Monday, September 12, 2011

$20bn± procurement - no bid, no competition

The Harper Government of Canada is continuing on a path to acquire Lockheed Martin F-35 multirole fighter jets. First Canadian deliveries originally were anticipated in 2016 but the U.S. Air Force reported in March this year that it expects a two-year delay in the airplane's initial operational capability, which would push it back to 2018.

Deliveries to this country are unlikely to begin before 2020 and the program cost, initially estimated at $18 billion including maintenance agreements, will rise dramatically. The country's largest ever procurement is a single-sourced deal, made without a competing bid.

Further delays and cost increases are likely because in August, for the third time in less than a year, the Pentagon grounded all F-35 joint strike fighters because of mechanical problems. Numerous design and operational impediments remain.

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Forces committee, said cost growth could have significant implications for the rest of the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar acquisition programs and for its budget as a whole. The Michigan Senator said,
"People should not conclude that we will be willing to continue... strong support without regard to increased costs coming from poor program management or from lack of focus on affordability." 
The American defense appropriations committee is considering how they will make the annual $35 billion to $50 billion in cuts already approved in the budget compromise. The F-35 fighter jet program is on the block because of its size -- $385 billion, almost double original estimates. The most expensive American defence project ever could cost more than $1 trillion in procurement and support during the fighter's life cycle.

One possible alternative rests with robotic combat aircraft. U.S. Navy leadership has ordered aviation leaders to examine the possibility of reducing orders for the new F-35 to buy X-47B robotic combat aircraft. The U.S.Navy’s first full size combat UAV made its first flight six months ago. Deployment would likely cost less than half that of the F-35 fleet, while providing most of the same capabilities. Lockheed Martin officials believe their program is too big to fail but Congressional moves on spending and the absence of competing military powers, could bring unprecedented changes in direction.

Further reading:
Canada stands firm on F-35s as questions fly on price and production
The Economist: The last manned fighter
Why the F-35 stealth fighter is wrong for Canada
Pilot Error
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  1. The F-35s continue to get more and more expensive and the Conservatives continue to say that they'll be able to buy F-35s for less than it costs to build one.

    So when reality finally intrudes on their delusions, will Canada be stuck with billions and billions of dollars of pseudo-stealthy bomb trucks that can't defend the country or will we be stuck with aging CF-18s while the government finally starts a procurement process that makes sense?


    Above is an Australian site that shows that the Russian SU35S beats the F35 hands down.
    Out of 24 critical elements the SU35 beats the F35 in 20 elements and is equal in 4.
    Harper is buying 20 billion worth of junk.




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