차세대전투기 F-35가 당초 일정보다 심각할 정도로 개발이 지연되고 있는 것으로 오늘 하원 군사위 청문회에서 밝혀졌습니다
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s development of software for its F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, is “significantly behind schedule as it enters its most challenging phase,” according to congressional auditors.
Program officials were two years late in releasing the second of five progressively more complex software versions, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported at a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee today.
“Each of the remaining three blocks” needed for full war- fighting capability “are now projected to slip more than three years” compared with the current schedule, set in 2006, Michael Sullivan, the GAO director of acquisition management, told the panel. The final block, originally scheduled for this year, isn’t anticipated until 2015, he said.
“Delays have cascading effects hampering flight tests, training” and accrediting 32 laboratories and models needed to verify software, according to the GAO’s findings. “While progress is being made, a substantial amount of work remains.”
Lockheed Martin spokesman John Kent didn’t immediately comment in response to an e-mail about the GAO findings.
The testimony distills the watchdog agency’s annual F-35 report, due later this month. Most attention on the $382 billion program has focused on flight-testing delays and technical problems with the Marine Corps version -- the most complex model of the aircraft that’s also being developed in variants for the Air Force and the Navy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January put that version on two-year probation.
‘On the Mark’
“Concerns about the F-35, expressed annually for several years by GAO, have gone unheeded by the Pentagon and have largely been right on the mark,” the subcommittee chairman, Maryland Republican Representative Roscoe Bartlett, said in an opening statement.
Vice Admiral David Venlet, the Pentagon’s program manager, said while there have been “challenges” in the program’s cost and schedule, changes this year to extend development work and slow production have placed the project “on sound footing.”
Venlet also said Lockheed Martin for the first time in years has been meeting its delivery schedule, being on-time for five straight months under a new plan set last September. The Pentagon also is seeing “progress in controlling aircraft costs,” he said.
The GAO testimony outlines chronic delays in “one of the largest and most complex” software development efforts in Pentagon history. That’s as the program is anticipated to require “unprecedented demands for funding,” Sullivan wrote.
Through 2035, the program to buy 2,457 jets, including 14 test planes, is estimated to require $11 billion annually, according to unreleased Pentagon budget projections, GAO said.
“After more than nine years in development,” including four years of overlapping low-rate production, “the program has not fully demonstrated the aircraft design is stable, manufacturing processes are mature and the system is reliable,” said GAO.
Only 4 percent of the aircraft’s capabilities have been completely verified by flight tests, laboratory results, or both, GAO said. “The pace of flight testing accelerated significantly in 2010 but overall progress is still much below plans forecast several years ago.”
Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors are “improving operations and implementing” recommendations from a Pentagon- commissioned panel but haven’t yet demonstrated “a capacity to efficiently produce at higher production rates,” said GAO.
“Substantial improvements in factory throughput and the supply chain are needed,” GAO said. The program hasn’t yet “stabilized aircraft design” as “engineering changes continue at higher-than-expected rates.”
Total labor hours required to produce test aircraft have increased instead of diminished -- an indication of “lingering management inefficiencies,” said GAO. Hours to complete assembly of test aircraft last year “exceeded budgeted hours by more than 1.5 million,” for example.
The report discloses the financial stakes for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin through 2016 -- the Pentagon’s five-year F-35 budget plan calls for requesting $50.7 billion during that period, including $7.9 billion in 2013 and $14.3 billion for the last year. That’s up from the $6.9 billion requested for fiscal 2012.
Gates this year delayed purchases of 242 F-35s over the five-year period to slow the program and shift $4.6 billion into continued development.
Still, “even after decreasing annual quantities, procurement still escalates significantly,” said Sullivan.
The aircraft depends on software with millions of additional lines of code compared with the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor or Boeing Co. (BA)’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for fusing data from numerous sensors, and operating fire control, propulsion and maintenance diagnostics systems.
“Good progress has been reported on writing code,” but total lines of software needed continue to grow, said GAO.
“Officials underestimated the time and effort needed to develop and integrate the software, substantially contributing to the program’s overall cost and schedule problems, testing delays and requiring the retention of engineers for longer periods,” it said.
The total system-development cost since 2001, when Lockheed Martin won the program from Chicago-based Boeing, has risen to $56.4 billion from $34.4 billion and has extended to 2018, a five-year slip from the current schedule that was revised in 2007.
Lockheed Martin’s cost-plus type development contract since 2001 has increased to at least $33.9 billion from $19 billion, GAO said.
The total program, including development, production and military construction has increased to $382 billion, up 64 percent from the October 2001 estimate of $233 billion.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com