The Marine Corps version of the Joint Strike Fighter, at approximately
$50 million a piece, would be an “affordable” airplane,
when compared to the prices seen in other aviation programs today,
said Gen. James L. Jones, commandant of the Corps.
The JSF prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., won the competition
against archrival Boeing on October 26. The company was awarded
a $19 billion contract to continue the development of JSF for the
Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the U.K. Royal Navy. The
consensus among industry experts was that Lockheed’s short-takeoff
and vertical landing (STOVL) technology for the Marine Corps version
of JSF gave it a winning edge over Boeing.
Undersecretary of Defense Edward C. ‘Pete’ Aldridge
said the Air Force version of JSF would cost about $40 million,
while the Navy and the Marine/UK Royal Navy version would cost a
few million dollars more.
Jones said that, if the airplane stays close to the $50 million
price tag, it would be considered a “success story.”
During a news conference in Panama City, Fla., Jones said he was
optimistic about the future of the JSF program. “One of the
great strengths of the JSF program and one of the reasons I was
so supportive of it is that the unit cost will stay very constant
during the first few years,” he said.
Jones was in Panama City to address the National Defense Industrial
Association Expeditionary Warfare Conference.
Asked about what he predicts for the future of JSF, he said he
was encouraged by the “progress we are making in reducing
the gap between conventional takeoff and landing and STOVL aircraft.”
As the JSF program moves forward, he added, “You are going
to see the difference between the two shrink considerably.”
Jones was not involved in the contractor selection, but, nevertheless,
noted that both bids “exceeded our expectations.”
Lockheed received high marks for a novel technique it used in the
STOVL aircraft to get additional lift. It relied on a combination
of engine thrust and a lift-fan mounted behind the cockpit. Boeing’s
design featured a traditional lift system, similar to what is currently
found in the AV-8B Harrier. Lockheed’s JSF can direct about
35,000 pounds of thrust downward, while Boeing’s achieved
Defense and aerospace companies on the Lockheed Martin JSF team
can expect up to $350 billion in sales from the development and
sales of the aircraft, said industry analysts. The JSF was dubbed
For the team’s prime contractors — Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems — there is potential for
$200 billion in contracts, during the next 30 years. The oft-quote
figure represents the “accumulated value of all the production
lots,” beginning with low-rate production in 2006, said Tom
Burbage, executive vice president and general manager of the Lockheed
Martin JSF program. “There’ll never be a $200 billion
contract,” Burbage told reporters. The funds will be appropriated
annually, based on the program schedule. Assuming the program’s
next phase of development is successful, production schedules will
be ironed out during the next five years.
Burbage said he expects that the first flight of the test airplanes
would begin in 48 months. The $19 billion contract is for 22 test
airplanes: 14 flying vehicles (five for the Air Force, four for
the Navy, and five for the Marine Corps) and eight static prototypes,
to test material fatigue, among other things.
Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney received a $4 billion contract
for JSF engine development.
Other companies expected to share JSF revenues include Honeywell,
Rolls Royce Avionics, TRW, Rockwell Collins, Litton Advanced Systems,
Harris Corp., and Kaiser Electronics (a division of Rockwell Collins).
According to Michel Merluzeau, senior aerospace analyst at Frost
& Sullivan, avionics companies should derive about $30-$35 billion
in revenues during the next 15 years from the JSF program. Engine
and related component manufacturers will receive about $15-18 billion
in JSF-related business, he said.
Rockwell Collins said in a statement that it anticipates more than
$2 billion in contracts over the life of the JSF program, with more
than $130 million in contracts for the full-scale development phase.
The company will provide displays—both cockpit and helmet-mounted—and
communication navigation integration systems.
TRW Inc. said it expects to reap $4 billion to $5 billion in JSF-related
revenue, to include communications, navigation and identification
If the development of JSF progresses as planned, Lockheed could
build up to 3,000 aircraft during the next 25 years. JSF will replace
Air Force F-16s, A-10s, Marine Corps AV8-Bs, as well as early U.S.
and Canadian F-18As, British GR7s and Sea Harriers, and possibly
Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian and Israeli F-16s.
Approximately 70-75 percent of the airframes will have common components.
Wings and propulsion systems will differ for the Navy and Marine
According to the original program schedule, JSF will begin replacing
F-16s and A-10 around 2009. The Navy and Marines will receive their
first airplanes in the 2010-2011 timeframe.
Dain Hancock, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, said
the company has been “actively working” with the Netherlands,
Italy, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and Turkey, to develop future industrial