The U.S. military will buy a total of 2,443 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. (U.S. Air Force)
The Pentagon’s Defense Acquisitions Board (DAB) met Feb. 21 to discuss the tri-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, a defense official confirmed.
The meeting, which began about 3:30 p.m., was chaired by acting Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall. The DAB will almost certainly recertify the program after its 2010 Nunn-McCurdy breach and make a Milestone B decision, which would continue the program, the official said. A Nunn-McCurdy breach occurs when the unit cost goes above a certain threshold.
The meeting has been delayed for about a year while JSF program manager Vice Adm. David Venlet undertook strenuous reviews to set right the enormous $382 billion effort. He was also tasked with coming up with a viable plan to get the jets developed, built and tested with a minimum of cost increases.
Once the DAB is complete, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will formally set dates for the jets’ initial operational capability. The three services will buy a total of 2,443 jets — 1,763 F-35As for the Air Force, while the Navy and Marines will buy a total of 680 F-35B short take-off vertical-landing planes and F-35C carrier variants. The Marines want 340 F-35Bs and 80 F-35Cs while the Navy wants 260 F-35Cs.
Eight foreign partners are depending on the program: Australia, Canada, Britain, Turkey, Denmark, Holland, Norway and Italy. Additionally, Japan and Israel have committed to buying the jet.