
U.S. armed forces from 2,978 JSF aircraft to 2,852: 1,763 for the Air Force, 609 for
the Marines, and up to 480 for the Navy.32 Thus, the program would comprise 2,912
aircraft (2,852 U.S. and 60 UK JSFs), based on these recommendations.
Procurement profiles for all variants and purchasing agencies are shown in Appendix
B of this report.
IOT&E will conclude in October 2013 bringing SDD to a close.
Marc Selinger, “DoD Approves detailed ‘re-plan’ for Joint Strike Fighter,” Aerospace
Daily & Defense Report, June 2, 2005.
Management reserves are funds set aside to mitigate risk during development.
“Pentagon Trims JSF Test Program.” Aviation Week & Space Technology December 3,
Michael Sirak, “F-35 Program May Get First International Orders In Third Production Lot
in 2009,” Defense Daily International, June 22, 2007.
See Appendix B for proposed procurement quantities through FY2034 (the last planned
procurement year for the United States).
Quadrennial Defense Review Cuts Procurement in FY1999, 2000, Aerospace Daily, May
20, 1997, p. 280.
In 2003 the Department of the Navy (DON) reduced its planned procurement
of 1,089 F-35s to 680 aircraft as part of the Navy/Marine Corps Tactical Aviation
Integration Plan.33 In the spring of 2008, DON officials announced that under current
plans, a current shortfall in fighter aircraft of 15 aircraft would grow to a deficit of
over 90 aircraft by FY2017.34 It is unclear what impact this potential, projected
shortfall might have on the DON’s JSF procurement plans.
Congress and DOD may have occasion to revisit the Air Force’s F-35
procurement plans. In hearings on the Air Force’s FY2009 budget request, Air Force
leaders testified that due to new estimates of the life of the legacy fighter force, the
current F-22 and JSF procurement plans would likely leave a gap of up to 800 fighter
aircraft by the year 2024.35
Since the JSF is a long-term program, projected quantities are more subject to
change than in the case of aircraft already in full-rate production. Near-term
reductions in quantity could be made up in future years, either through increased U.S.
purchases or through foreign sales. However, concerns have been raised that nearterm quantity reductions could scare off foreign participation and raise the aircraft’s
unit price. The GAO views the budget and schedule changes to the JSF program in
a more negative light. In March 2005, GAO wrote that the original business case for
the aircraft “unexecutable,” in large part because of decreased numbers of aircraft to
Potential F-35 Bases
In October 2006, Air Force officials indicated the six tentative locations where
F-35s would be based. These locations were Nellis AFB, NV; Edwards AFB, CA;
Hill AFB, UT; Eglin AFB, FL; Shaw AFB, SC; and Kadena Air Base, Japan. The
Air Force is now awaiting environmental studies before making a final
determination. The Marine Corps has tentatively indicated that MCAS Beaufort,
MCAS Yuma, MCAS Iwakuni, MCAS Miramar, and MCAS Cherry Point will be
the bases for the F-35, again pending their environmental studies and approval of the
Basing decisions for the JSF may be of interest to many in Congress. The F-35
is thought by many to be the last manned aircraft that DOD is likely to develop for
some time and is projected to be in service long after other combat aircraft have been
retired. Those wishing to keep military bases relevant, and to potentially “BRACproof” them, may compete vigorously for the JSF.
See CRS Report RS21488 for more information on the DON plan.
See CRS Report RS22875 for more information on this potential shortfall in DON
Lieutenant General Daniel Darnell, Deputy Chief of Staff Air, Space and Information
Operations, Plans and Requirements. “ Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland
Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2009 Budget for Air Force and Navy Aviation Programs.”
Congressional Quarterly. Congressional Transcripts. April 9, 2008. p. 16
GAO-05-271, March 15, 2005.
