Monday, February 6, 2012

FEBRUARY 06, 2012

Pentagon boss has harsh words for F-35 program and process

Frank Kendall, head of weapons acquisition and development for the Department of Defense, apparently had some choice words this morning about the Pentagon's 2001 (and subsequent decisions) to buy F-35s long before the aircraft was close to being developed and tested.

In a post on Aviation Week's Ares blog, Kendall is quoted as saying the concurrent development and acquisition plan for the F-35 was "acquisition malpractice."

Kendall's comments are in line with an early December interview with Vice Admiral David Venlet, the program's top executive, in which he too was critical of the way the program was managed, a decision truthfully made well before the F-35 contract was awarded to Lockheed in 2001 and not subsequently deviated from. The results have been costly.

The program, Kendall said, had started with "the optimistic prediction that we were good enough at modeling and simulation that we would not find problems in flight test."

"That was wrong, and now we are paying for that," Kendall added.

Kendall -- who has now been nominated to the post of undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and who faces confirmation hearings in a couple of months -- acknowledged that "I am going to make headlines" for the comment, in response to a question from Amy Butler.

- Bob Cox

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