Thursday, December 02, 2010

Checking in on the costly F-35

On the jobs front, Pratt & Whitney, the engine manufacturer for the F-35, illustrates the downside of industry over-reliance on the F-35 for business:
Some Joint Strike Fighter suppliers could go out of business if the planned production ramp-up is further delayed, a Pratt & Whitney representative said in Washington on Tuesday, and the company is already steering other work to some of them to help keep them afloat.
"What I hear is people saying 'Can you give us something to show that the program is continuing to go forward? Because we have a banker knocking on our door'. No suppliers have died yet," O'Donnell adds, and in some cases Pratt & Whitney has "leveraged our large volume of commercial work" to sustain SMEs because of the expense and delay that would result from a failure.
Something to keep in mind as the Conservatives continue to flog the F-35 and the jobs aspect around the country on a continuous basis.

Secondly, CBS News does a quick video review of some of the recent recommendations of the Deficit Reduction Commission with respect to the future of the F-35 program. Included, the prospect of reducing by 50% the number of F-35s that the USAF and Navy would buy, meaning that if that recommendation were adopted, there would be implications for industry around the world who are relying on the substantial sales numbers that Lockheed Martin (and our government) is promoting. They represent that between 3,000 and 5,000 F-35s will be produced (see Kitchener link above). Yet if the USAF/Navy buy is reduced by 50%, that would deduct about 1,000 from those numbers. A reduction in the number bought by the U.S. would also increase the per plane cost, something that has been escalating in any event, irrespective of whether this Deficit Commission's recommendation is accepted. Maybe some tough questions are in order for Lockheed Martin today when it appears at that Defence Committee hearing.

(Alternate video view)

All of this is a reminder, again, that this is a foolhardy purchase to be sole-sourcing. The risks continue to pile up and they are being ignored by the Harper Conservatives, despite the amount of money at stake.