House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), a critic of the F-35 program, is recommending that the Lockheed Martin [LMT] fighter meet sustainment cost metrics for two consecutive years before DoD awards a performance-based logistics (PBL) contract.
The HASC Chairman’s mark for the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Bill would require Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin by March 1 next year to detail sustainment costs and affordability targets for the three F-35 variants–the U.S. Air Force F-35A, the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, and the U.S. Navy F-35C. The bill would also require Austin to submit to Congress by that date sustainment cost metrics expressed in cost per tail per year for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.
By Dec. 31 of 2022 and for each year until 2026, the defense secretary would have to certify that the department is meeting cost metrics for those fiscal years, and, if not, the defense secretary would have to submit a detailed justification.
The Chairman’s mark of the bill requires the defense secretary to certify that a performance-based logistics contract will reduce sustainment costs and requires the defense secretary to submit two consecutive annual certifications of the F-35 program meeting sustainment cost metrics before DoD may award any PBL contracts.
The Air Force has been negotiating a three-year sustainment contract with Lockheed Martin for the service’s F-35A fighter–a contract that is to have performance incentives for cost reduction (Defense Daily, June 22).
The Air Force divides F-35 sustainment costs into four areas: consumables and repairables for items on the aircraft that can break, manpower, fuel, and sustaining support in which the Air Force needs Lockheed Martin aid. The Air Force has said that the biggest sustainment obstacle has been a lack of depot capacity to ensure a fast turnaround time on F-35As being repaired.
Among other sustainment cost problems for the F-35 has been a shortage of working Pratt & Whitney [RTX] F135 engines for the fifth-generation fighter (Defense Daily, Apr. 23).
The full HASC is to take up the Chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2022 authorization bill on Sept. 1.
A recent Government Accountability Office study found that the cost per tail per year of the F-35A is $7.8 million, versus a GAO affordability estimate of $4.1 million per tail per year, while the F-35B has a cost per tail per year of $9.1 million versus a GAO affordability estimate of $6.8 million per tail per year, and the F-35C has a cost per tail per year of $9.9 million versus a GAO affordability estimate of $7.5 million per tail per year (Defense Daily, July 7).