The U.S. Army is studying possible inclusion of other nations in its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, Marc Selinger of our sister publication Defense Daily reports.
“That’s being looked at” as part of the program’s overall review of options, or analysis of alternatives (AoA), a former acting director of international cooperation in the Defense Dept. acquisition office said Jan. 30.
The former official, Frank Kenlon, said he learned about the potential international participation during a recent meeting with Army representatives. “The Army staff members that we talked to plan to engage prospective partners and buyers as part of the AoA process to see what the FVL might look like in the future as it goes through development and production,” said Kenlon, now a professor of international acquisition at the Defense Acquisition University at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Australia is among the potential partners, he added that day during a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion on international joint development in Washington, D.C.
A new report by that center says that international joint development programs can improve interoperability, economies of scale or relationships with allies. But it cautions that such programs tend to be more complex than single-nation acquisition programs and that the risks must be known and carefully managed.
F-35 Price Drops As Ops Expand
The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin last month reached a deal on a new batch of F-35s totaling roughly $9 billion.
The low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 10 deal includes 90 fighters—55 for the U.S. and 35 for international partners and Foreign Military Sale customers, according to the Defense Dept.
Costs in the deal are $94.6 million for the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A, $122.8 million for the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff/vertical landing F-35B and $121.8 million for the Navy’s F-35C aircraft carrier variant. Lockheed Martin said the deal is significant because it brings the unit price of the F-35A (which accounts for 85% of the program) below $100 million. The prices of the previous LRIP batch, Lot 9, were $102.1 million for the F-35A, $131.6 million for the -35B and $132.2 million for the -35C.
The U.S. portion of Lot 10, valued at $5.5 billion, includes 44 F-35As, nine F-35Bs and two F-35Cs. Of the remaining fighters, three F-35Bs will go to the U.K.; eight F-35As will go to Australia, sets of six As will each go to Israel, Norway and South Korea, four As will go to Japan, and two As will go to Turkey. The international portion of Lot 10 is worth roughly $3.4 billion.
The deal came as U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis directed Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to commence an immediate review of the F-35 program.
Mattis wants the review to determine opportunities to significantly reduce program costs while meeting requirements. He also wants a parallel review to compare the operational capabilities of the -35C carrier variant and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, including the extent to which the Super Hornet can be improved to provide a competitive, cost-effective alternative.
Also last month, the Marine Corps deployed its first F-35B squadron overseas since it declared the aircraft fit for combat last year. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, the Green Knights, deployed to Air Station Iwakuni in Japan from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. R&WI