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F-35 Lightning II News

New 'Independent' Audit for the F-35 Program

March 13, 2008 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Inside Defense is reporting that the Pentagon and the Joint Strike Fighter office have directed a new "independent" audit for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

18th test flight of the F-35 AA-1 aircraft

The purpose is to provide an assessment of the effort's true cost.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report recently that found total program cost grew $23 billion last year and predicted “future cost estimates to be substantially higher than the program estimates.”

As for current progress on the F-35 program, Lockheed Martin is keeping it's usual upbeat self: “Our progress on the F-35 program remains strong. The F-35 is flying and proving its value every day,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “The F-35B, the first short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft, is on plan for a mid-2008 first flight. All 19 test aircraft are in manufacturing flow or on the flight line and assembly is under way on the first two production aircraft, which are on schedule for delivery to the U.S. Air Force in 2010.”

This progress includes the successful start of air-to-air refueling tests on the 12th of March.

The Netherlands Cabinet recently made a recommendation to Parliament to approve the procurement of two aircraft for operational test and evaluation. The United Kingdom and Italy also are in the process of making decisions on the procurement of test aircraft. All partner nations have parts or systems flying on the first Lightning II.

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