This case-study[JC1] (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-18008171) highlights the potentially disastrous consequences of making the wrong decision, and what kind of costs can be incurred in attempting to reverse them. In fact, as we shall see, sometimes it is arguably better to let a bad decision stand and work within the new reality as best as possible, rather than complicate things further by overturning it.
The article refers to the British F-35 program, which is a contemporary project aimed at providing a new generation of warplanes to equip the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers. The old generation of planes were retired in 2010, leaving a potentially dangerous capability gap in the British military. Several years prior, the under-developed F-35 aircraft had been selected as the replacement, even though it was known that it would not be ready to enter service in 2010. The government at the time had also decided to buy the F-35 B variant, which was designed to take off and land vertically. However, in 2010, a new government decided to opt instead for the F-35 C variant, which can only take off and land conventionally, but are cheaper on a per-plane basis, and boast an increased range and payload capacity.
Then, as the article details, in 2012 the same government reversed its decision and settled on the choice originally made by the previous government. Primarily, this was due to a realization that the F-35 C would not be able to enter service until 2023, whereas the F-35 B was scheduled for 2020. The precise cost of this U-turn is disputed, but most estimates place it in the region of £100 million, and potentially as much as £250 million. As well as these additional financial costs, the lost capability of the F-35 C must be taken into account. For this reason, many of the critics who disagreed with the government’s initial decision to buy the F-35 C in 2010 also strongly criticized the decision to revert back to the F-35 B.
1. Using the information provided in this case study and your own research, draw a decision tree for the F-35 program starting from 2010, just before the decision to buy the C variant.
2. Using the decision tree you have produced, discuss what you believe to be the best course of action.