Thursday, May 19, 2011


So says the Pentagon about the F-35. 
The cost of building the F-35 fighter jet, set to replace a large part of the US warplane fleet, is "unaffordable" in its current version and must be reviewed, the Pentagon's top acquisition official said Thursday.
"Over the lifetime of this program, the decade or so, the per-aircraft cost of the 2,443 aircraft we want has doubled in real terms," said Ashton Carter, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
"That's our forecast for how much the aircraft's going to cost.
"Said differently, that's what it's going to cost if we keep doing what we're doing. And that's unacceptable. It's unaffordable at that rate."
The cost of the plane has jumped to $385 billion, about $103 million per plane in constant dollars or $113 million in fiscal year 2011 dollars, said Christine Fox, the Defense Department's director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

I doubt Lockheed Martin can make it anywhere near "affordable" without eating a crippling loss.

I smell a massive and scandalous project cancellation in the air. Nope, I don't think that bird is gonna fly with anyone's air force.

One does hope the seemingly tunnel-visioned Conservative Canadian Air Force is finally, seriously, looking at alternatives!


Mark Francis said...

And only 5 years and 10,000 changes scheduled to go! Kevin Page is likely to be at the low end of the estimate.

I'm still waiting to see this contract Harper claims to have which guarantees a price of $75 million per.

Alison said...

But wait! Ours don't come with engines! Surely we can still afford them if they don't have the engines.

Sixth Estate said...

Yes, but next they'll have to convince Congress. Ironically that's more difficult than convincing the Pentagon's accountants now. They're the ones who want to buy a second engine for the F-35, even though it's a single-engine jet. Pork politics at its finest!

Mark, Ottawa said...

Note in "Comments" that Japan is bailing on the F-35:

"F-35: US Still Looking for Answers"


Edstock said...

This could become Stevie's nightmare. All it takes is another 12 months, or so. If the political consensus in Washington decides to cancel . . . which it just might. You see, improved versions of the F-18 Super Hornet and the F-15 Eagle could carry the US until the appearance of remotely-piloted fighters/attack craft towards the end of this decade. If the F-35 gets cancelled, extra funding could shorten the time-scale.

Boris said...

Too right Ed. Although he does have 4 years to distract his way out of it.

Mark, Ottawa said...

Sixth Estate: The second engine issue has nothing to do with the F-35's being a single engine plane. The theory is that having a second engine to compete on price with the original one will bring down costs in the long run.

The theory actually worked with the second engine that qualified to power the F-15 and F-16.

JSF partners were also promised a choice between two competing engines.