Reducing F-35 Cost and Improving Readiness

The F-35 is the most lethal, survivable, and connected fighter in history, capable of prevailing against near-peer threats across the globe. In 2016, Booz Allen won two F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) support services contracts, forming a competency-based program of engineering and logistics professionals supporting the Department of Defense’s (DOD) largest weapons procurement program.

Affordable Readiness: The F-35 Program's Greatest Challenge

The JPO chose Booz Allen to help the government find innovative ways to reduce sustainment costs while improving readiness. Booz Allen deploys core Functional Capabilities of Engineering, Analytics, Digital, Cyber, Mission & Industry, and Strategy & Management across all phases of the program: development and testing, production, sustainment, and modernization.  We deliver world-class expertise and cutting-edge innovation to make the world’s most capable fighter more advanced, more ready, and more affordable.

Booz Allen’s team works collaboratively with the government to help save billions of dollars per year while also boosting the mission readiness of aircraft on the flight line.

Air Vehicle Sustainment Services: Negotiation Drives Down Contract Costs

Lockheed Martin, the F-35 air vehicle’s prime contractor, currently provides over 30 distinct sustainment services to the growing fleet, including sustainment engineering, training, supply chain management and the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) and its follow-on system, Operational Data Integrate Network (ODIN). These services, which provide vital support for the weapon system, make up a significant portion of the sustainment costs.

Since 2016, Booz Allen has worked side-by-side with the government in instituting more affordable sustainment contracts. Booz Allen teams were key contributors in the development of the plan, strategy, and schedule for each negotiation and provided tactical guidance throughout the process. We trained dozens of JPO and stakeholder organizations on acquisition, proposal evaluation, performance management and negotiation. Our experts also facilitated stakeholder engagements to compose the award plans efficiently. With Booz Allen’s support, the program office negotiated $2.9 billion in reductions in the fiscal years 2018-2023 sustainment contracts without reducing the scope of services.

Initial Spares: Advanced Analytics Enable Efficiency in Maintenance Practices

Spare parts are essential to keeping F-35s flying. Every production aircraft is purchased with an initial set of spares to replace components as they break. Early on, the Booz Allen team introduced the Opus lifecycle management analytics suite as a new model for projecting F-35 fleet sustainment.  This model is over 10 times more detailed than its predecessor and was the first to fully simulate the entire global F-35 fleet along with its supply chain and logistical components.

Using this model to independently verify the data supplied for the air vehicle and propulsion system, our team discovered numerous anomalies in the mix and pricing of spares proposed for the annual purchases. Identifying and fixing these discrepancies helped identify over $1.8 billion in potential cost avoidance from fiscal years 2019 to 2022.

In addition, the Opus model enabled more efficient maintenance practices from field locations to the fleet level. The model incorporates actual data on error messages and problems found, which maintainers are using to isolate and fix problems faster. Opus also permits what-if analyses and generates projections in six days, rather than its predecessor’s six months, allowing the JPO to explore potential changes to sustainment approaches with much greater speed.

Depot Repair Operations: Building Capacity to Support Readiness

Aircraft components that require repair but cannot be fixed efficiently or effectively in the field are sent to depots for repair.

In 2018, the standup of 68 component repair capabilities at U.S. government (USG) depots was accelerated by an average of three years. Booz Allen was at the center of this acceleration, reviewing the manufacturers’ cost and schedule proposals and informing negotiations, as well as providing overall coordination and monitoring. More than 30 depot repair lines are now operating across six organic USG depots; with the remainder due to begin operations by the end of 2028. With greater organic depot capacity, parts can be more quickly and economically repaired and returned to service, increasing aircraft availability and overall readiness.

Maintenance Plan Changes: Evaluating Ideas to Improve Efficiency Everyday

With all new aircraft weapons system programs, manufacturers, program offices, and maintainers need to regularly look for ways to improve maintenance procedures. Ideas must go through a process of analysis, validation, approval, and implementation before their benefits are realized. The Booz Allen team facilitates a comprehensive process to solicit, evaluate, plan, and prioritize proposed maintenance plan changes to achieve efficiencies across the F-35 maintenance value stream and reduce life cycle sustainment costs. 

The Booz Allen team conducts complex analyses and business case analyses to determine the potential return on investment (ROI) for each innovative idea and support the government’s final implementation decision. We work with the prime contractor to develop detailed implementation plans for each approved idea and prioritize them based on potential ROI and resource availability. It is projected that by 2027, a total of 230 maintenance plan changes will be implemented, thereby reducing life cycle sustainment costs.

New External Coating and Canopy Improvements: The Value of Expert Engineers

Stealth is an essential component of the F-35’s unprecedented survivability and lethality. It is also a major driver of sustainment costs. Booz Allen’s team includes nationally recognized technical experts who work with the prime contractor to maintain the F-35’s ability to evade detection while also reducing costs and improving readiness.

For example, Booz Allen’s team was integral in addressing the stealth treatment on the F-35’s canopy. We led the engineering effort to improve the treatment, solve the delamination problem, increase the original supplier’s speed of manufacturing, and qualify a second supplier. The combination of the increased life of the canopy treatment along with increased production will significantly improve aircraft readiness and potentially reduce sustainment costs by several hundred million dollars over the life of the program. 

Our team was the primary driver behind the engineering specifications of an innovative new external coating for the fighter. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory, we identified funding, created the concept, and implemented the new process—which will potentially save the government $1.3 billion in sustainment costs over the life of the program.

Ongoing Innovation for the F-35

These are just a few examples of Booz Allen’s significant contributions to reducing F-35 lifecycle costs while improving readiness. Booz Allen works with the government to bring the latest technology, skilled professionals, and processes to improve readiness and cut costs even further for the F-35 program, with the goal of making the most lethal, survivable, and connected fighter in history more capable, more ready, and more affordable.

Learn more about our work with the F-35

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