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Joint Strike Fighter: Strong Risk Management Essential as Program Enters Most Challenging Phase

GAO-09-711T Published: May 20, 2009. Publicly Released: May 20, 2009.
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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is the Department of Defense's (DOD's) most costly acquisition, seeking to simultaneously develop, produce, and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight international partners. The total expected U.S. investment is now more than $300 billion to develop and procure 2,456 aircraft over the next 25 years. GAO's most recent report in March of this year discussed increased development costs and schedule estimates, plans to accelerate procurement, manufacturing performance and delays, and development test strategy. A recurring theme in GAO's work has been concern about what GAO believes is undue concurrency of development, test, and production activities and the heightened risks it poses to achieving good cost, schedule, and performance outcomes. This testimony discusses: (1) current JSF cost and schedule estimates; (2) engine development; (3) manufacturing performance; (4) contracting issues for procurement of aircraft; (5) and test plans. This statement draws from GAO's March 2009 report, updated to the extent possible with new budget data and a recently revised procurement profile directed by the Secretary of Defense.

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Aircraft componentsAircraft researchCost analysisCost effectiveness analysisCost reimbursement contractsDefense cost controlDepartment of Defense contractorsFighter aircraftFinancial managementMilitary aircraftMilitary technologyOperational testingProcurement evaluationProgram managementRisk assessmentRisk managementSchedule slippagesSystems designSystems testingTechnology assessmentTestingCost estimates