The Most Expensive Fighter Jet Ever Built, by the Numbers by Theodoric Meyer.
From the post:
Thanks to the sequester, the Defense Department is now required to cut more than $40 billion this fiscal year out of its $549 billion budget. But one program that’s unlikely to take a significant hit is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, despite the fact that it’s almost four times more expensive than any other Pentagon weapons program that’s in the works.
We’ve compiled some of the most headache-inducing figures, from the program’s hefty cost overruns to the billions it’s generating in revenue for Lockheed Martin.
[See the post for the numbers, which are impressive.]
While the F-35 is billions over budget and years behind schedule, the program seems to be doing better recently. A Government Accountability Office report released this week found that Lockheed has made progress in improving supply and manufacturing processes and addressing technical problems.
“We’ve made enormous progress over the last few years,” Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed’s vice president of F-35 business development, told the Washington Post.
The military’s current head of the program, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, agreed that things have improved but said Lockheed and another major contractor, Pratt & Whitney, still have a ways to go.
“I want them to take on some of the risk of this program,” Bogdan said last month in Australia, which plans to buy 100 of the planes. “I want them to invest in cost reductions. I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I’m not getting all that love yet.”
A story that illustrates the utility of a topic map approach to news coverage.
The story has already spanned more than a decade and language like: “[t]he military’s current head of the program…,” makes me wonder about the prior military heads of the program.
Or for that matter, it isn’t really Lockheed or Pratt & Whitney, that are building (allegedly) the F-35 but identifiable teams of people within those organizations.
And those companies are paying bonuses, stock dividends, etc. during the term of the project.
No one person or for that matter any one group of people could not chase down all the actors in a story like this one.
However, merging different investigations into distinct aspects of the story could assemble a mosaic clearer than any of its individual pieces.
Perhaps tying poor management, cost overruns, etc., to named individuals will have a greater impact than generalized stories about such practices have when the name is the DoD, Lockheed, etc.
PS: If you aren’t clinically depressed, read the GAO report.
Would you buy a plane where it isn’t known if the helmet mounted display, a critical control system, will work?
It’s like buying a car where a working engine is to-be-determined, maybe.
An F-35 topic map should start with the names, addresses and current status of everyone who signed any paperwork authorizing this project.