NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept 17 The Air Force
general who runs the Pentagon's F-35 fighter program on Tuesday
said communications with top contractors Lockheed Martin Corp
and United Technologies Corp had improved
greatly in the last year.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan told the annual
Air Force Association conference that the F-35 program was
making slow but steady progress, and that he saw strong support
from the U.S. military services and foreign partners.
Given that support, he said he no longer worried that the
F-35 program would be afflicted by a so-called "death spiral" in
which cuts in rising costs lead to lower orders which in turn
further boost prices.
Bogdan said he saw no indication that the U.S. Air Force,
Navy or Marine Corps planned to significantly reduce their total
orders for the F-35 program, despite mounting budget pressures.
The F-35 is designed to be the next-generation fighter for
decades to come for U.S. forces and their allies. The F-35
programme, hit by technical faults, is several years behind
schedule and 70 percent above cost estimates.