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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

Minister for Defence Media Release
on the GAO JSF Report
Air Power Australia - Australia's Independent Defence Think Tank

Air Power Australia Media Release

21st March, 2007

Contacts: Peter Goon
Dr Carlo Kopp

Mob: 0419-806-476 Mob: 0437-478-224

On the 17th March, the Minister for Defence released his comments on the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) Report on the JSF Project. As with almost everything that comes out of Defence, the comments are important not for what they say, but for what they don't say.

The Minister makes much of the progress made in completion of the program re-baselining and the flight of the first aircraft. No mention is made of that aircraft not being representative of the production aircraft, so the flight test data collected will have little value. More importantly, the GAO's statement on this issue was ignored:

"…cost and schedule goals established in the fiscal year 2004 rebaselined program have not been met'" [Click for more ...]

The Minister then goes on to say that analysis shows the JSF is meeting all performance specifications except one, a statement presumably based on Contractor and Program Office claims. The GAO Report is blunt on this issue

"Most ground and flight tests will have to be completed before all the key performance estimates are confirmed. At this time, the program has completed less than 1 percent of the flight test program and no structural durability tests have been started." (Pages 13 and 14)

On the subject of the development of JSF production facilities, the Minister simply noted that positive progress had been made, but the GAO Report gave a much more realistic analysis, reflecting, not surprisingly, the many complexities and risks inherent in such a program. For example:

The Defense Contract Management Agency has rated manufacturing as high risk, stating that the primary cause of risk is the late delivery of parts to properly support the manufacturing work flow. It projects further delays to schedule, increased costs, and subsequent out-of –sequence work." (Page 12)

Design and manufacturing of development aircraft has been a major source of delay." (Page 10)

"Given that only one aircraft has been built, and essentially all of the flight and static and durability testing remains to be done, there is still significant risk that the JSF design for each of the three variants will incur more changes as more design knowledge is gained." (Page 13)

On the important question of the benefits to likely be gained from some concurrency between testing and production, the Minister's media release misrepresents the GAO's position which is supported by several other identified, responsible organisations. For example:

"These oversight and testing organisations highlight some of the program risks and the challenges the JSF program must overcome to avoid further slips in schedule and more cost growth." (Page 20)

The Minister spent some time on the question of costs. He recognised that there were a number of increases, but seemed to wave them aside as being outside the control of the JSF program. The GAO Report was again far more blunt and revealing, see report pages 3, 6, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, and 22. For example:

"JSF program cost estimates have increased by $31.6 billion since the program's decision to re-baseline in fiscal year 2004. During this period, estimates in some cost areas grew by $48 billion but were offset by $16.4 billion due to quantity changes and the proposed termination of an alternate engine program. According to the program, the cost estimate is still mostly based on cost estimating relationships-like cost per pound-not actual costs and, therefore, is subject to change as the program captures the actual costs to manufacture the aircraft." (Page 6)

"Even as the JSF program enters the mid point of its development, it continues to encounter significant cost overruns and schedule delay because the program has continued to move forward into procurement before it has knowledge that the aircraft's design and manufacturing processes are stable." (Page 22-Conclusions)

With the wild discrepancy between what the GAO actually reported and what Defence says it reported, one must conclude that the department still refuses to acknowledge reality, and still seeks solace behind myths and misconceptions.

In seeking a reason for this, we have to go back to the original decision to take on an aircraft far too early in its development - something the RAAF would have avoided studiously from experience. The GAO Report should give Defence a strong warning that an urgent re-evaluation of its flawed position is imperative.

Finally, the tone and tailoring of the Minister's media release, indeed everything now coming from Defence, indicates a most unhealthy influence from its Public And Corporate Communications, now 'Coordination Public Affairs', watch dog. Let's have some straight talking directly from those responsible for the proper management of Defence matters!

United States Government Accountability Office - March 2007 - GAO-07-360 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER Progress Made and Challenges Remain
United States Government Accountability Office - March 2007 - GAO-07-360 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER - Highlights

Defence MEDIA RELEASE - CPA 68/07 - 17/03/2007 - JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER (JSF)

Air Power Australia Website - http://www.ausairpower.net/
Air Power Australia Research and Analysis - http://www.ausairpower.net/research.html

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