Joint Strike Fighter: Significant Challenges and Decisions Ahead

GAO-10-478T Published: Mar 24, 2010. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 2010.
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The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is the Department of Defense's (DOD) most costly and ambitious aircraft acquisition, seeking to simultaneously develop and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight international partners. The JSF is critical for recapitalizing tactical air forces and will require a long-term commitment to very large annual funding outlays. The current estimated investment is $323 billion to develop and procure 2,457 aircraft. This statement draws substantively from GAO's March 19, 2010 report (GAO-10-382). That report discusses JSF costs and schedules, warfighter requirements, manufacturing performance, procurement rates, and development testing plans. This statement also provides an updated analysis of relative costs and benefits from a second (or alternate) engine program. In previous years, we recommended, among other things, that DOD rethink plans to cut test resources, improve reliability of cost estimates, and reduce the number of aircraft procured before testing demonstrates their performance capabilities. In our March 2010 report, we recommended that DOD (1) make a new, comprehensive assessment of the program's costs and schedule and (2) reassess warfighter requirements. DOD concurred with both recommendations.

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