Cohen To Warner: Avoid 6-Month JSF Delay
by Charles Rabb
05/05/00 09:58:30 AM U.S. EDT
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen yesterday urged Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) to avoid mandating a six-month delay in the Joint Strike Fighter program.
Cohen’s letter to Warner was sent the day after the Senate committee received a proposal calling for the delay. The proposal, sources said, would match funding with progress in the program’s technology, which is lagging, according to the General Accounting Office.
If Warner thinks JSF shouldn’t move to the engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) phase until all three JSF models are tested successfully, Cohen said, Warner should consider addressing the problem directly “by prohibiting DOD from proceeding to EMD until these events occur.”
Cohen said the program should be event-based rather than the calendar-based, “albeit with a six-month delay,” approach before the committee. At a minimum, Cohen asked Warner to defer considering the proposal “to allow me to meet with you to discuss this matter further.”
The activity was closely watched by JSF competitors Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “The Boeing position is that we're on track, on time, on schedule and we're willing to do what the customer wants us to do,” a Boeing official said.
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said the subcommittee recommendation comes early in the congressional budget process, and goes back to a GAO report of March, which said the program should be slowed to allow certain technologies to mature. The information given to GAO was ten months old, the Lockheed spokesperson said, and doesn't reflect the maturity and testing done since then. “We believe...that we are going into EMD at low to moderate risk,” the spokesperson said.