Massive Sustainment Costs Creating F-35 Affordability Issues

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quicksilver

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Unread post09 Sep 2021, 01:00

One wonders if that idea includes the components of sustainment cost that the government controls.

:whistle:
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XanderCrews

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Unread post09 Sep 2021, 14:36

quicksilver wrote:One wonders if that idea includes the components of sustainment cost that the government controls.

:whistle:



The government is not interested in government accountability! don't be silly! The only resignation from Afghanistan has been from a Marine Battalion Commander who demanded accountability, and was relieved of command within 24 hours.

I think this tells all we need to know

Whats so hard to understand that the military runs the JSF program from the start, but everything that goes wrong is the contractors fault?
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Unread post14 Sep 2021, 03:44

Pentagon and Lockheed Martin Agree to F-35 Sustainment Contracts
13 Sep 2021 LM PR

"Supporting Readiness for the Warfighter While Reducing Costs
FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 13, 2021 -- The F-35 Joint Program Office awarded the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) industry team annualized contracts covering fiscal years 2021-2023 to support operations and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet, supporting mission readiness and further reducing costs.

The annual contracts fund critical sustainment activities for aircraft currently in the fleet and build enterprise capacity to support the future fleet of more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft. This includes industry sustainment experts supporting base and depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustaining engineering for the U.S. and our allies across the globe. It also covers fleet-wide data analytics and supply chain management for part repair and replenishment to enhance overall supply availability for the fleet.

"Together with the F-35 Joint Program Office, we recognize the critical role the F-35 plays in supporting our customers’ global missions and the need to deliver this capability affordably,” said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “These contracts represent more than a 30% reduction in cost per flying hour from the 2020 annualized contract, and exemplify the trusted partnership and commitment we share to reduce sustainment costs and increase availability for this unrivaled 5th generation weapon system.”

The FY2021-2023 contracts represent a planned next step in further reducing overall operations and support costs for the F-35 program, which are shared between government and industry. Lockheed Martin has reduced our cost per flight hour by 44% in the past five years, with a forecasted reduction of an additional 40% in the next five years. The cost savings in the FY21-23 annualized sustainment contracts support Lockheed Martin’s efforts to realize these goals. The savings will be achieved through improved cost and velocity in our supply chain, continued reliability improvements, and greater manpower efficiencies to provide product support solutions across the growing, global fleet. We remain committed to partnering with our customers and teammates to drive F-35 sustainment costs down.

The contracts also pave the way for a longer-term, Performance Based Logistics (PBL) agreement for the F-35 program. PBLs are an industry best practice, facilitating agile sustainment solutions for the fleet and incentivizing even further affordability and performance results.

The F-35 Joint Program Office, together with each U.S. service, international operators and the F-35 industry team, leads F-35 sustainment and the Global Support Solution. The 2021 annualized sustainment contract will cover industry sustainment activities through Dec. 31, 2021.

Greater Reliability and Affordability
Program data shows the F-35's reliability continues to improve as the jet is approximately twice as reliable as fourth generation fighters. It also shows maintenance labor hours needed per flight hour are well within the contractual requirement, while the global fleet is averaging around 70% mission capable rates. Lockheed Martin has significantly lowered its share of cost per flight hour over the last five years, and the broader F-35 team is working across government and industry to achieve greater affordability.

More than 690 aircraft have been delivered and are operating from 21 bases around the globe. More than 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 430,000 cumulative flight hours.


Source: https://www.f35.com/f35/news-and-featur ... tract.html
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Unread post14 Sep 2021, 20:33

Lockheed nabs F-35 sustainment contract worth up to $6.6B
15 Sep 2021 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth up to $6.6 billion to sustain the F-35 joint strike fighter from fiscal 2021 to 2023, a deal that will reduce the cost of flying the aircraft by about 8 percent.

The agreement funds the sustainment of the F-35 air system for U.S. and international customers during FY21, with options for FY22 and FY23 that would bring the contract’s total value to $6.6 billion.

During that time, the average cost per flight hour for all F-35 variants will drop from $36,100 in 2020 to $33,400 in 2023, according to a Defense Department statement. For the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing model — the most prevalent variant of the aircraft, used by the U.S. Air Force and most international customers — the cost per flight hour will go from $33,600 in 2020 to $30,000 in 2023.

