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Joint Strike Fighter: Restructuring Places Program on Firmer Footing, but Progress Is Still Lagging

GAO-11-677T Published: May 19, 2011. Publicly Released: May 19, 2011.
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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 estimated total investment cost is currently about $385 billion to develop and procure 2,457 aircraft. Because of a history of relatively poor cost and schedule outcomes, defense leadership over the past 15 months has directed a comprehensive restructuring of the JSF program that is continuing. This testimony draws substantially from our extensive body of work on the JSF including our April 2011 report, the latest annual review mandated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-84 244 (2009). This testimony discusses (1) program cost and schedule changes and their implications on affordability; (2) progress made during 2010; (3) design and manufacturing maturity; and (4) test plans and progress. GAO's work included analyses of a wide range of program documents and interviews with defense and contractor officials.

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AircraftAircraft industryCost analysisDefense cost controlDefense procurementFighter aircraftMilitary forcesOperational testingProcurementProcurement planningProduct evaluationSchedule slippagesStrategic planningSystems designProgram evaluation