F-35 JSF Faces New Delays, Additional Costs

By on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s costliest program, may see more price increases and new schedule delays of as much as three years, two government officials familiar with the matter said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to be briefed tomorrow on new cost and schedule assessments for the F-35 and other aircraft, said the officials, who requested anonymity because details aren’t public. Software, engineering and flight difficulties are greater than expected, the officials said.

The projections are based on a preliminary analysis of test and production data, the officials said. The F-35 “Technical Baseline Review” is being prepared for an in-depth examination of the $382 billion JSF program, set for Nov. 22 by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board, the officials said.

“Another delay to the JSF would be negative to Lockheed’s revenue profile on the program,” Robert Stallard, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said in a note. Suppliers at risk include United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, said Stallard, who rates Lockheed as “sector perform.”

New delays and higher prices would add to the struggles in development and combat testing of the F-35, which is more than four years behind schedule. Designed for missions including bombing and aerial combat, the JSF will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

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