Lockheed’s share of the cost per flying hour would decrease by more than 30 percent from the 2020 contract, said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed’s vice president for the F-35 program. The deal will also drive improvements in full mission capable rates and supply metrics, the department stated....

...it does not include the cost of sustaining the jet’s F135 engine, which is negotiated in a separate contract with manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

Importantly, both the program office and Lockheed Martin stated that the deal “lays the groundwork” for a future performance-based logistics contract, which the company has sought over the past few years...." [jumpFORmore]

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/09 ... up-to-66b/
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steve2267

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Unread post20 Sep 2021, 14:33

Loren Thompson brings some sanity to the subject (article best read at the source):

Lockheed Martin Forecasts 40% Reduction In F-35 Sustainment Costs Over Five Years
by Loren Thompson Sep 17, 2021,10:54am EDT

...

The company’s press release states that it expects to reduce its portion of the fighter’s cost per flight hour by 40% over the next five years, which would be consistent with a similar reduction over the previous five years.

...

For starters, the Joint Program Office insists on denominating sustainment costs in 2012 dollars.

2012 is the last time the program was re-baselined; using “base-year” dollars allows managers to understand underlying cost trends with the effects of inflation removed.

But the practice inevitably confuses outsiders.

Then there’s the fact that support activities are divided between the government, the aircraft integrator (Lockheed Martin) and the engine manufacturer (Pratt & Whitney).

The contract awarded on September 13th only includes those sustainment activities for which Lockheed Martin is responsible, which comprise less than half of overall sustainment costs.

In addition, most observers aren’t conversant with the metrics used to measure sustainability; phrases like “mean time between failure” and “break rate” can sound ominous to the uninitiated.

Beyond that, there’s a big difference between last-generation fighters such as the F-16 and today’s fifth-generation fighters when it comes to sustainment.

Much of the equipment carried on an F-16 consists of external pods that are removed for maintenance and sent to depots, so the full cost of sustainment isn’t charged to the aircraft.

On the F-35, everything is integrated internally; as a result, all sustainment costs accrue to the aircraft.

Thus, it is misleading to compare the support costs of an F-35 with those of last-generation fighters.

The cumulative effect of all these complexities is that much of what is reported in general media concerning the cost of keeping the F-35 fighter flying is incomplete or misleading.

Even the Government Accountability Office gets it wrong by using outdated data and omitting key measures of performance.

Nonetheless, it is possible to cut through all the arcana and come to a data-driven conclusion that the program is making steady progress in becoming an affordable force multiplier.

Here are a few examples.

Mean flight hours between failures are much better for all three variants of F-35 than the requirements set by the military services, and far superior to the corresponding numbers for last-generation aircraft. By this measure, the F-35 is already the most reliable tactical aircraft in the joint fleet.

Maintenance man hours per flight hour are much lower for F-35 than for last-generation aircraft. The stated requirement for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps is that maintenance time per flight hour should not exceed nine hours; at present, the Air Force only requires five hours and the sea services are averaging seven.

Break rate, the percentage of sorties (flights) that end with an aircraft no longer mission capable, is lower for the F-35A than for any other tactical aircraft in the Air Force fleet. For instance, on average 6% of F-35As will return from missions with an issue requiring repair; the corresponding numbers for the F-16 is 10% and the F-15 14%.

Single-shift fix rate, which tracks whether maintainers can return a fighter to service within eight hours, is another metric where F-35A has consistently outperformed other tactical aircraft. Over 70% of F-35As requiring repairs can be fixed during one maintenance shift; the corresponding percentages for other Air Force fighters fall in the 45-55% range.

[Then some additional exposition.]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2021/09/17/lockheed-martin-forecasts-40-reduction-in-f-35-sustainment-costs-through-2025/


It's not the whole story. But it paints a picture vastly different from Rep. Smith and others.

I did not realize all F-35 figures regarding sustainment are 2012 dollars. So $25,000 CPFH would be $29,750 CPFH in 2021 dollars. The question becomes if the press (or F-35 detractors) are bandying about $35,000 CPFH figures in current-year dollars? That could become quite misleading.

