Defense Daily September 10, 2004
Pentagon Starts Next Stage Of JSF Negotiations
By Sharon Weinberger
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) office has begun negotiations with its international partners on the next stage of participation in the multirole fighter program, according to a senior program official.
Negotiations on the production and sustainment memorandums of understanding (MoU) have started on an "informal" basis, Jon Schreiber, JSF’s director of international programs, said Wednesday at a conference in Washington, D.C. Formal negotiations will kick off in April ’05 and the MoUs will be signed by December 2006, he added.
JSF, produced by Lockheed Martin, is currently in the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase, which covers the initial design of the aircraft. Production and sustainment will include low and full-rate production of the aircraft, as well as fleet sustainment.
Ten countries are currently participating in the SDD phase of the JSF program. Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and Australia have all signed up at one of three levels of partnership determined by the amount of investment committed to the program.
Israel and Singapore are "security cooperation participants," which requires less money, but also provides limited involvement in program management. The production and sustainment MOUs will be signed with the eight partner countries, however.
Unlike the SDD phase, which had differing levels of partnership, "all are equal" in production and sustainment, according to Schreiber. Additionally, all eight countries will negotiate simultaneously, rather than on a bilateral basis.
The production and sustainment MoUs will determine the common shared costs, like running the program office, buying tools and sustaining the aircraft, Schreiber said.
While the foreign partners together contributed $4.5 billion to the SDD phase, most of the funds for the next phase will come from annual aircraft purchases.
Asked whether the JSF office might have centralized sustainment centers overseas, Schreiber said that those concepts will be "evolving over the next four or five years."
In the meantime, the program office is gearing up for an Oct. 14 review in front of the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB). The DAB is expected to assess the program’s progress, approve a re-baselining, and decide whether to move forward with the acquisition strategy.