Allied participation in the JSF development program has been actively pursued
as a way to defray some of the cost of developing and producing the aircraft, and to
“prime the pump” for export. Congress insisted from the outset that the JAST
program include ongoing efforts by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) to develop more advanced STOVL aircraft, opening the way for British
participation. From the Allied perspective, they saw the F-35 as an affordable avenue
to acquiring a fifth-generation fighter, technical knowledge such as stealth, and
industrial opportunities for domestic firms. The two JSF developmental phases
where international participation has been offered are (1) Systems Development and
Demonstration (SDD) and (2) Production, Sustainment and Follow-On Development
(PSFD). Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E), a subset of SDD, is
another area that partner nations are assisting the program with. Within each of these
phases, the level of participation and funding drives the amount of influence the
respective nation can wield.
System Development and Demonstration (SDD)
Eight countries, from 2001 to 2002, signed on to the JSF program to support the
anticipated 10-year SDD phase. Partnership was broken down into three levels, by
the size of monetary contributions to the program. The higher the investment level,
the greater the nation’s voice with respect to aircraft requirements, design, and access
to technologies gained during development.
The United Kingdom is the only “Level 1” partner contributing approximately
$2 billion to this phase. UK participation actually began at program outset. On
December 20, 1995, the U.S. and UK governments signed a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) on British participation in the JSF program as a collaborative
partner in the definition of requirements and aircraft design. This MOU committed
the British government to contribute $200 million towards the cost of the 1997-2001
concept demonstration phase.37 On January 17, 2001, the United States and United
Kingdom finalized the UK’s SDD participation, which equated to approximately 8%
of the total SDD program. Program proponents noted the UK’s signature represented
“strong international affirmation of the JSF concept,” even though prime contractor
competition and selection had not been completed.38 Many UK firms, such as British
Aerospace and Rolls-Royce, have strong participation in the program.
Level II partners consist of Italy and the Netherlands, contributing $1 billion and
$800 million, respectively. On June 24, 2002, Italy became the senior Level II
partner, with the goal of replacing its leased US F-16s and complimenting its
Eurofighter Typhoons, and occupies five positions within the Joint Program Office.39
“U.S., U.K. Sign JAST Agreement,” Aerospace Daily, December 21, 1995, p. 451.
Eric Tegler, “International Instrument: Building the F-35 In Partnership,” F-35 Lightning
II Commemorating First Flight, p. 71.
Italy has been pushing to have its own final assembly line, in addition to the
possibility of a maintenance and upgrade facility. The Netherlands signed on to the
program on June 17, 2002, after it had conducted a 30-month analysis of potential
alternatives. The Dutch see their participation in JSF as a boost to its standings as
a maintenance, repair, and overhaul hub in Europe.40
The remaining nations of Australia, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and Turkey
signed on to the JSF program as Level III partners, with contributions ranging from
$125 million to $175 million. While contributions are less than their Level I and II
partners, the benefit to all nations who participate is a strong commitment by the U.S.
to export the aircraft to partner countries once the JSF is in production.41 Turkish
officials have stated that participation in the JSF program is a “major opportunity for
our defense industry.”42
Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
JSF program managers also offer FMS-level of participation for those countries
unable to commit to partnership in the JSF’s SDD phase. Israel and Singapore are
believed to have contributed $50 million each, and they are “Security Cooperative
Participants.” This relationship provides “specific case scope outside the cooperative
development partnership.”43 JSF officials have discussed the aircraft with the
defense staffs of many other allied countries as prospective customers, including
Germany, Greece, and Spain. The Polish government is reportedly leaning toward
an FMS investment of $75 to $100 million in the JSF program.44
Production, Sustainment, and Follow-On Development (PSFD)
Unlike the SDD phase, PSFD will not make any distinction as to “levels.” In
signing the PSFD MOU, partner nations state their intentions to purchase the JSF,
and in what quantity and variant, and a determination is made as to their delivery
schedule. The governance structure of the program has broadened to allow all
participating nations to have a voice in follow-on development decisions. PSFD
costs will be divided on a “fair-share” based on the programmed purchase amount of
the respective nation. Also, unlike the bilateral SDD MOUs, PSFD is an agreement
among all partner nations. Program executives noted the difficulty in coming to an
[http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-35-int.htm], accessed on October
Tegler, pp. 74-75.
“Australia, Belgium Enter Joint Strike Fighter Program as EMD Partners,” Inside the Air
Force, April 21, 2000.
