Joint Strike Fighter jitters (yesterday, item 10), this time from the US Congress’s
Government Accountability Office in a report released Wednesday, US time.

The title
says plenty: DOD Plans to Enter Production before Testing Demonstrates
Acceptable Performance.
So does the abstract:

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is DOD’s [Department of Defence] most expensive
aircraft program. The program represents 90% of the remaining planned
investment for recapitalising DOD’s aging tactical aircraft fleet. GAO is
required by law to review the program annually for five years, beginning in fiscal
year 2005… DOD is investing heavily in procuring JSF aircraft before flight
testing proves it will perform as expected… Producing aircraft before testing
demonstrates the design is mature increases the likelihood of design changes
that will lead to cost growth, schedule delays, and performance problems… Since
initial estimates, program acquisition unit costs have increased by 28%,
or $23 million. Development costs have increased 84%, planned purchases
have decreased by 535 aircraft, and the completion of development has slipped five
years, delaying delivery of capabilities to the warfighter…

At the same time, Jane’s International Defence Review (subscription needed to read full story) reports:

Strike Fighter (JSF) partner countries will be expected to sign a memorandum of
understanding (MoU) at the end of this year (2006) that commits them to buying
the aircraft and leaves them liable to a financial penalty if they do not. They
will have to make payments in order to maintain “good standing” within the
programme and to allow their industries to bid on JSF work. The MoU
does not fix a price for the JSF and this will not happen until the first
full-rate batch of aircraft is ordered in 2013.