The other metrics Mr. Thompson presents are enlightening. The Break and Single Shift Fix rates seem awfully good. And only 5 hours per flight hour for maintenance seems ridiculously low for such a complicated machine. It seems to me that LM has done an outstanding job designing reliability and maintainability into the F-35.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post28 Sep 2021, 20:56

KINDLY someone attempted to explain to me all the gibberish from SASC & HASC but HEY I'm NOT THAT interested.
SASC Adds Six F-35s To FY22 NDAA; Splits With House [LONG CONVOLUTED POST BEST READ AT SOURCE]
28 Sep 2021 Theresa Hitchens

"SASC would transfer authority for F-35 acquisition from the DoD Joint Program Office to the Air Force and Navy no later than Oct. 1, 2027.

WASHINGTON: House and Senate lawmakers are headed for a clash over the Defense Department’s troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program — with leading senators pushing the Air Force and Navy to buy more planes in fiscal 2022, while the just-passed House defense policy bill threatens cutbacks to service buys if the fighter’s enormous sustainment costs can not be wrestled down....

...SASC also adds a whopping $1.7 billion in order to upgrade the 338 aircraft the Air Force bought in Lots 1-13 to the Block 4 configuration with the technology refresh 3 hardware. Further, SASC put $175 million in new funds into the service’s budget to buy 20 F-135 power modules (engine components) to help deal with the ongoing engine shortage, fulfilling the request in the Air Force’s unfunded priorities wish list.

The committee further adds $535 million for an additional five F-35C carrier landing aircraft used by both the Navy and Marines; as well as $246.6 million to purchase additional spares and ground support for the Marine’s F-35B short take off and vertical landing variants.

Another $20 million in extra funds is included in the SASC NDAA for F-35 continuous capability and delivery effort (C2D2), for which the Air Force requested $985.4 million in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funds. “The committee supports the robust modernization program and investment in critical test assets and infrastructure to support the size and the scale of the F-35 fleet,” the report said....

...Adaptive Engine Transition Program
While the two sides of Capitol Hill also differ on their approach to the potential acquisition of advanced engines for the F-35 fleet, the divide is less stark....

...Of course, the defense policy bills do not actually set the final spending numbers for DoD — that is the purview of the powerful appropriations committees on both sides of Capitol Hill. Currently, it looks almost certain that DoD (and the entire US government) will be working under a Continuing Resolution for a number of months while Republicans and Democrats battle over spending." [oh for fsake]

Source: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/09/sas ... ith-house/
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Corsair1963

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Unread post29 Sep 2021, 00:19

How many F-35C's is that for the Navy?
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Unread post05 Oct 2021, 21:51

Air Force pick pledges to tackle F-35 sustainment costs, back nuclear modernization


WASHINGTON ― Bringing down sustainment costs for the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be a “top priority” for the nominee to lead U.S. Air Force’s acquisitions, he said Tuesday.

Andrew Hunter, a former director of the Pentagon’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell and President Joe Biden’s pick for assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told senators he would work at the problem.

“The F-35 is an absolutely vital system for the nation and the challenges we confront with peer competitors we confront, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region,” Hunter said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The cost of sustaining the F-35 has been something that has stressed the services, particularly the Air Force, which has the largest number of aircraft.”

In an exchange with the SASC ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Hunter acknowledged that buying more could be a way to lower operating costs per aircraft. But Hunter added that “there are other avenues we can and should take to lower the cost of the F-35,” though he did not elaborate.


If confirmed, Hunter would oversee an Air Force procurement budget of about $60 billion. Beyond the F-35, Hunter said he would work to lower Air Force sustainment costs more broadly ― which he agreed make up the lion’s share of life-cycle costs for most weapons systems.

“The Air Force has an aging fleet, and that has been driving up sustainment costs,” Hunter said during an exchange with SASC Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I. “We have to make sure we bake in sustainability on the front end. So for the systems we have in development, we will look to make sure sustainability is considered early in the design to lower those costs over the long term.”

Lawmakers previously pressed Lockheed and the Pentagon to lower sustainment costs, saying those figures could force the Pentagon to cut the numbers of F-35s it plans to buy. Meanwhile, the Pentagon last month awarded Lockheed a $6.6 billion contract to sustain the F-35 from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2023, which promises to reduce the cost of flying the aircraft by about 8 percent.

