Sen. John McCain Issues Statement on F-35 Program Schedule Delay, Cost Overrun

John McCain

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona) has said his committee will continue to prioritize efforts to streamline the defense acquisition process in response to updates provided by the Defense Department on the F-35 fighter jet program.

Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said in a Dec. 19 response letter to the Senate panel’s questions that DoD expects another seven-month delay in the program’s system development and demonstration phase and a cost overrun of more than $500 million, McCain’s office said Tuesday.

“With this latest delay, I am deeply concerned about the department’s current plan for Follow-on Modernization,” McCain said.

“If the department continues to repeat the mistakes of the past, more delays, more cost overruns, and increased retrofit costs will be the inevitable result.”

Kendall said in the letter that a delay in the SDD phase, which is expected to conclude in May 2018, may impact the FoM program.

He also called on Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson through a letter to disclose to Congress the company’s plans on how it will reduce the cost of the F-35 program.

McCain’s remarks come weeks after Hewson gave President-elect Donald Trump her “personal commitment” to drive down the fighter aircraft’s cost.

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