In Retrospect

By lex, on December 5th, 2011

VADM Venlet weighs in on the potentially fatal decision to execute concurrent “build and test” on the F-35 program:

“The analyzed hot spots that have arisen in the last 12 months or so in the program have surprised us at the amount of change and at the cost,” Vice Adm. David Venlet said in an interview at his office near the Pentagon. “Most of them are little ones, but when you bundle them all up and package them and look at where they are in the airplane and how hard they are to get at after you buy the jet, the cost burden of that is what sucks the wind out of your lungs. I believe it’s wise to sort of temper production for a while here until we get some of these heavy years of learning under our belt and get that managed right. And then when we’ve got most of that known and we’ve got the management of the change activity better in hand, then we will be in a better position to ramp up production.”

Venlet also took aim at a fundamental assumption of the JSF business model: concurrency. The JSF program was originally structured with a high rate of concurrency — building production model aircraft while finishing ground and flight testing — that assumed less change than is proving necessary.

“Fundamentally, that was a miscalculation,” Venlet said.

Sure looks that way.

But we had computers, and modeling/simulation, and that. And we were ever so much smarter. Everything was going to be different, this time.

It always is.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Military

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