Pentagon Kicks Off F-35 “Deep Dive” Cost Review

WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Defense Department’s deep dive into the F-35’s cost is officially underway, as a team of Pentagon officials works their way through the massive supply chain of the Joint Strike Fighter, a top official said Monday.

The Pentagon knows how much it’s paying for the F-35, but the deep dive will help officials understand the true cost of the jet and why, as well as what can be done to whittle down the price tag even further, said Shay Assad, the department’s director of defense pricing.

Over the next several weeks, the assessment team will meet with the three major contractors on the F-35 — prime contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, which make major portions of the fuselage — and lay out the parameters of the review.

“Lockheed is familiar with this process because we’ve done it before with them, so this isn’t something new,” Assad said. “Many of the things we’re talking about are just practices that have occurred in the past, this will just be much more rigorous. So we’ll lay it out with the companies. And we’ll also lay out for them: Here’s our plan in terms of your subcontractor base, and this is what we want to do, and then get off and get the work done.”

The review will take about a year to complete.

“It’s a very intense effort,” he said.

While Assad has a cost-savings target in mind, he declined to share that number, saying he wants to ensure it’s feasible before publicly releasing how much he will expect the price of F-35 production and sustainment to decrease. (end of excerpt)

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