Warplanes: October 13, 2001


Don't expect the Joint Strike Fighter program to speed up or slow down because of the War on Terrorism. The Pentagon plans to continue the program at the original pace. The Pentagon has also rejected Congressional pressure to have both bidders build the chosen aircraft, insisting that a winner-take-all will save time and money. Switching to a dual-bidder plan (where two contractors split each year's purchase) would raise the cost of the program by at least half a billion. The Pentagon says there will be plenty of work from other programs (unmanned drones, F-22 and F-18E export sales, and a long-range strike platform) to keep the industrial base intact. (Any thought of canceling the JSF can be dismissed. The British, who want it to replace Harrier and equip its new carriers, have demanded that the program continue and, given their support in the War on Terrorism, will probably get their wish.)--Stephen V Cole


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