Bekedil, Burak Ege and Umit Enginsoy, “Turks to Pay up to $1 Billion to Join JSF
Development,” Defense News, July 17, 2000, p. 6.
Selected Acquisition Report. Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition.
December 31, 2005.
Grzegorz Holdanowicz, “Poland Steps Up Interest in JSF,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, July
agreement on PSFD because of the expectancy of “offset” arrangements within the
agreement.45 Offset arrangements, considered the norm in defense contracts with
foreign nations, usually require additional incentives to compensate the purchasing
nation for the agreement’s impact to its local workforce.46 JSF executives decided
to take a different approach, in line with the program’s goal to control costs, to avoid
offsets and promote competition as much as possible. All partner nations have
agreed to compete for work on a “best-value” basis and have signed the PSFD MOU.
Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E)
Currently, the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands have agreed to participate in the
IOT&E program. UK, the senior JSF partner, will have the strongest participation
in the IOT&E phase. Italy and the Netherlands are contributing a far smaller amount
and will take part only in the coalition concept of operations (CONOPS) validation
testing.47 Other partner nations are still weighing their option to participate. The
benefits to participation are expedited acquisition of aircraft, pilot training for the test
cycle, and access to testing results.
The F-35 presents numerous potential issues for Congress. The F-35 program’s
size, its international scope, and its competing objectives for performance, cost
effectiveness, and commonality combine to make it arguably the most challenging
defense acquisition program ever. A discussion of the most pertinent issues appears
below. These issues are not mutually exclusive and overlap along several dimensions.
Concurrency of Testing and Production
The 2005 National Defense Authorization Act directed the GAO to conduct
annual reviews of the JSF program to assess the SDD’s meeting of key cost,
schedule, and performance goals.48 In March 2006, the GAO issued its second
report highly critical of the JSF testing and production schedule.49 GAO asserted that
the amount of overlap between testing and production in the JSF program is risky and
could lead to considerable cost growth in the future. GAO noted that the JSF
program was to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) before 1% of flight tests had
been completed. GAO noted that up to 424 F-35 aircraft may be built, at a cost of $49
billion, before development testing is complete. The JSF program intends to make
initial production orders on a cost reimbursement contract, “placing an unusually
Tegler, p. 79.
Travis Taylor, “An Empirical Evaluation of Offset Arrangements,” University of
Richmond, July 2001, p. 6.
Telephonic conversation with OSD/AT&L, October 3, 2007.
P.L. 108-375; 118 Stat 1833; October 28, 2004.
Joint Strike Fighter: DoD Plans to Enter Production before Testing Demonstrates
Acceptable Performance (GAO-06-356), Government Accountability Office, March 2006.
high risk burden on the government during the early production phase.”50 GAO
recommended adopting a more evolutionary approach to developing and producing
the F-35, similar to the block upgrade approach pursued successfully in the F-16
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has countered GAO’s assertions,
noting that GAO’s recommended block development approach would extend SDD
by up to eight years, with an associated cost of approximately $13 billion (in thenyear dollars).51 While GAO’s approach would delay fielding of the F-35, OSD noted
that there was no GAO analysis as to the costs of legacy fleet extensions or
procurement price increases. The JSF Joint Program Office noted that program
acquisition strategy was designed to take advantage of knowledge gained from the
F-22 program and legacy programs along with improvements in modeling and
simulation to reduce the development period.52 While this strategy presents increased
program risk, proponents note projected cost savings as a result of an expedited
testing cycle and retirement of legacy systems. Proponents also highlight that fixes
discovered during a more concurrent (i.e., expedited) testing/production cycle are
usually much less expensive than the costs associated with a more exhaustive testing
period, with less overlap and extended production period. This argument is
strengthened somewhat by a Defense Aerospace case study that determined
continuity in development is the best way to avoid cost overruns.53 Programs that are
able to manage developmental issues without lengthy program “freezes” were more
apt to keep production cost growth to a minimum.
Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan
In December 2007 DOD announced that it had decided to cut two test aircraft
from the JSF program.54 Other changes to the test program included foregoing
intermediate flight test measurements, reducing the number of flight tests, and
employing ground laboratories and flying test beds (non-JSF aircraft instrumented
to simulate the F-35) instead of actual JSF aircraft.55 DOD calls these changes to the
F-35 flight test program the “Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan.” The purpose of the
plan is to save approximately $600 million and replenish management reserves, a pot
of money saved to mitigate unforseen developments in the development program.
These reserves had been depleted by program officials who needed to pay escalating
Ibid., p. 6.
DOD Information Paper for SASC PSM’s Stan O’Connor and Creighton Greene in
response to GAO-06-356, June 17, 2006.
Background information provided by JSF Joint Program Office, September 2007.
“Sticker Shock: Estimating the Real Cost of Modern fighter Aircraft,” DefenseAerospace.Com, 2006, p. 3.
“Pentagon Trims JSF Test Program.” Aviation Week & Space Technology. December 3,
Michael Fabey. “Raptor Stealth Maintenance, JSF Testing Questioned by DOT&E.”
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report. February 25, 2008.
Opponents to the Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan argue that it adds risk to a
program already facing excessive risk due to the overlap between development and
production described above. Generally speaking, opponents believe that this plan is
detrimental to the test program and raises the risk that design and performance
shortcomings will not be discovered until late in the process, when it will be more
costly to redress them. Specifically, opponents note that the number of JSF flight
tests planned has been reduced twice prior to the Mid-Course Risk Reduction Plan.
In October 2005, DOD planned 6,979 F-35 flight tests. Currently, only 5,147 are
planned.56 Further, eliminating two test aircraft, it is argued, removes an important
hedge against potential attrition. If something were to go awry with one or more of
the test aircraft, fewer are available to take up the slack.
Proponents of this move state that test flights would have been reduced
regardless of the status of the management reserve account, owing to testing
efficiencies gained through commonality and lab investments. Proponents also assert
that arguments against this plan are based on old models of Test & Evaluation. The
JSF, they say, is implementing state-of-the-art technological advances in aircraft
instrumentation and simulation, which reduces the need for actual flight tests.
Much has been made about the F-35’s overall price tag of almost $300 billion
(TY$). In addition to the aggregate amount of funding required, several other
affordability issues stand out.
First, as the production phase of the F-35 accelerates, the program will require
large and sustained expenditures at the same time DOD is facing acute budgetary
challenges. Over the next 20 years, DOD projects spending over $10 billion annually
on the F-35.57 At the same time, DOD aims to recapitalize other aircraft fleets, such
as tankers; increase the Army and Marine Corps personnel end-strength; and
prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, the timing of F-35
program costs may be as big of a challenge as the overall amount.
Second, as the competing funding requirements described above collide, both
DOD and Congress may be tempted to reduce the overall number of F-35s to be
procured. Experience suggests that reducing multiple defense acquisition programs
is more feasible than cancelling one. Planned procurement quantities of the F-22 and
the F/A-18E/F, for example, have been reduced by 70% and 54%, respectively.
Procuring fewer aircraft reduces overall costs but increases the aircraft’s per-unit
cost. This would be particularly detrimental to a program such as the F-35, which
was designed specifically to be moderately priced.
Third, there are strong differences of opinion over how F-35 costs are calculated
and presented. DOD’s latest estimate of the F-35 program, for example, shows the
“Joint Strike Fighter: Recent Decisions By DOD Add to Program Risks.” Government
Accountability Office. (GAO-08-338) March 2008. p.16.
F-35 (JSF). Selected Acquisition Report (SAR). Office of the Secretary of Defense
(AT&L) December 25, 2007. p.15-21.
