STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENERAL LESLIE F. KENNE
JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER PROGRAM
MARCH 3, 1999Introduction
Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members, I appreciate your invitation to present the Joint Strike Fighter Program (JSF) Program. I will highlight key aspects of the program and describe how we are addressing risk and converging on an affordable solution to meet the next-generation strike warfare needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and our allies.
The Joint Strike Fighter Program will develop and field an affordable, highly common family of next-generation multi-role strike fighter aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and allies. Total quantity for the three Services is 2852 aircraft. The proposed United Kingdom requirement is 150 aircraft. Other partners in the program in this phase are Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Canada and Italy. The cornerstone of the JSF Program is affordability -- reducing the Total Ownership Cost. This demands a new way of doing business, and JSF is accomplishing that through an acquisition approach that uses this phase of the program to explore technological innovations, reduce risk and define an affordable weapon system for the warfighters. Development time from Milestone I for JSF is about 12 years. The current four and one-half year phase is dedicated to concept development and risk reduction, followed by seven and one-half years of Engineering and Manufacturing Development (E&MD). We are still early in the development cycle.
The current phase of the program is officially designated Program Definition and Risk Reduction. It commenced in November 1996 with competitive contract awards to Boeing and Lockheed Martin, with Pratt and Whitney providing main propulsion hardware and engineering support. The two competing weapon system contractors are evolving their designs over a four and one half year period and will ultimately propose those designs for the next phase of development. In support of that design evolution, the contractors will build demonstrator aircraft for flight demonstrations in 2000 and conduct technology demonstrations that are specific to their design concept. The demonstrator aircraft are "X" aircraft, not prototypes. They will not be full-up production representative aircraft in that they will have minimal avionics and other mission systems for basic navigation and safety of flight. Demonstration requirements are very focused. Specifically, the Boeing and Lockheed Martin demonstrator aircraft will demonstrate (1) commonality and modularity, (2) Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) hover and transition, and (3) low speed handling qualities for carrier operations. The contractors proposed weapon system designs, technology maturation work and the flight demonstration results will all be considered in selecting the winning contractor for E&MD and production. In parallel with the above efforts, General Electric is developing an alternate engine for competition out in the production phase of the program.
In addition to the contractors work, the government is sponsoring specific technology projects that were coordinated with the contractors to benefit their designs and mature the selected technologies. The concept of maturing and demonstrating enabling technologies prior to E&MD in order to reduce overall cost and risk has been a key element of the program since inception. Like other aspects of the JSF acquisition strategy, this approach followed the recommendations of a variety of panels on acquisition reform. A 1998 GAO report reiterates the importance of early technology maturation as evidenced by commercial industry practices.
The weapon system will be affordable only if the requirements are deliberately defined with reduced cost as a goal. By design, the evolutionary nature of the JSF requirements definition process, using Cost As an Independent Variable (CAIV), is a major departure from past acquisition practices. To an unprecedented degree the JSF Program is using cost-performance trades early, as an integral part of the weapon system development process to achieve an affordable mission effective solution to the Services needs. The Services are defining requirements through an iterative process, balancing weapon system capability against life cycle cost. Each iteration of requirements involves a cooperative government/industry dialogue. The warfighters have complete and early insight into which attributes drive weapon system costs. The warfighters then evaluate cost-performance trades and refine their requirements to maintain the affordability focus. This process produced iterations of the Services Joint Interim Requirements Document (JIRD) in 1995, 1997 and 1998. The Services will continue to refine their requirements through this process, culminating in the Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) in FY 2000 to support the Milestone II decision. In turn, the contractors continue to evolve their respective weapon system concepts through a series of configuration updates, which will culminate in their E&MD proposal submissions.
A major JSF Program goal is to take full advantage of the commonality of this large fleet of aircraft to significantly reduce costs in both training for and maintenance of the weapon system among the Services. In addition, technology that will monitor the health of aircraft systems in flight is being matured as an enabler for an "autonomic" logistics infrastructure -- one that uses downlinked health information from the aircraft to trigger personnel, equipment, and parts to be pre-positioned for quick turn-around of the aircraft and thus a higher sortie generation rate. As this is a low-observable (LO) aircraft, ease of LO maintainability is a major focus of the program. The goal is to eliminate the use of high man-hour repair techniques and material such as radar absorbing material, tape, and "butter" (an LO repair material). JSF has an aggressive technology insertion program to minimize the LO burden and improve the reliability/maintainability.
Accomplishments and Near Term Plans
In 1998 the Services completed the third iteration of their Joint Interim Requirements Document and supporting cost and operational performance trades. JSF prime contractors responded with design updates for each defined set of requirements. The contractors have also commenced building their Concept Demonstrator Aircraft. Engine testing began, with results meeting or exceeding expectations. The Critical Design Review for the alternate engine core was successfully completed. Technology maturation/demonstration efforts continued.
Near term program activities leading to the planned downselect decision in 2001 include the following:
- complete systems engineering and cost/performance trades to support the
final requirements document
- integrate the propulsion and flight control systems (the most difficult
- complete demonstrator aircraft build and flight test
- complete the government/industry sponsored technology demonstrations
- contractors finalize designs
- contractors prepare proposals
- conduct source selection and Milestone II activities
While the program is proceeding well, the Department is currently addressing some potential program cost growth issues that recently surfaced. I cannot discuss details in a public forum due to the highly proprietary and competition sensitive nature of the information. However, we are confident these issues can be overcome -- they are not atypical this early in a major development program.
Progress toward achieving cost goals is excellent. The family of three variants for the Services still has high commonality, 70-80%, and modern manufacturing processes have demonstrated time and dollar savings.
The most difficult technical challenge that lies ahead in this phase of the program is the integration of the propulsion and flight control systems. The myriad of critical software linkages between the propulsion system and the aircraft are very complex, especially for the Marine Corps STOVL variant. The integration effort has successfully begun, but a lot of important work in this area remains. Integration efforts for this phase will culminate with next years flight demonstrations.
As with all programs, funding stability will
be key to future efficient and cost effective execution.
In conclusion, the Joint Strike Fighters "family of aircraft" concept is a new approach to providing an affordable, mission effective solution to the Services tactical aviation needs. The focus is on affordability through early and frequest interaction between the warfighter and the technologist and a concerted emphasis on risk reduction. The Services are defining requirements through an iterative process, balancing weapon system capability against life cycle cost. The program is also maturing key technologies to lower weapon system cost and reduce development risk. In addition, demonstrator aircraft will fly in 2000 and show us some key performance capabilities, further reducing risk as we proceed to the next phase of development. We are using JSF and this large fleet of aircraft as a catalyst to advance 21st century supportability concepts. In short the stage is set to enable the government to make a "best value" judgement for the downselect decision for E&MD and to enter that phase at an acceptable level of risk. As we prepare to meet the fiscal and threat demands of the next century, the Department of Defense clearly recognizes that we must optimize our tactical air modernization and focus on jointness and commonality. The Joint Strike Fighter will achieve these goals.