The House-passed version of the FY22 defense policy bill would require the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps to meet targets for “cost per tail per year,” which measures the average cost of flying, maintaining and upgrading the jet.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/20 ... ion-plans/
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steve2267

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Unread post05 Oct 2021, 22:26

Do we have anywhere in the archives figures that document what the services thought it would cost to sustain the F-35? Back in the 2005-2010 timeframe?

There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. When the newest aircraft is recording the best mission availability rates, maintenance man hours per flight hour are greatly exceeding the requirements, the break rate is also exceeding the requirement(s), and yet the services and Congress are all whining about how "expensive" and "unsustainable" the aircraft is... something's wrong. Did Air Force bean counters make an arithmetic error over a decade ago... figuring it would cost only $400M to sustain the jets in 2021, yet it is costing $4B (numbers pulled out of thin air for argument sake)... "Oops! Our bad... missed a decimal place there."

I am shaking my head at how the services could have screwed up so badly planning for the expense of sustainability. I note once again that none of the partner nations seem to be having conniption fits. An occasional burble from the UK, but, well, the UK has defence spending issues, has had for a while, and will continue to have for a while. But all the other nations received very detailed briefings on performance, and I am quite sure, on costs. And no else is fainting over the costs.

So I am curious how what services are paying for sustainment in 2021 compares to what they expected it to cost a decade ago.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post05 Oct 2021, 23:14

My sense is that once the unit costs came down, the government needed a new canard with which they could thrash the contractors. And, of course, many of the ‘costs’ are actually cost ‘projections’ — the underlying assumptions for which there is little transparency. We know from the Rand study on the topic of CPFH that even within service aggregations for each t/m/s, there are differences.

Then we have the matter of reporting accuracies. :shrug:

I don’t get too spoiled up about these things anymore.
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Unread post06 Oct 2021, 02:02

This reminds me of the Super Hornet vs Super Tomcat debate. When many compared the service rates for the Tomcat vs Super Hornet. Yet, the numbers for the Tomcat were very misleading. As the majority of the fleet were older F-14A's with the unreliable P&W TF30's. This is compared to the brand new F-14D's with newer more reliable avionics and the outstanding GE F110's!
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Unread post10 Oct 2021, 15:58

What would be nice to know is what are the numbers for just latest Block IV, and then, will TR-3 be expected to increase or decrease this number. Lumping in older lot costs doesn't help in knowing if new birds coming off the line need improvements to lower costs...
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Unread post11 Oct 2021, 00:30

steve2267 wrote:Do we have anywhere in the archives figures that document what the services thought it would cost to sustain the F-35? Back in the 2005-2010 timeframe?

There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. When the newest aircraft is recording the best mission availability rates, maintenance man hours per flight hour are greatly exceeding the requirements, the break rate is also exceeding the requirement(s), and yet the services and Congress are all whining about how "expensive" and "unsustainable" the aircraft is... something's wrong. Did Air Force bean counters make an arithmetic error over a decade ago... figuring it would cost only $400M to sustain the jets in 2021, yet it is costing $4B (numbers pulled out of thin air for argument sake)... "Oops! Our bad... missed a decimal place there."

I am shaking my head at how the services could have screwed up so badly planning for the expense of sustainability. I note once again that none of the partner nations seem to be having conniption fits. An occasional burble from the UK, but, well, the UK has defence spending issues, has had for a while, and will continue to have for a while. But all the other nations received very detailed briefings on performance, and I am quite sure, on costs. And no else is fainting over the costs.

So I am curious how what services are paying for sustainment in 2021 compares to what they expected it to cost a decade ago.

I agree the USAF messed up the costs at ~4.5, USN and USNC are closer at ~8. I think the USAF may finish up ~6, I can't see the F-35a sustainment cost, to be half the cost of a F-35c. There was a chart showing the target and current costs posted.

In fairness, the other partners and FMS don't have the 34% R&D on the total flyaway cost. $71B R&D, $207B total flyaway in BY$. FMS is 3.2% and fee, on just the recurring flyaway that they buy at. Partner contributions, I don't know, if that is included in the $71B. I think that would be a separate number, as it isn't credited.
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