overall cost decreasing from $299 billion in December 2006 to $298 billion in
December 2007. Some suggest that these figures are misleading, because the largest
“savings” reported by DOD in its latest report were not achieved by improvements
in design or manufacture, but instead were achieved by a moving costs from one
category to another.58 The GAO offered strong criticism of JSF cost estimates,
writing that they were not comprehensive, not accurate, not well documented, nor
credible.59 In summary, GAO noted that the JSF cost estimates did not include $7
billion for the F136 engine, and that the official JSF cost estimates are at odds with
estimates made by three independent DOD agencies. JSF supporters dispute the
GAO’s findings, arguing that the program office’s cost models are more reliable than
those used by other organizations.60
Fourth, there are a number of factors that will influence JSF costs, either
positively or negatively, which are difficult to predict. By statute, DOD must pursue
the JSF F136 Alternate Engine program. As mentioned above, GAO notes that the
F136 development costs are not included in current JSF cost estimates. The larger
question is whether these costs, included or not, will be recouped by competition
between the F135 and the F136 during JSF production and operation.61 Also, the
DON has not yet determined how many of its 680 F-35s will be CV variants and
how many will be STOVL variants. These aircraft have different operational
capabilities, and different production and operating costs. Finally, JSF program
officials anticipate major savings because of a high degree of commonality in
components and systems among the three versions, which are to be built on a
common production line. However, the F-35 is not meeting its goals for
commonality, and as the program wrestles with final development challenges,
commonality could be compromised further, which would lead to cost increases.62
Projected Fighter Aircraft Inventory Shortfalls
In the late winter and early spring of the FY2009 legislative cycle, both Air
Force and Department of the Navy (DON) officials testified that they were facing a
projected “fighter gap.” Because of high combat aircraft utilization rates in
Afghanistan and Iraq, legacy air forces (A-10s, F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s) were wearing
out faster than previously predicted, while new aircraft procurement (e.g., F-22A, F35, F/A-18E/F) remained steady or had declined. At its worst, DON officials
projected a deficit of more than 90 aircraft in FY2017-FY2020.63 Air Force officials
projected a potential gap of up to 800 fighter aircraft by the year 2024.64
David Fulghum. “Dueling Analyses; Questions Remain About the Fundamental
Soundness of Top Pentagon Programs.” Aviation Week & Space Technology. April 14, 2008.
GAO-08-388. summarized on pp. 3-4 and addressed in detail throughout the report.
Amy Butler. “Cost Question.” Aviation Week & Space Technology. July 14, 2008
See CRS Report RL33390 for more information on the F136 engine program.
GAO-08-388. p. 10.
See CRS Report RS22875 for more information.
Lieutenant General Daniel Darnell, Deputy Chief of Staff Air, Space and Information
These projections could affect the F-35 program in a number of different ways.
DOD officials could, for example, accelerate F-35 procurement and increase the total
number to be procured. Air Force officials have testified that they wish to double F35 purchases over the next five years to alleviate the projected shortfalls.65 Although
accelerating F-35 purchases may appear beneficial to the program’s supporters, it
might also have negative consequences. JSF officials have stated that to meet the
current schedule, they may be forced to field less capable STOVL aircraft and
upgrade them at later dates. It is not clear what effect this block upgrade approach
would have on overall costs.66
Another way to address the projected fighter shortfall would be to purchase
more F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18E/Fs, and F-22s, all of which are still in production. The
Navy, reportedly, is considering procuring 69 more Super Hornets to close the fighter
gap.67 This option might be cheaper than purchasing more F-35s, although these
aircraft are less capable than the F-35. (The F-22 is the exception in this comparison
because it is more expensive than the F-35 and more capable in many dimensions.)
Additional purchases of these aircraft, however, especially if at the F-35’s expense,
could raise F-35 unit cost and potentially alienate foreign partners, who are already
concerned about cost growth in the JSF program.68
A similar option would be to execute a service life extension (SLEP) program
for those aircraft that are wearing out prematurely. This option may prove to be
cheaper than purchasing new aircraft. However, SLEPing aircraft keeps them in
depot and unavailable for operations for months, if not years, which can constrain
military capabilities and place even greater pressure on those aircraft still flying.
A final option to address the projected fighter gap would be to do nothing. By
sticking with the current fighter aircraft procurement plans, DOD may end up
reducing the overall inventory of combat aircraft. This may be a risk that is worth
taking, considering other U.S. aviation capabilities such as bombers, cruise missiles,
and armed-UAVs, and the lack of perceived threats. On the other hand, today’s
relatively large inventory of fighter aircraft is well-worn from excessive use. There
is no reason to think that tomorrow’s smaller fighter aircraft inventory would not
experience equally high operations tempo.
