Official seeks more realistic plan for fighter jet program –

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter said Monday he is working intensively with industry and defense officials to set more realistic cost and schedule goals for the high-stakes F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

During a roundtable session with reporters at the Pentagon, Carter said he has spent hours each day for the last several weeks, including high-level meetings on Saturday and Sunday, reviewing the program to determine its path forward.

The fighter jet — of which the U.S. military plans to buy 2,400 planes from prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. — is the largest single program on the Pentagon’s books and has been publicly labeled a priority by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Compared with the pricey F-22 Raptor fighter, which is nearing the end of its production run, the F-35 is billed as a low-cost but high-performing fighter.