At a conference in Oslo, Norway last week, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters that the F-35 is making good progress on schedule, performance and cost. This marked the first time an F-35 partner country hosted the annual F-35 CEO Conference, a meeting of top US officials, industry executives and partner nations to discuss the progress of the Joint Strike Fighter program. While in Norway, Kendall remarked that the program was nearing initial operational capacity (IOC).
According to DoD News:
“We’re continuing to execute to the [2011 F-35 Technical Baseline Review],” Kendall said, “and we’re exceeding our expectations on cost and performance and we’re close to our projections on schedule.”
The undersecretary noted that there was a fundamental change in the direction of discussions at the Oslo meeting.
“We are not sitting here worried about the risk of completing baseline development,” he said. “We’re turning our focus much more toward fielding the program, upgrades in the future and getting whatever efficiencies we can going forward.”
As she began the meeting, Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide used a phrase that Kendall quoted to members of the media as representing the status of the F-35 program.
“We’re ‘turning the future into the present,’ she said, “and I think the present is going to be much more about F-35 operations than it has been before, and we’re looking forward to continuing to make progress in that regard.”
Kendall said next year he hopes to hold the CEO meeting at the first operational base for the F-35, after the Marine Corps’ F-35B reaches initial operational capability, or IOC, later this year.