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Public Policy and Administration


Lori Demeter


Approaching $400 billion for its establishment and production, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the Department of Defense's (DoD) largest acquisition program in U.S. history. Unfortunately, significant delays have immobilized the program's production rate, and little research has examined whether and how such delays directly affect national security. The purpose of this study was to determine whether and how production delays in the JSF program directly affect national security. The theoretical foundations for this qualitative case study were Condorcet's modernization theory and Giddens's globalization framework. Data were collected from interviews with 15 senior DoD civilian, military, and JSF officials and were coded and categorized to identify themes and patterns related to the source of production delays and reasons behind their persistence. Data were triangulated using archival records and government research documents. Key findings revealed concurrency issues, Helmet Mounted Display malfunctions, engine concerns, scheduling mishaps, national security vulnerabilities, and astronomical funding outside of the budget. Such factors were responsible for fighter program delays, which affect national security. The results are deemed significant, as the fighter has been a critical 'piece to the puzzle' in the national security strategy as well as other national defense guidance issues. These findings have implications for social change in that they may inform senior DoD officials of policy-related concerns due to continued delays and their impacts on national security interests. Additionally, the study identifies concerns related to sustaining international partnerships that have significant interests embedded into this program.

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