Operations, Plans and Requirements. “ Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland
Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2009 Budget for Air Force and Navy Aviation Programs.”
Congressional Quarterly. Congressional Transcripts. April 9, 2008. p.16
John Reed. “Air Force Working To More Than Double The Pace Of F-35 Purchases.”
Inside the Air Force. July 25, 2008.
Dan Taylor. “Heinz: JSF Program Prepared to Trim Aircraft to Stay On Schedule.” Inside
the Air Force. July 11, 2008.
Philip Ewing. “New Hornets Could Fill Void Until F-35s Arrive.” Navy Times. March 17,
Gregor Ferguson. “JSF Partners Meet to Talk Initial Price, Orders.” Defense News. June
Implications for U.S. Defense Industry
As DOD’s largest single weapon system acquisition program, the JSF is a focal
point for discussions regarding the U.S. defense industrial base. The October 2001
award of the JSF Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to a
single company (Lockheed Martin) raised concerns in Congress and elsewhere that
excluding Boeing from this program would reduce that company’s ability to continue
designing and manufacturing fighter aircraft. This, in turn, would have a negative
effect on the U.S. defense industrial base.69
Similar concerns were raised in 2006 when DOD proposed terminating the F136
Alternate Engine. In this case, some worried that if the F136 were cancelled, General
Electric (GE) would not have enough business designing and manufacturing fighter
jet engines to continue competing with Pratt & Whitney (the manufacturer of the
F135 engine) in the future. This would leave the United States dependent on only
one domestic manufacturer of this class of engine. Others argued that GE’s
considerable business in both commercial and military engines was sufficient to
sustain GE’s ability to produce this class of engine in the future.70
The JSF program could also have a strong impact on the U.S. defense industry
through export. Most observers believe that the JSF could potentially dominate the
combat aircraft export market much as the F-16 has. Like the F-16, the JSF appears
to be attractive because of its relatively low cost, flexible design, and promise of high
performance. Also, analysts note that during his first stint as Defense Secretary,
Donald Rumsfeld played an instrumental role in launching the F-16 program by
including foreign partners in the aircraft’s development.71 Many competitors,
including France’s Rafale, Sweden’s JAS Gripen, and the European Typhoon, are
positioned to challenge the JSF in the fighter export market, or take its market share
if the program is cancelled. Also, few countries have expressed interest in buying
either the F-22A or the F/A-18E/F. The one country that has expressed interest in the
F-22A, Japan, will most likely be unable to procure the F-22 because of a proposed
clause in the FY2008 Appropriations bill upholding a ban on F-22 exports.72 Instead,
Japan is being redirected towards the F-35.
It can also be argued that the demand for civilian transport aircraft after 2000
will be strong enough to sustain a robust U.S. aviation industry, given the need to
replace aging aircraft with quieter and more fuel-efficient planes for expanding
domestic and international travel markets. For example, the worldwide fighter/attack
For more information, see CRS Report RL31360, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): Potential
National Security Questions Pertaining to a Single Production Line, by Christopher
Bolkcom and Daniel Else.
For more information, see CRS Report RL33390, Proposed Termination of Joint Strike
Fighter (JSF) F136 Alternate Engine, by Christopher Bolkcom.
Vago Muradian, “Coffman: JSF Critical to Preserving U.S. Leadership in World Fighter
Market,” Defense Daily, February 26, 2001.
“US Decides to Keep Export Ban on F-22 Stealth Fighter,” Jiji Press Ticker Service, July
market in 2005 has been estimated to be worth about $13.2 billion, while the
commercial jet transport market is projected to be worth about $43.5 billion at that
time. Compared with its European and Asian competitors, the U.S. aviation industry
appears to be well-positioned to meet the needs of an expanding world market for
civil aircraft after the turn of the century.73 The extent to which such economic
conditions may preserve an adequate U.S. defense industrial base for the
development and production of combat aircraft is debatable, however, given the
significant differences between civilian and military aircraft requirements and
Others fear that by allowing foreign companies to participate in this historically
large aircraft acquisition program, DOD may be inadvertently opening up U.S.
