DoD News Briefing

Tuesday, April 14, 1998 - 1:40 p.m.
Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)


Q: Do you have a three page summary on the hidden cost overrun on the F-22?

A: I'm afraid I don't have a three page summary on the cost of the F-22, and I can't tell you now whether there's a hidden cost overrun or not. That's your statement which I can't...

Q: I'm referring to George Wilson's article in which the Comptroller argued, Mr. Gansler to make public the cost overrun figure on the F-22. My question really is, has Secretary Cohen been informed of this cost overrun? Based on an interdepartment analysis, I gather, has Secretary Cohen been apprised of it, and are you withholding it from Congress as well as the public, or what?

A: As you know, in the early stages of any weapons program, there are a number of estimates of what that program will cost, and there are constant efforts being made to try to reduce costs and to manage them in the most effective and efficient way. That's going on with the F-22 program. We have no announcement to make about new cost estimates. At the appropriate time, if there's a change in the cost estimate, we will do that, but right now...

Q: This is year five for the F-22. This is not a new program.

A: I understand that, but of course the program hasn't gone into production yet. It's still in the development stages. We talked a couple of weeks ago about the first production models of the plane. The money won't even be obligated or the contract let until late this year according to the current schedule.

This is a program that's under intense analysis, and I would say fairly active management at this stage, and when it's time to announce new cost figures, we'll do that.

Q: In the face of slipping congressional support for this program, has there been any decision to take another look at exactly where you're going with it?

A: Sure, and that's one of the things that as you perceptively pointed out, George Wilson talked about in his article. He talked about a series of meetings that were called to review this program, and those meetings are ongoing. But we meet, people in the building meet all the time in programs.

Q: Do you think this one is in difficulty in Congress?

A: I think that's for you to determine. I think that Congress is going to have to weigh the need for a technologically advanced 21st Century fighter and look at how it will enhance the capabilities of our Air Force and enhance its ability to do its missions and weigh that against the cost of the program and also weigh that against the other tactical air programs that are on the books right now. But the Air Force...

Q: The other part of my question, does this ratchet up the opportunity for the Air Force to buy the Joint Strike Fighter as opposed to the F-22? Are you looking at that kind of option? Is Secretary Cohen looking at that...

A: Secretary Cohen has made it very clear that he sees a... He looks at three major tactical air programs and they all work in checks and balances against each other. There's the F-18E/F, there's the F-22, and there's the Joint Strike Fighter. And to a certain extent, they are all in competition with one another. If one program doesn't work, if its costs are too high or its capabilities are lower than anticipated, then we would be in a position to focus more energy and more resources on one of the two other programs. Obviously, they're not directly comparable programs, but they're competing for the same pool of dollars, and they do have some missions that overlap.

So, the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 are designed to be the first new fighter aircraft of the 21st Century. They're stealthier, less observable. They have newer designs than the F-18 and some of the 20th Century airplanes. So the Secretary has made it very clear that he wants this checks and balances to continue, and that's one of the reasons why he decided during the Quadrennial Defense Review, last year, to proceed with all three programs at once.

Q: If I understand correctly, the decision's now been made finally, after another meeting yesterday between the Air Force and Dr. Gansler, to in fact use the first two aircraft that will be bought, that were going to be Low Rate Initial Production Lot 1 (LRIP 1), this December, to make them pre-production vehicles. What does that mean? How will they be different than regular production items?

A: I can't answer that question. They'll be basically the same planes they would have been before. I think they may be tested somewhat differently, but I'll try to get you an answer to that question. I don't know at this stage.

Q: And what their purpose is. Does this include for testing? They weren't going to be test items, as such...

A: It will allow more time for testing.


Press: Thank you.