"Despite recent estimates that the cost of developing the
more than $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter is creeping
upward, Lockheed's chief executive said Friday he
believes the defense contractor can deliver the plane
for the Air Force, Navy and Marines on budget.
Robert Stevens said the cost of the program would be
"thoroughly evaluated" by the Pentagon...
... Lockheed is the lead contractor on the Joint Strike
Fighter, which at a possible $245 billion over its
lifetime would be the biggest defense contract ever
awarded. The planes would be made for the Air Force,
Navy and Marines and some foreign militaries.
Several recent reports have questioned whether that cost
will grow more. The Government Accountablity Office
recently said development costs grew $10 billion to $45
billion last year because of weight and other technical
problems. The Financial Times reported Friday that an
internal Pentagon analysis group put the cost increase
at $5 billion.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington
group, said the internal Pentagon review was based on
historical data from similar weapons programs, meaning
it might be overly pessimistic. He said Lockheed's
record with the F-16, which it delivered on time and on
budget, means it may do the same with the Joint Strike
... Lockheed estimates for the Joint Strike Fighter and
the Pentagon review will be evaluated at a May 5 meeting
of the Defense Acquisition Board.
The rising cost projections come as other major Lockheed
programs have been slated for cuts in President Bush's
The F/A-22 jet, originally planned for 750 planes when
it was conceived, would be scaled back to just 179 jets.
Production of the C-130J transport plane would be
Stevens warned that if a smaller number of F/A-22s are
made, the price tag per jet will increase substantially
because of the money already invested in the program.
The GAO estimates each plane will cost $345 million if
178 are made, compared to a 1991 per plane price tag of
$149 million when about 648 were proposed.
"There are pressures that result from fewer airplanes,"
... The nation's largest defense contractor, Lockheed
posted sales of $35.5 billion last year, mostly on
government contracts. It also provides a wide range of
other government services, from satellites for NASA to
mail-sorting equipment for the Postal Service.
end of quotes, agencies.