markets to competitors who enjoy direct government subsidies. These government
subsidies could create an unfair advantage for them relative to U.S. companies, it is
argued, and the result could be the beginning of a longer-term foreign penetration of
the U.S. defense market that could erode the health of the U.S. defense industrial
base. In May 2004, the GAO release a report that found the JSF program could
“significantly impact” the U.S. and global industrial base.74 The GAO found that two
laws designed to protect segments of the U.S. defense industry, the Buy American
Act and the Preference for Domestic Speciality Metals clause, would have no impact
on decisions regarding which foreign companies would participate in the JSF
program. This is because DOD has decided that foreign companies that participate
in the JSF program, and which have signed reciprocal procurement agreements with
DOD to promote defense cooperation, are eligible for a waiver.
Program proponents note the economic potential that comes with participation
in the program. A 2003 DOD study into international participation concluded that
the potential exists for partner nations to earn between $5 and $40 of revenue for
every $1 invested through program contracts.75 Current program policy to eschew
offset arrangements will favor governments and corporations that take an aggressive
approach to providing “best-value” bids for JSF work. On the positive side, this
approach seeks to be the most cost-effective. However, partner countries that cannot
compete effectively in this environment could be frustrated by the lack of contracts
Over the last couple of years, press reports have indicated that a number of
partner nations have threatened to withdraw from the program because of frustrations
over workshare and technology transfer issues.76 As previously discussed, the F-35
Richard Aboulafia, “Market Overviews — Commercial Jet Transports, Fighter/Attack
Aircraft,” World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing, Teal Group Corp., March 1997.
General Accountability Office, Joint Strike Fighter Acquisition: Observations on the
Supplier Base, GAO-04-554, May 2004.
“International Industrial Participation: A Study of Country Approaches and Financial
Impacts on Foreign Suppliers,” Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Industrial
Policy), June 2003.
See “Norway Signs Industrial Partnership with Eurofighter Consortium,” Defense Daily,
program has attempted to break from past “offset” arrangements in an effort to keep
Technology transfer has also been a problem with the United States’ first export
of stealth technology. Congress, in the John Warner National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2007, sensing United Kingdom frustrations with technologysharing, advised the Secretary of Defense to share technology consistent with the
national security interests of both nations.77 Program officials note that they are
working with partner nations to improve their ability to effectively compete for JSF
work and are working with DOD expedite technology-transfer issues.78 While
workshare and technology transfer issues still remain, no country has pulled its
support for the F-35 program, and all have signed the Production, Sustainment, and
Follow-On Development memorandum. The issue for U.S. policy makers is how to
balance legitimate yet often contradictory concerns regarding security, investment,
and industrial competitiveness.
The Bush Administration’s FY2009 budget requested $6.9 billion in
procurement and R&D funding for the F-35. This request is summarized in Table
1, below. Changes to the request are highlighted in bold text.
Table 1. JSF F-35 FY2009 Funding
(H.R. 5658, 110-652)
Matched procurement funding
Senate Authorization (S.
Note: APCY = Advanced Procurement (current year).
January 29, 2003; Joris Janssen Lok, “Frustration Mounts Among JSF Partners,” Jane’s
Defense Weekly, March 24, 2004; Thomas Dodd, “Danish Companies Consider Quitting JSF
Programme,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, January 9, 2004; Tom Kingston, “Unsatisfied Italy
May Cut JSF Participation,” Defense News, May 10, 2004; Lale Sariibrahimoglu, “Turkey
may withdraw from JSF program,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 10, 2004.
P.L 109-364; 102 Stat 2134; October 17, 2006.
Tegler, p. 81.
In their report 110-652, House authorizers expressed considerable frustration
with DOD’s lack of funding for the F136. (See pages 227-228). The committee
increased the JSF R&D accounts to fund F136 development and for F135 technology
insertion. In their report 110-335, Senate authorizers also expressed their concern
about DOD’s unwillingness to fund the F-136. The committee added R&D funds to
address this shortfall, and added $35 million advanced procurement begin
procurement of F136 long-lead items.
