More Realistic: Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged Wednesday on Capitol Hill that the F-35 program office was "too optimistic" in its cost and schedule estimates for strike fighter program, leading to a sweeping restructure reflected in the Pentagon's Fiscal 2011 budget proposal and costing the job of the program manager. But even with the extra 13 months being tacked onto the F-35's development, Gates said the projected in-service dates for the first Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy combat-ready units will not change (Fiscal 2012, Fiscal 2013, and Fiscal 2014, respectively) The new program profile is "much more realistic" as it reflects the conservative estimates of the independent Joint Estimate Team that had warned that the program was facing challenges. Gates asserted, even with the changes, "by 2020, the US will have 20 times more fifth generation fighters than the Chinese and about 13 to 15 times more than the Russians."
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