US Defense Secretary Robert Gates may direct the Department of Defense to further delay the F-35 programme.
January 7: According to a report by news agency Bloomberg, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will direct the Department of Defense to further delay the F-35 programme.
In a precursor to the 2011 defence bill, the report says that Gates will shift money from the procurement budget to development, deferring the purchase of 122 aircraft through to 2015 because of concerns about the programme’s progress.
Gates said last year he wanted to accelerate purchases to save money – if this realignment of funds is correct, it signals his acceptance that further development delays are inevitable. The report says that further F/A-18E/F Super Hornets may be bought to stem a possible fighter ‘gap’ due to the delays with the F-35.
The F-35 programme is at risk of breaching the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 1982, a piece of US legislation introduced at the proposal of Senator Sam Nunn and Representative Dave McCurdy in response to runaway cost overruns in US defence procurement. Any programme that reaches a unit cost overrun of 25% of original budget is required by law to be terminated, unless the Secretary of Defense can convince Congress that it is critical to national security.