According to a press release, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
mark-up of the administration’s FY2009 budget request
provides full funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but redistributes funds
within the program. The Committee reduces airframe production funding by a
total of $786 million, but increases funding by a total of $785 million for $430
million for development of an alternative engine, and $320 million for risk
mitigation in the test program (including the restoration of two test aircraft
eliminated by the DoD last year).79
The Bush Administration’s FY2008 budget requested $6.1 billion in funding for
the Joint Strike Fighter. This request is summarized in Table 2, below. Changes to
the request are highlighted in bold text.
Table 2. JSF F-35 FY2008 Funding
Authorization Bill P.L. 110-181
(H.R. 4986, 110-477)
Appropriation Bill P.L. 110-116
(H.R. 3222, 110-435)
1,805,772 1,879,324 Both bills matched JSF procurement
Note: APCY = Advanced Procurement (current year).
As it did in FY2007, DOD proposed in FY2008 to cancel the F136 alternate
engine. And again, authorization conferees increased the R&D accounts to fund the
F136 program. Section 213 of the report requires DOD to develop a competitive
engine for the JSF and to continue competition for the engine throughout the F-35’s
production phase. Appropriations conferees added a total of $480 million to the Navy
and Air Force R&D accounts for the F136 program. Appropriators also added $200
million to the JSF’s R&D budget for affordability initiatives and information
assurance, but docked the F-35 $283 million for excessive award fees and over
The Bush Administration’s FY2007 budget requested $5,290.1 million ($5.3
billion) in funding for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force requested $1,015
million in procurement funds to build five aircraft and purchase long-lead items for
eight aircraft in FY2008, and $ 1,999.1 in RDT&E funds. The Navy requested $245
in advance procurement funds (to build eight F-35B aircraft in FY2008) and $2,031
in RDT&E funds. Congressional action on this request is summarized in Table 3,
below. Changes to the request are highlighted in bold text.
Table 3. JSF F-35 FY2007 Funding
Authorization Bill P.L. 109-364
(H.R. 5122, 109-702)
Appropriation Bill P.L. 109-289
(H.R. 5631, 109-676)
Both authorizers and appropriators objected to DOD’s plan to eliminate the
F136 Alternate Engine and added JSF R&D funds to continue the program.
Similarly, both authorizers and appropriators expressed concern about program risk,
either explicitly or implicitly, reacting to what some to believe to be an excessive
overlap between JSF testing and JSF development.
The Bush Administration’s FY2006 budget requested $5,020.0 million ($5
billion) in funding for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force requested $152.4
million in advance procurement and $2,474.8 million in RDT&E funds. The Navy
requested $2,393 million in RDT&E funds. Congressional action on this request is
summarized in Table 4, below. Changes to the request are highlighted in bold text.
Table 4. JSF F-35 FY2006 Funding
Authorization Bill P.L. 109-163
(H.R. 1815, 109-360)
Appropriations Bill P.L. 109-148
(H.R. 2863, 109-359)
In cutting JSF funding, the appropriations conference report noted that
“excessive program risk remains,”80 and that “under the revised aircraft build
H.R. 2863 ( 109-359), p. 418.
sequence all of these aircraft do not require full funding prior to the beginning of
fiscal year 2008.”81
H.R. 2863 (109-119), p. 172.
Appendix A. JSF Key Performance Parameters
4 Surg / 3 Sust
3 Surg / 2 Sust
3 Surg / 2 Sust
< 8 C-17 equivalent
loads (20 PAA)
< 8 C-17 equivalent
loads (24 PAA)
< 46,000 cu ft
Short Take-Off Distance
Vertical Lift Bring Back
Very Low Observable
Radio Frequency Signature
Maximum Approach Speed
Meet 100% of critical, top-level Information Exchange Requirements
Secure Voice and Data
2 x 1K JDAM,
2 x AIM-120
With Reserve Fuel
Notes: JSF Joint Program Office: October 11, 2007. PAA = Primary Aircraft Authorized, ST = Short
Tons, Vertical Lift Bring Back = amount of weapons/fuel that can be safely landed with.
Appendix B. JSF Procurement Plan
(USN & USMC)
Note: F-35 Lightning II Program Brief (April 19, 2007), JSF Program Office.