The Joint Strike Fighter acquisition program began with early and sustained cooperation among government, industry, and the military and included designing with commonality among the services in mind—which has kept costs down—as well as plenty of testing. The program is proving to be a model for success.
During the past 80 years, control of the aircraft acquisition process has been modified several times. This evolving process may have reached a point where things are going right, where the path from requirements to design to evaluation to development to production to deployment has become a smooth interstate highway instead of a bumpy country road with traffic jams and U-turns (see sidebar). The cause for optimism is the recently approved Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
There is evidence the JSF will be a winner. The concept development and demonstration phase started in 1994 and was completed in fall 2001. Designers and engineers created some impressive concepts, giving confidence that contractors could deliver. Much optimism comes from highly successful flights in experimental aircraft.